Which Medical Schools Should I Apply To?

By February 18, 2019 April 25th, 2019 Admissions Advice, Primary AMCAS Application, Schools

Which Medical Schools Should I Apply To?

Have you asked yourself, “what medical schools should I apply to?”

Deciding where to apply to medical school is an extremely important, and very challenging part of the application process. It takes a lot of time and can be expensive – not only because of the application fees themselves, but from campus visits as well. The decision is ultimately yours to decide which schools will be best for you. The Cracking Med School Admissions advisors  have helped hundreds of students make these decisions, and we’d like to share some of the best strategies with you in doing so. Use these strategies to develop a solid list of schools to apply to.

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Here’s a framework of how to think choosing which medical schools to apply to:

1) How many medical schools should I apply to?

As a general rule, it we suggest you aim for between 15 to 20 schools, unless you have good reasons for applying to fewer. The admissions game can sometimes be a crapshoot, and applying to fewer exposes you to unnecessary variance in admission committees’ decisions. Likewise, when applicants apply to more than 25 schools, it implies that the schools have not been well researched and there was little strategy in place behind the applicant’s selections.

2) How does my geographic location impact where I should apply?

Applying to schools as an in-state candidate usually gives you an advantage. Many state schools have less than 15% of their class come from outside the state. In-state tuition also tends to be cheaper. Due to these factors, it’s a good idea to research several state schools and apply to a handful that would be a good fit for you. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get into out-of-state medical schools! Many schools admit over 20-25% of their students from out-of-state.

3) Should I consider out-of-state schools?

Public schools, in general, do prefer applicants from the states in which they’re located. Many public medical schools with class sizes between 100 and 200 have less than 10 entering students who are out-of-state. However, there are many public medical schools who accept a decent number of out-of-state applicants. This is especially true for larger and more reputable schools — University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a good example. When a public school has over 25% of its class from out-of-state, there is a reasonable chance of qualified out-of-staters being considered.

4) GPA and MCAT scores

Each year, the Association of American Medical Colleges publishes the MSAR, or Medical School Admission Requirements. The MSAR contains admissions statistics,  including the school’s average MCAT score and the ranges of overall and science GPAs of successful applicants. Use this data to advantage when forming your bucket list of schools to apply to! Some schools have a very tight range of GPAs; Johns Hopkins, for example, has 3.7 as the 10th percentile, 3.9 as the average, and 4.0 as the 90th percentile. Other schools will be less rigid. Make sure to select a mix of schools where you fall within the average GPA range, and some schools where you may be above the average. You should take a similar approach for the MCAT. A 30-32 is competitive score for a fair amount of schools, but scores at highly selective schools are often 37 or above. Special circumstances can change the landscape of these score requirements dramatically. For example, if you’re a Rhodes Scholar or medaled in the Special Olympics, but have a low MCAT score, that’s less likely to matter.

5) How important should I consider medical school rankings?

Rankings are definitely important because the better the reputation of your medical school, the more competitive you will be for residency matching. At the same time, you should be careful about putting TOO much emphasis on these rankings. The U.S. News and World Report ranking uses a methodology that changes slightly year to year. You will be able to get a solid medical education at many medical schools so you need to think more about which schools will be the best fit for you.

6) Financial Aid Considerations

Pay attention to the school’s financial aid policy. The quality of financial aid can be a key deciding factor on where to apply. Also, make sure to read the fine print about in-state vs. out-of-state financial aid. Many schools offer bigger financial aid award to in-state applicants, so you’ll want to be cognizant of this.

7) Medical School Curriculum

Consider your learning style when examining a medical school’s curriculum. Are you a visual learner? Are you a discussion-based learner? These need to be taken into account, and can help you in creating your bucket list of schools to apply to. You should also take the grading policy of the school into account. Does the school give out letter grades, or is it pass/fail, or somewhere in between? Some schools rely entirely on a Pass/No Pass grading system because they feel it fosters cooperation rather than competition.

Recap for “Which Medical School Should I Apply to:”

Choosing where to apply to medical school is a loaded decision with myriad factors affecting the outcome. Start with the above questions and continue to reflect while creating your bucket list of schools to apply to. Definitely reach out to us at info@crackingmedadmissions.com with any questions.

Have questions about how your GPA and MCAT will affect your chances of getting into medical school?  Fill out the contact for below! We can help assess and boost your chances for getting into medical school.

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Dr. Rachel Rizal

Author Dr. Rachel Rizal

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