Dickinson as Premed for a student not interested in politics

Does anybody have a child in Dickinson who is premed or was premed?
I am looking for feedback in the areas of:

  1. quality of teaching premed classes
  2. difficulty or not keeping GPA up (in 3.7 range)
  3. happiness on campus in general
  4. premed advising experience
  5. support from teachers if necessary outside of classes
  6. success with med school admission (there is very little info that I could find online)
    DD is accepted with average merit (35K). It is her favorite school out of the ones she was accepted. I have some reservations because the school is more focused on politics and international relations -not her interests.
    Anecdotal evidence. She stopped meeting a friend outside of school who could not shut up about politics. It was getting on her nerves. In her circle of close friends (who all have different views), an agreement is not to touch politics at all. We are truly independent and because of all of the above, I have serious concerns about her happiness in such an environment. Any experience at Dickinson for an independent kid absolutely not interested in politics?

Thank you.


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it’s her favorite school and she got good merit. that seals the deal as far as I’m concerned. pre-med can be done anywhere and a LAC like Dickinson will provide her the resources she needs. not a research powerhouse but she can do research in a summer. All colleges, espeically LAC’s, can get political at times but there will be plenty of less politically aggressive kids (likely a majority ). I wouldn’t let one conversation with one student scare you away.



Congratulations to your daughter! A 35K merit scholarship from Dickinson is impressive and quite uncommon. :tada:

Having a 3.7 in college is VERY difficult (quite unlike in HS).

That being said, Dickinson doesn’t “weed” (unlike large public universities, it doesn’t need to because it has sufficient resources, so there’s no limit on how many students can get A’s or B’s) and students get excellent advising with a personal adviser right from the beginning of freshman year as well as pre-health advising sessions right from the beginning of the first semester freshman year, with steps to take to make sure they’re on the right path.

Dickinson isn’t just for political science afficionados - lots of students go there for science, foreign language, business&management, or for their emphasis on linking liberal arts&professional outcomes. The Ethics or Health Studies minors are popular supporting fields for premeds.
I don’t remember exactly off the top of my head if it’s 2 or 3, but professors have 2 or 3 office hours a week + by appointment and the classes are fairly small so anyone who wants to meet with a professor, can, without a long line out the door.

Nationally, most HS seniors who say they want to become doctors, don’t. Some discover new fields in college and focus on these. Others discover they really don’t like organic chemistry or biostatistics. Some don’t make it through the very difficult gauntlet that is the set of premed core classes in addition to getting A’s in their major. Of those who make it through the gauntlet and manage to get experience and clinical hours and volunteering with underserved populations, only 40% (nationally) get into ANY med school.
Dickinson does better than national average, in part because the students are not weeded out (meaning the college doesn’t purposely limit how many can get to Orgo and how many from those get a med-school worthy grade) and in part because of the advising, but all premeds need a Plan B. Does Dickinson allow your daughter to develop and fulfill a Plan B?


On Ipeds it looks like there are far more STEM graduates at Dickinson than IR/PoliSci/Legal Studies. 9V4J-F1K8-JMV3-5DU3TR

Regarding med school admission, your D should chat with a pre-health advisor and ask questions. Big picture it’s difficult to get med school success rate numbers out of any school, and if you do, the devil is in the details (meaning ultimately comparing with other schools’ success rates is difficult).

Some things to sort thru if you do get data: Does the data include MD and DO applicants? Does it include all students who applied that year (including prior years’ grads, and those who have done SMP or post-BACC programs)…this is important to know because older applicants and those with SMP or Post-BACCs often have some advantages in admissions. How does Dickinson support apps for those a few years out of undergrad?

Dickinson does use committee letters, and it’s not clear if everyone who wants to apply to med school gets one or if they gatekeep (cherrypicking those most likely to succeed in med school admissions). Your D needs to understand this process at every school she is considering. If one doesn’t get a committee letter from their school (at schools that give them out), their med school apps won’t be successful. https://www.dickinson.edu/homepage/497/pre-health_curriculum


I get it.

Dickinson makes an explicit effort to “bring the world to Carlisle” and has one of the best (& easiest) study abroad programs- but while that appeals to IR kids, the purpose is to broaden the experience for all students*.

The students that I have known at Dickinson are not particularly political, but to the extent that they have opinions, they would be fairly centrist (though of course there are students at both ends of the spectrum!).

Re: what Dickinson is known for- the most popular major is international business (not International Relations) at 11%; then 9% for politics / related subjects, 7% psych, and everything else is less than 5%. In other words, there is a very big range of interests. Fwiw, the neuroscience program is very well respected.

That’s what we as parents do: we try to look ahead for problems we can head off at the pass. But the choosing of a college is something that she should really do for herself (assuming you have approved the financial side). Trust her. IF it turns out that she isn’t happy she can apply to transfer.

Finally, $35K is NOT average merit at Dickinson. Average merit is $20K, and less than 15% of the class are offered any merit at all. Dickinson is loving your daughter, and your daughter is loving them back. IMO it’s time to step back and let her step forward.

*This is a recent example- it might not be your cup of tea, but as you can see, it’s not about international relations/politics: Illustrating Spain in the US: the exhibition at Dickinson College | A Spanish cultural event in Carlisle, PA from 02/01/2023 until 03/10/2023




Even without explicit gatekeeping, the pre-med committee will likely advise the weaker applicants of their unlikely chance of success, which will cause many of them to self-select out of the pool of medical school applicants (applying to medical schools costs a lot of time and money).


I gather that you have told your student that you will finance 4, and only 4, years of college- which I think is entirely reasonable! And it is good that you are being clear with her about that upfront. I don’t know if your emphasis on that point is related to seeing other students take a longer path through college, but to clarify a couple of your points:

  1. it is possible to transfer between colleges without requiring extra time or extra cost to complete the degree. It does require that the student research carefully, but it is do-able.

  2. Re: changing majors- at Dickinson (and most colleges) majors are not required to be declared until the end of the second year, so with moderate care changing is not an issue. Depending on what the majors are it is sometimes possible to change majors as late as third year and still finish in 4 years.

As far as your questions about medical school prep, teaching, academic support, etc, how “good” the answers are relates to what the other choices are. If you tell us what the other choices are, posters can give you feedback on how they compare. The real question isn’t how good Dickinson is in the abstract- it matters how it compares to the other colleges to which your daughter has been accepted.


The OPs daughter hopes to apply to medical school after undergrad.

That being said, the OP posted that their kid would not be allowed to switch majors until grad school, and would also not be able to transfer colleges.

I want to say…students hoping to apply to medical school can major in anything in undergrad as long as they take the required courses for medical school applicants. This student very well could switch majors and still be considered “premed”. Premed students should take courses of study in undergrad that they actually enjoy. It’s also advised that they take courses which can lead to a Plan B just in case they don’t actually get accepted to medical school. So…my opinion is that this student might actually find a major that they like better than their initial choice, whatever that is.

Re: transferring…the issue is that this student wouldn’t be eligible for much merit aid as a transfer at most colleges. But their instate public flagship would be affordable, as well as the other instate publics in their home state.

And lastly…if someone changes their mind about being a doctor, they should not be forced to stick with it. No one should pursue a career in medicine if they change their minds and don’t really want to.

Dickinson is a small enough school, with great student advising. Surely, the advisors there can advise about majors, switching majors,etc.


My son was recently accepted to Dickinson and I would love to know more about the culture/politics as well. My son is not overly political and might get lost in the shuffle if many other kids are passionate about politics, one way or the other. He would be an international business major.

I sense that Dickinson is pretty centrist and average for political activity on campus.


Congratulations to those whose students got accepted to Dickinson. Great school!


I don’t think Dickinson is overtly political. I don’t believe a kid can get lost in the shuffle there- Some kids love politics. Some kids love ultimate frisbee. Some kids love volunteering in the community. He will meet his tribe for sure!

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In terms of majors, ANY major is good for med schools (those who do best are music majors, because being excellent at music at the college level while getting high enough grades in the premed core is uncommon) but an advantage of Dickinson and colleges like it is that it’s vey flexible. Students take pre-reqs as part of their gen eds and declare their major based on interests and strengths as demonstrated during college. It’s a “one college” approach - you’re admitted to the college as a whole and can declare any major once there. This way you tailor your choice based on what you’re strongest at, not what you thought you may be good at/liked when you were in HS. This is especially interesting to a premed since it allows them to choose the major where they’re most likely to get A’s.

I don’t think of Dickinson as very political.



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