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

Friday, July 06, 2007

Just When You Think The Worst is Over...

Ok this last month has been one heck of a roller coaster. You will think getting admitted into medical school is the hardest part of the deal(well, OK, actually it is) but the paper work you have to do after that is just crazy.

So obviously you have to get financial aid right? Well try getting your parent's tax information(aka W2 forms) from a third world country. Until now I never even knew people paid taxes in Nigeria. So for the last 2 months I was waiting to get this tax information from home to submit my financial aid (FA) know...they have to verify that your dad isn't the King of Zamunda before they start giving you all kinds of scholarships and loans. So here I was with a deadline and waiting on the govt to release my parents tax information. One week before the deadline my mom's information was released (after paying $250 in "processing" fees of course), apparently my dad's will follow shortly. I got a phone call later from my mom telling me that they were now asking for another $750 to get my dad's information. You gotta love the inconsistency of the Nigerian bureaucracy. I proceeded to stare at my bank account for about 10 mins to try and figure out how I could squeeze out all that money...never mind that I still have to somehow pay rent, purchase a car and oh-yeah EAT. At this point I call the Oh-so-nice people in the admission office and begin to ask for some kind of extension seeing as there was no way one week would be enough to submit and process my FA application. I was thankfully granted a five day extension. Hopefully that would be enough. [By the way this deadline is the time within which I must show that I have the funds to cover my expenses for the first year of school (~60,000). If I had my financial aid award, I could deduct the amount I was given from the 60k and just show the balance in an account in my name. So say I was given 50k in aid, I needed to show that there was another 10k sitting in my bank account to cover the get the drift?]. Of course if I missed the deadline, my acceptance will be withdrawn, I will be back to square one and all the other good stuff that came with that...

After looking with no success for a way to bypass feeding the corruption of the Treasury Dept back home, at the end of the day I figured I would rather pay the 750 and face the possibility of starvation than wake up 10 yrs from now and realize I tanked my dreams because of what will then look like a very meager sum of money. It was after coming to this decision that I got on the phone with another Nigerian at the medical school to ask questions about apartments and such. We were about to round up our conversation when I casually decided to vent and ask how she went about getting all the tax info and stuff during her time. Her response was a life saver:

"What tax information? Who has such a thing in Nigeria??"

Apparently the lady I had been communicating with in the FA office was somewhat new and did not know how foreign students went about such things. All I needed was a Notary Public stating how much my parents earned. REALLY?!! I resisted the urge to call my parents at 3am their time and waited till they were up to give them the good news. Within two days I had all the necessary documents, submitted the application, still had my $750 in my account and waited to see how much I was going to be getting from the school.

On the day of the deadline, I got the information. I was hoping that with the need I showed on my application, I would have gotten most of my expenses covered either by scholarships or loans (all the aid is Need Based, no merit aid) and maybe have to show about 5-10000 dollars to cover the rest. Well, when I received the fax that afternoon, there was a gaping hole...30k wasn't covered by any of the aid. So somehow between now and the end of the business day(ahem 3hrs) I had to show 30k in my account. I quickly called the FA office to let them know what was going on and if there was any other way I could get the 30k covered. There was, thankfully, but it was a loan that I had to apply for and that would take about a week plus to go through.

I obviously did not have a week.

By LEGAL(I promise) means that I do not currently care to go into, I had 30,000 dollars in my account the next day, printed off the statements and faxed it over to the admissions office. For the next few days, I had to battle the urge to take all that money and get myself a lexus or something instead of the run down cars I had been looking to buy for a while now.

As we speak, the loan I applied for has gone through, I have returned the 30,000 to my benefactors (bye,bye Lexus) and I can now confidently say that the application process is finally over. [I have also prepared some form of speech ready in case the IRS or some other kind of watch dog wonders what kind of business I am involved in that involves juggling large sums of money between multiple bank accounts(especially with the "great" publicity we Nigerians are getting in the financial world)] I wake up most morinings now and count my blessings. I got into a school I actually wanted to go to, I will be financially independent- I didn't have to take out a loan under anyone's name, I got a better deal than expected on my car and I'm vacationing for the next month trying everything possible not to use my brain.

I hope this journey has inspired someone, it was the most vulnerable I have felt in my short life but it paid off in the end. There are probably people out there wondering if they're good enough to get into medical school or whatever dream career they plan on going into, I felt the same way at the beginning of this process and wanted to back out before the end just in case I didn't get in anywhere, at least I could withdraw my apps before they all actually rejected me. But I'm glad I saw it through. Thank-you all for the support, being able to share the process with you even during the most difficult parts was a very potent stress reliever.

Honestly if this whole process didn't work out, I would literally have had to pack my bags and go back home because I would have lost my legal status...but He really did not bring me out this far to take me back again...


Please continue to send emails and questions my way, I love hearing from you and will try to help the best I can (

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Anonymous Folu said...

Wow, all the best to you! God really does work wonders! I pray all goes well for you at Dartmouth! New England isn't that bad, we all survive in this cold.

July 06, 2007 6:20 PM  
Blogger Biodun said...

Congrats on getting into Med skool again n for sorting out all the odd ends! I thank God for your life n this is only the beginning of many more great things to come in your life! Your story is truly inspiring n pls keep blogging!

July 08, 2007 1:03 AM  
Anonymous Patrice said...

I thought that "no loan cosigner needed" in your "I hear the sound..." post meant that you were offered a fully-funded place. Keep hunting for grants and scholarships. There are lots of them out there.

July 08, 2007 11:28 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

@Folu...yeah I think I'm ready for the cold, it's probably not as bad as the midwest winters(i'm hoping)

@Biodun..thanks, I'm not sure if I'll keep on blogging at this point, but yeah, we'll see

@patrice...the "no cosigner needed" just meant they had institutional not federal loans. So I can sign for loans myself. It seems I'll be looking at about 150k debt at the end of school. I'm going to try to cut down my spending to the barest minimum so we'll see. But yeah, I'll keep an eye out for any grants and scholarships.

July 09, 2007 10:07 AM  
Blogger Cherub (former Bijouxoxo) said...

Biodun, i can't begin to tell u how happy i am for u. I've only just started, and it is by God's grace that i'm still standing. I'll be a regular re-reader of ur past blog entries, and expect calls, emails and all from me. Remain blessed girl.

July 09, 2007 11:12 AM  
Anonymous Amo said...

Hi, your journey has been inspirational. All the best for the rest of the journey

July 09, 2007 2:50 PM  
Blogger STREETBRAND said...

Wow, what a story! I am glad God worked everything out for your good and to His glory becos like you said: He really did not bring you out this far to take you back again...

Praise God for you!!!


July 10, 2007 2:17 PM  
Anonymous O.E. said...

Hey Abby, so where r u spending ur summer? their aid is need-based right? I thought you'd have gotten more in scholarships or something? Anyway, congrats on sorting i out. I can imagine the stress...

July 10, 2007 3:52 PM  
Blogger ABBEY said...

@Cherub: good luck oh! and holla anytime

@amo: thanks!

@streetbrand: thanks for stopping by and thanks for the kind words

@O.E. what's been up with you? I'm spending my summer cruising around the south for a month! you ?
And actually I can't complain about the aid, I got the maximum aid possible so I'm very grateful.

July 11, 2007 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Ogizzle said...

Hi Abbey, it's been a long time but i have definitely kept up with your story as time permits. I wish I had done so earlier 'cos I could have enlightened you on the "tax" thing, but thank God it all worked out. So congrats and I am sure all your experiences in med school will prompt another blog cos I have never seen such an amazing, emotionally charged profession in my life. On my part, i just went through USMLE step 1 and now I am 3months into my 3rd yr, how time flies!!! The hours are crazy, but I am seeing and learning soooo much. Come to think of it, I also owe some bank too much for school. Lucky you, no cosigner wahala, i have to go through that each yr filled with fear that my cosigner might say no, but thank God for his faithfulness abi? Ok oh this has been a long comment when all I wanted to say was CONGRATS AND GOOD LUCK!!

July 15, 2007 1:06 PM  
Blogger NaijaBloke said...

CONGRATS!!! Finally the DOCTOR journey has started and pray God gives u the strength,wisdom and understanding to see this thru.AMEN.

July 25, 2007 5:15 PM  
Blogger Lola said...

CONGRATS!!! Girl! The hardest part is getting into Med School and you have done it. (okay I'm lying)... The point are officially a DOCTOR!!!... I'm a 2nd year student in a med school in America too. Feel free to holla if you need advice. you can check out my blogg too. Kinda new though.

July 26, 2007 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Fope said...

Congratulations Biodun, I'm sooo happy for you... All the best in Dartmouth oh... the best is surely yet to come :)

August 06, 2007 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

August 22, 2007 12:44 AM  
Blogger BeautyinBaltimore said...

Small update please.

September 11, 2007 1:53 AM  
Anonymous Camel Milk said...

hey abby,

Where u at ? Wishin' u all the best. Don't forget us !!

October 05, 2007 2:51 AM  
Blogger Naija Sutra said...

Keep the prayers strong girl, there is nothing you cannot attain.

good luck in med sch

May 01, 2008 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


December 10, 2008 4:09 AM  
Blogger bebe said...

quite interesting.Its only a journey which you will later look back on and realise wasnt so bad after all.the tax bit was very funny-about not knowing that tax is paid in nigeria.God continue to be with you and grant you favour

April 12, 2009 10:18 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi,i'm from england and in my first year of a-levels so i'm applying to universities very soon and i have always wanted to go to an american university to do pre-med, and then hopefully get into a med school. recently i was checking out how visas would work and found out that the chances of an international student getting into a US med school are so slim it's painful, most schools don't accept international students and in the ones that do, hardly are accepted. so yeah, i felt utterly heartbroken. but then i stumbled upon your site and i feel so much better. you've come such a long way, you followed your dream and you did it! you made it to med school, you made it even though you're an international student. you've inspired me so much. thanks, and all the best to you. soon i'll be sending of my application to UCLA, i'm praying my journey turns out as successful as yours.

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Anonymous Nurse and Hospital Stories said...

"He really did not bring me out this far to take me back again..."

I agree. Everything happens for a reason, and maybe the reason is not that visible at this time yet we will always understand it in due time. :)

Take care,
Peny@Are Nurses Addicted to Coffee?

March 27, 2012 3:55 AM  
Blogger The Angry Medic said...

Old man, you're probably some bigshot doctor now and may even be my boss or something. If you ever come back to blogging, drop by my site at and I'll always give you a free shout-out. Take care.

April 28, 2012 6:37 PM  

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