If Not Accepted to Graduate School
If you are not admitted:
J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, once said, "We are all failures
- at least, the best of us are." This quote can serve to remind us that
without making an attempt, we cannot succeed in anything.
No one likes to admit the possibility of failure, but if you find
yourself not admitted to the graduate schools you applied to, it is
important to view this as a setback rather than a defeat. The fact that
you were not admitted does not mean you are unsuitable for graduate
level work. The schools to which you applied could have lacked the
funding to let in everyone they would have liked or they may have simply
had an overwhelming number of qualified applicants. The professors
reviewing your application could have had different interests than
yours, or they could have just made a mistake and turned away applicants
who would have done very well in their program.
The issue is what can you do now?
Improve references, test scores, essays
Applying to graduate school is much easier when you are already familiar
with the process. Most people's test scores improve when taking the
tests again because they the format and challenges and therefore know
how to prepare properly. Similarly, if you have already written
application essays, you are familiar with the basic procedure and can
hone your skills and your essay. You can also have your essays edited by
someone who can help you make it the best possible.
Another key factor to the application process is references. Improving
references can be slightly trickier since it doesn't depend solely on
you. However, if you didn't take advantage of providing professors with
a clear resume and helpful information, doing so can improve the
recommendations they provide. You can also look for different people to
provide you with recommendations.
Work in a Related Field
Gain experience in a field that is related to your graduate program.
This will stand out because it shows you have a sincere interest in the
field and are determined to work in that field. Talk to the
graduate school and ask what line of work would be most suitable and
reapply next year.
Apply to the Master's program rather than the
If you had originally applied to a school as a doctoral candidate and
were not accepted, you may want to look into a Master's degree program
as a jumping off point. The requirements are generally less stringent to
be accepted into the Master's program and it provides you with the
opportunity to adjust to graduate study and see if it's what you want to
do. After completing a Master's you will have demonstrated your
commitment to graduate study and should have a far easier time being
accepted to the doctoral program of your choice.
Apply as a non-degree student
Another similar option is to apply as a non-degree student. This will
generally enable you to take classes with the other degree candidates,
allowing both you and your professors to see if you can handle the work.
Students who choose this path often have the opportunity to make an
extremely positive impression on the professors guiding the acceptance
process and when their application comes up the following year, they can
have references included from the department to which they're applying.
Apply to different schools or reapply to your
current choices next year
When you are putting in applications next year, you have several options
to consider. Your first approach would be to apply to the same schools
as this year. This can be good if you have spent time working with
professors from that school or changed your application significantly in
some way. However, some committees will be less likely to admit
applicants they have previously rejected, so it may be better to find
new schools to apply to.
When applying to new schools, one of the primary methods of increasing
your chances of acceptance is to pick schools that are either in less
desirable locations or have slightly lower reputations.
Overall, the important thing to remember is that you need to be positive
and pursue this as an opportunity rather than a roadblock. Good luck.
And to leave you with one final thought from C. S. Lewis, "Failures are
finger posts on the road to achievement."
Not Accepted Into Medical School:
Post-Baccalaureate Programs for Students Who
Have Completed Their Pre-Medical Requirements
If you have completed the basic requirements for medical school, but
your grades in those courses do not make you competitive for admission,
you should take additional upper-level science courses to boost your
science GPA before you apply. You can do this by taking classes as a
non-matriculating student at a university OR you can complete a
post-baccalaureate program, which is more structured, and enables you to
receive on-site advising.
Some post-baccalaureate programs are non-degree programs; others give
students the opportunity to complete a masterís degree. Of those that
offer a masterís degree, several are at medical schools, where students
typically take their post-bac courses alongside medical students. To
assist you with investigating your options, two program lists are given
below: one for programs that are not affiliated with a medical school,
and another for programs that are. These lists may not quite be
complete; a regularly-updated, searchable database of post-baccalaureate
programs is available at the
AAMC web site.
Interdepartmental Science Programs:
(helps students gain entry to Med
The following is a list of programs that
are NOT affiliated with a medical school:
Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Certificate Program
Dr. Frederick Carson, Director
Post-Baccalaureate/Master of Biomedical Sciences Combination Program
(305) 899-3379; or toll free: 1-800-756-6000, extension 3379
College of New York
Pre-medical Studies Program
Post-baccalaureate Pre-medical Program
Health Careers Program
Dr. William Fixsen, Director
Pre-medical Post-baccalaureate Program
Special Science Program, College of General Studies
The following are programs at medical schools:
(You can contact these
organizations to ask for volunteer employment opportunities that relate
to your desired profession)