The annual AAMC Virtual Medical School Fair, which generally takes place in the third week of February, is a big gift to you from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). If you are an applicant in the current admissions cycle who is still looking for interviews, this event is well worth your time. Connect with admissions officers at schools that you are still waiting to hear from. The probability may be low, but the possibility is real that you could make a connection that leads to an interview. When you sign in, make sure to use your real name and if you are a current applicant, you can give your AAMC ID# in case they want to look you up and offer you an interview!
For people applying this summer, it’s designed for you as a place to connect meaningfully and personally with the admissions officers who will review your application. Do not miss this opportunity!
Registration is free and you will get a discount on the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) database just by registering here.
How To Be Virtual and Professional
Make sure that you do upload a friendly face photo of yourself when you register and be prepared to take notes. If you are applying to medical school in the future, it’s time think about professionalism in your communication skills and tool up your networking chops now. No worries about your bad hair day, choice of socks, or sweaty palms – you get noticed by asking good questions at the virtual fair. Since it’s a virtual fair, the only part of you that needs to show up polished is your written communication skill as you interact with admissions officers.
Review the AAMC’s tips about how to conduct yourself professionally at the fair.
The virtual fair takes place throughout the day, so you can hop on and off at will. The schools will too, so if you miss them at one time, try another. When you sign in after registering, you will see a facsimile of a cavernous convention hall with a help desk and user-friendly buttons to direct you to helpful general information and to specific school information.
Learn About Schools
Specific school information will come in handy later in June when you are explaining why you are a good fit for a particular school. Watch the video, taking notes on who is speaking and what elements of the school the speaker is extolling. When a school feels good about its curricular reform, its student initiatives, and its culture, you want to remember that.
Interact with Schools
You can jump into public chats with the Schools of Medicine (SOMs) or initiate a private chat with an admissions officer, who is sitting at his or her computer, fielding many of these at once. In other words, be patient.
The best way to interact privately or in a public chat, is to ask good questions. These are questions that you would not normally find answers to on the school’s website. It gets really tedious for admissions officers to answer questions you could easily look up, but you will find many public chatters doing just that. It’s not a good way to distinguish yourself. You want your questions to ask for real information that relates to your personal situation.
Ask Great Questions
Current applicants can ask these good questions:
- When is your last interview day for this cycle?
- Are you still issuing interview invitations?
- As I am hoping to interview with you, and have done some research, service, clinical work, since I last connected with you, is it better to update you through email, through the AMCAS portal, or now through this chat?
Future applicants can ask these good questions:
- What innovations and changes in the student experience is your school anticipating over the next few years?
- How does faculty mentorship work at your school? Is it formal, as in students are assigned to mentors, or is it informal, and students find their own way to advisors and mentors?
- As an admissions officer, do you get to interact with the people you select as they go through their four years?
- If you had to choose one of these three as the most important primary selection factor for your school, which would it be: service, clinical experience, or research?
- Are you planning any open houses at the school this year?
- What fairs do you plan to attend in person?
- Could I arrange to visit you at the school sometime? (Only ask this if you actually think you might.)
Here are some not so interesting, more transactional questions for them to answer that might relate to your situation:
- What percentage (if any) of your class is selected through special programs, such as articulation agreements, early admissions programs or linkages with postbac programs?
- If the school is a state-funded institution: What percentage of the class are in-state residents?
- How do you view re-applicants reapplying in the next admissions cycle? And a follow-up: Do you do rejection counseling for applicants?
- You should definitely tailor these questions to your own situation, giving background and context before asking them.
Fairs Can Help You Get Into Medical School
Medical school fairs are an all-important tool in gaining acceptance to medical school. The virtual fair is a great way to get started learning how to network. Look at the page linked to above for the list of schools attending the fair and set a goal to communicate with your top ten favorite schools. Definitely speak with your state schools. Some other things to keep in mind:
- Recognize that time zones will affect when different schools become active at the fair.
- Choose your top 5 or 10 schools that you want to interact with and think of questions you would like to ask them.
- Take down all the names and contact information you can get.
- As the AAMC pointed out in its Do’s and Don’ts of Attending a Virtual Medical School Fair that I mentioned above, do not use text abbreviations (RU for Are you) or poor grammar.
Think in advance about other ways that you can demonstrate professionalism in your interactions at the 2019 AAMC Virtual Medical School Fair. Make good connections and learn all that you can. Now go for it!