How to choose a medical school? This is one of the most important questions many medical school hopefuls frequently ask to their advisors, professors and admissions officials. Medical school selection is an important process that can have a significant impact on your professional and personal life. Many premeds wonder about how many schools to apply to, while some ask what is the right school for them?
Getting accepted into medical school is a huge accomplishment for medical students. Picking the right medical school is a difficult process and requires careful planning and consideration. Medical school is a long-term commitment, prospective medical students need to choose the school where the academic offerings are perfectly aligned with their interests and career goals.
You need to strategically choose the school where your chances of entry are higher. Some medical schools consider GPA and MCAT scores as an important admission criterion, while some consider interviews and clinical experience, which varies depending on the school. You should be aware of all the important factors that can help you choose the right medical school for you.
The more medical schools you apply to, the higher your chances of getting in. Here is an easy guide to choosing the best medical school for you.
- Evaluate the Admissions Criteria
- Admissions Statistics
- GPA and MCAT
- Medical School Application Timeline
- Available Courses/Programs
- Teaching Style
- Mission and Values
- Tuition Fees and Financial Aid Options
- Campus Location
- Residency Match Rate and Prospects
10 Things to Consider When Choosing a Medical School
Evaluate the Admissions Criteria
When applying to medical school, carefully consider the school’s admission requirements to get an idea whether you are eligible to apply. Medical schools require applicants to meet their specific admission criteria. Medical schools expect students to complete prerequisite coursework with a minimum 90 credit hours. For example, Windsor University School of Medicine requires applicants to complete following courses prior to applying:
- General Biology or Zoology
- Inorganic or General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry
- English or Humanities
Medical school applicants are also required to complete the minimum MCAT score requirements. Many schools require supporting documents such as letters of recommendation and personal statement. Take some time to perform in-depth research to check the necessary admission requirements when applying to medical school to make the admission process smoother.
When it comes to deciding which medical schools to apply to, admission statistics is the most important factor to consider. You can check schools’ websites to check how many students applied in the admissions cycle and how many students successfully graduated. Additionally, also check the number of in-state and international students applied and were successfully matriculated. It is also important to check the attrition rate to get an idea of how many students have left the program. This information will make your medical school selection process easier.
GPA and MCAT Scores
GPA and MCAT scores are the most important admission criteria for some schools. Medical school admissions officials check the academic records of applicants when reviewing their applications. A low GPA or MCAT scores may lower your chances of acceptance. However, many schools don’t give too much weight to such scores. Windsor University School of Medicine doesn’t give too much emphasis on MCAT scores when assessing an applicant for admission.
It is recommended to check the websites of medical schools to check the average GPA and MCAT scores of successful medical school applicants. Many schools show the percentage range and median GPA and MCAT scores of accepted and graduated applicants. Keep in mind that a high GPA and MCAT scores will make you stand out among the pool of applicants but other factors such as your volunteer experience, shadowing experience, and extracurricular activities also matter.
Medical School Application Timeline
If you are applying to multiple schools, you should carefully check the admission timeline for a smooth process. Many schools have different admission deadlines, applicants are required to find application timelines and know the necessary documents to keep all the application materials ready in advance. Many medical schools offer rolling admissions, you should note the specific dates for each medical school application cycle for each season.
Early research and preparation will give you a lot of time to complete the standardized tests, improve your GPA, write a personal essay, secure letters of recommendation and arrange supporting documents. So, you must ensure that you are aware of each season’s deadline to meet all the prerequisites and make your applications stand out.
The academic programs and courses available at medical schools are diverse in range. Knowing the programs and courses at this early stage will make it easier to decide which medical school to choose. Remember, not all schools offer the same programs or courses, so you have to research each school’s program to decide which one is the right fit for your future career.
Many medical schools offer flexible curriculum, some offer advanced level programs earlier in medical school training. Some medical schools offer joint degree programs such as MD/PhD, MD/MBA, MD/MA etc. You should consider academic programs and curriculum as an important factor when deciding which medical schools to apply to.
For instance, there are different types of courses such as PBL, traditional and integrated. Medical school hopefuls need to carefully research each type of course to understand which course type suits them perfectly. If possible, talk to seniors and academic advisors to understand the difference of each course type. This way, you can choose the school that offers your preferred course type. So, do your research to make a well-informed decision.
Medical schools follow different learning styles. A majority of schools use a traditional structure that divides the four-year MD program into 2 years of basic sciences program (preclinical years) and the remaining 2 years of clinical sciences programs (clinical practice). The traditional learning style provides a solid foundation of concepts before heading to clinical work. During clinical years, you will be provided with the opportunity to deal with patients and learn to provide excellent patient care.
Many medical schools are following an integrated learning approach in which class learning and clinic practice begins from the medical school education. You are presented with real problems so that you can learn how to apply theoretical learning into real life cases. These programs are tailored to improve critical thinking and reasoning skills of medical students.
Evaluating the school’s learning style and teaching methods before attending a school will make the selection process easier.
Mission and Values
Many medical schools include a lot of information about their mission and values on their website. You can check out the websites of schools to learn about their culture, goals, and academic interests. Most schools frequently update their websites regarding any research experiment or volunteer activity performed by their students.
Though the goal of all medical schools is to produce competent, intelligent and compassionate physicians, some schools focus on research, primary care, and public service to underprivileged areas. These schools look for applicants whose interests and educational background match with their missions and values.
For instance, if the school is research-intensive and you don’t have interest in research, then what’s the point of applying to this school. Similarly, if the school says that the school is committed to producing physicians who can work in underserved communities, and if it matches with your career goals, this school will be a great fit for your academic and career goals.
Tuition Fees and Financial Aid Options
It is one of the most important factors for choosing the right medical school for you. If you can afford the tuition fees of in-state or out-of-state medical schools, you can explore better options. But attending a medical school is not financially possible, so look for medical schools with low tuition fees.
Applying to and attending medical school is really expensive. You will pay for the MCAT, primary and secondary application fees, interview expenses and if selected, pay the tuition fees for four years. You can look for schools that offer financial aid. Some schools offer merit-based scholarships, many schools offer financial support and need-based awards to students in need. So, choose the school which is financially worth it for you.
The location where the campus is situated matters a lot as you will spend four years of your life. Make sure it is located somewhere you can easily manage to commute. Many applicants prefer in-state schools to cut the cost of living and other expenses. No matter if you choose out-of-state school or local school, make sure the location fits with your budget and personality. However, many medical schools make no discrimination between in state and international applicants. Windsor University School of Medicine equally considers both local and international students and the admission rate for both are the same.
Residency Match Rate and Prospects
Getting a perfect residency match is an important step to become a competent doctor. When deciding which medical schools to apply to, carefully check the residency match rate which is usually mentioned on schools’ websites. The success rate will give you a clear understanding of whether you should choose the school.
The residency match rate also shows you the medical specialties students commonly match. Try to apply to schools where graduates are successful in achieving residency positions. Getting into a medical school with academic strength in different advanced medical specialties will allow students to choose the area of medicine that interests them more.
The information about residency match rate is one of the most important factors that help you choose medical schools to apply to. It is advised to apply to schools with a good residency match rate as it shows that the school prepares students for competitive residency programs.
Choosing a medical school is no easy feat. It requires a lot of information, patience, and guidance to come up with a better choice. You must have a clear goal of what do you want to achieve and what type of career opportunities you want to get after your medical school.
Hopefully, this easy guide will help you decide which medical schools to apply to and start your medical school journey. Research available medical schools evaluate your options and apply to medical schools where your chances of admissions are higher. It will help stand out among other medical school applicants. Remember, choosing the right medical school will make your education journey a joyful and fulfilling experience. Good luck with your medical school selection process!