You can’t plan ahead enough.
There are mannyyy moving parts to your application. The trick to getting your application in, on time, with as little stress as possible is to plan ahead.
Ask your letter writers about your letter of recommendation (LOR) EARLY (about 2-3 months before you plan to submit at least). I’ve heard many horror stories of mentors not getting them in soon enough so they had to submit their app without a LOR. This is obviously not ideal.
Work on your personal statement (PS) early (4-5 months out- start brainstorming and drafting)! I finished mine about 2 weeks from when I wanted to submit which would have been fine except I was trying to get feedback from 3-4 people and incorporate their feedback. i suggest planning to have it done about 3 weeks prior to submission.
Also, plan to take your headshot a few months out.
For those preparing to apply next year, simply start with making an plan about 4-5 months out of everything you need to do.
If you’re applying to a competitive subspecialty, you may need to apply to over 100 programs. That’s going to be at least $2k.💸 Save up and budget for this.
There’s a lot to do on the ERAS platform before you actually apply to schools.
Once you have all your documents uploaded, you need to make your schools list on ERAS which consists searching for programs on their database and saving it to your list.
After you make a list of schools, you need to assign all your documents (photo, PS, LOR) to each school. Don’t worry about the logistics for now, but just be aware there are multiple steps and you can’t miss one. This can take you a few hours, especially if you’re dual-applying. This is why you should submit your application at least a day before it’s available to programs.
Know that everything on your application is fair game for your interviews.
Don’t put down a volunteer or research experience you were peripherally involved in because you’re going to need to be able to explain it well in your interview. For instance, don’t put down that one day volunteer event you went to. You probably won’t be able to talk about it substantially. It can also “water down” your other meaningful activities if you have too many.
There’s no standard way of filling out the ERAS application.
This can be really frustrating. Some students write their experiences in paragraphs, some in bullet points. Some are told by their mentors to include grand round presentations as an oral presentation, some are told not to. Some are told to include a few college experiences, some are told otherwise.
As you can see, there’s a lot of discrepancies and the AAMC doesn’t give clear guidelines. So, you may struggle with this too, but know that everyone does and there’s no right or wrong answer. Your answer will depend on who you ask.
Grammarly is a life saver.
Even though I read over my application about a million times and also had a few people read over it, Grammarly still caught a few minor grammatical errors! I highly recommend copying and pasting your whole application into Grammarly before you submit (this is not sponsored and my honest opinion)!
That’s it! Hope that was helpful and best of luck!