In recent days, Canadian medical schools have begun spreading joy (through interview invites) and crushing dreams (through rejections) among students everywhere. Great for those invited to interviews, but feelings of disappointment, sadness, and sometimes anger for those who received bad news. As we all know, it’s never fun to be rejected for anything.
When you receive a rejection, many thoughts can go through your head, like: What did I do wrong? Was I not good enough? Boy, they really screwed up!
While some of these thoughts can end up leading to something positive (e.g. you work harder for next year’s application cycle), some of them can be quite destructive (e.g. you blame the medical school admissions process solely and spread a lot of negativity).
In perusing the Canadian premed forums this past week, it’s quite clear that all kinds of thoughts formed in response to rejections. In reacting to rejections, I think it helps to stand back and take an objective look at the medical school admissions process.
What happens every year around interview invite time is that students who hear back from medical schools post their “stats” and a status update for their application. For those unfamiliar with I’m talking about, here’s an example:
4th year applicant
EC’s: 2 summers of research, started a club, lots of leadership positions, volunteered at a hospital every week
Application: Strong essay and reference letters
There are lots of good applicants with really good “stats” who get rejected from medical schools every year – stellar GPA, strong MCAT, lots of extracurriculars and leadership experience, etc. In their mind, they have put together a pretty darn good application and are shocked when they don’t get an interview – especially when they see other students with similar or even lower “stats” moving on in the admissions process. So what’s going on?
The easy way out would be to blame the admissions committee and say they screwed up. I see this a few times every year and unfortunately this is an unhealthy attitude. It suggests a sense of “entitlement” to the applicant when the reality is that there isn’t one. Understand this: the admissions committee can do whatever the heck they want. It is their process. Their goal isn’t to get you into medical school. Their goal is to create a medical school class that they and the medical school are happy with.