Ask The Experts: Medical School Admissions Q&A with Cydney Foote and Alicia McNease Nimonkar

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lindagtw-1Linda Abraham: Hello. My name is Linda Abraham, and I am the president of Accepted.com and the moderator for today’s webinar. I want to welcome all of you to Ask the Experts: Medical School Admissions Q&A.

I am thrilled to introduce our two panelists today.

  • Cydney Foote is a former administrator at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She is the author of three ebooks about medical education, and Cyd has successfully advised hundreds of medical and residency applicants since 2001.
  • Alicia McNease Nimonkar both evaluated applications and advised med school applicants as director of the UC Davis Post-bac Program, where she worked for five years. She started advising Accepted’s clients in 2012 and has been helping them overcome a variety of medical school application challenges ever since.
I have a question for Alicia and Cyd. You both have enormous experience in med school admissions, what do you think is the most common factor that applicants overlook as they approach this process?

alicianimonkar-1Alicia McNease Nimonkar: First of all, the amount of time required to complete each step. People underestimate how much time they'll need to actually write the strongest possible personal statement and to complete the activity descriptions and the most meaningful essays. And then also in the secondary applications, people are often overwhelmed by the number of secondaries they receive and how quickly they need to return them. Usually within two weeks is the recommended amount of time after you receive a secondary invitation to return it.

So people often just feel overwhelmed by the number of secondaries they receive and the number of deadlines that are close together. And then also with interviews, a lot of people don't factor in the travel time, the time required to prepare and it's always best to do mock interviews. So having professional guidance through the process is very helpful because people do tend to underestimate how much time it will take complete each step.

Linda Abraham: Okay, great. Cyd, what do you think is the most common factor that applicants overlook?

cydneyfooteCydney Foote: I do totally agree with everything Alicia just said. That's the most common problems that I see people are struggling is time management. In terms of other things that they overlook, I do think that a lot of applicants are overlooking the fact that writing the personal essays and writing secondary essays is a very different style of writing than anything that they've probably done before. And that these are not either policy papers or research papers. They're personal stories and that's something that most people are not trained to do. And so getting a handle on that early in the process is very important.


Alicia McNease Nimonkar
: I would be strategic because you're going to have a lot of secondary essay questions about early childhood or different parts of your life or things that you didn't cover in the AMCAS application. You'll be able to include other life events that don't fit in your personal statement, perhaps, in the secondary essays. So often when I work with a client on an outline, we'll come up with ideas. And sometimes the information won’t work and we'll edit out and cut a lot of material, but all that material is typically used in secondary essays. So it would just depend on what your combination of scores and grades are, in terms of what I would recommend that you highlight. Linda Abraham
: Okay, great. The applicants are posting some excellent questions here so I'm going to turn to their questions. Now, Michael asks, "For non-traditional students, should I stick to the advice I've been hearing on keeping my personal statement almost wholly answering the question, 'Why do you want to be a doctor?' Or would it be better to stand out more if I tell my life story leading up to being a physician?"


So it should be different for every applicant because in my opinion the best essays, especially for medical school in the AMCAS application, anticipate any questions the selection committee may have about you. And so for you to anticipate those questions and to address them directly in your personal statement will give you the strongest, most strategic approach in addressing any weaknesses that you may have.

Cydney Foote: Answering the question as a straight-up, "Why do you want to be a doctor?" question is rarely, if ever, the right approach to taking the essay whether you're a non-traditional applicant or not. For non-traditional applicants, it is extremely important to capitalize on the experiences that you have had in your life. I'm not saying you need to tell your entire life story but it's really, really important to … because when your applications are reviewed by the admissions committees you're not going to tick a lot of the regular boxes that they have, especially if you've been out of school for any length of time. So what you need to do is capture their attention so that you will then be invited for the interview later on. And to do that, it's really important to show your potentials for medical school and the transferrable skills that you bring to it.

Linda Abraham: Sometimes the question may be more appropriate to say not so much why do you want to be a doctor but what would make you a great doctor. Is that a better question, do you think?

Cydney Foote: That's a much better question and I spoke with a client earlier this week and his essay was just very theoretical. It was about why he thought he wanted to go to medical school. He was very sincere, very honest and you could tell there was a lot there, but the application is asking for the experiences that you've had and the things that have really confirmed the decision for you. And so it's bringing in those stories and that's what's going to help people see your real potential and how well you'll succeed in medical school and in the profession.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: The question could be honed even better [to] something like, "What are the motivations that have led to an interest on a career in medicine?" So yes, it's getting at those experiences or those valuable skills that you're going to bring that allow them to see you as a complete person, as a three-dimensional human being and having them understand your motivations. And if you've had a family member who is sick or if you experienced personal illness, whatever the different motivations are, that you capture those and that people are able to understand what you would bring to medicine that would be unique.

Linda Abraham: Right. I also know a lot of times people say, "Why do I want to be a physician?" And one of the more common answers is, "I want to help people." And my response to that usually is, "Well, you know, when my sink is stuffed up and I call a plumber, the plumber is helping me." So the question becomes, "Why do you want to help people in this way?" And you have to dig deeper and deeper down. So I'm not sure. You're raising a really good point both of you by saying that the 'Why do you want to be a doctor?' question may not be the right one. Okay, let's go to the next question. Jacqueline asks for tips on a [how a non-traditional student should answer the] AMCAS essay composition.

Cydney Foote: Well it's like I said before, that people who are coming back to medicine do have a lot to offer but they don't always have the same profile as the majority of the people who have gone straight through, done exactly what they're supposed to do, etc. Those kinds of applicants need something more, especially for older applicants who wanted to pursue this different career before returning to medicine or before discovering medicine, either returning to this kind of thing.

What is really important is to be able to show the skills that you are going to bring to medicine, show that you understand the field and those are very closely linked. So for instance, if you have explored volunteer work in clinics or anything like that, you can see how you might have a different perception of it if you're, say, an architect or if you have a career as a fashion designer or whatever it is. You have a different perspective and it's that perspective, that viewpoint that really helps make you unique. And then you can combine that with a really convincing argument for why you've discovered medicine is the right career for you. It can make a very compelling essay.

Linda Abraham: Agreed. Alicia, do you have anything you want to add?

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Yes, I love what Cyd said but, yes, medical schools love non-traditional applicants because you are bringing life experience to the table often. And I don't know about anybody else out there, but I'd prefer not to have Doogie Howser as my doctor. I would rather somebody who's mature and someone who's been out in the world and knows how to work well with people and develops a lot of skills and talents and abilities that they can share. So non-traditional applicants, it's really about, as Cyd is saying, showcasing what you are bringing to the table but also having confidence in yourself that you are highly valued.

Medical schools love teachers, if you've had teaching experience, if you taught at a school for a couple of years. Anything that you've done that's for the community or that has allowed you to develop your communication skills or your knowledge of science, all of that can be highlighted strategically in how you represent yourself in your application materials to really showcase your talents and strengths and what you'll bring to their campus.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you. All right, now, Cara asks, "I'm taking the MCAT on August 1st, 2014. I'm hoping to submit my application in June. Will schools be able to send to me secondaries before I receive my MCAT scores or will I be receiving my secondaries on the fall after my scores have been released?"

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: That will depend on the school. Some schools will set your application aside and wait until they get your scores to decide that, if it's schools that do manual secondaries. For the schools that provide automatic secondaries, you'll automatically get those invitations no matter what. So they won't wait for your score to send you the automatic secondary.

Linda Abraham: Okay. Michael asks, "Will my application be evaluated if I send in an improved MCAT score in August though I applied in June with a less than ideal MCAT score?"

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Well, it's always a little bit risky to apply while retaking the MCAT. Typically, in my experience, because it's so expensive to medical school and it takes so much time, I often recommend that people take the MCATs and wait for their score before reapplying so that you have the confidence of knowing that score in going into the admissions process that you know you're going to do well. It adds a lot of pressure to you when retaking the test to have an application in pending knowing that the score is going to count and mean a lot. That adds a lot of pressure that isn't necessarily helpful for some people but you know yourself best. Also it can take longer if it does say "MCAT score pending." Some schools will wait until they get the score to evaluate. It just depends on the policies at different schools.

But, yes, it's a lot riskier and it adds a lot more stress to apply without knowing that score. So I would recommend, if at all possible, to take the MCAT, get your score, and then even if that means you apply on the next cycle early, that's better than having to go through that experience of taking the MCAT and not knowing what your score is, having your application in, having that stress and then not knowing what the outcomes of your score will be. I've just seen so many students devastated by the results that it cannot be helpful for some people. But you know yourself best and based on my experience I wouldn’t recommend applying without knowing your scores.

Cydney Foote: If you are thinking that you do want to go ahead and apply, and I agree that is very risky to do, but one of their strategies could be to apply to … to only list a school that has a less competitive program, that you think you'd have a good chance getting into with, say, the lowest score you think you'd get. You can always go back and add more schools later so you can go ahead. And that will help in just getting your application verified on the AMCAS side. So that can give you a little strategy to play with, and then if you don't score well, you can always wait and apply more next year.

Linda Abraham: Great. Thank you. This is from Erica and, again, it's related to what we've been discussing, "Does taking a summer MCAT hinder your chances of acceptance? Does it help them?"

Cydney Foote: It depends. Your chances are better if you apply earlier. If there is no way you can do it then, you can go ahead and apply and see how you do. But I worry about people who wait until they get their scores from a summer MCAT and then try to apply. It's so late in the season but I think they're at a real disadvantage.

Linda Abraham: Cyd, how would you suggest that applicants narrow down the choice of medical schools to which they should apply?

Cydney Foote: Well it depends on a lot of factors. The first thing that you should probably look at is your state schools. State programs take a higher percentage of students from their own state or for instance, the Washington area, they have the WAMI.

The schools that are in your home state or if there's a regional program, you'll have a higher chance as a state resident than you are as an out-of-state resident. So definitely look at those to start your search. From there, there are different resources you can use. The US News & World Report does a full list of the average MCAT scores and GPAs of entering classes. I would use that as a good resource to try to narrow down and see what range you're in.

Also, if there's programs that you're very interested in, if you have, for instance, a strong interest in doing health policy, then you might want to look at somewhere like Georgetown in Washington DC. It has a great access to the different resources for health policy. So look at the different areas that interest you or that you have some background in and then select the schools that focus on that, whether it's infectious disease or rural medicine or emergency medicine or whatever it is that you think might interest you. And also, if you have any connections to the programs, so as you are talking to professors that you've worked with in research, if you've worked with doctors from different programs, talk to them about their schools, talk to them about what they liked about them. And it's very much a personal decision but it will really help if you have more information about the schools.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Another thing to do could be also to go to pre-med fairs because often medical schools will have representatives or even medical students visiting. So it's really helpful to actually meet people from the school or medical students at the school. Also, visiting the med school campuses if you can, that can give you so much information that will not be available anywhere else. So really it's visiting, networking but also connecting in as many ways as you can through pre-med fairs, visiting the campuses. Starting early is always a good thing to do to give yourself enough time to really talk to people about what they liked about the schools they went to or that they're attending. But pre-med fairs can be a really valuable way to do that and to meet as many people as possible from as many schools as possible in a short amount of time.

Linda Abraham: Thank you, both. Cara asks, "I'm wondering how the medical school admissions weigh a master's GPA with an undergrad GPA.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: So it's looked at completely differently. If you look at a copy of the AMCAS application, your undergraduate GPA calculates separately from your graduate GPA and often graduate GPAs aren’t taken with that as closely as the undergraduates because some programs pad their students' GPAs. It's harder to compare across the board with graduate school programs than it is with undergraduate or having the MCAT to assist in that area. But the undergraduate GPA is really important. The most important thing is really to have an increasing trend. So if you don’t have an increasing trend, no amount of graduate work will help compensate for a low or a decreasing trend in your undergraduate GPA.

So sometimes graduate work isn’t the best way to go if you really simply need to take more post-baccalaureate course work which is any classes that you take after graduating with the bachelor's, whether it's through a formal program or informally, that's considered post-bac work. So if you have a low undergraduate GPA or a decreasing trend, it's really better to take post-baccalaureate course work in the form of upper division science course work that's most similar to the level taught in medical schools, rather than completing a graduate program.

The graduate programs can be great. For example, special master's degrees, those are excellent preparation. Some of them allow you to take classes on their campuses with first year medical students. So it can give you an advantage if they are connected to a medical school and some of them have linkage agreements with medical school programs. So if you're strategic about the graduate work you do complete, that may help ensure with a conditional acceptance program or a linkage agreement that you're able to matriculate directly into a medical school program. But yes, the undergraduate and graduate GPAs are looked at very differently.

Linda Abraham: Now, I want to pose a question here to Cyd and to Alicia. Can you break down the AMCAS application? Is there a ranking order in terms of importance or particular areas that the med schools are going to look at more closely, basically? Is there a chance that your application will not be looked at all if you don’t meet certain numbers in terms of the GPA and MCAT? Or are the personal experiences, the personal comments section more important than the experiences or does that just depends on the individual medical school?

Cydney Foote: I definitely think that's an "it depends" kind of thing. Each part of the process is building on the previous part so it's not like you can take it easy on the first part, on the primary essay or on your grades or anything like that and then hope to make it up later. It just doesn’t work that way.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Sure. I agree with you that it's really individual how each selection committee member looks at the application. When I would sit it on selection committee meetings, I was often sort of amazed by how one person would focus on the MCAT score and then another person would argue about the GPA and then somebody else would say, "But look here in the personal statement. Look at this." And then they would quote the applicant. So it's very individualized as Cydney was saying about how much importance each committee member places on those different sections of the AMCAS application. But what comes out of the selection committee meetings is that any weaknesses in the application that are not addressed by the applicant, those are the things often that disqualify people.

For example, I had a student apply to our program who had a very low MCAT score compared to other applicants. But after speaking with the student, I was able to find out that she was working late nights at a nursing home, full time, going to school full time, and she couldn’t afford an MCAT prep program so she was studying on her own. So I was able to convince the people in our selection committee that she was worth taking a chance on for our post-bac program and she ended up earning near perfect scores on every section of the MCATs. Yes, it was so impressive. She's brilliant. She's actually in her second year now at UC Davis School of Medicine.

But I knew because I could tell that there was some information missing from her application, that there was more to her story. But if you don’t get an application reviewer who is willing to place your luck home, or Nancy Drew, and really kind of figure out, is there anything missing or is there something that here that I'm not seeing? And if they don’t take the time to reach out to the applicant and there often isn’t time to do that, then you're going to miss out on a chance to be interviewed if questions about your application aren’t answered or addressed directly in your AMCAS application.

So the most important thing you can do is really to highlight your strengths of course, but also address any weaknesses in your application and how you have improved those already or how you're working to improve those. It's your chance to let them see you as a complete person and to know if you've overcome any obstacles and that's important to know because we all look for resilience in those applications.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. Latoya asks, "If you've been out of college for over 10 years but have done volunteer work, works in the AED and done research but have an undergrad GPA of 2.7, do they still expect me to go to a post-bac program?" Alicia, with your post-bac experience, why don’t you take that one first?

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: That will completely depend on whether or not you have an increasing trend and if you've retaken any courses that you didn’t do well in, that were possibly failing in for higher grades. It'll depend a lot on where those lower grades are trending in your undergraduate GPA. So if you have a strong increasing trend and you've earned As in your last upper division bio-psych classes or they have reason to believe that you've improved as a student and you show some level of self-reflection and self-development, that can really help.

Also, if you have a lower GPA, compensating with a higher MCAT score will always help you. But I have seen people get into medical school with an average GPA of 2.7. It just really depends on the combination of factors of having a higher MCAT and then having really compelling explanations for what happened during your undergrad, why you struggled during any quarters or semesters or why you had any decreasing trends and improving on those, having the increasing trend to demonstrate improvement, that's really the most important thing you can do is always ending on a high note.

Cydney Foote: If there is a chance they're going to a post-bac program, I would recommend it. It is a great way to really show that you're committed to going back into medicine after doing a good job. And if you do well there, it could really make a difference. But I agree, there are people all the time who have low GPAs and can show some balance on the MCAT and with incredibly compelling story, they can make up that difference.

Linda Abraham: Great, thank you very much. Cara asks, "How do the admissions committee look at where you went to undergrad? Would they weigh an Ivy League GPA differently against a local state college GPA?" Or maybe to put this better, would they weigh the GPA from a program that's considered to have a harder grading curve a little differently from a program that's supposed to have an easier grading curve?

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: The MCAT is supposed to provide a standard score right across the board for everyone, so that's why so much weight is placed on the MCATs. But different schools have a more rigorous or a more difficult course work so they can be looked at differently. I know in the UC Davis School of Medicine selection committee meetings the CSU GPAs were looked at differently than the UC GPAs. And so definitely different school systems and different Ivy League schools versus state schools, etc are looked at differently. And they do have those discussions in the selection committees arguing, "Oh, but look at where this person attended if they have a lower GPA. Look, they went to Dartmouth versus a state school or a school that's not ranked as high."

Linda Abraham: That's a pretty straightforward question. All right, Michael asks, "How can I strategize to be attractive on paper?" I mean this is probably the key question right now, at least to get an interview. We've been answering that in different ways and I guess it's still a question out there. "Upon graduating undergrad I switched from business to a post-bac program right away. My undergrad GPA was less than average. I have a very good GPA in post-bac and I'm foreseeing an MCAT in the high 20s. I'm considered an overrepresented minority."

Cydney Foote: So in terms of strategizing yourself, as I said before, each step is trying to get you to the next process, up to the point where you're invited for the interview and then you're accepted. So on paper, what I really encourage you to do is to start with the most compelling story that you can. You want to get their attention. For an underrepresented minority, if there are struggles that you had in making that choice to get back into medicine away from business, they want to know about that. They want to know kind of the path that you took to get there.

As you get into more of the secondaries and also through your activities, you'll show more about how you put your thoughts into action, how you went from business and like I said before, the skills that you bring to it and the skills that you gained there that you can bring to medicine. It's hard to say without knowing more about your profile as to exactly what are the strongest stories you have. But as someone, as an underrepresented minority, I do think that you can talk about any of the perspective that that brings or any of the special circumstances that you had to face in your education.

[But for someone who is coming from an overrepresented minority,] then it is very much mining your stories, mining your experiences and really trying to come up with the ones that show both your desire to go to medical school and the experiences that you've had to confirm that. It's really impossible for me to just say what you can focus on, but I do think that the best thing you can do is to start your writing and your strategizing by looking at all the different stories that you can potentially tell and then taking the ones out that you think are the most persuasive and the most impactful.

I think that one other avenue for you is to apply to osteopathic medicine programs. You might have a better chance at something like that. They are a bit less competitive and you might be able to tell your story in a way that emphasizes your life experience.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: What Cyd said was fantastic. It's hard to give advice with a limited amount of information because you are so much more than your numbers and there's so much more to your motivation to practice medicine and to study medicine. So what Cyd said was wonderful and it's really just about identifying, are there any weaknesses, are there any questions that somebody may have about my application? And perhaps if you have a great pre-med adviser or if you want to work with a consultant like us, but somebody who can step back and look at your application and help you to see, okay what are the things to highlight and then what are the questions that may have about you as an applicant or about your weaknesses? So it's really just taking a step back and looking and seeing, was there a quarter or semester that you got some poor grades? That would need to be explained. These are all things that we don’t have access to see to give you advice on or guidance on how to cover it.

But that's definitely something that needs to be addressed in the personal statement especially if you've improved your grades or you retook courses. You really do want to emphasize the improvement and the self-development and the self-awareness that you've gained as a result. Medical schools love to see that level of self-reflection in your essays and that level of maturity, so it's really about being able to step back and look at what should I highlight and what questions might they have.

Linda Abraham: I just want to add, I think [it’s a mistake] to focus exclusively on perceived weaknesses. You want to give the admissions committee positive reasons to accept you. Again, why are you going to make a great doctor as opposed to what are the weaknesses in your profile that may keep you out. And that goes back to what Cyd was talking about before, what are the stories that you can tell? What experiences have you had that could tell somebody not just that you can claim, but that will tell somebody, "Hey, you have the qualities, the personal traits that will make a great doctor."

Latoya asks, "Some say not to tell your whole life story in your personal statement. But if I had a lot of difficulty in my life, like raising my sister and myself, but I had the determination to be a doctor, how do I show that determination and let the reviewers know that this is the only career I really want?"

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Sure. So the question is how do you demonstrate that you really want to be a doctor?

That's amazing that you were able to do that, to raise your sister and then also to gain so much maturity at such a young age to do that. It sounds like it might be appropriate for you to apply to medical school as a disadvantaged applicant. But overcoming significant obstacles like that will only make you heroic in the eyes of the application reviewers, as long as you state the facts of your situation and why you had to do that while you were forced into the role of an adult at an earlier age. So I would consider applying as a disadvantaged applicant because if you experienced any form of social, economic or educational disadvantage at any time in your life, you can apply to medical school as a disadvantaged applicant.

And if that's appropriate for you, your application will be treated with the utmost respect and it will only help you because medical schools are looking for people who have the resilience to complete their very rigorous programs. So when you've done so well and you've gotten to the point where you're applying to medical school and you've had so many additional obstacles than most people have to struggle with, you're really setting yourself apart as having that resilience and the determination to see yourself through. But if you also have a lot of community service or volunteer work in low-income or at-risk or medically-underserved communities, that statistic, as well as, the fact that you may be from a disadvantaged background, those two factors, according to the research studies available, indicate that people are much more likely to practice in medically-underserved communities later as doctors.

So that will help you in the long run if you feel comfortable covering the information that's appropriate. You don’t want to provide too many personal details about perhaps what happened in your upbringing, but you do want to state the facts and you don’t want to exaggerate. And just make sure that you help them to understand you as an applicant and what you had to overcome to get to this point.

Linda Abraham: Jacqueline asks "Is there a place that defines disadvantaged applicants?" Well Alicia actually did so on a blog posted on our website about three weeks ago.

She also asks, "How would one go about obtaining access to the consulting which you provide and how long before I apply should I seek this type of assistance?" I think it depends a little bit on what kind of assistance you want. If you want us to review and edit your essay, you need a draft. If you want assistance up front with the essays and some guidance as to what to include in the essay, then I would say you could contact us as late as two weeks before you want to submit. But if you want to do it more comfortably, I would say about a month before you want to submit. Yes, that is the minimum.

Alicia and Cyd, what is the most common mistake you've seen in the personal statement and experience section of the application?

Cydney Foote: Sure. the worst mistake and the most common mistake that's made is making claims in your stories and saying just very vague things, like I am a compassionate person or I am a very responsible person or I'm a very dependable person, without giving proof of it. And this is something that in a personal essay it makes all the difference. The people who are reading it want to hear a story and they don’t want to hear people who are just giving claim after claim. And it's not that they don’t believe your claim but it's more that when they're weighing it against someone that does have the experience and backs it up with the support, that person's story is going to make more sense and be more compelling. And so that is the most common mistake that I see in personal statements.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Yes, from what I've seen especially recently is that people tend to struggle with talking about themselves in their personal statement and focus on patients who they’ve helped or focus on other family members and they don’t really show up on the page because they're busy describing other people. Your patients will love you for being humble which is a wonderful trait but it will hurt you in an application process if you don’t show up front and center in your personal statement, because they really want to get a chance to get to know you as a person and as an applicant. They want to decide whether they want to teach you at their medical school. I'm thrilled when my clients are able to say that they feel that the personal statement fully represents who they are and they're excited and proud to submit those essays because it showcases them as three-dimensional people and truly represents their motivations for going into medicine. Showing up on the page is important.

Linda Abraham: Shaun asks "Is it okay to use the same personal statement with just a few minor changes to reapply? I cancelled my application last year due to a weak MCAT."

Cydney Foote: I would really examine if you have done anything significant in the last year. Hopefully you have and hopefully your application is stronger and if it is, then writing the personal statement again or adding to it significantly can make a big difference.

Alicia McNease Nimonkar: Yes I definitely, agree with what Cyd said. But I also think it's a little dangerous to apply with the exact same personal statement with just a few minor tweaks because for selection committee members, it's only one click away for them to look at your previous AMCAS application. It's literally one click away and so really, if you're putting all the money and time and effort into applying, you don’t want to ever use old letters of recommendation. You want to get brand new, current letters of recommendation that as Cyd said, capture what you've done most recently because old letters of recommendation can really hurt you. Some selection committee members actually get offended by it. It's funny, but it's not funny if it's your application.

But people get angry at letters that are older than a year. They think that the applicant hasn’t put the effort in and the same goes for the personal statement -- you really want to demonstrate that you have worked really hard to change everything that you possibly could to become a stronger applicant and that's an easy thing that you have complete control over improving on. You can't go back in time and redo your undergraduate grades. That's not possible, but you can rewrite your personal statement and have a gorgeous essay that you're proud to submit. And change as many other things as you can so that your application's stronger. So applying with the same one is dangerous because it’s one click away for them to look at your previous application.

Linda Abraham: I'm just going to add my two cents here. I completely I agree with both Cyd and Alicia. They kind of focus on different reasons why not to re-use that same statement. If you reuse the same statement you're basically saying I haven't done much in the last year and it's obviously not the impression you want to make. And if you re-use the same statement then, as Alicia pointed out, you're basically saying I'm not putting much effort into this year's application. I'm just going to rely on what I did and cancelled last time. And I would just say it's a big mistake to use your personal statement from last year. It shows lack of commitment, lack of growth and everything that you don’t want to be showing.

Our webinar is at an end. Thank you applicants so much for your participation and questions. Special thanks to Alicia and Cyd for their insightful, informative answers. If you have additional questions, please feel free to post them on our blog, Facebook page, or LinkedIn group.

Final reminder, if you would like to work individually with Cyd or Alicia, you can do so. They still have some availability. And through May 31, you can also save 10% on our non-rush med school admissions services. That’s our very real way of encouraging you to submit early.

Best of luck with your medial school applications!