I can feel the energy in the corridor outside my office as winter break comes to a close and the students come trickling back.
The beginning of spring term is always a significant one in my office, as the first week is when the first batch of forms are due for students planning to apply to medical school.
Some may accuse us of coddling these students, but my assistant and I spend the fall painstakingly putting together a red packet of materials to guide the students through the medical school application process. We have a long version of a Guide to Applying, and a short FAQ version. We have checklists and calendars and tracking sheets. Not to brag, but I get calls and questions from students at other colleges, who use our materials because they find them more helpful than what their own schools provide. Basically, if a student reads the materials and follows the instructions, he or she will find a stressful and complicated process significantly less so.
January 21 is the due date for the Information Form, the first step in providing information to my office to enable me to write a detailed meaningful letter of recommendation on their behalf.
So here’s what happens. A significant portion of the students don’t turn in the Info Form until weeks, or months, after the due date. As the process goes along, others take weeks to respond to my requests for little pieces of information that I need. Many NEVER READ A WORD of the materials we provide, and occasionally, even have the audacity to ask me if they need to. Some have to be begged and nagged, literally, to cooperate.
1. Do we want future doctors who can’t/won’t follow simple instructions, or attend to administrative details?
2. What kind of political savvy, or lack thereof, leads someone to be unhelpful and uncooperative to the person who is writing their letter of recommendation? I have never actually penalized someone (and maybe that’s the problem) for doing a crummy job on the things I ask for, but one of these days…
This year, perhaps because of the economy, we have an unusually large number of students and alums (63) who have indicated that they plan to apply in the upcoming med school application cycle. It will be harder for us to hold their hands and cajole them through the process. I’m guessing that only 45 will turn in their forms on time on Thursday. I’ll let you know.