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Lewis Associates e-Newsletter

Volume 2 Issue 7
July, 2003

Published by Lewis Associates. Dr. Cynthia Lewis, Phd., Editor
Email imaclewis@lewisassoc.com with your comments. Enjoy!

=> Welcome to Success Stories Newsletter!

=> Important News: MCAT score data; how medical schools use scores

=> Useful Links: Financial Aid website

=>Dates and Reminders: VMCAS 2004 and new electronic letter system

=>Success Story of the Month: Entering First Choice UC Medical School After Sexual Harassment!

=> Question of the Month – Am I Disadvantaged?

=> Our Services

=> Contact



Welcome to Lewis Associates!

Many of you are in the middle of the Class of 2004 application season. Our first request for secondary/supplemental applications has arrived from one of our Class 2004 applicants who submitted her application on June 7th!

You may be doing research at NIH (one of my Advisees is) or in other prestigious programs, completing coursework, studying for the DAT or GRE or 8/03 MCAT or traveling or working to earn the funds to pay for application. If you are ready to really become serious about making your dreams to become a physician, dentist PA, veterinarian, optometrist a reality --- Lewis Associates can help you. We have made the difference for hundreds of students over 18 years. Here is an email quote from a Class of 2003 Lewis Advisee who was accepted to her first choice school:

Michelle Voigt, UC Santa Barbara graduate: Hello to you both (meaning Alice in our office who helps so many students)! Yes, its true...I am so thrilled! I loved X and I'm still in shock that I'm actually accepted to their school. Thank you, thank you, thank you both. I know that I would not have had the same opportunities if I had not worked with Lewis Associates. Wonderful!

For Entering Class of 2004 students, this is your application year. I hope you survived the April 03 MCAT... if not, you should develop a very effective strategy to use the August MCAT to your benefit and get your application submitted soon! You need to establish a well-thought out strategy to carry you through the difficult times coming up. This is the most intense time you will experience as a pre-health student. It is a roller coaster ride. Let us know how we can assist you.

Congratulations to the entering Class of 2003 advised by Dr. Lewis – to date all but 1 applicant is accepted; she is waitlisted and one is entering the University of Hawaii Post-Bac program which is affiliated with the medical school. See the Class of 2002 Final Report and theClass of 2003 Progress Report

A class of 2004 applicant emailed to Dr. Lewis after re- establishing her advising relationship:
As I am getting ready to apply to med school for Fall 2004, you were on my mind and I wanted to say thank you for all you have done for me in the past years.
I recently graduated Cum Laude.... yay! After many hours of psychological testing, Disabled Student Services and a private counselor determined that, as you had suggested, I have a testing disability and test anxiety, which kept me from performing to the best of my ability on the MCAT as well as my academic coursework. Therefore, I was granted time and a half on ALL my academic exams thanks to DSS and it's amazing how much a difference it made for me. My grades shot up immediately. I got one of the highest scores in the class in organic chemistry II once I started getting time and a half. Because of all this discovery of my testing disability, I will now be receiving time and half on the MCAT... BIG YAY!

As you suggested, I didn't want to take the MCAT again until I figured out the source of my difficulty. It's amazing, because on the practice exams, I am now earning 8's instead of 3's. I will be taking the MCAT in April with time and a half and in a separate room from everyone else (to alleviate my anxiety). I am focusing on the April MCAT now that I graduated and am not doing a million things at once. I am excited to perform really well this time! I want to thank you for all of your advice. You were 100% correct and I appreciate all of the time you spent on me. I would NOT be where I am now if it hadn't been for you . I am 10 X the applicant that I was 2 yrs ago and I am so glad I have waited to apply. I feel VERY ready this time. The MCAT has been a hurdle, but through it I have learned so much. Thanks for everything you have meant to my life. I am forever grateful!

What are your chances?
If you want to change your career or reach your career goal, but do not know how to begin or how to jump over all those hurdles, Lewis Associates will implement strategies to change your life. Read about it in our newsletter and website, then phone or email us directly to get started!

You may be like our Lewis Associates Advisees---highly motivated and intelligent, but needing focus, guidance and specific technical expertise. She solves problems for her Advisees and finds opportunities for them. Dr. Lewis is a trained biologist, having taught and directed her own research programs for many years at two universities. She earned two postdoctoral fellowships (one at NIH) and received the 1990 NACADA Outstanding Institutional Advising Program in the U.S. She teaches Professionalism, Leadership, and Quality, and sets high standards for her Advisees.

Lewis Associates will save you money and heartache on your application process. Contact us for more information imaclewis@lewisassoc.com 805-226-9669.



n e w s   &   l i n k s

N E W S : MCAT score data; how medical schools use scores

25 June 2003
Ellen R. Julian, Ph.D., Asst VP and Director of the Medical College Admission Test
Association of American Medical Colleges

Examinee Data Web page http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/examineedata/pubs.htm

We completed a survey of admissions officers. We sent the survey to 141 US and Canadian medical schools. We had 86 responses (61%). The percentages are of those who responded. Here is the question:

For applicants who have taken the MCAT more than once, which set of MCAT scores does your admissions committee consider?

Most recent ---- 30 ---- 37%
Average -------- 14 ---- 17%
Highest --------- 17 ---- 21%
All ---------------- 20 ---- 25%
No Response -- 5

We have a research project underway to see if we can determine which of the approaches yields the best predictive validity.

AMCAS Application Information

Recently AMCAS discussed formatting of the personal statement essay. What we see is not what AMCAS and the medical schools see. When you print a copy of the application, you don't see the paragraph breaks or indents. Not to worry, as AMCAS and the medical Schools DO see those breaks (so they say!).

A reminder that a hard return is equal to 2 characters and TAB Indent is equal to 5 characters

You may also notice that when you print your application, the courses may not be in chronological order. Again do not panic. This is okay. Medical schools will sort these out.

L I N KS :

Change in Aid Formula Shifts More Costs to Students
June 13, 2003 By GREG WINTER

Millions of college students will have to shoulder more of the cost of their education under federal rules imposed late last month.

(You will have to register (free) to view the article.)




d a t e s   &   r e m i n d e r s

VMCAS 2004 and new electronic letter system

The VMCAS 2004 web application is now available by going to http://aavmc.org. Applicants may start their web accounts anytime between now and the individual school application deadlines of October 1 or November 1, 2004.

The AAVMC website now reflects the new application season and improvements made to the overall application process. New this year is ELOR, or electronic letters of recommendation, a system developed by Liaison International http://www.liaison-intl.com. The secure and confidential ELOR system mirrors the VMCAS paper evaluation format and allows applicants and evaluators to complete the evaluation process over the Internet. The following are major features of ELOR:

*The electronic process is optional: Applicants may submit some of their letters in paper form while submitting others electronically.
*If students wish to submit their letters of recommendation electronically, VMCAS recommends that they first notify their evaluators about their desire to use the electronic format.
*Applicants enter their evaluator's information into the ELOR system, regardless of whether they are using paper or electronic forms.
*If an applicant selects the electronic form, the ELOR system generates an email to the evaluator.
*Evaluators can either accept or decline a student's request to participate in ELOR.
*Evaluators will know if applicants have either waived or retained the right to see their letters of recommendation.
*Applicants can monitor the status of their applications by logging in to the ELOR system.

ELOR's numerous features will reduce stress levels for everyone involved in the application process, provide advisors and applicants with an online evaluation letter tracking system, and expedite letter delivery to the vet colleges. If you would like to check out this new VMCAS system and the web application, please send an email request to VMCAS for practice instructions.

VMCAS announces that Western University of Health Sciences and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (The University of Edinburgh) have joined VMCAS. All other basic elements of the VMCAS application process remain the same. Applications, evaluations, and fees will continue to come to VMCAS. Test scores and transcripts should be sent directly to the schools.

Contact VMCAS with questions via the toll-free student hotline at 1-877-862-2740, or email at vmcas@aavmc.org.



s u c c e s s s t o r i e s

Entering First Choice UC Medical School… After Sexual Harassment!

This is my Advisee’s story in her words:

"Soon after high school graduation, I entered UC Berkeley as a freshman to study biology. During high school, I had worked hard academically and volunteered at a community hospital for 4 years. I felt strongly about being a doctor and this seemed to influence many of my decisions. As a college freshman, I sought advice from upper classmen, professors, counselors, and literature about premedical student success. I took a study skills course, a course on health care current events, and joined a student volunteer group called the Suitcase Clinic, where I learned about some socioeconomic issues surrounding health care as a caseworker attending to the needs of low-income and homeless individuals. Living in the dorms was fun and I enjoyed getting to know my peers. My confidence in school was strong and I achieved a 4.0 in my freshman year. Sophomore year first semester, I began tutoring and participated in a health worker program that furthered my understanding of community health and patient education. However, the second semester became very difficult because an older re-entry student in my organic chemistry lab group began to harass and intimidate me. Although I had a negative feeling about him and contemplated switching classes within the first few class sessions, I thought I could handle it and did not want to give into my fears. He persisted harassing and manipulating me, while taking advantage of my naiveté, and even stalked me. The stress I endured from his actions, school, and family troubles, led me to feel depressed. My grades suffered and I did not want to return the following semester to risk dealing with the harasser. I talked with counselors and family about my options, yet I did not feel supported by them and I returned that fall to school. In order to regain confidence in being on campus, I tried harder to participate in activities and to care for my health. I became a Mentor to disadvantaged junior high school girls, I learned Tae Kwon Do, and had counseling. The harasser continued his intimidation and it seriously interfered with my grades at times throughout my junior year. I dropped some courses one term and my grades were poor for the classes I kept. It was a very trying period, although I did attempt to learn from it and stay hopeful.

Toward the end of my junior year, I joined a biology research group which allowed me to work in a secure building for hours on campus. I ended most of my other commitments, and the harasser eventually left me alone. Because of my lab project and excitement about science, I stayed in Berkeley that summer and moved to a more secure living environment. I finally learned about a campus sexual harassment student group and joined them. My determination and the friendliness in my support group bolstered my confidence at school. My grades improved significantly that fall and I maintained a strong GPA. I participated in the campus sexual harassment group, sharing my experiences, and helped develop presentations and literature to increase awareness. I sought new learning experiences such as volunteering in the HIV test section of a free clinic and consciously tried to create a new support network of friends and colleagues.

However, I graduated with a degree in molecular and cell biology with a 3.3 GPA. Having a strong interest in studying medicine, yet not feeling confident about my application due to my grades, I decided to do lab research, clinic volunteer work, and writing for an AIDS publication the following year. I learned about Lewis Associates and set up an appointment. During my consultation with Dr. Lewis, I felt supported in my accomplishments, yet aware of certain weaknesses. I moved to Sacramento to live with my parents and, as Dr. Lewis advised, I enrolled into CSU Sacramento and took mostly upper division science courses. She advised that I needed to improve my undergraduate GPA rather than go to graduate school for a different set of grades. Although attending another school after 5 years of college frustrated me, I began to feel more confident about my skills as a student and earned a 4.0 my first year at CSUS. The new university environment away from the traumatic experience at Berkeley helped my confidence. Dr. Lewis' continual interest in my progress and support allowed me to feel that we were a team pursuing my career goal.

Because of my fear of applying to medical school I began to explore other health-related careers and I was accepted at UCLA public health school while also taking courses required by pharmacy schools. My communications with public health professionals and my work as a pharmacy technician convinced me that becoming a physician would be the most satisfying career for me. After two years of taking undergraduate classes at CSUS, my combined grade point average of all college coursework increased to above 3.5! My phone appointments and emails with Dr. Lewis helped boost my belief in my application. She encouraged me to study and take the MCAT several times during those years at CSUS. I would look at the MCAT study schedule but my commitment wavered. I was still scared.

Meanwhile, I had worked on my application and essays in order to apply early in the summer. In order to gain some structure as I studied for the MCAT, I took a prep course. While I focused on this test and the strategies, I knew that with my application in, I must take it. Fortunately, my scores were competitive and I was invited to 9 medical school interviews. Having a mock interview with Dr. Lewis, and studying the interview material she sent prepared me so I knew how to answer basic questions. Reviewing medical school literature and writing secondary essays allowed me to better understand myself and to feel comfortable presenting myself truthfully.

Incredibly, I will be attending my top choice medical school, one of the UC campuses, this Fall 2003. If it hadn't been for the guidance and unrelenting support of Dr. Lewis over 3 years, my dream would not have come true. My commitment to medicine was always strong, but her wise advice, insistence that I take the steps towards reaching my goal and belief in my ability was invaluable."

In late June, this advisee emailed to me, "Thanks for your confidence in me. I’m really glad I found you. Take care."

If you wish to communicate about harassment or other difficult issues, , email imaclewis@lewisassoc.com



q u e s t i o n o f t h e m o n t h

Am I "Disadvantaged?"

AMCAS has a specific question for the 2004 entering class:

"Do you wish to be considered a disadvantaged applicant by any of your designated medical schools which may consider such factors (social, economic or educational)?"

This question is designed to enable applicants to express to medical schools whether or not they believe they have been disadvantaged socially, economically or educationally. This question is intentionally open for applicant interpretation, and the term "Disadvantaged" does not have a specific, limited definition. The term "Disadvantaged" is not defined by AMCAS, but is intended to provide applicants with a means of expressing disadvantages that may not be represented elsewhere in the application.

Indeed, disadvantaged backgrounds should be explained in AADSAS, AACOMAS and VMCAS essays, although how this is addressed varies with application and with individual case. Sometimes, secondary applications ask, 'If there is something that you wish to explain that has not been discussed, please do so here', or 'Describe an event where you overcame some problem in your life.'

From a Dean of Admissions at a US medical school, "It is a self-perceived situation from a personal, social, economic and/or educational perspective that does not necessarily need to be related to race or ethnicity. I could give you examples that run the gamut: applicants from abusive home backgrounds (not necessarily low socio-economic), orphans who grew up in foster care, children from single-parent homes, recent immigrants with a variety of problems (language barrier, no health insurance, unemployment), students who attended poor inner-city or small rural high schools, students who had to work through high school and/or college, etc. We(the medical school admissions committee) determine what are "valid" reasons and how much weight to give them, depending on the circumstances. So, it is important for the applicant to understand what "being disadvantaged" really means. And advisors are in the best position to explain this."

We will feature an important question each month. Please submit one that interests you for Dr. Lewis to answer. Send your questions to imaclewis@lewisassoc.com

lewis associates advising services

Lewis Associates specializes in personal, effective and professional premedical advising and placement for traditional and non-traditional applicants. Often, non-traditional students are older than 21 years of age, career changers, international applicants or second-round applicants for admission to health professions school.

Lewis Associates' services meet the needs of all types of students from pre-applicants to applicants, including hourly advising support for specific needs. Click here.


"It's never too late to be who you might have been."

If this is how YOU feel, then, maybe Lewis Associates is the place for you. Lewis Associates provides Mentoring and Coaching through the rigorous and often circuitous pre-health preparation and application process. Other consultants may support programs like Law and Business or graduate school -- not Lewis Associates. We are the experts in Health Professions based on 23 years of a successful track record.

Call or email today to set your first appointment!

805.226.9669 imaclewis@lewisassoc.com

Copyright 2009, Lewis Associates. All rights reserved. Please do not repost on any website without direct permission from Lewis Associates.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to any friends, classmates, or colleagues you feel would find its contents beneficial.

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