If you have been placed on a medical school waitlist you are probably wondering what your chances of admission after being waitlisted by a medical school are. While there are no hard and fast rules to this process, it is fair to say that several general principles regarding admission to medical school after being waitlisted hold true. The first is that your chances of admissions are greatest the year you were placed on the waitlist, not upon reapplication. The second is that should you fail to be taken off the waitlist you need to significantly improve your application to have a chance at admission upon reapplication. There are several strategies you can employ to increase your chances of admission during both of these stages.

Getting Off a Medical School Waitlist

Being offered admission while on the waitlist is by far your best chance of gaining admission. This is because when you are a reapplicant a school will automatically assume there was a fault in your application the last time around and will see no reason to select you over an equally qualified first time applicant unless you have significantly improved your application. During the application cycle many students are placed on the waitlist and deemed “good, but not as good as these other students that are being accepted”. When those other students elect to attend other institutions spots on the waitlist open up and you want to be sure to be proactive about obtaining one.

Reapplication after being waitlisted by a medical school

As mentioned before, reapplication after being waitlisted is a particularly difficult spot to be in. Medical schools will want to know why they should accept you this year when they did not last year. They will expect to see big changes in your application, which can be tough to produce in one year since you were busy filling out applications and assuming you would gain admission. Students that succeed in this route are those that take the time to analyze and fix what went wrong last season. While a school may have told you that you are a fine applicant and things were just very competitive this year, even encouraging you to apply again, know that things will not be less competitive next year. In fact applicant competitiveness and scores trend upwards every year. Therefore applying again with the same application will not likely prove fruitful.

Tips for admission after being waitlisted

While you are still on the waitlist be sure to send a letter of intent to your first choice school and letters of interest to other schools. Maintain open lines of communication with any interviewees or current students that you developed a relationship with and send update letters to schools when major events happen. Schools are more likely to look favorably upon students they know are interested and will give those students the spots as they open up.

If you must reapply be sure to actually change substantial portions of your application. If your scores were low, consider retaking the MCAT or performing graduate work to improve your academic competitiveness. Significant extracurriculars like participating in the peace corp and taking leadership positions are also helpful. If schools offer an exit interview, by all means attend as this can afford you valuable insight into what went wrong and how to fix it. Finally go over your list of schools with someone knowledgeable about medical school admissions. It may be that you simply applied to places where you were not a good fit.

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