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Here to answer questions about Goucher for 2012-13

Discussion in 'Postbaccalaureate Programs' started by Goucher2013, Jul 21, 2012.

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  1. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Obviously, I'm more than a little biased towards the program, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you have about it, except those about odds of admission (sorry, not a psychic).

    Also, a lot of questions have already been answered previously, and it'll definitely be worth searching the forums for 'goucher' first.

    As for my status, I started the program last month and I'm almost done with concentrated Chemistry. This means I haven't yet experienced the fall/spring routines, but I'll regularly check back here during the year if you have questions relating specifically to these semesters.
  2. doctoroxygen

    doctoroxygen

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    How much clinical exposure is typical for accepted students? Can something like extensive research fill in for having only 20-30 hours of direct shadowing experience?
  3. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Hmm...I should have written that I'd blanket answer no questions related to admission, since I'm not a Goucher staff member, and don't have access to applicant stats. I'll answer the question addressing readers in general: the problem every time someone on this forum asks a stats-related question (what are my chances given x GPA, y hours, z test scores?) is that any answers give a false sense of control. Whether for admission to undergrad, Goucher or med school, minimum numbers are merely a prerequisite to get your foot in the door, and then it's about how you present your personality and your story.

    That initial vague answer aside, I'm pretty sure that the specific answer is that number of shadowing hours is relatively unimportant in the overall scheme of things. Goucher (and hopefully every other program) will be more interested in your journey that led you to choose medicine. Quality should be more important than quantity. You should ask yourself,

    a. If shadowing convinced me to pursue medicine, how did it do so?
    b. If something else convinced me to pursue medicine, how did shadowing reconfirm that?

    I don't think an answer to either question requires any specific number (in fact, I can't remember ever being asked for a tally). Shadowing is an important component of most career switches, because it's supposed to confront you with the realities of patient care and life as a doctor of a certain specialty, practice or department. If 20-30 hours was enough to give you a good idea of what life will be like for you as a doctor, then you're fine. If not, admissions staff are all very adept at figuring out whether an applicant's motivations are half-baked.


    My gut instinct is that research is a distinctly separate experience, unless it involved lots of patient contact. Programs like Goucher, and later med schools, are looking for people who have good social skills and a strong interest in patient care. Those make you a better applicant, but also indicate you'll be a good team player on an intensive pre-med program that requires a high degree of socialization. I don't think they look for a formula or ratio of volunteering to research. Research experience is probably most relevant if you actually intend to go into academic medicine, since there's a direct correlation.


    Remember, volunteering feeds your story, which doesn't have to be original - every story's already been told - but does have to have depth. For instance, you have to go deeper than "I want to be a doctor because I care about people". That doesn't set you apart; it merely marks you as someone who isn't a sociopath.

    Finally, to reiterate, shadowing should be a discovery process, rather than an attendance sheet. It allows you to better understand how you would fit into a patient care team and the changing healthcare ecosystem (which is why plenty of med students still shadow). It should enable you to understand and accept the many limitations placed on medical professionals, and enable you to better justify how you can cope with the stresses. It's not about the number of hours.
  4. RowboatPotato

    RowboatPotato

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    Where on the application would I mention shadowing? Where on the application would I mention that my family has used me as a point person whenever my grandmotehr falls and gets sick so I have a ton of experience with emergency rooms? Is it dangerous to mention my dad is a doc so I'm aware of a lot of what they do?
  5. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Hi RowboatPotato,

    There is a 'Medical Experience' section on page 3 of the application form that allows you to name shadowing experiences, but only broadly in terms of 'where' and 'how long'.

    The other place to mention shadowing is in your essay, but unless a particular experience had a large influence on your decision to pursue medicine (see my previous post), I would focus on other things and expect to discuss shadowing experiences in depth during your interview.

    The experience with your grandmother would suit your essay, but beware that, as with volunteering, it should be a significant part of your 'journey to medicine', since you only have 1,000 words to express that journey. You might want to balance references to any time you've spent in the ER with other, less dramatic medical experiences, since much of medicine is very little drama and lots of routine (downright tedious) stuff. Your shadowing or exposure to medicine through your father could fit the bill.

    Having a doctor in your immediate family can only be a bonus, since it usually provides long-term exposure to healthcare. Plenty of my peers had doctors in their immediate family. That said, for readers without such connections, they're merely a bonus, and there is no disadvantage if you have no medical professionals in your family. Page 3 of the application has a section where you can mention your father's occupation. If you don't bring it up in your essay, I'd expect you to be prompted about it during your interview.

    Remember that you want to paint an all-encompassing picture of 'why medicine' that provides both breadth and depth. To that end, you might consider emphasizing other things in your essay with the intent of bringing up volunteering or family experiences mentioned in your application during your interview. Your application and essay are the 'hook', the interview allows you to seal the deal.
  6. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    I just thought I'd post an update on the student experience at Goucher:

    We're now roughly a month into regular classes. I really looked forward to the semester and have to admit I thought it would be easier than intensive summer chemistry. Boy was I wrong, largely because the transition from one to three subjects, plus other commitments, wasn't as smooth for me as for others. That having been said, I think I've settled into a good routine. After the first 2-3 weeks, we have basically one test a week until the end of the semester. That's ideal for me, because it keeps me on my toes.

    The great thing is that any intensive postbac spread over both summer and the regular semesters will give you a taste of whether you prefer the shorter, intense systems-based approach of some med school curricula, or a more regular curriculum with several subjects spread out over time.

    The other good thing is that both biology and orgo (unsurprisingly) are immediately tied to much of what you learned in general chemistry. There's also a decent overlap between those two, so everything builds on each other fairly organically (arf).


    I can't praise the program staff enough. They're incredibly patient in discussing all our options with us. Since this is such a condensed program, we're making major decisions that others would have several years to figure out in the space between August and late November. That's especially the case for potential linkers. We had our first linkage visit to Pritzker last week, and I do think these visits are a great luxury, even if we don't link, since open days are usually only reserved for admitted students.

    With no open days at med schools (except at Mayo - check it out), it's no wonder that prospective students tend to put an excessive emphasis on rankings that really don't reflect the educational experience. These linkage visits give us the opportunity to think more in terms of fit based on actual interactions. The price of that is missing a day of class. As it happens, linkage visits tend to be on days when we have classes in all three subjects, so we can't afford to go on too many visits.

    That of course defeats part of the object of the exercise. Because I had to triage my linkage visits, I'm never going to know, for example, whether Pittsburgh could have been the perfect school for me. Ideally, we'd want to go on every possible visit. Sadly, there are only so many scheduling options. The program staff have a tough time with reconciling visits with class schedules. Obviously, we can't expect med schools to open their doors on weekends. But the bottom line is that if you think you can afford to miss 2-3 class days during the semester, you'll definitely be able to get some meaningful visits in (plus 1-2 visits that luckily do occur on days with no scheduled classes). Even if you don't link, the lessons learned for med school choices are significant.


    I think I definitely stand the best chance of getting into the best-fitting med school by attending a program like Goucher's. It's not that pre-med at the Goucher postbac is easier. It's just that it isn't made unnecessarily hard because of the misguided idea that pre-meds need to be weeded out based on a factor (science grades) that is increasingly seen as an overemphasized part of the applicant package. Pre-med is difficult enough as it is without messing with people's career ambitions.

    The med school system is now cottoning on to the plain facts that demonstrate that the current recruiting methods don't sufficiently account for the greater people skills (interpersonal, managerial, etc.) as well as the more diverse problem-solving approaches required of the medical community. Relatively minor changes like different emphases in the MCAT are now afoot, but the overall system isn't going to significantly change anytime soon. I think programs like Goucher are distinctly advantageous to all parties because they completely separate students with experiences lacking in traditional med school recruiting from the weeding out approach that occurs at regular undergrad classes.

    So, if you are looking for an opportunity to transition to med school with the least amount of b.s., giving you the most opportunity to capitalize on your existing non-science strengths, you're probably ideal for a program like Goucher (Goucher seems to attract the kind of people who like to minimize drama in general).

    On the other hand, if what I wrote just makes you think, "sounds like he's just saying 'Goucher is a way for dumber people to get into med school'", then you're definitely better off in a program that puts you in among the undergrads. You'd be able to come out of there and say, "I competed fair and square", although I'd obviously vehemently disagree that the traditional weed out approach is either fair or beneficial to the medical community.
  7. cheree cheree

    cheree cheree

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    Thank you so much for this.
    I'm getting ready to send in my application and this couldn't have come at a better time.

    Also so glad to hear you are liking it and are confident it was a good choice.

    A few more questions:
    Do med school reps come to Goucher or do you go to them?

    What is the mcat prep like (or when does it start)?

    Thanks!
  8. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Happy to help.

    Med school reps visit Goucher, in addition to us visiting the linkage schools. We had the director of admissions from Michigan visit this week, and I think his JHU counterpart will visit sometime this semester. There are probably more such scheduled visits that I'm not aware of. The visits are aimed at the postbacs, but I like the fact that Goucher undergrads are able to attend as well so that we can spread the love, so to speak. Please note, though, that these admissions people do travel around a lot of schools, so I wouldn't claim we're in an exclusive situation.

    MCAT prep starts during the second summer term with a chem-focused practice section. The regular prep starts a few weeks into the fall semester with one verbal section a week, and increasing in both time spent and subject-breadth all the way through to the end of spring. There's an MCAT boot camp right before the spring semester starts. As you can imagine, the last month or so of spring classes can be very busy with both classes and lots of MCAT prep. Excepting those who linked to Pritzker, Brown or Pitt, everyone takes the MCAT a few weeks after finals.
  9. bakagal

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    Question - when do you need to decide on whether or not to link?
  10. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Early December.

    To add to that: linking is a pretty tough choice. Roughly 10 out of 30 postbacs choose to link every year, with most getting in. Most people prefer to keep their options open, for geographic or other reasons. It's very much like Early Decision for your undergrad - if you're going to be wondering "what if" for the rest of your life, it's probably not the right option. Yes, some linkage schools don't require the MCAT, but that's more of a stress reliever than anything - people who have trouble with standardized tests don't usually get this far anyway, and the MCAT prep is great. Almost all regular applicants have multiple fantastic options.

    So, why link? Even absolutely loving one school isn't always enough.

    I started the program thinking I would definitely link, but general life and family circumstances have me re-examining that path right now. I'm very much on the fence, even though one of the linkage schools is pretty much the perfect place for me. Being in a relationship makes things a lot more complicated. And it's this kind of process which whittles down the number of linkage applicants every year. For me, it's probably going to come down to the wire, based on three factors:
    1. Family circumstances
    2. Grades
    3. Who else is applying and how I rate their 'fit' versus mine.

    The last part is pragmatic, not antagonistic. I've never heard of people trying to undermine or discourage other prospective linkers. Not one instance. But it's clearly a rational thing to consider who else is going to be competing for the limited slots. On the other hand, you might be the only applicant that year.

    So, linking is a great option, but I'd advise keeping an open mind throughout. Even if you already know one of the linkage options is your dream school, don't be blinkered, and I'd say don't advertise your enthusiasm too strongly when applying to postbac programs with linkages. I'm sure the program staff have heard many such declarations, only to see people change their minds as things developed.

    I should note that the linkage visits are great for future regular applicants, and that those who don't successfully link are often accepted to the same school during regular admissions. And if they choose to go somewhere else at that point, well, that means the institution with the linkage will probably regret having turned down the student when they wanted to get themselves locked in as a linker a year earlier.

    Does that go through those institutions minds when they look at a linker's applicants? I'd bet it does. If you seem like a good fit, it's likely that linkage schools think, "can we afford to risk losing this person if they are admitted to multiple competing schools during regular admissions?", which adds a whole other dimension to the admissions process if they like you.

    Lastly, I should admit that if I do apply regularly, I'll be quite biased towards any med school that has linkages. It shows that these schools place a greater emphasis on recruiting people like me, and indicates that I'm more likely to feel at home there.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  11. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    Did you have many people in your class who had already taken a pre-req before entering the program, like chemistry or bio? I will not be able to apply until next year, and while I'm applying next year I would like to take Chem I/II, but I wouldn't want that to end up hurting me.
  12. bakagal

    bakagal

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    Great information, thank you so much for taking the time to explain. And I agree - heading into a post-bacc, one of my main considerations is that the program prepare me adequately for med school. Having linkages is an added bonus but I'm more impressed with Goucher's program in it of itself. And it sounds like you get a nice comprehensive overview of other schools as well.
  13. Hook

    Hook

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    Any idea how long an interview or reject decision takes? I just tossed my Goucher app in the mail today.
  14. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Take requirements early - in your case, I'm thinking it would probably be best to wait. Usually a few people have one or two requirements, but that's from years ago. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want you to take the chem classes before starting. Summer chem is a huge part of the program, partly because it bonds everyone, partly because it shows to yourself and med schools that you can drink from a firehose.

    How long will the admissions decision take? Honestly, no idea. I'd guess 1-2 months, like it did for me. If you have exigent circumstances that require you to be interviewed or receive a decision earlier, just call the postbac office and explain.
  15. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    That's interesting. For me, I'd just like to get a head start because I know it will be crazy, and since I have a whole year before I start I feel like it'd make sense and help me get my feet wet. I'll call and talk it over with them when it gets closer to decision-making time... I've still got months before I have to decide anything.
  16. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    The Bryn Mawr program seems to be more modular, with two different start dates. If you're hell-bent on taking chemistry before starting your formal postbac, consider that school for fit purposes.
  17. betterlate

    betterlate

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    To clarify - some of the linkage programs have an application deadline that is quite early (late October/early November, if I remember correctly). Since the process includes a committee letter, personal statement, and secondary essays, the decision needs to be made at least a month in advance (September/October) in order to have enough time to get everything done. Other programs have a late January/early February application deadline, and for those the decision has to be made by December.
  18. betterlate

    betterlate

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    This is not necessarily true. My roommate during my Goucher year took gen chem as an undergrad immediately prior to starting the program. Similarly, two of my classmates who came to the program straight from undergrad had been physics majors.

    Taking more than either gen chem or physics prior to applying will make you ineligible for the program. Your application will be considered if you've taken only one or the other, without regard to how long ago you took the course.

    This is a tough question to answer, as it can vary a lot depending on the time of year and how often the admissions committee is meeting. I was notified in <1 week after interviewing on one of the very first interview days of the year. The committee met the following day, which obviously facilitated a quick decision. Once you start getting later in the year, holidays and school breaks affect the frequency of interview days and admission committee meetings, plus there are an increasing number of applicants in consideration. The end result is a much longer turn-around time for both interview invitations and admission decisions.
  19. betterlate

    betterlate

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    Taking bio or orgo prior to applying would likely make you ineligible for the Goucher program. However, your application would still be considered if you took EITHER gen chem OR physics (but not both) prior to applying. If you took gen chem, then you would join the program in September rather than June. If you took physics, then you would start in the summer with everyone else and in the fall would take a different class during the physics time slot.

    One person in my class had taken gen chem prior to the start of the program, and two had taken physics. The vast majority of us have never taken any of the courses before, but it is not uncommon for one or two students per class to have taken either gen chem or physics prior to coming to Goucher.
  20. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    Thanks, betterlate! I'm just considering all of my options because I won't be able to start anything until fall 2013 (I work out of the country), which means I'm unable to start a lot of the one-year programs since they start in the summer. So, I'd have to wait about 10 months before starting classes. Honestly, I'm still debating doing an a la cart pre-med post bac at my state school because it will be much cheaper (in state tuition and I can live at home) and I can start right away. I just lose the perks that these programs offer :(
  21. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Mulling this over, I still wouldn't recommend taking chem classes early, even if Goucher allows you to. Why waste time, money and fun when you're already getting the same courses at Goucher?

    I also had a long time between acceptance and starting the program, and in retrospect here's what I wish I'd learned in the meantime:
    1. Chemistry: memorize polyatomic ions and solubility rules
    2. Physics: Practice algebra and trig. Lots of triangles.
    3. Bio: memorize eukaryotic cell structure and what each organelle does.

    This would have made my life easier, but even then I've survived without the pre-cramming (and I'm at the bottom end of the curve for uptake in this class). If you were accepted and decided to attend, I'd be happy to send you the chemistry textbook where you can find the stuff to memorize. Everything else can be found online. This would give you something to learn in the meantime without any significant time or financial commitment.
  22. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    Hey Goucher2013, I really appreciate your thorough responses :)

    I think my biggest worries are these, and they perhaps relate to formal vs. informal post bacc, rather than among the formal programs. The reasons why I'm starting to lean to doing something informal based on my situation (even though I would prefer to do a formal program, if I had nothing holding me back):
    1) It will be WAY cheaper. I can live at home and pay instate tuition.
    2) I can get started right away. I can start in September 2013, rather than June 2014. That's a whole two semesters.
    3) I'll be close to family. I've been abroad for a year and a half, and have missed a lot (big family).

    The cons of doing an informal program, when compared to a formal program:
    1) No linking
    2) No MCAT help
    3) No specific advising and incentive to keep me/get me into medical school
    4) No special opportunities, like connections to research, etc.
    5) No community of pre-meds kicking ass together

    What do you think?

    My next plan of action is to call a few programs and try to talk candidly with them about what would work best for my situation. I hope they're honest and receptive!
  23. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Good point about getting started earlier. Are you sure you couldn't swing May 2013 as a return date, or are we looking at a Peace Corps-like commitment that requires precise end dates? For September 2013, I'd strongly suggest Bryn Mawr again. Obviously family is something that you have to decide for yourself. I left the nest at the start of junior high and never looked back. I know other people have different values.

    Doing an informal postbac can be cheaper, but I'm even less on the fence now than I was before. Someone in my family began an informal postbac at the same time, and there's just no comparison: I can get done twice as fast because the courses minimize the weed out b.s. that permeates regular premed courses, and if I need help, I get it. Everything's packaged in the perfect way to help me handle three science subjects at once. My relative on the informal postbac can barely keep up with two per semester. The costs of a formal postbac amortize themselves quickly, since you'll be earning money as a doc 1-2 years earlier.

    For that reason, I'd eliminate cost from that equation. But timing and family are a much more subjective matter.
  24. JerrardJ

    JerrardJ

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    Thank you very much for creating this thread.

    One of the major things that has attracted me to the top post-bac programs is how well their students tend to do with regard to merit-based aid when applying to med school (e.g., Goucher provided a stat that 21 of their 42 graduates over the last 2 years received offers for merit-based aid, and Johns Hopkins provided a similarly impressive statistics). Obviously there are some confounding variables there, but it's still very impressive.

    Could you provide any additional color on anything you've heard regarding merit-based aid for med school, for students coming out of the program? For example, some questions I'm wondering about include:
    • Is merit-based aid so prevalent that it impacts people's decision on whether to link (given that linkages rarely provide merit-based aid, since they don't need to)?
    • How prominently is merit-based aid featured in info sessions, application seminars, etc.?
    • Any thoughts on why top post-bac students tend to do so well on merit-based scholarships? Is it simply because they're all very strong academically, or does their strength in real-world experience play a major factor as well?
    • Generally, how realistic is it to expect that someone coming out of the program could receive merit-based aid to a top program?


    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have on this subject!
  25. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Hi JerrardJ,

    I'll just answer each of your questions in turn:

    Definitely. Just today, some of us were talking about linkage financial aid. The overall consensus seems to be that you pretty much forget merit aid if you link. You do get your final MD salary a year earlier, so that should balance out the extra debt.

    But the lack of merit aid also makes linking to a school like the University of Maryland a lot more attractive, since that school combines skipping the glide year with low tuition (and virtually no one in the program - current and graduates - seems to carry about the rankings that so many SDN discussions revolve around).

    Finaid for linking is definitely a major factor in most people's decision to link.

    Not too much. Some schools mention how much they have available, but I think the general consensus is to not make too big a deal about it, since I think the whole application system revolves around downplaying people's expectations of scholarship money.

    The number of external scholarships available for med school has also decreased significantly in the past few years (e.g. the death of Jack Kent Cooke scholarships). Goucher helps students applying those scholarships, but few are still an option, and then only for people with certain geographic ties.

    Programs like Goucher tend to recruit at least 1/3 of their cohorts with stellar grades and MCATs. Those people are the types who already get a vast chunk of merit scholarships. Because they're older and stand out, they get even more. For those of us who are more in the middle academically, the same life history that got us into Goucher is probably also going to interest med schools, so I think the odds of people with, say, a 3.7 GPA getting a scholarship are slightly higher than for the average applicant, because they'll want to lock us down.

    Now that one I'd have to defer to the Goucher program staff. You'd want to call them about that. My guess is "quite realistic", but if I were you, I'd prefer hard data.
  26. JerrardJ

    JerrardJ

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    Thank you, this is great!
  27. Hook

    Hook

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    Thanks for all the data. Here comes the standard SDN question: What were your stats that got you into Goucher.
  28. doctoroxygen

    doctoroxygen

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    Are you allowed to share any of the requirements the linkage schools have for students who want to link?
  29. Evidence Based

    Evidence Based

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    Sorry to butt in on the Goucher thread, but I'm a current post bacc at Bryn Mawr, and this statement will actually no longer be true as of next year. Because of the new med school requirements, Jodi is worried that the fall starters will be behind the 8 ball and won't be able to finish up all the classes they need before matriculation. So starting next year (class of 2013-2014), everyone will be starting in the summer, much like is already the case in Goucher. That being said, there are plenty of people at BM (and Goucher too I would imagine) that have already taken 1 or 2 requirements before they've gotten here, and it's totally not a problem.

    Other than than, nothing but great things to say about Goucher. I interviewed there, and eventually chose Bryn Mawr, but both programs are phenomenal. You really can't go wrong with either.
  30. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Evidence Based, thanks for the heads up about Bryn Mawr.

    Doctoroxygen, I don't think I'm at leisure to divulge those requirements. I have a feeling the med schools involved in any linkages across the country would prefer to keep admissions requirements private. I'll double-check at some point with the program staff, though.

    Hook, I'm afraid I won't release my stats, either. I don't think stats are relevant, no matter how much SDN focuses on them in an effort to make the admissions process to any program look less opaque.
  31. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    Sorry for not responding...no steady Internet for the past few days. For the purposes of return dates, I'm in a set program that won't finish until mid-summer, so there's no way I can swing an earlier return. I'm not afraid of leaving the nest, just afraid of the costs that will build up with doing so. However, I really appreciate your perspective when comparing the experiences of you and your relative -- I think that's really helpful, and is actually something I expected. I definitely would feel better with the support that is provided in formal programs.

    As I said, I am all for the formal postbacc option - I just don't want to make a mistake by not considering all the options and making it work best for my situation.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  32. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    Thanks for the heads up, Evidence Based.
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  33. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Another update: linkage visits are reaching their high water mark right now. In recent weeks, we've visited GW, Hofstra and Michigan, with visits to Pitt, Maryland, Tulane and Cornell coming up very soon. Most of us will go on no more than 2-3 of these visits because we can't afford to miss too many classes, but the visits are nevertheless invaluable. We're also pooling our resources to make sure we share our impressions of linkage visits, particularly for the sake of those who couldn't come.

    One advantage of the linkage visits is that they allow us to build perspectives that are very much at odds with those espoused among traditional premeds and at places like SDN. Over a dozen of us (as well as an equal number of nice people from Bryn Mawr) took advantage of having last Friday off to visit the new Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. Hofstra is the current apex of curricular reform in the US. It's essentially a vocational training course with an academic component, rather than an academic course with a vocational component as seems often the case elsewhere. Patient contact is sustained and hands-on from day one. You essentially apprentice under doctors of five different specialties for your entire four years. One MS2 described all the procedures he's already performed, including hundreds of pap smears, since matriculating barely over a year ago. There's a lot more socratic learning, a lot more clinical mentoring, and a generally adult attitude that I really admired. Attendance is mandatory, but that's because they take the grind out of learning. Their testing model isn't about passing tedious multiple choice pre-clinical exams like at many other schools, but about continuous improvement of clinical deductive skills. That's why I used the term 'vocational' earlier. It's a whole different mindset.

    They're still finding their footing on research opportunities, but Hofstra is obviously hugely ambitious and is looking to make things happen for students who know what they want. I really hope Hofstra shakes things up in the next few years. As for the general angst about new schools and residences, one particularly important factor is Hofstra's integration into the LIJ system, which has reputable internships in every specialty imaginable. So if worst comes to worst, you're hell bent on a highly competitive path like neurosurgery and your dream residencies somehow up their nose at you, well, you'll still be highly competitive at an LIJ neurosurgery residency and, oh damn, you're still a neurosurgeon at the end.

    As you can hear from the tone of my writing, Hofstra left a really positive impression that pushed me further down prioritizing what I consider quality of education over things like prestige and rankings. Frankly, I don't want to be the kind of person who thinks other people's opinions and snobbishness should trump the skills I gain on my path towards an MD. You can call me naive, but I've been around the block a lot longer than the cynical ranking fetishists you find online, and I know how small-minded and irrelevant the world of status hunters is. Hofstra is now among my top 4 or 5 potential schools. If I end up somewhere else, I'll be left wondering how good of a clinician I would be at the same stage of my training if I'd gone there.


    I was one of a couple of people who also had the time to visit Michigan yesterday. Another benefit of a structured postbac is that you end up considering places you would probably never have applied to otherwise. I'm glad I took our program director's advice and visited Ann Arbor.

    With Michigan's reputation and a class size of 170, you think big, anonymous school. That wasn't the impression I got from the students, who were raving about the easy access they had to all staff and faculty. The midwestern ethos really shone through. I must have spent over five hours conversing with students yesterday, and the overlap of a lot of factors close to my heart catapulted Michigan to the top of my list for now.

    Until yesterday, I'd also been skeptical about the approach towards pre-clinical lectures taken by places like Michigan, where a good number of people are "streamers" who rarely attend lectures. That mindset made me think of online degrees. But yesterday I learned about all the extra opportunities Michigan throws at you during the week - enough that you really want to be able to learn the core material whenever you can find the time, rather than fitting extra opportunities around lectures. For instance, you can attend extra anatomy lab activities, do more clinical simulations, or get started on research. It's more of a medical playground, and it's up to you to decide how you want to play, so here the lecture models makes perfect sense. And because of the flexibility of the system, M1 and M2 students seemed very relaxed, even more so than at Pritzker.

    Linkage visits give you these chances to break down your preconceptions and figure out what matters to you in a med school well ahead of ever applying to any. I did a quick look at how many people attended a Michigan second look earlier this year: 137. We had twenty people, and a roughly 3:1 ratio of visitors to current students. You get the insight and excitement of visiting these schools before ever applying.

    Even if you don't go to a formal postbac, or if you're interested in a school without a linkage visit, I cannot stress highly enough that you want to take the initiative and contact schools to see if you can visit them informally. Even just a couple of these visits on a small scale can totally change where you end up applying and attending.
  34. SeverusSnape

    SeverusSnape

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    Thank you for the insight into Linkage schools Goucher2013! I am currently applying to formal postbacs to begin over the summer and linking is something that is factoring pretty heavily into my decision making process. On a side note with regards to Hofstra, I noticed that many of the top Postbac programs already have linkage agreements with them (Hopkins, Goucher, Bryn Mawr). It seems like the fact that the school is SO new and yet top postbac programs were already so eager to link with them speaks volumes to their quality.

    Goucher2013 do you mind if I message you a few questions I have about the application process? You seem pretty open to offering advice where you're able. Thanks.
  35. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Absolutely, please feel free to do so. But please keep in mind that I went through the process early (18 months ago), so I can't remember too much about my own experience beyond fond memories.

    And I think you're absolutely right about Hofstra. Jodi from Bryn Mawr in particular was actually involved in Hofstra's genesis, but so was Goucher. These people could be snobbish about sending people to established schools in order to maintain their track record. But this is a smart linkage agreement, both longitudinally (I'd hope to see Hofstra steadily climb the rankings) and to give program graduates more fit options. Goucher just started the linkage, but Bryn Mawr has been there from the beginning, linking one person per year so far. Both seem very happy and perfectly matched, having forfeited opportunities at very strong established schools.
  36. cheree cheree

    cheree cheree

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    Hi Goucher,
    Thanks again for sharing your experiences. Learning about the linkage opportunities is especially helpful. I look forward to more updates.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
  37. Evidence Based

    Evidence Based

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    From the Bryn Mawr side of things, Jodi has been absolutely RAVING about Hofstra this year. She seems very impressed with the school, as I think she believes it really gets medical education right. And like Goucher2013, everyone who has visited it has come back with nothing but amazing things to say about it. This is a huge huge huge advantage of the structred post-baccs that often goes unappreciated. Everyone understands how cool linkage can be if you link, but these programs can be invaluable to anyone in the program. I, for instance, have zero intention of linking . I'm young, and could use some time off before I dive headfirst into med school. That being said, being in a school that has consort agreements means I get an inside look at the schools we have a relationship with before the application process even starts. This just doesn't happen in the regular admissions process. You basically have to apply blindly, and then try to feel out what school is a good fit for you on interview day (while simultaneously trying to get into the school!) So even though I'm not linking, I've already gone on a few trips. I actually was just at Penn yesterday (Amazing school, didn't think I'd like it as much as I did. Could totally see myself there. Thank God it's such an easy school to get into right?), and feel like the opportunity to meet current students (M1-M4) and see the school before applying was invaluable to me. When I apply during the regular process, I feel like I'll actually have things to talk about during my secondaries and (hopefully) interview that I wouldn't have otherwise.

    To sum it up, linkage is great even if you aren't going to link. It lets you discover schools that might normally fly under your radar and turn out to be awesome (like Hofstra) as well as get an inside look at some of the top programs in the country that you never thought you'd appreciate as much as you did (Penn).
  38. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Another quick update: right now, everyone at Goucher is preparing for Hurricane Sandy. The great thing about the Goucher postbac program is that you get extra advising and tutoring to prepare for these things. For example, our TA has been running a disaster prep course once a week during lunchtime. Last week, we learned how to catch, skin, dress and cook a rabbit. Tuition at Goucher also includes two boxes of cheese and vegetable MREs, which we pick up from the postbac office during orientation. We also plan to add a linkage with a household generator company next year.

    Our course load is also customized towards our specific needs. For instance, we learn the composition of ibuprofen early during organic chemistry, and several of our mechanics questions in physics deal with lifting trees that are blocking roads.

    Overall, Goucher has a great placement rate with hurricanes.So far, we've managed to get admitted to every single bad weather event that's hit Baltimore since the start of the program.

    Of course, we do have to acknowledge that Goucher can't compete with Bryn Mawr's self-sustaining nuclear fallout shelter that allows them to continue classes during all natural disasters without any distractions. I'm sure one of the Bryn Mawr postbacs will post about their experience down there when the time lock on the vault door reopens the shelter to the outside world in December.
  39. Evidence Based

    Evidence Based

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    Don't worry, at Bryn Mawr we perfected quantum teleportation during the third week of Newtonian physics so that we could teleport discrete energy packets from our fallout shelter to a router located in a secure bunker in D.C. so that we can connect o the internet without compromising our readiness for any natural disaster that comes our way. This was deemed necessary because of the dozens of calls we've been getting from FEMA and the NIH frantically asking for our advice on emergency preparedness and disaster management. We told them we'd help out only under certain conditions. Which conditions you ask? Well, let's just say there won't be a whole lot of spots left at Harvard Med next year...

    But seriously Goucher2013, hope you guys are as pumped about the cancelled classes as we are. It's a whole 2 days to do work uninterrupted, right?
  40. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Damn! That explains it! I should have known from the fact that you guys look like an Abercrombie catalog photo shoot during linkage visits, while we look like the cast of 30 Rock. Luckily for us, you'll still be locked in that vault during the Brown visit! Unless you beam in...damn.

    Well, the good news for us is that our Harvard feint worked. Now you guys are fixated on that place (so passé...) while we plunder the hidden treasures of medical education, aka every other med school.

    My relief is tempered by impending power outages (how am I supposed to relax without tivo?) and the knowledge that we'll have to catch up on canceled classes at inconvenient times. We were supposed to have an orgo exam this week. Is Bryn Mawr also on a one-exam-a-week schedule?
  41. Evidence Based

    Evidence Based

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    Oh you didn't know that Brooks Brothers sponsors our program? Yeah they don't like to brag about that during interview day, but it's a nice perk for the interview trail

    That being said, Hopkins totally showed us up at our Penn visit. We rolled in in our casually elegant business casual, and then saw them all in straight up formal suits. Thanks a lot guys. It's ok we challenged them to an Anchorman style battle after the visit to settle the score. (First rule, don't touch the hair...) I don't need to tell you who won.

    Power's still on here, but the wind's howling something fierce. Our Bio professor actually recorded a lecture and posted it online so we don't miss a beat (classic), but our other classes just aren't meeting. We're not exactly on a 1 exam/week schedule. For this next round (theoretically starting the end of this week for me), we'll have about 3 exams in 2 weeks (Phsyics is self-scheduled though, so you have a 5 day window in which to take it).
  42. cheree cheree

    cheree cheree

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    Hello, everyone. I hope you're all recovering okay from the hurricane.

    I just received my interview invitation from Bryn Mawr, and I'm really excited. I'd love to know more about your linkage visits as you have them (both Goucher and BM people). I'm especially curious about Cornell, Mount Sinai, and Brown. Also, will you get a chance at any point to learn about other medical schools for which there are not linkages?

    Thanks!
  43. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Just a quick update on what the fall semester is like at Goucher:

    Classes finished on Thursday, and we're now studying for next week's finals. We have one final per subject (presumably the same as elsewhere), and they make sure none are scheduled on the same day. Of course it's a pretty miserable experience to cram a semester's worth of bio into your head, but that's unavoidable. The bright spot for us is orgo, which our professor has structured so well over the years that it's entirely cumulative. Sure, I'll have to go back to make sure I can spot some of the minor functional groups and get stereoisosomethingsomethings right, but it's definitely not a matter of cramming raw knowledge like bio. Finally, physics is very problem solving-oriented, so it's not really about memorizing knowledge and more about spotting patterns, which just takes lots of practice. Overall, this semester has definitely been challenging for most of us. Next semester will be more difficult, because we'll have frequent MCAT prep sessions on top of everything else.

    Now, on to linkages. I've been surprised at how many people decided to link this year, and think that has a lot to do with the increasing breadth of linkage options. Pretty much every linkage is being dinged this year. Some great schools like Cornell, Hofstra and Michigan have joined the linkage fold in recent years (for Bryn Mawr and other programs as well), meaning that more and more people will find a linkage school that suits them. In the long term, this will hopefully create further positive feedback, incentivizing even more schools to offer linkage agreements to postbac programs. I've decided to link as well and look forward to providing you with updates on how that process works.

    Finally, I'm happy to note that out of 32 students this year, we're on course to graduate 31. One person dropped out at the end of summer due to a mixture of homesickness and doubts about medicine. Grades certainly weren't an issue for that person, and they're now moving on to another, completely unrelated career. I'm really proud to say that nobody who struggled academically - myself included - seems to have come particularly close to dropping, which I hope is the ultimate testament to the kind of support that a close-knit postbac program can provide.
  44. pineapplepancakes

    pineapplepancakes Gold Donor

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    I love your updates! They're very helpful, and also make me very excited to start a post-bacc program like Goucher or the other great options available, even if it won't be until 2014. :)
  45. member 992020

    member 992020

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    Hi,

    Thanks so much for your posts. They are extremely helpful! I also hope you're breathing now that it is the end of the semester. I am writing because I am currently deciding between attending the Bryn Mawr and Goucher post-bac programs next year, and I still have pending questions. Any response is appreciated:)

    I'm an extrovert. I like running, and talking to others and participating in a community (although, I DO normally like studying by myself! weird). What is the community like at Goucher? Do you guys have potlucks, exercise, play games, study, etc with each other? Are your classmates your allies now and in the years to come? Do you ever feel like the community is too small, and that impacts your overall happiness and ability to succeed?

    The teaching. I have gone back in SDN archives, and the teaching reviews are mixed. What is the quality of the teaching? Are professors always available for office hours, questions, etc? Do you think you'll be prepared for medical school, MCATs and beyond?

    The staff. I've read mostly good but a few mixed reviews. Some people seem to really love the post bac faculty, while others have said that they care more about statistics and see the program as a business more than anything else. Have you ever felt this way?

    I was fully impressed with the program, the students, and the faculty when I interviewed. I was also impressed with Bryn Mawr! So I'm just trying to learn a bit more about both. Thanks!!
  46. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    I hope this helps with your decision:

    This requires a definite YMMV answer. Goucher has a highly social atmosphere, but that atmosphere probably varies more from year to year than Bryn Mawr's. Having only 30 students means we are probably much more close-knit, but the character of the class probably fluctuates more from year to year than BM's. Since it's influenced by fewer people, having five people with particular personalities can have a greater effect. This year's class, for instance, seems more Wes Anderson-y than last year's. We also probably have more foodies than average years. Last year's class had a disproportionate number of chill veterans. Who knows what next year's class will be like.

    I hang out a lot with a good number of people from last year's class who are still in the area, so the Goucher spirit is definitely not limited to twelve months here. Those alumni also hang out together a good amount. There's a definite interest in keeping friendships going during the glide year in particular. I can't comment on how long that esprit de corps lasts - although one of the reasons I chose my potential linkage school was because I really liked the Goucher vets there and expect to socialize a lot with them if I am lucky enough to link. I haven't asked about our formal alumni network yet, so can't comment on that. I expect most of us - in any postbac program - quickly focus on our new med school environment and those alumni from our programs who are at the same school. Do we stay in touch with alumni at other schools? Probably. But the business of medical education probably also means that people often lose touch because you develop tunnel vision.

    There's definitely a lot of studying together, and you're not just tied to studying with a certain clique. There's usually at least one social event a week, on a casual basis. I'm glad to say that people who don't often attend those events because we already have an S.O. (myself included) don't seem to face any peer backlash, so chalk one up against groupthink there. This year's sport-du-jour is basketball, and people play together quite often in the Goucher gym (two of us also do intramural basketball). Otherwise, it's down to individual friendships and roommate arrangements. There are also a good number of students who do a lot of social stuff and still study on their own. There's no pressure in terms of study habits.

    My experience from half a dozen linkage visits is that Goucher people are a little bit more eccentric than BM, but again that probably varies from year to year (and there's probably some cognitive bias involved). Also, Goucher, BM and JHU all recruit from roughly the same social milieu, so you'll see variations on a theme rather than significant differences.

    The only time I'd be worried about the social environment would be if you were particularly non-traditional by typical college standards (in which case PM me), in terms of age, social or economic background. For instance, I have a decorated former special operations medic friend who also has a speaking part in Zero Dark Thirty. A very unique, accomplished candidate. He also happens to believe that a woman's place is at home and that the Bible is quite literal. He'll be starting pre-med soon and will make an outstanding doctor. Would I recommend a structured program like Goucher to him? Probably not, for mutual fit reasons.

    As of yesterday, I'm officially in the academic bottom third of students in my class, so I suppose I have more excuses than most to complain about teaching. But I don't. Orgo instruction is outstanding, and how rarely can that be said at any school? Our summer chem classes used to draw ire. The new summer chemistry professor is young, dynamic and very good at both teaching and leading lab.

    Opinions are less ecstatic about physics and bio, but I was happy with things. Bio is hard to teach because it's just a knowledge cramming exercise. But we get the entire year's slides with notes from previous years from day one, and little things like that make it a lot easier to keep on top of things. The exams were sadly the most typically pre-med, testing things that seemed a bit randomly esoteric on a fairly frequent basis. Our physics classes sometimes devolved into giant equations on blackboards, but I don't think that's very different anywhere else. The key was that the instruction and homework were often more complicated than the exams, so it felt like a "train hard, fight easy" approach. Labs are uniformly very good for all subjects and much less stressful than regular undergrad ones. Also, office hours are frequent, there's rarely a line, and it's easy to email the professors with questions.

    Now, you might ask how instruction can be so good if I got below average grades. The answer is simply that I unnecessarily screwed up my finals, end of story. Not all the postbacs make it as straightforward as possible to get an A in all classes - but Goucher and BM certainly do. You do get some varying strengths - Goucher's is definitely orgo, and I hear BM's is physics. Depending on what you expect to be your greatest weakness, this might be a factor, but for the most of us it's just a bonus.

    Finally, I think Goucher does currently have an advantage in terms of MCAT prep. We start early in the fall, and then really ramp things up with an MCAT boot camp in lieu of the last week of winter vacation. We also get plenty of MCAT prep during the spring, including on many Saturdays. I don't think any place integrates MCAT prep as well as Goucher.

    Were any mixed reviews from the Liza Thompson era? The current program staff don't strike me in any way as stats-oriented. If anything, I was surprised at the risks they take with some of us in terms of being sure things for high GPAs, both in undergrad and at Goucher (myself included). They definitely seem to go for a lot of candidates because they find them interesting first, and because they have great stats second.

    I mentioned that I screwed up my fall semester finals. Well, this meant that I went from being a good candidate at my desired linkage school to a very, very borderline one. The first thing I did after seeing my grades was to call Betsy, the program director. I wouldn't have been surprised at all if she'd told me to either set my sights elsewhere or reconsider linking. She didn't - even though she acknowledged it would definitely be a greater challenge to get in. To me, that's not the behavior of someone who places program statistics above individual students, because there's definitely a chance that I'll be a failed linker. From a business perspective, the more prudent option would have been to dissuade me.
  47. Evidence Based

    Evidence Based

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    Member, I replied to your post in the Bryn Mawr thread just fyi.

    Goucher2013, are you guys done with finals already? Lucky ducks. I've got one more, and won't be able to get home until Saturday. Best of luck with linking though! People here aren't freaking out too much (yet, wait until finals are over), but I know it's a super stressful process.
  48. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013

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    Hey Evidence Based, we're indeed done with exams as of last Thursday (excepting the few of us who were sick and either took exams later or went with incompletes). Do you guys have flexible finals or set times? And do you ever discuss linking choices with each other, or is that taboo? Good luck with the last final!

    I also really agree with your comments in the Bryn Mawr thread. I might add that the Goucher experience also definitely influenced my med school linkage choice. A lot of people choose to sustain the small class size and go somewhere like Pritzker (80 students). I chose a much larger school because I realized that I wanted a larger potential friend base over four years. 30 people is great for a year, but I could never spend four years at Mayo.

    The only invalid reason I can think of for choosing one school over the other is prestige of the hosting institution. BM has a much bigger name recognition (and better ranking) than Goucher as a liberal arts college, but that means absolutely nothing in terms of med school admissions. If I ever hear of someone choosing BM or JHU over Goucher because of prestige, all I can think is good riddance.
  49. member 992020

    member 992020

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    Hi both Goucher2013 and Evidence Based,

    I really appreciate your taking the time to thoroughly answer my questions. I think I was looking for a silver bullet to help me choose, but sounds like I will be happy at either place.

    Goucher-- after messaging last night I realized that yes, the negative comments were for the Liza era. I loved Betsy and Theresa when I visited, and although I didn't meet Toni, she seemed pretty cool as well. I was therefore surprised when reading those comments.

    Best of luck with your finals, and have an amazing break!
  50. Evidence Based

    Evidence Based

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    Ah Lucky you guys! I don't finish up until tomorrow. We have a mix of scheduled and self-scheduled finals this spring. Bio and Organic chem were scheduled, and physics was self-scheduled. If you were in gen chem, that was self-scheduled as well. In the spring all our exams are self-scheduled. It's a pretty nice system, I'm not complaining. Gives you the ability to study the way you want. And the linkage discussion is a biiiggg grey area. It's considered rude to ask someone you're not super close with about their linkage plans, but it still comes up all the time in conversation. People are naturally very curious about it. How is it at Goucher?

    Really interesting how your post-bacc experience influenced your med school choice! That's a little bit less salient here, given how big our program is, but that's still something to think about.

    And I certainly wouldn't ever tell someone to factor in the prestige of the undergad institution into their calculations, if only because (at least at Goucher and BM), the programs are almost completely separate from their hosting institutions. Within the med school world, I certainly think the program reputation carries a big weight, one that's basically independent of the laymen's understanding of things.

    That being said, everyone should choose Bryn Mawr. :p (I kid, both programs are amazing).

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