Common Application Rundown for 2014-15

Sure, it’s still the season for inner tube river floats, sunset bike rides and cramming your Instagram feed full of magical moments designed to give everyone else FOMO. Whether you’re living it up outside or cramming in a few more volunteer hours, however, that very special time of year is rolling around again. It’s time to fill out the Common Application!

Here are the prompts for the 650-word statement from the Common App site:

• Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
• Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
• Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
• Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
• Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

If one of these topics doesn’t immediately jump out at you, you might be primed for a Premiere Service consultation to glean one of our editor’s insights about which direction to take and how to get there. If you already know which question sparks your fancy, get started on a free write and send it our way for an Advanced Service revision!

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to navigate potential glitches like website timeouts and payment snafus- this means submitting well BEFORE the 11:59pm deadline of whatever date is listed in the app:!PublicPages/ApplicationRequirements

More details:

Rest easy – no matter what you’ve been up to, you still have plenty of time to write a stellar essay that expresses the idiosyncratic gems of your candidacy. Get a head start with us, and you won’t be scrambling to synthesize the unfathomable wisdom of your life so far in the last moments before the deadline!

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Medical Applicant Portals and Deadlines

You’re probably already familiar with AMCAS, the med school version of the undergraduate common application for most U.S. colleges apart from a handful in Texas. After submitting your initial application through a centralized service such as this one, chosen schools with further interest in your candidacy will invite you to submit a secondary application. Fee waivers are available through most programs, so make sure you get all the support you need!

Here’s the rundown on strict deadlines you need to know:

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service

May 1st, 2014: AACOMAS portal opened
Starting June 3rd, 2015: AMCAS applications accepted for submission
Final submission deadlines for individual schools available here (ranging from October 1st, 2014 to April 1st, 2015):

The American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine

August 1st, 2013: AACPMAS portal opened
June 30th, 2014: Final submission deadline

American Medical College Application Service

May 1st, 2014: AMCAS portal opened
Starting June 3rd, 2014: AMCAS applications accepted for submission
Final submission deadlines for individual schools available here:

Central Application Service for Physician Assistants (CASPA).

April 1st, 2014: CASPA portal opened
March 1st, 2015: Portal closes
Individual submission deadlines are determined by PA programs (ranging from August 1st, 2014 to March 1st, 2015)

Nursing’s Centralized Application Service
Portal open
Individual submission deadlines are determined by nursing programs

Texas Medical & Dental Schools Application Service

May 1st, 2014: TMDSAS portal opened
August 1st, 2014: Submission deadline for Early Decision Program
October 1st, 2014: Final submission deadline for medical, dental, and vet programs

Portals not yet open for entry year 2015:

American Dental Association
February 3rd, 2014: Previous cycle closed

Veterinary Medical College Application Service

March 28th, 2014: Previous cycle closed

We’ll keep you posted as other portals open. And as always, we’re here for you when the time rolls around to write your personal statement. It’s sooner than you think!

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Medical School vs. Public Health?

So you’re looking ahead to a career related to medicine, but haven’t yet decided if public health or medical school will serve your visions best. Here are some questions that may clarify the path ahead:

-Are you more excited by the idea of working one-on-one with a patient, or considering the needs of populations?

-Do you hope to enter an established profession with defined and standardized ways of identifying and advancing your specialty? Or does the idea of forging your way into a field with a more complex array of public capacities actually excite you?

-If given the option of choosing a social science for an elective, would you seize the chance or opt for a more traditional science course?

-Do you envision yourself in a hospital working with individuals, or moving between the laboratory and the field?

(If you haven’t guessed already, the first option in every question points toward the focus of a medical career, while the second suggests your aptitude would match the broad vision needed for public health.)

If it feels overwhelming to think about abstract future choices, consider instead what you’ve already felt drawn towards:

-Do you tend to enjoy courses that hone in on specific problem-solving details, or interdisciplinary subjects that provide an overview or survey of large topics?

-Have you excelled in classes that focus more on biology, or on numbers?

-Given your past work or volunteer experience, have you felt most inspired by one-on-one interactions, or by opportunities to work with groups or strategize about a longer-term vision?

Finally, keep in mind some of the qualities that public health programs look for:

-A desire to envision a long-term career in public health, rather than using a degree as an interim step before more clinical work

-A demonstrated interested in the three foundational realms of public health: assessment, policy development, and assurance

-Genuine interest in analyzing large sets of data

-Concrete visions about what umbrella issues you might like to approach, with simultaneous flexibility around future career plans and placement

-A passion for exploring complex subjects, which involve group psychology and behavior, and a wide range of factors from environment to political influence

Take a look at your answers and see if a clear pattern emerges that pulls you in either direction. If it does, let us help you hone the articulation of your goals and vision. If not, a Premiere Service brainstorming session may be in order. We’re here to see you through!

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Reapplication Essay, Part 2

So you’re writing a reapplication essay, and you’ve remembered to stay positive, focus on your recent growth, and be specific about your intended contributions to a medical school program.

Now, for the elephant in the room. Are you wondering how to broach the subject of a major weakness that bared its ugly head in your first application? Answer: keep it short, be honest, minimize overly emotional language, and then move on. These guidelines apply to any explanatory addendum essay, even if you’re applying for the first time.

To start off, be as concise as possible. Say the bare minimum needed to honestly address the reality of a past mistake or weakness, and quickly move on to more detail about how you used that circumstance as a launching point to better yourself. Don’t gloss over past mistakes, but don’t linger on them either.

Next, keep it straightforward; don’t dive too far into a sob story even if you faced extreme extenuating circumstances. Admissions committees are looking for maturity in addition to excellent qualifications, so two applicants who both suffered poor academic performance due to a family sickness may get a completely different result depending on how they describe the experience.

One applicant might load a lot of emotional baggage onto the admissions committee*: “After my grandmother passed away, I was so devastated that it was all I could do to keep my head above water and try to support the rest of my family after the loss. It’s a wonder that I managed to complete my application to school at all, and I wish the admissions committee had taken that more into consideration at the time.”

A more poised and empowered applicant could offer a more positive spin that relates to academic focus and offers a reminder of a strong candidacy: “After experiencing my grandmother’s battle with cancer, I dedicated myself to improving my academic performance so that I could one day study illnesses such as hers in medical school. My record has not yet returned to my usual standards, but it is steadily improving. I am confident that the admissions committee will consider my academic improvement alongside my demonstrated commitment to expanding my knowledge base, pursuing mentorship opportunities, and gaining real-world experience through volunteer work.”

Unsure which side of the self-pity-vs.-empowerment fence your essay falls on? We’re here to help you see more clearly!

Looking for IvyEyesEditing help on your medical school applications (or reapplications)? Email us at for information on our essay and CV editing services as well as our interview preparation services.

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*No direct quotations from clients are used here; we are committed to protecting client confidentiality.

Part 1: Take Me Back! Approaching a Reapplication Essay

Are you reapplying to a program that once rejected you, and aren’t quite sure what tone to strike in your “please reconsider me, for the love of all that is good in the world” statement?

Here’s biggest key that might come across like a new-age self-help manual: don’t focus (too much) on the past. Situate yourself in the present moment, avoid devolving into desperation, and confidently describe the growth that brought you into a state of readiness for the demands of this program. You can touch on your weaknesses briefly (check out Part 2 of this post for more details), but weight the essay towards what you feel you can offer now.

We’ll break those topics down in the rest of this post, but first, here’s one key factor that applies to all of your content: if you treat the admissions committee like a group of popular kids who dissed you because they were mean and awful and weren’t seeing straight when they were looking at your application, they’re probably not going to feel inspired to re-examine your candidacy. Think about it; if someone told you it was your “huge loss” not to spend time with them, would you feel excited about meeting them for coffee the next time they asked? Give the committee some credit for having judged your application correctly the first time around, and also simultaneously extend the invitation to reconsider where you are now.

This means: no talking about the unending heartbreak of not making the cut the first time around, and no referencing the committee’s original rejection of your application as “a huge mistake” or having “crushed your dream.” Above all, don’t undercut the legitimacy of their original judgment. Just tell them why the content of your application has changed, and ask them to take a closer look. Focus on specific steps you’ve taken to improve your application, and delineate what you will contribute to their learning environment.

Let’s break it down further.

First up: what changed?

This could show up in a variety of sectors: academic performance, study habits, personal motivation, or simply a renewed determination to succeed, stoked by the thrilling fire of rejection! If you were excelling academically both before and after you submitted your application, there’s not much of a case in this department. But if your grades were tanking and you brought them up out of sheer force of will and the desire to gain admission to this program, you’ve got something. And go one step further: how did you bring up your grades? Did you develop new study habits? Did you start choosing classes that better fit your academic aptitude? Be specific!

If nothing shifted academically, don’t worry. Maybe you started volunteering in a context that vastly expanded your maturity, or found a mentor who helped you streamline your activities so you could advance your career goals. Or perhaps your first application simply lacked a strong personal voice; now is your chance to reveal your personality!

Second up: what do you have to offer?

Why would your presence at this institution strike others as positive? No one wants to hear that you deserve readmission simply because you believe your career is destined to fail if you don’t get the training you need from this one school. No guilt trips, please!

Instead, consider how your attitude might be a boon to your teachers and classmates. Do you have a proven tendency to encourage people around you? How would your current peers and teachers describe you? Would your unusual background expand your classmates’ perceptions of an issue being taught in class?

Keep in mind that the tone of your essay may reveal just as much as your content; if you’re declaring that you’re a positive classroom presence, but have just finished blaming the admissions committee for making a horrible mistake in rejecting your first application, pay attention to what this discrepancy in this tone might be saying about you.

Remember: keep it simple, assume the best of the admissions committee, and share concrete details about your growth since you last applied. And read on for Part 2!

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AMCAS Statement: Writing the Medical School Essay | Ivy Eyes Editing

It’s time to face the gurney (oh c’mon, it’s kind of like facing the music, isn’t it?): You’ve got to write your personal statement for the AMCAS application. And whether you’re the word-loving or word-fearing type of pre-medical student, there are no two ways around the fact that this has got to be the craftiest piece of writing you’ve ever produced. Hey, no pressure. That’s why Ivy Eyes is here to help. So if you’re jonesing for an admit to Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine or Columbia’s College of Physician’s and Surgeons, let us take some of the mystery out of the medical school essay.

One of the greatest challenges in admissions essay writing is knowing where to start. The introduction will set the tone and the theme for your statement. It means grabbing the attention of the admissions committee—or not. We’ve got a whole slew of tips on how to nail a perfect ten of an intro in a previous blog post, but suffice to say that your introduction should establish the point of your statement, providing a humanistic perspective that we won’t find elsewhere in your application.

Some applicants fear this means they can’t write about anything that is on their resume, and some err in the opposite direction, writing their CV’s in narrative form. Neither extreme is beneficial, because what is most important here is meaning. You can write about almost anything you want, as long as you know what it means to you, and why this is important for your future as a medical student and physician. It’s time to flex your capacity for self-reflection and storytelling.

That said, here are a few medical admissions writing tips:

• Don’t dilute: Don’t try to pack every shadowing experience, research project, and marathon you’ve run into 5300 characters. Like any good storyteller, you should decipher, beforehand, which details are most important to the story of you becoming a medical student. What is your story’s beginning, its middle, and its end? Add more detail; never generalize.

• Don’t hyper-focus on research: Many students we work with have more experience in research than they do with direct patient or clinical care. We get it—that’s part of being a student! But it’s important not to get too lost under the biochemistry microscope as you’re writing your personal statement—the admissions committee needs to see a candidate that is firmly prepared for the nitty-gritty humanness of being a physician.

• Dial up the YOU: The blank page sitting before you is your canvas. Where before you had to check boxes, meet MCAT criteria, and calculate your GPA, here you are free to express yourself exactly as you like. Seize the opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are. Know that—no matter what you think—you are NOT boring. You’re an original. Let that speak through your personal statement. That’s why it’s called personal.

And please, let us help you out! We’re here whenever you’re ready.

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Medical School Admissions, Essay Writing & You | Ivy Eyes Editing

Whether you’ve been preparing your medical school application since kindergarten or you’re just now deciding to apply, Ivy Eyes has a number of resources to help get you admitted. Here’s how we can help you pick a school (Harvard? Stanford? Duke?), craft a stellar CV, pen a genius personal statement, navigate your secondaries, and nail your interviews.

Ready? Set? Med school!

1) APPLY: Our Medical School Resource Center has every last detail you need to handle the AMCAS portal, figure out what your ideal school needs from you, and gather the necessary materials.

Take a tip from us and start an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all your deadlines and what each school needs from you.

2) RECOMMENDATIONS: Ask for recommendations as early as possible. And if your recommender needs some extra support, you can assure them that we’re here to help!

3) THE MEDICAL CV: Figuring out what to put on your resume for medical school can feel like a retrospective house of horrors. Let us help you navigate your educational and extracurricular history with our time-tested formatting expertise and high-impact language. A focused and concise CV can mean the difference between an admissions committee giving you a second look or a pass.

4) THE PERSONAL STATEMENT: Your personal statement for medical school must be sharp, specific, and—above all—poignant. But before you start reading us a yarn about Uncle Boris and the children he saved from cholera, we advise you take a moment to get strategic about the story you are telling. Your personal statement will define you as an applicant. Let us help you craft the perfect representation of your candidacy with our Standard, Advanced, or Premiere Editing services. The same goes for your secondary essays.

5) THE INTERVIEW: You got an interview! Before you celebrate too hard, consider when your last interview was, and what it was about. Have you taken the time to articulate—verbally, let alone mentally—your primary drivers as a medical student and future physician? Can you speak eloquently (and not ramble) about your strengths and weaknesses? Do you know—really—why you want to be a doctor? We offer rigorous and comprehensive interview prep sessions. Bomb with us so you can learn to soar in the admissions office with them.

Ivy Eyes has helped thousands of medical school applicants get admitted, with services to support you at every step of the application process. Email us at with questions about how we can help you!

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ESL Essay Writing: Beauty Isn’t Substance | Ivy Eyes Editing

We love working with ESL (English as a Second Language) applicants not only because it’s a pleasure to expand our American horizons, but also because we usually learn something profound about the English language in the process. One perennial lesson is about the aesthetics of word choice and sentence construction. Translation: Big, beautiful words and complex sentences are not always your friend.

We get it: Your introduction to the great works of the English language probably began with authors like Dickens, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, and Brontë. And while we have the utmost respect for those masters, here’s the problem with writing an application essay that tries to emulate their style: You will sound horrifically dated, and totally awkward. Admissions committees aren’t looking for a rewrite of Great Expectations, they’re on the hunt for the innovative minds of the 21st century.

As an ESL applicant, you need to deliver crisp, modern language that reflects your command of English as it is used today. So while you may think that three and four syllable words are the key to success, we challenge you to find fresh ways of expressing yourself as you would in your current lexicon. While descriptive language can be fun to play with, remember that your admissions essays are not a painting-with-words exercise.

The aesthetics of ESL are often misleading. Let’s look at a few examples of this from real-life admissions essays:

“She was a gaunt-faced girl…”

Although there is a lovely poetic consonance to “gaunt-faced girl”, the language feels like Dickens with a side of Anna Karenina. Instead of delivering the drama, we urge you to use adjectives that are in your everyday vernacular. Remember: This is a personal statement, not the vocab section of the SATs.

“Her chicks were puff…”

You might protest, “But this is what ESL essay editors are there for!” And sure—we’d be happy to help change “chicks” to “cheeks”, and “puff” to “puffy”. But we know you can do better than that, and we’d love to work with you as thought partners, not just as human grammar and spell-checkers. Together, we can find better, simpler ways to say what you mean, and mean what you say.

“I myself could not be touched.”

Although we love this deeply felt expression, it contains far too much grammar for such a little sentence. The double pronoun, which simultaneously brings the reader closer to and farther away from the subject of the sentence, is truly obscuring. And the use of the past subjunctive verb tense gives the sentence a hazy, distant feeling.

The antidote? Simplify your language to make sure none of your ideas is lost in translation. Never sacrifice clarity for fanciful expression. And most importantly—in writing, art, and life—spend more time looking to the future rather than emulating the past.

Ready to begin working on your essay? Start here:


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The Nursing Shortage: More Scholarships? | Ivy Eyes Editing

Hi everyone,

There’s currently a nursing shortage, and the generally accepted outlook is that a shortage will remain through the immediate future. As our population lives longer and medical technology continues to grow, the need for nurses outpaces the rate by which nurses are finishing school. This nursing shortage bodes well for for industrious students that are looking to attain scholarship money and graduate debt free.

One solution several hospitals have implemented is a scholarship program that absorbs tuition costs for current nursing students. However, this investment does have strings attached in most institutions. Once the scholar graduates from nursing faculty, he/she is committed to work for the hospital for a prearranged period of time. If the nurse leaves before that point, he or she is accountable for paying back part or all of the tuition.

This can be an incredible solution for college students who would otherwise not be able to afford college to earn a degree. Not solely will the scholar graduate debt free, but they automatically have a job once they leave school. The years once nursing faculty can be spent gaining expertise in an exceedingly variety of hospital settings, and if they decide to move on once their obligation is fulfilled, they have a good idea of what field of nursing they’re most interested in.

Financial Help for Graduate Degrees

The shortage of nurses with graduate degrees indicates that it is attainable for you to earn a Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, or Nurse Anesthetist degree without the burden of taking up a significant debt. Previously, it absolutely was often troublesome to weigh the advantages of returning to graduate school against the problem of pricey graduate faculty credit hours. With many hospitals and clinics lowering prices by using Nurse Practitioners in place of physicians, and Nurse Anesthetists to help the Anesthesiologist, it’s terribly likely that the medical group that you simply currently work for offers tuition reimbursement. If they are doing not, you ought to speak to your supervisor or human resources personnel. They may be willing to offer tuition reimbursement on a case by case basis. If your current employer will not supply tuition reimbursement, you will want to think about moving to a totally different employer. Many employers will provide full tuition reimbursement or perhaps permit you to attend school full time, with the agreement that you will work for them for a specified time once you receive your graduate degree.

Increasing Your Probability of Receiving a Scholarship

Whether or not you are looking for a needs based scholarship for an undergraduate nursing degree, or are looking out for a hospital financed scholarship supply to finish your graduate degree, there are many things that you’ll be able to do to improve your probabilities of success.

Work in your field. It does not matter if it is paid employment or volunteer work, however working in the field you intend to earn a degree in shows the choice manufacturers that you perceive the work and are less probably to switch majors or drop out.

Watch your grades and your money. Regardless of if you are trying for a want primarily based or tutorial based scholarship, keep your grades high, even in classes that you are doing not think matter, and watch your money. After you receive your scholarship cash be certain to buy the books and study materials that you may need to succeed. If attainable, hold some money back so that you can afford a tutor before exams if you discover yourself struggling.

Overcommunicating with Admissions Offices | Ivy Eyes Editing

We are frequently asked by clients who seek our help in shifting a deferral or rejection decision: how much contact is too much with an admissions office? If you are asking that question, you’re in danger of overstepping the boundary.

Responding to a waitlist letter or rejection notice needs to be dealt with delicately. We’ve helped clients reverse both types of admissions decisions, but we’ve also worked with clients who have shared dozens of emails to admissions offices (sometimes also from their parents). The damage done is often irrevocable. Why? Admissions offices are very busy places, typically with most people working at their full bandwidth. Expecting a response to your tenth email is not only unlikely, it could cause an overworked admissions officer to snap.

We understand the admissions process can provoke anxiety, and can even become emotional. However, every correspondence with an admissions committee is a reflection on what kind of student you will be inside their community. There are no bonus points for waitlist zeal or email volume. The quality of contact is paramount. So, before you tweet with the HBS or Wharton admissions director, fax in an additional copy of your resume or email a youtube video plea, think twice. You may be doing more harm than good.

Looking for advice on a deferral or rejection? Visit our deferred/rejected applicants page for more information on our services.

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