The beginning of 2020; a simpler time with no restrictions, no fear, no distance. And then came the Big C! There were a lot of things that changed when the first wave of the Corona Virus hit; from thriving in groups to being shunned to isolation being the first. Businesses suffered losses at a magnitude unseen, smaller ones taking the brunt of the hit; it has been a tough year & a half.
But despite the uncertainty and the fear that has surrounded this whole ordeal, we continue to adapt! This year’s record-breaking volume of medical school applications is a prime example! Although the pandemic called for unprecedented challenges like the closure of most offices and universities, leading to several MCAT dates being canceled and in-person interviews being replaced by virtual ones, the number of medical school applications was not deterred! 2020 to 2021 saw a huge surge in medical school applicants.
This past season of applications has been, for lack of a better word; epic! Applications to MD schools saw a rise of 18%, while the applications to DO schools increased by 19%. Among the top-ranked Universities with the highest percentage increase in applicants was Boston University with a 27% increase, UCSF with a 34% increase and Stanford University observed a staggering 50% increase in medical school applications!
But Why Now?
You might be asking yourself: “Why the sudden change now?” Covid has hindered everything, it has brought perfectly thriving industries to a grinding halt. So why hasn’t it adversely affected the medical applications process? You’re not alone in that thought, and the most we can do is venture a guess. According to Geoffrey Young, the AAMC senior director of student affairs and programs, such a large increase in applications is not only unprecedented but it’s also quite surprising. Although it’s hard to pinpoint the cause, the shift to e-learning may have freed up more time for the applicants to prepare for their MCAT exams. Another big possibility could be Covid itself. The rise of uncertainty and unimaginable losses met with the heroic front-line warriors of healthcare, could have been the motivational catalyst leading to this surge.
What Does it Mean?
In a landscape as sought after as medicine, adding a plethora of new applicants can only mean one thing: rising from being one of the most competitive fields to THE most competitive field! What that means for med students who applied is:
Getting interviews just got trickier: You know how they say that you should be yourself? Well, rehearsing to be your best self during interviews is imperative! They might be hard to come by but when you do land an interview, you need to be memorable above all else. Every other applicant has gone through the same training in med school; your stories and examples of what makes you the perfect candidate are what set you apart.
Waitlists will keep you waiting: Think about the perfect applicant, impeccable scores, meaningful experiences, you could bet that they would be on the top of the acceptance list; but this year all bets are off! The best are landing themselves on unshakable waitlists and not just at the top-ranked places.
Accept that acceptances are harder to come by: This is where you get to shine a light on yourself! From your interests and personal statement to LORs and interviews, each touchpoint is crucial to help you stay ahead of the competition.
This doesn’t end here: The application process might not have ended but the way it’s going so far, this surge could spill over to the next season too. So it doesn’t end here, in fact, this is more of a practice run for the applicants who don’t get accepted.
What’s the way forward?
This might be a trying time but there’s always more to be done! If you’re facing the limbo that is the waiting period, there are a few things you can do to swing the odds in your favor. From the schools that have you on their waitlist, send a strong letter of intent to your top choice, following up is always appreciated banking on the fact that the school accepts such letters. When it comes to places you haven’t heard back from at all, following up is key and it doesn’t hurt to include updates about your work.
Does this sound all too familiar? Are you stuck in the process of hearing back from your med school of choice? You don’t need to worry! Our team of highly trained medical professionals is here to help optimize your medical journey and answer all your questions.
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