As a medical school admissions consultant and as the former director of both the Johns Hopkins and Goucher Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Programs, I have extensive experience guiding medical school applicants. I am fortunate that many of my former advisees have been admitted to top-ranked schools. Recently, Harvard medical students weighed in regarding what it takes to get into Harvard medical school.
What qualities and experiences did they have that allowed them to stand out in the application process amidst thousands of other applicants? How did they get into schools like Harvard, Stanford, UCSF, Penn, Yale, Columbia, the University of Chicago, and Johns Hopkins? In an effort to provide information to prospective medical school applicants, I list below the distinguishing traits of those who were admitted to the top schools. Here’s a list that captures the essential qualities of these applicants:
1. Academic excellence + honors/awards: Without exception, all of the applicants who were admitted to the top-ranked schools had the academic goods. This translates into a solid MCAT score (usually above the 90th percentile) and good grades (3.7+ on average). These numbers prove that these applicants are likely to succeed in medical school. Moreover, their grades were consistently excellent (good grades in both the humanities and science, without significant dips in performance at any stage). Past academic success usually predicts future academic success; applicants with outstanding academic credentials pose little risk to medical schools in terms of academic success. These schools also favor applicants who have won national awards/honors, such as Phi Beta Kappa, Truman/Goldwater/Rhodes Scholarships, etc. Continue reading