The Medical School Application Process
Each medical school has its own unique selection criteria, and each entering class will have its own diversity. You will be judged not only on your scholastic achievements, but also on your potential as a physician. You can enter medical school with a less than perfect GPA and Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) score, but you must have other characteristics that demonstrate your commitment to medicine and humanity.
Timing is important! You should have your application complete and submitted as early as possible. AMCAS begins accepting applications June 1; AACOMAS begins processing in May. Most medical schools have rolling admissions, which means applicants are accepted as their applications are received and interviews take place. Therefore, the longer you wait to apply, the fewer slots still exist.
Health Professions Committee (HPC) at Cornell
Cornell has adopted a Health Professions Committee to assist you in processing your application in a timely manner, writing you a committee letter of recommendation, and uploading your letters of recommendation into VirtualEvals. Please download the Health Professions Committee Guide to review this process.
Click here for detailed information about the HPC at Cornell.
Medical School Interviews
The University of Iowa College of Medicine interviewed approximately 25% of applicants last year; about 22% of the interviewees are now in their first year of medical school. You are normally chosen for an interview only after your application has been reviewed and prioritized within the rest of the applicant pool (another reason to apply early!). Interviews vary at different medical schools, so come to the Dimensions Resource Center to learn more about the interview process at the school to which you've been extended an interview.
No matter where you interview, you should be prepared to discuss your motivation for medicine, your strengths, and personal experiences that will make you a good physician. Research the school too. Know the focus of the school. For example, do they emphasize research? Prepare yourself by reading up on current medical issues including the business aspects and public policy issues in the healthcare field. Ask questions of the interviewers; this is also your opportunity to decide if this school is what YOU want. To learn about the interview experience from students like yourself, go to the studentdoctor website and click on "interview feedback".
Choosing a medical school
Should you consider such things as geographic location or reputation of the school? Maybe those aren’t quite as important as where do you have the greatest chance of acceptance. There are "state" medical schools and private ones. You will have a better chance applying to the "state" school in your home state, simply because state schools have requirements for admitting residents of that state. Tuition for in-state students at state schools is usually significantly less than tuition for out-of-state students.
Private medical schools may or may not consider state of residence but can be more selective. The cost of tuition usually exceeds out-of-state tuition for "state" schools. But apply to more than one school! Apply to schools that you want to go to and those for which you would settle. You won’t be there forever and all schools can prepare you for the national boards and receiving your M.D.or D.O.
Many Cornell students participate in summer research at different medical schools and/or have friend and family connections to various medical schools. All of these things also help increase your chances of acceptance. Just like anything else in life, if the medical school knows you or can connect you to something at the school, your chances of getting accepted go up.
The Dimensions Resource Center has several texts comparing medical schools. Stop by 102 West Science to look at these books!
What if you’re not accepted the first time you apply? What are your chances of acceptance if you reapply? Don't worry, your life will not end! The average age of first year medical students is not 22 for a reason. Schools are looking for diversity, maturity, and well-rounded students. How do you become one of next year's medical school class?
Your first step should be to contact the Admissions staff of the school that rejected you or ask the Dimensions coordinator to do so on your behalf. Ask them why you were rejected; what were the weak points of your application? Most admissions departments will discuss your application with you, welcome your questions, and recognize your continuing desire to become a physician. The Admission staff will keep note of your request and the discussion when you re-apply to the same school. They will pay attention to how your application changed and what you did to correct weaknesses. If your MCAT scores are weak, take it again but, this time be more prepared. You may have to take additional science courses. Most importantly, demonstrate your maintained interest in medicine.
The following is a general timeline and checklist for your application:
- Fall: Plan for MCAT
- February: Register for a spring MCAT (April or May)
- April & May: Take the MCAT
- May: Arrange for letters of recommendation from faculty before you leave campus. Provide them with evaluation forms, if needed, and dates and addresses for submission.
- June: Submit AMCAS or AACOMAS application.
- July: Submit materials to Health Professions Committee.
- July/August/September: Complete supplementary applications. Be aware of the deadlines for each of your applications! Don't miss these!!