Congratulations! You have been accepted to medical school! This is your dream come true! You have also been invited to your school’s Second Look Weekend activities. Is this something you should attend? Will it look bad if you choose not to go? What if you cannot afford the additional travel?
Let’s review the pros and cons, and the do’s and don’ts of the Second Look Weekend.
Should I go?
I really think this is an individual decision. But, your choice to attend and how you communicate will give the Admissions Office a sense of your interest in coming to their school of medicine. Signing up is important, because the Admissions Office is working to have a headcount for housing, catering and setting up academic sessions for you to attend. If you sign up, they know you are definitely interested.
If you decline and do not share a compelling reason (family emergency, work duties, being out of country), they may think you are less interested and that may affect other decisions related to scholarship and financial support opportunities. If cost is a concern, some Admissions Offices have financial support for accepted applicants to help with the cost of travel and/or housing. The decision to go is ultimately up to you, but this is a great opportunity to spend a couple of days living the life as a medical student.
Where you stay for your Second Look may depend on the school. Some have blocks of hotel rooms set aside at a special lower rate for guests and special occasions.
Pros: Private, comfortable and you get you pay for.
Con’s: You have to pay for it! It may not be in your budget at this point to pay for more toward accommodations.
Other schools have set up students with current student hosts.
Pro’s: In this situation, you have the bonus of meeting more medical students and getting to know more of the behind the scenes reality of being a student at that institution. This option is typically free, though you might want to offer your host a small thank you gift.
Con’s: Not many. But if your host is knee deep studying for exams, they may not have much time to talk or chat. You also have less privacy as you will be sharing a living space.
Be forewarned however, the student hosts will likely share any perceived less than professional behaviors they see with the Admissions staff.
Do: Be professional, polite and gracious. Be on your best behavior. Be judicious in your use of alcohol at any activities associated with the Second Look Weekend.
Don’t: Participate in activities that you would not want your own family to know about! Inebriated applicants late for the next day’s activities are not putting their best foot forward!
Some schools provide free housing in the undergraduate residence halls during the event with busses/vans which take you from site to site.
Pro’s: This option is economical and offers some privacy.
Con’s: You may get flashbacks to your college days. There may be communal bathrooms in some instances. You may also have a roommate for the weekend.
Typically attire for the weekend event is business casual for the entire weekend. That generally means, no tennis shoes/sneakers, jeans or t-shirts. Dresses, suits and ties are not required, but do look put together.
Generally, there are a good number of educational and fun activities packed into Second Look Weekend.
The weekend is typically Friday evening and all-day Saturday. Students head home on Sunday. Here is what a sample schedule may look like:
5:30 – 6:30 Welcome reception with a chance to meet medical students who are leaders of various interest and specialty groups
6:30 – 7:30 Sit down dinner while meeting the medical school leadership (Dean, Associate Deans)
7:30 – 9:30 Entertainment – medical student music and dance performances
9:30 – 11:00 Social event/Group activity – e.g. bowling, game café
11:30 PM Back to your accommodations to rest and get ready for the next day
8:00 – 9:00 Breakfast with faculty from the medical school
9:00 – 9:30 Welcome and introduction to the curriculum
9:30 – 10:00 Problem based learning (PBL) presentation
10:00 –12:00 Mock PBL session with second year medical students
12:00 – 1:30 Box Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 Student panel – Preclinical experience (what is life like in first and second year)
2:30 – 3:30 Student panel – Clinical experience (what is life like on the wards at the various hospitals)
3:30 – 4:30 Student panel – Residency plans (graduating 4th year students share their experience and path to the residency of their dreams)
4:30 – 6:00 Rest and relaxation time on your own.
6:00 – 6:30 Travel to an Associate/Society Dean’s home
6:30 – 9 PM Dinner and dessert with an Associate/Society Dean and up to a dozen other accepted applicants.
9:30 – 11:00 Optional social event with students and faculty
8:30 – 9:30 Breakfast
9:30 –11:00 Town Hall Question and Answer session with medical school leadership
11:00 Wrap-up and head home
Do: Be interested and enthusiastic at Second Look events. Be an active participant in sessions and be sure to ask your questions.
Don’t: Be late, skip sessions, or otherwise appear non-professional.
Ass you can see, there are many activities for you to see and enjoy at Second Look. I recommend you attend if you can because I think it is worthwhile to immerse yourself in the school’s environment, students and faculty to see how you feel you fit in.
Your attendance indicates your interest in the school of medicine and you may continue to learn something new about your new school. Remember that though you have been accepted to medical school, your acceptance is contingent on your ongoing professional behavior, so be your best self and treat Second Look as an ongoing audition. You get the part of medical student when you start classes on your first day!