I was thinking today that during the month of March, five years ago, my husband was receiving letters in the mail from numerous medical schools around the country. The first rejection letter he received was the worst!
Actually, we received quite a few secondary application and money requests BEFORE we received any rejection letters.
Anyways, I was quite impressed by how my husband handled the rejection letters. (I would have just crumbled.) He immediately called the school and asked to speak with the director of the medical school admissions committee. He asked what was missing in his application; the directors were always willing to talk specifically about how the application could be improved. Then, he would get to work. Once he had accomplished something new, (for example, he published some of his research after the initial application, ran a half marathon, etc.), he drafted a letter to the schools that he had not yet heard from letting them know of his continued preparation for medical school. And then he would follow-up and talk with the receptionists, (who, he thought, had much more of a pull than people probably realize), about whether they had received his letter and where he was in the process. Really, he called, he said, to bring his file (application) up to the top of the pile again so that his name would be more familiar.
So, here are some ideas for improving an application:
1. Do something hard, (not just physically hard, but a huge number of people in my husband's medical school class had run marathons or participated in other types of sports competitions), or something interesting.
2. Publish research findings.
3. Get involved in your community. Here's a great website to find charitable organizations in your area, find out an organization's focus, and, more importantly, exactly where they put their money: www.charitynavigator.com.