Author: Marianne Osorio-Quinones, BS Biomedical Sciences, Inter American
University of Puerto Rico
The road to Medicine can be one filled with challenges but also with many opportunities. Every day we strive without giving up. Soon, we will receive our “most wanted” white coat. You must know the steps to follow to be a competitive candidate when applying to graduate school.
As you know, people come to the university to offer workshops for us through student organizations. In one of these talks, the Dean of one of the Medical Schools in Puerto Rico visited. In his talk, he gave crucial information about how the admissions committee views a medical school application. This equation changed my vision of preparing myself to be a good candidate, and I want to share it with you through this writing.
When applying to graduate school, the admissions committee views each application as a whole. But that does not imply that the weight of each component is equal among all parts of the application. Here’s the equation:
40 % GPA (cumulative GPA/Science GPA)
40 % MCAT
10 % Extracurricular Activities & Personal Statement 10 % Interview
= 100 % Medicine Program Application
Having a good GPA and a good MCAT score is a significant determinant in passing the Admissions Committee’s first cut. However, extracurricular activities can be a determining factor in differentiating you from other applicants. As you prepare yourself to excel in your stats, you should consider those extracurricular activities play a significant role. Here are some tips that you should take into consideration when choosing or looking for extracurriculars:
- Make sure to select activities you are genuinely interested in: it is not about filling out a resume or a checklist. Do activities that match your interests and from which you can benefit from gaining knowledge.
- Reflect on the activity you did and how it made you a better human being. If you have the opportunity, you can make a journal to reflect on the activity you did, what you learned and how it made you feel. Long-term, this will help you stay focused for the interview and on your personal statement.
- Keep evidence of certificates and photos of the activities performed. There are medical schools that offer interviews and want to see a portfolio of the activities you have completed. Keeping a personal file with this information can save you a headache later on.
- Keep a record of hours spent in community service or shadowing. This is important when reflecting on what you have accomplished. Also, some universities and programs suggest a certain amount of shadowing hours (for example). So having a document with the hours signed is always a big help.
- Enjoy every experience because, after all, you are still young and a student. So extracurricular activities are an opportunity to release stress and maintain optimal mental health.
- Join student organizations. Being a member of student organizations at the local level (at universities) and national level brings many opportunities. In my case, I have had the chance to network, receive free workshops, do research and poster presentations. It is a great way to have access to extracurricular activities without a lot of effort, and it also helps you stay focused and motivated during your premed journey.
The goal seems far away, but time flies by, take every opportunity to make this journey the best experience of your life.
-Marianne Osorio-Quinones, BS