Applying to medical school can take at least a year and a half (not counting the MCAT). Yes, the submission date for applications is in June, and acceptances can extend all the way into August if wait listed. But, there’s a lot of pre-game work that needs to be done for an applicant to apply on time. Applying early and on time are essential due to most schools having rolling admissions. This is nothing like undergraduate admissions. You can still get into medical school without applying early, but your chances dwindles with time because the seats are taken regardless of your impressive credentials. As time rolls on, the seats get filled, hence rolling admissions. There are three important dates every applicant needs to know to leap out the gate early:
1. Financial Assistance Program
Aptly shortened to FAP, this opened on Jan. 3rd in 2014. It usually opens towards the beginning of the year. If you qualify you’ll have 15 schools you can apply to for free for both primary and secondary (this may change, so keep up with the AMCAS). If you don’t qualify, it’s best early so you can start making alternate arrangements like voodoo to raise the rest of the money for the application. Don’t worry, I’ll never asked how you raised the money to apply…you did what you had to do. Without a doubt, if you don’t have the cash to apply early, this will hurt your chances on getting in if your finances put you so far back that you end up applying towards the late end of the AMCAS season. Applying later means less seats to fight for in the medschool game of musical chairs. To start entering the application is free, so don’t self select out quickly, things might come together at the last moment for cash — it did for me.
2.AMCAS Application Opens
This opens on May 1st in 2014.
In 2014, the AMCAS will open for applicants applying to 2015 on May 1st. You’ll be issued an identification number from the AAMC, it’s okay to take a moment to celebrate that you have an AAMC number. You can start entering your grades (be very meticulous), personal statement, generate electronic letter heads/barcodes for your LOR writers if you go that route like I did, and pretty much fill out the rest of the application. When you print out the draft it’ll be about 17-20 pages in total, so it’s better to get started early, make entries little by little to lessen chances of mistakes, and take your time — you’ll see why later. The only thing you can’t do is enter your own MCAT grade, If you want to apply early, it’s essential that you are especially aggressive about getting your application together. And, for that to work, you should have all required transcripts submitted and marked as received by the AMCAS. Now, some schools have disparate dates on when the transcripts are actually due, unless you’re just applying to that one school for the early decision process, you’d want to have your transcripts in to account for all the schools you may apply to. Don’t forget to account for delays from your university (or universities) when making a transcript request, also don’t be surprised if requesting the transcripts is surprisingly convoluted. Just let your school’s registrar now you’re applying to medical school, hand them. Always use the official AMCAS transcript request form, this is sited is the number one reason for delays in transcript processing in the AMCAS manual — aka put you behind others who didn’t have this problem. The chief goal during this period is make it so your application is marked “ready for review” as soon as possible. All in all your application process is transparent, you submit things and AMCAS will give you a status to let you know how you’re doing:
|Not Submitted to AMCAS||AMCAS has not received your application.|
|Submitted to AMCAS – Waiting forTranscripts||AMCAS has received your application.Required transcripts have not been received for review.|
|Submitted to AMCAS – Ready forReview||AMCAS has received a copy of all required transcripts and has placed the application in line to be reviewed by an AMCAS verifier|
|Submitted to AMCAS – Under Review||A verifier is reviewing your application.You will be notified if there are any additional transcripts needed for|
|Returned to Applicant||Application has been returned to you for missing coursework or failing to enter an original grade for a repeated course.|
|AMCAS Processing is Complete||Application has been made available toyour designated medical schools.|
AMCAS Submission Open
This year, June 3rd. “Yay”, you can apply to medical school now! To apply early, and confidently, it’s nice to have a MCAT score already in your pocket. It would also be stellar to have your LOR ready to submit (or already had) at this time as well. Oh, one thing, once you submit the AMCAS application there is no going back, no editing your entries besides very super-minor things — so, don’t muck it up, don’t press that submit button until you have a professional level application. This part of the application, “application under review” may add up to 6 weeks to your application! You see, during this time the AMCAS will go through and verify all the grades/courses you self-entered, review how you indexed the courses (BCPM vs AO), double check your unit tabulations, and try to make sense of other “show stoppers”. The AMCAS is a gentle giant, they’ll change things within reason, but after a certain number of mistakes (depending on the gravity) the AMCAS may return the application to you. This may an additional 10 business days processing time, even if you responded immediately.
In fact, you have one primary goal during the primary portion of the AMCAS, get your application marked as “AMCAS is complete”. One final note, if you did everything on time, your application won’t be released to medical schools until late June. However, the applications are completed as they roll in, so the earlier you apply the more priority is placed on your completion process. So, the earlier you get a quality application in the better. And always keep in mind that careless mistakes, and lack of planning can easily add a month or two (or more) to your application, making you less competitive. So, apply early, but do mind your p’s and q’s.
Make a plan now, please =).