发信人: andyzzdlee (麦地纽约土渣), 信区: MedicalCareer
标 题: Re: Re: [pre-med]：（转帖）Washington University in St. Louis
发信站: BBS 未名空间站 (Sun Jan 11 23:32:43 2009)
转贴自SDN：My successful application as a non-traditional student with a
I am a non-traditional applicant, married and with a 6-month-old baby, and
with a foreign undergraduate education in an Asian country. I applied to
medical schools for the entering year of 2009. I have been very lucky in
this application cycle, with 7 acceptances already and still waiting to hear
back from a few others (post-interview and post-secondary). Before and
during my application, like many non-traditional applicants, I was stressful
and a little scared, not sure what would happy. I got tremendous help and
encouragement from many kind SDNers. I would never have done it so
successfully without all your help. Today I am writing my story and my
insight regarding the application process based on my own experience.
Hopefully it will be helpful for some non-traditional applicants.
1) Undergraduate degree and prerequisite courses
I did my undergraduate in an Asian country, so English is my second language
. I came to the U.S. for a Ph.D. degree in Physics. During my third year of
my Ph.D. program, I realized that I wanted to pursue medicine. I went to a
medical school counseling and they basically told me that it was almost
impossible for me to get in medical school (at that time, I did not know
about SDN). They said that I had to have an undergraduate degree in the U.S.
to apply (which is NOT true) and I had to take all the prerequisite courses
in the U.S. including math and physics even though I was in a Physics Ph.D.
program (again, not completely true, see below).
For my undergraduate degree, I could not change the fact that it was done in
a foreign country. I figured since I would be holding a U.S. advanced
degree, it should be all right. It turned out I was right. But I did take
the advice of using credential evaluation service WES to evaluate my
undergraduate degree and transcript. I was planning to order one report from
WES to every school, so whenever possible during the secondary application
(such as in place of “do you have any other comments”) I would write that
I had done a WES evaluation and would order an official report to be sent
from WES. However, ordering report from WES was too costly (~$20 per copy)
and I decided to hold a while to see if I would get interview invitations
without the report from WES. Fortunately, interview invitations started to
roll in at mid-August. So I haven’t ordered any copy from WES yet and I
think I probably only need one copy for my final-decision school. Isn’t
For the prerequisite courses, I took them selectively. Since I have taken
many physics on the graduate level I figured they should be able to
substitute the general physics, so I did not retake the general physics as
those counselors suggested. I did not retake math neither, because I figured
I had taken many in my foreign college and my math skills should not be
doubted because of my advanced degree in Physics. For general chemistry (w/
lab), organic chemistry (w/lab), biology (w/lab) and English, I decided to
take them in the U.S. But as a graduate student working in the lab full time
, I could only take one course per semester as allowed by my Ph.D. advisor.
I laid out a time frame, and it did not seem that I had enough time to
finish all four courses before 2008, the year of my application. I
prioritized the courses in the order of: organic chemistry, biology, general
chemistry, English. My graduate school is a very good private school, so I
took organic chemistry and biology at my graduate school in two years, while
took general chemistry and English in a state public school during two
summers. In this way, I finished all the 4 courses in two years while doing
my Ph.D. study at the same time.
I learned from some SDNers that an applicant with a foreign undergraduate
degree need to have >= 90 class credits (or >=60 for some schools) in the U.
S. to be considered in medical school application. I am not sure how strict
that requirement is, but I did not have that many credits. Combing the
undergraduate prerequisite classes and my graduate classes, I had only 68
credits, and this did not seem to be a problem for most schools (I applied
to 20 schools in total, have received 13 interviews).
I knew I had to have a good mcat score to succeed in the application, so I
took this beast with a lot of respect . I took Kaplan online course,
together with Exam Crackers books. There was a lot of excellent advice given
on SDN regarding how to attack each session and I do not really have much
to say. I just want to stress the importance of “smart” practice--taking
notes of the mistakes you made and understanding every question you got
right. Since English is my second language, Verbal session was my biggest
challenge. I remember I started with a 4 or 5 in Kaplan practice, and got
really concerned when it did seem to improve after I reached 8 or 9. I got
Exam Crackers 101 and practiced a lot. Before the real exam, my verbal was
around 9/10 (or 8 if I was not giving my full concentration). I told myself
to stop freaking out and just try my best to score 9 or 10. Fortunately I
got 10 in the real mcat. I think CONCENTRATION is the key to do well in mcat
. During Verbal session, I was fully focused on just my screen and did not
really notice when people around me getting up and going in and out the room
. I got really hungry during my last Bio session (I was about 4-month
pregnant ) and got distracted. I barely finished the bio session and got 11,
which is lower than my practice (~12-13). So CONCENTRATION is the key. In
case you wonder, my mcat score is V10+P14+B11 =35 O.
For those who are struggling on verbal, do not give up. If I can do it, you
can do it. Practice and Concentration!
3) Clinical experience
I started to volunteer at a hospital at the same time I started to take the
prerequisite courses. Because of my tight schedule, I only did one ~4 hour
shift every week on Sundays for about 1.5 years. I figured that since I was
going to be weak in this area compared to other applicants who might have
done clinical work for many years, I needed to make my volunteer experience
really valuable. So I chose a volunteer work that had a lot of patient
contact. It turned out this was very important because I got asked about my
volunteer work during almost every interview and the interviewer was happy
to learn that I had the experience of close patient contact so I knew what
it was like to work with patients. Therefore I highly recommend doing
volunteer work that involves a lot patient contact.
I stopped my volunteer work when I got really busy preparing for Mcat. I was
not sure if my 1.5 years of volunteer work was enough in the category of
clinical experience. After I got back my mcat score and decided for sure
that I was going to apply in the summer of 2008, I asked for advice from a
few SDNers. They all told me that my clinical experience was too scarce and
I needed to do some more. They especially recommended shadowing with doctors
. I knew that shadowing with doctors was standard clinical experience for
almost every medical school applicant, so in the early March of 2008 (when I
was ~6 month pregnant) I decided to do some shadowing. However, I could not
really find a doctor to shadow. So I went back to my ex volunteer
coordinator to see if she had anything for me. My coordinator kindly
arranged me a volunteer work where I could have even more in-depth patient
contact (I interviewed a lot of patients and selectively enroll them in some
patient-care program). It turned out this rather short two-month volunteer
experience (had to stop it because my baby was coming ) was very important
because during the interview when being asked “what ELSE clinical
experience do you have?” I had something nice to say. I would not have done
this two-month volunteer work if not for the advice I got from those SDNers
. Therefore, it is very important to get feedback about your application
package before you apply, and be sure to leave some time to fix those weak
As for shadowing with doctors, I think it is a necessary for traditional
applicants because the AdCom need to make sure that you know what you are
getting yourself into. But for non-traditional applicants, especially those
who have explored other career choices and in their late-20s or early 30s, I
feel shadowing may not be a necessary. Do it if you have the opportunity,
but do not loose hope if you just cannot find a doctor to shadow with. Just
make sure you have two or more than two clinical experiences that involve
some patient contact. During one of my interview, when being asked “what do
you think is a weakness in your application?” I mentioned my lacking of
shadowing experience. My interviewer told me that shadowing was not
necessarily needed for my case. He said that giving my life experience and
my age, he knew that I was mature enough to have a realistic view toward
Again, the general wisdom, APPLY EARLY. I submitted my primary application
on the very first day when it was open, and submitted all the secondary
within 2 or 3 weeks after getting it. That was one reason why I got
interview invitations in August. After I submitted my primary, I actually
added Vanderbilt about 1 month later after learning that I only needed to
submit secondary if got an interview. But let me tell you, I have not heard
a word from Vanderbilt yet. I would think I was a good candidate for
Vanderbilt giving my research background and apparently just applying a
month late hurt my chance (maybe Vanderbilt did not want me even I applied
on June 1st ).
Everybody knows the importance of PS. So be sure to find as many readers as
possible. I got a lot of help from the volunteer readers on SDN. In total my
PS was read by about 12 people and I got a lot of valuable advice. If you
get similar critical advice from many readers, then that is something you
want to change. Based on the advice I got, I made major changes 3 times
regarding to the content of my PS and I think these changes really made a
difference in my application. For my secondary essays, I got help from one
kind SDNer with grammars and flows.
During an interview, you really have to stand out among all the promising
candidates to get an acceptance. My interviews overall went pretty well and
I have a few tips here.
1) Being confident
Do not be nervous. When you are selected for an interview, you must have
certain qualities the school likes and you must be a promising candidate. So
be confident. Walk into the interviewing room with a confident smile.
2) Think before you give an answer.
It is OK to take a few seconds to think about your answer when being asked a
question that you do not have a ready answer. Actually this is much better
than rushing out a quick answer without thinking, because that few seconds’
thinking demonstrates your maturity.
3) Knowing your strength and weakness.
Be prepared to address your weakness. Do not bring it up voluntarily, but be
prepared to talk about it when being asked. When talking about it, do not
sound too defensive, but provide the reasons for your weakness and ways to
improve it if you can.
Knowing your strength, this is the most important part, in my opinion, more
important than knowing your weakness. You have to make sure that after the
interview your interviewer knows your strength—the qualities in you that
will make you a successful student and a good physician, and what you can
bring to the school. Sometimes you have to use a little bit communication
skills to get these points crossed. For example, when being asked about what
I do for fun, I would tell them about my hobbies and how these hobbies
helped me deal with stress (which lets the interviewer know that I could
handle the stress in medical school); I would also indicate how these
hobbies make me unique and interesting (which lets the interviewer know that
I could add to the diversity of the class). Sometimes if your interviewer
did not give you the chance to talk about your strength X, you could direct
the conversation by saying something like “ Oh, I have not got a chance to
talked about X,” 99% of possibility your interviewer would say “Yes, tell
me about it.” Then you could go on and talk about your strength X.
Therefore you, as the interviewee, has some control over where the
I realize how long this post is. It is the longest one I ever posted online.
Thank you for your patience to read it through, and I hope it is helpful
to you in some way.
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发信人: wzxm (蚊子凶猛), 信区: MedicalCareer
标 题: Re: Re: [pre-med]：（转帖）Washington University in St. Louis
发信站: BBS 未名空间站 (Mon Jan 12 01:26:50 2009)
wow a great example
- PhD on Physics from a 'very good private school'
- Pre-req in the States: general chemistry (w/ lab), organic chemistry (w/
lab), biology (w/lab) and English
- MCAT: V10+P14+B11 =35O
- Tow clinical volunteering jobs, both in-depth contact w/ patients
- Applied EARLY
Offer: 7 and still counting
Key：PhD from a 'very good private school' + 35O on MCAT
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