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Frequently Asked Questions about Discovery PREP

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Applicant Profile

Q: What qualifications does a competitive applicant have?
A: 
We seek people committed to earning their PhD in a biomedical discipline (either from a PhD graduate program or an MD/PhD joint program). A passion for science, demonstrated scientific inquisitiveness, a proactive drive, the ability to work hard, and the willingness to learn.

Q: My GPA is below a 3.0. Will my application for Discovery PREP be competitive?
A: 
All applications will be reviewed in their entirety.  The GPA is just one part of any application. That being said, our program caters to individuals that need to expand their research experience/professional development in order to be competitive for graduate school admission. Course work in our program is very light, so our scholars don’t get the opportunity to show that they can excel in graduate level coursework to help offset a lower GPA. There are other PREP programs that do have many graduate level classes PREP scholars take for a grade to improve their academic standing for graduate school. 

Q: I need research experience for my application to medical school. Is the PREP program for me?
A: No. The research experience provided by PREP is intensive and the program is designed to prepare individuals for PhD graduate programs centered on scientific research, not clinical medicine. OSU does have another postbaccalaureate program, called MEDPATH​, designed to help underrepresented individuals gain admission into medical school. 

Q: Can international students apply to Discovery PREP?
A: Discovery PREP is funded through the National Institute of Health (NIH). According to their eligibility requirements "individuals must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or permanent residents and must have obtained their baccalaureate degrees from an accredited U.S. college or university no longer than 36 months prior to their application to PREP."  You can find details regarding PREP eligibility on NIH's website.  


Application Procedu​res

Q: When will I hear about my application?
A: PREP does rolling admissions and applications are typically reviewed as they are received. Therefore, apply early. Individuals are interviewed and accepted from late January until mid-April, with final decisions made in mid-April. However, additional spots can become available -so some applicants may be placed on a waitlist through May. 

Q: Is there a way to track my application online?
A: There is not a way to track your application online.  If you would like to check on the completeness of your application feel free to email discovery.prep@osumc.edu​ and ask for an update.

Q: Who should submit a letter of recommendation on my behalf and what should they include?

A: If an applicant has any research experience, it is preferred that you have your research mentors submit letters of recommendation on your behalf.  Otherwise, letters of recommendation may come from anyone who can speak to the applicant’s potential to become a biomedical scientist.  Letters often speak to the applicant’s dedication, resilience, intellectual curiosity, work ethic, critical thinking skills, accomplishments in research, interpersonal skills, leadership potential, ability to work independently and part of a team, enthusiasm, etc.  Many letters rank the individual compared to all others they have known at that career/education level (i.e. top 25%) and some even speak to their enjoyment in working with the applicant. Some recommenders comment on the individuals need for a postbacc (i.e. what the recommender thinks the applicant will get from a postbacc). These are just some ideas. The letter writer is at their own discretion on what to include.

Q: My recommenders did not receive links to complete their letters of recommendation.  How should they submit their letters?

A:  Our application does not automatically generate an email to your listed recommenders upon completion.  Recommenders should send their letters directly to discovery.prep@osumc.edu.  

Q: Do I have to submit official test scores?
A: No.  We do not require you send us official test scores for the ACT, SAT, GRE, or MCAT.  Simply indicate your scores you have received on the application. 

Q: For the MD/PhD section I see that an MCAT score is required.  What is the deadline for submitting the MCAT score?
A: The application is due on April 1st and therefore also when your MCAT scores are due.  Due to rolling admissions we encourage you to s
ubmit your MCAT scores as soon as possibleHowever, if you are taking the MCAT after the application deadline please indicate the date you will take the MCAT on your application.  If this is the case you will also need to supply us with the ACT/SAT scores you used for undergraduate admission.


Program Details

Q: What lab will I join if I come to Discovery PREP? Do I choose a lab or get assigned to a lab?

A: In Discovery PREP, we have a long list of participating labs in multiple disciplines. Before arrival, scholars choose about six potential research mentors from this list based on their particular interests. After several informal discussions with potential research mentors, PREP individuals choose three labs in which to do rotations (two weeks each). During the rotation, scholars work in the lab and experience what it is like to do the experiments and interact with the potential advisor and lab personnel. At the end of all three rotations, scholars choose a home lab and join it for the remainder of the year.

Q: What kind of classes do Discovery PREP scholars take?
A: Discovery PREP focuses Research Experience and Professional Development. Scholars attend and are active participants in the foundations course for the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program in the Fall. We also have a PREP journal club and research in progress. However, education is very dependent on the scholar's Individual Development Plan (IDP).  Scholars attend a mandatory Responsible Conduct in Research ethics course during the Winter/Spring semester. Scholars can sit in on a graduate level course, but do not take it for a grade. 

​Financial Details

Q: What is the salary associated with PREP for this coming year?
A: 
For 2017-2018, the salary was $27,200 and was set by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Q: Does this amount reflect my “take-home” pay?
A: No! PREP scholars are classified as employees and, like all employees, must pay taxes and support for benefit elections. These reduce monthly “take-home” pay.

Q: What will my “take-home” pay be and how often are scholars paid?

A: Scholars are paid on a biweekly schedule that can be found here. Your “take-home” pay all depends on what you select for your benefits, retirement plan, etc.  Below you will find two examples of “take-home” pay per paycheck.  This “take-home” pay does reflect the biweekly amount received after state and federal taxes are taken out.  If you choose to have a parking pass at Ohio State this would also affect your “take-home” pay and be deducted from one paycheck per month. 

 

Health/Dental/Vision Insurance

Allowances Claimed

Retirement

Biweekly “Take-Home” Amount

Example A

Yes/Yes/No

0

OPERS, 10%

$679.72

Example B

No/No/No

0

OPERS, 10%

$691.26


Scholars are able to apply for a refund of their retirement contributions at the end of the program.  To do this, scholars complete a form and work with HR.  

Q: Will I need to pay taxes on my PREP salary?
A: Yes! Income tax (Federal, State, and Local) will be deducted from your pay check. The “withholding” level you select during orientation will determine the percentage of tax taken out each pay period as well as the size of your tax return (or bill) after you file your return.  When you file your tax return, you could either owe more tax or get a refund. 

Q: Can I get a second job to supplement my income?
A: The PREP program is an intensive one year program in which scholars typically work and study very hard. To get the benefits of the program, we expect scholars to commit fully and there really isn’t time. 

Q: What about my student loans?
A: PREP is a training program and scholars typically file to defer their student loan payments for the year.


Living in Columbus​

Q: Do I have to pay for housing as well or is it supplied by the program?
A: PREP scholars identify their own housing and usually rent an apartment near campus or along a major bus route. Columbus is the largest city in Ohio and Ohio State University is a huge campus. There are many options for housing at different price ranges. We provide a list of housing options that have worked for graduate students and PREP scholars in the past as well as advice on the different housing opportunities. 

Q: How can I find housing?

A: There are several resources available to find housing in Columbus.  One of the best resources to use is the Off-Campus and Commuter Student Service’s online housing search.  You may also use resources such as Apartment Guide or Zillow to find housing.  We suggest looking for housing in zip codes 43202, 43212, and 43214.  Currently our scholars are paying anywhere from $446-$819/month in rent.  Housing prices vary based on several factors (if utilities are included, number of roommates, other amenities, etc.).  

Q: Can this salary support a good living in Columbus, Ohio?
A: Yes, but one needs to budget carefully.

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