New guidelines recently approved by the Association of American Medical Colleges mean changes to two key aspects of the medical school admissions process: timelines and waitlist decisions. At first, applicants won’t notice a difference, outside of schools announcing new timelines. But come next April, changes will be evident.
First, on April 30th of next year, applicants will be pointedly asked to choose one medical school. Schools will only know whether a particular student selected their program and are prohibited from communicating with other schools about applicants. So, if by April 1 you haven’t yet made your first choice and you’re fortunate enough to hold multiple acceptances, you’ll want to start doing some soul searching – STAT. Consider all your options and the pros and cons that go with each – cost, distance from your home, your personal learning style and how well it matches up with various schools’ teaching styles, etc.
After April 30, schools must give prospective students a minimum of five days to respond to an acceptance offer (though this timeline may be reduced to a minimum of two business days if within 30 days of the start of orientation) by submitting a statement of intent, a deposit or both. Schools, however, must recognize and respect the challenges of applicants with multiple acceptance offers, those who have not yet received an acceptance offer, and applicants who have not yet been informed about financial aid opportunities at schools to which they have been accepted.
If you’re as yet noncommittal for any reason, know that the new AAMC guidelines may affect the decision-making process considerably and that delays may pour over into the second-look weekends, forcing them to be crammed into a single month, even tighter than they have been in the past.
Plus, there’s a chance the new guidelines will make managing waitlists trickier for medical schools. Ideally, all students will drop off waitlists after making their first choice of schools by April 30, allowing remaining openings to be filled by students who hadn’t yet been selected for admission and maximizing the number of students able to attend school.
If, however, some students remain on a waitlist and withdraw from one medical school to enroll in another after the academic year begins, it may leave openings that cannot be filled. This is particularly an issue at schools that offer unique programs, such as research projects, to students as soon as they enroll. Unfilled and unfillable openings mean qualified students may miss the opportunity to attend medical school, forcing them to wait until the next year’s application process begins and potentially jeopardizing their chances at a medical education at all.
To help avoid such situations, the new AAMC guidelines encourage schools to be vigilant about asking applicants about their matriculation intentions and whether they’ve already enrolled at other medical schools. So, know that if you’re applying for medical school for the 2019 school year, you’ll be put to the test concerning your choices.
Once you’ve chosen a school and begun your medical education, also know that there are additional resources available to help assure you make the most of your training. For instance, St. Augustine-based WOLFPACC offers review courses to guarantee you’ll pass your USMLE or COMLEX exams on the first try. To find out how we can help maximize your medical school experience, call 904-209-3140 and speak with an enrollment specialist today.