After a few years in the game you start to hear more and more stories of what to do and what not to do.
In case you're having trouble deciding which of the following strategies to adopt (or regret not adopting), I've conveniently ranked each gimmick with a patented, easy-to-understand ranking system (in lieu of the customary "top 10" ranking).
- Submitting cookies with their application
They better be peanut-free.
Rating: 3 dozen batches of shame out of 12.
- Submitting their application on scented paper
Are you kidding me?!
Rating: 2 garage-sale antique perfume bottles with the little puffer balls (atomizers, I think they were called) out of 29.
- Showing up 15 minutes late for the interview, while the interviewer waits for them to show up.
I actually saw this happen, and I heard the interviewer ask, "Why were you late?" The response? "Oh, I thought my interview was at 11:45." I can't decide whether this applicant was extremely honourable for being honest or extremely stupid for not at least making up a better excuse.
Rating: 4 white lies out of 11.
- Drawing a cartoon of Mickey Mouse instead of writing an application essay.
Even worse: Labeling your cartoon "This is what I think of the admissions process."
Rating: 99 spots on the Hollywood Walk of Lame out of 100 (because this is a true story).
- Answering the "Why do you want to be a doctor?" interview question with a one-sentence response.
These are the kinds of people that a) have limited common sense and b) the interviews are designed to weed out.
Rating: 56 times having to listen to "Because I Like Science and Helping People" as the lyrics of a polka song, out of 941.
- Not following simple directions regarding the application, resulting in their first and last name ending up in the "First Name" box.
Pathetic, though unintentional, I assume.
Rating: 65 misread directions out of 143.
- Including a spelling error in the first sentence of my application essay
Uh... oops.... well, it got me an interview...
Rating: 10 honest mistakes out of 10.
- Writing their admissions essay from the perspective of the applicant's pencil.
Not a bad idea. I wish I thought of it.
Rating: 49 well-deserved spots in medical school out of 50.
- Wearing a The Simpsons tie to their interview.
I saw this one done by a guy who interviewed at the same time I did last year.
He's not in my class.
Rating: 1 desperate, unsuccessful plea for attention out of 64.
- Showing up at the admissions office wearing a Tarzan leopard-skin outfit and singing Portuguese love songs to the dean
I don't think this one has been attempted yet, so give me credit for the idea if you use it. I guarantee you will stand out.
Rating: Negative 16 rock-bottom shameless sells out of 612.
This list came about after a conversation with my school's director of admissions as we were killing time and chatting up a storm during interview weekend (I was helping out). She told me that giving gifts to the admissions office simply doesn't work. First of all, the dean of admissions doesn't dictate who gets in and who doesn't; it's a committee decision, based on the accreditation policy. Secondly, gifts aren't accepted by the department; they're either given away, or in the case of larger gifts, sent back.
My advice? Instead of using a gimmick, try being a great person with a stellar personality. But hopefully you didn't need to hear that if you're indeed applying to medicine.