Does the early bird get the worm when it comes to medical school admission? Yes, if you apply early in the cycle of the regular process but generally not if you apply early decision.
As a medical school admissions consultant, I am often asked by clients whether applying to medical school early decision is a good idea. Applicants often believe that indicating their strong interest in a particular medical school will give them a better chance of getting in. This belief spills over from the resounding evidence that applying to college as an early decision applicant does, in fact, favor applicants. This is generally not true for medical school applicants, for the reasons listed below.
- When you apply early decision in the medical school application process you are barred from applying to any other school.
- By the time you usually receive your decision from that one school it is October, well into the “regular” application process timeline.
- If you are denied acceptance by that one school, you are significantly behind schedule in the medical school application process.
- Your application to other schools will subsequently be at the bottom of the pile, giving you a markedly reduced chance of admission elsewhere.
The evidence is clear: applying early decision in the medical school application process does not give you the same increased chance of admission as in the college application process.
My advice to clients is almost always the same in regard to early decision: do not do it. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. Some schools that do ED give their applicants an earlier decision (July or early August), which means that the applicant could still have a chance elsewhere. In every case, anyone who is considering ED should meet with the Office of Admissions at that particular medical school to get a red, yellow, or green light in regard to the feasibility of submitting an early application. Admissions offices will meet individually with the applicant to give him or her an indicator as to whether their application would be viewed favorably before they actually submit it. If you are considering ED, contact the admissions office of your chosen school several months before the application process opens to inquire about the process they follow and when you should meet with them for guidance.
The overwhelming majority of applicants opt not to apply Early Decision. Instead, they apply widely and early to a range of schools, positioning themselves for good results and many options from which to ultimately choose.
–Liza Thompson, Expert Medical School Admissions Consulting