As was the case with undergraduate admissions, the most important part of your application will be your grades.  Many schools have a threshold GPA and MCAT score, if you fall below either than your application will most likely be tossed out, barring special exemptions.  Having said that, admissions officers understand that we’re all human. If, for instance, you had poor grades your freshman year but improved steadily throughout college, then they may be willing to grant you an interview, despite your less than optimal GPA.  If you had other extenuating circumstances, you can use your personal statement to explain them. I had a close friend, Andre, who was hospitalized for a month during his Sophomore year and subsequently withdrew from most of his classes. When Andre applied to med school, he made the best of a bad situation and used his personal statement to both explain the large number of withdrawals on his transcript and show how the experienced solidified his decision to become a doctor.  He’s currently attending a great medical school, in no small part because he was able to turn a shortcoming into a strength.


There are two other primary reasons applicants get rejected: weak essays and extracurriculars.  Typically, the two feed into each other. If you solely focused on your grades, you may lack meaningful stories to tell through your personal statement and mini-essays.  Med schools want to see someone who began their journey early on and already has medical experience. This can take many forms such as organizing a blood drive for the Red Cross, doing research in a lab or volunteering for Planned Parenthood.


If you neglected extracurriculars during your undergraduate career, don’t fret; the average age of a med school applicant is 24, with many students applying ever later in life.  That gives you a few years to find ways to bolster your application.  Post-graduate “extracurriculars” include both activities such as the ones mentioned above, but also ones in the professional sphere such as working at a community health center.


When you sit down to write your essay, you should think long and hard about why you want to become a doctor.  Every doctor wants to help others, so just saying that isn’t good enough. Andre was able to knock out two birds with one stone with his personal statement by tying his life story into his career goals; you should do the same.  Reflect on life experiences which pushed you to become a doctor and write truthfully from the heart (even if you don’t want to become a cardiologist).


It’s never too early to begin preparing for med school.  Studying for your MCATs, finding recommendations and assembling a list of candidate schools are all time consuming activities which too many students do with too little time and guidance.  Ivy Admissions is one of the few consultancy programs in the country which offers our services to aspiring doctors; we’ll map out your quest to change from a cap-and-gown to scrubs to a lab coat in no time.