Reverse Chance Me (pre-med)

Hey I am currently a junior and trying to find the best college for pre-med. I have looked into bs/md programs but in case that doesn’t work out I need a list of regular 4 year colleges for my interests.

I am pre-med and I want to go to a college that feeds a lot of their students into med school/have a high med school acceptance rate per year (ex: GW only has 8% of their students that apply to med school actually get in so I’m not rlly looking at GW anymore). Especially a lot of acceptances into good med schools (UNC, Duke, Columbia, NYU, etc). I also want a lot of research opportunities (cell biology research)/a place with a top research program.

Location wise I want to go somewhere near/in a big city like nyc, dc, boston, philly and a college that is either medium or large but if it is a large university then I want the opportunity to join the honors program where they get put into smaller classes or a large university with smaller class sizes since I learn better that way.

Since I am going on the med school path which requires a really good GPA I want to avoid colleges with known grade deflation or super hyper-competitive amongst pre-med kids. I also want a college that has a good pre-med advisory, lots of connections, and access to good internship opportunities.

Cost: I want to stay away from schools that are super expensive because if I go to med school I don’t want my debt to pile up (NYU is an exception because I could commute so I would still save money) but money won’t be the reason for me to not go into a great school if accepted. It would be great if the college gave out merit scholarships or an honors college I could get into.

So far my top choice is NYU (idt i will get in tho). Atm my targets are GW, Villanova, Brandeis, Lehigh, reaches are NYU, Case Western, Wellesley, and safeties are Drexel, Rutgers, and Stevens (this list is what my guidance counselor told me).

Demographics: Asian Female, NJ, Magnet STEM HS (one of the best in the country and is super competitive), Columbia legacy (I am interested in their MPH program too tho so chance me for that as well)

ACT: 32 composite and 8 for the essay but I’m planning on retaking the test and I’m not going to submit my essay score (aiming for a 34-36)

GPA: My cumulative freshman and sophomore year GPA is a 3.891 (UW- my school doesn’t do weighted) (out of 4.00) but junior year is really difficult and my grades aren’t great so I’m really worried about that and how it might drop too low - based on how junior year is going my cumulative gpa is going to be between 3.8-3.9.

Coursework: My school is divided into different programs that students are put in starting freshman year (if you get accepted to the hs since there is a low acceptance rate and really difficult to get in) and I’m in the medical program. These programs have a special curriculum so every year everyone takes a special class directed towards their program and this year I’m taking Anatomy and Physiology (college level) but I currently have a B+.

  • AP Calc AB: A

  • IB Literature (HL): A

  • IB History: aiming to get an A or A-

  • IB Spanish: A

  • AP Bio: B+

  • Honors Physics: B+ (aiming for an A-)

  • Medicinal Chemistry: A

Freshman and Sophomore Year: All honors classes with two years of chem and 1-year bio. Took a bunch of extra classes too tho: Medical Research class, Epidemiology, Pharmacology, Microscopy, Biotechnology, Einstein’s Relativity, Foundations of Nanotechnology, Neuroscience, Organic Chem I, Sports Medicine, 3D printing design, and costume design/fashion (I am taking it again this year)

Awards:

  • HOSA Competition Regionals: 1st and 5th place

  • Debate: 2nd place regionals for sophomore and junior year

  • Presidential Education Award (2016)

Extracurriculars:

  • Part of EMT squad and training to be certified

  • ER assistant

  • A leader in 2 social activism groups (one for school and one for the county)

  • A leader in the county hub for a major national youth-led political action organization (where I have worked with some Rep and Governors)

  • Invited (and attended) Columbia U Climate Summit

  • Biology Research with Alzheimer’s

  • Part of school pharmaceutical company (where I will present to the FDA later this year)

  • Leader in school surgery club

  • 115+ community service hours (most are math tutoring)

  • Organized a school climate summit where we got 50+ speakers (from Columbia, Harvard, etc)

  • Agriculture research where I presented at school research expo and was going to present at the Youth Science Achiever’s Program and NYIT science fair but the covid happened

  • Social Media Manager of 5 organizations

  • NHS

If you’re willing to consider OOS, UCLA is a known mega feeder for med schools. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t have much grade deflation (and some would argue inflation) despite being a public school. It would probably be a hard target/low reach for you.

UCLA would be very expensive for any OOS student.

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You are a great student, but your grades have some slight weaknesses compared tp the vast majority of premeds at the reach schools you mentioned(UNC, Duke, Columbia). Your Reaches are not likely places you can stand out and get a great GPA. Look for places where your ACT=32 will place you in the top half(toward top quarter is even better). Even if you get it up to 34, your grades indicate you may have some issues competing in weed-out classes where the majority of kids got easy As in HS science and aced the ACT on the first try /no prep. Premed competition favors this type of student, so try not to pick a school where 75% are this type of student. I really like your target list, as most of these will be a great academic fit where you should be able to excel. Rutgers, for that matter, sends many to med school and also has good placement at their own med schools (RWJ and NJMS). It is a “safety”, I agree, but you have a high potential to stand out and shine there!

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A big question here is: What can you and your parents afford to spend over a full 8 years? Medical school is expensive. Many people graduating with an MD have a LOT of debt, and take a LONG time to pay it off. If you can afford to spend at least $700,000 and possibly a bit more without taking on any debt then you can afford to ignore the cost of your education. Otherwise if you are serious about medical school you need to take this into consideration.

Next issue: There are a LOT of universities that have very good premed programs. You can find knowledgeable professors, tough classes, and strong premed students at any one of a large number of universities. You will also need to find opportunities to volunteer in medical environments, which again should be possible at many universities.

Neither of my daughter’s were premed students, but both had majors that overlapped a lot with premed classes (one is currently in a DVM program, and the other is currently doing biotech research). I have heard quite a bit about the rigor of premed classes. You can attend any university at least in the top 100 in the US and probably more like top 200 and find the classes full of very strong students, and find the classes to be academically quite demanding. Classes full of strong students and a tough midterm with an average in the mid 40’s is something that I have heard about several times. This can be a bit of a shock for some students.

The next issue is that when universities advertise the percentage of their premed students who get accepted to an MD program, these numbers can be manipulated. Quite a few students show up at university intending to be premed, get a poor grade on the first few midterm exams, and fairly quickly find a different plan for their future. These students will often not be counted in the stats. There are other ways to manipulate these numbers that others can describe better than I. It is either difficult or impossible to find meaningful numbers. Also, top ranked universities such as Harvard get a relatively large percentage of their undergraduate students into medical school, but a lot of this (some might way all of this) is because of the level of students who start at Harvard in the first place. Any one strong student might be better off being in the top 1/3 of the class at U.Mass Amherst rather than the bottom 1/2 of the class at Harvard.

Also, if you look at the students who are actively studying in MD programs, then will have come from a very wide range of undergraduate universities. The same by the way is true of the DVM program that one daughter is currently in. We got to listen (on-line) to the welcome reception where they introduced all the students and said where they were from, and it was rare to hear the same university named more than once or twice.

Personally I think that for a premed student their choice of undergraduate university should be boring. You do not want to be in the bottom 1/2 of the incoming students – premed classes will be tough enough even if you are in the top 1/4 of incoming students. You do not want to attend an expensive big name private school both because of the cost and because you will be competing with other students who will be so very strong. One exception might be (?) if you are very low income and would qualify for 100% need based financial aid at the exclusive schools that offer this.

Putting this all together I think that Rutgers is a very good choice. It is a very good university with a good premed program. Since you are in-state it should be quite affordable.

Again a DVM program is not quite the same thing as an MD program. The process is however similar and acceptance to either an MD or DVM program is similarly very competitive. My daughter got her B.Sc. at a school that is just barely not in the top 100 in the US. She is getting her DVM at a program that is in the top 5 in the US. You do not need to attend a top ranked university to get into a top ranked graduate program, including a top ranked MD or DVM program. You do need to do very well in very tough classes. For an MD program you will also need quite a bit of relevant experience, such as volunteering in a medical environment.

It does sound like you are off to a good start so far.

Also, thanks for your EMT work. This is useful for the path that you want to go on but also is valuable. EMT’s only saved my life once, but that is enough for me to be very thankful for your effort in this area.

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Make sure that you put Rutgers and The College of NJ on your list, perhaps also a public 4 yr state college like Montclair State.

Med school applications are about GPA and MCAT scores. You sound like a hard-working, driven person with tons of energy for activities outside the classroom. That’s going to continue, will come through in a positive way for med school applications. But you have to realize that a lot of people who enter college planning on medical school, wind up not going, so it’s a good idea to keep your options open by going to a school that offers lots of different majors - that usually means a larger school. Also, you can major in anything you want, and still go to medical school, so if there is something that you just love doing, would do well in, choose a school that offers that. Your current record is probably not going to get you into a T20 school, so you might be better off going to a less competitive school where you have a great chance at getting top grades.

Unless your family can drop 800K on your education without even thinking about it, you really do have to consider cost. The only financial safety on your list is Rutgers. I think that Brandeis is an excellent match for you, in every way, but I don’t think that they’ll give you merit money, and it’s not worth an extra 200K total for you to go there instead of in-state public in NJ. I think you should put more time and effort into identifying financial safeties for you, unless you’d be happy with Rutgers, TCNJ, or Montclair. People with stats like yours often get very good offers from 3rd tier LACs, but I don’t think that you will find the research opportunities that you want at them. They also often get high merit offers at southern and southwestern public U’s, but I get the feeling that you want to stay in the Northeast corridor, not too far from a major city, between Boston and DC.

With your research interests, you might wind up going the MD/PhD route, in which case med school will be free for you.

Right now, I’d put your energy into studying very hard for finals, to try to finish up as strong as you can for this year. This semester’s grades are very important for college. Worry about making your list after you’re done with exams in June.

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We are in NJ, my kids attended Rutgers and TCNJ in state (your stats aren’t high enough for the honors college), two went OOS with merit. They received good offers at UDel, UMASS, Temple, UCONN, URI, St. Joe’s, Scranton, Quinnipiac bringing costs down to close to in state. Pitt and UMD gave merit, but not enough. Lehigh and Villanova nothing (I don’t know why they applied). There GPA’s and scores are higher. My daughter is graduating from UDel with an exercise science degree, got into great DPT programs, heading to BU (got into NYU but didn’t want that commute and BU gave her some merit). Set your sights lower if you need merit.

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I am pretty sure I know what HS you go to and your guidance counselor should be much more helpful than we are. If I am correct your school is looked at differently than other NY/NJ high schools and lower GPAs are more competitive. I do agree with Rutgers though. Med school is expensive and it is an excellent research university affiliated with an excellent medical school. Schools are so competitive and expensive that going to your state flagship for 4 years and then their medical school would be an absolute win.

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Congrats on your accomplishments!

I think your best bet will be NJ public schools, and I agree that getting into honors at Rutgers and TCNJ will be tough. I would add Pitt to the list if it is affordable for your family.

Many schools on your list are very expensive. What are your parents saying about costs, given your desire to attend medical school?

An MPH is a graduate level degree. Are you interested in this in addition to medical school?

There is no such thing as “best college for pre-med”.

  1. You can take the required courses for medical school applications at every four year college in this country (arts conservatories excluded).

  2. The %age and even number of students who go on to medical schools as reported by undergrad schools really aren’t totally accurate or helpful.

  3. Past numbers of acceptances have no bearing on YOUR acceptance to medical schools. Every year, the applicant pools are different.

  4. There are going to be very smart students in the pre-med courses regardless of where you attend college.

I would also suggest you add Rowan to your college list.

@WayOutWestMom what did I miss?

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Agree that NJ public universities (such as TCNJ, Rutgers) would be an excellent option. You could also look at some of the SUNY schools which are reasonably priced for OOS students.

As an aside, I just want to make a general comment that you need to be careful with medical school acceptance rates quoted by admissions. It may sound obvious, but it is very important to understand exactly what goes into the numerator and denominator of the ratio as not all colleges calculate med school acceptance rate in the same manner. For example:

–Some schools have more “weed out” classes than others reducing the number of students who continue on the pre-med path for four years (lowering the denominator).

–Certain colleges have committees which pre-screen and recommend med school applicants. These committees generally only recommend students who have the stats, experiences etc. to make them very strong candidates for med schools. Students who are not recommended are left out of the equation. In contrast, other colleges support all of the students who want to apply to med school. So while the schools with the pre-screening will have a higher acceptance rate (because of the lower denominator), schools that support all students may be preferable.

–It is important to know what constitutes a med school acceptance for the med school acceptance rate. Some colleges just count US allopathic med school acceptances and other schools also include acceptances to DO, overseas med schools, podiatry etc. programs in the numerator leading to a higher med school acceptance rate.

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Regarding MD/PhD. The med school may in fact be “free” when subsidized, but the opportunity cost is 4-6 years delay in earning a physician salary. People should choose MSTP or other combined degree programs based on strong interest (which OP might have) but shouldn’t choose to go into higher debt for undergrad with the idea of “free” med school, since salary level allowing for comfortable loan repayment will happen later (longer time of having the debt hanging over your head). Now, I suppose a different way of looking at it is if OP is dead set on MD/PhD, then “prestige” could be argued to be a relevant point for undergrad institution in terms of how it affects the quality of research opportunity. However, I’d argue that at T20s you’re competing with tougher undergrads and top grad students for a spot in a lab (and the mentor’s attention when you get one). For this OP, I’d say BS/MD apps are something to try for sure (the Albany ones, for example) but with those grades there should be a backup plan (Rutgers is good for this). Your ECs are great and should help with BS/MD interviewing if you can get a foot in the door grades-wise.

Agree with much of what has been said above. You’re very fortunate that New Jersey has so many strong public options.

I agree with Rutgers and College of New Jersey. Ramapo is smaller, but I know it has no classes larger than 50. New Jersey Institute of Technology is another one I would research.

In the northeast I would consider

U. of Scranton
Duquesne
U. of Pittsburgh
St. Joseph’s
La Salle
Temple
U. of New Hampshire
Stony Brook

It seems you’re mainly looking at the northeast, but there are other options like Loyola Chicago, Saint Louis U., or U. of Denver if you’re open to other parts of the country.

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MPH is a masters in public health. No way to chance you on that one…it’s your college record that will determine masters level possibilities.

I wouldn’t go to NYU - in that you don’t want to live home - college is more than classes.

There’s a ton of merit out there as people have told you - in mid and large cities.

If cost is an issue - and you’d go for the $$ - you’d go to Alabama for cheap, join the Honors college and you could pursue the Mccullough Medical Scholars (link below). It does not meet your being in a city. Tuition - about $4K a year.

But the country’s top Honors College - U of South Carolina does - and they have great merit.

Lots of LACs have merit (still not cheap) but a Kalamazoo, Macalester, etc. are in cities. Obviously others mentioned great names above. Good luck.

McCollough Scholars – Pre-Medical Studies at the University of Alabama (ua.edu)

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Thanks for the insight! What are you thoughts on UPitt and do you think I could possibly get into the honors college with these stats and get good research opportunities?

Thanks for the insight! What are you thoughts on UPitt and do you think I could possibly get into the honors college with these stats and get good research opportunities as an undergrad? And how does UPitt compare to Rutgers in terms of research opportunities, pre med program, and cost?

Re: Pitt…they have rolling admissions. Apply when their application opens and you should get a decision fairly quickly. Also, their merit awards seem to be given to earlier applicants…so…try.

I don’t know when they send honors college info.

If you are instate for Rutgers, Pitt will be more costly unless you get some merit aid. In terms of prep for medical school, Pitt is very good!

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You can take Honors classes at Pitt without being Honors and you can do research anywhere - just ask a professor - you will find one that will involve you…Pitt or otherwise.

Most are afraid to ask…don’t be.

But short of getting merit aid there (apply early), there’s many other urban colleges that will cost less - from U of SC to College of Charleston to Arizona to - many.

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Pitt is a really good school for both research and pre-med, but I believe your ACT at 32 is below their minimum for getting merit aid. I think you will be accepted, so it could be a nice safety if it’s affordable.

I also know several who applied to Pitt as a safety, then preferred them over other schools at the end after visiting and seeing all they offered.

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