Far From “Substandard”

Today I met two first semester students who said that AUC is the top choice school they applied to. The guy was definitely not lacking academically. He made a high 36 on his MCAT and he found going to a school like AUC very appealing. He also decided late that he wanted to go to medical school and by applying to a school in the Caribbean meant that he did not have to wait a whole year. The girl graduated from my alma mater, and she was also academically involved and very bright in personality. She was an RA in college, competed in our alma mater’s swim team, performed research, and had the honor to be in Lock and Chain, an honorary society for only the hardest working students at Wash U. She also decided to apply late in the game and did not want to wait another year to matriculate, and had her eyes set on AUC. It is good to see that there are people who actually choose to go to schools like AUC in the Caribbean because it is their first choice rather than their “last resort.” These students are academically far from “substandard,” as evidenced by their scores and the merits they have achieved in college. They simply do not want to waste precious time.

Anyway, today I walked to Maho Beach, about a 15 minute walk away from campus. Here’s some pics I took for the day!

Exploring Maho Beach before school starts.

Looking out towards the Caribbean Sea with some new people I met.

We actually saw a plane take off today, and some people got sandblasted. I have no pictures of that experience since I was afraid sand would get into my camera lens. Perhaps in the future...


It is even more competitive for Canadians to get into medical school. Canadian medical schools often have MCAT cut-offs (for granting interviews) at 10/10/10 or so depending on the province. I met a Canadian student at AUC who did not make any of the cut-offs in his province, despite receiving a 35 total on his MCAT, simply because he scored a 9 on his verbal (which would still be considered competitive in the states). It’s kind of funny that a person with a score of 30 could get in, but not a 35, despite other attractive factors in his application. He graduated suma cum laude and had plenty of research publications and shadowing experiences at one of Canada’s more reputable universities. If he had lived in another province with a lower cut-off requirement, he probably would have gotten in somewhere. And of course, it is difficult for Canadians to compete with Americans for American spots. He’s one of the smartest students I’ve met during my educational career, and he once told me, “just because we didn’t get into an American or Canadian medical school doesn’t mean we are bad students. It just means we didn’t get in.” I think he is a testament to that statement.

4 comments to Far From “Substandard”

  • prospective student

    Hello, I was just wondering how stressful passing a class is? No doubt students who have done well on the MCATs and have a high entering GPA from grad/undergrad do well. But, what about the students who was the median for AUC? (ex: GPA 3.3 and MCAT lets say… 25 versus 29 or even 21?) are there clerkships in NYC for 3rd and 4th year?

    your blog has been extremely informative and thank you so much for keeping us posted!

    • Benji

      Hi there!
      After seeing the success (and failures) of my classmates at AUC for the past two years, I’ve come to realize that your entering MCAT, GPA, and alma mater has little prediction as to how well you will do in med school. There are students here who enter with MCATs over 30 and fail a class or score mediocre on the USMLE. There are others who come in with a 21 MCAT and finish the top of their class and score 262 on the USMLE (true story). Whatever stats you come in with, it doesn’t matter once you’re here. Everyone starts at the same playing field, and how you do in med school depends on how focused you are, how personally you take your studies, how disciplined you are to be on top of your studies, and how willing you are to take advantage of the school’s resources and receive help from professors, tutors, and classmates. If you do this faithfully, you will do well. No doubt it is a lot of stress, but if you find a good support group here among your friends and classmates who are going through the same stress as you, together, the stress won’t be too bad.

      Also, there are lots of clerkship spots in NYC during 3rd and 4th year. Please refer to this post: http://www.caribbeanmedstudent.com/2009/11/auc-clinical-sites-in-the-world/

      Thanks for visiting and all the best to you!

  • Josecito

    My case is an odd one. I am in the process of applying to med school but I am not worried about the match. I am not worried about residency because my MD degree will further my career as a teacher. I will try to match but it is not a concern if I don’t.

    I want to be able to practice in the Dominican Republic and in the US.
    I am currently a teacher in NYC. So I will definitely be going to school in the Caribbean and probably the lowest tiered schools. They are the cheapest.

    I am a grade junkie so I will study hard. I did that in my undergraduate. I’ll do it again. It’s sad to hear from those that don’t match after so much hard work. It’s devastating when your heart is set on being a doctor.

    I love your blog btw.

    • Benji Ho

      Hi Josecito,

      Thanks for reading my blog. It’s not an easy task to finish med school, and it’s a harder task to match. Even finishing residency is a challenge that requires lots of discipline and hard work. There are certainly residents who put in all their efforts to match into residency then end of getting fired or “forced to resign.” You will need to be proactive and serious in your pursuits at all times.

      If you are serious about a career in medicine, I would expect you to shoot for higher-tiered schools that would provide you better educational resources and a higher chance at matching. I would also expect you to having matching into residency as a higher priority than you do right now. Medical school is a huge commitment, in finances and in time. Having gone through med school, I feel it’s not worth going through all of this just to further a career as a teacher. I would recommend doing some soul-searching and contemplate whether or not you are going into medicine for the right reasons. Best of luck.


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