The Medical School Process (part 2)

Yesterday, I was once again confronted with the astounding reality of paying for applying to medical school. I was trying to finish off another application when I had to hold off on submitting it because I wasn’t sure if I could cover the application fee and my rent this month. Recall: This is not the cost of being in medical school, but just the mere action of the whole application process. I’m working full time during my gap year doing some hospital administration for a non-profit. It’s great work and I get paid a decent amount (more than some lab techs even), but money flies out of the bank. In my last post I gave a brief generalization of how much applying to medical school can cost, but I’ll break it down some more in this post because I really need to rant.

I shelled out about $80 for the pre-application. My school has a pre-medical committee and for them to put together your packet and compile your letters of recommendation you have to shell out $80. The nice thing is that this is a one time fee.

If you’re applying to MD schools, the AMCAS application will cost you $160 (which includes one medical school). If you’re applying to additional medical schools, that will cost you an additional $35 each. I’ve heard from my pre-professional adviser that the average applicant applies for 15-20 schools. If you’re at my undergraduate university, the average pre-medical student applies for 20-25 schools. Maybe you’re also being charged for transcripts. Lets just say that’s about $20. That’s a whooping total of $670 – $1020 right from the get-go.

Secondaries will depend on school to school, but I’ve seen some schools charge $50 and others charge near $100. If you complete 15-25 secondaries that’s about $750 – $2500 (though not every one of the 25 schools will be a $100 application, so realistically it’s probably around $1875 on the high end).

If you’re applying to DO schools the application is $195 (including one medical school) and an additional $35 afterward for each additional school. I’m not sure what the average number of DO schools each applicant applies for, but I’ve heard that it is about two to five. Again, you’ll need transcripts (approximately $20). This is about $250 – $355. It’s not as ouchy as the AMCAS application, but if you’re applying to DO and MD schools this is another huge hit to your budget.

Then there’s the interviews. No one knows how many interviews you’re going to get, but I’ve booked my first one and it cost $180 for a roundtrip plane ticket, $160 for the car service, and $175 for a two night stay at the hotel. That’s just one school. What am I going to do when I have to fly to the opposite coast? That’s easily a $300 ticket! Optimistically you’ll interview somewhere close to where you currently live and maybe your expenses will only cost you $300 total, but that’s still $300 for a single school. Ridiculous. If you’re lucky you’ll already have an outfit for your interview, but if you don’t? A well fitted suit will cost you $300+ and girls could easily spend $300+ on a nice interview set.

Conclusion: Good luck.

At times it’s like playing a game of: how much do you want this. The answer has to be: a lot-a lot-a lot because if you’re applying, shelling out this money, and you’re just only mildly sure that you’re interested in medicine, then you must be crazy. Monetary costs aside and all, this is also your career.

As sucky as all this is, it is great for reflecting on why you even want to go to medical school in the first place. Who knows, maybe you’ll think of something amazing to write on your secondaries.

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