For most medical school applicants, your school list will include schools outside of your home state. For those schools, you will be considered an out-of-state applicant. The impact this will have on your application will vary from school to school. This article will advise you on choosing out-of-state schools strategically and why you need to be strategic.
Why In-State vs. Out of State Matters
Public medical schools receive state funding, and this affects how many out-of-state students they accept. The intensity of this preference varies between schools and is typically dictated by a combination of state law and school policy. Texas public schools are typically the most restrictive because state law requires that the number of out-of-state students accepted each year be capped at 10%, and the actual amount is often lower.
How to Tell if a School Is Out of State Friendly
Because private schools are, as it sounds, privately funded, they’re not bound by law to give preference to state residents. This means that most private schools have no preference for one state of residence over another. There are some rare exceptions, so it’s always good to do your research to determine if a school is a good fit for you.
Most DO schools are private institutions, making them an excellent option for students from states without many medical schools.
When determining if a public school is friendly to out-of-state students, you have to do more digging. Some schools will accept very few, if any, out-of-state students and express this on their websites. Schools that are more flexible may not describe how they evaluate out-of-state students in detail on their website. Still, other information may help you determine if they accept enough students from out of state to be worth the time and money it will take for you to apply. I will list some of those potentially valuable sources of information here.
Many schools share information about their most recent matriculating class. This data might include average stats, average age, undergraduate majors, and state of residence. If you see many different states represented in their first-year class, that’s a sign that they’re at least somewhat friendly to out-of-state students.
Number of In-State vs. Out-of-State Matriculants
Often, the only way to find out a firm number of out-of-state students at a particular school is by looking at the Medical School Admission Requirements data provided by the AAMC. There is no set amount you should look for to consider a school friendly to out-of-state students. If the amount is still relatively low, you will have to assess whether the risk is worth it to you. A school that is otherwise a perfect fit may be worth the risk to you, and it might push a school you were on the fence about off your list.
Some schools may appear OOS friendly, but only under certain circumstances. A noteworthy example of this is the WWAMI Medical Education program at the University of Washington School of Medicine. If you look at UW’s MSAR data, they appear to be highly OOS friendly, but this only applies to students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. This program is designed to facilitate access to medical education for students living in rural states without their own medical schools. If you are from one of the listed states, this program might be an excellent option for you.
A school out of state might be a good fit if you have strong ties to that state. This can allow you to be an exception to policies favoring in-state students for some schools. If a student’s ties to a state play a significant role, you will typically be asked about it in the secondary application. This is your chance to state your case as to why you are a good fit for the school and why you would be motivated to move to that area.