Harvard freshman Elizabeth W. believes that when she begins her premed track this fall, her attendance at Harvard will give her a distinct advantage over other premeds. Is Elizabeth in for a big surprise?
Top Premedical Programs: Is there a built-in advantage?
Many premeds believe they get a substantial advantage over other premeds by attending premedical program tracks at Harvard, Baylor College of Medicine, Vanderbilt, John Hopkins University, or other well-known campuses, but that is very often not the case.
When medical schools decide to accept or reject your application, the premedical program you attended is much less important than your performance as an undergrad. As a premedical student, you need to select a campus environment in which you will thrive academically and socially.
Bad fit, poor performance
Not all ‘brand name’ universities are a perfect fit for every student. Katie, a premed at Baylor College of Medicine, says that the campus town near Baylor was a major factor in how unpleasant her overall experience was. She says of Baylor College of Medicine, “I find Waco to be stifling, culturally lacking, closed-minded, dirty, crime-ridden, and generally horrid.” Your grades will suffer if you are unhappy at your university like Katie was at Baylor, and your chances for acceptance at a top medical school will go way down.
Some of the things that Katie mentioned in her review of the campus and college are often overlooked by students seeking a quality premedical program. She listed high tuition fees, low academic standards for new entries, wasteful expenditures and poor maintenance of dorm facilities, low professor pay, restricted independence, and Sorority dominated social structures as major drawbacks to attending this premedical track.
Consider these questions before you attend any undergraduate school for a premedical program:
- Will you enjoy the weather and culture of the area?
- Will the social scene appeal to you?
- Will you have other students and people you can relate to?
- Will the classes be much, much harder than you are used to?
- Will the area and campus be so different that you get homesick or feel lonely?
- Will you feel safe and secure?
If you aren’t happy at school, its likely that you won’t excel. If you don’t excel as an undergrad, you won’t look that great as a candidate for medical school, and your chances for acceptance will suffer greatly.
You can learn more about how to find the best premedical program for you inside “How to Apply to Medical School: Medical School Admissions Step-by-Step.“