So You've Been Waitlisted for Medical School. Now What?
Now is the time of year when many aspiring physicians have started interviewing at medical schools. Medical schools have started their interview processes and admissions committees have started reviewing applicants and making decisions about each applicant. Although each medical school’s admissions committee operates differently, the resulting decisions are quite similar – each candidate is accepted, rejected, or placed in a nebulous category often called the waitlist.
Heidi Chumley, MD, executive dean and chief academic officer, and John Delzell, MD, vice president and designated institutional officer for Broward Health, have developed the Q&A below to answer some common questions about the waitlist issue, and describe an opportunity AUC is providing to students who have been placed on the waitlist of a US or Canada-based allopathic medical school.
Q: What does it mean to be waitlisted?
A: The most important thing to remember when you are waitlisted is that the admissions committee believes you have what it takes to go to medical school, but the medical school is unsure if they will have room for you. Admission committees don’t waitlist applicants if they have concerns about them. They waitlist candidates that they would be happy to have in their medical school.
Q: What does it mean when a medical school informs a student that she has been accepted, but not admitted?
A: Medical schools have different terms for the nebulous category between accepted and denied. “Accepted but not admitted” is similar to being placed on a waitlist. The medical school believes you can be successful in medical school, but the medical school is unsure if they will have room for you.
Q: Why are some applicants placed on the waitlist while other applicants are directly admitted?
A: This is a very difficult question to answer and varies considerably by individual and by medical school. A very common reason for a publicly-funded medical school to place a qualified candidate on the waiting list is that the candidate is from another state. Or your MCAT or college GPA, while high enough to give the admissions committee confidence you will do well in medical school, may be lower than other candidates. The particular medical school may highly weight certain experiences, like research or community service, and you may have less experience in this area. What is important for students to remember is that a waitlist decision is a vote of confidence in you.
Q: What are one’s chances of getting into a particular medical school after being placed on the waitlist or accepted, but not admitted?
A: This also varies by medical school and each medical school handles discussions around this topic differently. If you are waitlisted, try to schedule an appointment with the admissions dean or appropriate representative and ask about your chances. A good question to ask is whether or not the medical school typically gets to the waitlist and if so, how far down. A medical school that hasn’t admitted anyone off the waitlist for several years is different from a medical school that typically takes 20 students from the waitlist.
Q: When will I find out if I am admitted?
A: This also varies by medical school, but typically this is a dynamic process that begins to unfold in the spring. Most medical schools admit a few more applicants over their class size and keep a large number on the waitlist. As applicants who are holding multiple acceptances make their decisions, spots open up and candidates on the waitlist are offered those spots. You could be notified as late as one or two days before medical school starts that a spot has opened up for you.
Q: What do I do while I am waiting on the waitlist?
A: Keep moving forward in life. Traditionally, there have been several options: stay in your job, find a new short-term job, or enroll in some classes towards a master’s degree. AUC offers students in this situation another option: apply to AUC and if you are accepted, start medical school in January or May.
Learn more about the potential benefits of a January or May start here.
Q: What if I start at AUC and then learn that I have been offered a position off of the waitlist?
A: Students in this situation should weigh their options at that point and make the best decision for them. If you have been accepted to a medical school in your home state, the tuition might be lower, and in most cases, you should take advantage of that opportunity. If you elect to enroll in the US or Canadian school that has admitted you, AUC will refund your tuition. You will have made the time and money investments in moving to St. Maarten and living expenses, but your tuition will be refunded, even if you stay for the entire January or May semester. And, you will have the opportunity to learn the medical sciences from a talented faculty, which will put you in an excellent position if you start medical school over in the fall.
Q: Why is AUC doing this?
A: We know there are qualified applicants that sit on waitlists for months, only to find out in June or July that they will not get to start medical school. And then, the process of applying and interviewing begins again. AUC wants to provide a low-risk opportunity for qualified students to begin their journey to medical school. And we’re happy to help students get off to a good start, whether or not they remain with AUC for their entire journey.
Read about AUC's admissions requirements here.