Premed: UChicago/Amherst/Williams?

Is going to UChicago or an LAC better for pre-med? I personally am leaning towards UChicago for how gorgeous its campus is and research opportunities, but am scared that I won’t be able to keep up with the rigor (especially w/ athletics). I know Williams/Amherst are better for GPA and connections with professors, but they aren’t as nationally recognized and don’t have as much research/shadowing opportunities (and campuses are also isolated). Any advice?

What is your situation? Are you currently a high school student about to start your senior year? If so, what are your grades and test scores? Are you expecting to compete on some sort of athletic team while in university? The premed students that I have known (mostly friends of daughters) have studied exceptionally hard, and it is hard for me to see how this would be compatible with any serious sport.

Have you run the NPC on Chicago, Williams, and Amherst College? If so, what are the results and are you and your parents able to handle the cost without any debt?

What state do you live in?

This is a very good but complex question that you have asked. If you want to attend medical school in the future, then you need to (i) consider which options give you the best chance of being accepted to medical school; and (ii) budget for eight years of university.

Given how many high school students go to university intending to be premed, and how few of them end up in medical school, you should also think about what other options might be available if medical school does not work out.

I do have a daughter who preferred a small school such as what we would call a liberal arts college. She ended up at a very good small university in Canada (the closest thing that Canada has to a LAC). The small classes taught by full professors and connections with professors are just as good as you might have expected. The research opportunities have turned out to be far better than I had expected. I would expect that Amherst College and Williams College would be similarly very good in this regard. Also, they are very well known by anyone who needs to know (such as medical school and graduate school admissions).

All of these schools are noted for their general research opportunities:

All, as well, are highly regarded by mainstream national publications:

However, if you are not seeking relative isolation for your collegiate experience, a school such as Williams may not represent the best choice for you.

If you feel that you need to chase A grades (as opposed to being naturally brilliant enough to earn A grades in all subjects without excessive effort), Amherst may be better than the other two for pre-med, in that its open curriculum allows you to avoid risking your GPA in general education requirements that you may have more difficulty earning A grades in.

All 3 schools are pretty rigorous academically. Williams and Amherst will have a ton of research opportunities as well as opportunities to shadow, whether it’s during the summer or (in the case of Williams) during the Winter Study term. The bigger question is whether you prefer a university or a LAC setting.

@DadTwoGirls I am a rising senior in NY, with a 34 ACT, and 4.0 GPA. Cost isn’t an issue for me right now, and I don’t think athletics should be too much of one either – I currently manage a 3-hr commute, along with 3-hr practices and rigorous hw/tests (my school is notorious for its workload). Considering other options is also a good point – I would choose Chicago as it beats out Williams/Amherst in terms of other STEM majors, but I am just worried that if I do end up in Chicago, my GPA will drop so low that I will end up being forced to give up med school. It is encouraging to hear how well your daughter is doing at her university, though – hopefully, the LACs here offer just as good research opportunities . Thank you so much for your advice!

@ucbalumnus That is a very good point – I hadn’t thought much about Chicago’s core/Williams’ requirements before. Thanks!

Thanks so much, everyone, for the information and advice!