CLAS hosts workshop to navigate application process of professional schools

By Erin Grogan | 2/19/14 6:55pm


GVL/Kevin Sielaff

Each year, 100 to 150 students from Grand Valley State University apply to professional medical and dental schools. Beginning the application process can be stressful, and students are often under a lot of pressure to do it correctly.

To help relieve some of this pressure, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Center hosted a professional school application workshop Tuesday.

Applicants have to complete a primary application, a secondary application and often need to take part in an interview. Primary applications need standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statements and transcripts.

“It’s all about a holistic view nowadays, so having strong GPA is definitely important and having a strong MCAT score is important, but it’s not all they look for,” said Julie Amon, a CLAS adviser. “You want to be a well-rounded applicant, and even though you may not think it’s related to medical school, there’s a lot of transferable skills.”

Some of these include people and leadership skills, Amon said. She recommends that applicants describe these skills through personal experiences, as medical schools would rather hear about lessons learned from past mistakes than about accomplishments.

CLAS senior adviser JoAnn Litton agreed, asking, “Is an MIP the kiss of death? No, but you have to say it up front. The people reading your applications are all human beings. They have kids and acknowledge that we all make mistakes, but be honest, own up to it, say what you learned from it, and move forward. It’s a lot better to tell them up front.”

Standardized tests, such as the Dental Admissions Test and the Medical College Admissions Test, are also required for admission to professional schools. Litton said those who have signed up for a test date should try to not change it as it will cost them financially. She also said it could be hard to find another spot as every testing site in Michigan is already full for May.

“I’ve never met a student who’s said ‘I am 100 percent ready to take an exam,’” Litton said. “Everyone’s got some butterflies in their stomach. Whatever it might be, just live with it.”

Litton and Amon agreed that it is important that students apply as early as possible and release their application to their adviser. Submission dates for most applications begin during the first week of June, though the final deadline is not until Aug. 25. While this gives students all summer to work on the application, it is more likely that students will get accepted into a program if they apply early.

A recording of the application workshop will be available to students who were unable to attend. In addition, CLAS will be hosting a professional school fair March 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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