College applications generally are quite challenging, but BS/MD applications are a step beyond. The most competitive of these programs have acceptance rates of just 1-2%, and there are none with acceptance rates above 10%. Even more than the Ivy League, BS/MD programs are the hardest college applications in terms of competitiveness.
This can seem like a hopeless task, and many students despair at the monumental challenge ahead of them. Luckily for you, Ivy Scholars has a unique program tailored to BS/MD students to help them prepare for and apply to these highly competitive programs. Here’s how it works:
All BS/MD programs want to see four things from students’ extracurriculars:
Ivy Scholars works with students to find unique opportunities in all four categories which suit their needs, and allow them to stand out in the pool of applicants.
A past student, Jane, came to us at the start of her Junior year, for help preparing for BS/MD applications. While she had club level activities on her resume already, she needed more in depth research experience, clinical experience, and shadowing.
We first helped her secure a social media internship with a doctor. While the position was mostly doing paperwork at first, we helped her expand her duties and role, and she ended up creating numerous infographics for the doctor’s website, to help patients better understand their diagnoses. From this same internship, she was able to gain shadowing experience with the physician. She also took part in research overseen by the physician, who suggested articles and other literature for her to review, and gave her new directions to explore.
To help Jane gain the needed research experience, we helped her apply to a number of prestigious summer programs. While she was accepted to several, she ended up attending Stanford’s Anaesthesiology Summer Institute (SASI), where she gained lab and research experience in a healthcare setting. While we only had a year to work with Jane on building her candidacy for BS/MD, she was fully able to meet all four of the needed pillars.
BS/MD programs expect students to be top scholars, in order to excel under the academic demands that will be placed on them. With academic coaching and test prep, Ivy Scholars gives students the extra study skills and organizational habits they need.
Another student, Audrey, came to us for help with her applications in Junior year. She was an excellent student, but struggled with standardized testing, suffering from stress that prevented her from performing up to her normal level. Since all BS/MD programs still require standardized test scores, she knew she needed help in this area.
She worked with our head of test prep, Alex Nelson, both on mastering material which proved difficult for her, and on managing the stress of exams. This proved very successful, with her test scores going from the 70th to the 95th percentile.
Another student, John, came to us interested in pursuing BS/MD at the start of his freshman year of high school. This was a very different opportunity, and he was looking for help building his academic career from the beginning, and ensuring he had the consistent high performance needed to compete in BS/MD admissions.
We began by helping him plan out his high school schedule, taking advantage of the advanced science and math classes offered by his school. We also helped him with academic coaching; giving him the academic skills needed to succeed. This was not standard tutoring, but instead teaching him how to study and manage his time well. These skills enabled him to help himself, and rise to the level of success he needed for BS/MD programs.
Most BS/MD students apply to 20+ programs, meaning there’s a lot of organizational work required to keep all the needed materials straight. We have the tools and experience necessary to keep all of the applications on track and on time.
Jane wanted to follow the most aggressive application strategy possible, and apply to every BS/MD program in the country. This is over thirty programs, each with their own requirements and deadlines.
We began by organizing all of the programs by deadline in a table, inputting what materials, tests, and essays each required. BS/MD applications come in two parts generally, first an application to the parent school, then a second application to the program itself. We separated these as well, so that Jane could be sure she was able to get all of the materials in on time.
We began the application process quite early, as soon as Jane was done with her summer programs. By finishing all of the college applications quite early, we were able to gain access to the BS/MD applications, and had time to work on all of the needed essays before the deadlines.
Here is an example of what the application planning looked like:
Name of school
This is of course not every school Jane applied to, but shows how we organized her applications, and made sure to keep it on track. It also shows off how we streamlined her essay process, which you can read more about below.
All BS/MD programs ask for multiple supplemental essays on top of any others the colleges may ask for. We help students reuse their essays strategically, drastically cutting down on the amount of work they have to do while still ensuring each application is perfectly tailored for the intended school.
Since Jane was pursuing the most aggressive strategy, she had over a hundred essays to write. We helped her cross apply the essays for colleges, then got down to the writing of the BS/MD essays.
We began by writing template drafts at various lengths, which could be cut and edited to fit the prompts she was responding to. Here is an example of her 250 word response to the question: Why Medicine? (She also composed responses at 300, 500, and 700 words).
Onset of symptoms: numb arm, blurred vision, slurred speech. I take my chronic migraine medication, wait three hours––symptoms have only progressed. Violently throwing up, vision narrowing, I’m rushed to the doctor’s office.
“It’s actually the flu.” Upon understanding the source of my excruciating pain, it suddenly becomes manageable. Against a backdrop of asymmetric information between patient and physician, knowledge itself is a form of treatment.
After recovering from the flu, I scoured medical journals and conducted interviews with my dad’s physician friends, feeling empowered as I digested complex information. Eager to expand my impact from a personal to a community level, I reached out to Dr. Smith (dermatologist) and Dr. Jones (rheumatologist), working with them to increase the transparency of knowledge that people have about their own bodies by translating dense medical articles into concise, accessible infographics and social media posts.
As a volunteer at a nature camp for people with disabilities, I discovered a holistic approach to medicine characterized by helping people flourish rather than merely mitigating sickness. Forging bonds with kids, not as they took an IV, but as they went horseback riding or shot a target, fueled my passion for an integrative approach to medical care.
I’m eager to continue working to expand the transparency of medical knowledge and access to personalized, holistic healthcare in college and beyond. As a Biology major in the BS/MD program, I’ll build the foundations necessary to become a knowledgeable physician who centers my patients’ overall well-being and self knowledge.
By composing and reusing these essays, the total number of new essays she had to write was severely curtailed. We know BS/MD students are well-motivated and hardworking, but we wouldn’t expect any of our students to compose 100+ essays when there was an easier way.
BS/MD interviews are an integral part of the application process, and how the final cuts are made when deciding who gets in. We have a detailed process to help our students present themselves through these interviews.
When helping Jane prepare for her interviews, her mentor found a list of the most common questions used, and wrote them all out. Then, she had Jane practice giving her responses in mock interviews with the mentor. These were recorded, and Jane and her mentor went over them together, working to make her delivery more natural, and her answers more impactful.
While you are not judged based on your speaking ability, it does still inform how interviewers see you, and how your answers are received. Jane’s mentor worked with her to avoid stresses and hiccups in her delivery, and in making sure she conveyed everything she wanted interviewers to know in her answers.
We began interview prep once the last essays were completed, and continued it until the interviews began. Overall, we worked with Jane for 100 hours, and helped her apply to over thirty BS/MD programs.
Here is an example of some questions we helped Jane draft responses for, and practice answering.
How do you handle stress?
While high school is no comparison to the rigor of med school, attending a competitive high school, taking 14 AP classes, and obtaining a 1560 SAT score has given me a gentle introduction to the world of stress. Over the past four years, I’ve developed a strategic three-step plan for myself to overcome any stressful situations that arise: First, I remind myself to remain rational and calm. Second, I map out ways to decrease my stress level or find a solution to my problem. Biking, swimming, or cooking help me relax my mind when I feel overwhelmed so that I’m reinvigorated when it’s time to get back to work. Third, I talk through what’s stressing me out with someone I trust. Focusing on solutions rather than the debilitating aspects of stressful situations helps me learn from my mistakes and decrease stress when similar situations arise in the future.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? How about 20 years?
In ten years, I’ll have graduated medical school and will be starting my career as a family practitioner, working to help improve medical care in underserved communities. In addition to working in a clinic, I intend to volunteer through Doctors Without Borders, sharing my medical expertise with communities in need in South America. In twenty years, I’ll be an established physician who has formed comprehensive relationships with patients and physicians in my hometown of Houston. I’ll have integrated myself into a community that knows me and trusts me to be their physician. I see myself spearheading a program that provides effective medical care to homeless and low-income individuals possibly through mobile healthcare trucks that would essentially function as ‘Healthcare on Wheels.’