Things (application)

Hi everyone, I’m back from the dead!  Sorry it’s been a while since my last post.  I’ve been busy doing financial aid stuff, filing my taxes, and playing too many video games to update this blog.  However, the time to start filling out your TMDSAS and AMCAS applications is coming ever closer, so I wanted to give all of you premeds who are applying this year a heads up!

Filling out your application can be a lot like filing your taxes.  You need documents, and there is a lot of preparation involved before you can hit the “Submit” button.  There are some obvious things, like you need to have a transcript and letters of recommendation, but there were some things that threw me off the first time around.

The TMDSAS Application becomes accessible May 1st, 2013.  I encourage everyone who is considering applying out-of-state to apply to Texas schools unless you are for some reason against the idea of living in Texas.  Most schools have 10% of their spots open to out-of-state applicants, and most accepted out-of-state students who receive in-state tuition.  Even better, the application system, TMDSAS, is cheaper and easier, since the fees are lower and many schools do not require a secondary application.

The AMCAS application becomes accessible on May 1st as well, but you can’t submit your application until June 4th.  This gives you a month to start filling it out and perfecting it so that you can submit it on the first day!  Below are some tips to help prepare you for this year’s application process.

How the TMDSAS Differs From the AMCAS Application

First of all, I would recommend everyone to visit the Instruction page for TMDSAS here.  On the left-hand side is the tab for Application Instructions.  The TMDSAS application, unlike the AMCAS, asks several questions about high school, including your SAT and ACT scores. These are REQUIRED, so if you don’t know what your scores were, you can visit your Registrar’s office and get a breakdown of your scores.  You will need to go in person, however, in order for them to release your scores.

Also, click on the Section Overview tab on the TMDSAS website.  It details everything you need to know before you apply.  For example, it even has the essay prompts:

” The personal essay asks you to explain your motivation to seek a career in medicine. Be sure to include the value of your experiences that prepare you to be a physician.

The essay is limited to 5000 characters, including spaces.”

and the ones for the optional essays:

“The optional essays are an opportunity to provide the admissions committee(s) with a broader picture of who you are as an applicant.  The essays are optional; however, you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.

  1. Optional Essay 1:
    Briefly state any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application.   This is not an area to continue your essay or reiterate what you have previously stated – this area is provided to address any issues which have not previously been addressed.Optional Essay 1 is limited to 2500 characters, including spaces.
  2. Optional Essay 2:
    Describe any personal characteristics and/or important or challenging experiences you have had that will contribute to the diversity (broadly defined) of/ or provide educational benefits to the student body.Optional Essay 2 is limited to 2500 characters, including spaces.”

So, you can start writing your essays now and have them done by May 1st!

Also, the TMDSAS application requires that you upload a digital photo of yourself and provide payment from a checking account.  So, make sure you have the funds in the bank for this one rather than using credit (it’s not too much, like $135-300, but still).

Ways the TMDSAS and AMCAS Applications are Similar

They are very time-consuming and are not as straight-forward in filling out as you might initially think.  I remember I thought, “This will be a cinch, I’ll finish it tonight” and then when I went to fill it out, I had all sorts of questions because I was afraid I wasn’t filling it out correctly.  For example, I wondered if winter semester was considered a “Spring Term,” what classification to put my research credits under, and if I really had to list the same extracurricular activities for every semester I did them.  Both the TMDSAS and AMCAS applications are very specific and account for everything you did EVERY MONTH you were in undergrad.  So, I suggest filling out the application close to the Premed Advising office in case you have questions.

Some things I found helpful:

1. Have your transcript printed out so that you can see what the application reviewers will see.

2. Keep a detailed record of your extracurricular activities.  I used a spreadsheet with my service, shadowing, and leadership hours logged.  You will also be expected to provide contact information for all of your activities.

3.  Record dates for EVERYTHING.  Awards you received, dates you started an extracurricular, etc.

4. Prepare your personal statement and optional essays in advance.  Have someone proofread them.  For more detailed advice on personal statements, see my Personal Statements page.

5.  Official transcripts need to be received by AMCAS and TMDSAS before your application can be reviewed.  TMDSAS requires a transcript request form to be attached to your transcript, which can be accessed here.  You can send these the day or two before you submit your application so that it arrives by the time you are done with the application.  Be aware, however, that if you send it in too early, you risk it being discarded if your “colleges” section is not completed on your application.

6.  Remember that the Admissions Committee sees almost exactly what you see when you print out your application.  To make extracurricular activities easier to understand, you can include lists (not a lot, and only when necessary) to unclutter complicated situations.  For example, in my shadowing section, I listed each doctor and included their specialty and how many hours I shadowed them.  At the bottom, I included the sum total of all my shadowing hours.  It was more useful to do this in a list than in a paragraph form.  I don’t know how much this helped, honestly, but any little bit counts.

7.  Make sure you give yourself more than one day to fill out the application.  For the AMCAS you seriously have an entire month to get everything together into one polished work of art.  The TMDSAS might be a little harder to do because you can’t access it in advance.  All of you will have different questions about your application, so the best advice I can give is to start early so that you can resolve those questions in time.

Good luck to everyone applying this year!  If any of you have any other tips that have helped you, please post in the comments section below!