Posts Tagged ‘confusion’

First Second Look

In Finances, medical school, Rants on March 30, 2010 at 12:05 am

While my state school has had some events for us, I wouldn’t quite call them Second Looks. Now that I’ve officially attended my first Second Look, there are two points I want to discuss.

1) If I so much as hear another whisper about URMs stealing other applicants’ seats I’m going to snap. The Second Look I attended was at one of the largest medical schools in the nation. Do you know how many URMs were there?  Three Black females, maybe 1-2 Latinas, and no Black or Latino men…NONE!!! I kept looking around at my potential future class that was about 50/50 Asian and White, and I couldn’t help but think…really?!? Talk about feeling like you stick out like a sore thumb…  I love Love LOVE how all these schools repeatedly state how much they value diversity in their student body and it’s something they promote, however, physically it’s something I rarely see. Granted, I know race is only one element of a diversified class. I am well aware that diversity comes in many forms, from ethnic to socioeconomic to religious and to ideological diversity, and that all are important in forming a truly well-rounded class. I also know that clearly not every accepted student attended the Second Look. However, if the sample I saw is roughly representative of my possible future class, then that’s ~3% of the class is URM.  Wowsers. That’s incredibly low…especially for a big school in a major Northern city.  Seriously, I never want to hear that annoying argument again. Blows my mind every time. Clearly URM quite literally means underrepresented minority, so hush your mouths…there really aren’t enough people involved to make the effort of debate worthwhile…negligible impact on your chance of admittance, so hush!

2) Exactly what is Financial Aid?!? Giving a brief history, I was fortunate enough not to have to deal with financial aid stuff as an undergrad (someone close to me passed away and had left money for my education…which my undergrad institution gladly ate up).  Needless to say, I am unfamiliar with dealing with these offices.  I sat and listened to the long, depressing, anxiety-inducing financial aid presentation at Second Look. I glanced around the room to see that most of my peers had the same glazed-over look on their faces that read “Please make this stop! Purdy pleeeeease?!?” It’s never fun listening about going into roughly $200K worth of debt (+ interest)…NEVER!

Somewhere in my nervous trance I picked up that it appears that this office awards everyone the same thing – NOTHING.  I mean, they have a bunch of little scholarships that they give out to people ranging from $500-$5000, but that barely puts a dent in ~$36K/year they expect their students to cover with more non-federal loans. Which brings me back to the question of what is financial aid exactly?!? First off, it’s more like abuse than aid. I know I feel slightly beat down every time I discuss the issue, not helped in any manner. Secondly, is their sole role to act as a liaison between the students and the lenders, whether that be the Federal Government or private institutions? I mean, I guess when I always heard of “financial aid packets” I expected money to spring forth magically from these offices to partly subsidize the difference between what the government can cover and the actual, full cost of attendance.  Shoot, the government can’t even fully cover tuition… Once again, I just don’t understand!  How are you aiding me???  Perhaps I just have a strong imagination and hope my desires for minimal financial debt can be dreamt into existence. Or, maybe this school’s financial aid department is not its strong suit.  Maybe I’ll have much better packages from other schools that actually resemble aid…assistance in alleviating the costs.  Lord know that at this point, while I liked this school and was almost won over on Second Look, if other schools I am considering deliver better in this area, I’m dipping out and getting that refund back…I don’t like them that much.  If I did, then maybe I’d consider the HPSP (Health Professions Scholarship Program) offered through one of the armed forces. But, I’m not quite there yet.  I’m really just hoping that this school is lackluster in this area and other schools come up with something better. It will certainly make my final decision easier. Money, money, money, money…when you have none, people keep wanting more. Ugh!

EDP = ???

In applying to med school, Rants on October 1, 2009 at 10:43 am

To apply through the Early Decision Program (EDP), applicants must follow these guidelines:

  1. Apply to only one U.S. medical school by the stated deadline date (August 1 for schools that participate in AMCAS);

  2. Provide the school with all required supplemental information by the stated deadline date (August 1 for those schools that participate in AMCAS); and

  3. Attend only this school if offered a place under the EDP.

If these guidelines are met, applicants will be notified of the school’s admission decision by October 1.

If not accepted under the EDP, applicants will automatically be placed in the regular applicant pool by the school and may then apply to additional schools. EDP regulations apply to both AMCAS and non-AMCAS participating schools.

For the 2010 entering class, 79 medical schools will offer admission through the Early Decision Program. Since most participating schools only admit a small portion of their entering class through the program, only applicants with an excellent chance of admission to a particular school should apply under this program.

I just don’t understand WHY in the world you would do it?  For instance, I was checking SDN yet again :: surprise, surprise :: and I come across a post of someone doing EDP at a school I already interviewed at.  They’ll find out Oct 1st their fate, while I’ll find out Oct 15th mine.  Perhaps if the window of time between EDP notification and regular decision notification was statistically significant, then maybe I could see some benefit to doing EDP.  HOWEVER, logic tells me to just apply as early as possible and wind up in the same boat.  I don’t understand the value of being locked into one school (even if it is your so-called “top choice” <– a concept I’ve never really identified with).

There are too many variables.  What if you get in early but get a lousy financial aide package?  You’re screwed.  What if you don’t get in?  You’re screwed yet again, because now you’re late for applying elsewhere that cycle and you basically have <14 days left to select the schools you want to apply to and need to rush in getting secondaries submitted.  I know there are pros as well, provided you get in – guaranteed early admissions and thus reduced stress for the remaining months of the application cycle, significant reduction in out-of-pocket expenses required to apply to numerous schools in order to secure one spot, etc.  I’m all for big risks and big potential rewards,i t’s just that, to me, it is way too big of a risk, for a relatively small reward. 

Once again, I don’t see why you wouldn’t just apply as early as possible, hope to get in the first round or so of interviews and then potentially have some acceptances waiting for you mid-October.  If you like your choices then, you can stop submitting secondaries, decline interviews, etc and still save some money.  Plus, you’d have some leeway in deciding how much money you’re willing to shell out for med school by being able to compare financial aide packages offered to you.  EDP just seems like a horribly shaky game of Russian Roulette…You have one shot to secure a spot at a school you love and hopefully their financial aide office will look kindly on you.  I don’t know, maybe the people that do EDP are loaded and money is of no thought to them for med school…but then that negates the whole advantage of saving money by doing EDP.  Hmmm….

Also (so out of order, but objections keep popping into my head), as the AAMC website says, EDP applicants should have stellar marks and ECs – i.e. the whole package – since very few spots per class can be filled by EDPers.  If you are that strong of an applicant, why on Earth wouldn’t you cast your net out to other schools that pique you curiosity (surely you were not only attracted to one school, right?) and just apply early.  As a strong candidate, you’d probably get a bunch of interviews (at least more than 1) early and be in the same boat, but with more options.  I.do.not.get.it.  Maybe these EDPers are the type that are indecisive or just hate the idea of having to make a decision this substantial come May 15th?  But, doctors need to be decisive, so I’m sure that’s not it…Hmmmmm… 

(Back to EDP) Even if it’s only a total of 5 schools you decided to apply to, but you applied early, you’d be stationed in a much firmer position strategically and not significantly in debt, as compared to doing EDP.  Especially when you consider that hefty price tag the AMCAS makes you pay for just selecting one school to send your primary to.   Might as well maximize that initial deposit and get a few more schools out of it for a couple of bucks more, while simultaneously maximizing your options and opportunities.  I know I’d be pissed if I applied EDP to a school I swore up and down was my top choice, then got a crappy financial aide package I was stuck with, and then was left to wonder,  Hmm, I wonder how much money I could’ve got from School X…

Or, maybe I’m just a greedy, controlling pre-med that likes to think they have some sort of control in this unpredictable process.  Personally, I’ve never been the one to have a top choice anything.  I’ve always had a few “tops” in any category, and differentiating them based on “like” was never possible, for they each had their own pros and cons which basically evened-out.  I like being able to have choice at a given point in time.  Perhaps I’d like to think that having 5 options instead of 1 will be advantageous, and that I then have the power to chose out of a multitude of options my destiny.  I love the power of choice and the opportunity to choose.   I believe that freedom of choice make life worth the living; knowing that you chose one out of several options presented to you and consequently move one more step down the path of life, embracing whatever lies behind that door.  Now that’s fun.  That’s excitement.  It’s like playing a game where you chose from Door 1, Door 2, and Door 3 and you get whatever lies behind.  It’s not fun to play the same game when you only have Door 1 to chose from, right?  That’s just scary.  And, to me, EDP vastly limits choice and is like playing that game with one Door: whomp whomp.  Your choice is which one school do you want to risk your life on.  That’s not really fun.  But, I guess you can view EDP as a shotgun to the regular process, for in the end of regular admissions, you still have to chose which school you want to marry.  Once again, I just don’t get it.  It seems boring and risky and not worth the potential reward. 

At this point, I’m sure I’m sounding like a broken record: Why EDP?  Throwing all eggs into one basket… It’s nonsensical. Why EDP?  Throwing all eggs… blah blah blah.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me.  I am truly curious and have yet to find one person who can give me a convincing reason for choosing EDP.