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top tier school vs. second tier school for med school prep

donricardodonricardo Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
Greetings college-bound kids and parents: I'm a new user, a dad with a high school senior, and just looking for any tips / advice anyone has in two areas.

1. Is it better to visit ten colleges first, then narrow the list down to a final five or six to apply to, or better to apply to all ten first, then only visit those that accept my daughter to help with the final selection?

2. For a daughter with top grades (including six AP) and ACT scores and interest in medicine, is it better for her to attend a top tier undergrad and perhaps a second tier medical school, or better to attend a lower cost, second tier undergrad and put the money saved toward a top tier med school?

Any help would be appreciated
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Replies to: top tier school vs. second tier school for med school prep

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,940 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    1. Visit schedule depends on how critical aspects that can be determined only by a visit are, and your money and time budget for visits both pre application and after decision. Some visit safeties early, but wait until later for non local reaches to avoid wasted visits.

    2. Medical school is expensive, and most pre meds get shut out. I.e. they may have one choice if they are lucky, with no choice on costs. So keeping cost and debt down for undergraduate makes sense.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 915 Member
    1. Even if you can afford or convenient to visit the select colleges, be sure to run the Net Price Calculator before doing so. There's no point in visiting any colleges that you know you can't afford to send your kid to. FWIW, my strategy was to only visit the colleges that my son was admitted to. Once the admission results were in, my son already chose one even before the visit but we ended up visiting two since they were located in near proximity.

    2. See @katliamom's posts above, including her unsolicited advice.
  • donricardodonricardo Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    thanks for the advice, that will save us some costs, makes sense to me to only visit a college after acceptance.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 915 Member
    But some folks might argue that you should visit colleges prior to acceptance offers in order to show "demonstrated interest" that could enhance your kid's chances. Instead of visiting, my son showed "demonstrated interest" through social media, email sign up, college rep visits locally, and especially through his essays, none of which cost me any. He was accepted to 7 colleges, none of which we had visited.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 2,610 Senior Member
    For a daughter with top grades (including six AP) and ACT scores and interest in medicine, is it better for her to attend a top tier undergrad and perhaps a second tier medical school, or better to attend a lower cost, second tier undergrad and put the money saved toward a top tier med school?

    It depends on how committed she is to a medical career. If she is 100 percent sure, then the cheapest college will likely be the best. If she a medical career is a soft lean, then pick the school that will offer the best outcome if she does not go to medical school.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,940 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    If the student's criteria for college desirability includes some aspects which can only be determined by a visit, it may be a good idea to visit safeties beforehand to ensure desirability (if not desirable, they are not suitable safeties), since they should already be known for admission and affordability.

    Of course, not all students have criteria that can only be determined by a visit, so visits may not add enough value for such students to make them worth the effort. Some other students may be too easily swayed by trivial coincidences like whether it was sunny or rainy the day of the visit, so visits for such students may add worse-than-useless information.
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 2,644 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    Regarding visiting: We visited multiple schools before either daughter applied, but we limited visits to "far away" schools to those which were all of academically very good, likely to be possible wrt admission, and affordable. Schools that were very near by and easy to visit we in some cases visited even if they were not likely to be affordable (eg, there is one that we drive by all the time in this category which was hard to NOT visit). I think that the visits allowed our daughters to narrow down their choices before having to fill out all of those applications, and also made the process more "real". There were a couple of schools that were more than 1000 miles away that we never visited.

    Both daughters visited the school that they ended up attending at least twice: Once before applying and again after being accepted.

    Regarding choices of schools, I agree with the comments above. If medical school is likely then don't take on large loans for undergrad (and it would be great if you don't fully use up your college savings for undergrad if possible). Be aware that a LOT of students think that they will be premed about the time that they graduate high school, then end up finding other plans once they have a couple of years in university.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 62,940 Senior Member
    edited September 12
    Be aware that a LOT of students think that they will be premed about the time that they graduate high school, then end up finding other plans once they have a couple of years in university.

    Or they apply to medical schools and get shut out (about half or fewer medical school applicants get shut out). Then they have to make other plans. Those who chose to major in biology often find difficult job markets in competition with numerous other pre-meds who did not get into medical school, and additional non-pre-med biology majors (i.e. undergraduate debt can be a significant burden in this case).

    Note, however, that pre-med does not require any specific undergraduate major, as long as the pre-med courses are also taken. About half of pre-meds applying to medical school major in biology, but that still leaves the rest with majors in social studies, humanities, physical sciences, math/statistics, etc..
  • EyeVeeeEyeVeee Registered User Posts: 487 Member
    but that still leaves the rest with majors in social studies, humanities, physical sciences, math/statistics, etc..
    To your point.....I know a head of transplant surgery at a well-respected flagship school research hospital that majored in Theater (but took the necessary bio and did well on the MCAT).
  • katliamomkatliamom Registered User Posts: 11,212 Senior Member
    ^^ I know a young doctor in Boston who got her BA in English... she said much of her medical school interview was about Shakespeare, the subject of her Honor's thesis, and a favorite hobby of one of the guys on the ad com!
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 915 Member
    My son plans on majoring in music and then applying to med schools. I think it's a great background major for med schools. :)>-
  • donricardodonricardo Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    thanks all for the advice, most helpful for this important decision for my daughter
  • twogirlstwogirls Registered User Posts: 5,857 Senior Member
    A lot of students think they want to be a doctor and then change their minds or don't make it through the prerequisites. Conversely, many students start out not knowing, take the prerequisites, and decide their junior year to go this path after going through a series of career twists and turns.

    For medical school your D will need a high GPA, high mcat scores, medical related EC's, etc.

    Your D should attend an affordable school where she can maintain a high GPA. As for visiting schools.... we visited them all before applying. None were on the opposite side of the country.



  • tk21769tk21769 Registered User Posts: 9,734 Senior Member
    edited September 13
    The last time we went through this process, 5-6 applications seemed like enough. My S knew just what kind of college he wanted. Many schools that interested him were within a day's drive; the others were similar enough that we thought we could delay visits until after decisions rolled in. So we didn't need to pile on more applications just to compensate for uncertainty about what he wanted. If you're less sure about what you want, if you're counting on competitive scholarships (or on need-based aid with estimates all over the map), if all the schools you like are too far away to visit conveniently, etc., then you may need as many as 10 (or even more) applications.

    In my opinion, there is no such thing as a "second tier" medical school, but virtually all of them are very expensive (with little/no aid available other than loans), unless you get your medical training from the US military. So for many families, net cost is an important (maybe paramount) factor in choosing a college. For many upper middle class students who are serious about med school, the choice to beat is your state flagship. If your family income is below $60K or so, a very selective private school may offer a lower net cost. However, you don't have to attend an Ivy to get into a "good" med school, nor should you need to attend a low-ranked school in a distant state just to get an adequate GPA. Try to identify schools with affordable net prices, then from those, use your judgement to find the best combination of quality and personal fit.
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