Applying to Medical School

Students should start the process of applying to medical school during Interim or early in spring semester of their junior year. Members of the Health Professions Committee (HPC) will interview each applicant and a member will write a composite letter of evaluation.

The HPC Interview

To set up the HPC interview, students must fill out the Interview Form, have 3-5 faculty fill out Evaluation Forms (pdf), print and submit an unofficial grade audit (which you can obtain from the Student Information System). All forms should be submitted to Karen Renneke (RNS 336).

It is the student’s responsibility to make sure his/her file is complete. The process will not continue to the interview stage until Karen Renneke has received the interview form, grade audit and at least three Reference Forms. Students may need to check with the recommender(s) and/or with Karen to ensure that your file is completed in a timely manner.

When the file is complete, the student will be scheduled for a 30-minute interview with two or three members of the HPC. Interviews will be held usually in the evenings and will be similar to an interview conducted by a medical school. Students should dress appropriately and prepare for the interview, and are encouraged to seek feedback and suggestions from members of the Committee concerning their interviews.


If possible, students should take the MCAT in the spring of their junior or senior year, depending on if you are planning on a gap year (or more). Prepare, prepare, prepare! Treat preparation (time allocated and length of preparation) for the MCAT similar to a full semester course at St. Olaf. There are many ways to prepare and members of the HPC can be contacted for advice for MCAT preparation. Do not take the test without preparing or to see how you will do – you will regret it! Consent to release your MCAT scores to the HPC so we can properly prepare your evaluation.

AMCAS Application

A majority of medical schools uses the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), which is an on-line application. The application is usually initiated in June and completed as soon as possible. Students should fill the application form out very carefully and accurately.

The Personal Essay component is very important and it should reflect the student and why he/she has come to this point in his/her life. Advice concerning the essay can be obtained from the HPC faculty members and/or career coaches in the Piper Center. Students should ask friends, mentors, faculty, and members of the HPC, etc., to review a draft of their essay. AMCAS will also require an up-to-date official transcript.

Students will be asked to designate the medical schools to which they want to apply. Consult with members of the HPC and use the resources in the Biomedical Studies resource space in the Science Library to decide which schools are appropriate choices based on academic record, residency, interests, etc. There is no best number of schools to which to apply; some students apply to one, others to thirty, while most student apply to 5-7 schools. It gets expensive! You need to be realistic and selective.

Medical School Secondary Application

Based on your AMCAS application and MCAT, a medical school may send a secondary application. The student should complete the application in a timely manner (two weeks is a good target). The medical school will require a completed application, MCAT scores, a college transcript, and letters of recommendation including the HPC evaluation.

Students should contact Karen Renneke and submit a list of schools needing their HPC evaluation dossier. Contact faculty, physician and other individuals to fill out the additional recommendation letters or forms requested by the medical school. Give the recommenders an addressed, stamped envelope; allow a reasonable period of time to complete the recommendation and then check to determine if the letter has been sent. Recommenders should be sent an appropriate thank you note, and students should check with the medical schools to make sure your file is complete.

Once the file is complete, most medical schools will act. They may request an interview – if invited, schedule the interview and prepare appropriately. Materials with advice and information about medical school interviews are available in the Biomedical Studies office; the Piper Center also has interviewing resources, conducts a Medical School Interviewing workshop, and provides the opportunity to conduct an in-person practice interview.


For most schools, students will hear about the committee’s decision a few weeks after the interview; some schools, however, will be silent for months. Most schools will either accept, place the student in a holding “acceptable” group, or not accept. If accepted, the student will have a designated time period in which to make a decision.

Students in the holding category may not hear anything until late spring. At that time, the student may be accepted, rejected, or put on the alternate list (an “ordered” list). Alternates may not hear about their status until summer.


Students should consider the possibility of non-acceptance early in their undergraduate years and have a Plan B or C. Plan B and C are not alternatives, but options. If the student intends to reapply, he/she should contact medical schools at the appropriate time and request an appointment to discuss is needed to improve their chances. Medical schools encourage these sessions.

Students should not plan to reapply without making changes or exploring how their application can be enhanced. Students who gain additional experiences, courses, or academic changes are encouraged to contact the HPC, which can update the original HPC evaluation letter. A student’s HPC file will remain at St. Olaf as a permanent file and the dossier can be requested at any time in the future.


Questions concerning the application process can be directed to members of the Health Professions Committee (HPC):

Karen Renneke is the Academic Administrative Assistant (Chemistry, RNS 336) who supports the HPC in preparing the applicant’s file.

The HPC wishes you good luck and success!