Admissions Blog: Part 2 of Advice from our 2018 Admissions Reps
Alison Green and Michael Elfassy are 3rd-year medical students at the University of Toronto. In their 2nd year, they were selected as the student representatives for the MD Program Admissions Committee. Their responsibilities included contributing to and voting on admissions policies, evaluating applicant files, acting as ambassadors for the Program by giving presentations and speaking to prospective applicants, coordinating interview days, creating the 2018 admissions video and much more! They took a break out of their busy schedules to chat with the admissions team about their path to medical school, and their experiences since.
Please note that this is Part 2 of our interview with Alison and Michael. Find part one here!
You went through the application cycle both as applicants, and now as admissions reps – which gives you an interesting perspective on the process. Is there anything you know about the process now, that you wish you knew when you were an applicant?
Going through the process as applicants and then sitting on the Admissions Committee has certainly given us an interesting perspective on the admissions process. Looking back, we wish we knew to trust the Admissions Office when they say “all the information you need is on the website”. It’s true! One of the crazy things we realized being on the other side is how transparent they are with their policies and what they look for in an applicant. In addition, we wished we knew not to get caught up in what others are doing. What really matters is that you get involved with activities that you are genuinely interested in and passionate about and that will come across in your essays and in your interviews! Whether or not this activity, job or experience is directly medically related, it is very clear when someone has gotten involved with something because it’s something that they wanted to do as opposed to something they did because they thought it would look good on their resume. So get involved in your community by doing something that genuinely interests you, whatever that may be. Coming across as unique is very refreshing to see as a rater (from our experience).
Are there any myths about applying to medical school or about U of T that you would like to dispel?
One myth about applying to medical school that we would like to dispel is that you need to know you want to go to medical school from an early age and that you have to follow a classic “pre-med” pathway. It’s so difficult to know that you want to commit your life to a given career path before having a lot of life experience and that’s why it’s perfectly reasonable to explore your options and not know you want medicine before starting undergrad! Although there are certain undergraduate programs that have the classic reputation of being “pre-med” programs - you certainly do not need to be in one to go to medical school! People enter medicine from all walks of life, educational backgrounds and bring their own diverse experiences and perspectives and at UofT we look at each applicant holistically and value diversity in our medical classes. Everyone has their own journey and there is no one route into medical school.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give your pre-med self?
Stop doubting yourself and comparing yourself to others! Everyone has their own unique path into medicine and brings with them their own set of experiences. There isn’t one right way or one magic formula so try to be present and focus on what genuinely interests you and matters to you and the rest will eventually fall into place.
While surely well-intentioned, there is a lot of noise out there. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the right “formula” for medical school admissions. The truth is our medical school classes are very diverse in their pre-med experiences. It’s the exception rather than the rule to see two students with identical paths. My advice is to follow your interests and put your heart into everything that you do. That will make your journey much more rewarding, and it will shine through in your application.