<p>I'm a high school senior interested in going to medical school, and I know that having a high GPA is a very important consideration in med school admissions. So what I want to know is how hard it actually is to maintain something around a 3.9-4.0 GPA at a place like Harvard. For more specifics, I'd be majoring in something like neuroscience or biochem. It'd be something of a natural/life sciences persuasion, at any rate.</p>
<p>MCAT scores are more important than GPA. Admission committer will also give more weight to the reputation of the college. A Ivy graduate with a 3.7 GPA will be looked at quite favorably, probably more than someone with a 4.0 from an average college.</p>
<p>I just registered an account to say this: HarvardParent is dead, dead, dead wrong about medical school admissions.</p>
<p>The undergraduate institution you attend serves you very little in helping with medical school admissions. A 3.7 from Harvard is nowhere near a 4.0 from a state school, especially given the rampant inflation that can be observed in Harvard's grading system. Where you go to college has no bearing except in the case of an unbreakable tie. In all other cases, grades matter almost as much as the MCAT, but the MCAT doesn't beat it out by much. Those are the biggest two determiners. After that, patient contact in clinical experience, volunteerism, shadowing, etc.</p>
<p>Yeah HarvardParent is wrong. First, you dont need a 4.0 to get into med school. Most who get in have a 3.6. I recommend a 3.7 cum gpa and 3.6+ science gpa. Your MCAT matters a lot, along with ECs. Going back to HarvardParents post. A 3.7 will be the same practically anywhere. Of course a school with a reputation of having a bad premed or science program wouldn't be a good choice, but by no means does that translate to a Harvard 3.3 being a Drexels 3.8. That same kid from Harvard will be setting at home wondering what went wrong while the kid from Drexel will be matriculating into med school. To answer the OPs og question, I heard that the weeding classes (intro bio, gen chem, ochem) are big and challenging. Kids do drop out of premed quickly, the same with all universities. However, Harvards average GPA is relatively high, and its really hard to get D's and even C's I heard. The grade inflation there may or may not affect premeds (I suspect it does).</p>
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especially given the rampant inflation that can be observed in Harvard's grading system
However, Harvards average GPA is relatively high, and its really hard to get D's and even C's I heard. The grade inflation there may or may not affect premeds (I suspect it does).
<p>This, along with cookie dough ice cream and popular democratic movements in the Middle East, might be one of my favorite things ever. "This" being when people who don't go to Harvard yet speak authoritatively on Harvard's grading system and cite their sources as a nameless "observer" (i.e. a non-student) or the ever classic "I heard." </p>
<p>First, the grade inflation argument is a massive oversimplification. In comparing average GPAs across schools, there are 3 relevant variables: 1. The abilities of the students 2. The difficulty of the curriculum 3. The strictness of grading. The typical implication of the term "grade inflation" argument is that Harvard grades easily. So as it goes, to correct this, schools like Harvard should give out more Cs and Ds so that their average GPA is lower. But what of the first 2 variables? If you want Harvard's GPA to be the same as Drexel's, you need to account for the fact that the typical Harvard student is more academically inclined than the typical Drexel student. (I apologize if that sounds elitist, and I recognize that there are plenty of Drexel students way smarter than me, but we're talking averages here.) If given the same rigor of courseload, Harvard students will get higher grades if their high school records and SAT scores and demonstrated academic drive are at all correlated. You could account for this by saying Harvard courses are more rigorous, but that just means a Harvard GPA is worth more and invalidates your argument anyway. </p>
<p>So, don't know who taught you what grade inflation is, but grade inflation can only be meaningfully measured within a single school over time. You can say that Harvard's grades are inflated because the average GPA is higher than it was 30 years ago. You can't say one school's average GPA is higher than another's and dismiss it as "oh look, grade inflation!" because the student bodies are different, and Ivy League student bodies are exceptional because the makeup is top-heavy; i.e. very few people get Cs at Harvard. But that's not because Harvard grades easily; it's because there is no "bottom" of the class that gets straight Cs and Ds and Fs. Everyone is high-achieving.</p>
<p>The corollary to this is that it is extremely difficult to get a 3.9+ at Harvard. The typical student is very strong but that means it's that much harder to stand out. You can count on your fingers and (maybe) toes the number of students that have gotten 4.0s in the past decade. I would guess state universities chug out plenty of 4.0s each year., because the competition for the high-achieving kids is way less. If the only goal from college were a 4.0 and nothing else, I don't know anyone would go to Harvard to achieve that, despite all the "grade inflation" we hear about all the time.</p>
<p>Feel free to call me out if I'm wrong on any of this, but I'd be surprised if medical school adcoms don't have some sense of this as well. Do you have numbers to back up your claim that a 3.7 at a state school is treated the same as a 3.7 at Harvard?</p>
<p>When the Wall Street Journal compiled a list of "top feeder schools" -- colleges whose graduates were most likely to wind up in the top five business, law and med schools, the top four were, who'd have guessed, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford (followed by Williams, Duke, Dartmouth and MIT). WSJ ranked using a ratio of # of alums in elite schools/size of undergraduate class. </p>
<p>The data are a few years old, but it's unlikely that the picture has changed dramatically. One source of bias in the data is that elite graduate schools tend to look favorably on applicants from their own university -- so, for example, Harvard seems to be an excellent place from which to apply to Harvard Business, Law, or Med. </p>
<p>The article quotes an admissions officer at Columbia Med as saying, "They (elite schools) have done the work of selecting for us, to a large extent." </p>
When the Wall Street Journal compiled a list of "top feeder schools" -- colleges whose graduates were most likely to wind up in the top five business, law and med schools, the top four were, who'd have guessed, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford (followed by Williams, Duke, Dartmouth and MIT).
<p>To be fair, these students tend to have higher LSAT / MCAT scores so this doesn't help too much in solving the GPA issue.</p>
So what I want to know is how hard it actually is to maintain something around a 3.9-4.0 GPA at a place like Harvard.
<p>Near impossible, if you're pursuing a science major and want to do other activities on the side. An expectation of getting a 4.0 GPA will only set the person up for a rude awakening and deep disappointment. If you don't like that, Harvard (or any other top school) isn't a good choice for you.</p>
<p>Hopefully someone with more experience than us can chime in, but unfortunately, my impression is that medical schools do little to adjust for the difficulty of the school, and the name factor doesn't carry much influence, especially if it's the state medical school that receives the majority of its apps from colleges nearby. Harvard has a 98% admission rate, but those with good GPA also tend to have extremely high MCAT scores. </p>
<p>The advantage of Harvard is that its research opportunities are phenomenal, it offers easy access to four/five hospitals, including the teaching hospitals of Harvard Med, great financial aid so that you have a good chance of graduating debt free, good advising, classes taught by the medical school faculty, among countless others. It's best to choose a college where you think you'll fit in both academically and socially, whether that be Harvard or elsewhere.</p>
<p>I know that medical schools typically don't adjust for difficulty in any way, and I only asked about a 3.9-4.0 because I just wanted to know how hard it was to maintain a GPA conducive to medical school admission. If I went to Harvard I honestly wouldn't expect to hold a 4.0 GPA. No one has ever really given me a clear picture of the difficulty of a place like Harvard, and so I was just curious as to whether it was possible. Thanks for the insight, though.</p>
<p>This might give you some sense of top-tier grade distribution at Harvard.
Harvard</a> University FAS Registrar's Office: General Information
About 10% or 158 students from each graduating class have GPAs equal to or higher than about 3.9.
So a 3.9 GPA is certainly doable, but you would need to be smarter or harder working than 90% of Harvard students. Since getting a GPA like that in the pre-med track is probably even harder, maybe 93-95%.</p>