Medical school rejection — sooner or later, it happens to every applicant. Maybe you had pinned your hopes on this school. Maybe you start thinking: “What went wrong? Did I mess up in the interview? Should I have added another activity on my AMCAS?” You might even wonder: “Did I make a mistake when I thought that I should go into medicine?”
I had all of these thoughts, more or less. To my friends, from an outside perspective now, it seems like everything worked out perfectly for me. While it did work out in the end, I was actually extremely stressed and discouraged last year. I was rejected from the majority of schools I applied to, and all of this caused me to strongly doubt myself.
It started around February. I was anxiously waiting for a decision from a school, which for a number of personal and academic reasons would have been a great place for me. I sat by my phone the whole day, waiting for something to happen. In fact, I didn’t hear back that day at all. I found out the next day that I wasn’t accepted.
From there, I was waitlisted or rejected from a long list of places. I couldn’t help but feel certain that I’d done something wrong, that I didn’t have any real qualifications, that it wasn’t going to work out.
It did work out in the end, and I’m extremely grateful to be where I am now. I wish that I could go back and tell myself what I knew now. For current applicants, I would give you this advice:
Despite how discouraged I felt at the time, things eventually fell into place. I know many people who went through similar situations and felt the same way, but it always worked out in the end. Looking back now, I wish I’d had a little more faith in myself, and that I hadn’t jumped to negative conclusions about myself and my abilities.
Even if I hadn’t been accepted anywhere, I know that I would have been fine. Maybe I would have focused on my other interests such as writing, taking time to reassess my goals and deciding if I wanted to reapply. We have more resiliency than we think. We all are capable of figuring this out on our own time.
Try to separate your worth as a person from your med school acceptances—your value does not depend on what an admissions committee thought of your activities and MCAT score. Don’t spend time ruminating on what could have gone better. You know that you put in the effort and that you did the best you could.
Outside of your pursuits in medicine, you are an important person with much to offer to the world. You are important to your family, friends, and loved ones regardless of your med school acceptances. These people will continue to see your value and potential, even when you doubt yourself. With time, they will also help you see that your doubt in yourself was misplaced.