Carleton vs. Middlebury vs. Swarthmore - PreMed to Med School Details

Hi Folks, My son is extremely interested in attending Carleton College. He wants to pursue a B.S in Biology (Premed track). I’d like to understand how does Carleton compare with other Private LAC’s like Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams, Pomonain preparing students for a Medical career? Also if there are stats on how do most premed students at Carleton do on the MCAT that’d be appreciated? I’ve seen on the Carleton website that they’ve sent students to a number of Medical Schools? Also appreciate feedback on opportunities for research? I am soliciting feedback to see which of these schools (Carleton, Swarthmore, Amherst, Williams or Middlebury) should he ED (his ACT is 35/36; UW GPA: 3.93/4.0 & he plays Varsity baseball & Tennis, has done observership under a Nephrologist this Summer). He is a HS Senior (Class of 2025)

Check out A-2 - colleges supplying 50 or more applicants.

I dont see Carleton on this list. I do see Pomona (64) and Middlebury (66).

There are 2 ways to interpret this.

  1. Higher number of applicants points to strong premed program at these small schools.
  2. Lower number of applicants points to less competition from your peers applying from the same college because they are choosing other fields.

A few years ago, a parent at admitted days heard how many people apply from Stanford to medical schools and said openly that her daughter will go to MIT instead because there will be a lot less competition for med school from MIT. In this chart Stanford shows 223 to MITs 85 for a 50% larger student body size at Stanford.

While helpful, remember the chart above is number of applicants, not number of acceptances.

Reach out to the pre-health advising departments at the schools on your list, after researching their websites.

-What kind of programs/resources do they have for pre-meds? Opportunities for patient facing experience (job or volunteer)?

-Do they give everyone who wants to apply to med school a committee letter? (some schools gatekeep, and only allow support students with X GPA and X MCAT)

-Do they have an MCAT prep course?

-What proportion of the applicants from the table above were graduating seniors?

-Do they help students apply after a gap year? After a Post-Bacc? After an SMP?

-What is their historical acceptance rate? (understand what’s in the numerator and denominator, vis a vis the categories in my previous questions)

All the schools that you list above with have good pre-health advising and resources. I might be concerned at Swat in particular and one’s ability to get a high GPA.

Bottom line, go to school where you can get a high GPA, has good pre-health advising, and major in something that you like.

It sounds like you want to be certain that your student will get accepted to medical school and will have a high MCAT score.

I’m not sure your questions can be answered. Many many med school applicants apply a year or two after undergrad school. Unless the undergrad requires a MCAT score for a committee letter, the undergrad school would have no idea what the MCAT scores of grads are.

There are successful medical school applicants from all of those schools as well as medical school applicants who get accepted no place.

Your students decision about early decision should not be about where he might be the more successful medical school applicant. It should be about the school he prefers in a huge way above all the others.

Fact is…he may never apply to medical school.

@WayOutWestMom what did I miss?

Adding…you have four threads going with the same question. Please understand, there’s no school in this country that can guarantee a high MCAT score and medical school acceptances.

It sounds like your son is interested in Carleton, and if so, that’s where he should apply ED. These are all great schools, and he stands the best chance at getting into a top medical school if he’s thriving in the college of his choice. I recommend he look at the courses offered by each school in his intended major. That will help narrow the choices down. I also recommend he look at the student newspaper of each school because it will give him a feel for the culture. Best of luck!

I agree with @thumper1

Colleges do not publicly report the MCAT scores of their students. So you’re not going to find that information anywhere.

Also MCAT scores do not say anything about the rigor or quality of an undergrad pre-med education at any given school. A MCAT score is more a reflection of the student’s self-discipline & diligence in preparing for the MCAT and their native intellectual ability than anything else. The MCAT does not test the knowledge learned in pre-med coursework. It tests how well the student can take that knowledge and apply it to novel situations.

BTW, med school pre-reqs are all introductory level classes that you can find at any community college in the country (except for biochem). Students who take their pre-reqs at CC can and do score very well on the MCAT.

Since the majority of students who enter college as pre-med do not persist on that pathway and will never apply to med school (and not because they are not intellectually capable of doing so/aren’t able to earn good grades, but because the path to becoming a physician is very long, tedious and requires jumping through tons of hoops), I would urge your son to look for a college that offer him the best combination of fit, opportunity and costs.

Fit because happy students do better academically.
Opportunity, including the opportunity to explore other majors and other careers, because the odds say that your son will find some other career path that is NOT medicine during college.
Cost because medical school is hideously expensive and pre-meds need to minimize any undergrad debt.

RE: Research is the least necessary EC for med school applicants. High school students and their parents often greatly over-estimate the value of undergrad research in developing a med school application. Med school adcomms in a national survey ranked research as being of “medium” importance when making decisions about who to interview. Patient-facing ECs (clinical experience, physician shadowing), community service with the disadvantaged and leadership roles in their activities were all ranked as having the most importance by med school adcomms.

N=1. One of D2's best friends from HS attended Carleton and later went to med school.  She did just fine in her application cycle, receiving multiple acceptances.

All three schools are great LACs that produce good candidates for med schools. There is no differences to the eye of med school adcomms between them. Whats important is how your kid perform in the school, not from which school. med school prerequisite courses are all cut throat in all and any schools. There are limit number of As the professor will hand out and if you cannot get them, you will have problems in getting into med school.

As WOWM said above, choose the most compatible school and happy student gets the higher scores.

If your student doesn’t have a clear number one choice, why ED at all? Apply regular decision to all of these and figure out the matriculation choice at the end of April.

Your student might have a very different perspective in six months than he has now.

There is no need to apply ED.

Among these three top-level LACs, ED does make a difference in acceptance. Sometimes it gives a significant advantage in ED, but the criteria are that your student must love the school and wants to be there if accepted.

Has the kid visited them all and perhaps stayed on campus for a day with an attending student? It will help him to make the decision easier.

@artloversplus did you forget this is Covid college year and these visits are not happening at the vast majority of places…especially overnights.

If this kid isn’t saying “Carlton is THE place” he should not be applying ED.

It sounds like the parent is looking for the ED option that will best guarantee a high MCAT and best chances for medical school acceptance. In my opinion, if this is the reason for applying ED…the student should not be applying ED.

Seems like she did more than just fine, being one of the ~12% of medical school applicants who got more than one admission.

I don’t have access to the latest AAMC undergrad report, but have in the recent past. Just about everything everybody here says is consistent with those numbers. Swat, Midd, Carleton, Pomona, Williams, W&L, Davidson all tend to bounce around 40-70 applicants per year (Carleton had 55 a couple of years ago) and all have roughly the same MD acceptance rate (insanely good). But, as noted numerous times here and elsewhere, that acceptance rate is far from the most important factor in deciding whether you should ED somewhere.