Get organized! Make a plan! Make goals! Track your progress! See SHOEBOX handouts.
Put everything you can think of in your application (at least for the first draft). Some advisors will tell you to edit and limit what you write in your application. My advice is to put it ALL in there! Something small may just trigger interest in the reader. This is why you need to start a "shoebox" collection to remember all of the things little and big that you will write in your application.
YOU CAN DO THIS😊 OK, this whole thing can be an ordeal. It can be challenging;
disappointing at times, frustrating at others. I don't think it's EASY for ANYONE (even if they are making it look easy!) You will need support. That's when you need your family, your friends and your faith to help you.
All of the little things, good and bad, matter. Try to balance anything that is less than positive, with more GOOD things. Join a club, learn sign language, practice your Spanish, go volunteer.
"I worked on a 5K Run/I shadowed a dentist/I worked in a pharmacy, should I add it?" While every positive thing you do can add to your growth and to your application, there are some things of higher value that you should do. Service where you connect with people, shadowing physicians and improving yourself are all high value.
Don't EVER take on a new club, research project, a shadowing experience or ANYTHING, just to say that you did it or just so that you can enter it on your application. If you can't say anything meaningful about the experience, just go do something else!
Sit with it a while. Use my method for personal statement writing. A little at a time. Bit by bit. Put your thoughts together. It's the best use of the shoebox!! Sit yourself in a quiet place on a regular basis. Turn off anything with a switch. For fifteen minutes, and NO longer, write short stories or essays to answer these questions (attached). When you have finished the essay for that day, tuck it away in your shoebox. When the time comes to write your personal statement, take these short essays and assemble them. Some you might want to expand on, others might not make it into the final product. You'll find that this makes writing your personal statement MUCH easier!
So study like there is no other chance! Improve and hone your study skills for this
all important test. It will give you skills you can use for a lifetime.
The practice tests should NEVER be used to estimate the score what you might really get. Take the practice tests for experience, stamina, content, but never to see if your score is good enough to stop preparing.
Nursing homes or other ancillary healthcare settings may not show you this. They are worthwhile activities, to be sure! But they do not replace being beside a doctor in a room with a patient, learning what goes on there. Same for shadowing with a PA or NP or dentist. You MUST have experience with a physician.
Even spending a little time with doctors and med students may teach you a great little lesson. Make a small effort to find these people and ask advice. You might end up with a wonderful mentor!
If you have everything together, great numbers, great activities and accomplishments, GO FOR IT! Do not wait for an MCAT score or LORs, get everything in to TMDSAS so that your application can start being processed. 75% of those people invited for interview came from applications submitted in the FIRST TWO MONTHS. That being said, make sure it is the BEST possible application, with a full array of experiences, lessons learned and great metrics-if you are lacking something, work on it and apply the next year.
Are your numbers ready? Need to retake the MCAT? Need more volunteering, a leadership experience? Maybe this is not your year. Maybe you would gain MUCH by a year in AmeriCorps or two in the Peace Corps. Think about it. Everyone is in a big hurry to apply, but it maybe YOUR YEAR is NEXT year!
What is this about?? It is about organizing ALL of the information you will need when you apply to Medical schools. If you start NOW, it will make your job MUCH EASIER when you are filling out the application. Get Organized!!
WHY DO THIS?
There is a LOT to get ready! The TMDSAS Application can take 10-20 hours to complete and generates a document that is over 20 pages. If you are prepared WAY AHEAD, then this process is so much easier. Plus you can look in advance to see the balance, well-roundedness of your application as you plan your activities. When you establish a Virtual Shoebox, you have ONE place to deposit ALL the things pertinent to your application to medical school, and you
won't leave things out. Most importantly, it's full and ready on May 1 when the application opens, making the form completion much easier.
Get a shoebox!
Or drawer, or large file. Keep it in a place where you will see it often, like yeur desk
OR It can be a virtual shoebox, a digital file you keep on your phone, or a Word document on your computer.
Put it ALL on your desktop in one folder, for easy access. Name that folder "My Virtual Shoebox" or "My Path to Med School" or "My Dream Come True!"
Already have a resume? This could be the start of your shoebox, you'll just have to keep a version that is JUST FOR YOU, not for distribution, because the point is to put EVERYTHING you can think of into your shoebox, well in advance of starting the application
The purpose of the Shoebox is many fold: Most importantly it will help you be ready when the application cycle opens up on May 1.
You will be collecting everything in real time, so you won't have to rely later on your memory; small things and big things will be there. You can get a good overview of your experiences and what they have taught you, so if you see areas of need, you can address it.
Whether it IS a box, or a notebook or a Word document list "resume-style", your shoebox should be organized with the following categories. Use Sections or Dividers that are labeled:
Start gathering your SAT scores, and scanned transcripts here. Get a professional photo done NOW.
(See Below for details) This is a very important section! Log activities in each of these areas.
For each experience, select the best-fit category; there should be very little repetition in your application. For every category, the application will ask: Do you have experiences in (category)? Once you reply "yes", several boxes will open up. You need to record the title of the activity, the location, the approximate number of hours per week, and finally, describe the activity. "Good-Better-Best" means this: Good: record the activity / Better: describe some details of what you did / Best: tell about what you learned from the activity
As you list your activities in this section, be sure to use a brief description that really describes what you did. And to really stand out, add what you learned from the activity, or why it was meaningful. As you look at your entire list, at the time of application, mark the 2 or 3 most meaningful activities. Be sure to relate this in the short text description.
See the handout for details.
This COULD possibly be a great addition to your application, AND YOUR LIFE! Is there something you SHOULD do better? Is there something you'd LIKE to do better? Is there something
you want to LEARN? Start by making a Personal Growth Plan: learn Spanish, be more organized, become a reader...
SO important! Did you know that GOAL SETTERS are MUCH more successful? Having GOALS is EXTREMELY important, for many reasons.
Make a list of goals, short term and long term, and give yourself a timeline for them. Put
them in your notebook, and make sure they are on your calendar! People who make goals are PROVEN to be more successful than others! Divide your goals into sub-goals and watch your progress flow!
for the three essays, and a place to reflect on your experiences
This is a place to jot down notes, plans and ideas. You can do it on your Digital, like Word, or a real paper and pen experience. This will be essential for creating your personal statement (see below!)
You may want to have several sections:
Personal Statement Section:
The best use of the shoebox!! Sit yourself in a quiet place on a regular basis. Turn
off anything with a switch. For fifteen minutes, and NO longer, write short stories or essays to answer these questions(See PS Handout). When you have finished the essay for that day, tuck it away in your shoebox. When the time comes to write your personal statement, take these short essays and assemble them. Some you might want to expand on, others might not make it into the final product. You'll find that this makes writing your personal statement MUCH easier!
to stay focused and balanced when things get tough.
This whole process gets difficult at times, and you will need support and inspiration. Three great sources are FAMILY, FRIENDS, and FAITH! You might want to jot down things people have said to lift you up, or an inspirational quote. You could also make a list of the people you can call on at any time, to help you. Your People: Teachers, faculty, peers, medical students, physicians - all who are ready to help you! People you can count on when things get tough.
Keep track of what you need to prepare for
Not only to jot down some things like "started MCAT prep" or "started new semester", but also to plan ahead, to SET GOALS! It's very important to give yourself DEADLINES like "finish personal statement" or "study for Organic Final".
From Advisors, schools and peers.
Keep track of ALL of your questions in the notebook. As you visit with advisors, collect the answers there too. It's ok to ask the same questions of different people. It is good to have advice from several different people. Collect potential Interview Questions. You MUST practice answering these out loud! It makes a big difference for most applicants. I have some samples, if you'd like. Make a list of pros and cons about the schools you are visiting. What you like, what you prefer, what are the particular strengths of that school.
a blank application, the Application Handbook and handouts like these go in this section.
Here are other things to add to your Virtual Shoebox. Some might need to be scanned. Some might require links to other resources on the website.
A copy of the Application Handbook from TMDSAS:
If you are applying to medical school and you haven't looked at the application yet, GO FIND IT!! Look at every detail!! Go to the TMDSAS website, and while you are there, read EVERYTHING!! Find the application handbook and learn every question in there. It is essential to know what the application asks for so that you can plan your college activities.
Other Application Guidelines and Resources
TMDSAS and AMCAS and AMC for example; you will find a wealth of information guiding you along the way.
Collect this information in one place: Your Shoebox!! There are so many details to keep track of.