UC Merced (Pre Med) for OOS students with Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE)

Hi everyone,
My son is a high-stat, STEM high-schooler from a neighboring state of CA. He wants to pursue a medical career but most likely is not qualified for any aid from FAFSA (except for merit aid). I’d like to spend less for undergrad and fully fund his medical school (if that’s happening). He also likes California weather. UC Merced is the only UC in the WUE list. This school would be his safety with OOS tuition of about 20K/year under WUE so we can keep his COA at 35K annually. We also prefer OOS schools than our instate colleges.

Is UC Merced a good option for pre-med internship, shadowing, and research opportunities? I know it’s in a middle of nowhere but they are trying to build a medical school (with the first 2 years of med education at Merced) so I hope there are decent pre-med advising and plenty of pre-med opportunities at this very young (but underdog) UC.
I believe he will have a much better chance to stand out since his future peers are usually lower stat kids (not all of course) who can’t get in better UCs. UC curriculum should be solid to prepare him for MCAT and such.
Any inputs from other parents especially OOS folks in this school?

Thanks so much for your time.

Central Valley weather, culture, environment may be rather different from what one may assume if one’s main impression of California is based on the large coastal metro areas.

Also, the UCM / UCSF Fresno medical school is intended to help build up the supply of physicians in the relatively poor Central Valley, so that may be considered for admission when the school opens. Is he interested in practicing medicine there?

What is undesirable about your in-state colleges?

. . .

Absolutely concur with this statement^ from @ucbalumnus.
I’ve had to stay in this area of California on my way up to Northern California. On several occasions, the traffic was backed up on the 99. It turns out that they have “Tule fog days” that completely stop the traffic on the highway and on the anchor roads around the university. It is a lot like pea soup from Winter to early Spring. This area gets really hot and dry in the summers and cold in the winters. In other words, it is not SoCal weather.

(Tule fog is a mixture of low fog, farm pesticides, and chemicals, eminating from the passing big rigs, that causes low visibility and has to burn off. Apparently the farmers like it because it helps the fruit trees to rest but combines for really low visibility such that cars are slotted by the last number on the license plate for entry onto their roads and highways. During one trip, we had to wait to leave the hotel because our plate ended in an odd number.)

We don’t know what the UC’s are going to do if they lose a lot of revenue from this pandemic. You need to plan on possible full fees if they can only maintain a limited number of OOS students for WUE.

Utah is a very good option for WUE (or just getting instate tuition automatically). It has the best medical center in the state on campus. And the grading is relatively generous so getting/keeping the GPA required for medical school is easier than at many other colleges.

Also, if he goes to Merced, he will not receive any advantage in being accepted into the UC Medical schools in California. The med schools wipe the slate clean and many entrants are from OOS universities.

The competition is fierce. My dd attends UCSF and about 1/3 of her classmates were from California, the other 2/3 were from the rest of the US with 1 or 2 from Canada.

Good point. If you go to Utah better to get the instate tuition after the first year and then pay instate rates for med school (if you get a place). It works out cheaper than WUE for undergrad anyway, you just have to stay the first summer.

You are right. No intention to go to med school in CA. Merced is not a typical image of California for sure :slight_smile: but it can be a day road-trip from home. One thing I like about Merced that it is an upcoming school, its ranking improved significantly every year, brand-new facility and most importantly it’s still a size of a private college at the moment. It will be easier to enroll to certain courses with small class size.

Utah is also a very good option and even cheaper with 1st year WUE then in-state after a full year enrollment (Fall, Spring, and a summer) but it’s cold and not very diversified. We’ve been in Salt Lake area in the last few summers and it’s a nice school.

Our state school is decent, not competitive, not high-ranked but is a same distance to Merced from home. I’d like him to go to Med school instate eventually so he wants to spend 4-years of his undergrad elsewhere. My son took a summer class at the in-state University for credit and it’s not an entry-level when he was 15 and got an easy A. I think UC curriculum is better. I am sure he will apply to several private colleges but will only enroll if decent merit scholarship is offered to make it cheaper to go.