If you were placed on one or more “wait lists,” hang in there and keep in touch with the Health Careers Advising Office. We will keep in contact with the schools. Offers for admission may come as late as the day before classes begin. While you are waiting, if you have new information to provide the medical school, contact them or us and make sure that the school(s) know that you are still very much interested in them.
If you received more than one interview but were not accepted or put on a wait list, the most likely reason is the schools’ reactions to your interview. You can make best use of the time you have until applying again next year by working on your interviewing skills. Doing more mock interviews, taking a course on public speaking (e.g., Dale Carnegie), and working on your interpersonal skills in general will help.
If you applied to several schools and had only one interview, you should work on your interviewing skills as outlined above, but also take a critical look at your application and identify potentially weak areas (GPA, MCAT, extracurricular activities, personal statement) that you can improve upon during the next several months.
If you did not receive an invitation to interview but had competitive GPA (>3.5) and MCAT scores (>508), then take a close look at your extracurricular activities and personal statement. If you had not spent time in a medical environment, you should prioritize doing so and incorporating your experiences into a revised personal statement. If you had considerable medical experience, then critically examine your essay.
You may also want to evaluate whether your application provides sufficient evidence of personality traits medical schools deem important, such as compassion, leadership, communication skills, passion, and commitment to excellence. You might find that extracurricular activities outside the medical field may be a better way for you to demonstrate these traits, in which case you may want to explore options such as Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, or Teach for America.
If you did not receive an invitation to interview, and your GPA or MCAT scores are marginal, then you must improve them. If your GPA is OK, but your MCAT scores are marginal, then plan to retake the MCAT, preparing for them as outlined previously (see Standardized Exams).
If you need to improve your GPA, you should do so by taking more science courses. You have several options to do this.
- Retake courses in which you got a C or lower. Doing so will only help if you take them at a reputable college or university. Taking them at a community college will generally not help, even if the course is a good one.
- Instead of retaking a course, take a more advanced course that requires mastery of the material in course(s) you may not have done well in the first time around. For example, if you got Cs in Organic Chemistry but have since learned the material (e.g., by studying for the MCAT, by auditing courses, or doing related research), then take an advanced course in organic chemistry or biochemistry and get an A in it. If you get another C, then you have obviously not helped your cause.
- Enroll in a postbaccalaureate (postbac) program designed for students who want to enhance their academic credentials in the sciences. These programs are nationwide, with several in MA (Brandeis, BU, Elms, Harvard, Northeastern, Tufts, Wellesley, and Worcester State). (Anaelle Ndoye, ’21, gave a presentation in November 2021 about her postbaccalaureate program experience and included a list of resources.)
Another alternative altogether is to pursue a graduate degree in science (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, or physics) and defer reapplying to medical school until you have completed that graduate program. For example, you might consider taking advantage of Clark’s fifth year free master’s program in biology or chemistry. You must meet the specified minimum GPA criteria, and be sure to fill out the appropriate application materials with the Graduate School by May 1 of your junior year.
If you choose to do graduate work, you should also be sure to update your application and personal essay before reapplying. You should also get a letter of recommendation from your research mentor. Medical schools usually require that you complete all requirements for your graduate degree before matriculation, so plan your courses and program of research accordingly.
You may also want to consider getting a master’s degree in medical sciences. There are many good programs nationwide, and their graduates frequently have a very high rate of success in getting accepted into medical school immediately after graduation.
If you seem to have run out of options and see little hope of improving your academic credentials to make them competitive for medical school or other doctoral level programs, then it may be time to reevaluate your career goals and consider alternative programs. There are many paths to finding a rewarding career in health-related professions (see Types of Careers).
You will probably be far better off by finding a program and career best suited for your academic and personal strengths, rather than struggling to get into medical school somewhere, and then continuing to struggle to master the very demanding curriculum, and then struggle with the comprehensive standardized exams you must pass to continue past the first two years of medical school (USMLE Step 1), and then again after you have finished four years of medical training (USMLE Step 2-CK), and then again after further specialized training (USMLE Step 3). If you fail to pass any of these milestones, you may have spent all your time and efforts with nothing to show but an enormous financial debt. This is certainly the worst-case scenario, and does not happen to many, but a realistic self-appraisal after not being accepted to medical schools despite your best efforts is appropriate.