Most of those of you that are applying for admission into one of the genetic counseling programs for this fall are probably either in the throws of interview season, or are anxiously awaiting responses.
Decision day can be a day for celebration, a day of disappointment, and for some it can be more stressful than the interview process. That is, if you are one of those lucky applicants that gets an offer from more than one program :-)
Speaking from my personal experience, I applied to several programs, and only interviewed at one, so I can’t speak on this from personal experience. I can share, looking back, on some things that I’ve found to be very important differences between programs that may help someone who is in limbo make a decision.
1) How is the academic/rotation schedule set up?
Some programs have you start your clinical rotations during the first week of class and you are regularly in the clinic throughout the program, while others start solely with coursework and then pepper in clinic experiences as you progress. Having talked to people from other programs, there doesn’t seem to be a significant difference, but that is something I would not have thought to ask about.
2) Is there appropriate support for students?
Depending on the size of your program, this may be a legitimate concern. Most programs are small, so your faculty/administrator to student ratio falls closer to the 1:1. However, in programs with more students, this can be a challenge. This is an issue that can be menial for someone who is more self-directed and independent, but can wreak havoc on those who are expecting a more involved experience.
3) Where is it?
For some people, location is just as important as anything else. Thinking about not only the geographical environment that you’ll be tied to for the next two years, but also the rotation experience that the area has to offer. If you’re looking for a wide variety of experiences from your clinical rotations, you’re probably going to be more satisfied going to a program near New York City where there is a diverse population, rather than South Dakota where the population is fairly homogenous (I can say that because a) they don’t have a program and b) I’m from there :-)
4) Trust your gut!
You interviewed there. You met the people. You got to check out the campus. Generally in the time that is required to conduct the admission interviews, you can get a pretty good idea for whether a place is a good fit or not. Granted, they’ll all be on their best behavior (as you should be), but in the end, you’ll be spending a lot of time in this place with these people. This is especially helpful if you are making a decision between two programs (not an issue I had to worry too much about).
And remember – you worked hard to get here. If you got into one program, celebrate! If you didn’t get into any programs, take some time to be upset/disappointed/angry, and then make sure to contact the schools you interviewed at and let them know what a pleasure it was to meet with them. I would also strongly recommend that if there was a primary person that you interviewed with, touch base with them to thank them for their time and ask what you can do to make your application stronger for the next year. They will remember that you took rejection (which is something we all get but not everybody can handle) well, and that you’re still very interested in their program. Plus they’re basically telling you what you need to do, so lap it up.
And if you got into more than one program, you got some decisions to make.
Good luck to everyone out there!