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How hard is it to get into UCSF med school from Berkeley?

ZepoLMZepoLM Posts: 101Registered User Junior Member
I've heard that it's next to impossible. Perhaps I am completely wrong though...

Can anyone give me any insight on this topic?
Post edited by ZepoLM on
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Replies to: How hard is it to get into UCSF med school from Berkeley?

  • StudentStudent Posts: 733Registered User Member
    I'll let the stats speak for themselves:

    Year App Acc AR Mat MCAT GPA
    2004 117 11 09% 09 35 3.88
    2003 092 08 09% 04 34 3.85
    2002 101 10 10% 07 34 3.84
    2001 120 09 08% 06 34 3.89
    2000 137 07 05% 07 34 3.91

    Compared with Princeton
    98-03 306 40 12% 24 34 3.73

    This is the result of UC grad/prof programs hating on their own undergrads (no special preference is given, unlike at most other privates.)

    Seriously, if you want to do pre-med, don't do it at Berkeley. If you want to go to Berkeley, do something else. The admissions rates are abysmal (only 10% higher than national average -- not what you'd expect for a supposed "top school.")

    http://career.berkeley.edu/MedStats/top20.stm
  • CalXCalX Posts: 1,001Registered User Senior Member
    Well the MCATs of the Princeton admits are the same as the one from Berkeley. Maybe Berkeley premeds tend to have fewer extra-curriculars? If so, 12% from Princeton vs 9% from Cal is not a huge difference.

    It does sound like the Regents should have a talk with the UCSF adcoms...

    Here's one of the small dozen of Berkeley grad who is going to UCSF med...
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/supern1254/103917330/
  • StudentStudent Posts: 733Registered User Member
    UCSF is a UC for goodness' sake.

    For Harvard Med. it's like 0.2% vs. 15%.
  • DlOGENESDlOGENES Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    Actually, there is serious underreporting by the careercenter. The stats you posted are only from "responding" people and it is impossible to tell from those nubmers alone what the real numbers are.

    If you look at the raw data for admits, they fall pretty much in-line with the general applicant pool's numbers.

    I think a more parsimonious theory would be that Princeton alumni are already selected to be destined to score well on the MCAT and do well in school and there are just more numbers of people at Princeton able to score highly on the MCAT and GPA-wise versus Berkeley.
  • BlueElmoBlueElmo Posts: 1,131Registered User Senior Member
    look, I believe Berkeley allows all its aspiring undergraduates to apply to medical schools while other schools don't even let its unqualified students apply. Thus, acceptance rate for Berkeley, "only 10% above than national average", should not be construed as Berkeley is horrible at getting its pre-meds to medical schools. In fact, Berkeley manages to get a lots of its pre-meds into medical schools.
  • StudentStudent Posts: 733Registered User Member
    These have been proven false so many times.

    * Princeton posts its stats from "responding" students only as well. Besides, isn't it more likely that someone who was granted admission into a reputable school would want to report that?

    * Princeton and UCB students tend to get into the same schools with about the same MCAT scores. However, Princeton has more admits, and those admits tend to get in with lower GPAs.

    * It's a known fact that Harvard and Princeton do not filter or screen pre-meds. The committees (yes, both schools have committees to deal exclusively with pre-meds) will write recommendations for anyone who is interested in applying.
  • DlOGENESDlOGENES Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    1) Your point about responding students about Princeton surveys as well does not refute anything about the response rate of Berkeley grads.

    Berkeley has 50+ people at Harvard Law School which indicates 15-16 people getting in per year, yet the admit rates according to the career center varies greatly per year from 3 to 12 according to the surveys. Since Berkeley is a big public school that offers very little help to applicants there is probably a lesser chance of students responding to surveys at Berkeley versus a smaller, more intimate private school.

    2) GPA's are judged by comparing your gpa to the average gpa at your school and to the quality of the student body.

    Princeton's general student body is very smart. Berkeley's is above average but is also 20% transfers, many of which have very subpar SAT scores, and there is a substantial linear relationship between how well you do on the SAT and how well you do on the MCAT, as there is with most standardized tests. So on this standard, one can get in with a slightly lower GPA (.2) from harvard and Princeton compared to Berkeley once that is factored in. Is this fair? No, since average gpa varies greatly by department at Berkeley, but thats the way the system works.

    3) Yes, Harvard and Princeton offer a LOT of help to students. Berkeley does not. THis will give Harvard and Princeton students substantial aid.

    If you were going to get into Harvard Medical School from Princeton you would probably still get into it by going to Berkeley. You would have to work harder if you majored in the sciences at Berkeley, and you would get no help from the university in terms of advising, so it is in ways more difficult. However at the same time, your peer group is much dumber, so it will be easier to make better grades while on a curve in many cases versus Harvard/Princeton.

    Lets not draw spurious relationships from incomplete facts. Berkeley students does about as well as you would expect from the quality of the admits.

    In addition, for the 15% that get accepted from Princeton, who among them actually goes to UCSF? Probably much less than half. These are people that are headed for Hopkins, Harvard, etc. as well. Adcoms are well aware of crossadmit rates and adjust their number of acceptances accordingly.

    Those that get into UCSF from Harvard with 3.7's are probably in general as smart as those that got into UCSF from Berkeley with 3.9's. Did they work as hard? Maybe, maybe not (Berkeley has grade inflation in many majors too). Its not perfect, but its still a very fair system.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    1) Your point about responding students about Princeton surveys as well does not refute anything about the response rate of Berkeley grads.

    Berkeley has 50+ people at Harvard Law School which indicates 15-16 people getting in per year, yet the admit rates according to the career center varies greatly per year from 3 to 12 according to the surveys. Since Berkeley is a big public school that offers very little help to applicants there is probably a lesser chance of students responding to surveys at Berkeley versus a smaller, more intimate private school.

    Student's point is that ALL school data suffers from the response rate problem. I agree that Berkeley's data is incomplete. But so is Princeton's. So is everybody's. So just like you could say that there are 'cloaked' Berkeley students who applied to a particular med-school but never told anybody at Berkeley about it, the same could be said for 'cloaked' Princeton students.

    I don't see any particular reason why the Berkeley cloaked data would be skewed compared to the Princeton cloaked data. Hence, from a comparative standpoint, the published data from both schools can be compared. Sure, there might be some Berkeley students with low scores who nonetheless get into UCSF but just don't report that fact to Berkeley, but then again, there might be some Princeton students with low scores who get into UCSF but don't report that fact to Princeton. Hence, it's a wash.

    In addition, for the 15% that get accepted from Princeton, who among them actually goes to UCSF? Probably much less than half. These are people that are headed for Hopkins, Harvard, etc. as well. Adcoms are well aware of crossadmit rates and adjust their number of acceptances accordingly.

    Those that get into UCSF from Harvard with 3.7's are probably in general as smart as those that got into UCSF from Berkeley with 3.9's. Did they work as hard? Maybe, maybe not (Berkeley has grade inflation in many majors too). Its not perfect, but its still a very fair system.

    Well, the point is that when you are talking about UCSF, then the deck is clearly stacked in favor of Berkeley. After all, UCSF provides admissions preference (and in-state tuition) to in-state students. A higher percentage of Berkeley grads compared to Princeton grads will be California state residents. The net effect is that UCSF will admit Berkeley premeds who are of slightly lower quality than Princeton premeds, and the Berkeley premeds will tend to want to go to UCSF, compared to Princeton premeds, in order to take advantage of in-state tuition.

    Yet the facts demonstrate that even with the deck stacked against them, Princeton premeds STILL do better than do Berkeley premeds.

    If you were going to get into Harvard Medical School from Princeton you would probably still get into it by going to Berkeley. You would have to work harder if you majored in the sciences at Berkeley, and you would get no help from the university in terms of advising, so it is in ways more difficult. However at the same time, your peer group is much dumber, so it will be easier to make better grades while on a curve in many cases versus Harvard/Princeton.

    Lets not draw spurious relationships from incomplete facts. Berkeley students does about as well as you would expect from the quality of the admits

    This I partially agree with, but not completely. I don't think it is a simple matter of just the quality of students. You yourself said that it also has to do with the help that a school provides. In other words, Harvard and Princeton students are successful in getting into med-school not just because they are good. That is only one reason. The other reason is, as you said, that those schools help their students a lot. And Berkeley doesn't, relatively speaking.

    So I think a more accurate description is that Berkeley students do as well as you would expect, given both the quality of the admits AND the help that Berkeley gives them (which is less than that of the private schools). If Berkeley helped its students more, I am quite certain that more Berkeley premeds would get into med-school. What that also means is that prospective students should know that Berkeley isn't really going to help them as much as the private schools will, and that should be a factor in determining where you want to study.
  • CalXCalX Posts: 1,001Registered User Senior Member
    sakky, the second part of your statement, that schools like Princeton help their students more, supports the fact that Princeton students are more likely to be part of the process of reporting their admittance. Students who interact more closely with the administration are more likely to fill surveys.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    You know, I thought about that, and it actually mirrors a discussion I had on the premed subcategory of CC with bluedevilmike.

    Nevertheless, the discussion is really about data SKEW. It is not enough for there to be missing data, but rather missing data that is skewed in a certain direction. I believe it is the implicit assumption of diogenes that not only are there lots of cloaked Berkeley students, but that they are predominantly of low grades/test scores who are nonetheless getting into med-school. While obviously nobody can prove a negative, I would strongly suspect that this is not the case. After all, I have no reason to believe that there are boatloads of Berkeley premeds with bad grades and bad test scores who are nonetheless getting admitted into UCSF but not filling out the Berkeley survey. In fact, if anything those bad Berkeley students are probably not getting admitted and are probably not filling out any surveys (after all, if you're a bad student, then not only are you probably not going to get into med-school, but you're probably also not interacting very much with the administration such that you probably won't fill out the survey either). Hence, if the data is skewed, the most plausible skew is that the data is skewed to make Berkeley look better than it actually is (in the sense that there are lots of bad Berkeley premeds who get rejected from UCSF and simply don't report this fact).

    However, since I don't know and nobody knows, I think the best thing to do is take the data at face value. Any discussion of skew might actually work against Berkeley, not in favor of Berkeley.
  • CalXCalX Posts: 1,001Registered User Senior Member
    Keep in mind that Berkeley is easily the worst top school in terms of PR, it is usually competing on this board and in other interfaces with schools who bend over backwards to make sure that they come across under the best light. Berkeley doesn't care about numbers like these. This leads me to believe that the skew is far likely to be negative.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    Oh, I don't know about that. I actually think Cal's PR is actually pretty darn good. For example, as has been stated in other threads (and which I agree), a lot of people, especially foreigners, don't even know that Berkeley is a public school, because the name 'Berkeley' connotes a certain academic flavor. For example, a lot of people think that Berkeley is far far better than places like Michigan or UCLA. {I think that Berkeley is better than Michigan or UCLA, but I don't know about being 'far far better', yet that is the power of the Berkeley brand name}. The Berkeley undergrad program, in particular, rides off the verifiably excellent graduate programs. That, to me, is a triumph of PR.

    In particular, I do not dispute that Berkeley has a more powerful brand name than many of the private schools. The LAC's immediately come to mind - Berkeley clearly has a better brand name than Williams, Amherst, or Swarthmore even though I strongly suspect that those elite LAC's probably offer a better undergraduate experience. Berkeley clearly has a better brand name than, say, Emory or Washington University or Rice.

    The point is, if anything, I believe that the Berkeley undergrad program benefits immensely from skillful PR. It is clearly not the worst in PR, not by a long shot. Berkeley's strong emphasis on graduate programs, and especially PhD programs, I must admit, works, in terms of building the brand name. It probably shouldn't work, but it does work.
  • DlOGENESDlOGENES Posts: 57Registered User Junior Member
    My argument that to make a stoneclad statement that Berkeley will cripple you for graduate school admissions in general to be suspect.

    The only way for the data provided about admit rates for Princeton and Berkeley to provide a statistically significant relationship is if the data encompassed the exact same group of students and included, at the very least, a decent-sized random sample of a similar group of students.

    Do we have that with the data provided? No, we don't. While its true that these are very similar sample statistics, the sample used in the surveys listed is nonrandom and incomplete. The surveys give an idea of a general relationship, but nothing conclusive statistically.

    While Sakky is right that the two surveys may actually be an accurate representation of the facts and that may be the most likely case, there are just too many unknowns and the survey is not performed rigorously enough to reach that conclusion.


    To my general knowledge, most UC schools exercise preference for in-state students by increasing the importance of GPA relative to standardized tests for admissions to professional and graduate programs Also, the may add points to an application if you are in-state. From the data provided--which is very sketchy anyways--Princeton students get in with about .2 gpa points lower than Berkeley. Since 83% of UCSF Med School's student body are California residents, perhaps they are boosted both by the fact they attended such a prestigous university in addition to their California residency. Perhaps, the admit rate for Berkeley students is so low because GPA is closely correlated to MCAT scores at Berkeley (since it is easier to make good grades at Berkeley if you plan correctly). A person at Princeton with a 3.7 is probably still capable of a 35 MCAT score, but at Berkeley that is likely not the case. This is probably attributable to the smarter student body at Princeton.

    I would look more closely at the actual composition--undergraduate-wise--of each of the overall student population at UCSF for a more accurate description of not only who gets in but attends. I would imagine Berkeley would be quite well represented and the UC's in general would be a majority or a substantial plurality of those that attend.

    Now the argument Sakky seems to be making is that Berkeley won't "help" you get into a good med school. I would agree with this statement; it offers pretty poor advising and services to students. If you are an average student, you would be better helped by going to Harvard or Princeton where brand-name and grade inflation would help pull you up.

    If you are an excellent, independent student you would likely do as well at Berkeley as you would at Harvard/Princeton. You'd probably have to work harder for it too.

    I would say that the stats given would support the more parsimonious conclusion that the Berkeley student body is very poor compared to a school like Princeton, and not that Berkeley is a "bad" place to do pre-med.
  • CalXCalX Posts: 1,001Registered User Senior Member
    You're confusing PR with reputation. It's not the same thing. Bad PR is for example publishing the best combination of SAT scores as opposed to the best score component from different sittings, which schools like USC do.

    PR relates to administrative efforts in presenting their institution under the best light, while reputation tends to be based on peer assessment and actual achievements (like discovering 17 elements on the table of elements and having 18 bona fide Nobels.)

    Good PR would also be dispelling notions that Berkeley classe sizes are huge when in fact they are fairly similar to those from Penn, Stanford or Cornell. Even I didn't realize that fact before actually going through the common data set. That is just TERRIBLE PR.

    You mentioned Emory and Rice as having smaller brand names, yet those schools are elevated to Berkeley's level by the USNWR. Berkeley doesn't care much about its USNWR standing (except for Haas, which makes an effort to for instance make sure that its students report their job offers and so forth), while schools like Washington U make it a driving institutional mission. Haas used to be towards the bottom of the teens not too long ago as an MBA program, it has climbed to the bottom of the top 10 by and large, due in good part to good PR which has allowed it to be ranked close to its true standing.

    Actually foreigners do know that Berkeley is a public school. The difference is that being a public school has become some sort of stigma in the US. That is not the case in the rest of the world, by and large. That wasn't the case a couple of decades ago. The purely academic criteria have been diluted in the USNWR methodology.

    It's part of a changing culture and the fact that higher education today is far less accessible to middle and lower-middle class students.

    As far as Berkeley is concerned, it is not doing that well on this site and in the USNWR, which has become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy in the absence of good PR.
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    You're confusing PR with reputation. It's not the same thing. Bad PR is for example publishing the best combination of SAT scores as opposed to the best score component from different sittings, which schools like USC do.

    PR relates to administrative efforts in presenting their institution under the best light, while reputation tends to be based on peer assessment and actual achievements (like discovering 17 elements on the table of elements and having 18 bona fide Nobels.)

    I'm still afraid that I disagree with your general premise. I agree with you that PR and reputation are not the same thing, but they are deeply intertwined. More to the point, I think Berkeley actually does a quite nice job in PR in terms of its undergraduate program.

    For example, you mention the Nobel Prizes. What is poorly understood is that few of Berkeley's Nobel Prize winners were undergrads at Berkeley, especially when you factor in just how many more undergrads Berkeley has compared to graduate students. Yet Berkeley pushes its undergrad program as having a strong Nobel connection.

    I have also seen the Berkeley administration push the fact that more Berkeley undergrads go on toi PhD programs than any other undergrad program, yet conveniently leave out the fact that the Berkeley undergrad program is much larger than most other undergrad programs. Clearly you can have lots of undergrads going on to PhD programs if you just have lots of undergrads to start with.
    You mentioned Emory and Rice as having smaller brand names, yet those schools are elevated to Berkeley's level by the USNWR. Berkeley doesn't care much about its USNWR standing (except for Haas, which makes an effort to for instance make sure that its students report their job offers and so forth), while schools like Washington U make it a driving institutional mission. Haas used to be towards the bottom of the teens not too long ago as an MBA program, it has climbed to the bottom of the top 10 by and large, due in good part to good PR which has allowed it to be ranked close to its true standing.

    I disagree. From what I have seen, the Berkeley graduate programs cares a great deal about its USNews ranking. Practically every Berkeley prof that I have met knows what his/her graduate departmental USNews ranking is.

    More to the point, Berkeley has made something of an art in tying undergraduate quality to its graduate rankings. For example, I have noticed that whenever anybody at Berkeley points to undergrad problems to the Berkeley administration, the administration inevitably responds by pointing to the strength of the Berkeley graduate program. In fact, it used to be something of a running joke within ASUC - to the point that people were saying something to the effect of "Yes, we know the Berkeley graduate programs are strong, but what is the administration going to do to improve the undergraduate program."
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