By David Thomas, Photo by Tim Green

A surprising number of our medical school candidates at Forster Thomas ask me for a priority list when they’re first thinking of applying. Which is more important, great grades or lab experience? Should I focus on securing my recommenders or turning in my AMCAS early? This question, and it never fails to leave me scratching my head. To me, it’s like asking, “Are hands less or more important than feet,” or “Which eye do you value the most, your left or your right?” 

Try to picture your application as a pie -- apple, to be specific. There are many, many slices: grades are one, recommenders another. You can’t prioritize one layer of your pie. It all needs to get baked together into one perfectly delicious whole. If one piece is tangy and another is sweet, even if they’re both tasty on their own, you have a problem.  Admissions isn’t going to simply eat around the bad part.

Recently, I got a phone call from a client, Sasha. She was in tears, because she didn’t know how she could go to her shadow-ship AND complete her paper. She wanted my permission to slack on one of them, and was wondering which one to phone in. What I told Sasha was cut-throat, but true.

If she couldn’t figure out how to do both – AMAZINGLY -- she wouldn’t survive medical school. 

Trying to prioritize different parts of your application is another way of looking for shortcuts. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but they don’t exist. Not in this game. So man (or woman) up and stop wasting energy on trying to rank your responsibilities. Instead, refocus that energy on kicking butt everywhere.

By the way, if you need someone to kick your butt FOR YOU and keep you focused on your goals, that's kind of my specialty. Reach out to me and let me know the details of your situation, and I can tell you if I'm a good fit for your needs.