Medical School Application Advice

To Apply Early Decision or Not?

Has this question been on your mind? Here are a few things to consider when thinking about applying early decision to a school:

Are you 150% sure of your top school choice?

Early decision is a binding program. You are only able to apply to one school when you apply early decision. If you are accepted, you must commit to that school. If you are not accepted as an early decision candidate, your application will still be considered in the regular decision pool by our school; meanwhile you are free to apply to other schools as well. If there is any doubt in your mind about a school being your first pick, then do not apply early decision. You can still get your application in ASAP, but if you feel more comfortable looking at other options, do so! There is nothing wrong with seeing what else is out there and what school fits you best.

Is your application at its strongest point?

If you are working on gaining clinical and shadowing experience, increasing your GPA, retaking the MCAT, or improving other areas of your application, it probably would be to your advantage to stick with regular decision. If your application is no longer evolving (you have nothing upcoming to add to or enhance it with) and you are 150% ready to commit to a particular school, early decision might be a good option.

Did you put enough time and thought into your AMCAS application?

Do not rush to submit your application. A thrown-together, thoughtless application will do more harm than good. Admissions committees notice misspellings and grammatical errors, which can come across as a careless lack of effort. Take your time on your meaningful experiences, your personal statement, and your supplemental answers. Interviewers have been known to pull from this material and ask you questions during an interview. Make it count! That said, once you have completed a thoughtful, solid application, submit it early. The sooner, the better. Remember, the longer you wait, the longer until an admissions committee sees your information.

Reapplying: What to Focus On

If you are reapplying to medical school, keep some things in mind:

You are not alone

Many students apply two to three times (sometimes even more) before getting into their medical school of choice. There is nothing wrong with reapplying. A mistake would be not to put any effort into updating your application.

Emphasize how you strengthened your application

The admissions committee will want to know what has improved about your application. Have you gained more clinical and shadowing experience? Did you take some postbacc courses to increase your GPA? Did you get new letters of recommendation? Did you retake the MCAT? If you are granted an interview, be sure to express what areas of improvement you saw in your previous application, how you addressed them, and how the changes you made have strengthened your candidacy for medical school.

Update your application

Your application is about 85 to 90% complete if you have applied previously, but it is important to update your information. Add any additional coursework, meaningful experience, or other activities if applicable. Definitely add one to two new letters of recommendation, preferably from a physician or someone who can speak to your work ethic, motivation, and passion for medicine. Tweak your personal statement. When you complete your supplemental, let the committee know what you have been up to, how you have strengthened your application, and what you plan to do to pursue this career path.

Where to start?

Not sure what areas of your application can be improved? Ask! A good place to start is the admissions office. Be polite and courteous by reaching out to make an appointment in advance. If you put forth the time and effort to seek out advice, follow it! You don’t want the admissions committee to wonder why you got advice and did not take it. Have your pre-health advisor or mentor take a look at your application (this is wise even just for revision!). Keep in mind the areas that the admissions committee considers when taking a holistic approach: GPA, MCAT, clinical/shadowing experience, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, personal statement, supplemental answers, and your interview.

Application Advice

Apply early!

This is not an avocation for early decision; simply get your application in as soon as possible to get your information in front of the admissions committee. Don’t delay submitting your application; interview spots do fill up!

Proofread your application

Check for spelling or grammatical errors. This is important because this often is the first impression that the admissions committee has of you.

Do your research

Don’t waste your time or money applying to a school that does not fit your learning style. Check out the school website and even better, visit! Know your options. If you are invited to an interview, do your research about the program and equip yourself with a list of intelligent questions. This demonstrates interest and investment in the process.

Be punctual and communicate

Whether visiting, meeting or interviewing, be punctual and communicate. If you are running late or need to reschedule something (even a tour), communicate this to the appropriate people. Remember any contact you have leaves an impression. Be polite and thoughtful with all the people you interact with!

For more information about applying to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, contact:

Lucy Conaway
Admissions Coordinator


Jean Petrizzo