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Swarthmore College V.S. Washington University in St. Luois

YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
My son is finalizing the Early Decision school in between Swarthmore College & Wash U in St. Louis. He is going to major in Biology ( pre-med route). Which school will help to prepare him better after 4 years? Thanks!
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Replies to: Swarthmore College V.S. Washington University in St. Luois

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6834 replies60 threads Senior Member
    If it was my collegekid I wouldn’t recommend either for pre-med ;-)

    & I am fascinated that your son is equally drawn to both WUSTL & Swat! Such strikingly different environments.

    But to your actual question- there is no meaningful difference in how well the 2 schools can prepare him- what he does with the opportunities at either place will matter much much more than any differences.
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  • merc81merc81 10497 replies160 threads Senior Member
    If the question were limited to the study of biology, then I'd say these schools offer equivalent opportunities, with Swarthmore offering the stronger undergraduate emphasis.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2454 replies35 threads Senior Member
    Both have a reputation for being competitive in premed required courses, making it tough to maintain a high GPA. I might give an edge to WUSTL’s prehealth advising, but YMMV.
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for all your input!!
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks for your reply, just curious which other schools you would recommend for pre-med?
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6834 replies60 threads Senior Member
    If your son is a strong candidate for Swat & WUSTL he has lots of possibilities! Important factors:

    $$: avoid debt at undergraduate

    Plan B: the conversion ratio of students who start college in the pre-med track v the ones who actually go to med school is terrible. The school should have other aspects that he likes as well, just in case.

    Star power: many colleges have committees that write all the LoRs for their med school applicants. If your son is a star at college that will come across in the committee letter / any LoRs. Remember that the first cut is on numbers (GPA & GMAT) and that with the exception of a few outliers, the prestige of the college is not a factor (Harvard & Yale do seem to favor their own & each other’s undergrads).

    So, a lot comes down to where your son will thrive. Is he the kind of competitive that is happiest testing himself against the best? A more introverted soul who might need a supportive environment to keep developing the social skills that will be important? A hail-fellow well met sort of fellow, for whom social time is the oxygen that keeps his academic flame going?
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  • merc81merc81 10497 replies160 threads Senior Member
    edited October 13
    For further ideas you can search "The 25 Best Colleges for Pre-Meds." Though the ranking may be subject to justifiable criticism, portions of the methodology appear substantive. Bowdoin places first, with NESCACs in general highly represented (Bates, Hamilton, Amherst, Middlebury, Williams). You will find Swarthmore included. For an applicant who would enter with the capability to excel at the listed colleges, they may represent a nice array of choices.

    http://www.****/savvy-pre-med/2019/4/15/top-25-best-colleges-for-pre-meds
    edited October 13
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  • mamaedefamiliamamaedefamilia 3485 replies24 threads Senior Member
    edited October 13
    @yellowmaple. Like @collegemom3717 I am curious, why these two schools? They seem so very different to me. Swarthmore is extremely liberal politically, very intense academically, and a bit nerdy. Wash U is more moderate politically, has Greek life, seems to offer more work/life balance, and the students seem more mainstream. The academic standard at both is very high. Either would be very challenging and would prepare your son well.

    I have seen many parent and student comments on CC that report that the pre-med student culture at Wash U is very collaborative. I don't have a point of comparison for Swarthmore. A search for "pre-med" in the Swarthmore and Wash U threads here might provide some additional information.

    Good luck! They are both fine schools.
    edited October 13
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    THANK YOU!
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    My son was recruited by both schools as a student-athlete. That's why ;-)

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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6834 replies60 threads Senior Member
    That makes a *lot* more sense. Assuming that he likes them, have him choose the one that he likes better- even if he can't give you a good reason for it. Trust him & tell him to trust himself.
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    sounds good, thank you!
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  • worriestoomuchworriestoomuch 182 replies7 threads Junior Member
    @Yellowmaple - If your son cares a lot about athletics and attending a college with students who also care about sports, neither of these schools will be a good "fit" for him. Getting good grades in science courses will be very tough at both schools. And if he isn't certain about majoring in Bio, then he should look at the course offerings and faculty in other departments, since many students who go on to med school major in non-science fields, or even change their minds about applying to med school because they develop different interests in college. And to echo observations above about these two schools, they have extremely different cultures, so your son will know where he feels more "at home." Best of luck to your son!
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    Good point, thank you!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78559 replies695 threads Senior Member
    Plan B: the conversion ratio of students who start college in the pre-med track v the ones who actually go to med school is terrible. The school should have other aspects that he likes as well, just in case.

    Also, biology graduates (many of them failed pre-meds) are plentiful, so that competition for biology-major-specific jobs at the bachelor's degree level will be fierce.
    Star power: many colleges have committees that write all the LoRs for their med school applicants. If your son is a star at college that will come across in the committee letter / any LoRs. Remember that the first cut is on numbers (GPA & GMAT) and that with the exception of a few outliers, the prestige of the college is not a factor (Harvard & Yale do seem to favor their own & each other’s undergrads).

    MCAT, not GMAT.

    Pre-med committees could be beneficial to:

    a. Star pre-meds who get the strongest endorsements in the committee letters.
    b. Marginal to no-hope pre-meds who get refused committee letters, sparing them the expensive and stressful medical school application process, so that they can pivot to plan B earlier.

    Pre-med committees could be harmful to:

    a. Marginal pre-meds who get refused committee letters, but would rather apply even with a low probability of success.
    b. Potential pre-meds who get deceived by the high medical admission rate of applicants at the school (such rates can be high if the pre-med committee weeds out marginal to no-hope pre-meds from applying).
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  • YellowmapleYellowmaple 9 replies1 threads New Member
    Wow, very tricky. Statistics could be deceiving !!
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6834 replies60 threads Senior Member
    Thanks for the catch on the MCAT, @ucbalumnus
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21395 replies223 threads Senior Member
    edited October 14
    "
    Also, biology graduates (many of them failed pre-meds) are plentiful, so that competition for biology-major-specific jobs at the bachelor's degree level will be fierce."

    One can major in anything and still be on a pre-med track, however.

    edited October 14
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  • tk21769tk21769 10664 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Either one (or dozens of alternatives) could provide excellent preparation for med school. What about costs? Have you run their online net price calculators?
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 700 replies59 threads Member
    Swat is a fine school, and in many ways the archetypal LAC, with engaged intelligent students and renowned academic rigor. It's on every top 10 list for LACs.
    Wash U is also a fine school; an established and well respected research university with intelligent engaged students and renowned academic rigor. It's also on every top-school list.
    But the two schools couldn't be any more different if they tried. Visit both; see which vibe more appeals to your son.
    And completely ignore the advertisement masquerading as a "list" mentioned in post #7; it's utterly subjective and its "standards" are completely free of any objective data. You'd be much better off visiting the pre-med section of CC and/or SDN for information regarding the pre-med process.
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