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Weill Cornell! + trip to nyc

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

My interview at Weill wasn’t until today, but I took the bus to NYC on late Friday night after work so that I could spend some time over the weekend with my SO and catch up with friends. On Saturday, I watched Free Solo in the movie theater, which was pretty phenomenal and inspired me to (1) follow Jimmy Chin on instagram and (2) try rock climbing sometime in the near future. The fact that Alex Honnold was able to free solo El Capitan is just unbelievable, and I’d recommend the documentary to anyone with even a vague interest in climbing (and seeing someone reach the closest thing possible to absolute perfection.) It also turned out that a friend from out of town was coincidentally visiting Manhattan the same weekend as I was, so I met up with her after the movie. Together with a couple other friends, we played a word board game called “Code Names,” which is when two teams of two compete to choose all of their words on a word map. One member of each team serves as a “Spymaster” and gives his/her teammate a single descriptive word and number corresponding to the words on the mat that fit the description. With this information, the two other teammates take turns guessing their corresponding words on a shared word mat. The game requires some inference into what your partner is thinking and is a fun way to get creative juices flowing. Going to have to remember to get this game next time I have the chance!

On Sunday, caught up with some other college friends (I miss the days when all of my friends were within a short walking distance of me at all times) and essentially just ate a l o t of food. On Monday, I used my day off of work to sleep in and went to a 12PM fitness class at the Training Lab, which was rated 4.9 stars on ClassPass and reviewed as “one of the hardest fitness classes” some people had ever taken in the city. I hadn’t exercised in three days, but the workout was fairly manageable save some instances in the beginning during floor crawls when my legs felt like caving in. Deadlifts were incorporated into the workout, which was great for me since I had been neglecting deadlifts and strength training recently with my current exercise schedule. For Monday dinner, I found a really cute and quaint hole-in-the-wall-esque restaurant near St. Marks called Clay Pot NYC, which opened not too long ago in February 2018 sells lightly burned rice in a hot clay pot called bao zai fan. The restaurant had a small and simple menu and layout, but the ambiance was warm and welcoming and it was the first time in NYC I had walked into a restaurant feeling at home. The servers were also very friendly and we got free quail eggs for checking in on Yelp. I’d love to see this business do well, and I’ll definitely be visiting again next time I’m craving baozaifan in the City. For post-dinner dessert, I ordered the seasonal Kombucha cake and Matcha Waterfall at Spot Dessert Bar, but they were pretty underwhelming for the price. In the future, I’ll only go every once and awhile to treat myself with their signature dishes. I was going to do some last minute interview prep before bed, but I got distracted by Overcooked, a recent addition to my boyfriend’s steam account, and we played that pretty much until I fell asleep at 10PM.


A picture of the combo baozaifan from Clay Pot NYC

Weill Cornell: The Interview!

Weill Cornell runs interviews every Tuesday and Thursday and splits groups into morning and afternoon sessions that come together for info sessions, tours, speakers and lunch in the middle of the day. I was part of the AM session, so I had my interviews early in the morning as soon as I got to the admissions office and then had the campus tour and everything else after I already had my interviews out of the way. I think I preferred this format, because I was pretty tired by the time the 2PM campus tour was over and can’t imagine what it would have been like to have had two interviews in the late afternoon after a full few hours of info sessions.

When I arrived in the morning, I checked in to receive my folder with interview information, left my belongings in the luggage area, and then left the Admissions Office for my first interview (Unlike Harvard and Jeff, Cornell did not have a morning breakfast to mingle with other interviewees or current students).

My first interview was scheduled for 8:30am across the street from the admissions office in NYP. The doctor was busy so my interview started about half an hour late–during that time I just talked to other interviewees who also sat in the waiting area. Had a pretty cool experience during the wait; a patient sitting near us overheard my faculty interviewer’s name and interrupted the conversation to talk to us about his experiences receiving treatment from the physician. When he found out I was going in for an interview, he even printed out a bunch of handouts for me about the doctor’s practice and research! The patient called the doctor “the man of NYC” and told me about how he was the first to bring a really cool piece of noninvasive surgical technology into NYC medical practice years ago. Maybe the patient in the waiting room was just being friendly, but I was still impressed that he had gone out of his way to interrupt our conversation and share this info with me. When I finally went into my interview, I brought up this interaction with the physician and he was very humble about it. I wanted to ask more about his role in bringing biotechnology to clinical practice, but I guess there wasn’t enough time for a long conversation. The interview only lasted 25 minutes, and aside from a few brief questions about my research and AMCAS, most of the conversation was a discussion about NYC and what makes Weill Cornell unique.

After my first interview, I walked back to the admissions office and waited for a while until my 10AM interview, which was with an M4 (every interviewee was different; while I interviewed with a physician and student, others had interviews with Ph.Ds and admissions staff as well.) All of my interviewers thus far had been familiar with my AMCAS, but I was surprised this time because the M4 had a copy of my AMCAS in front of her, completely annotated and marked up with scribbles and underlined phrases! I definitely rambled in the beginning, but it was an enjoyable, also short 30-minute experience. In addition to some typical questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in X years,” she also chose a couple quotes from my AMCAS and had me expand on them–what my experience was like and what I learned. It was a fun experience, a bit reminiscent of the close-readings I’ve done for English classes (which is something I surprisingly started to miss after I graduated from school). It was an added bonus that she was super sweet and encouraging; I enjoyed talking about our shared struggles of being an older sibling leaving for college and trying to balance school work with staying connected with issues at home. She was also the first interviewer that had heard of (and even been involved with) Questbridge!!! Was pretty excited about that since usually when I bring it up, people are often just confused. It was also interesting to see the contrast between my faculty and M4 interviewers in how they talked about Weill; while the faculty interviewer focused on research both in discussing my experiences and the opportunities at Weill, my M4 interview was almost entirely focused on service.

After the interviews, I had some downtime to do whatever (although it was cold out so I just sat in the admissions office and talked some more to the other morning interviewees who had either finished their interviews or were waiting for their last one to start). Finally at noon, we convened in a meeting room along with the afternoon interviewees and listened to info sessions by representatives of the Office of Diversity and the Dean of Admissions. After meeting with the Dean, we had a quick tour of the sim lab where medical students practice procedures on manikins and conduct examinations on standardized patients (paid actors trained to portray a medical condition/situation). By then, everyone was pretty hungry and excited for lunch, which we had with current students ranging from M1 all the way to M4. Finally, after lunch we toured Olin Hall/NYP and the morning interviewees were free to leave for the day.


Cornell was my “dream school” even before I submitted my primary AMCAS, so I went into the interview day already with a positive impression. One thing I really appreciated about Weill Cornell was that during the day, we got to interact with medical students from every class year (M1 to M4); in comparison, at Jeff and Harvard, we only had the opportunity to talk to M1s and M2s, so it was pretty ambiguous what happens to students during M3 and M4 (which according to some are arguably the most important two years to consider in choosing a medical school). My interviewers were both great, the campus was in a nice area (dorms, classrooms, and several top-notch medical centers within a very short walking distance of each other), cool students. Not to mention, NYC is an amazing place to live and learn. The campus didn’t have the same beautiful landscape of Harvard and the interview day could probably have been more informative/structured a bit better (most of what I learned about Weill was from my own research and conversations with students rather than the organized sessions), but the school was everything I expected. If I’m lucky enough to get in, I would be very happy to come here.

Notes on Cornell:

  1. True pass/fail for first two years, graded clerkships to determine rankings for AOA. During the first two years, there are only quizzes and no lab practicals or final exams.

  2. Classes typically run from 8am-1pm, except for two days of the week which have anatomy lab and run until 5pm. Lectures are recorded and optional to attend, while problem-based learning groups, anatomy and patient presentations are mandatory.

  3. Non-competitive opportunities for research and pursuits in global health

  4. Weill Cornell offers rotations in Ithaca and Houston, for which they will provide students free transportation and rent

  5. LEAP: Longitudinal clinical experience for the first two years of med school in which you regularly follow a patient and his/her interactions with the hospital

  6. First-year housing is college dormitory-style (subsidized singles with shared bathrooms for $800/month in Olin Hall. Each floor has a kitchen). Upperclassman housing is more expensive (~$1100/month) in Lasdon Hall. All students are guaranteed subsidized housing in one of Weill’s on-campus buildings although not all decide to live on campus.

  7. During the housing tour, an M1 told us that many of the Weill Cornell-affiliated buildings are connected via tunnel so you never have to go outside during winter to get from place to place. Not sure to what extent this is true (although Olin and NYP are separated by nothing but a single door) but this sounds pretty appealing.

  8. Like at Jeff, every student is given an iPad at the beginning of M1.

  9. A lot of support for student organizations. It is very easy to get funding and support to start student groups on campus.

  10. Great faculty:student ratio, faculty and physicians seem very accessible to students for shadowing/mentoring/research opportunities. Access to an amazing network of people at the top healthcare/research institutions in the country (eg. NYP/MSK/Rockefeller).

  11. Weill Cornell seems to be heavier in their focus on research. Most students, >85%, spend the summer after M1 conducting research (at Jeff, this is much less common), and all students have a dedicated 6 months to conduct a scholarly research project in their Area is Concentration (AOC). Many people also take an additional 5th year to conduct more research. Those who opt to take an additional year don’t have to pay for an extra year of tuition however, as all students are only required to pay for 4 years of tuition.

  12. Heavy emphasis on community service, most visible and active out of all of the schools I have researched and looked into although this unfortunately didn’t stand out at all during the interview day like it did when I talked with M1 friends beforehand. With only ~400 total medical students, there are a whopping ~30 community service organizations. Among these organizations is a student-run community clinic (WCCC) and the Center for Human Rights, a student-operated clinic that provides health evaluations and affidavits for people seeking asylum. Many M1s spend their free time after class volunteering for different organizations. (In fact, when I was picking up my luggage to leave, there was a decently large crowd of M1s hanging around in Olin Hall to go to a volunteer program that afternoon).

  13. Probably the greatest limitation of Weill is that as an M1 and M2 learning primarily in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, you are exposed to a limited patient population unless you get involved in community service initiatives (the demographics of HSS/MSK/NYP lean toward the more affluent side and patients can be turned away if they don’t have insurance/the means to pay). However, with clinical rotations throughout NYC boroughs outside of Manhattan, you still have the opportunity to gain exposure to diverse patient populations during M3 and M4.

As a brief off-topic update, just heard back from Jeff via email. Placed on a “special high priority waitlist,” not sure what that means.

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