Your prerequisites are complete, you’ve taken the MCAT, and you’ve lined up your recommendations—all that’s left to do is begin your actual application process. But before you start the tasks involved with that process, you may be wondering if this particular application cycle is right for you.
Could you assemble a stronger application by spending a year or two off doing research, community service, or taking extra classes? Or is your application strong enough for matriculation as is? This checklist can help you answer the burning question, “Am I ready to apply to medical school?”
Decide if your MCAT score, science GPA, and overall GPA are all competitive enough for your prospective schools
Before you fill out your primary application, you need to be honest with yourself about your statistical chances of admission to the medical school(s) to which you’re applying. If your MCAT score is below the average of admitted students there, you might want to forego the current application cycle, seek MCAT tutoring, and put your energy into retaking the test. Similarly, if your science GPA or overall GPA is low, you might want to skip this cycle to boost your GPAs and prove that you can handle the academic rigor of medical school by taking some extra classes or by enrolling in a special master’s program.
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Examine any other responsibilities you have that might complicate your matriculation
Have you signed a job contract that extends for a certain period of time that would make it difficult for you to get to admissions interviews, or that would interfere with your enrollment next fall? Do you have any special family commitments that you might temporarily want to devote more time to before you enter medical school? Surveying your own goals and responsibilities before you decide to apply to medical school—on both a professional and personal level—can help you determine what application year will be best for you.
Ensure you have the necessary funds for both medical school and your application cycle
You’ve probably heard that medical school itself is extremely expensive, and you may have already decided how you intend to pay for it. But even before you must pay for medical school, you must pay for your application cycle—this includes registering for the MCAT, sending in your primary applications, and submitting your secondary applications. If you are fortunate enough to be offered a medical school interview, you may have to account for travel expenses as well.
While there is financial assistance available for medical school applicants who meet certain criteria, it is likely that you will end up paying at least some of the bill for the application cycle yourself. Before you decide to apply this cycle, make sure you have decided how you will financially handle both your application cycle and medical school itself.
Ensure you are mentally ready for the admissions process and the medical school journey
Many students may find that by their senior year of college, they do not feel fully prepared to immediately embark upon another several years of study. Whether you are just about to graduate from college or have been otherwise preoccupied with another academic or professional endeavor, it is essential to assess your mindset and overall readiness to navigate the medical school application process (as well as to become a medical student!).
If you find that getting back into the classroom seems too daunting or unrewarding at this time, it may be best to choose a later application cycle for yourself. Applying to medical school will always be an option, so relax and choose the application year that best ensures that you will matriculate as a strong and stable medical student.
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