Transferring from the Caribbean: Getting the Timing Right

Depending on your academic calendar, the timing of your application and your options may change. As an SGU student, I will speak about our problems specifically.

Students that begin in August have a good chance to apply for a second year spot at the end of their first year. Most schools begin accepting applications in February march, interview in June, and accept at the end of June/July for an August start date. Having completed only a year of medical school, you likely have had little time to explore research and develop strong relationships with the faculty that may write your recommendations. The school does not have much to use when considering you. They have your first year grades (mostly useful in comparing you to your classmates) and your MCAT scores. Know that you will be competing against people with a 4.0 and a 30+ MCAT. If you can get a hold of someone that has successfully transferred into the second year, ask them who wrote their recommendations. There is a good chance that this person has a reputation for endorsing strong students.

If you are planning on applying for a third year spot at the end of your second year, you will find this to be much harder. Most schools will want to see your USMLE Step 1 score when considering your application. Any January students from the term ahead of you will have already taken their Step 1 and have scores in hand. It will be very hard to compete against someone that already has a 99 even if you end up with a similar score. You can still apply for a third year spot at the end of your third year (which means repeating a year of clinical work). If you decide to do this, know that it will not be enough that you are “so far ahead” of the other applicants in terms of experience, the school will want to see that you have Honors in your clerkships.

Students that begin in January have more options. As a January student, I had the option of applying for a second year spot halfway through my second year. In this way, you have the opportunity to demonstrate A-level work on the second year material that you would have to repeat, you have a little more time to develop relationships with the faculty in hopes of having a strong letter of recommendation written, and you have enough time to become involved in research or other projects that might set your application apart.

You are also well positioned to apply for a third year spot at the end of your second year. Finishing in December, you will have five months off until you begin your clinical rotations. You can use this time to prepare as much as you need to for the USMLE Step 1, you have time to receive your scores and submit them by April (two months before the application deadlines), and you have plenty of time to make sure that your essays, recommendations, and transcripts are heading in the right directions. You also have an opportunity to pursue research or some other project to strengthen your application. The drawback is that you will have to begin your clinical rotations before the interviews begin. This means moving to a new area, finding a place to live, and taking time off to interview. I went through this and recommend starting your rotations instead of deferring them (if you defer, you may have some difficult questions to answer in the interview), subletting an apartment for two months instead of committing to a lease that you may have to break (and leaving any roommates in a difficult situation), and giving ample notice to your site director that you may need to take some time off for interviewing.

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9 Responses to Transferring from the Caribbean: Getting the Timing Right

  1. allentown says:

    hi topher,

    i’m in 2nd year right now. how important do you feel grades are for transfer apps and do you know of anyone who has successfully transfered from the august class into 3rd year? also, do they have any preferences for PA residents at Drexel? I was actually waitlisted at that school twice. just wondering whether applying for transfer to increase my residency chances is worth it or to spend the time to focus more on usmle prep.

    thanks.

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  3. […] Originally Posted by tomorrow23 Does anyone know how feasible it would be to transfer to US school if you start in the Fall SGU class? It seems that you would be in a time crunch to complete the last science semester, take the step 1 and apply all before april/may. Has anyone done this or heard of it being done? You might want to read the page on the blog The Rumors Were True about transferring. It shows you some of the options you’ll have and, in my opinion, is a nice place to start considering whether you should try to transfer and when. Transferring from the Caribbean: Getting the Timing Right the rumors were true […]

  4. Daniel says:

    Heeeey Topher

    I really love your blog. I have a question- as a student at a european medical school from New york State- wanting to apply for the third year from the second- do you have any advice? Im a little confused by this starting in January thing- we just have
    the usual semesters where we start in August. I have interviews with my undergrad
    health professions committee over christmas break to get a cover letter. :D

  5. Rohit says:

    Hi Topher,

    I originally came to the SGU due to a lack in my MCAT (26), I had a great undergrad gpa… in order to transfer with a 4.0 form SGU after my first year would I have to retake the MCAT?

  6. Dustin says:

    Hi Topher,
    I love your site and have found it extremely informative. I went to UC Berkeley and had an mcat of 34 but a terribly low GPA.
    1)How will my undergraduate work influence the likelihood of a transfer to a US school from a caribbean school like Ross.
    2)Is there a comprehensive list of schools that will accept transfers from foreign programs?
    3)Can you breakdown the timeline for a successful transfer if I begin in January?

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  8. Eddie says:

    HI TOPHER! I would like to talk to you about transferring and your email is not working. What’s your new email?

    Thanks!

  9. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
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