Hello again everyone! Last Sunday, I set out on a 7am flight to the site of my first medical school interview. . . St. Louis, MO!
The Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine (whew! what a mouthful) consists of over17 city blocks in the area known as the Central West End. It also borders Forest Park, a 1293-acre behemoth of a park with free attractions such as the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Art Museum.
Without giving away too much, the experience was thoroughly awesome. The students are gasp! happy, and I ended up talking with the first and second years for awhile during a pizza party the night before. They reminded me quite a bit of Techers, actually. . . quirky, unpretentious, and all-around friendly! And friggin’ smart, of course. The school also actively promotes extracurricular participation with an “Unofficial Curriculuum” consisting of over 50 student-run groups, so it seems that there’s never a shortage of things to do. Whether you want to write, run, produce artwork, play in an orchestra, cook. . . you name it!
The next morning, I woke up bright and early at 5:45am to prepare for my tour and interview. Upon leaving my dorm room to shower, I discovered a note left in front of my door wishing me luck, left by one of the current OT students. It was a small gesture, but it definitely made my day :) By 7am, we were shuffled from one session to the next: a breakfast with current students, photo IDs in the admission office, overview of the school and its programs and a financial aid session. Hilariously, they included a little “stress meter” in our information folder. . . I was at green (“normal”) when I checked. Next, we went on a tour of the school’s facilities, including the St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I LOVED the building so much – everything was bright and colorful, and you could tell how much they catered to making the kids’ hospital visits the best they could possibly be.
Finally, gulp the interview! It was actually quite relaxed and conversational, and lasted about an hour. For those interested in the timeframe of the medical school admissions process, post-interview replies usually take at least one month, and often longer. Waitlists are also quite common, although people who stay on the waitlist and continuously express a passionate interest in that school stand a decent chance of finding their way in at the end.
After a hot buffet and a fun conversation with the current fourth years, I grabbed a group of my fellow interviewees to go shadow one of the first year classes (Practice of Medicine I) and even got to join in the small-group training exercises. Monday was chest exams. Fun fact: you can feel your aorta if you lie down and press your hand firmly in the space below your ribcage, and can even sense (roughly) the diameter! At the end of the exercise, we shed our suits and heels (in my case, at least) and changed into street clothes to go explore Forest Park before we had to head home.
All in all, it was a great trip at an impressive and, importantly, exciting and welcoming school. Good way to start off interview season! Now, to do the neurotic premed thing where I check my admissions status every few days. . .
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like:
It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.
These past six months have been a whirlwind- from having to move out of Caltech housing in March within a week’s notice due to COVID-19, to starting the first term of my junior year, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change. When I went home in March, it was to a completely new state-my family moved from Chino, CA to New Jersey in January (great timing, huh?). While I missed seeing my friends from home, it was fun to have the chance to explore a completely new place. The pandemic obviously limited what I could see and do, but I got to experience walks through nature and along rivers normally foreign to a SoCal native and had some time to focus on bioinformatics research for the lab I work with on campus.