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If California is bad for premed, where is good?

dadof4kidsdadof4kids Registered User Posts: 454 Member
I've seen several posts that suggest avoiding going to CA for undergrad, just because there are so many premeds there in relation to medical school slots. Makes sense to me. But my question is where (geographically) would be a good place to go to undergrad if the ultimate goal is med school? Logically if CA is over represented, somewhere must be underrepresented.

Also if a student is from say Wisconsin and goes to undergrad in Alabama, is there an advantage to that student in Alabama? Wisconsin? I have seen it stated here that some med schools give a preference to their residents, but I'm not sure how that works if a student goes to college in a different state. Who if anyone will still give that student a preference?

Wisconsin and Alabama picked randomly, btw. Just trying to understand generally how the process works.

I know there's a lot more involved, fit, EC's, GPA, MCAT, etc. Right now I'm just trying to figure out this one aspect. So I don't need info on anything else. Just trying to get a handle on how the residency preference works. Thanks.

Replies to: If California is bad for premed, where is good?

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,627 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    The best chance for a med school admission is usually in the applicant's home state. This is especially true if the state's public med school(s) has/have highly protected admissions. (i.e. strongly favor in-state applicants)

    Generally speaking, attending an OOS undergrad has little effect on in-state admission for a state med school. Often state med schools use the location of a student's high school of record to determine if they will get any in-state preference. However, some (many?) states expect applicants to have demonstrated an affiliation to their home state through recent community service and/or to have demonstrated an intent to remain in-state to practice after med school graduation and residency.

    Since public med schools have as their mission to provide physicians to serve in the state, A student from Wisconsin who attends Alabama (to use your example) would not get much--or any-- special consideration from Alabama public med schools--which have strongly protected in-state admissions. The student is still a resident of Wisconsin and would get admission preference in Wisconsin. The only way for the OOS student to gain preference at Alabama med schools would be to remain in Alabama after college graduation, establish residency there, and demonstrate an intent to remain & eventually practice medicine in Alabama.

    If you look at AAMC FACTS tables A-1, A-3, A-4, A-5 (see https://www.aamc.org/data/facts/applicantmatriculant/), you can start to get a feel for which state strongly favor the in-staters. Even more detailed data on in-state vs OOS interview & acceptances rates are available in MSAR and USNews. (subscription required)

    There are some public med schools that accept very few OOS students: all Texas publics, UC Riverside, New Mexico, North Dakota, East Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi, CUNY, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington St., UWash (WWAMI residents only), Puerto Rico, MUSC, Alabama, South Alabama, SIU, Indiana. These schools provide great opportunities if you are a state resident, but applying to them as an OOSer may be waste of your application $$. You need to carefully read the admission page for these schools to look at the selection criteria. (For example, both UND SOM and UNM SOM are national magnet programs for Native American students and NA applicants are considered on the same footing as in-state residents.)

    OTOH, California public med schools have very little stated preference for in-state residents. (Except for the UC-Riverside program which only considers residents from the Inland Empire area).

    And then there is UVermont--which has a strong in-state preference but because the number of in-state applicants is so small 80-85% of each in-coming class is made up of OOSers.

    What all of this means--your student needs to do their research when it comes time to apply to med school. Read each school's admission page carefully to find its admission criteria, state residency preferences, and the school's mission statement.


    Private med schools are a whole 'nother story. Privates generally display no state residency preferences at all.


    The knock on CA for undergrad is a volume issue. CA alone produces 10-15% of ALL med school applicants at a national level every year. (>6000 annually) It's easy for even good applicants to get lost in the crowd during undergrad. Additionally there is huge competition for volunteer positions in hospitals near college campuses, for positions in on-campus research labs, and for top grades at the UCs in the pre-med"weeder" classes.

  • artloversplusartloversplus Registered User Posts: 8,391 Senior Member
    The thing is that if you are a CA resident already, it is too late to choose Home States unless you want to move the entire family, including jobs to a "lessor competitive state such as Arkansas" one year prior. It is probably not worth the parents efforts to move to a more med school friendly state just for your kids to get into a med school. Besides, more than 50% premeds either drop out or change their mind during the college years.

    When you say "If California is bad for premed, where is good?" perhaps it should mean that as an OOS UG student, do not come to CA for premed as the colleges in CA not only costly but also hostile to premeds.
  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids Registered User Posts: 454 Member
    Thanks for all that info. It sounds like I an combining 2 separate issues. We live where we live, my family isn't really portable right now. And D probably isn't going to take steps to establish a bona fide domicile in another state as an undergrad. So that issue doesn't really matter, except to know that D probably had the best chance of admission at our state med school.

    Are there college or universities that are particularly friendly to premeds? I know generally that she needs to find one where she can get an excellent GPA and also have classes difficult enough to prepare her for the MCAT, looking for more specific advice. She has a couple years to go so I'm not looking real hard right now, but doing research for her brother and since I'm in that mode I'm doing a bit of my background work for her too. She doesn't know enough yet to know if she wants a big University or a LAC. I know that will matter and "fit" and cost and lots of things. Just wondering if there are some schools with good reputations, just like JHU and the CA schools have reputations as tough weeders.

    Any PM's welcome. I know sometimes people don't like to share personal experiences on the board.

    Thanks again

  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids Registered User Posts: 454 Member
    Just looked at those tables. Apparently I live in a state that loves its in state students.
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,627 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    TBH, it really doesn't matter a whole heck of a lot where your D goes to undergrad if she plans to go to med school.

    The required pre-med courses are all fairly low level/introductory courses that are offered at just about every college in the country. The material covered in those classes is pretty standardized on a national level.

    And college coursework by itself--no matter what college she attends--will not prepare her for the MCAT.
    MCAT preparation is all on the student. The pre-req classes only provide the necessary background subject area knowledge needed for MCAT prep.

    My general advice for pre-meds is to choose a college that provides the best combination of fit, affordability and opportunity.

    Fit--because happier students do better academically. And there's data to back that up.

    Affordability--because med school is hideously expensive and there is almost no FA besides loans, loans & more loans. Students contemplating med school need to minimize undergrad debt as much as possible.

    Opportunity--because it make her life easier if her campus offers research options, is near healthcare facilities and has plentiful community service opportunities. She should also try to find a college that will allow her to stretch academically & intellectually and pursue any special interests she may have. (Because this makes her a stronger & more interesting applicant as well a more well rounded, well educated & interesting adult.)

    It's also useful if there is decent pre-med advising at her college, but that's not critical.

    One last item to consider is if the college offers a health committee letter. A HP committee can be a good thing or bad thing. It's good if your student is one of the top candidates for med school graduating from the college that year since a strong committee endorsement will enhance an application. Bad, if your student is a weaker candidate since the committee can quash their application completely or give a lukewarm/weak endorsement that will substantially damage their chances for a med school admission.

    Her college doesn't need to be "brand name," but it shouldn't be a tiny, fundamentalist religious school that doesn't teach conventionally accepted science (like evolution) or a never-heard-of-it directional state school. (i.e. North-South regional state-name teachers college)
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,627 Senior Member
    edited December 2017
    ETA: one of my kidlets went to top 30 research U, well known for its pre-med program (and tough weeding). My other kidlet went to a state U (free tuition!!) with a < 50% graduation rate, Both had multiple acceptances to med school.

    Med school admission really about the student, not the college.

  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 907 Member
    There is an advantage for in state admission to in a backward state or from a rural area of the state. They want doctors who will practice in those areas, and the public schools in those areas are not that good. It is somewhat similar to easier admission to black medical schools, which has been true for a long time. If you are from New York or California, you don't have that sort of advantage.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown Posts: 8,219 Forum Champion
    If you are from New York or California, you don't have that sort of advantage.
    NY yes, because NY does not have a heavy IS bias. CA students have a HUGE advantage at CA schools. It is nearly impossible for an OOS student to go to med school in CA. The problem is there are way more CA students than CA medical school seats.
  • sattutsattut Registered User Posts: 907 Member
    Right, but CA medical school aren't much easier to get into instate than ordinary private medical schools. MS, WV, and so on medical schools are way easier to get into.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown Posts: 8,219 Forum Champion
    ^not if you are not a resident of those states
  • mjscalmjscal Registered User Posts: 188 Junior Member
    California residents only have a huge admission advantage at UC Riverside and UC Davis when it comes to Medical Schools. UCI and UCSD give no in state admissions preference but matriculate mostly California residents. UCLA also gives no in state preference, UCSF does but both get an application pool which is about 50% in state and matriculate about 1/3 of the classes are out of state. Most medical schools, even private ones tend to matriculate students from their geographic region as most people tend to want to stay close to home. California also has a lot of very qualified applicants as it is home to many outstanding Colleges such as UCB, UCLA, UCSD, UCSB,UCD,Stanford, USC, Cal Tech etc. and most want to stay in California.
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