Things I Wish I Knew: Applications
I have complied a list of things I wish I knew before embarking on this long yet fantastic journey to medical school. From money to self care and everything in between.
SAVE YOUR COINS // The first and the most important in my opinion...save your money ahead of time. This year, I have spent a considerable amount of money. No one told me exactly what I would be getting myself into..luckily you have me! Between primary applications, secondary applications, interview flights and hotels, I have single handedly spent more in the course of six months than I have in years. Let me put it into perspective. Each primary app 160 + ~$40 each additional app (according to AMCAS, honestly I don't remember the exact amount + I try not to remember). I applied to 19 schools and spent close to 900 bucks on the first round of apps. Secondary applications can range anywhere from 60-135 dollars each. Most (not all) dont screen. Screening means look at the applicants credentials prior to sending a secondary. Which is a HUGE scam but that is for another post. So if you apply to 19 schools, you're more than likely to receive atleast 15 secondary apps. Add in mcat prep courses, application advisor, interview arrangements, and you've spent enough to buy a new car. If you know you are applying to school in the near future, start saving now. Put away a little money here and there and believe me when I tell you, you will be thankful you did. I mean unless you got it like that..and if thats you disregard this one.
PICKING MCAT PREP // Whether its Kaplan, Princeton Review, or Altius, try not to stress out too much about picking a prep class. At the end of the day, your prep will be what you put in. Just make sure the program you do choose has what you need to be successful: AAMC comparable practice tests, AAMC section banks, content review, study material, and a tutor (if you feel like you need it). There are plenty to choose from! MCAT prep isn't cheap (reference first paragraph) so do your research and make sure you spend your hard earned money on a program you can stick with.
#SELFCARE // Studying 8 hours a day can be overwhelming and this process is stressful to say the least. I rarely took time off or went out while studying for the mcat because when I would go out, I would get anxious. Thoughts of "you should be studying" or "you didnt do well on that last exam, do you think you deserve to have fun" running through my head constantly. Feel free to message me if this is you currently, I can share with you some things that helped me. Being anxious or pushing yourself to keep going when you're on E is not going to make you get that 520.It’s okay to take time off or relax. If not one day a week, set out half a day to do something you love. Workout, do a face mask, anything that you love. It really is important so you don't go crazy lol
SURROUND YOURSELF W. PEOPLE WHO GET IT // Unfortunately, this is a case of "If you haven't gone through it you won't understand". You will be tired, you will be overwhelmed, any free time you have is rare so often you'll just want to lay in bed (my first option always), spend tiime with family, or maybe try to sqeeze in a workout. Not everyone will understand you may not have time to hang out. Not all your friends will understand that you have a day off but you just want to relax in the house. But thats okay. Its not their fault. An interviwer told me recently "If they are really your friend, they will be there when med school is over". As blunt as this is and odd to say in a med school interview, it is true. We are on a long hard journey to reach that MD.. surround yourself with people who get it. Surround yourself with people who support you and pick you up when you're down, not add to your stress.
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF. PERIOD // I'm not afraid to say this is my biggest struggle. Comparing your situation to someone else's can cause you to second guess your purpose and abilities. Not everyone was given the same capabilities and purpose, so therefore comparing yourself to others is unfair. We were all given strengths and weaknesses and everyone’s path to medicine is different. Try not to let other people‘s accomplishments diminish how you view your own. Instead, use it as fuel to propel yourself forward (takes own advice).
DO NOT RUSH // It's so easy to get caught up in wishing you were in a later stage of this long journey. Its because we feel like we've been working at this for so long and we just want to be doctors already! Sometimes we get so caught up, that we find ourselves rushing the process when there's no need. So if that means extending the date of your MCAT so that you can study more or taking a year or two off to build your resume, its okay..I did both! Nothing great is built without a solid foundation. Graduation day will come, the MCAT isn't going anywhere (unfortunately), and Med School will always be there. Throw societal pressures out of the window and do what's best for you!
PLAN AHEAD // It's always a good idea to be organized. Whenever I feel like I have a million things to do, I step back and make a game plan. For example, 5 secondary apps pop into your email the same day...great problem to have but what do you do first? Plan out your goals for each day. Figure out if some essays are similar. Develop the best game plan to tackle all those essays in the shortest amount of time possible. Factor in cost with what you can afford each week. After all speed and efficiency are essential! So make sure that planner is color coordinated or that iphone calendar is synced. Figure out what works best for you, divide, and conquer!
As always, you can do this! You were meant for greatness. Don't let a lack of knowledge or resources keep you from reaching your goals. So make a game plan and get to it!