Overview of the Med, Dent, etc. School Application Process (updated 12/22/15)
This document provides an overview of the process used in applying to most health professions schools. Students should also review the following detailed lists of what premed students should do each semester while at Xavier.
- Senior Year (Starting 12 months BEFORE you wish to enter medical, dental, etc. school)
- Fall Term = Send in secondary applications as soon as they arrive, take interviews as soon as they are offered, and keep your grades up; if you haven't received any interview offers, begin exploring post-baccalaureate programs, other health professions schools, etc. just in case. Be sure to complete the One-on-One Senior Assessment Meeting in the PM Office in October to discuss your application progress and potential post-XU plans.
- Spring Term = If you have been accepted, RELAX but don't forget that your acceptance letter was probably based on you successfully complete your coursework at Xavier. If you haven't been accepted, keep on checking with the schools to see what you status is and determine those areas of your application that need to be strengthened for reapplication, if applicable (and how you will go about preparing for reapplication).
- Summer = If you have been accepted, relax while getting ready for the fall because this is the last break you will have for a while NOTE: If the school you will be attending offers a "pre-matriculation program," we do encourage your participation! If you haven't been accepted, decide whether or not you will reapply. If so, assess your situation to see why you didn't get accepted and make corrections before reapplying. If you would like the Premedical Office's guidance in applying to medical, dental, etc. school after graduating from the University, please send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org so you can be added to the appropriate email advising list.
A BRIEF TIMETABLE FOR STUDENTS APPLYING IN 2016 FOR ENTRY IN THE FALL OF 2017
(Detailed schedules for Junior Year is available at Jr-Fall
- August: Between the 3rd Monday of August and September 30th, turn in your Personal Statement and Post-Secondary Experiences Form to the Premedical Office at email@example.com (per the DETAILED instructions sent to juniors via email in August) so that they can be critiqued. NOTE: As a JUNIOR PREMED, you should be cultivating FINAL versions of your personal statement and PSE form so that these items can be used to secure professional school letters of evaluations in November AND to include on your actual medical, dental, etc. school application in May. Additionally, taking the time to finalize these items in the Fall will give you more time to focus on MCAT, DAT, etc. preparation in the Spring.
- September: a) Meet with a Premedical Adviser to assess your progress and b) actively work on revising your Personal Statement AND your Post-Secondary Experiences Form. Revision should be submitted to the Premedical Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: It is important to prepare these items NOW so that they'll be in good shape to get faculty evaluations in November.
- September-December: Attend ALL free MCAT review sessions offered on-campus (and off-campus, if necessary) so you can decide which review is BEST for you to pay to enroll in for the Spring!!! If you are taking the DAT or OAT and would like to enroll in a review course, you should also take the opportunity during this time to determine which review is best for you.
- September-December: Explore summer enrichment and research programs for 2016 (apply early)!! If you will NOT be attending a formal enrichment or research program, we encourage you to secure some other type of summer experience that demonstrates you interest in medicine (e.g. volunteering at a hospital or nursing home, shadowing, etc.).
- October: a) Make revisions to your Personal Statement AND your Post-Secondary Experiences Form & submit them to the Premedical Office for review and b) Get information/applications for summer programs.
- November: a) Meet with a Premedical Adviser to discuss faculty whom you will ask to write letters of evaluation and b) ask faculty for evaluations for medical, dental, etc. school. NOTE: You have to ask NOW so faculty will turn in evaluations during the Spring and they will be available when needed.
- December: Get ready to review for the MCAT, DAT, etc. in the Spring (discounted MCAT reviews on-campus usually begin January-February).
- December-February: Submit summer program applications and supporting materials for 2016!
- January:Enroll in an MCAT, DAT, etc. review course that begins January-February so you can adequately prepare throughout the semester to take the MCAT NO LATER THAN MAY (DAT and OAT no later than June)!!!
- March: Meet with a Premedical Adviser to choose which schools, post-baccalaureate programs (if applicable), etc. you will apply to.
- April-May: Take the MCAT and follow-up on letters of evaluation for medical, dental, etc. school. Take the DAT or OAT no later than June.
- May-June: Complete medical, dental, etc. application (and complete critique/revision process before submitting).
- July 2016: Submit your AMCAS, AADSAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS, etc. application.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
When Should a Student Apply? The process of applying to medical or dental school is long, tedious, and time consuming. In order to have everything completed in time and to maximize one's chance of gaining acceptance without interfering with school work, a student should begin working on the formal application about 18 months before he/she wishes to enter a medical, dental, etc. school (i.e. the summer between your Junior and Senior years at XU).
NOTE: XU students are STRONGLY encouraged to begin preparing medical, dental, etc. school application components (e.g. Post-Secondary Experiences form, Personal Statement/Career Essay, etc.) starting in the fall of Freshman Year and continuing throughout enrollment. Why? So that you can remain proactive in cultivating the BEST application possible and avoid the stresses of getting your application together; this will allow you to spend MORE time on preparing for the MCAT, DAT, etc.
Where Should a Student Apply? Students who apply to medical and/or osteopathic medical school are generally advised to apply to at least 10 schools. This is a large enough number to give one a good chance of acceptance yet small enough to minimize cost and time. Students applying to dental, podiatry, veterinary, and other health professions schools are encouraged to apply to at least 5 schools. It is generally advised that students consider the following types of schools, where applicable, when determining which schools to apply to:
- The public schools in their home state,
- At least one of the historically-Black schools (Meharry, Howard, Morehouse, Drew/UCLA), and
- The schools where XU students have enrolled and done well in the past.
- At least one "Wild Card", a school where XU students do not typically apply.
Detailed guidance in selecting schools to which to apply is provided in #8 of this series.
What Admission Tests Are Required for Application to Medical, Dental, etc. School? Essentially all medical schools in the U.S. require that you take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for admission. Similarly, the dental schools require the Dental Admission Test (DAT), and optometry schools require the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Students interested in applying to veterinary, podiatry, chiropractic, and other health professions schools should review school-specific requirements for admission test information. Additional information about admission tests and how to prepare for them is provided in #3 in this series of handouts.
Is there a fee to register to take the MCAT, DAT, etc.? Yes. The current MCAT registration fee is $305 and the DAT registration fee is $415. Information regarding the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Fee Assistance Program for students taking the MCAT and applying to medical school is available at https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/applying-medical-school-process/fee-assistance-program/. Information regarding the American Dental Association (ADA) Partial Fee Waiver Program for students taking the DAT is available at http://www.ada.org/dat.aspx. Information regarding specific fees for other admission tests may be obtained by conducting an online search.
When Should a Student Take the MCAT, DAT, etc.? Both the MCAT and the DAT are offered at multiple times during the year. However, since medical and dental schools generally fill their classes by March of each year, the last practical time to take the test is the fall before you wish to enter medical or dental school. However, you definitely should NOT wait until the Fall to take the exam for the first time. Students are encouraged to take the MCAT no later than May of the year they will apply; students who plan on taking the DAT or OAT are encouraged to do so no later than June of the year they will apply. Document #3 in this series has additional information regarding the MCAT and DAT.
FYI, we believe that the best strategy is to take the MCAT in April or May of the Junior year at Xavier (when you should have completed the courses that cover MCAT content areas). So that you have time to devote to BOTH coursework and MCAT, DAT, etc. prep, we recommend that students take NO MORE THAN 14 semester hours in the spring of Junior year. Although the MCAT is now computerized and has multiple test administration dates, XU students are STILL encouraged to take the test NO LATER THAN April or May of the Junior year; this way, students who may need to retake the test will have time to prepare for the August or September administration and still be considered for entry during the desired application cycle.
Should Xavier students enroll in a review course for the MCAT? A review course is HIGHLY recommended!!! Application to medical school is very competitive and students should definitely consider completing an MCAT review class such as Kaplan, Examkrackers, Princeton, etc. in the Spring of Junior year before taking the MCAT. Indeed, MCAT prep courses are NOT cheap (the cost to enroll in a discounted MCAT course on XU's campus in Spring 2016 was $1149 for Kaplan and $1250 for Princeton). In the Fall of Junior year, MCAT reviews such as Kaplan and Princeton conduct free information sessions on Xavier's campus so that students can make more informed decisions about which review course is worth investing in. For information on the Kaplan MCAT Review, call 1-800-KAP-TEST; for information on the Princeton MCAT Review call 1-800-2REVIEW x1400; and for information on the Examkrackers MCAT Review visit http://www.examkrackers.com/. Other options for MCAT, DAT, etc. prep include a number of non-discounted formats through Kaplan (http://www.kaptest.com/), Princeton (http://www.princetonreview.com/), Examkrackers (http://www.examkrackers.com/), and several other review companies.
Should Xavier students enroll in a review course for the DAT, OAT, or GRE? Most Xavier students who plan on applying to dental school or optometry school opt to study on their own for the DAT and OAT instead of paying to enroll in a review course. If you are applying to schools or programs that require the GRE, you are encouraged to consider enrolling in the GRE prep that is offered by XU's Office of Graduate Placement. Regardless of the admission test you plan on taking, YOU must determine which course of action (i.e. self-study or an actual review course) is BEST for you. Additional information about admission tests and how to prepare for them is provided in #3 in this series of handouts.
Where Does One Apply for Medical, Dental, etc. School? Most medical, dental, and other health professions schools in the United States do not accept applications directly from students. Instead, they require that you apply through central application services (e.g. AMCAS for allopathic medical school; AADSAS for dental school; AACOMAS for osteopathic medical school; TMDSAS for medical and dental schools in Texas; AACPMAS for podiatry school; OptomCAS for optometry school; VMCAS for veterinary school; SOPHAS for public health school, etc.) which evaluate and "package" your application before sending the information to the schools to which you wish to apply. There is, of course, a fee for processing your application. When the schools to which you have applied receive your application from the central service, most then send you a "secondary" application which you complete and return with more $$. You should refer to the admission requirements books (available in the Premedical Office) and school-specific websites to determine whether or not the school participates in a central application service.
When do the central online applications for most health professions schools open? Most online applications for health professions schools open between May-July (most Xavier students complete the application process the summer between Junior and Senior years). Usually, AMCAS, AACOMAS, TMDSAS, and VMCAS open in May; AADSAS opens in June; and OptomCAS opens in July. Review the application process details for the health professions schools you plan on applying to well in advance so you are able to have your application completed, critiqued, and submitted in a timely fashion. FYI, the Premedical Office recommends that most applications be submitted no later than JULY of the year the application cycle begins.
How Much Will It Cost to Apply to Medical, Dental, etc. School? If you apply to at least 10 medical schools as recommended, you will probably have to spend about $500 for the primary application process alone (currently, AMCAS is $160 for the 1st medical school and $37 for each additional medical school) and then another $50-100 for EACH secondary or supplemental application you submit after your primary application (e.g. AMCAS) has been processed. You will also have to pay for for travel to get to the schools to which you have applied for the required interviews AND lodging (unless you have family or friends that you can stay with while you interview). Since students are encouraged to apply to only 3-5 dental, optometry, etc. schools, the application costs are typically lower for these applicants. The primary application for most dental schools, AADSAS, costs $244 for the 1st dental school and $90 for each additional dental school. Be advised that each type of health professions school has its own type of application and associated fees.
Is Financial Aid Available to Pay for Application Costs? If you come from a low income family, you might be able to get fee waivers for the the application process (i.e. test registration fees and primary application fees). However, practically no school helps with $$ to travel to the school for the interview. Information regarding fee assistance may be obtained by visiting school-specific application/admission test services online.
General Advice For the Application Process
- Make sure your application is well organized, has been proofread, and that you have eliminated all typos and grammatical errors. First impressions DO count.
- Never underestimate the positive impact of sending in your application early or the negative one of having it arrive at the last minute. Many schools view "last-minute" applicants as being uncertain that they really want to apply. As a result, last-minute applications may hurt your chance of acceptance.
- Under no circumstances should you leave the "Personal Comments" (Essay) part of the application vacant. Doing so makes you appear to be lazy or, even worse, that you have nothing to write about.
- Be sure that you get someone (e.g. Premed Office personnel) to proof your application. Typos or grammatical mistakes hurt you.
- It may be that you find it necessary to telephone or email one or more of the schools during the application process. If so, make certain that you immediately keep records of everyone you communicated with, when you communicated with them, and what was discussed.
- Do like your mama taught you--send thank you notes to anyone you stay with on interviews, persons who wrote evaluations when you get your first acceptance, etc. You may need them again.
- If you know exactly which school you wish to attend and have good grades/MCAT scores, you should check in Medical Admission Requirements to see if the school has "Early Decision" option.
- BAD CREDIT CAN HURT YOUR APPLICATION/CHANCES OF GAINING ENTRY: In recent years, medical, dental, etc. schools have indicated that applicant credit history may be factored into the application review process. Why? Because bad credit suggests that you may not be able to meet the financial demands of a professional school education and may deter private and federal lending institutions from approving you for loans to finance your education. Do NOT let bad credit hinder you from realizing your goals....be responsible!!