I thought I’d do a little sample case study on how I would help someone improve their odds of getting into medical school, and I decided to start with good old Justin Bieber as my first example. Let’s see how competitive he is as a candidate for medical school and what I’d advise him to do to improve his chances of acceptance.
Justin’s Academic Background
There’s not much here. He graduated from high school about two years ago, from a homeschool in Stratford, Ontario. Other than that, he has no college experience and no special educational training. So of course I’d recommend he get into a U.S. college if he wanted the best chance of an acceptance to a U.S. medical school.
Although his professional career has spanned about four years, Justin Bieber has had plenty of highlights that might make him an attractive candidate, albeit an unorthodox one. His strengths include:
- Charitable giving
- Performing in front of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
- Helps out with “Make-a-Wish Foundation”
- Has been on Letterman several times
Plenty of extra-curriculars (if you even want to call them that), but not much else.
Weaknesses of his application
Considering you need to at least insinuate that you are an ethical person on your application, Bieber’s numerous arrests, public legal entanglements and threats of physical harm to others will make it difficult for him to be taken seriously as a candidate.
As an admissions expert, I’d want to work with Justin to find solutions to these top (alleged) issues:
- Obvious drug use (which seems to be getting worse)
- Prone to physical violence — link to youtube video of him trying to beat up a photographer
- Also prone to commit disorderly conduct — link to picture of him pissing in a bucket, or better if you can find something better
Much of this could be explained as “youthful inexperience and mistakes,” but there’s quite a lot of mistakes and I’m not so sure the admissions board would easily forgive them. So what would I do to help him through all this? I summarize my suggestions below.
Big BIG Problems
Bieber really has his work cut out for him.
- He hasn’t graduated from college (yet)
- He has no GPA.
- No MCAT score.
- He’s had some patient contact through Make-a-Wish which might count as volunteer hours, but he could use a lot more of it.
- And he lacks leadership — it looks like his handlers are not being a good role model for how to lead others.
- Not to mention all the drugs he needs to rid himself of.
Here’s my admissions consulting recommendations for Justin, and where I get dem Beiber dollas!
- Rehab — whether he thinks he has a drug issue or not, going to rehab is his amnesty for his prior drug use.
- Anger management program — Again, he needs to show that he is self-aware, and will take steps to address these problems.
- Sanitize his social media profiles — he’s going to want to remove as much of his “youthful antics” from his social media as he can; this is a lot like trying to stamp out fresh air, because millions of people have their own versions of Justin’s antics on their phones; at the least, he needs to reframe himself as someone who cares deeply about others, and who actively participates in some aspect of the health care system.
- Attend college; major in biology. Academics are not Justin’s strength (see Letterman video), so I’d suggest he go to a smaller regional university and major in biology, rather than try to get into a top academic program and get crushed.
- Prep for the MCAT and do really really well.
Once he has all this in place, the next step would be to help him package himself as a serious applicant. His personal statement would need to show his commitment to medicine, as well as show how he has overcome his drug use and anger issues. I’d want amazing letters of recommendation from a physician, as well as very strong letters from his professors. I’d want him doing at least 100 hours of good quality patient contact … perhaps integrating his love of music with medicine. Anton — music and healing research here.
Would Justin get in if he applied today?
Most likely not. He’d need to do a lot of repair work on his academics, public reputation, and commitment to the medical field.
On the other hand, we all know the healing power of a top 40 pop tune. So he has that going for him. Good luck, Justin!