Being pre-med is great, and I love it. Sometimes I feel a little lost, realizing that I am crazy behind on all of the things I thought I was right on schedule for. I generally had to figure a lot of things out about the medical school application on my own, especially because my parents weren't doctors themselves. There are so many things that people just assume you know about medical school even if you don't.
Start waaaaaay earlier than you think you need to.
I planned on starting my medical school application process around spring break and going into May and the summer, especially because most programs don't have a deadline until October or November. This was clearly a mistake as I realized that most websites recommend that you have your application submitted in early June. It's the end of June and I am still struggling to finalize everything because I assumed I had way more time than I did. Send out requests for letters of recommendation early and continually work on your personal statement.
Writing your personal statement is possibly one of the hardest things you can do.
As it stands, I am not super big on talking about myself in a serious light. I can easily share funny stories, or embarrassing ones, but talking about myself in order to sell myself is extremely difficult. I know that most people can be successful in an interview, but writing the personal statement is so much more than that. To start, it's really short, and there are key phrases that everyone says to avoid so you don't sound as cliche as some of the other people applying. The personal statement is far more competitive than grades and MCAT scores, because the admissions office wants to see a level of genuine honesty that shows you can be a doctor. However, the prompt is short and a little vague, and it takes a lot of work to have a personal statement to be proud of.
It can be really discouraging.
I am one of those people who always looks at the numbers when I am doing anything, and only 40% of people who apply to medical school will get it. It isn't exactly the most encouraging number when you realize that a majority of people won't get to matriculate. Looking at the class breakdowns of schools you are applying to will also tend to cause doubt because if you don't match exactly it's difficult to see yourself standing in a white coat.
Your transcript is not enough.
There is a section where you enter in every class you have taken in college, including AP classes, classes for the summer at community colleges and all of the classes you took at your university. Having your transcript is key to have it sent over to AMCAS, but you need to make sure you know what classes you took so you can manually enter all of them into the system.
Don't delay submitting your app while you don't have your MCAT score.
I don't have my MCAT score yet, and I need to get ready to send my application over. COVID-19 certainly played a part in med schools being a little bit more lenient about letters of recommendation and delayed MCAT scores, but it's important to know that you can in fact submit your application without your MCAT scores attached. My one worry is that medical schools might know my score before I do, which of course provides some worry, but if you take a late MCAT, it's important to submit that application without your MCAT score.
The submit button is a lot scarier than it looks.
As I've finished my application, I have found myself increasingly more terrified of actually submitting it. I know, it's crazy, to work this hard to finish my application and being intensely hesitant to actually press submit. But it makes it almost too real, pressing submit means that I will be under scrutiny that I don't think I will ever be prepared for. As excited as I am that there is a real chance that I could be a doctor, clicking that button make it all seem so final. It may not be the button that is scary but rather the idea that rejection could come.
Your support system will always have faith in you, even if you don't.
I didn't always have the most faith in myself. It was easier for me to focus on anything else than the state my personal statement was in, or the idea of picking medical schools when I felt less prepared than ever because of the pandemic. My support system stood by my side the entire time, through all the tears and frustration and through the good times. They researched schools and read all 5000 drafts of my personal statement. They worked hard to make sure that even when I felt that everything was helpless, I knew that it absolutely was not.
The idea of attending medical school is easily one of the most exciting things I can imagine, but I also find that it becomes more and more difficult the closer I get to submitting my application. At this point, I know it's ultimately up to the schools I applied to. No matter how difficult it gets, stay strong and work hard. There is always hope.