Wait-Listed? Three Things to Know While You Await a Final Decision from your Top-Choice Medical School

December 23, 2019


When waiting to hear whether you’ve been accepted to the medical school of your choice, it may prove dismaying to get the notice that you’ll simply have to wait a little longer for an answer. But make no mistake – landing a spot on a great school’s wait list is, itself, an accomplishment. That’s because most medical schools accept just five to 15 percent of applicants each year. If you are among the hopefuls that your chosen school considers competitive, you’ve done well.

“Everybody needs a strong waitlist,” explains John D. Schriner, PhD, Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, one of 37 member schools of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education consortium. “People apply to multiple schools and can only attend one. Every [medical school] is going to have a cushion of acceptances anticipating attrition in the spring. You exhaust that cushion then you go to your waitlist, so it’s really important to make sure you have great people on that list.”

Of course, that may seem of little consolation during the wait period. But that’s just the thing – The savviest and most competitive among those on wait lists understand that this is not time to wait. Rather, it’s time to take a proactive approach to assuring that you’ll soon see your name moved to the welcome list. Here’s how:

  1. Request feedback: Being on the waitlist means you’re still very much in contention for a seat in the upcoming class. Don’t be hesitant to call and ask to speak with and admissions specialist who can offer feedback on the weaker factors of your application and advice as to how to boost your chances of moving up through the list of potential matriculants. A common recommendation is to shadow an established medical professional working in your chosen specialty request a letter of recommendation. Most importantly, act on that advice and make sure you communicate your progress to the admissions office.
  2. Reiterate your interest: Hopefully, you remembered to send a follow up thank you note to your admissions interviewers. If not, now is definitely the time to do just that. Pen and send a letter thanking the admissions officials for continuing to consider your application, reiterating why you’re particularly interested in attending the school and outlining why you believe you’re a great fit.
  3. Keep an open mind: If you ultimately learn that you’ve been accepted to medical school, celebrate that accomplishment – even if it’s not your top choice. “Keep perspective,” Schriner said. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t have an acceptance to any school, so to have an acceptance in your back pocket is something you should cherish, even if it’s your second choice or what you view as a second-tier school.”

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