If you haven’t received that letter or phone call by now, the chances are slim that you will be accepted to medical school this round. However, there are a few reasons to hold out some hope. There are stories out there about applicants who got their call a day or two before orientation began, and accepted to medical schoolovernight their fortunes changed. And no, these are not urban legends. I can confirm at least one personal friend who got called so late in the process he’d already moved to a city far away from his chosen school, and had to relocate again.

It’s not unusual for schools to have last minute openings. Applicants pull out after being accepted to medical school. Or they decide to wait a year, or drop out of the medical route altogether. Whatever the reason, an extra spot opens up.

If you’re on the wait list

If you’re wait-listed at a school, you are in line to be called when the opening pops up. But, given that the school is probably in a tight spot trying to fill a space at such a late date, they’ll start with the students they pegged as “extremely” interested in attending their school. If you’ve been active about keeping in touch with the school, you’ll be top of mind.

How much contact can I make with the medical school without becoming a nuisance?

You don’t want to be that annoying gunner that leaves messages every few days. But then again, if you’re dying to being accepted to medical school at a specific campus (and especially if you’re on the school’s wait list) it doesn’t hurt if you’ve sent a letter every couple weeks just to show ongoing interest. By April or May, if you still haven’t been picked up I’d suggest sending a short note to the school each week or two. Remember that many of the applicants on their wait list will have already committed to other medical schools, so your updates will advise the adcom that you’re still available.

When is it too late to be accepted to medical school?

In the last couple of weeks of June, and certainly by the time student orientation begins in mid- to late July, it’s time to consider Plan B. If you’ve always wanted to practice medicine, and still do, don’t give up now. Getting into medical school is not easy! Nor is it a given.

Re-evaluate your application to find weak areas. You’ll have several months and maybe a year or more to get involved in activities, courses and jobs to supplement your resume and improve your standing the second time around. Use your time wisely.

The good news is that adcoms like applicants who are persistent, and especially who go the extra mile before applying a second time, to improve their application. It’s not all that uncommon for an applicant to get picked up their second time around and get accepted to medical school!

Applications for next year already opened on May 1, and the first application submission date for next year is coming up on June 1, so there’s not much time to get your new, improved application ready to go!

For ideas on supplementing your application, see my post, “What to do if I’m rejected.”