Application season is well underway and you are a few steps closer to the road that will lead you to becoming a physician. Congratulations! In your pursuit, you have undoubtedly heard plenty of advice. Perhaps this advice has been tailored towards “what to do” to be a competitive applicant. However, tips for the application itself can be difficult to come by, which is where the following few tips may be of help.
Often forgotten, but worthy of passing along, are the critical “three C’s”:
1. Clear– Your stellar grades, MCAT score and extracurricular activities will count for little if your application materials are plagued with spelling and grammatical errors. Although it is important to get your application in ASAP, do not sacrifice quality. Clarity also speaks to the message that you are trying to send the reader. A great way to check for clarity is to have someone not only proofread your application, but also have this reader—in their own words—explain what they believe you are trying to say with your application. Remember: each admissions office will screen thousands of applicants for only 100 or more spots in their entering class, so although a clear application will not make up for a deficit in your application, a lack of clarity will certainly introduce one.
2. Clever– Being clever in your application and interview can make you more memorable. One way to achieve this is to be well-structured in your responses. You can also trying searching for “STAR Technique” in your favorite search engine. This technique is very valuable not only for your application but also for the interview. Get clever with how you research your favorite schools: read student blogs about the school, look at their website, discover what groups or special programs are available to students, explore the city’s website to learn about the area, community events and so on. Why put in this extra effort, you ask? So that when the application (or an interviewer) asks you why you applied to their program, you can highlight something unique about their school from what you’ve found that you are genuinely interested in. Remember: information that is easy to find will likely be recycled by applicants many times over, so dig deep for information to leave a better, more unique impression.
3. Confident– This last tip may seem strange, but it is an important one. The tone of your writing in the application is equal to your body language at the interview. If you project confidence, you will assure admissions officers that you believe you have what it takes to be a medical student and future physician. However, try to avoid projecting arrogance: be mindful of Aristotle’s “Doctrine of the Mean” that suggests to be the middle of any two extremes (in this case, extreme confidence and extreme self-doubt).
I wish you luck and hope this application cycle ends in your matriculation!
Derek Ebner is a part of the MD class of 2016 at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder where he was an active member of the NSCS chapter; Derek majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biological Sciences.