After the first interview, I received three more interview invites, one of which I accepted. The first school I was accepted to was within driving distance of my hometown, so I stopped entertaining offers that would require an airplane. Ultimately, I decided upon the second school. They are within 100 miles of each other, but that hundred miles makes a huge difference...
I had no idea how to compare med schools, having never done it before. Ultimately, I used two different metrics - the percentage of students passing their COMLEX on the first try, and the percentage of students getting their first choice residency. Not only were both of these numbers higher for the second school, but it was in a town I liked more, had more of an international focus, and devoted an entire "block" (8 weeks) to board review. Also, the free parking didn't hurt.
Finally, on my acceptance letter from the second school was a personal note from the president telling me how much everyone who met me enjoyed the interview and how much they all hoped I would pick their school. A subtle shift in the interview tactic - we hope *you* will pick *us*. It made me feel like a stellar candidate, and someone worth pursuing.
That was November. Schools that accept you that early want a decision by December 15th. So, I took the acceptances I had and picked the best school. I took a different tactic to the whole selection process. I didn't have a "dream school". I picked ten schools in cities I wouldn't mind living. I planned to attend every interview I was offered, but in the end, really only attended interviews I could drive to from my hometown. In the end, I decided which of my acceptances was my "dream school".
I didn't see the point in picking a dream school before I knew my chances. It seemed a surefire way to set myself up for disappointment. I'm happy with my choice. I've put down a deposit, signed a pre-lease on an apartment, and have begun acquiring housewares. Oh, and the spouse and I have decided to try living in two different cities for at least the first year. It will give us a chance to get some things settled back home, allow the spouse to maintain his current level of tenure at his place of employment, and allow us to keep our house.
I'm getting my ducks in a row. Filling out forms, faxing things (like it's 1985, yes), and just enjoying the time off. I'm even entertaining the thought of learning a foreign language or learning the piano. I'm also, truth be told, trying to finish the published books in the Songs of Fire and Ice series. Silly, yes, but it feels good to do silly things.
Every now and then I peek my head up and take a look around and realize... this is what it feels like when your dreams start coming true.