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Premed at U of Richmond vs. BS/MD at VCU?

RadGeekRadGeek 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
Dear Friends:

I am writing this post to ask for an unbiased and honest opinion to make a cognizant and practical decision in the college selection process for my son:

- We are Asian Americans and live in NC but soon will be moving to VA. My son is committed to be a physician and want to pursue premed with chemistry major.

- He has always been in a small charter (or private) schools, therefore a smaller class size, and relationships with peers and faculty members matter a lot to him.

- We are looking for a school with progressive environment and sufficient diversity, strong pre med program with higher med school acceptance, adequate research and physician research opportunities, smaller class size, and fruitful interactions with professors.

He has been selected for numerous top notched colleges but keeping University of Richmond as his top choice. In addition, he has also interviewed at VCU for their GMED/BS/MD program; results are awaited (keeping fingers crossed).

He has received SIGNIFICANT merit scholarship at UR, hence cost is nowhere a criterion. As we are moving to VA soon, therefore he will be an instate student while pursuing BS/MD at VCU except his first year. We heard all selected GMED students receive significant merit scholarships.

Based on our research, we have following information:

- U of Richmond: It’s a small liberal arts college with strong community. He will likely receive personal attention and make relationships with peers and faculty members. They provide 4000$ for summer fellowships and research to all students. He may receive highly personalized and strong recommendation letters for med school. They also have a dedicated mentor and advisor and help in preparing for MCAT. Their affiliation with VCU/other medical centers is great for shadowing and research opportunities. Their med school acceptance is 70-80%. They are very diverse and progressive. They have been ranked among best career services, best classroom experiences, best quality of life, happiest students, best study abroad and best run colleges. Their professors are highly ranked and accessible. The location is great, and he would stay closer to the family. VA has four in state medical schools, and he may apply anywhere in or outside the state afterwards. Though UR is relatively less known outside the NE/east coast. The biggest issue is that there is no guaranteed admission to med school and he has to go through strenuous admission process and be fully committed to the premed/volunteering etc requirements.

- VCU BS/MD: We understand having a guaranteed place in VCU MD program is a great option; however, my son is not very excited about VCU’s undergrad experience. As mentioned above, he has always been in a small charter or private school and personal rapport with faculty members/peers matters a lot to him and his success. Moreover, VCU comes with all pros and cons of a large public universities. Accessibility to professors, making bonds, competition for limited research opportunities and scholarship funds etc all will be discouraging factors. Unfortunately, they are not highly ranked anywhere in STEM, though their medical school is reputed. Location is same as U of Richmond. Not sure if it will be worthy to compromise his undergraduate experience? However, on the other hand he might eventually learn perfect life lessons and real-world experiences in such a large public university and grow as an adult quicker then UR. Though I am also concerned about him being lost in a big school and not being as successful as he could in a smaller nurturing environment.

In summary, the major question is as follows:

1. BS/MD vs. conventional premed pathway (in a A+ university with significant scholarship), what should we choose?

I’d highly appreciate if all of you can share your valuable insight and/or experiences and guide us in this extremely perplexing situation.

Thank you in advance.

Kind regards,

12 replies
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Replies to: Premed at U of Richmond vs. BS/MD at VCU?

  • promom4promom4 103 replies2 threads Junior Member
    The BS/MD programs I am familiar with treat these students with many extra perks as they are typically the cream of the crop. Lots of extra attention & interactions with faculty.

    The auto admit is truly priceless in many situations.

    I know nothing about VCU. The situation I am very familiar with - the student never would have considered the university if not for the BS/MD program and their selection for it. They are having a top-notch experience, now a sophomore.
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  • merc81merc81 11676 replies199 threads Senior Member
    With respect to academic preparation in core sciences such as physics, chemistry and biology, the University of Richmond would indeed provide a top-notch education with a strong undergraduate focus. UR, however, probably falls a bit short of some of the progressive social ideals you have referenced, so I recommend your son experience its atmosphere before solidifying his choice. Overall, I think Richmond would make a smart choice in this comparison though.
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  • RadGeekRadGeek 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @ promom4 : thank you for your response, appreciate it. Agree with "extra perks" received by the honors college/GMED students. Good to hear about other students having good time in BS/MD program- its encouraging.

    @merc81: He has attended a class at UR and visited the campus and liked it; he might fit well. Agree about quality of education at UR- only concern is guaranteed admission MD vs. going through strenuous process with an uncertainty.
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  • HippobirdyHippobirdy 672 replies1 threads Member
    Based on other threads, I would say if he does well at U Richmond he would be excellent candidate for VA med schools.
    Other threads often raise concern about grade deflation- would that be issue at U Richmond?
    You can see med school data and inquire further at U Richmond and VCU premed advising offices. And consider VA med schools- see their costs and from where they take undergrads, often preference given to in state residents.
    See page 5 for example
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  • RadGeekRadGeek 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @ Hippobirdy: thank you so much for responding again :smile: , much appreciate your kindness. Not sure if you even remember, we applied to VCU BS/MD because of your post on my other thread.
    We have shortlisted UR based on all recommendations made by other forum members, and grade deflation is not an issue at UR.
    By the way, this AAMC link was very useful- thanks for sharing.
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  • RadGeekRadGeek 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited March 7
    Thanks for sharing, I read them with deep introspection and contemplation :)
    Useful info. We are still waiting for VCU's decision though.
    edited March 7
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82760 replies738 threads Senior Member
    The VCU guaranteed MD admission is contingent on things listed at https://honors.vcu.edu/admissions/guaranteed-admission/gmed-requirements/ , notably earning a 3.5 college GPA overall and in prerequisite sciences, and 3.4 college GPA in a choice of four out of eight upper level science courses, and earning a 505 on the MCAT. Note that 3.5/3.4 GPA is more difficult to earn in college than in high school. Also, the usual pre-med extracurriculars are required.

    https://www.aamc.org/system/files/2019-11/2019_FACTS_Table_A-23.pdf indicates that medical school applicants with a 3.5 college GPA and 505 MCAT had an admission rate of only 26.5%, so having guaranteed admission at those stats is a big advantage. A regular pre-med trying to reach the 50% admission rate zone would probably need something like 3.9 / 503, 3.7 / 507, or 3.5 / 511. To reach the 75% admission rate zone would probably need something like 3.9 / 513 or 3.7 / 516. Having to chase grades to that level (while doing pre-med extracurriculars) may detract from the undergraduate experience, except for the few super-brilliant students who find college courses to be easy A without excessive effort.

    The guaranteed entry if one fulfills the conditions also means skipping the expensive, stressful, and often futile (60% of applicants get shut out) medical school application process.

    Also, in-state cost of attendance at VCU medical school is about $70k per year, about $35k of which is tuition. This is much less than the expected medical school cost of attendance (should plan on $100k per year or more, since successful pre-meds typically only have one medical school admission offer, with most having tuition around $65-70k per year, for a total cost of $100k per year or more). Completing medical school with ~$120k less debt may lower the debt pressure that new physicians often face -- such debt pressure can limit career and life choices and compromise ethics by forcing the new physician to chase money at every decision.

    If he is highly committed to going to medical school and he gets into the VCU express lane to medical school, it is hard to see why that would not be the choice.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82760 replies738 threads Senior Member
    RadGeek wrote: »
    - We are looking for a school with progressive environment and sufficient diversity,

    If student diversity is an important criterion, VCU is more diverse in at least two dimensions than Richmond:

    * SES: Richmond has 41% without FA (for its higher list price), 18% Pell grant, while VCU has 28% without FA (for its lower list price for its mostly in-state students), 32% Pell grant. In other words, Richmond students' SES is strongly skewed toward the top 4% income/wealth, with fewer from the bottom half income/wealth, compared to VCU students' SES.

    * Race/ethnicity: Richmond percentages are 58/11/8/8/7/5/4/0/0. VCU percentages are 45/19/14/10/7/3/2/0/0 (both ordered by group size, but the order of groups is not the same -- for example, the second group at Richmond is non-resident alien at 11%, while the second group at VCU is black at 19%).

    If "progressive" means left-leaning politics, the Richmond area congressional districts VA-3 and VA-4 are solidly Democratic, but voted mainly for Biden over Sanders in the recent primary. However, a precinct level map shows that the precinct with and around University of Richmond preferred Biden, while the ones with and around VCU preferred Sanders.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82760 replies738 threads Senior Member
    edited March 7
    Richmond does have a pre-med committee that does pre-med advising and writes a recommendation letter to medical schools: https://prehealth.richmond.edu/advising/HPAC.html

    A pre-med committee typically will advise the pre-med on likelihood of getting into medical school and how strongly the committee letter of recommendation will be. A pre-med who is advised that his/her chances are poor and that the committee letter will not be strong can know early that s/he needs to switch to alternative plans without wasting a lot of time and money applying futilely to medical schools.

    But note that the presence of a pre-med committee will cause the medical school admission rate for the college to be higher, since the pre-meds with poor chances will be discouraged from applying, unlike at colleges without a pre-med committee.
    edited March 7
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  • RadGeekRadGeek 31 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Thank you so much for such a treasure of useful information. Sincerely appreciate your valuable time. You are awesome!
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  • mom2boys1999mom2boys1999 117 replies10 threads Junior Member
    Is he risk adverse? Does he want to go through the application for meds school process? For my kid the answers would point to BSMD- the guarantee is worth a lot for him. If your son isn’t anxious about getting in med school, then the choice is much easier.
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