The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine admits 64 students to each first year class, including approximately 10 students who may be admitted from states other than Florida. Within the total class size of 64 students, a maximum of 4-5 students may be admitted to the dual MD/PhD program sponsored jointly by the College of Medicine and The Scripps Research Institute.
Applications are accepted from individuals who are US citizens or permanent residents of the United States and who do not have a felony explanation on their AMCAS application. Permanent residents must have received their alien registration receipt (green) card before they completed the AMCAS application. Applicants who are in the process of qualifying for permanent residency status will not be considered.
State of Residence
The College of Medicine is a public institution and is supported by the State of Florida. As a consequence, Florida residents are given preference throughout the admissions process and will constitute the great majority of students in each entering class. Approximately 10 students, however, may be admitted from states other than Florida if they have outstanding academic records, life experiences, and accomplishments that the admissions committee might find highly desirable in meeting our educational goal. To receive initial consideration as a Florida resident, applicants must declare Florida as their state of residence on their AMCAS application. There can be no exceptions to this rule. Accepted Florida applicants will be required to submit a complete set of residency documents prior to enrollment. Applicants who apply as Florida residents and who subsequently cannot provide the necessary documentation to support their claim to residency will be charged the out-of-state tuition.
Definition of a Florida resident for tuition purposes at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
A Florida "resident for tuition purposes" at the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is a person who has established and maintained legal residence in Florida for at least twelve (12) consecutive months immediately prior to initial enrollment at FAU. All students "working on a master's or doctoral degree during the term for which residency status is sought at FAU shall be classified as an independent student for purposes of determining residency for tuition purposes" (Florida Statutes Section 1009.21; Florida Board of Governors Regulation 7.005; Florida Residency Guidelines for Tuition Purposes adopted by the State Articulation Coordinating Committee). Therefore, all students accepted to the College of Medicine will be considered as independent students for purposes of determining residency for tuition purposes.
Once classified as a nonresident for tuition purposes, an enrolled student may apply for reclassification as a resident for tuition purposes. Reclassification as a resident for tuition purposes requires clear and convincing documentation that supports permanent legal residency in Florida for at least twelve (12) consecutive months, rather than temporary residency for the purposes of pursuing an education.
Students classified as nonresidents who come to Florida for the purpose of attending the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine may not claim Florida residency on the basis of their spouse's residency status if they were married prior to the student's initial enrollment at FAU.
Important things you should know about Florida residency
- To qualify as a Florida resident for tuition purposes, you must be a US citizen, permanent resident alien, or legal alien granted indefinite stay by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Certain other non-US citizens who are lawfully present in the United States may be eligible to establish Florida residency for tuition purposes.
- Applicants for residency must establish that their presence in Florida during the requisite 12-month qualifying period was for the purpose of maintaining a bona fide domicile, rather than for the purpose of maintaining a mere temporary residence or abode incident to enrollment at an institution of higher education.
- Evidence of legal residence and its duration shall include clear and convincing documentation that residency in Florida was for a minimum of twelve (12) consecutive months prior to the student's initial enrollment in the College of Medicine. Residence for tuition purposes requires the establishment of legal (documentary) ties to the state of Florida.
Claiming Florida Residency
All accepted applicants are initially classified internally as nonresidents and will be charged the higher non-resident tuition unless they satisfactorily demonstrate their status as Florida residents for tuition purposes by providing appropriate documentation. To qualify for in-state tuition as a Florida resident, you must be classified as a Florida resident by the Office of Admissions at the FAU College of Medicine. Classification will be based on the documents you submit to support your claim and all documents must be submitted by July 1st of the year of entry. Examples of these documents are listed below.
First Tier (provide as many of these documents as you have, no single piece of evidence shall be conclusive)
- Your Florida voter's registration card
- Your Florida driver's license
- Your State of Florida identification card
- Your Florida vehicle registration.
- Proof of a permanent home in Florida which is occupied as a primary residence by you.
- Proof that you have qualified for a homestead exemption in Florida.
- Your high school diploma or transcripts if you graduated from a high school in Florida
- Proof of your permanent full-time employment in Florida for at least 30 hours per week for a consecutive 12-month period.
(Note: For initial classification, documents such as driver's license, voter's card, identification card, declaration of domicile and professional licenses must have been issued at least 12 months prior to the first day of classes at the College of Medicine.)
Second Tier (to be used in conjunction with documents from First Tier above)
- Your declaration of domicile in Florida
- Your Florida professional or occupational license.
- Your Florida incorporation documents
- Proof of membership in a Florida-based charitable or professional organization
- Any other documentation that supports your request for resident status, including, but not limited to, utility bills and proof of 12 consecutive months of payments; a lease agreement and proof of 12 consecutive months of payment; or an official state, federal, or court document evidencing legal ties to Florida.
Examples of documents that may not be used
- Parental documents or information (unless requested)
- Hunting/fishing licenses
- Library cards
- Shopping club/rental cards
- Birth certificate
If you have any questions about the nature of the documents to be sent or any questions about Florida residency in general, call the Office of Admissions (561-297-0440) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that we may require additional documents to support your claim to Florida residency.
An ongoing goal of the College of Medicine is to create an enriched learning environment for medical students by admitting applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds. Therefore, qualified students from groups currently underrepresented in medicine, women, students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students from rural or underserved areas, and those from non-traditional educational backgrounds are especially encouraged to apply.
The courses deemed essential for admission to the College of Medicine are:
|Inorganic Chemistry + labs||2||3|
|Organic Chemistry + labs**||2||3|
|Physics + labs||2||3|
|Biology/Zoology + labs||2||3|
All prerequisites must be graded credits earned at a college or university located in the United States or Canada and accredited by a regional accrediting agency. In general, courses earned at foreign institutions and at nationally-accredited institutions are not acceptable. Credits earned in Study Abroad programs are acceptable if they appear on the transcript of a regionally accredited college or university along with the number of credits awarded for each course. AP credit may be used for some of the requirements but in those cases it is expected that the student will take higher level courses in that discipline. Online courses will be considered on a case-by-case basis and preference will be given to applicants who have done the majority of their preparation at the senior college level.
A bachelor's degree or higher from an institution with regional accreditation is required for admission to the College of Medicine.
Courses in the sciences and mathematics that are recommended but not required for admission include biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, genetics and statistics. The College of Medicine strongly encourages all applicants to broaden their education and supplement required coursework in math and science by pursuing their own individual academic interests. Majoring in the sciences does not confer an advantage over those applicants majoring in the social sciences or humanities.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Applicants must begin the application process by completing an AMCAS application on the web. For information about the AMCAS application process and for instructions about how to open an account and complete an AMCAS application, go to:
Applicants must designate the Florida Atlantic University Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine as a school to which they want their application sent. This site also contains information about AMCAS deadlines, the fee assistance program, and general information about applying to medical schools. The completed application must be submitted to AMCAS by December 15.
MCAT scores are required to complete your application. Applicants must take the exam no later than September of the year preceding the one in which they hope to enter the College of Medicine. Scores from exams taken in 2009 or before will not be considered.
For information about the MCAT exam, registration dates, test dates, exam sites, practice tests and the MCAT fee structure and assistance program, visit:
Letters of Recommendation
All letters of recommendation must be sent to us from AMCAS. Because our entire admissions process is electronic, letters mailed/emailed from the writer or hand-delivered directly to the Office of Admissions cannot be added to the applicant's electronic file and, therefore, will not be used in the admissions process.
The College of Medicine greatly prefers to receive a committee letter through AMCAS authored by a pre-health committee or pre-health advisor which is a composite or summary evaluation of the applicant's readiness and personal suitability to study medicine. Alternatively, letters may be sent to us from AMCAS as part of a "letter packet", or individually. In either case, we require a minimum of three letters from faculty members who have taught the applicant. Two of these letters must be written by science faculty members while the third can be written by either a science or non-science faculty member. The most valuable letters to the admissions committee are letters which include insightful evaluations of the applicant's persona that the writer has observed, and a brief appraisal of the applicant's academic abilities. Individual writers should also include how long they've known the applicant and in what capacity, and give some indication of how well they know the applicant.
Up to two additional letters may be submitted if they provide truly unique information or insight into the applicant's qualifications to study medicine. These letters must be provided to us by AMCAS and may not be substituted for required letters.
For more information about submitting letters of recommendation through AMCAS, see the instruction manual for completing the AMCAS application or visit:
All applicants who submit a verified AMCAS application will be directed by email to an internet address where they can complete and submit a secondary application online. The non-refundable application fee ($30) may be paid securely online by credit card. When deciding whether or not to complete the secondary application, all applicants should keep in mind that the College will give preference to those applicants with truly competitive cognitive credentials, highly desirable personal traits, and compelling life experiences. In this regard, applicants are encouraged to compare their credentials with those of the latest entering class located elsewhere at this web site (see "2012 Class Profile"). The information on the secondary application is collected to supplement the information presented on the AMCAS application and consists primarily of reflective analyses of personal experiences undertaken by the applicant. Secondary applications submitted after January 15 will not be considered.
It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure that all application materials and supporting documents are received in the Office of Admissions on time.
THE ADMISSIONS PROCESS
Each completed application (AMCAS application, letters of recommendation, MCAT score, and secondary application) will be screened and scored by a member of the admissions committee. Factors evaluated at this point include GPAs and MCAT scores, rigor of the educational program(s) undertaken, breadth of life experiences, and the meaningfulness of direct patient contact experiences.
The scores developed in this screening process will be used to place applicants on a ranked list of applicants to be invited for an interview. Applicants with the highest screening scores will be invited for interviews before applicants with lower screening scores. This process will continue until all available interview slots have been filled.
Since the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine is a relatively new medical school, it is important for prospective medical students to visit the College and see our teaching facilities and meet some of our students and faculty. For these reasons, regional interviews are not held. Moreover, all interviews are held only at the request of the Admissions Office.
Formal interview days are scheduled on selected Mondays and Tuesdays between October and April. Interviews on other days for students who are familiar with the FAU campus and the College of Medicine may be arranged, depending on the availability of faculty to interview applicants. Formal interview days begin with a continental breakfast and introductory presentations, followed by interviews. Each applicant will receive two 30-minute interviews, each conducted by a member of the admissions committee. One of the interviews is exploratory and evaluative in nature. The other interview is presented in a situational-behavioral format. A light lunch will be provided on a tour of one of our clinical affiliates. After a tour of the simulation center and the teaching facilities, the day concludes with a session on financial assistance and a "What will happen next?" presentation by the associate dean for admissions. Formal interview days begin at 9AM and end in the mid-afternoon.
Factors assessed during the interview include both personal attributes and physician traits. Personal attributes include interview presence, communication skills, assessment of patient contact experiences, motivation to attend the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, and a holistic assessment of any factors the applicant possesses that would add to the diversity of the physician workforce. Physician traits assessed at the interview include responsibility, honesty, respect for others, self-awareness, altruism and intellectual curiosity.
The selection factors that form the basis of all final admission decisions are shown below, along with the principal sources of information for each factor
|Selection Factor||Source of Information|
|GPAs and MCATs||AMCAS application|
|Rigor of academic program||AMCAS application|
|Quality of Letters||Letters of recommendation|
|Personal, educational, employment, socio-economic background||AMCAS application, secondary application, Letters, interview|
|Meaningfulness of Direct patient contact experiences||AMCAS application, letters, interview|
|Research Experiences*||AMCAS application, MD/PhD narrative, interview *|
|Interpersonal skills||Letters, Interview|
|Physician traits (responsibility, integrity, self-awareness, respect for others, altruism, intellectual curiosity||Secondary application, Letters, Interview|
|Motivation for medicine/Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine||AMCAS application, secondary application, letters, interview|
|State residence||AMCAS application|
|Diversity factors||Holistic review of AMCAS application, letters, secondary application, interview|
The Admissions Decision
The admissions committee uses a rolling process to reach final admissions decisions for applicants. In this process, applicants who complete their application and interview early in the admissions cycle are sent to the committee for a decision before other candidates who complete the application and interview later. The process of reaching a final decision starts when the applicant's credentials, including a completed interview report form, are sent to the admissions committee for a final review. Once the application materials are sent to the committee, the committee has approximately two weeks to reach a final decision. One of three outcomes will be reached for each applicant: 1) acceptance, 2) placement on the alternate list, or 3) rejection. The decision reached by the admissions committee will be communicated to the applicant immediately after the committee meets to officially finalize the outcome. Acceptance and rejection are self-explanatory. Being placed on the alternate list simply means that the applicant is suitable for admission and can be admitted if a sufficient number of vacancies occur in the class. The alternate list is ranked by the committee and applicants at the top of the list will be offered an acceptance before students lower on the list.
The MD/PhD Program
Florida Atlantic University and Scripps Florida of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have established a dual MD/PhD degree program offered by the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine and the Scripps Kellogg School of Science and Technology. The program combines the unique preclinical and clinical training programs currently in place at the College of Medicine with basic and specialty science courses offered through the Scripps Kellogg School of Science and Technology, a school whose graduate programs in chemistry and biology are continually ranked among the top five in the nation. The MD degree will be awarded by the College of Medicine and the PhD degree by TSRI.
Students on the MD/PhD track are required, during their first two years of medical studies, to participate in independent study opportunities with Scripps faculty members, which will be regarded by the College of Medicine as external, independent study courses. These opportunities allow students to study specific, contemporary problems in biomedical research and write a short paper on a research problem of mutual interest to the student and the Scripps faculty member. The student is expected to meet periodically with the faculty member and with research personnel in the faculty member's laboratory, and will be encouraged to attend laboratory group meetings and journal club activities. Through these opportunities, MD/PhD students will be able to identify laboratories of Scripps faculty members in which they may wish to carry out laboratory rotations during their first year of PhD study.
After successful completion of the third year of the medical curriculum and the two required 4th year sub-internships, students continuing on to the PhD degree enter the graduate program at TSRI. The elective portion of the 4th year medical curriculum coincides with the 1st year of graduate study at TSRI. During this year, MD/PhD students complete additional coursework and conduct research rotations within the laboratories of participating TSRI faculty. Following successful completion of the 4th year of the MD program (coincident with the first year of the TSRI PhD program), MD/PhD students will be awarded the MD degree. They will then select their research advisor and complete the TSRI PhD degree.
Admission to the MD/PhD program is actually a dual process that requires applicants to complete separate applications to 1) the College of Medicine, and 2) the Kellogg School of Science and Technology of Scripps Florida. The requirements for completing an application to the College of Medicine are described at this web site (verified AMCAS application, letters of recommendation, MCAT scores, secondary application). Information about completing the required separate application for Scripps Florida, along with admissions prerequisites, application details, and instructions for applying online can be found at:
Interviews at both the College of Medicine and Scripps Florida are integral components of the selection process. Since the College of Medicine is located in Boca Raton, Florida, and Scripps Florida is located in Jupiter, Florida (about 15 miles north of Boca Raton), the two institutions will make every attempt to schedule both interviews to occur during a single visit to South Florida.
An admissions decision for the MD portion of the program will be made by the admissions committee of the College of Medicine using the criteria and processes described at this web site. Admissions decisions for the PhD portion of the program will be made independently by the Scripps Florida graduate admissions committee. Applicants accepted by both institutions may be admitted to the MD/PhD program. Applicants accepted at only one institution may begin their studies at the accepting institution, whether it is the College of Medicine for the MD degree, or Scripps Florida for the PhD, but not at the other institution.
2012 Entering Class Profile
Total students: 64; 37 women, 27 men; Numerical credentials: cumulative GPA, 3.68, science GPA, 3.57; MCAT composite average, 31.0 (VR, 9.6; PS, 10.5; BS, 10.9); States represented: FL, 51; CA, 4; OH, 2. MI, 2; one from NC; Age range, 20-35; Race/ethnicity: 12.5% Hispanic, 11.1% Asian, 71% Non-Hispanic White, 3.2% African-American, 3.2% declined to identify; Undergraduate institutions attended: In Florida; FAU 2, UF 25, UCF 4, Miami 2, UNF 2, USF 2, FSU 1, Palm Beach Atlantic 1, Nova Southeastern 1: Non-Florida schools: Notre Dame 3, Ohio State 2, Duke 2, Boston University 1, and one each from Boston College, George Washington, Sewanee, UC-Santa Barbara, St Josephs, Emory, UCLA, CS-Los Angeles, University of Alabama, William and Mary, Moscow State University, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, Columbia, Western Carolina University; Majors: Biology 18, Chemistry 6, Psychology 5, Biochemistry 4, 3 each in Microbiology and Applied Physiology, 2 each in Molecular Biology, Anthropology, Neuroscience, and Nutrition, and one each in Neurochemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Science, Exercise Science, History, Pharmacology, Economics, Interior Design, Forensic Science, Athletic Training, Philosophy, Foreign Language and Pre-professional Studies.
Accepted Applicant Background Check
The College of Medicine has an obligation to patients and society to train and grant degrees only to individuals who have demonstrated behaviors that are consistent with the professionalism expected of all medical students and physicians. Therefore, the College of Medicine requires the AAMC-mediated criminal background check (CBC) to be conducted on all applicants who are accepted to begin medical school. Information about the criminal background check is available at:
The results of the CBC are required before the applicant can enroll for the first year of medical school. If the CBC sent to the College of Medicine contains positive information, the Criminal Background Committee will meet to discuss the report and make a final determination if the acceptance should be withdrawn. Criminal background checks are considered confidential and cannot be disclosed to a third party.
The medical degree awarded by the FAU College of Medicine at the completion of the undergraduate medical education process certifies that the graduate has acquired a broad base of knowledge, skills, and attitudes requisite to the practice of medicine. To achieve this end, all courses in the curriculum must be completed successfully.
The technical (non-academic) standards listed here are required for matriculation, promotion, and graduation and are intended to insure that all students, with or without reasonable accommodation, can fully participate in all parts of the curriculum.
In order to acquire the skills, knowledge, and attitudes engendered by the curriculum and to render a wide spectrum of patient care, candidates for the MD degree must have skills and abilities in six areas:
- Motor/Tactile function
- Cognition (conceptual-Integrative ability)
- Ethical and legal standards
Sensory skills necessary to perform a physical examination are required. These include functional vision, hearing, smell, and tactile sensation. All senses must be adequate to observe a patient's condition at a distance and close at hand, and to elicit information through procedures regularly required in a physical examination such as inspection, auscultation, palpation, and percussion. Students must be able to perceive by the use of their senses and mental abilities all information presented or conveyed in one-on-one interactions (including patient encounters), diagnostic values and findings, laboratory demonstrations, large group lectures, small group sessions and team-oriented exercises, and in written, audiovisual, and computer-based formats.
Candidates must be able to speak and hear clearly. They must be able to use observational skills to describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive non-verbal communications. They must be able to effectively and sensitively communicate in English in both written and oral modalities in order to interact with faculty members, classmates, other members of the healthcare team, patients, families, and others in order to elicit, convey, and clarify information, to work collaboratively, and to develop therapeutic relationships.
C. Motor/Tactile Function
Candidates must have motor function adequate to elicit information from patients using inspection, palpation, auscultation and percussion, and to carry out diagnostic maneuvers. Such skills require coordination of gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and sensation. Candidates must have sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control, control of the extremities, and eye-hand coordination to examine patients, provide appropriate patient care, and to attend and participate in all classes, small group sessions and team activities that are part of the curriculum.
D. Cognition (conceptual-integrative function)
Candidates must have sufficient cognitive abilities and effective learning techniques to assimilate the increasingly complex information presented in the medical school curriculum. They must be able to formulate and test hypotheses that enable effective and timely problem-solving in research and diagnostic algorithms, and the treatment of patients in a variety of clinical settings. Required cognitive abilities include rational thought, the ability to make analyses, including measurements and calculations, to reach rational conclusions, comprehension of visual-spatial and three-dimensional relationships, as well as ethical and clinical reasoning.
Candidates must exercise good judgment, communicate in a clear and timely way with others, and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the study of medicine and to the care of patients. They must understand the legal and ethical aspects of the practice of medicine and function within the law and adhere to the ethical standards of the medical profession. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads, to function effectively under stress, and to display flexibility and adaptability to changing environments. They must have the emotional health to fully use their intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and to carry out all responsibilities related to patient care. Candidates must possess sufficient emotional health to withstand stress, the uncertainties inherent in patient care, and the rigors intrinsic to the study and practice of medicine. They must be capable of regular, reliable and punctual attendance at classes and perform their clinical responsibilities in an equally dependable fashion. Candidates must be able to contribute to collaborative learning environments, accept and process constructive feedback from others, and take personal responsibility for making appropriate positive changes. Core attributes of professionalism defined by the faculty of the FAU College of Medicine include altruism, honesty and integrity, respect for others, empathy and compassion, responsibility and dependability.
F. Ethical and Legal Standards
Candidates must meet the legal standards to be licensed to practice medicine in the State of Florida. As such, candidates for admission must acknowledge and provide written explanation of any felony or misdemeanor offense or any legal action pending against them, as well as any institutional disciplinary action taken against them prior to matriculation. In addition, any student charged with or convicted of any felony offense while in medical school agrees to immediately notify the senior associate dean for student affairs as to the nature of the offense or conviction. Failure to disclose prior charges or convictions or any new charges or convictions can lead to disciplinary action that may include dismissal.
Students with Disabilities
Individuals with disabilities (as defined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act) may be qualified to study medicine with the use of reasonable accommodation. To qualify, individuals must be able to meet both the College of Medicine's academic and technical standards, with or without reasonable accommodation. Accommodation is considered to be a means of assisting students with disabilities to meet essential standards by providing them with an equal opportunity to participate in all aspects of each required course or clinical experience in the curriculum. Reasonable accommodation is not intended to guarantee that students will be successful in meeting the curricular requirements.
The Use of Auxiliary Aids and Intermediaries
Technological compensation can be made for some disabilities in certain areas, but a candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner. Qualified students with documented disabilities are provided with reasonable accommodations that may include involvement of an intermediary or an auxiliary aid. But no disability can be reasonably accommodated with an aid or intermediary that provides cognitive interpretation, or substitutes for essential clinical skills, or supplements clinical and ethical judgment. Thus, accommodations cannot eliminate essential program elements or fundamentally change the curriculum of the College of Medicine.
Request for Accommodation
Accepted applicants with a documented disability, and enrolled students who believe they have a disability, have the responsibility for documenting the disability and the need for accommodations. Such applicants and students will be referred to the FAU Office for Students with Disabilities. The OSD provides students with disabilities the services and accommodations needed within the framework of these Technical Standards to successfully participate in the full academic program of the FAU College of Medicine. If requested, the OSD will assist the accepted applicants and enrolled students in identifying professional resources available to make an assessment and a recommendation for accommodations. The cost of that assessment is the responsibility of the applicant/student. Documentation of the disability should be submitted to the OSD. Students must register with the OSD to receive authorized academic support services, providing documentation of the disability and undergoing an intake interview. An OSD representative will collaborate with the senior associate dean for student affairs and the senior associate dean for medical education and clinical affairs to insure that the requested accommodations are reasonable within the structure and goals of the curriculum
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine does not accept applicants with advanced standing.
This page is intended for applicants to the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University who were not accepted and who are now faced with the challenge of reapplying. Please read this page carefully before calling or emailing the Office of Admissions.
Between May and August of each year medical school admissions offices are overwhelmed with calls and emails from applicants who want to know why they were not accepted so they can improve their application for the next cycle. Except in the most obvious cases, the answers to these questions can be both complex, somewhat subjective, and can be quite time consuming to find the information and provide it to the student. To answer all of these calls and emails requires an extraordinary amount of effort at the very time that web sites have to be updated, brochures have to be rewritten and printed, reports have to be prepared, and new committee members have to be trained. That's why this page has been written to help you answer your own questions before you call the office of admissions. Considering the information below will almost certainly give you insight into why you may not have been accepted.
1. Never call a medical school admissions office and ask to speak with an advisor or counselor until you've done your homework.
Medical school admissions offices don't have advisors or counselors. Instead, admissions offices rely on premed advisors and counselors at your undergraduate institution who are extremely knowledgeable about the application process and who probably know you and your situation better than anyone else. Moreover, they're likely to be readily available to you. If you want counseling and suggestions about how to improve your application, start with them. They have counseled and advised many students and can probably provide better personal advice than you can get from any other source. Beyond your premed advisor, there are dozens of websites with good advice about reapplying to medical school. A simple web search about "reapplying to medical school" (or some permutation) will lead you to these sites. These web sites should be a primary starting point for "non-traditional" students who have been out of school for several years and don't have ready access to a premed advisor.
2. Get a copy of the profile of the medical school's most recent entering class and compare your "numbers" to those of accepted students.
Doing this will give you a good idea about the cognitive credentials of students that the medical school is interested in admitting. Do an objective comparison of your "numbers" with the class profile. How do you compare? Medical schools always look for good MCATs and good GPAs. These cognitive measures provide different information and both are predictive of your performance in the first two years of medical school, which most students agree is the hardest part of the medical curriculum. Another point to remember is that MCAT scores and GPAs do not offset one another. So, if both your MCAT score and your GPA are low you are going to have to improve both. A low MCAT score can be improved in a relatively short period of time by studying and re-taking the MCAT exam, or by taking any one of a number of preparation programs to sharpen your test-taking skills. You can easily find these programs on the web. Improving a low GPA is more problematic because it's going to take longer.
One of the questions that reapplicants ask most frequently is "Should I take a formal post-bac program or enroll in a graduate (MS) program, or can I just take additional coursework to strengthen my GPA?" All three options will work but admissions offices generally won't advise you to do one or the other because admissions offices don't know enough about you and your specific circumstances to make a good recommendation. Probably the best rule of thumb is to embark on a course of study that's convenient for you (nearby, flexible scheduling, offers appropriate courses) and affordable.
A related question is "Generally, how many credits do I have to take to offset or change my undergraduate GPA?" Don't forget, we will always get your undergraduate science and cumulative GPAs and you'll never be able to change them. Instead, any additional coursework will be reported to admissions offices as "post-bac" credits or "graduate" credits. Whichever program you decide to undertake your goal is to show admissions committees that you are capable of doing very well in a science-intensive curriculum over time. Is taking one 3-credit course in microbiology and getting an "A" going to change a committee's collective mind about your undergraduate GPA? Probably not. How about 15 credits of A in upper division biology classes? Possibly. How about 30 credits of A (equivalent to an entire year of full time work)? Probably. Remember, admissions committees are looking for track-histories of performance because the profession of medicine requires physicians to be life-long learners!
3. Carefully and objectively review your personal statement in your AMCAS application along with your experiences, as well as all of your personal responses in the secondary application.
This is important because these are the primary places where you can tell an admissions committee why you want to study medicine, on what experiences is your decision based, and why you think you'll be a good doctor. In writing these segments, it is important to keep in mind just exactly who your audience is. The people who review your application are more than likely to be very busy people who volunteer on the admissions committee while seeing a full panel of patients every day, people who are engaged in full-time research, or perhaps administrators who have numerous other responsibilities. To be honest, they want to be able to read your application and quickly find the salient points and not have to wade through a sea of (sometimes beautiful) prose that seems far better suited to winning a Pulitzer Prize than applying to medical school. They have limited time to review your file and they want clarity and brevity. Here are a few guidelines about preparing these sections of your application:
Emphasize those experiences that were most meaningful to your decision to study medicine. Describe what you learned about yourself from doing them and how they shaped your motivation for medicine. All reviewers will look to see if your decision to study medicine is based on meaningful personal experiences involving direct patient contact that gave you insight into the practice of medicine. These should be listed first or at least emphasized in your experience list before you list any other activities.
Research experiences should be listed in a way that lay people can understand them. Equally important, you should include a statement as to the overall goal of the research you were involved in. Why did you do the research? How is it contributing to the betterment of mankind or improving the human condition
To any reviewer, the essential parts of a personal statement are: 1) why you want to study medicine, 2) what relevant medical experiences are your decision based on, and, if we're lucky you'll tell us 3) why you think you'll be a good practicing physician. A fault of many writers is that they bury this important information in a grey sea of size 10 font that fills every character space from top to bottom and margin to margin of the allotted space. Want to help a reviewer? Clearly address each of the points above and don't fill up the entire space. Applicants often lose sight of the fact that the personal statement is meant to provide a unified picture of you as an applicant for medical school and for the practice of medicine. To put it in the context of an exercise for a creative writing class may work to your disadvantage.
Answer all of the questions clearly and succinctly. Most secondary applications ask for more personal information about the applicant. Look at it as an opportunity to candidly expand on anything you wrote about in your AMCAS application-or to add information. Some secondary applications ask "Why do you want to study medicine at our medical school?". Hopefully, you have compelling reasons, personal or educational, for applying to that school without resorting to simply re-stating information that the medical school has posted on line about itself.
Letters of Recommendation
Admissions committees prefer a letter written by your pre-med advisory committee or pre-med advisor because they are usually written by consensus with input from multiple sources. If your institution has a premed office that writes composite letters of recommendation and you chose not to use it, you should explain why. If you ask individual faculty members to write letters on your behalf, they should emphasize your personal characteristics and traits that they have observed along with any summary statement about your performance in their class. In general, submitting letters from elected officials, university administrators, individuals with philanthropic connections to the school, or members of the admissions committee should be avoided because of the possible conflict of interest they imply. At all costs, avoid letters from your family, friends, roommates, and fellow students.
4. Do not reapply until you have significantly improved your application.
If your application didn't work the first time, what makes you think the same application will suddenly and mysteriously work the second time you send it in? Many medical schools prioritize applications for review by GPA and MCAT information, regardless of the time during the admissions cycle that they were received. So, if you've significantly improved one or both of these parameters you should consider reapplying. However, you should also take the time to update all aspects of your application by considering the ideas presented above. Many applicants with a GPA problem will enroll in a post-bac program or MS program and then submit their application before they get their first grade. What's going to change? Probably nothing. In this case, you should wait to reapply until you've completed the post-bac or graduate program for the reasons described above. When you're 22 or 23 years old a year seems like a lifetime. But if you take the year (without reapplying) to concentrate on your schoolwork, getting those meaningful medical experiences, and on developing your application, you may have to apply only once more!
If you have any questions about pre-requisites, the admissions process, selection factors, interviews, the alternate list, or any general questions about the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, please contact us by email at: email@example.com, or by phone at 561-297-0440, or by sending us a letter through the USPS at:
Office of Admissions
Building 71 Room 145
Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431
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