Getting into Medical School, aka Holy of Holies (the F-1 version)

My adventures as an international student trying to get into a US medical school as a prestigious MSI student!

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Location: East Coast, United States

I am a 22 yr old Foreign lady trying to get into an American med school. The journey has been "rough" to say the least. So join the band wagon and let's see if they think I'm good enough to become a doctor. I hope my story encourages someone, maybe you. Not necessarily to become a doctor, but just to follow your dream. Leave your comments as you read...I thrive on feedback. And if this is your first time here, catch up on what you missed, cus every post IS important...well almost all. So forget that board meeting(at your own risk) or skip that class (again at your own risk) and lose yourself in my archives. REMEMBER: "If it aint ROUGH, it aint RIGHT" - Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons Guard

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Would you go for a dream school over a practical "not-so-dream" choice?

I'm answering O.E's question as a post because I've been thinking about it a lot myself.

(Staring into space trying to think of an analogy for this one)

Here's the best I could come up with

If you're not a lady, first assume you're one. Ok now let's be shallow and a tad bit over the top for a moment:
- If you had to pick between dating...nah this is more serious than dating...MARRYING John Aint Nobody or Prince William, (ok let's assume lucky Miss Kate hasn't gotten into the picture yet),who would you choose? Easy right? Well here's the small print

John Aint Nobody: Nice friendly guy, everybody loves him, so do you. Well at least so you thought, until Prince William, your life long crush that you have hence forth deemed unattainable, started sending you some secret love notes. Now everytime you hop into sweet John's old and faithful toyota you think of the possibility that it could be a bentley, complete with a state of the art GPS-finally, you can both get to your destination on time without having to convince John to stop and ask for directions. But on the other hand, the day you marry John will also be the day the $500, 000 inheritance from grandma will get deposited into his account, so you know financial worries would be out of the question for a while...assuming you both spend the money wisely.

Prince William: You were happy with John until His Royal Highness came trotting along. He hasn't even proposed yet but now as hard as you try, you can't stop seeing yourself in those diamond clad evening gowns with thousands of people running after you trying to catch a whiff of your fart to sell on eBay. Then there's also the way everyone would raise an eyebrow everytime they find out who's wife you are. There are a few things that are not so exciting about a future marriage though. For starters you hate London. Then there's all the uppitty etiquette that comes with your new position. And even worse, for some reason the pastor of your church, your voodoo priest or your psychic(pick one) tells you that with William, all the glamour aside, the first ten years of your marriage are going to be hella rough but after that it will be smooth sailing. Why does he have to rain on your freaking parade?! He's probably hating just cus its not his daughter about to marry some Prince (shoot he hasn't proposed)...
Deep inside though, you know his prophecies are fail proof...but dang it's the Prince!!

Ok now pick!

So John is the average med school that accepts you, gives you a good financial aid package, is located in a beautiful town etc. One thing is for sure, after med school you're not going to be in any significant debt.

Then there's the Prince. That top school that you didn't even think you'll get an interview at, then you get stressed out at work one day...throw down your experiments and go seek a safe haven in your email. And voila there's the dream interview. It's not an acceptance but you're already dreaming that it is. Even though the school is in a crazily expensive city, or in a city where stepping out of your apartment on any given day might also mean taking a stray bullet to the heart, you still want it like no man's business. And then there's the minor issue of them not giving as much financial aid as the other average med school you were accepted at. Which inevitably means the first ten+ years of your career will be spent repaying student loans!!

Personally it's a very tough decision but certain experiences have cleared things up a bit. From the few interviews I've gone to it seems every one just wants to know how I got into Ivy Que, what I do there, how it feels to come from a small school to a world renowned school etc. So yeah...imagine what doors would open if you attend such a med school.

The same attending I talked to last week tried to convince me that where you went for med school didn't really matter. Apparently the only thing important is where you do your residency. Hind sight is 20-20 though. It's like trying to convince a premed that the adcomms do look at your application as a whole not just your MCAT and GPA, I know I didn't believe that for a minute.

So would I give up a full scholarship at a so-so school for a top ranked dream school that gives me little or no scholarship?

...A car is a car but you never know when that extra GPS you had to pay extra for will come in handy!!

I must add though that if two schools are close in ranking, reputation etc, then I will start being picky as per location, financial aid package, etc

I might be a disillusioned premed so professional counselling from seasoned ones are very welcome but I personally think I would go for the best I can get.

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Blogger Gramps said...

If u have a lot financial responsibilities and they are immediate or will be once you leave school, then settle for the school that gives u money now. Again, remember that Nigerians come from med school in Naija and enter Harvard or Hopkins for residency or research fellowships.

If on the other hand, you don't have the immediate financial concerns, you can settle for the IVY League, provided they still maintain the same quality education.

But bottom line, 4get the school names and ask yourself, where will i get the most & practical experience?

January 26, 2007 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:? I still don't know if u picked john or william?

January 26, 2007 12:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voodoo Priest and Psychic? No where did you mention the Almighty King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Remember them? God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit one.

What did God tell you? Where is he leading you to go? Those are the questions you need to ask.

Okay, I don’t know much about med schools verses where you do your residency. What I can tell you, as a prospective Law Student, if Baltimore University accepted me, gave me a full scholarship, and Harvard accepted me and gave me nothing, I would be married to Aunt Sallie/Board of Education until Jesus comes paying back student loans to go to Harvard. That’s the best I can say. You’re young, not married, and you need to really pray about this. You don’t want to have regrets later.

Another scenario. Young lady I knew got a full scholarship to a so-so school. She was also accepted to Spellman. Her father told her it’s her choice. She chooses Spellman. Got out making over $100K or close to it. It was the school and its program and their dedication to their graduates. Of course her father and step mom thought she was crazy for not choosing the full scholarship, but hey, he said choose, she did and he paid the difference. Now she’s back in school or about to graduate from law school. She did it her way. But she’s still unhappy, because she wants to be married with children. So take all these into account.

January 26, 2007 8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, did I forget to say it's everyone's aunt? :-) I know you know from the IP address, but still. Also, for the last Blog, the reason to give you an assignment, is so you'll go and visit the neigborhood book store, online one or just research Dr. Carson.

January 26, 2007 9:08 AM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

@all: I'm not even in this situation yet so I'm just speculating.

@gramps: most top schools are synonymous with exceptional training, so that usually takes care of that. And on the other hand, most medical schools give you thesame basic things you need to be a doc (a car is a car) but it seems you get more love from residency programs depending on where you go to school. That is not the only thing that determines your admission to residency though(there's board scores) but it helps. If one looks at the "match lists" of most schools, you can see where their students go to residency and if you do well enough, you can go anywhere but it seems these top schools match a larger percentage of their students to "better" hospital. I personally don't care if it's ivy league or not, I just want it to be a program with a good reputation.

@anonymous1: so does that answer your question.

@aunt: you're taking the John and William story way too seriously. It's just something I simply made up to get a point across. At the end of the William part I had to look for a way of saying the first ten+ years of your life were going to be spent paying your financial debt. I could have added in fairy God mother along with the pastor, voodoo priest and psychic. The debt is a pretty obvious fact that you would be sure of before starting whichever school one chooses, so that was the best way to describe it.

When people talk about happiness and school, I personally think it’s simply what you make out of it. You can’t decide whether or not you’re going to be happy at a place from a one day adrenalin filled interview visit. I went to undergrad and was depressed for the whole first year because the place was in the middle of no where and I kept feeling sorry for myself. By my second year, I convinced myself that I was stuck there and had to make the best out of it and I did and loved every minute of it after that. Graduation was pretty emotional for me cus I had come to love the people around me along with the tons of snow. It worked out. Again I might be wrong but I think one can make out one's happiness wherever you find yourself. As per marriage, etc...I really am not worried about that for some weird reason ;). I have learnt to just relax and let GOD take control, it seems whatever decision I make He ordains and allows it to work out perfectly. Or more like HE only seems to give me good choices…So I'm going to go with that again this time.

Also I don’t want to grow up and second guess myself wondering why I never went to the better school of the choices I don’t currently have. As of now I am an excited matriculant of the only med school that has thus far accepted me wooohoooo!! Goodluck with law school!

January 26, 2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger Jaycee said...

BTW...CONGRATS on ur admission (looked at the stats), so have u accepted the acceptance later? Congrats on the journey u're abt to begin...

January 27, 2007 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shooo your options might increase further 'cos ou haven't heard from all the schools abi? But if it comes down to those 2, I will choose the scholarship. I do believe most med schools are gd. Like now I can't imagine leaving my school for anywhere else. I love the kind of doctor I am going to be and I feel my professors here have played a role in molding me. I LOVE MY SCHOOL! So if someone came now and offered me a scholarship to yale or harvard to leave my school, I definitely wouldn't accept. And then for me, environment plays a huge role 'cos I have nasal allergies and all. I have to be comfortable in the city I plan to study and succeed in. Call me an ajebutter..I don't know. But I don't care how fabulous a school is, if it is in Chicago or somewhere freezing, I aint going nowhere. Truthfully, God will lead you to the right place 'cos that's how I loved Ohio State but somehow it didn't click to me that OHio is freezing. Now I am in NC and I love the weather!!! Good luck!

January 29, 2007 1:51 PM  
Anonymous ogizzle said...

ooops comment above was made by Ogizzle

January 29, 2007 1:51 PM  
Blogger busola said...

i love your journey girl - but i'd definitely choose the scholarship over anything else! i'm a med student myself - and i'll give anything to go for free.

January 29, 2007 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Folu said...

Med schools and law schools are different. If you were asking about law school, i'd say go to the Ivy/name brand law school even if they give you $0, but for medicine, I really think it doesn't matter that much. Most doctors are gainfully employed and respected. The only time I'd say you should definitely pick the Ivy for med school is if you want to be a WELL RENOWNED SURGEON or something like that.

If you just want to be a "regular" respected doctor, then it really doesn't matter that much. Yes, people would definitely look twice if you attend Ivy med, but i'm thinking the rewards are not that much difference. And we're focusing on your happiness here, not on what people think.

But like I said, if it's law school and to a great extent, business school, the Ivy/name brand is very essential and i'd say go for that instead.

January 29, 2007 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Kemi said...

one of the many advantages of practicing medicine is that you can never be jobless; u might not be doing what you want to do where u want to do it, but u will be practicing some kind of medicine somewhere. so in that case, does the medical school u attend really matter? I guess not.... now does an ivy league school guarantee you will be doing what u want to do, where u want to do it? No, but it definitely provides an added advantage. the medical profession is really a race amongst equals. Now u have board exams, grades, recommendations and other things that can tip the scales, but with all other things being equal, an ivy league school gives u a leg up. I guess the question now is, how much more are you willing to pay for that added advantage??? if u don’t think its that important, i;m guessing nothing. Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the playing field (dream school vs. not so great school) and I know i’m willing to pay extra money to attend the dream school. how much more, i can’t say for sure, but will I give up a full scholarship in an ok school to go pay some money in my dream, ivy league school…most definitely.

January 29, 2007 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Patrice said...

I was a student in the lab of a top microsurgeons. I couldn't tell you where he went to school, nor could anyone else, I would bet. All we knew was that he was the king of his specialty. My lab mate, who was a graduate student and plastics surgery resident at the time, attended good, but unlikely among the reputedly best, of medical schools for any of his degrees. He is now head of plastics at a top research hospital. That is not to say that graduating from an Ivy League school does not have its advantages, but probably more advantageous than that is having a graduate degree, preferably a PhD, even if it is never used to do research. Also, remember that "full scholarship" looks impressive, perhaps as much as "Ivy League", on the curriculum vitae. In the end, though, it is not what you have but what you can do. I believe that the cream eventually rises to the top.

February 03, 2007 8:53 PM  

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