Compare Ursinus Bryn Mawr Juniata Elizabethtown for Biology/Pre-med

Don’t be too swayed by numbers. Places that start with a higher percentage of high caliber students are going to do better, because it’s the high caliber students who go to med school. Those same high caliber students do well at places like Juniata too. A quick google search seemed to show their percentage around 90% and they had listed places like Johns Hopkins and Harvard med (MGH?) as locations recent graduates were at.

A detriment to high “percentage” places is they often “protect” their numbers by not letting “iffy” candidates apply. Only a 75% chance of getting in? Not good enough there because they only want sure things, but 75% means three out of four will make it in if allowed to apply with the school’s blessing. It’s another way of weeding IMO.

Pick best fit. When a student is where they truly fit in, then, IME, they tend to do well.


Yes. I feel the same way that each student needs to feel like they fit in at the college they choose. I think its so important that the student feels comfortable at that college and that this comfort and fit will enable the student to succeed.

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With her stats, she should try for Bryn Mawr. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. My daughter is headed there this fall. On the parents of the class of 2021 thread, a number of parents of academically serious daughters reported merit awards in the 30-40K range.

@MYOS1634 's list of recommended schools is excellent. Muhlenberg is great for pre-med and has some large merit awards. I have heard good things about Juniata. Lafayette and Dickinson also offer merit awards, Lafayette’s maximum merit goes up to full tuition, I believe.


Thank you for your reply.
My daughter has signed up for some virtual events with Bryn Mawr next week and when the campus opens next fall we will definitely visit.
Its great to hear about the merit aide offered at Bryn Mawr.
All of the schools that you mentioned are definitely on D23 list of considered schools.
I wish your daughter the best at Bryn Mayr.
Thank you.

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Obviously that’s true, but the discussion isn’t around a cohort, it’s about 1 person. There is a lot of research out there that supports the edge provided by a more selective undergrad experience for admission to graduate and medical schools.

The same kid with the same grades and the same MCAT scores will have a better chance of acceptance with Bryn Mawr on their resume than the other schools mentioned.

The experience of college is important, and nobody should ever go someplace just for prestige…but there is value is reputation. If there wasn’t, CC wouldn’t be so busy with discussions focused on 5% of all colleges in the US.

Could you please give the sources of all this research?

@WayOutWestMom your thoughts?

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I’m not going to do your homework for you…but here are a few…

Catching Up Is Hard to Do: Undergraduate Prestige, Elite Graduate Programs, and the Earnings Premium

A case study in bias for prestigious undergrads

Ranking the colleges…for getting into Yale Med, Chicago Business and all those other elite business, medical and law schools.

Do you know a kid who could have gone to MIT but went to someplace for a free ride and then Harvard Med…sure…but they’re a unicorn. Any kid who could go to a more prestigious undergrad institution, but decides against it, puts their admission to select graduate and medical school programs AND their lifetime earning potential at greater risk.

It’s an opinion.

Years ago, the poster BlueDevilMike was known to be the pre med guru on CC. I remember he said there were 7 UG schools that could give somebody a tip, just based on the track record of previous students. Outside those 7, all were fair game.


Actually, I know more than several kids who turned down prestige schools to attend free ride undergrad colleges…and they did their medical school or residency programs at places like Yale and Harvard.

It’s fine to have this opinion…about the prestige of an undergrad school and how it affects admissions. I’m willing to admit mine is based on the students I personally know. So…fact in those cases.

It’s a choice students needs to make. Some would happily lose a little in annual salary to NOT have any undergrad debt.


You can’t say I didn’t see that coming…

I know a kid who turned down an Ivy for a guaranteed Medical school admission and free undergrad…and then the program changed. He struggled to find a med school with great MCATs, a 4.0 and no debt. He’d gladly give someone $100k for an opportunity to do it over again.

I know…and that’s terrible when things like that happen…I agree.

Picking a strong undergrad program is a good idea because it opens doors to many other options just in case medical school falls off the table. I do agree that students should look for a strong undergrad program that is affordable.


I know strong students from our high school who went to higher level colleges because they got in, then they felt they weren’t strong enough there to compete for the med school slots, so gave up. They told me they gave up because they didn’t feel they were strong enough students in their freshmen weeder classes.

I’ve often wondered if those same students had picked somewhere where they were in the Top 25% of incoming students if they’d have had a different outcome. I’m not coming up with any who were in the Top 25% of incoming students and wanted to be pre-med who didn’t make it into med school if they chose to apply. Some of these have had SAT scores in the 1200s and low 1300s. (There are some who decided med school wasn’t for them, but not due to grades - just due to finding something else appealing.)

It’s a strong enough correlation from what I’ve seen that I always now highly recommend students be in that Top 25% if they are serious about pre-med. Perception of how you fit in with your peers means a lot in those early classes. If Top 25% means a top level school, go for it if you want to.


Thank you for all of your excellent comments and insights.

In my opinion I have read and had personal experiences with the issue of whether to attend a more prestigious undergrad before applying to med school.
I feel that med schools want to see two important things grades and MCAT scores.

If you score above a total GPA of 3.7 and above a science course GPA of 3.4 and an MCAT above 550 you should get into any med school you apply. The med schools do not really care about what undergrad you went to. They want to see the raw grade numbers.

On the Bryn Marw web site it says that students who score above 3.4 GPA in their science classes and get a 10 or higher in all sections of the MCAT have a 94% chance of getting into med school.

Thus, I agree with Creekland’s opinion that a student should go to a school where they are considered in the Top 25% of their class. This should assure them of making those grades and also acquiring the much needed confidence and self disipline it takes to be pre-med and get into med school.

If students have the same grades and scores and are applying to a prestigious med school , will the med school look at what undergrad the students went to?
Perhaps but it will also depend on how those students do in their interviews and the reseach and voluntering they did.

Another very important factor is financial . All prestigiuos colleges are out of reach for my family and many others. My family does not qualify for any need based aide. We also are not wealthy enough to spend 76k per year for a school that gives no merit aide. I have four kids so we have a budget that I can spend on them 40k each year for college. Anything over that and they will need to take out loans.
Its a real shame the prestigious colleges are shutting out a great group of smart kids because they fall into a certain income bracket but that’s the way the college game works today.

Thanks again for all of your comments and opinions. CC is an excellent site with a wealth of information.


If you score above a total GPA of 3.7 and above a science course GPA of 3.4 and an MCAT above 550 you should get into any med school you apply

Just note that nowadays a gpa 3.7 may or may not be a cut off rather than a guarantee and a science GPA needs to be 3.5+ for the “pre human eyes” phase … 3.7/3.4 is absolutely NOT sufficient to get into med school, just enough to pass the first, algorithm-based cut, and move to the second phase of selection. Then all activities, qualities, and achievements come into play. Then there are interviews. And not all who interview get a spot.
Wrt MCAT, a score of 512 is generally sufficient, 510 is a minimum to have a shot, and a score of 516+ is extremely rare. (550 doesn’t exist, theoretically a student could get 527 or 528, no higher. There’s no advantage at the top-end, just like SAT 750=760=770=780=790=800 as far as elite colleges are concerned.)


This is not uniformly true. Remember…60% of medical school applicants receive zero acceptances, and of the 40% accepted many get one acceptance.


Thank you for clarifying. I apprecitate it.

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If anyone wants to look, here’s the list from AAMC giving the odds of “an” acceptance by GPA and MCAT scores:

For a GPA of 3.79+ and a MCAT of 517+ the acceptance rate was 86.6% recently. That’s the highest rate, of course. Keep the high GPA and drop the MCAT to 514-517 and the rate goes down to 80.5%.

Every pre-med wannabe should have a Plan B. If Plan A works, great. If not, having a Plan B beats wondering “what do I do now?”


Another way to put it for @d87d87 : even if you’re in the top 1-2% applicants you still have a 1 in 5 chance to get into zero med school.
That’s why choosing a college is important: you need to be top 25%, top 10% perhaps, top 30% perhaps, but not top 5% and not mid 50% there… it’s a delicate balance, finding a place that meets academic needs with sufficient but not too much challenge.
And always have a plan B, and C, in mind. Odds are overwhelmingly against any premed making it into med school, even if they’ve always wanted to be a doctor.


Let’s please return to the OPs original questions of comparing Ursinus, Bryn Mawr, Juniata, and Elizabethtown. Thanks!


It is important to give the OP factual data that is relevant to ALL med school prospects, just not only the schools she has listed