Applying to college can be daunting, but applying to BS/MD programs can seem even more difficult. With admissions rates in the single digits, earning a spot in a medical school while in high school can seem like an impossible task.
Having gone through the BS/MD application process last summer, there were several tips that I wish I had known before applying to medical programs. Below are some of the most important things I have taken away from my experience applying to BS/MD programs.
- Demonstrate maturity, to yourself and to colleges.
Make sure you know that medicine is something you want to do for the rest of your life. Most high schoolers may not know what career path they would like to embark on, and that’s okay! The majority of doctors do not come from combined medical programs, but rather apply to medical school during their undergraduate years. If you are applying to BS/MD programs, understand the pros of the profession: the sense of fulfillment, the wisdom gained, and the lives saved. But also remember to take off your rose-colored glasses: it is a long path, the hours are tough, and the work can be emotionally exhausting. If you can show this maturity in your essays and interviews (and to yourself while applying), you will stand out to admissions committees.
- Apply broadly, but not blindly.
As both undergraduate schools and medical programs get increasingly selective, it may be tempting to apply to as many schools as possible. This is an enticing strategy - I applied to a long list of competitive schools because I did not know where I would gain admission. It is definitely advantageous to apply to many schools to maximize your chances of getting into a BS/MD program. But looking back on my college list, I wish I had reduced the amount of undergraduate and BS/MD programs I applied to. Many BS/MD programs have very long applications, and several have separate applications for the undergraduate institution as well as the medical school. You may want to apply to every BS/MD program that exists, but really think about whether or not you see yourself attending the school. Do your research on schools before choosing to apply, and make sure that every program on your list is somewhere you would like to go—you’ll be spending almost a decade there!
- Don’t be afraid to take risks.
It can be tempting to craft a cookie-cutter application, but realize that many other students applying to BS/MD programs may have similar profiles. Most students who apply have extremely competitive standardized test scores, are at the top of their graduating class, and have a variety of medically pertinent extracurricular experiences. One of the best ways to set yourself apart from other students is to take risks in essays. While it is important to stress your passion for the medical field, do not feel like you have to have the perfect story. Although I have wanted to be a doctor for a long time, many of my peers in my BS/MD program discovered their passion only recently. Be truthful in your writing, and talk about the experiences that have led you to this field. Even if you think the idea for your essay is too “out there,” know that taking a calculated risk can pay off. One of the biggest things that impressed my interviewer was that my scholarship essay was extremely unique and bold. Be smart, but don’t be afraid to be unique!
- Perseverance will lead to success.
When applying to competitive schools and BS/MD programs, know that you are bound to get several rejections. It is totally possible that you do not get into your first or second choice school because of the sheer nature of the applicant pool you are competing against. But no matter the number of rejections you get, don’t give up hope! Keep working hard, and really give your all to every application you submit. Even if you do not get into a BS/MD program, know that you can always apply to medical school through the traditional route. At the end of the day, nothing is more important to success in medicine than perseverance.
Now, if you have other questions you would like to ask me about the BS/MD admissions process, leave a comment on this post!