Quality But Not Too Selective Pre-Med Programs?


We are in CA and my daughter will be applying to the various U.C.'s for their pre-med programs.

But CA is a selective place to be so as a backup (or maybe they will appeal to her so much she’ll want to leave CA!) is there a list of quality pre-med programs that she has a reasonable chance to get into outside of the U.C’s?

She has a good but not brilliant GPA of unweighted 3.84 and weighted 4.2. What held her back is she is well balanced so choose to do only a 4 AP classes but did club/school Volleyball a few years and has a creative side (but that involves spending lots of time in her bedroom drawing, crocheting etc without producing anything tangible to put on an application).

Why add a 2nd thread. Combine this to your first.

Pre med is advising. So any school will be fine.

Check out the McCullough Medical Scholars at Alabama. But she will need a test score for top merit.

The UCs are not the be all and end all. Lots of great publics and privates all over the country and she can get advising and take pre reqs at most if not all. If she doesn’t have rigor in hs, it’s unlikely she will do well. Most who want med school don’t get there. It’s just reality.

What does she want in a school. Weather, size, social aspects, etc. that’s where you should start.

Also are there any financial constraints ?

There are many lists like this.


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Pre-med programs are technically guidance and good ones can be found in oodles of colleges. Find colleges you like (that are affordable), then find pre-med students in them and ask those students what they think about the pre-med program. You can also ask where recent pre-med students have gotten accepted, but be aware that many graduates purposely take a year or two off first before applying to med school now.

Your daughter can apply to medical school from just about every college in this country, arts conservatories excluded. She needs to take the required courses for medical school applicants. She needs a strong GPA and sGPA. She needs a strong MCAT score.

She needs to be sure she loves all of the schooling it takes to be a doctor. Many many prospective pre-med students change their minds.

@merc81 has posted in the past a list of colleges with good medical school admission rates. But really…some of those are really because the student body is very strong to begin with.

You want to attend a school where you have the best chance for a High GPA in the Medical school pre-req courses, access to medically related EC’s and a school with good Pre-Med advising. You also want to keep undergrad costs at a minimum. In general you need a place where you can thrive as student–academically, socially and personally. Medical schools are looking for students who are not just top students academically, but also interesting, well rounded individuals with specific social competencies and leadership skills.

I would also look at the Pre-Health advising centers for more information.

Make sure you have a backup plan since 60% of “pre-med” students never make to the application round.

Med school adcomms consider the name on the diploma to be of only minor importance when it comes to making admission decisions.

The quoted advice below is from a long time and knowledgeable CC poster @WayOutWestMom:

My advice to all pre-meds and their parents is to take pre-med out of the equation when looking at schools. Instead concentrate on:
-Fit–because happier students= successful students
-Opportunity–including the opportunity to explore coursework and majors that may lead the student away from medicine. (Plus since 60% of med school applicants fail to gain an admission, every pre-med needs to have a strong Plan B career option.) Opportunity also includes the opportunity to develop mentoring relationships with her professors to get the LORs she’ll need to support a medical or graduate school application or for internships and jobs. Opportunity to get involved with on and off campus activities. (Med schools are looking for well rounded individuals with interests outside of science & medicine, who can communicate comfortably with a wide range of individuals from diverse backgrounds/ethnicities/ages, and who have demonstrated the qualities that make a good physician–compassion, altruism, leadership, cultural competency…)
-Cost–because med school is hideously expensive (think $250-500K) and there is precious little aid except for loans, loans and more loans. Pre-meds are strongly advised to minimize their undergrad debt.
-Pre med isn’t so much about where one goes for undergrad, but what one does during undergrad.


It’s actually worse than that.

Between 67-75% of freshmen “pre-med” students never actually end up applying to med school.

Among those who persist and actually do apply only 33% got an acceptance last year, including over 2000 applicants with near perfect GPAs (3.85+) and MCAT scores above the 95%ile.

All pre-meds need to have a Plan B career plan. (Dental school, PA school and grad school are not good Plan B careers due to equally low acceptance rates and having pre-reqs that are different from those expected by med schools.)

I often recommend potential pre-meds review this website
Explore Health Careers
It’s searchable database of other healthcare careers, organized by salary ranges and years of schooling required.

Biology majors generally do not have good post-graduation job prospects. (Unless they work hard to make themselves appealing to employers by learning some specialized skills like some basic programming, R language or MatLAB, how to use statistical software, and doing industry-based internships during summers.)


I’m going reiterate what others have already told you. Your daughter can go just about anywhere for undergrad and be a successful pre-med. One of my daughters went to our big state U (which teeters on the lower edge US News top 200), my other daughter went a small and expensive top 30 private research U. Guess what? They are both doctors. Both we’re able to engage in research, were able to get mentoring from their professors and get strong LORs, both were able to find volunteer opportunities and clinical exposure. Both were TA and research assistants. Both had multiple med school acceptances. Both chose to attend an instate med school due its low cost. (Med school for D2 cost less than half, maybe even 1/3, of her undergrad’s sticker price–not that we paid full sticker price for her undergrad. ) Both are now physicians in their first choice of specialty.

As CA residents, you and your daughter need to be aware that CA is the single largest supplier of med school applicants in the US. Just UCB med school applicants could fill every single med school seat (public and private) in CA and still have applicants left over. As a CA pre-med, it is extremely likely your daughter will end up attending an OOS public or a OOS private medical school. (More than 2/3rd of successful CA mdd school applicants do.) These are expensive. (Many private med schools have tuition well into mid $70K/year. Tuition plus living expenses and other associated cost for med school can easily put costs into the $100-$130K/year range. OOS public med school costs are about the same.)
Because of the very high cost of med school, all potential pre-meds are strongly advised to minimize their undergrad costs.

CA’s guaranteed CC transfer to UC route can provided significant cost savings. This is an item you and your child should talk about.

Also UC Riverside has a special early acceptance program to its med school for UCR undergrads. If your daughter is 100% set of medicine, the Thomas Haider Early Assurance Program at UCR might worth investigating.

Going to a smaller LAC where she can get the highest possible GPA would be the best strategy. GPA and MCAT are the two biggest things affecting med school admissions chances.

Going to a competitive UC type school and graduating with a 3.5 won’t cut it. She’ll need at least a 3.7 and 514 to be competitive. Most pre-meds take a gap year after college before applying. The competition is tough.

Take a look at Earlham in Indiana. They do a great job with med school placement and it’s not really hard to get into. But your D will need to excel while she’s there. They offer generous merit but it is unlikely to be less than your excellent CA public options.