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Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

Benferguson72x726Ben Ferguson -- I came across some old papers the other day in the bowels of my file cabinet and thought I’d share some excerpts.

Dear Mr. Ferguson:

      I have reviewed your application to [our school] for admission in 2004. I regret to inform you that we will not be able to grant you an interview. We have received a very large number of applicants (over 5,000) for 100 places in the first year class…

Mr. Ferguson,

      Admission to [our school] has become more competitive in recent years, particularly due to a continuing increase in the number of outstanding applicants. While we regret any disappointment you may feel with regard to your medical school plans, we are sorry to inform you that, after careful review, we will not be able to give your application further consideration…

Dear Mr [sic] Ferguson:

      The Comittee [sic] on Admissions of [our school] has carefully reveiwed [sic] your application to the 2004 entering class. Unfortunaetly [sic], we cannot grant you the admission at this time…

Dear Benjamin,

      The Admissions Committee has carefully reveiwed [sic] your application to [our school]. The Committee regrets to inform you that we are unable to offer you a place in the 2004 entering class…

Dear Benjamin:

      I am writing to share what I believe will be disappointing news. The Admissions Committee of [our school] has considered with care your application for admission. Unfortunately we are unable to offer you a place in our next entering class…

Dear Mr [sic] Ferguson,

      The Committee on Admissions of [our school] has completed its review of your application. It is with great regret that I inform you that we will be unable to offer you an interview. This is a disappointment, as much for those who are responsible for the decision as it may be for you, the candidate who is turned away…

Dear Applicant:

      We will not be considering your application for the Entering Class of 2003 [SIC!] any further. You have our best wishes for continued success in all your educational pursuits…

A few thoughts, four years passed:

1. All in all, there were 15 of them, alongside two acceptances, two waitlists, and one *RANKED ALTERNATE* [emphasis theirs]. Following my submission of the primary application in early October, they came in droves between December 19 and April 1, most as the point of first written contact from them to me. There is nothing quite like waiting more than six months for some schools to confirm they’ve received your primary application by sending you a letter rejecting your primary application. Going through this odyssey makes you realize unexpectedly that schools that pay attention to you during the application process might also pay attention to you while you’re a student there, and so it becomes more important than most people expect.

2. Having typos -- and mentions of blatantly incorrect application years -- in rejection letters really seems classless to me, especially when you consider that identical letters probably go out to >85% of the people who apply to any given school.

3. Save for changing a few words here and there, these letters are all exactly the same. They feature regret, remorse, careful and thorough consideration, best wishes offered, and, ultimately, unsuccessful attempts at making you feel like something of a winner while simultaneously smashing your dreams and explicitly telling you you’re not good enough for their school. Some were a full page long and some not even a full paragraph, but does it ever really matter to you, as an applicant, how complex and intense an admissions committee ordeal is?

4. Try to check your mail as often as possible while applying. It may drive you nuts -- you’ll already have been nuts anyway -- but this way you reduce the risk of receiving more than a few rejections all on the same day, which can really get you down.

5. The day you get your first acceptance and the day you get into your dream school will be some of the best days of your life. Go have some champagne, but be careful -- they may both be on the same day, the greatest day of your life.

July 25, 2008 in Ben Ferguson | Permalink


Thanks for sharing your experience... I think pretty much all medical school students (except for the incredibly exceptional students... for we are all exceptional) go through similar experiences. I myself got rejected from 19 schools BEFORE getting into the 1 school I really wanted to. Talk about hanging on to your last hope! But it worked out for me, and I wish everyone else the best in their application process.

Posted by: Karthik | Jul 29, 2008 8:34:10 PM

Though I'm not a medical student (I'm a pharmacy student). I'm now experiencing similar situation as I'm looking for my training job as pharmacist assistant. Even though I haven't found a job yet, I'm still not giving up because my past rejections have been filled with encouraging words.

Posted by: Jenny | Jul 30, 2008 9:19:15 PM

Why do you still have these letters? I'd burn mine after that acceptance. On second thoughts, I would keep'em and go through them in rough times.

Posted by: | Aug 2, 2008 9:51:21 AM

Never give up on what you desire. The rest isn't as important in fact. There's more, that's I believe what matters. Yes, it requires more of you, while you're in your element. Often known to not be easy, down right tough. Remember you have become an expert, never forget what you are today. You offer so much, more than imagined often, i.e a rejection letter hits hard. The closer you get at times it appears more difficult. All is relative to your efforts, often you hear something that hurts. Many times it a form, a one liner, back-wash input. Never compare yourself to those that do not know you, what you have become. At times is a tiny set back, blown out of proportion, but hard. It's never easy to hear what you don't want, but there always is a brighter side to all. Never think it can over shadow you, remove your resolve, just don't allow it. Believe in what you know true. You're so close to being all you dreamed, too me it's good advice to burn rejection letters once read, whatever. All get use to sleeping whenever, wherever, having 3 cells & a pager or 2 on. This is really living! Okay that's it. Yes, at times tough, then often it can instantly become extremely rewarding..
Cheers! HP
PS: Never let any grind you down(think Latin here..).

Posted by: Hale | Aug 10, 2008 6:18:48 AM

I guess I was very lucky in the sense that I was lazy and applied to only one medical school and was accepted. However, I do empathize the fact of being rejected constantly - I applied for transfer to 22 other universities offering Medicine when I was in year 2 of my Australian university and was rejected straight out by ALL of them - I do not recommend anyone else to be that much a sloth as me as to apply to only one medical school. While rejections will tend to me more than that of acceptance for most people, you will never know when you have missed out an opportunity until you realized it..

Posted by: Kelvin Richards | Aug 24, 2008 2:46:44 PM

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