Help my premed D22 choose between Haverford, Carleton, Grinnell, UCLA, UCSD (w Regents)

My D22 feels fortunate to have been admitted to UCLA, UCSD (Regents), UC Davis, Haverford, Grinnell, and Carleton.
She is trying to decide between these colleges- and would love to get the opinions of the CC community on this. At this time she is leaning towards Haverford but we are also interested in views of more experienced people on this forum. Thanks in advance.

The elephant in the room question, and especially if medical school is a consideration….is affordability. Medical school is insanely expensive, and is either funded through the bank of mom and dad, or through loans, loans and more loans.

So…I would say…this student can take the required courses for medical school applicants at any of these colleges. If she prefers the smaller school experience…I’d suggest looking at out of picket costs as a variable.


In choosing from among high quality schools, which, I presume, your daughter has researched thoroughly, the above inclination may suffice.

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My sample size is small. I am a doctor who went to Carleton and ended up well prepared for medical school so I was happy with my choice. But I had some friends there who were unable to get into med school due to being in the bottom 1/3 of the class although many other places they would have been in the top 1/3 of the class if not better. Same with a close friend of mine at Haverford. She struggled to get Bs in her pre-med classes, then she took a couple of pre-med classes at her local state school during one summer and got As pretty easily. But by then it was too late for her GPA. I have another friend who went to Stanford where she avoided the problem by being an English major taking no pre-meds, and then just took them all during 2 semesters +1 summer dirt cheap at her local Cal State branch and got all A’s in them and got admitted to a T5 med school.


Carleton does prepare students well, but the GPAs can be lower. My friend couldn’t get into med school directly from Carleton, but was able to ace post-bacc courses at Cornell of all places to bring up her GPA an get into med school.


Thanks for alll the replies. I am hopping for guidance with cost not being a major consideration for either college or med school. Her other consideration is UCLA but concerned about being difficulty in being able to get the pre requisite classes, and being lost in the large numbers of premed there.

Beyond premed, has your daughter expressed particular academic interests at this stage, even if tentative?

if the premed track seems equal (I don’t know anything about premed), it seems that the choice may be about fit. At all of your UC schools, she will need to advocate for herself to make sure she doesn’t get lost in such a large university system. The second issue at the UC’s is the lack of housing. UCSD doesn’t have enough dorms for freshman and they are putting 3 people into 2 person dorms. A new dorm will not come online until 2023. Luckily UCLA was able to build new dorms and they will be ready for the fall and have announced they will guarantee housing for 4 years. Not sure about UC Davis. If you google the school and housing you can find several articles on the subject. It is hard to compare the college experience of being at a UC versus for example Haverford where there is 1,400 students and everyone lives on campus. Last, not sure where you live but she will not need any snow boots at any of the UC schools! Good luck! All good schools.

@mrw456 are you confusing UCSB and UCSD?

UCSD opened Seventh College in 2020, Sixth College opened with new dorms in 2021. Eighth College and Theater District housing are expected in 2023.

Davis opened The Green at West Village in 2021. The Green at West Village adds an additional 3300 beds.

No-- I was talking about UC San Diego. Santa Barbara has its own separate set of housing issues. Glad to see that Davis has added new dorms. See the article below.

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Another factor to consider:

What college would be most satisfying to her if she did not go to medical school?

For example, does she have any particular preferences for college major (pre-meds can do any major), and does any of the colleges have a particularly strong or weak program for her preferences in her possible majors?


UCSD had housing issues last year when they had to reduce the number of students/room due to required social distancing. Prior to that, they had a two-year housing guarantee.

UCSD Regents receive priority enrollment which is golden. Pre-med at both UCLA and UCSD are competitive but having priority enrollment will allow her to select better professors and choose classes at better times.

That’s good to know! Thank you for clarifying that for me and her!

Thanks for all the responses. She has already done a fair amount of work towards a premed path - research etc that she is fairly confident that would like to stick with it. She likes the prestige of ucla but concerned about class sizes and the culture. Hence, her interest in HC. However, she would also like to have a social life and HC is a small school so in a quandary.

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For perspective on the above, this analysis appeared in 2015:

It appears to suggest that UCLA has had a long way to go to approach Haverford academically if considered by standardized scoring profiles.

The main social issue at Haverford could relate to the significant gender imbalance across the Bi-Colleges. For insight into this, it would seem to be important for your daughter to communicate with current students at Haverford.

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Has she visited all of the campuses and their surroundings? That might create stronger feelings one way or the other towards the various colleges.

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The reason for considering non-medical school paths is that only about 40% of medical school applicants get into any medical school (and most who do get in get into only one). In addition, many frosh pre-meds eventually do not apply for various reasons (GPA too low, MCAT too low, lost interest, or advised that chances were minimal by the pre-med committee if at a college with a pre-med committee). No matter where, pre-med is a highly competitive unforgiving weed-out process.

Even if you accept the premise that higher standardized tests = smarter, is it necessarily desirable for your competition at college to be smarter if you are a pre-med who needs to maximize A grades in courses graded on a curve? Now, if that school happens to have higher grade inflation, that may compensate, but it is hard to know for sure.


My good friend’s daughter could have had an athletic spot at Haverford and she turned it down because she didn’t think she would have a social life-- this based on several visits to the school.