A reader asks, “My daughter and I have been reading your blog for a while now. She will be starting her freshman year at XXXXX College this fall. She is worried that by attending a less famous university she is at a disadvantage when it comes to applying to medical school. She is wondering if she should transfer to the University of XXXXX to better her chances of getting in.”
First, no parent should ever write me to ask about a child’s interest in medicine. If you want to go to medical school and have a question about how to apply or what life as a med student is like, then you need to be the one who writes me. Don’t let your mommy do your work for you. As for the question regarding if there is a best pre-med school, the short answer is no.
Your application to medical school is based upon your GPA, MCAT, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, personal statement, interview, and a host of other factors. Your application—and all of the things that make it up—are solely you’re doing. Granted, if you go to a university with grade inflation, your GPA will naturally be higher than other students'; however, you still must work hard to become a competitive applicant.
That said, we should not discount undergraduate institutions entirely. The American Association of Medical Colleges keeps a list of which undergraduate universities applicants attended the year that they applied for medical school. According to their data, the five universities responsible for having the most applicants in the United States are:
1. University of California at Los Angeles
2. University of California at Berkeley
3. University of Texas at Austin
4. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
5. University of Florida
In a way, these programs send so many students to medical school every year that their pre-med offices are very familiar with the application process. If nothing else, going to one of these universities—or to any place that is affiliated with a medical school—can help a person in so far as preparing him/her for the road ahead. Many of these programs have staff that are very experienced with the cumbersome medical school application process. Going to a small liberal arts college might very well make you the only pre-med on campus.
That’s not to say that if you are a high school student you should base your decision on where to go to college solely upon the number of pre-med applicants getting churned out every year. You should certainly attend the school that is the perfect fit for you, whether it be a large state university with tens of thousands of students or a smaller location where all of the professors and deans know your name. But if you are utterly lost and looking for ideas of where to apply, this list can serve as a good starting point.
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