Case Study: Med-Scholars Program

Case Study: Med-Scholars Program


An exceptionally talented student, Reggie attended a special high school that allowed him to take college-level courses. He had been a student at Signet for several years before his family decided they’d like some advice about the college admissions process from an already-trusted source. Reggie’s primary interests were neuroscience and medicine, and he was especially interested in applying to highly-competitive accelerated and combined medical programs at top schools, which only admit a handful of students each year. Reggie needed guidance on the multiple essays required for these applications as well as significant interview coaching so that he could stand out above the stiff competition.

The Challenge

Reggie was a talented musician, experienced researcher, competitive athlete, captain of his soccer team, and multilingual all-around good guy. While all of this sounds like it would make any application of his a slam-dunk, what it actually did was launch Reggie into the ultra-competitive bracket of higher-level applicants, many of whom shared similar profiles. To be successful, Reggie needed to stand out as a real person instead of simply a collection of talents and achievements. Especially because he was applying to combined and accelerated medical programs, Reggie needed to articulate mature, clear, and sophisticated motivations for pursuing a specific career path so intently before even beginning college, which is when most students discover their true passions. Thankfully, Reggie was as curious about his inner motivations and thoughts as he was about the outside world, so he spent time each night journaling about his experiences and personal philosophies. Reggie wanted to write his essays about how his commitment to his journal made him a better, more thoughtful person, but his attempts often fell short of conveying a dynamic and full picture of his life, values, and motivations.

The Signet Solution

Reggie’s admissions consultant had experience advising students on combined/accelerated medical applications and had even applied to several of these programs herself when she was in high school. Recognizing that Reggie had the correct impulse in writing about his “inner explorations” to complement his extensive list of achievements, activities, and talents, Reggie’s consultant encouraged him to review his journal entries to find excerpts to include in the essay that would illustrate the journal’s importance to him as opposed to simply stating it. Through extensive conversations, writing exercises, and mock interviews, Reggie’s consultant was able to help Reggie articulate in detail why he felt his journal was a good representation of him as a person as well as an important factor in his personal growth. Eventually, by describing how he started journaling and the evolution of his journal’s value to him, and by demonstrating in a concrete way how his ritual examination of his own mind furthered his academic interests in psychology and neuroscience, Reggie was able to write an essay that painted a clear picture of a self-aware, mature, and empathetic young man who was certain of his path in life. Reggie conveyed this image in his interviews and supplemental materials as well, and he was accepted early to his first-choice school, California Institute of Technology. Later in the winter, he was invited to a day-long interview for CalTech’s Med-Scholars program, which only accepts six applicants each year. Reggie interviewed confidently and impressed the admissions committee, and was notified of his acceptance shortly after his interview. He plans to spend his summer before college continuing the research he loves and working on a publication.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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