How I should go about my college process

Hey guys,

I have a situation that I think most people can identify with. So I’m a 12th grader currently living in Central India ( Hyderabad, to be exact ), and who has studied in Texas from my 6th to 9th grade. I moved to the US when I was 11, and came back to India at the age of 15. I’ve studied in an Early College High School for an year, attended a regular middle school for two years, and generally didn’t participate much in Extra curriculars, except for a few here and there. Over in India, I’m currently enrolled in a Cambridge syllabus ( CIE IGCSE and AS & A levels ) high school, and have received a score of A* in my Maths, physics, and chemistry, A in biology, and a C in English, for my 10th. I haven’t really thought of college and getting into any particular field all that much, except that I knew that I wanted to enter the medical field. I focused a lot on my studies, and have achieved some pretty high grades, but I haven’t taken my entrance tests ( SAT & ACT ) yet, and am taking the SAT this October. I plan to take my boards, more generally known as finals, in October and February, and am in the Science field.

I know I have provided a lot of information in the last paragraph, but I wanted someone qualified, like an admissions officer, or a counsellor, to give me some advice, in the context of the above paragraph and the covid pandemic, as to how I should search for medical colleges, ie. what they look for, what factors I should consider, etc. . Other’s advice is also welcome, but I’m specifically looking for someone qualified, because personally, I am very stressed about this problem.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the thread, and I’ll be glad to reply.


Education USA can answer many of your questions about the college process.

This website combines the experiences of college admissions via parents, students, employees, staff and anyone else who chimes in. If you specifically need an admissions officer or counselor to give you advice, then you need to contact the college or university directly.

You also need to check out universities’ individual websites that give a plethora of information. If you haven’t done that yet, then that’s where you need to start. Google is your friend.

Medical colleges? In the United States medical school is not something you enroll in right out of high school. There are BS/MD programs which are highly competitive and admit practically zero international students. But most here go to undergrad, and then apply to medical school to start sometime after completion of their bachelors degree. You need to also take the MCAT, and have a great GPA plus relevant job and shadowing experiences, LOR and great interviewing skills.

@WayOutWestMom can give you the statistics on how many international students get accepted to medical schools here…but it’s LOW.

In addition…what exactly do you plan to do after you graduate? I think you have some high hurdles to overcome to go to medical school here, get a residency here as a non-citizen, and then get a job at some point here.

If you plan to be a doctor in India, go to medical school in India.

ETA…how do you plan to fund your college education in the United States?

Medical school in the US is post-graduate program. One needs to complete a baccalaureate degree first to be eligible to enroll in a US medical school.

Every medical school in the US requires a minimum number of college credits (typically between 60 and 90, including all pre-req classes) be completed in a US or Canadian college or university. Only a small handful of (mostly osteopathic) medical schools will consider a BA/BS degrees earned outside the US or Canada. Additionally all US medical schools require some exposure to the US healthcare system in the form of physician shadowing and clinical volunteering.

So, if you want to attend medical school in the US, plan on coming to the US for undergrad first.

Now, the bad news. It is incredibly difficult for international students to get accepted into a US medical school. There are 2 main barriers:

  1. most US med schools do not accept internationals. The 40 or so that do typically accept 0-3 international students each year.
  2. international students must be able to fully fund 100% of the cost of their US medical education. Financial aid is not available for international students. Med schools require proof of the ability to pay by requiring an up-front deposit in the $250K range placed in a US escrow account before you will allowed to enroll.

Per AMCAS data, in the 2020-2021 application cycle, a total of only 131 international students were accepted to and enrolled in all US medical schools combined. Of those 131, an estimated 85% are Canadians. This is because more medical schools will accept Canadian applicants than other internationals. Canada also provides government guaranteed loans to its citizens attending US med schools.

Your other option, as @thumper1 noted is to attend a medical school in India then apply for a US medical residency. The likelihood of gaining a US medical residency is much higher via this route.

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Thank you so much @aunt_bea ! I went through the website, and it is of great help. Really appreciate that tip.

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Just to clarify for everyone: I am a US citizen, so the only problem I would have regarding admissions would be in state or out of state.

Also, I just want to clear up on my initial question. My core question is, " I am a US citizen with a few years of middle and high school in the US on my portfolio. I do not know much about the US higher education system, but I do know that the medical field is where I want to go. I need some basic clarification on how the US higher education system works, especially the medical branch, and what a US citizen living in a different country can do to increase his chances of being admitted to a medical school."

Hope that clears up any doubt that may arise.

So I have a question for you, @WayOutWestMom : I am a US citizen, but I only have one year of high school in the US on my transcript. The rest is in India. Would that bring me down to non - citizen level in the eyes of the admission committees?

@usa.ibraheem if you hold a U.S. passport and are a U.S. citizen, you will be considered a U.S. resident…period. Your first post did not make that clear so thank you for the clarification.

However, at some colleges your application will be considered alongside the applications of those applying from the region where you graduated from high school and reside.

Re: medical school in the United States….you need a bachelors degree first (making sure you take all the prerequisite courses to apply to medical school) with excellent grades, a great MCAT score, shadowing experience, some kind of work experience and with needy folks and possibly medically related. And you need great interviewing skills.

Even with all of that, only 40% of applicants get one medical school acceptance.

@WayOutWestMom did I miss anything?

Re: instate tuition status…you don’t have any instate options. Your primary residence is abroad…not in any state. It doesn’t matter what you did years ago…NOW your residence is India. No instate status.

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If you are a US citizen with proof of citizenship, you will be treated the same as any other US citizen for medical school admissions.

Medical school do not care about your high school record or where you attended high school. You will not even be asked about it when applying for med school. It’s your college academic record that matters.

The one thing you can do now to substantially improve your odds of gaining an admission to a US med school is to earn a bachelor’s degree in the US.

You need to move to the US for university. Get good grades, a good MCAT scores and strong LORs for your professors, plus have plenty of meaningful ECs --then you’ll apply and take your chances just like every other med school applicant. As @thumper1 mentioned, only about 40% of applicants gain an acceptance every year. This means you need to have a plan for a back-up career should you not get an accepted to med school.

So your first step needs to be applying for admission to a US college or university if you hope to go to medical school in the US.

Because you currently reside outside the US, you will be OOS for all public colleges and universities. For private colleges, there is no in-state or OOS status; however, when making admission decisions, private colleges will consider strength of your HS record in comparison to other students applying to that school from India.

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Thank you so much for that info, @thumper1 and @WayOutWestMom . So I need to get to the US, get admitted into a great undergraduate college, do amazing on academics and extracurriculars, and keep a back up career ready in case I’m not admitted. Great.

Also, do you guys have any resource explaining the US higher education system? I tried searching on google, but didn’t get a clear answer

Contact someone at Education USA. They will have that info.

What exactly do you want to know

Read Section 3 of the article: Types of Colleges and Universities

The first question you need to think about when looking at US colleges & universities is --How much can your family afford to pay for your education?

Higher education in the US can be expensive, especially since you have no public in-state college options.

As a US citizen you are eligible to borrow federal student loans, but those amounts are quite limited: $5500 freshman year, $6500 sophomore year and $7500 junior & senior year. If your family’s income is very low, you may qualify for a Pell Grant.

Federal student loans might cover the cost of tuition at a community college, but not much else. (And especially not living expenses like health insurance, housing, meals)

So–how much can your family afford to pay for your college education?

I just wanted an idea of how it runs, and what types of higher education establishments are present in the country.

There are about 3000 colleges in this country so please be more specific.

There are private college, public universities in each state as well. They range in size from very small to many many thousands.

Thanks @WayOutWestMom. To answer your question of tuitions, I don’t have a huge sum of money to use for college/university, so I’m going to have to rely on scholarships, grants, and loans for about 60 - 65 % of the costs.

That was part of what I was looking for.

In essence, what I’m asking is, if a person who has no idea of the US education system asks you to give them a brief idea of it, how would you respond. Does that make sense?

Like this:
The US has formal educational facilities that start from age 5 to 18. These are “formal” because they are typically funded by the states and do not charge the parents for their institutions. They are formal, as required by law to educate children. They teach rudimentary skills in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, sciences, history/world events, and some include vocational skills. After the school has met its obligation to the student, at senior level, then the student moves on to another phase: more education/ training, military service, work, at the student’s choice.

(There are families who choose to have their children attend private schools that charge fees for similarly taught subjects in a private school setting.)

If a child decides to learn more than rudimentary skills, and focus on a speciality area, then the student begins preparation, to attend a college or university, while in high school.
The colleges and universities, either public or private, expect a certain level of preparedness via required coursework.

Is this what you mean?

The colleges are under no obligation to accept a student, nor fund any student. None.

Most public universities are funded by taxpayer and State dollars so they are going to prioritize instate residents.

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60-65% of the cost is not useful information since college costs range so widely.

Cost can vary from a few thousand/year for community college tuition to over $80K/year for a private university.

Colleges tend to fall into 2 categories for financial aid: those that guarantee to meet your full financial need and those that do not make that promise.

Nearly all colleges fall into the latter category. Public colleges do not guarantee to meet your financial need. Most private colleges don’t either.

Colleges that do promise to meet your financial need have 3 caveats you need to be aware of:

  1. the college determines your “need” not you or your family. Often what you/your family think you’re able to pay and what the college thinks you can pay are not the same.
  2. the amount of your financial need will affect your chances of gaining admission. This is called being “need aware” in admissions. Students with a high level of financial need are disadvantaged because the colleges only have a limited amount of aid money to award. Colleges prefer to award a small amount of aid to many students instead giving large amounts of aid to a few. Large aid awards do happen, but they aren’t common and go to students that the college wants to recruit for one reason or another. (Athletics, diversity, leadership, outstanding academic achievement, etc)
  3. “meet full need” colleges tend to be among the most competitive for admission in the US

The only loans you are eligible to borrow are federal student loans. The amount of these loans are limited by law and the amounts are listed in my previous post. You cannot borrow additional monies since you have no income and no job. You would need a fully qualified US citizen co-signer if you wanted to borrow money above the amount of student loans.

I strongly suggest you make a separate post listing your stats, ECs, awards and test scores, plus the amount you have available to pay for college so that you can get some suggestions about colleges that might offer you enough aid to attend. Also mention in the post that your are a US citizen, but don’t live in the US.

Be aware that for medical school, there are basically no scholarships available. You will be borrowing the full cost of your attendance. Plan of borrowing between $250K to $500K for med school. All loans are unsubsidized and begin accruing interest immediately.

Also be aware that you will not be earning a physician’s salary until after you’ve completed residency–which will be another 3- 10 years after medical school. Medical residents are poorly paid and work an average of 80 hours/week.

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That explains a lot. Thanks @aunt_bea !