Once January comes, med school applicants who do not yet have an interview often start to worry that it is “too late.” If you are in this position, here are the answers to some questions that you may have as you await an interview offer:
Is it really too late to be offered an interview?
Although much of the scheduling and actual interviewing take place in the fall, things are not over yet. Many interviews occur in January, February and even through early spring at some schools. The second half of December tends to be quiet as things slow down for the holidays and then the pace picks back up in January. However, if you sent in your application early and have not heard anything from the schools yet, your application may be on “pre-interview hold.” This usually means that the school has evaluated your application and did not find it competitive enough to offer you an interview immediately, but may do so later in the cycle.
Should I make a back-up plan?
While you certainly could still get an interview and acceptance at this point, it is a good idea to think about your options for next year early on, just in case. If you don’t end up utilizing these plans since you are safely ensconced in med school next fall, fine. If you do end up having to reapply though, you will not be left scrambling to figure out what to do next. The first step you should take is to determine any weaknesses in your application and to plan to address them in time for the next application cycle if you plan to reapply right away. That way, you can gain the additional clinical experiences you need, retake the MCAT or take other steps in time to have that new information be a part of your application by next summer. See my post here for ideas about how to spend a gap year. If your academic record needs significant work, consider a enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program. More information about these programs can be found here.
Is there anything I can do except wait?
Yes, you can send the schools an update letter and copies of your transcripts with your fall semester grades. This additional information may help the school to render a decision about your application. In your update letter, include any new volunteer work, awards, jobs, research or other activities that you have not already listed in your primary or secondary application. Also, briefly reiterate your reasons for applying to the school.
Hopefully, the coming weeks will bring you the interview invitation you have been waiting for. In the meantime, work on your update letters, start investigating the possibilities for next year and keep working to strengthen your application.