Q&A Choosing a Pre-Med Program
This is not an easy question to answer given that any 4 year college or university can prepare you for a career in medicine. The best way to approach this question is to consider how medical school admissions work.
- GPA is the 1st or 2nd most important factor in medical school admissions. As a result, you want to find a college that will allow you to earn the highest grades you can. That said, medical schools will take into account school rigor to an extent. A 3.75 at Swarthmore will probably worth more than a 3.75 from a college with a less rigorous reputation. But, your college will only take you so far. A 4.0 from the lesser known college will probably be worth more than a 3.0 from Swarthmore. In the end, you want to find a school that is appropriately challenging meaning the work isn’t overwhelming, but it’s pushing you.
- MCAT is again probably the most important factor in medical school admissions. You want to attend a college that will give you ample time to prepare for the MCAT.
- Extracurricular Activities are less important for medical school than for undergrad but, you want to select a college that will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your interests through research, service, or something else.
Now, let’s take a look at other factors to consider when looking at premed programs:
- BS/MD program A number of schools have programs where students are accepted to a combined BS/MD program. This means that at 17, they already have a medical school acceptance in hand. Usually students need to maintain a minimal GPA and earn a certain MCAT score if they want to remain in the program, but these dual degree programs can be wonderful stress-reducers for students. Some schools with these programs include: Brown University, Washington University in Saint Louis, and University of Delaware.
- Placement rates Look at each individual college’s medical school placement rate. Some schools you wouldn’t expect do a wonderful job placing their graduates into medical schools. For instance, 80% of students who are part of tiny Goucher College’s premedical program are admitted to medical school.
- Selectivity or premed program When you are looking at medical school placement rates, be sure to take a look at the selectivity of the premed program itself. Some schools will only accept tippy top students which skews their placement rate.
You can get an excellent premed education and virtually any college in the country. Ultimately, you want to find a school that will allow to really grow as a person and as a learner.
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