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Regular 4-year college vs. 7-year med program

snuffsnuff Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
I've really been struggling with this question - which would give me a better education but still make me happy (as opposed to suicidal), a regular four year college or a seven or eight year combined medical program?

I'm 99.9% positive that I want to go into medicine, but I've heard good and bad things about both options. It's increasingly difficult to get into medical school nowadays, with something like 30% of the nation wanting to go into medicine (or something ridiculously high), so people tell me that the seven year program is an excellent thing to invest in. However, I've heard that it's also really stressful in that it crams eight years of material into seven, and it robs you of the "one full year of the college experience that you can only enjoy once in your life." (Plus, seven or eight years on the same campus in the same city with the same people? Hmm..) Then again, I've heard that the process of applying to med school is also extremely stressful, and if you go to a regular college, then you always have to be on your toes and keep up your grades for yet another hellish admissions process. You can't take a year "off" to go study abroad, like you'd be able to if you were in the seven year program, because your place in a med school is secure... if that makes any sense. That was my friend's main regret when she chose Harvard over the Rice-Baylor program - that she wouldn't be able to go abroad her junior year because she'd have to stay here and maintain her rigorous studies. I'm not sure how valid that fear is but it's one all the same..

What do you think? Is appreciating the college experience is more important than feeling secure with a spot in med school?

Both of my siblings have gone the traditional way, and one advises me to stick to four year of college before med, and the other advises me to go to the combined program. I'm pretty split down the middle.

Also, are there any combined programs that you would advise over others?

Thanks so much for your input.
Post edited by snuff on

Replies to: Regular 4-year college vs. 7-year med program

  • slipper1234slipper1234 Registered User Posts: 9,084 Senior Member
    I'd say if you are decently strong it is to your every benefit to go to a four year institution. Avoid the incredibly cut-throat programs (hopkins, Cornell, Chicago, etc). As for your cousin who went to Harvard and didn't do study abroad, that makes zero sense. ALL of my friends went abroad and all got into top med schools, in fact they got better GPAs abroad. Pre-med at a four year is only a total of eight classes out of 36. You can major in pretty much anything and enjoy your experience much more. Also, chances are that you will end up at a better program anyway if you are a strong student. If you are able to get it, Brown's eight year is a good balance between the two. Although my friend who went there decided he wanted to get a great GPA and is now at Stanford med...
  • lelalellenlelalellen Registered User Posts: 225 Junior Member
    You might also try posting this question on the PreMed section of this forum.
    Good question, by the way... my son, who is a junior, wants to go into medicine as well, so it's interesting to read questions and answers (good answer, slipper) such as this.
  • oldmanoldman Registered User Posts: 434 Member
    Have fun and do the traditional 4 yr path. If you are good and meant to be a doc and still want to be a doc you'll get in. Major in something you like.....more fun and better grades. Never know.... med school may not be what you desire.
  • hubbellgardnerhubbellgardner Registered User Posts: 322 Member
    My Dad, a Neurologist, did the traditional 4 year approach, his best friend from grade school on, now a Neurosurgeon, did the Penn State/Jefferson medical college 6 year program. Now in their 50's, when asked which was better, the neurosurgeon states that he, in retrospect, regrets it. Why? He states "once you become a doctor, there is no going back to a time when you have no responsibility"; he misses the summers he did not get off, the non-premed courses he could not take etc...at the time, he just wanted to 'get it over with'(becoming a doctor), but with age, comes greater wisdom, but you can never go back...
  • drownindreamsdrownindreams Registered User Posts: 157 Junior Member
    4-year college. You have your whole life to work... while you are young, experiment and have a good time. Take classes outside the scope of science/medicine. And keep in mind you may change your mind... college is a mind-opening experience. I am already having second thoughts about going to med school now that I'm taking awesome courses in another field, and I was really hardcore premed in high school.

    Don't lock yourself in with a 7-year program. Life is too short.
  • celebrian25celebrian25 Registered User Posts: 15,373 Senior Member
    I say go for the 4-yr. program, your undegraduate experience is something very unique, I think cramming an extra year is very stressful, and unless you decide to live in the city where you went to college, you don't want to be stuck in the same place for so long. Also, if you decide you don't want to do med school, you have a major to fall back on, and you can continue in grad school with that major, or find a job in the workforce, but if you do a 7yr. program, you don't have anything nearly as solid to fall back on.
  • kalietakalieta Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    This is a very interesting topic. I am actually a pre-med student in a 2 year Navarro Junior College in Texas and soon i will be graduating and i had the same question. Because the medical program abroad is very different from the United States, it is pleasant to read what you all think about 4- years colleges.
  • BigredmedBigredmed Registered User Posts: 3,731 Senior Member
    I'm a current medical student, who coming out of HS was accepted into UMKC's 6 year program. I'm forever grateful that I turned it down.

    There are a multitude of reasons. If you do a search of my posts, you can probably find at least one of them where I discuss all my issues.

    The two biggest reasons to avoid these programs though are the loss of a college experience and the huge risk of burnout without being able to transfer easily. The college experience one is the more important one in my eyes. There is so much personal growth that comes from not only being away, but also having a lot of free time and little responsibility. College is awesome, medical school isn't. You'll miss out on a lot if you don't get 4-5 years of undergrad, from social development to stifled intellectual curiosity (when else are you going to be doing nothing but going to school with all the opportunity to take some class solely because you are interested in it, even if it doesn't matter for your major?)

    PM if you have any more questions.
  • BalaBala Registered User Posts: 491 Member

    Slow down a little. A lot of misinformation here from people who know people who know people, probably misinterpreting much of what they've heard.

    I graduated from a 6 year program and, if I were 99.9% sure of interest in medicine as you claim, I'd do it all again in a heartbeat - but over 8 years.

    I went to Northwestern HPME. Their program and others offering high quality undergrad and medical school academics (e.g. Rice and Brown) offer the flexibility to bow out at any point and still be able to sit back on 4 great undergrad years. If the program you're looking at offers an 8 year option (even via research or off-campus study) AND does not have onerously high GPA/high MCAT requirements before allowing you to advance to med school (e.g. nix the small WashU program) AND is a place you'd be happy to be both undergrad and grad, I'd very strongly endorse it. To turn the prior post on its head, life in college pre-med is a lot sweeter when you've already been accepted to med school. Just a lot less worry about grades, a lot more freedom to experiment academically and socially without fear of compromising your career prospects.

    Again, 7-8 year programs can be awesome for a select few, but read the fine print carefully. They are certainly not created equal.
  • soakupthesunsoakupthesun Registered User Posts: 155 Junior Member
    I'm in the same position as you snuff....
  • beanieboobeanieboo Registered User Posts: 718 Member
    my brother knew in HS that he wanted to be a doctor so he went through the same thing as you guys. acutally, when he was looking for colleges he ONLY looked at ones that had 7-year med programs. he got to the final round of the process at TCNJ and was not accepted. however, he is very glad that he wasnt. he wound up attending there and was very happy with his undergrad experience and is now in his first year of med school at UMDNJ.

    the only regret he has is that he didnt look into more schools. he limited himself to 7-year med programs that were closeby. the only upper tier school he applied to was upenn and he was waitlisted there (still impressive) and we all know that if he had applied to many "better" schools than TCNJ he had a good shot of getting in. however, he went to college for free and now my parents are paying for med school so he really cant complain.
  • skrosuriskrosuri Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Can anyone give me the latest information about good colleges offering 6 year and 7 year Med program. Also I know that Brown's 8 year program is good, any other program in this range?
This discussion has been closed.