The last two weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of stress, triumph, starting a new job, and a huge amount of writing. When I got back to the States, I had about a week to wait for my MCAT scores and convalesce from whatever bizarre mystery infection I picked up in Cambodia. And it took that full week.
You probably don’t care or want to hear about me moving, so I’ll skip that part. I also started a new job on Monday; I’ll skip talking about that, too, mostly because blogging about your job is a traumatically bad idea.
What I WILL tell you: the first date for “data transmission” to medical schools was June 29. If you remember The Long Haul Begins, you’ll recall that this was Step 3 – when your completed application goes out to the medical schools you’ve listed, sans any scores or grades you haven’t gotten yet. For me, this was before my MCAT score came in – so my twenty or so schools got everything but.
That was Friday. By Saturday morning, I was getting secondary applications from schools. I think I got about six simply by the end of the day the following Monday. Before you get excited, remember that almost every school sends out secondary applications regardless of whether you got a 45 on your MCAT or a 15. They send it to you anyway. (Refer to Step 4 on The Long Haul Begins for why.)
So I started cranking away on the weekend, answering questions about my desire to go to medical school, what diversity I would bring to the class, where I saw myself in fifteen years, etc. etc. Some schools wanted novels, others asked for a “life story in 100 words or less” snapshot. It’s hard, and the idea is to write fast.
So I did. I turned in most of the ones that came in over the weekend by Monday. I think this was a coping mechanism; I was slated to receive my MCAT score on Tuesday, so I was nervous, apprehensive, and frankly freaked out. I thought that I had bombed the MCAT (I told a friend I thought I had been hit by a bus) and was expecting extremely bad news.
Then, crazy sh*t started happening.
On Monday, I started moving in to my new apartment and writing more essays in an effort to stay distracted from thinking about the Tuesday-at-5-pm release deadline, which was tormenting me. I started checking the test website, just in case they forgot the day and posted a little early.
On Tuesday, I started checking the site maniacally around noon and pretty much didn’t stop, clicking “Refresh” with shaking hands and my feet all curled up. If this sounds pitiful, it was. I was incapable of writing anything that day except g-chats to non-premed friends expressing my anxiety. Unable to sympathize, they usually wrote back permutations of “tough it out you loser.”
Finally, my score posted. And the verdict? I didn’t fail. And I don’t have to take it again. Or jump in front of a bus. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, had a beer to celebrate, and went back to writing secondary essays.
Crazy sh*t round two happened the next morning. I woke up late to find, shockingly, an invitation to interview at one of my schools.
This was, truly, unbelievable. I had to read the email five times before I realized that it wasn’t a letter thanking me for my secondary, it wasn’t a letter saying my application was complete – it was a real, live interview offer.
I freaked out. I called everyone in my phone book with my last name, texted everyone I thought would express happiness, and riled up the new puppy so fiercely that I had to put him in his crate before he would calm down. Oops.
I eventually settled down and got back to work on my secondaries, because the rest of the week was mostly dedicated to moving in to my DC apartment and getting ready for my first week on the job.
So why did I tell you all this? Our program director sagely told us that the faster you turn around a secondary application, the better your odds for an interview. If you’re reading this and applying to med school, I want to definitely co-sign that. What’s most interesting is that the school that offered me an interview had to have read my secondary application before it was technically complete – i.e., before my MCAT score came in. Meaning, even if you haven’t received your MCAT score yet, someone is watching.
So yeah! The process works! And now, back to secondaries.