There is no perfect or wrong choice when it comes to selecting a pre med school. The biggest considerations for most high school seniors are geographic location, proximity to family, size of school, range of degree programs offered, and cost. There are, however, some other important things to think about if you are thinking about becoming applying to medical school someday. Read below to find out 5 criteria for choosing a pre med school.
Type of Experience: Happy Hour vs. Study Buddy
First, before you even think about particular pre med schools, you should know that becoming a physician is a long journey requiring a lot of work, patience, and dedication. That said, if you are thinking of spending your college years as your chance to party every weekend and booze it up, you may want to reconsider your career aspirations. There are undoubtedly some professional schools which may still accept you if you skate by with a decent GPA and entrance exam score despite frequent nights of inebriation. Medical school is not one of these. Medical schools take your college transcript GPA and MCAT scores very seriously, as well as how you spend your time in college. They require several letters of recommendation and expect a certain amount of volunteer work or research while you are in college. This does not mean that you can’t have a certain amount of fun in college – of course you can. But, you have to remember the larger picture and that college is the first step in a long journey toward obtaining your medical degree.
Type of School: University vs. Liberal Arts college
The next big choice to make when choosing a pre med school is whether you want to attend a large university or a small liberal arts college. Can you get an adequate pre-medical education at both of these types of institutions? Yes, for the most part. Almost all big universities will have the necessary pre-med science courses as they typically will have several science departments. Lots of liberal arts colleges, on the other hand, may have a wealth of courses in literature and the humanities but only a few in the biological and physical sciences. Given that your advisor and dean’s office can play a large role in the application process to medical school, you should ensure that they have the necessary services should a student wish to apply to medical school. Remember, you can major in Chinese or Art History and still go to medical school, but you also need to make sure that you will have a good science background in preparation for your future studies in medical school as well as for your MCAT preparation.
Type of Competition: Cut-throat or Laid-back
Some universities will have hundreds of premed students and inevitably have a high level of competition among the students. Others will have a more laid-back vibe. Given the importance of your college transcript, make sure that you select a school which will be a good fit for you. If you are someone who thrives in high-level competition with your peers and is not bothered by long hours and putting aside your weekend plans with your friends for some extra time in the library, then a very competitive pre-med program at a top university may be for you. If, on the other hand, you are someone who gets nervous around competition and 100% final exams, you may want to select a school with a more nurturing and laid-back environment.
Type of Curriculum: Easy A vs Sweatin’ Bullets
Medical schools will look at your science GPA, your total GPA, and the level of rigor in your curriculum. If you have a 3.99 total GPA, but if most of your courses were in rock painting, your GPA will not be taken as seriously as someone with a 3.85 GPA with courses in integrative neuroscience and analytical chemistry. Most medical school requirements include many hours of studying very involved science material, so you admissions committees are looking for applicants who have already applied themselves, and succeeded, in difficult science courses in college. All of that being said, even if you going to major in History or German and only do the required pre-med sciences, courses, you need to make sure that the rest of your courses are challenging. Also remember that because med school courses are very challenging, you want to prepare yourself well for the level of rigor that you will face in medical school by challenging yourself in your undergraduate studies. The better the study habits that you form in college, the more prepared you will be for weekend-long studying sessions in medical school. The adjustment will also be easier if you are used to studying a lot before you set foot in medical school.
Type of Matriculants: In-State vs Out
Med schools and the AAMC keep public statistics of where students come from. It is not always as easy as public vs private medical school. If you have any idea about what medical school you are truly interested in attending, review the data and figure out if you should try to gain in-state residence. You might be able to gain the residence by attending an undergraduate school in that state. Many schools also keep data on the exact undergraduate school that their matriculants come from, although I think this data is less important. Review the AAMC data here.
Do you agree or disagree with any of this information? Leave us a comment and let us know.
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