Friday, September 21, 2007

Still Working on Applications

Sorry for the lack of posts; I'm still heads-down in applications. The list of schools continues to grow. Added since my last post:
  • Temple
  • Brown
  • Georgetown
  • Tulane
  • Tufts
  • Mt. Sinai
  • Emory
  • Morehouse
  • Northwestern
  • Thomas Jefferson U.
EAV Strut
Last weekend was our neighborhood's annual "Strut." Essentially, it's a day-long celebration. We have a small parade, tons of artists & festival vendors, and ample Sweetwater beer tables. It's a block party. Well, the weather was perfect for it. My wife and I walked to the village with some of her friends from work. During the course of the day, I bumped into about six or seven people that I know from various periods of my life here in Atlanta. It was pretty comforting to see people that I'd not seen in years. At the same time, it was a little disturbing that I've been in Atlanta for over ten years. I suppose that most any place can feel small when you've been there long enough.

September Baseball
Anything better than close pennant races? Seriously, the RedSox are making me pucker up a bit. They'd better take care of business and close out the season on a high note. Seriously. I'm not sure if I can take the taunting from Dr.J3K if the Yankees win the division.

Completely Random Occurrence Over SEC Football
Last weekend, my friend Kanishka was in D.C. bar, watching the UGA game. He sends me this message:
Do you know Wally B? He wants to know if you remember the time that Lee threw up at a Waffle House after drinking EverClear and Now&Laters.
During my freshman and sophomore years at UGA, Wally lived across the hall from me in the Reed Hall dorms. At least ten years have passed since I've seen him or spoken to him. I replied:
Does he remember the time when Mike D. mooned the UGA police from his car and they were almost arrested?
Next thing I know, Kanishka called and put Wally on the phone. We quickly revisited our litany of misdemeanors and other hijinks. . With exception of the vivid memories of Lee vomiting on the table at Waffle House, it was a fun little trip down memory lane.

As it turns out, both of them were out watching the game and struck up a conversation as complete strangers. After a long conversation, they each discovered that the other knew me. From there, I guess some of my social circles collided without me. I think they're watching the game at the same place this weekend. It makes me happy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The List

As part of my warts and all approach, I thought I'd make a running list of the schools that have invited me to submit a supplemental application. So far, here they are:
  • Columbia University
  • Boston University
  • Medical College of Georgia
  • George Washington University
  • University of Chicago (Pritzker School of Medicine)
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of North Carolina
  • New York University
I'm excited but I'm not getting too carried away with it. I think it's probably best to take the invites with a grain of salt because some schools invite everyone to fill out a secondary application. Think about it: In most cases, several thousand applicants are competing for just a few spots. If everyone is invited to complete a secondary application at a cost of, let's say, $100, the university earns a nice sum of money from people who have a snowball's chance of getting into school.

Nice system, huh? People just line up to give you money. Maybe I should open a medical school, invite all applicants to complete a $100 secondary application, and reject them all. Doesn't sound like all that bad of a plan.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Rollercoaster Ride

Well, I decided not to take the test. I feel at peace with the decision, if bruised and battered by it. So, the die is cast. From here on out, I'll work on my secondary applications and, with luck, be invited for an interview or two. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Send me good vibes. Call anyone you know at any medical school and sing my praises. (I'm only slightly kidding on the last bit there.)

Worst case scenario is that I don't get in this year. If that happens, I'll take the MCAT again next spring and kick its ass. Also, I'll continue to do more volunteer work and really max out my application. Again, this is the worst case scenario. Sigh.

You Call That Advising?
Shortly after my last post, I played a short game of phone tag with my advisor at my post-bacc program. He's a really great guy but I think that the folks in the program are a little out-of-touch with reality. Prior to speaking with my advisor, I emailed him with three issues I wanted to discuss. First, I wanted to talk over my thoughts about sitting (or not) for the exam. Second, I wanted his thoughts on how most schools viewed scores. For example, do they look at only the composite or do they look at the highest recorded score in each section? Finally, I wanted his opinion on how much my experience factors into my applications. Will schools see me only as my MCAT scores or will they actually look at my life experiences? After all, I'm not a kid who is just wrapping up my undergrad.

After a brief round of phone tag, we finally spoke. He told me that he'd discussed my questions with the program director. In short, he told me what I needed to hear about sitting for the test: if my scores weren't significantly improving and I didn't feel confident about it, don't sit for it. I'd arrived at this conclusion but I needed to hear it from him, I suppose.

Understandably, he didn't really address the second issue. Honestly, schools are all a little different as to how much emphasis they put on the scores and to how they look at those scores. So, no loss on this question. It makes sense that I'd get a vague response. Unfortunately, I didn't get really great information about the schools for which I'm completing secondary applications.

His thoughts on the last issue, however, really did surprise me. Essentially, he sidestepped the issue and returned to me sitting for the exam. Even if I did sit for it, he said, it would probably be too late for me to get any offers for secondary applications.

"Really?," I asked. "That's funny because I've got seven or eight right now. I've actually already submitted one of them."

He seemed to be at a loss for words. And also a loss of credibility in my view.

Post-Bacc Doesn't Equal Non-Traditional
The thing is, I suppose, that the program is for post-baccalaureate students. The majority of my classmates in the program were only a few years removed from school. For me, it was ten. I'm thinking that I probably am farther along the "non-traditional applicant" path than all of my classmates, save one. For me, fear-mongering isn't that great of a motivator. I'm set on achieving this goal. I'm tenacious. Maybe a lower score on one section of the exam will hinder my chances this year. I fail to believe, however, that my wealth of life experiences don't count for a significant portion of my value as an applicant. We'll see, I guess.

On an unrelated note:
I've added a music player to the blog. You'll notice it on the right side of the page. These are a few songs by some artists that I'm really enjoying. Give them a listen. If you like them, pick up their albums. If you want to know more about one of them, let me know. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Honesty is Difficult

The MCAT is taking me on a rollercoaster ride. I'm scheduled to take it again this Friday but I'm rethinking whether or not I should sit for it. Since getting my scores from the July sitting, I've definitely been through a series of emotional highs and lows. First, I was thrilled to submit my application and get to work on supplemental applications. Next, I was a little disappointed in my scores -- not entirely but on a single section.

Well, in the month between getting my scores and this next test, I've not progressed to my expectations. So, I'm weighing the decision of letting my scores ride and seeing what happens or taking the test again, less than fully prepared, and living with the consequences. The problem is, if you do worse, people take note of it. Presently, I doubt that I'll have serious gains in any section. If my practice scores are indicative, I'm in a hole that I need to dig out of to get back to my previous scores.

Anywho, I'm fairly tired of obsessing over it. My gut is telling me not to take it, to take it again in April, and to devote the coming months to making a ridiculous improvement in scores. Instead of getting just enough, I should break the bank, you know? Anywho, being honest with yourself is one of the most difficult things to do isn't it? I feel like I'm letting everyone down, myself included, by not taking this damned test again. I do not, however, think that I can give it my best effort and improve things.

Anywho, keep your fingers crossed that one (or more) of my secondaries will come through with an interview request and an acceptance.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm Still Heads-Down

Still fighting the battle with studying for the MCAT. Oddly, I'm having a much more difficult time trying to remain focused this time around. WTH? Anywho, by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, I'll be done again.

By devoting myself to studying, I missed the DragonCon parade in Atlanta. The following photo is from the AJC's coverage of the event. Evidently, this is the "super heroes" part of the parade. I've pointed out my favorite costume. Nothing like devoting your time to dressing as a second-tier member of the Super Friends.

No Black Vulcan or Apache Chief? What gives?