Today I’m going to be discussing my entire pre-med journey, so basically everything I did in undergrad in order to get into med school. This journey was definitely not easy, so I’m hoping that this will be a way for people to get a realistic expectation of what might occur during their own journey. I will be completely honest about all of my scores, gpa, experiences, etc, and all the tips I learned along the way. If you’d rather watch instead of read, a youtube video of the same content will be up soon!
Stats when applying:
GPA - 3.93
MCAT - 512
Economics Major and Design Minor with University and Departmental Honors
Going into undergrad, I knew that I did not want to be a science major. I recognized that the science classes at my undergrad were very difficult, so I didn’t want to have to take more than the required pre-med ones, so I decided to take myself on the path of least resistance. I chose economics because it was something I truly loved in high school and was something that would allow me to get a different perspective than being a science major. I think that it is a really good idea to actually not be a science major because it allows you to get a more rounded view. Being an economics major, I learned a lot of health economics and even did research in that area, which helped me learn about things like insurance, which I think every physician NEEDS to understand in depth as it influences decision making. Just an idea for people who aren’t just interested in the sciences!
Additionally, before undergrad, I decided that I wanted to take my MCAT a little bit early, during the summer between my sophomore and junior year. Knowing myself, I knew that I needed dedicated time to just study for the MCAT, without the pressures of school - I just would not have been able to do it! Understanding this about myself, I decided then to take most of the mcat/premed sciences classes during the first two years of undergrad in order to make sure this goal was achievable. A hefty decision on my end, but ultimately worth it for me! This could be something you do as well, but be warned that it was not easy! I also had IB credits that helped with getting out of Econ, Bio, and English classes which was a huge plus.
I started out undergrad full force, starting to take science classes. During my first semester, I started to do research through UROP at my school as well, however after that first semester, I ended up not getting funding for my project. Because of that situation, I decided to basically say screw UROP due to that uncertainty, and tried to find research in other ways. I was in a hub of hospitals, so I started researching and cold emailing every research doctor in my area, giving a shpeel about myself, including why I liked their work, and my resume (all high school at the time, which is kind of funny!). Through this, I ended up meeting my PI who took me under his wing. I started doing bench research in his diabetes lab at the VA, and did that for the next three years.
During that second semester, I added multiple other actives to the list. I also started to volunteer at an Emergency Department in the area. I was extremely unqualified to do anything actually medical related and was really just checking on patients, but it was definitely an eye opener to be in that environment. Additionally, I joined Delta Epsilon Mu, a professional pre-health fraternity. I didn’t want to join a social frat, and I like that this one was professional, co-ed, and with all these like minded people. I continued Delta Epsilon Mu for all four years, and ended up being on board for the last two years.
The summer of my freshman going into sophomore year was filled with all of these activities and more science classes. The biggest thing I’m happy I did was start and stick with those activities early, because I really got an in-depth experience, which is something I highly recommend doing. START EARLY! College is supposed to be fun, and of course have the social aspect of things, but remember the end goal and the foundation you are setting.
Sophomore year was probably the hardest year for me academically because of all of the science classes. Taking physics and orgo, and then orgo and cell bio together is not the easiest thing! The biggest thing I learned this year was using your connections and figuring out short cuts. I found out that if I took three upper level classes in my major, I could get out of a science pre-requisite. Realizing this, I had to rearrange my schedule and get that done so that I could get out of Micro biology in order to go directly into BioChem. I knew that micro was one of the hardest pre-med classes at my undergrad, and I really did not want to put myself through that. I also did my research and knew that micro bio was not a huge part of the MCAT, so I figured whatever little bit there was, I could self study. I highly recommend figuring out if your undergrad also has little loopholes like this, because these are the things that your advisors definitely don’t tell you. Aside from saving yourself the stress from a hard class, you’re also saving yourself the money of a class that may not even be that beneficial towards MCAT.
Sophomore year was also the year that I joined Wayne State Warrior Jhatka, a competitive Bollywood fusion team. As you all know, dancing is one of my biggest passions, so joining the team was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. Because of the taxing schedule of being on a team, it actually made me more productive because I knew I only had a certain amount of time to get things done. I stayed on the team for the next 3 years, and became captain my final year, which I discussed heavily in my activities section when applying.
Although getting a 512 was really great for me, and I think I did a good job, it was probably the weakest part of my application. With how competitive things are nowadays, getting 89th percentile is still on the lower side, which is a bummer!
To study for the MCAT, I took from May-August to study. Due to the three upper levels in my major situation, I had to push back taking Biochem into the summer while I was studying. This actually really worked out in my favor because the class was from May-June. Biochem is a huge part of the MCAT, so learning the information along side studying really helped keep it fresh in my mind.
I took the Princeton Review live online class which lasted from May-July. I really liked this class because along with having a live class, they also created a set schedule for you for what to study. This really helped break it down into manageable pieces for me as I followed their schedule. Additionally, they had video lessons for all of the topics in the books, and I loved this because I have a really hard time learning from text-books, so having videos with the same content was really helpful for me. The downside: their tests are HORRIBLE. They are extremely difficult for no reason and do not resemble the actual exam. The highest I got on a Princeton review test was a 500 - a 12 point difference from my actual score!! That’s ridiculous. Realizing this, I also used Next Step for Practice tests along with the AAMC material that came with the Princeton package. Throughout the course I did one practice test a week, along with doing an hour of flashcards a day with Anki, Kaplan flashcards, or AAMC flashcards.
During the last month before my exam, I did two practice tests a week. This homestretch is where I did all of the AAMC material, as this is the content that will be closest to the exam. I even did the question banks twice. More AAMC material, the better, especially to get used to the formatting and way they ask the questions.
That summer was ROUGH. I went weeks at a time without seeing other people, not leaving the house, and dreaming about practice questions. At the end of the day, I think it was all worth it though. I think that this is something to keep in mind and realize that all the sacrifice is for a bigger goal. It took a lot of willpower to completely shut off the side of me that just wanted to relax and hangout with my friends or get upset that I couldn’t do things that others were doing. But, I realized that there is no such thing as FOMO if you’re working towards your future. This is not to say that I didn’t relax and take time to destress though! After every practice I would do something fun and really still take care of myself. I still worked out, and I still did the things I loved. Grey’s anatomy and Jane the virgin really got me through this time!!
Because most of my sciences classes were done, and I had time, I decided to add on a design minor during my junior year. My blog had already started, and I thought, “why not?”. This was one of the best decisions I could have made because I was able to experience a whole new type of learning. I got to take fashion construction classes, drawing classes, clothing and culture classes, and it was all creative, hands on, and on the go. There was no right or wrong, and it was a lot of critical thinking. The biggest reason why making this decision stood out for me is that I ended up writing my personal statement on fashion and medicine, which stemmed from all of these experiences.
Additionally, during my second semester of my junior year I also became a scribe at an emergency department. I realized that I did not have as much clinical experience as I would have liked and wanted to get more in before the application process occurred. I really did love the job, and was exposed to so many different things, such as experiencing my first death to experiencing my first birth. These experiences were ones that I ended up discussing in depth greatly during my secondaries. The downside were the 8 hour shifts with crazy hours (sometimes until four in the morning) that made school really hard sometimes. This is why I ultimately ended up quitting after about 9 months once my applications were in.
During my junior year, along with all of my other activities, I took up a health economics research job through one of my professors.
I started to think about the application process at the end of my junior year, and started to write my personal statement during the beginning of May that year. As mentioned previously, I wrote my personal statement on fashion and medicine and the parallels that most people don’t think about. I really played up this side of myself, and wanted to create a statement that made me stand out in the thousands of other statements. I think this worked in my favor, as I created this connected image of myself through my activities section as well, and I discussed my blog along with medically related activities. I kept my personal statement with one central idea, and I then used my activities section to expand upon all the other qualities I could not hit in there. I think a good way to go about this is to look at the AAMC core competencies and make sure you have examples of these, such as leadership, medically related experiences, community outreach, etc. Additionally, make sure that you get multiple people to read your statement. This was probably the most helpful thing throughout the experience, and most people are willing to help, I just had to get over the hump of feeling annoying asking people!
I decided to apply to 22 MD schools with an extremely broad range. Some were considered safety, some in my range, and some reach. I wanted to give myself the best shot possible, because so many people had told me you really never know with how the admissions committee decides these things. A hurdle that occurred during my application process was that on my end of things, I made sure that I had everything ready to submit the first day that applications opened. However, my undergrad did not send in my transcripts until 3 weeks later, and AMCAS does not process your primaries until the transcript is in. I would highly recommend making sure that your university has advance notice and making sure this gets done ASAP so your application isn’t looked at late.
After the primaries, before my secondaries came in, I created a bank of potential secondary questions. A lot of schools reuse previous secondaries and a lot of schools have similar questions. There are some common questions that you can expect, such as why our school, why medicine, name a time you failed, etc. I started to compile a list of these, specific to each school, and started drafting potential responses to make it easier for myself when the influx of essays would be coming in. I would recommend this, because even though sometimes the questions might change, this really helps when you have to write 3+ essays for 20 schools. That August of applying was mainly just writing writing writing.
Some of the additional activities I had talked about that have not been mentioned previously were awards that I had achieved, such as being in the top 10% of my school in chemistry classes. I additionally included shadowing experiences that I had, such as shadowing my uncle who is a transplant surgeon through surgeries. I also included other outside passions, such as helping my aunt with her state representative campaign and discussing my passions for political endeavors. I think it is a really good idea to show passions and accomplishments, not just science related, as it makes you seem like a real human with real motivations. Be honest, be yourself, and be able to brag about yourself a little!
My senior year was more of the same with extremely easy classes and focusing more on dance, because I was captain. I really took this year to do things I want and things that I might not been able to do during med school. It was also a lot of emotional ups and downs, as the rejections started to come in from schools that had averages way lower than my stats. I didn’t really understand it and it was hard to grapple with, but I just kept thinking that all I need is one.
I interviewed with Wayne State on October 19th. In order to prep for the interview process, I talked and practiced with many people. I knew that I would be asked some of the typical questions, such as why medicine, why Wayne State, and about my activities, so I prepped for those in depth. I also knew I was going to have to go through the MMI process, so I spent a lot of time researching and watching videos on MMI questions and giving myself practice. Additionally, I have older friends at Wayne State SOM, so I asked them about their interview process and the questions they got asked for additional insight.
As for my outfit, the most crucial part of course, I did not want to go with a basic navy or black pant suit. I wanted to keep playing into the whole image I cultivated and wanted to be true to myself, so I decided on a pink, multi-colored, tweed blazer. Totally out of the box and extremely uncommon, but it really fit me. This actually worked out in my favor because during the interview day, the dean of admissions actually noticed my outfit in a sea full of navy and black. I don’t recommend this to everyone, but what I do recommend is to be you.
The actual interview day was not as nerve wracking as I thought. I really just went into the interview trying to keep my cool and recognize that I got myself this far, so I just have to show off my personality and be myself, and that’s the best I can do. I had an interview with a faculty member, a current student, and the MMIs. The interview with the faculty member ended up being with the dean, and it was actually amazing. It was more of a conversation than a question and answer session; we even talked about men’s fashion! The student interview was more traditional, and I was asked all of the questions I prepared for. The MMI’s were actually really fun and just allowed me to portray my empathy, compassion, and logic through the scenarios.
I received my acceptance to Wayne State on December 18th.
And with that, this long journey was not easy at all and really took a lot of hard work, pushing through set backs, and a lot of research. I hope that this gave even one person helpful advice to make their journey easier than mine. I’m completely willing and open to answer any other questions and go more in-depth on any part, if you would like! I’m also more than willing to read anyone’s personal statement as well and really give back like the people above me did.
Until next time,