In this blog post, I want to talk about something that most BS/MD students don’t usually consider until it’s too late. It’s good to start thinking about some of these things as early as when you come home from your interview travel. Who you contact and what you do after you interview is instrumental to both your selection into the program as well as to your ultimate college decision, so don’t take for granted the post-interview steps.
By emailing the program faculty members (even those whom you may not have had a chance to talk to directly) and expressing your gratitude for their efforts shows that you’re really serious about this program. Once you’ve reached the interview stage of the BS/MD process, your accomplishments don’t really matter anymore. It’s your enthusiasm and excitement for the school and program that are really going to set you apart from others, and one of the best ways to express those sentiments is through an email. It should be apparent from both the length and the content of the email that you took the time to think it through and really make sure you delivered a personal message. By simply sending a “thank you for having me” email, you don’t really add any value to your application. Make sure to also send this email within 1-2 days of the interview to ensure that this act of appreciation is taken into consideration when the selection committee is deciding which applicants to select for the program. The decision is generally made within a few weeks of the interview day/weekend (because program faculty want to make final conclusions while the interview process is still fresh in their mind) so you don’t want to be too delayed in sending the email.
The point is, by taking the time to thank people who have worked tirelessly for the past few months to set up this interview process, you’ll show them that not only are you a smart and diligent student, but so too a kind and grateful person, and that’s exactly the kind of qualities these programs are seeking.
In addition to showing appreciation towards the program faculty, you also want to make sure to reach out to any current students of the program whom you may have had a chance to talk to during the interview process. Some programs take into consideration student input while others may not, but either way, the program will not tell you what they do. So to be safe, it’s always safe to extend your gratitude to any upperclassmen to make sure you’re on their good side as well.
With upperclassmen, it’s not always a requirement for you to send a lengthy and formal email as it is with program faculty. Sometimes simply showing your appreciation via a Facebook message or text is good enough. You should note, however, that a thoughtfully written out email will make a stronger impression. So I would recommend evaluating how impactful the upperclassmen whom you are planning on sending the note to was throughout your interview, and then making an appropriate decision based off of that. For example, if you stayed overnight with a student host, then I would suggest you send that person an email. If, however, the student was simply someone you had one or two brief and casual conversations with during your visit, then a Facebook message will suffice. Be thoughtful and be appreciative; beyond that, there’s not much to it!
Once March 31st rolls around and you know of all the programs and regular universities you were accepted to, make sure to not let up just yet! Now is the time to take advantage of all the hard work you’ve put in over the last year and try to get as much scholarship money as possible.
As a general rule, it’s not uncommon for BS/MD programs to offer you slightly less scholarship money relative to the other schools. This is simply because these BS/MD programs are offering something that is arguably more valuable than a couple thousand dollars: rare opportunity for an easier route to medical school. Thus, the best leverage to use against these programs is money that other programs are offering you. Because in that case, both sides are offering simpler routes to medical school, so the only other differentiation is money. It is possible to use a regular undergraduate school’s scholarship money as leverage, but it will likely only be effective if that university is quite prestigious. If not, still give it a shot, but don’t be too surprised if the BS/MD program doesn’t match that amount exactly.
Now that you’ve interviewed at all the BS/MD programs and have hopefully toured your top undergraduate university options, take some time to figure out which of these schools is best for you. For some people, choosing a BS/MD program might seem like the obvious simply because its providing an easier route into medical school, but don’t be too quick and jump the gun on that decision.
Some BS/MD programs are essentially a “trap.” They use the classic carrot and stick method to entice students and get them to come to their university (to improve their rankings and statistics) by dangling in front of them that conditional acceptance to medical school. At first, there’s seems to be nothing wrong with that. But once you take a closer look at some of the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to gain that acceptance (such as a high MCAT score, a high GPA, or a strict requirement of all science-related activities), you’ll come to realize that there aren’t all that many perks to actually joining such a BS/MD program. If you were to be a traditional pre-med student, you would likely do all the same things but instead at an undergraduate university that is either more prestigious, offering you more scholarship money, or is generally a better fit for your personality. So in this situation, attending that BS/MD program makes really no sense at all.
The best way to decide whether to choose a BS/MD program over a regular undergraduate university (or to decide which specific BS/MD program to choose if you have multiple offers) is by creating a list of your specific educational needs. So, for example, my list consisted of: scholarship money, people, school size, medical school prestige, undergraduate school prestige, MCAT/GPA requirements, and types of classes offered. If a BS/MD program is strongly lacking in all aspects of your list while another undergraduate university is soaring in all aspects except for the medical school guarantee, then I’d recommend choosing the undergraduate school. If one BS/MD program is more prestigious but is offering you very little money as opposed to another BS/MD program that is slightly less prestigious that is offering you a large sum of money, then perhaps consider choosing the program offering more money. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference; the point is to not make a decision solely based on one factor (generally being medical school guarantee/prestige) but rather on a multitude of different factors. Of course, you will have to compromise in some places to benefit in others, but be careful not to compromise too much in any one area just for a conditional acceptance.
At the end of the day, if you’ve been accepted into any BS/MD program, then you likely have the work ethic and intelligence necessary to become a doctor through the traditional route as well. So make a well thought out decision that will really maximize your chances at future happiness and success.
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