Michigan Med Admissions Chat with Robert Ruiz


Michigan Med Admissions Chat with Robert Ruiz

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 6:59:08 PM)
First I want to welcome you all to Accepted.com’s Michigan Medical School Admissions Chat.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 6:59:18 PM)
I also want to welcome Robert Ruiz, Director of Admissions at Michigan Medical School who have taken time from their busy schedules to join us today.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 6:59:27 PM)
Thanks to everyone for participating.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 6:59:50 PM)
Good evening Linda!

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 6:59:56 PM)
Hi Robert.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:00:41 PM)
Is international volunteer experience weighted more heavily than significant domestic experience?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:01:36 PM)
Ashley-There is no "weighting" system--we value experiences that reflect an applicants passion, energy and persistence - be it domestic, international, athletics, art or research.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:01:46 PM)
Which is more important in the admissions process: the MCAT or the GPA?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:02:32 PM)
Linda--At Michigan we consider, in this order: MCAT, Science GPA, Overall GPA, Clinical Experience and then....all other aspects of the applicant

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:02:43 PM)
Thanks Robert.

bumblebee (Jun 13, 2007 7:02:46 PM)
Should an applicant list a religious activity on AMCAS or are activities such as that looked at skeptically?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:04:11 PM)
bumblebee-ok to list if they are important to you--however, you can be certain to be asked about them if you make them "public" --also if they inhibit you from being receptive to a variety of perspectives that can be a negative

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:04:31 PM)
Robert, please correct me if I'm wrong, your contribution to the religious activity and your impact are what is important. Not the theology, unless you focus on the theology, which would be a mistake.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:04:55 PM)
how do you factor trends in when looking at the science GPA?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:05:04 PM)
Linda is exactly right

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:05:13 PM)
What was the science GPA range for accepted students to the 2007 class?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:05:53 PM)
ashley-trends do matter--we look for course load, rigor of school, upward trends but these are all relatively minor factors. At the end of the day we need to be confident in the overall academic record

Nick (Jun 13, 2007 7:06:00 PM)
Is it looked down upon to take the MCAT multiple times?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:06:49 PM)
ashley, 2.9-4.0 ( you can bet the 2.9 end are candidates who have other mitigating factors such as post-bac, life experiences, advanced degrees, etc.)

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:06:57 PM)
Nick--no, it is not looked down upon to take the MCAT multiple times.

bumblebee (Jun 13, 2007 7:07:05 PM)
Does Michigan have minimum MCAT score cutoffs for each section?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:08:27 PM)
bbee: No. However, institutional data show us that a "7" in any section is a pretty good predictor for board passage trouble at Michigan. Thus a 7 makes us nervous but doesn't necessarily disqualify anyone.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:08:37 PM)
Which section of the MCAT do you weigh most heavily?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:09:35 PM)
ashley, Sections such as Physical, Biological, Verbal, Writing Sample--with a PS and Bio getting a bit closer look but all are important

54321 (Jun 13, 2007 7:09:37 PM)
Will there be automatic interview invites again this year and what are the cutoffs for in-state and out of state?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:11:04 PM)
54321-yes, Not sure on the numbers-so don't quote me as they are going up since our applicant pool was up 20% last year and we anticipate another 20% jump this year. ...so I'm thinking 3.8/ 38 for non-residents and 3.75/36 for Michigan Residents. While the auto interview is nice it only applies to about 15% of all our interview offers

medkid1 (Jun 13, 2007 7:11:09 PM)
I heard that VR is now "more important" to admissions committees than the science portions of the MCAT. Is that true?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:11:20 PM)
medkid--VR is not more important at Michigan.

bumblebee (Jun 13, 2007 7:11:34 PM)
What is your advice about writing the activities section of AMCAS? Is it better to keep descriptions limited to a few sentences?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:12:26 PM)
bbee: YES!!! We absolutely do not like long descriptions. I strongly prefer a maximum of 2-4 sentences per activity description. "less is more"

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:12:35 PM)
Can you give us a sense of what your thought process is when you are evaluating applications? What are you looking for? What really makes someone stand out?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:14:13 PM)
ashley: We are looking first for academic competence (MCAT, SGPA. OGPA) then professional competence/knowledge of medicine as a career (clinical experience/exposure) and then all else. We are looking for the "leaders and best" . Rather than the approach of what we are looking for I would say: What are you offering to bring to our community of medical education?

medkid1 (Jun 13, 2007 7:14:23 PM)
Oh, ok, thanks. Also, I thought that the automatic interview cutoff was a sum of the MCAT/GPA rather than the requirement to have both a 3.75 and a 36

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:15:16 PM)
medkid--no formulas--if you have both and attend a school we consider a "top" undergraduate school your invite is automatic-if not you go through the full review process

tilia (Jun 13, 2007 7:15:24 PM)
Mr. Ruiz what would you say to someone who has worked in 5-6 different clinical areas.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:16:00 PM)
tilia--congratulations! I would also say you can be expected to be asked how they are similar, different, which ones you liked, disliked, and why?

bumblebee (Jun 13, 2007 7:16:15 PM)
Does it actually help to send letters of interest/intent to your top choice school and when would such a letter be appropriate?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:16:25 PM)
bbee--no, it doesn't help to send letter of interest, at least not at Michigan

Nick (Jun 13, 2007 7:16:29 PM)
If I am an undergraduate from Michigan, do I have an advantage when applying to medical school at Michigan? If so, does this apply to most other colleges as well?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:17:54 PM)
Nick--not necessarily, We want the best undergrads no matter where they come from. You can look at our profile on website to see where our students come from. Having said that, UM Ann Arbor, Berkeley, and UCLA, year in and year out, place more people in medical schools than anywhere else--of course all our huge schools with large pre-med programs. Michigan residents do have some preference as we reserve "approximately" half of our 170 seats for Michigan residents

ugrad (Jun 13, 2007 7:18:02 PM)
Hi, how will Michigan's falling economy impact your schools ability to provide quality education. What steps are you taking to eliminate any funding cuts hurting your school.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:18:50 PM)
What role does the personal statement play?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:20:30 PM)
ashley---In my opinion, with 19 years of admission experience--not as much as people think. It should be done well, proper grammar, personal and appropriate but the notion that a great statement makes a huge difference hasn't been my experience. On the other hand, I think applicants underestimate the importance of quality letters of recommendation.

ugrad (Jun 13, 2007 7:20:50 PM)
Is MSU considered one of your "top" undergraduate schools?

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:21:10 PM)
Robert, what makes a quality letter of recommendation?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:21:55 PM)
ugrad---MSU is a fine school but would not warrant an automatic interview--that being said, if you have those kinds of big numbers, go to MSU and have interest in UMMS I suspect we'd take a very strong look at your credentials.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:22:39 PM)
Linda--a great letter is written by someone who knows you well, can comment on you/your skills in the context of others and has the experience/standing to help us differentiate you from other candidates.

dilettante (Jun 13, 2007 7:22:48 PM)
I don't know if this was asked before, but...what are the main errors many applicants make in the medical school app process?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:23:54 PM)
dilettante: Most common error: Trying to "cover all the bases/check all the boxes" and do a little of everything (i.e. research, service, volunteer, etc.) We'd rather you did one or two things really, really, really, well.

tilia (Jun 13, 2007 7:24:08 PM)
What is it that you like to read in a personal statement?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:25:14 PM)
tilia--I like to read something about what "drives" you, what excites you, what you as a person are about and how this translates to medicine. I don't want to read a summary of what you've done or that you've always wanted to help people since you were two...etc.

54321 (Jun 13, 2007 7:25:24 PM)
I have heard Michigan praised for their transparency in the process. Could you describe the process you use from an application being received through final decisions being made?

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:25:57 PM)
You mean you don't like formulaic AMCAS essays?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:26:10 PM)
54321---too long to do here--visit our website and you'll see a full flow chart/map of our entire process. We take pride in being candid, honest and direct while of course trying to be helpful.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:26:27 PM)
Linda--Don't like formulaic AMCAS essays at all----not at all helpful to us.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:26:37 PM)
The fact you're here is tribute to the transparency of Michigan's process.

juliet (Jun 13, 2007 7:26:41 PM)
I had one rough term and didn't get any As. I've done better since then, but my cumulative GPA is still largely affected by that term. will one bad term significantly hinder my chances?

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:26:57 PM)
I don' t like formulaic personal statements either.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:27:54 PM)
juliet-the low grades won't necessarily affect you--we are all human and know that we all have ups and downs--provided the rest of your application is strong that shouldn't hinder your process.

Jackie (Jun 13, 2007 7:28:02 PM)
I am curious, I have a desire to take a year off during undergraduate school to learn Chinese in China, would that be viewed negatively, because I didn't "stay the academic course"? This wouldn't necessarily be an academic student study aboard program.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:28:58 PM)
Jackie--At Michigan this would be a tremendous asset! We really like people who bring well-rounded, enriching experiences to our medical school--these are often experiences outside of medicine. To be more clear: We'd suggest that you go, do this, and you'll be a better candidate for our school.

bumblebee (Jun 13, 2007 7:29:11 PM)
What factors do you suggest applicants consider when deciding between schools?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:30:57 PM)
bbee: You should consider curriculum including style (pbl, traditional, hybrid, etc.) grading (grades vs. pass/fail) resources (support, research opportunities, joint programs) and last but often overlooked: quality of life! Medical school can be a great experience, tough at times no doubt, but great!

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:31:21 PM)
Is not having research experience fatal to one's application at Michigan?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:32:20 PM)
Linda--no-we admit many students who don't have research. If you don't like research, don't do it. Of course this may mean you have to at least try it in small doses.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:32:30 PM)
Should one list research they got credit for (like an honors thesis, for example) with their activities? I have heard no because credit was awarded, but I have heard yes because schools like to see what the research was about.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:33:47 PM)
ashley--I would say no--but this is a tough question. If the research is substantial (i.e. a big publication) then I'd list. If it is a requirement for the honors thesis I would say that generally speaking, an honors thesis is not a distinguishing factor since many candidates have this credential.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:33:57 PM)
Is clinical exposure important in evaluating an applicant's candidacy?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:34:41 PM)
Linda--yes, clinical exposure is the most important after our academic review. We have to be comfortable that you have had sufficient exposure/experiences to know what you are getting into for the rest of your life.

iceman (Jun 13, 2007 7:34:52 PM)
I am curious as to how science GPA's are compared to the overall GPA. The reason I ask is because I am a late-comer to pre-med. I goofed off for a while earlier on in college but now have my act together. I have been doing well for 2 yrs, but just started my sciences. As a result I have a 3.2 overall and a 3.9 science, with all A's in the prerequisites. I should have a 3.3-3.4 overall when I graduate. Will I be screened? How will it look seeing that my science will be so high and my overall so low? I do well in my non-sciences now as well (4.0.) Thanks!

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:35:51 PM)
iceman--this is pretty common--in your case--the MCAT will be helpful to us to place those grades in context. Good scores will give you some latitude with your situation.

tilia (Jun 13, 2007 7:36:17 PM)
Would you consider attending Tumor Board an activity?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:37:09 PM)
Tilia--hmmm....not sure what Tumor Board entails at your place--you should list activities that were substantial and for which you can talk of the experience in substantive ways

ugrad (Jun 13, 2007 7:37:17 PM)
Do you have an MCAT low cut off?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:37:47 PM)
ugrad--no MCAT cut off--but 7's in any section make us REALLY nervous...and require extra scrutiny

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:38:09 PM)
How do you choose among qualified applicants?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:39:05 PM)
Linda--we are lucky to have a very deep applicant pool--we look for candidates who want to be part of our community and whom we can, fairly easily, identify the skill/talent/attribute they will contribute to our next class.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:39:15 PM)
Should one address weaknesses in the application (for example, my grades started off weak but improved a lot) in the personal statement?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:40:34 PM)
ashley--no. Don't offer your weaknesses or explanations as they often (fairly or not) are interpreted as excuses. Make your case via the application, if your situation is extreme-maybe one or two sentences, but you have to trust us to read/evaluate/interpret and put in context each situation.

tilia (Jun 13, 2007 7:40:36 PM)
Tumor Board is a committee of Oncologists and other Cancer Specialists who meet to discuss options for patients. I attended these meetings regularly for 2 years, outside of work because I worked in the Cancer Ctr.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:42:20 PM)
tilia--similar to our sessions but what did you do? Observe? Present/journal club? etc...does this "connect" with other parts of your application? do you intend to pursue this area? do you have new "revelations" about medicine due to this experience? You could list but I'd probably not consider it a "prime" activity unless you had some fairly substantial role.

iceman (Jun 13, 2007 7:42:36 PM)
As part of a one month study abroad, I will be doing a practicum in a major Latin American hospital. This will be 16 hrs a week. I will also be taking two courses - one of which ties into the practicum experience. Should I list this clinical experience in the ECs section of AMCAS seeing as it is not directly on my transcript?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:43:43 PM)
Iceman--this is 64 hours in a foreign hospital--if you are getting clinical experience you should list it as an activity if it doesn't "bump" something more substantial.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:44:04 PM)
What is the role of secondary essays in the application process? Are you planning to change your essay instructions for the 2008 secondary application?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:45:46 PM)
Essays on secondary are really important to us--they reveal more about each candidate. My favorite part of the whole application is each candidates response to our question: How will you, as an individual, contribute to the diversity of our medical school?

juliet (Jun 13, 2007 7:46:04 PM)
How do med schools view light loading for a term during applications? what about graduating a term early?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:47:41 PM)
juliet--no problem with a bit of a lighter load to manage the other stuff you have to do. Graduating early, depends. If for financial/hardship reasons this is understandable. Graduating early to "jump start" is not something we like--we really prefer people maximize the college experience (i.e. take a language course, public policy, art, music, dance)

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:47:47 PM)
do you read every application, or do you have GPA, MCAT formula cutoffs (like mcat+gpaX10)

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:48:41 PM)
ashley--we read every single application. However, when things get really busy (September and beyond) we prioritize them reading the highest MCAT/GPA's first and the lower ones later (i.e. February)

tilia (Jun 13, 2007 7:48:48 PM)
Do you take into account non-traditional students who may have to work to take care of themselves? Sometimes it's a little bit of a task to work and do school but it gets done.

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:49:00 PM)
tilia--yes, of course we take into account students who have to work.

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:49:05 PM)
Along the same lines as the religious activities question, is it bad to put political activities on the application? I am interested in health policy, and I have a great deal of experience along these lines, but I know politics can be alienating...

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:49:44 PM)
ashley--not a problem if you stay focused on the issues and not the politics--we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:49:48 PM)
What are the three most important qualities you want to see in an application?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:50:48 PM)
Linda: Leadership (not always reflected in only elected positions), Passion, and Excellence. We want people who want to do more, grow and develop in a healthy way!

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:51:05 PM)
Thanks.

bumblebee (Jun 13, 2007 7:51:13 PM)
Is it a problem if your school's committee letter does not go out until the first week in September?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:51:29 PM)
bbee: not a problem

swim2002 (Jun 13, 2007 7:51:38 PM)
HI, I hoped this hasn't been answered yet. what is thought about people that take the MCAT 3 times?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:52:01 PM)
swim2002--not a problem as we'll only use your highest set of scores

ashleyj (Jun 13, 2007 7:52:06 PM)
Why do many med schools request photos with the secondaries?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:53:30 PM)
ashley--security. We need to make sure we know who you are when you come to interview (at Michigan we don't ask for it until we offer you an interview). We will also get your picture from MCAT - these are security to make sure you don't send a representative to interview for you. (sounds crazy but you'd be surprised)

juliet (Jun 13, 2007 7:53:34 PM)
Thank you so much for answering my questions! I was also wondering... do letters of recommendation really vary that much? It seems like all students would choose people who know them well and would say good things

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:54:07 PM)
juliet--letters vary a whole lot!! We often get great letters and others that are not nearly as strong

tilia (Jun 13, 2007 7:54:14 PM)
Is it a problem if someone is taking the MCAT in August?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:54:50 PM)
tilia, no, it's not a problem to take the MCAT in August since we get the scores faster now although we won't review files prior to score receipt.

swim2002 (Jun 13, 2007 7:55:09 PM)
I am currently enrolled in an MPH program. How are people from these programs typically received?

RobertRuizMichigan (Jun 13, 2007 7:55:48 PM)
swim2002--depends on why you did MPH--if your reasons are solid and you can connect with medicine you will be warmly received!

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:55:53 PM)
Thank you again all for participating today. Special thanks to Robert for taking the time to participate.

Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:56:00 PM)
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Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:56:09 PM)
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Linda Abraham (Jun 13, 2007 7:56:18 PM)
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