Baylor vs. Tulane Biology/Pre-med

I’m trying to decide between Baylor in Waco, TX and Tulane in NOLA. I’ve visited both schools and liked both. My plan is to major in biology as a pre-med, and I know that either college would give me a good shot at medical school. Tulane definitely seems to be superior academically, though, and I was also accepted to the honors program there. My concern with Tulane is that I was a little intimidated by NOLA as I’ve never really lived near a big city, and New Orleans is a city with a huge personality. I’m also not into partying/drinking and that seems to be a larger part of the culture there (or maybe I’m just getting that impression from the Facebook group). I like that Baylor is a Christian university, and it seems a lot more like the kind of environment I’m used to. Financially, it would cost about the same to go to either place. I was hoping that I would step on campus and one would just feel “right,” but since that didn’t happen and I seem to like them both equally, I wondered if anyone here could offer a different perspective. Thanks!


Well, the good news is there is no bad decision here! Both fine schools. But I think Tulane is your better decision here. Sure I am biased, but here are the specific reasons I say this.

First, don’t worry about the party aspect of Tulane. Several reasons I say that. For one thing, there is plenty of partying and drinking at Baylor. And unlike with New Orleans, there are few alternatives. My D was a serious student like you, she graduated from Tulane 2014 Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude. She didn’t drink or party in the sense that people usually use those terms, and she loved NOLA. Her like minded friends and she would go to nice music spots and drink lightly if they wanted, saw local theater productions, rented movies/TV series and had “X” fests (X=Buffy, Firefly, Terminator, whatever) and on the weekends would walk to Magazine Street, enjoy Audubon Park, take the bus to City Park for the museums, etc. Since you are in the Honors Program (and I will refer to that again), you will be living in Wall with your peers and many of them are these like-minded types I referred to. FYI, she is finishing up her masters at Stanford.

As far as that Facebook group, it is heavily populated by the party-hearty types. That is not surprising. Like a lot of the more selective schools, including Duke, Vandy, etc. all the students are academically accomplished, but some are more academically serious than others.

Second, I would say that getting out of your “comfort zone” and experiencing NOLA is good for you, and potentially for your proposed career as a doctor. You need to learn to understand all kinds of people, and NOLA is a perfect place to do that. And you could end up loving it. Many, nay even most do.

Third, as part of the Honors program you will have all kinds of opportunities for research, including in the summer. This could lead to published papers, but even if not in the time frame of your med school applications, it will lead to a close relationship with one or more profs and thus excellent recs, which is important for med school.

Finally, and this kind of ties back into #2, Tulane requires 2 semesters of a service learning course, where you get involved in the community. I have to think there are ones that can be useful for med school applications and make you stand out a little. Going back to my D, her majors, Asian (China) Studies and English (Creative Writing) are very different than yours, as are her career ambitions, Foreign Service. But she applied for a summer slot with the Dept. of State that is at least as competitive as med school. Obviously she got it, or I wouldn’t be telling this story. One of the interviewers told her that her service learning semester really stood out to them. It involved working with an organization that put together a newspaper for the homeless to sell and learn job skills, which included outreach to the homeless as well as writing and editing stories. Her summer in DC and her next summer in Taipei, Taiwan both involved outreach to remote populations. The point, of course, is that I see no reason you couldn’t have a similar experience that is both positive to you as a person and positive to your career goals.

I am sure Baylor has a lot as well. But at Tulane, this is organically designed into your experience there. If that appeals to you, then Tulane is the way to go.

I might be able to jump into this a bit. I graduated from Baylor and am now a psychiatrist. I did not major in a science but took a circuitous route to medical school after graduating with a degree in political science. Both are great schools and I don’t think you can go wrong with either school. The most important aspect of a pre-medical education is attending a school in which you can keep your GPA high. All pre-med courses across the US are essentially the same. The separation for admission is how well did you perform academically (overall GPA, science GPA) and MCAT scores. While I consider Tulane to be a slightly better school, there will likely not be any repetitional bump in medical school admissions. So, go where you think you might perform the best and the place where you might feel the most comfortable thriving. If I had to do it all over again, I would return to Baylor in a heartbeat. Unless I had the chance to live in NOLA. But that’s just me…you have to do you. Good luck! And sic’ em!