How do Medical Schools Waitlist Work?

August 17

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The dreadful waitlist for medical school…

After years of effort and years of living with the hope of being admitted into your top choice institutions, being waitlisted might feel like a blow. 

You mustn't consider getting placed on a waitlist as a failure. Even though you were not expecting acceptance, it is not a rejection.

There needs to be clarity regarding what applicants on a medical school waitlist should do. 

Some suggest staying on the list and being available until the sessions begin.

But it is possible that was not the best plan. By reading on, you can discover why simply wishing for the best could be a big mistake.

This article discusses how a medical waitlist works and why you could be waitlisted. We also share tips on what to do while on a waitlist.

Medical School Waitlist: What It Is and How It Works

To put it simply, three things can happen following a medical school interview. You might be selected, placed on a waitlist, or denied. You can feel disappointed if you are not accepted straight away. 

Still, you must realize that even being added to the waitlist is a success. Most medical schools only interview 10 to 15 percent of all applicants.

Schools establish a waitlist because they cannot predict how many students would accept or reject their offer. Any gaps in the class are filled with this waitlist. The student on the list can enroll in the medical school class. Students begin accepting offers after declining.

The pre-interview and post-interview waitlists are the two different kinds of medical school waitlists. 

As the name implies, the first is the waitlist before the interview stage, and the second is the waitlist following the interview stage.

Before the interview stage, candidates for medical school are placed on a pre-interview waitlist. 

Some schools extend more invites than they have available interview seats since the admissions committee cannot predict how many candidates will accept their offer to participate in an interview with their program.

When a candidate declines an invitation to an interview, the admissions committee looks at the waitlist and chooses the candidate who is next in line for admission based on qualifications.

After the interviews are over, there is a post-interview queue. US allopathic (MD) medical schools must send out as many acceptance letters as students are in their incoming class by the middle of March. 

Most medical schools send out several more acceptance offers than are available to balance off the number of rejections a school receives.

Medical schools build waitlists of competent applicants because they cannot predict how many applicants would accept or reject their offer. 

The admissions committee can move on to the next applicant whose qualifications best match what they seek when an applicant declines their invitation.

Why Do Medical Schools Use Waitlists?

Most students are curious about the purpose of the medical school waitlist after getting added to one. Is this a gentle decline? Are there all available seats?

Review the significant goals of the medical school waitlist if you are one of the numerous students who have this question:

1. Medical Schools Cannot Take the Chance of "Overbooking" its Classes

A medical school cannot simply add more patients to an existing hospital or affordably increase the number of highly qualified doctors available to teach students one-on-one.

This means that medical schools must take extra care not to overfill their classes rather than issuing a flood of acceptances to everyone who qualifies. 

They require strategies for filling their classrooms other than accepting students and hoping they would attend.

2. Medical Schools Need to Increase the Global Yield

The best applicants are sought after by all prestigious medical schools. The acceptance rates of medical schools are one factor in their ranking. 

Thus, the admissions committee thoroughly reviews each applicant's papers before choosing the best candidates.

Competitive students may not want to attend medical schools if they allow students without enforcing tight restrictions. If this occurs, the medical school's standing will suffer. 

Medical schools have waitlists for top applicants, increasing the overall yield.

3. Medical Student Training is Quite Expensive

Despite what many people think, medical schools lose money for each student they accept.

The cost of essential medical equipment is the first drawback. 

Additionally, most of the teaching must be done by PhDs and MDs, who must be paid at least as much as they would at a hospital or laboratory.

The Malpractice Insurance for Pre-Meds is pricey during the third and fourth-year clinical rotations where medical students deal directly with patients and physicians.

4. Medical School Waitlist is a Polite Way of Rejecting Applicants 

Colleges may occasionally use a waitlist as a method to let rejected candidates depart. 

Most of the time, it occurs after the interview, when colleges might not properly leave a candidate but instead put them on a waitlist and then let them know they will not be invited to attend.

5 Reasons Why You Have Been Waitlisted

Getting put on a waitlist is typical. You can be added to a medical school waitlist for many reasons. 

Still, it generally signifies that even though you are qualified and the school is considering you, other applicants have caught their attention more.

It is possible that another applicant outperformed you in terms of MCAT or GPA, research experience that is more varied and pertinent to the institution, publications, or overall narrative strength.

It isn't easy to pinpoint the exact reason for your waitlist placement. Still, it shows the school sees you as a solid fit — just not quite as excellent as the other candidates they have extended offers to.

For your reference, here are a few reasons why you could have been put on a waitlist.

1. There are Not Enough Slots 

There were not enough available spots. It is possible that there were too many students with your particular background or academic interests. 

You were marginally superior to the admitted candidates in some arbitrary way, or they applied sooner.

2. The Medical School Wants to Show Courtesy

You might have been placed on the waitlist out of courtesy if your parents are graduates, employed by the university, or have strong connections. Rejection can be lessened by being placed on a waitlist.

3. You are Too Strong of a Candidate

You might have been a candidate who was too powerful. It is possible that the college admissions office was confident you would be accepted by a far more prominent institution. 

Your dedication to enrolling at their college may have worried the admissions office, so they may have put you on a waiting list to gauge your eagerness to be accepted.

4. The Admissions Committee Sees You as Mediocre

You could be a questionable candidate based on the weaknesses in your application. 

Maybe you did not get good enough grades. Perhaps there was not much substance to your involvement in extracurricular and volunteer activities.

5. You Have the Wrong Major

You indicated that you would like to be a major. Many institutions strive for a balanced freshmen cohort in terms of majors. 

You can be put on a waitlist if there are too many applicants with your desired major, and the school will try to accept more students with alternative majors while you wait.

6 Tips and Strategies to Increase Your Chance of Moving Off a Medical School Waitlist

t is common to feel discouraged while you are on a waitlist. But keep in mind that being on a waitlist is a success, and there is still a chance you will get admitted. 

Although the admissions committee makes the final choice, you can always try to remove your name from a medical school waitlist.

Here are four actions you may take to remove your name from a waitlist:

1. Send an Intent Letter

When you are on a waitlist, sending a letter of intent should be your initial action. This letter will convey to the admissions committee your dedication to being accepted to their institution and that it is your top choice.

The admissions committee does not always consider the most qualified applicant. They are looking for eligible candidates but will not turn down their offer of admission.

Since everyone on their waitlist is probably qualified, they will favor applicants who have expressed interest in attending the institution over those from whom they have not heard of. To get their attention, you must be distinctive.

Remember to send a letter of intent to just one school—your top choice—and not several. Multiple letters of intent distribution are unethical and unprofessional.

2. Send out Update Letters 

Sending update letters to the admissions committee is a systematic method of getting their attention. These letters demonstrate your drive to get accepted into the school.

Inform the admissions committee if your MCAT score has changed and improved. After submitting your application or finishing your interview, you can also indicate any medical achievements you have made.

This information will be considered when the admissions committee reassesses your application. Any more publications or letters of recommendation are also noteworthy additions. Verify the dates for providing these documents and the school's stance on accepting them.

3. Show Commitment

It would help if you thought beyond the box to distinguish yourself from your rivals. 

Instead of just sending in paperwork, you should try to attend open houses, tour the facility, and speak with the admissions committee members. Say hello to them and introduce yourself. 

Be sure to demonstrate your commitment. Take part in any events that might be of interest to you. These actions will contribute to making a great first impression on the admissions committees.

4. Ensure Your Contact Information is Up to Date

Always make sure your application's contact information is accurate. Update the application if your phone number or email address changes. 

To remove your name from the waitlist, you must take this action. This is because most medical schools have a cutoff date for applicants to accept their offer. The time allotted is determined by the school.

You will lose the chance to be admitted if you miss the deadline. Therefore, continue monitoring your emails and messages and ensuring your contact information is current.

5. Add a Letter of Recommendation

Consider asking someone associated with the new activity for a second letter of recommendation if you have engaged in it after submitting your application, such as a community service project, a shadowing opportunity, or a summer research project.

If your recommendation letters were a weak spot in your application or the supplementary letter offers a fresh perspective, this is extremely helpful.

6. Apply Again

Until the start of school, you are technically still eligible for acceptance if you have not already been flatly rejected. 

However, suppose you may want to reapply for the next cycle. In that case, you should create a new application by June, given the tiny number of open seats as classes get closer.

Medical School Waitlist Timings

It might be incredibly frustrating to wait. You will undoubtedly be unclear about what to do next, and your schedule might seem erratic. You cannot tell how long it will be until the admissions committee decides, which makes it more frustrating.

If you were added to a waitlist following your interview, your wait period may last for a few weeks to a few months. 

Many colleges like to eliminate their waitlist by the middle of July. Some colleges, however, do not remove students from the waitlist until August's orientation day. It can be challenging to predict how long it will take for the waitlist to be cleared. 

Most of the time, chosen applicants must let schools know by the end of April whether they want to enroll. 

Candidates must reject all other offers aside from the one they want to attend to hold several acceptances simultaneously. As the deadlines get near, more and more seats begin to open up.

Most waitlist candidates who will be admitted will receive their acceptance letters after the end of April. Most schools know how many students are enrolling in their classes around the beginning of May.

Additionally, they will have a clearer understanding of any open positions, at which point they will start approving waitlisted candidates. 

The waitlist's students might have to give up even more seats. In certain circumstances, this procedure continues right up to orientation day.

Medical School Waitlist: What To Do While Waiting

Waiting is not a suitable option if you are on a waitlist and have no other acceptance offers. 

Since many medical schools do not release waitlist information, you probably do not know where you stand. While waiting, and there are no additional acceptance offers, you should consider alternative choices. ‍

If you applied late in the admission period, one of your best options is to reapply in the following cycle. Consider working in the medical industry or enrolling in additional classes to improve your resume before reapplying.

There is no simple solution; nonetheless, you should ensure you are not pressured into taking a gap year. Make decisions based on a clear understanding of your plans. Use this opportunity to clarify your goals and the best course of action.

Why Expecting Acceptance from a Medical School Waitlist Could  Be a Mistake 

Choosing to wait it out for approval after being waitlisted carries some risk. It is critical to comprehend all the relevant aspects and consider other possibilities.

Here are a few reasons why expecting acceptance from a medical school waitlist may not be a good decision. 

However, note that each medical school student applicant is different from one another, and you have to consider the best option for you carefully.

1. The Number of Waitlisted Students that Schools Admit Varies Greatly

Even after hours of research and trying to estimate your odds of being removed from the medical school waitlist, you can still feel uneasy. 

The number of candidates on the waitlist varies by school and year; it is a fact. A program might take a sizable percentage of its class off the waitlist for one year but very few the following.

Due to the Traffic Rules set forth by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), it is widespread to see the majority of acceptances issued to waitlisted students around May and June.

At the end of April, when students offered several places must make their final decision, the remaining schools will find they have open seats to fill with waitlisted candidates. 

However, no one can predict how many centers will become available; it may be four or forty.

2. You Are Not Sure of Your Position

The fact that colleges will not let you know where you stand on the list further complicates your prospects of getting off the waitlist for medical school. Even waitlists can be assembled differently by different programs.

Some colleges order applications based on the likelihood that openings may occur. 

Others might divide up the kids into various groups according to particular traits. The only thing they all have in common is that you won't know where you stand.

3. You Can Wind Up Wasting Important Time

You can waste time waiting to get accepted from a medical school waitlist, time that would be better spent furthering your studies or earning experience. 

You will be in a less-than-ideal scenario if you fully anticipated taking the spring and summer off to get ready for medical school.

You will take an unplanned gap year if you're not accepted off the waitlist. Finding quality work experience at that time is unlikely. It would be best if you continued working or studying as though you had been rejected.

4. You Might Choose to Begin at a Foreign Medical School

Often, students who are waitlisted for universities in the US and Canada are unaware that they can attend an international medical school. 

Programs outside North America frequently have varying application deadlines and could even provide multiple start dates. They also repeatedly perform comprehensive reviews that consider factors other than exam results, GPA, and prerequisites for medical school.

Be picky when choosing any international program. There are many possibilities in the Caribbean, but you should limit your search to recognized institutions that provide top-notch education and have a track record of producing successful graduates.

Final Thoughts 

It can be incredibly annoying to be put on a waitlist for medical school. It becomes challenging to decide what to do next because we don't know what the admission committee will decide. 

All you have to do is keep trying and think positively. If you have reached the waiting stage, you are already in a better position than most students.

You can keep yourself occupied while you wait by making changes to your application, working, acquiring practical medical experience, volunteering, or even enrolling in classes to raise your GPA.

Only because you have what it takes have you gotten this far. Therefore, keep the admissions committee informed of your development, and before you know it, you have gotten off the waitlist and are ready for acceptance.

You're no longer alone on your journey to becoming a physician

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