What Happened Last Cycle: A Quick Breakdown

Before we embark too far on my journey into my second year applying, I thought I should share what happened last time, in brief.

Last cycle I applied to genetic counseling schools while I was still an undergraduate. I knew I for sure wanted to be a genetic counselor and I didn’t want to take any gap time before getting my Master’s of Genetic Counseling degree. I applied to 10 schools and interviewed at 2, one in New Jersey and one in South Dakota. That means I received 8 (!) rejections without an interview!

However I had the most wonderful and interesting interview experiences like this

This was coincidentally my first time in a bar. The bar was also a Chinese restaurant on Times Square.

And this

Did they steal BYU’s Motto?!

A medical school interview tip book I’m reading states that many students overestimate their ability to interview and that is so the truth for me. I thought if I’m just confident and show my love for GC, they will love me back. Not the case! The whole process was fun and new and it made me come off excitable. I was so excited to be there, I didn’t ask questions showing that I wanted to find out if it was the right program for me. Even though I showed enthusiasm, I didn’t show the kind of thoughtful, collected maturity these schools look for. Having interviews and feedback last cycle played in huge role in knowing what I want to improve this cycle.

As I said, I was thrilled to visit both of my schools. Beyond that, I won’t speak to my particular impressions of these schools or any schools I will visit this cycle, because they are only my personal opinions based on limited experience. I will say that I am very lucky that I got to experience two completely different programs with different values and culture, and I developed a better idea of what types of programs I should apply to this year. Even the schools I didn’t interview at gave me feedback about what they were looking for. I learned what to improve, and whether I wanted to try for that school again.

As I previously mentioned, last Match Day happened on my graduation day. Getting notice that I hadn’t matched, while trying to celebrate graduation, wasn’t easy. There were advantages to this set up though. My whole family found out at once, so there was no repeating the bad news, at least not to them. Also Match Day really can never get worse than ruining graduation, so it’s all looking up from here. I’m also quite grateful that we scheduled a self-care Disneyland trip for the weekend immediately following Match Day.

Now that you’re caught up, I’m planning on expanding the scope of my posts from my own story to topics covering everything about prepping for genetic counseling and graduate school. I’m hoping to not only keep my own friends and family updated, but also share my blog widely to become a resource for other pre-GC students. In a world where there are hundreds of books, YouTube channels, blogs, and Instagrams about pre-med / med school life… We need at least one speaking for genetic counseling amiright?!

So for the next few months I’ll share weekly posts of both personal updates and info that could be helpful for others like me. Then starting in January there might be news about interviews (and rejections haha!)

I hope you’ll all stay along for the ride!

-Laura Cooper-Hastings

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“When Do You Hear Back?!” : Life as a 2nd Year Genetic Counseling Applicant

I am a second year applicant.

In the genetic counseling applicant community, that statement is a badge of courage. Yet it’s one that no one wants. First year applicants look to second year applicants for wisdom… but it’s mostly hoping that maybe they can avoid the same awful fate. I have tried for months to hide my rejection from my first round applying to genetic counseling schools. But now I want to invite others into my story as we journey together to find out what the next chapter will be. This cycle, from now until next April, I will share here my highs and lows, interviews, rejections, awkward limbo waiting games, and more. I’m not ashamed of the struggle to reach this goal.

To be a genetic counselor is to take genetic knowledge out of the lab and straight to the people who need it most– patients with genetic disease in the family. The daily work relies heavily on principles of counseling and psychology as they help families cope with the genetic world. As a genetics-lover and a longtime crisis counselor, I am still in awe every day that somehow there is a perfect career for me.

When something’s so perfect, there’s always a catch. The catch in this case is the 8% acceptance rate to each genetic counseling program. In any given year about 70% of applicants will not receive offers of acceptance from any school. Beginning last year, genetic counseling schools began participating in The Match, which uses a computer algorithm and rank order lists to find the best possible “matches” between schools and applicants they interviewed. I’ll write a post all about it here soon. It’s an 8-month long process from start to finish and many applicants repeat the process 2-3 times before acceptance.

It’s been 5 months since I found out I didn’t match last year, and I still have people ask me when I’ll hear back from the schools I interviewed at, when and where we are moving, etc. It’s a struggle for people to understand that I could be rejected from every school. Luckily, now I can tell them: Next April! Last year I got rejected from GC School at my college graduation. Like literally standing in line to walk across the stage. Check out the #sadgrad picsadgradhaha.jpg

Me and my husband at my grad, featuring my completely faked smile.

It was the worst day! But this year I’m going to make Match Day the best day, or at least write a lot of blog posts as a try to. My message is: it’s okay to struggle to reach your goals, it’s okay to own your roadblocks, and it’s a great time to try to become a genetic counselor.

I’ll post updates weekly, even before anything really happens! I’ll talk about applications, shadowing, Match, interviews, counseling experience, and more. Thanks for joining me.

-Laura Cooper-Hastings