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Which school for Pre-Med: UC Berkeley or Arizona State?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by lawvsmed, Apr 12, 2012.

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  1. lawvsmed

    lawvsmed

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    Hey all,

    So my question is posted in the title. I know to some this may seem like a silly question because UC Berkeley is an amazing school and Arizona State has the reputation of a party school that is not big on academics, but as you guys know, there are many factors to this.

    I keep debating the every so popular "does your undergrad institution matter?" question. That question, coupled with UC Berkeley's reputation of being a GPA killer, makes this a tough question for me.

    If anyone can give me some perspective on this or give me there input, I'd be much appreciated.

    p.s. I am a CC transfer student

    p.s. # 2 I really really appreciate the help I get on this site. You guys are a blessing and I hope I can help pre-meds like myself one day.
  2. kexy

    kexy

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    What's your GPA right now? Have you taken most of the prereqs already? Will you be a science major?
  3. lawvsmed

    lawvsmed

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    My GPA right now is a 3.9. I have not taken most of them right now, but by the time I matriculate into a 4-year(I am applying this upcoming Fall), I will have completed both Physics classes, both General Chemistry classes, and possibly 1 Biology class(2 if Human Bio counted which I recently read on this site that it does not).

    If I go to Berkeley, I will be a Psychology major. If I go to Arizona State University, I will be a Health Sciences(Healthy Lifestyle Coaching) major.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2012
  4. kexy

    kexy

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    I asked because I was going to advise against Berkeley if you already had a low GPA. I don't know much about Berkeley, but IMHO since you've taken a good number of the prereqs with a strong GPA and will be majoring in a non-science, you shouldn't be too worried about GPA-killing at Berkeley. I think both campuses have wildly different vibes, so I'd say go where you'll be happier!
  5. Ignatius M.D.

    Ignatius M.D.

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    I was going to say the same thing. If you have most of your hardest classes out of the way, Berkeley won't be too bad, though probably still harder. I was a transfer student, and the only pre-meds I know that didn't suffer significant drops in GPA were those that had already taken their pre-reqs (these tend to be the hardest classes at super competitive schools, and the workload brings your other grades down a bit too since you have less time). So, to reiterate, just go wherever your heart tells you. Definitely very different atmospheres.

    Edit: Also, COA should be a large contributing factor for you.
  6. Koosalagoosagoo

    Koosalagoosagoo

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    Just wondering, what is your CC?
  7. Tatiana3325

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  8. kpcrew

    kpcrew Removed

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  9. docelh

    docelh

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    A cousin of mine just graduated from Berkeley. She did well there (non-science major). She's smart and hard-working, but she wasn't like cream of the crop material in high school. Just avoid the pre-med classes. I've heard that ochem there is pretty brutal.

    Otherwise, don't sweat Berkeley too much.
  10. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout custom title blank Moderator

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  11. aluminumleaflet

    aluminumleaflet

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  12. iBear

    iBear

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    I'm an ASU student and I've never heard of that particular major. Is it at the Tempe campus?

    Putting that aside, ASU is going through a tough time at the moment in terms of school administration and politics. If you're only going to be here for your last two years, you hopefully won't have to deal with much of it, and it IS very easy to get and keep a good GPA at ASU. We also have a good amount of research opportunities if you're willing to look for them.
  13. varsityblue

    varsityblue SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    1) ASU's Honors College is one of the best intensive, liberal arts-learning programs among state schools so don't pick Berkeley simply because you think it's the more prestigious option.
    2) The "prestige" of undergraduate institution helps but in no way plays as important a role as your raw MCAT scores and GPA. As odd as it may sound to buck the generally accepted "go to the highest rank school you get accepted to" advice, it might help you to go to a place where you can earn top grades and be in the top 1-20% of your class. (And if that place happens to be HYPS and you're still able to make PBK, more power to you.)
    3) I turned down Berkeley last spring to attend an even larger public university with arguably less brand recognition because I knew I'd be successful and happier here. If I were you, I'd take a moment to seriously, honestly evaluate how capable you are of propagating the cut-throat, premed gunner stereotype. If you're anything like me, you may not want to be a small fish in an ocean and may instead thrive in a place where more doped-up slackers = better grades, one-on-one prof attention, and recommendation letters for you. Then again, if you thrive in a really competitive, HYPS-wannabe atmosphere set against the backdrop of an underfunded public education system with rising tuition costs and hardly any non-Regents merit scholarships, have fun praying for non-harmonized, mean grade distributions.
    4) You may also want to compare the difficulty of procuring research assistantships and hospital shadowing/volunteering stints at both places. I know that Berkeley students usually have to commute ~45 minutes both ways should they be lucky enough to get a placement at UCSF and that competition for labs is intense. I also know that Berkeley lacks a premed advising office. While I don't know if ASU has a medical school, I do know that it's relatively easy to get research experience by simply emailing a few professors and that you'll receive lots of premed guidance if you're in Honors.

    Even if you want to become the next Jim Yong Kim, you don't need to go to a competitive university. My understanding is, if you want to succeed in the race to attend a good medical school, it's better to matriculate at the place you know will do everything they can to help you achieve your dreams.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  14. Koosalagoosagoo

    Koosalagoosagoo

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    Good advice, although he should have applied to the UofA since its better than ASU. :thumbup:
  15. iusesharpies

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    I'm at Berkeley... and I have one-on-one convos with my profs.. as well as got into research as a freshman on campus just by emailing a couple professors...and have had no trouble finding shadowing or places to volunteer at....

    Also... as far as being competitive... its really easy to just ignore all of it...that's basically what I do and I am doing fine in my classes...

    Good luck deciding :thumbup:
  16. Tatiana3325

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  17. Slack3r

    Slack3r Sicker than your average

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    ASUs Honor College (Barret) allows for the best opportunities to meet faculty. It's among the best in the nation, if not the best, and you're in a college with only a few thousand people with dedicated advisors and faculty members.

    As to research opportunities, aside from those offered at ASU, Phoenix has TGen (http://www.tgen.org/), Barrow, and Mayo, just to name a few medically related research institutes.

    Plus, you'd have more fun at ASU and you won't be weird and maladjusted like every Cal alumn I've ever met. Oh, and your tuition won't be $36k/yr.
  18. mmmcdowe

    mmmcdowe Duke of minimal vowels Moderator

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    WWhat is the cost of attendance for you?
  19. lawvsmed

    lawvsmed

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    Guys thank you all so much for your input! I will add the following to see how much of a difference you guys think this makes: In Arizona, I have my family and there( and I guess my) circle of friends, which include about 20 doctors. Among them is a neuroradiologist at the aforementioned Barrow Institute. Others are all private practice doctors who would gladly welcome me to shadow them. On top of that, they will definitely write me STRONG letters of recommendation. That is why, as a California resident, I am seriously considering ASU. Because of the fact that I can get a higher GPA, because of the fact that I have so much shadowing and volunteering opportunity, and I guess...I'd just be happier near family
  20. SLC

    SLC Lock, Step, & Gone

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    Go wherever you would be happiest. It really doesn't matter where you go to UGrad as long as you make the grades and keep your act together.

    That being said, if you went to a place like Berkely, you might expect to get more lenience with respect to med-school application GPA's than you would at ASU.

    They're both fine schools, but in my experience talking with admissions people at different schools, there is a willingness to look at students with lower GPA's from certain institutions and not from others. Cal Berkely is one I've heard thrown out there quite a bit. For example, a 3.5 from Berkely might be worth as much as a 4.0 from ASU in the eyes of admissions committees (Pure speculation, and based on what I've been told, but you get the idea). That's not to say that if you got a 3.7 from ASU that they're going to treat it like it's really a 3.2 or anything, just that if you go to a top school like Berkely, you're more likely to get the benefit of the doubt when needed. If you end up on the bottom end of competitiveness with respect to GPA, you will be viewed more favorably coming from Cal vs. ASU.

    So go where you would be happiest, and work your butt off to make your goals a reality.
  21. Tatiana3325

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  22. Tatiana3325

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    :)
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  23. Planet Ocean

    Planet Ocean

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    I'm a biochem major at Arizona State and one thing that I can say is that the whole "party school" stigma is way over played. Its unfortunate that this stigma has stuck so long but it is what it is. As far as getting into med school, graduates from here get in everywhere. Harvard, Hopkins, UCSF, just to name a few acceptances I know. You name it. Where you get in is up to you. There are a ton of students in pre-reqs and a lot of them get weeded out by the end of the semester so the first exams have a decent curve if that matters to you. Also, because of the vast size of the university, there is a ton of great research going on if that's your thing.
  24. Jpatel2018

    Jpatel2018 Account on Hold

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    You're tripping! What do you mean by a real degree? Pretty sure that ASU produces a good number of successful Pre-Med students!
  25. Tatiana3325

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  26. Planet Ocean

    Planet Ocean

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    Well according to your argument, if OP goes to ASU and struggles, he will be screwed just as much if not more at Berkeley. Then what? I personally feel that a higher GPA is easier to obtain at ASU which we all know really matters. Anyways, none of this has anything to do with what the OP asked which was about how much of a role undergrad institution plays and the whole party school thing. To OP: go where ever you can get the best aid package. If you're going for prestige, remember that most laymen don't even know any schools outside of ivys. Now if that were the case, I would say go for the ivy just so you could say you went to an ivy :p
  27. Tatiana3325

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  28. mmmcdowe

    mmmcdowe Duke of minimal vowels Moderator

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    Quite a bit. ASU has a thriving biomedical research program as well as programs focused on alternative energy resources and ecology (Arizona is the most biodiverse region in the continental US, though you wouldn't guess it). There's over 300 million dollars in research done annually and there are three nobel laureates at ASU. Not nearly as impressive as the numbers at Berkeley, but I think it's pretty ignorant to imply that ASU isn't a major research institution in its own right. Feel free to explore:

    http://researchmatters.asu.edu/
  29. Tatiana3325

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  30. Tatiana3325

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  31. Slack3r

    Slack3r Sicker than your average

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    PRESTIGE! PRESTIGE! It's undergrad, nobody cares.
  32. JESSFALLING

    JESSFALLING

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    As a back-up plan, I think that a degree from Cal will carry you further should you opt out of medical school.
  33. Omppu27

    Omppu27 I'm sauced.

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    ASU... You'll have more fun
  34. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    Go where it's cheaper. You don't want a ton of debt before you even enter medical school.
  35. MMADoc

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    Even though the OP sounds like they have already made up their mind to attend ASU, which is the right choice given their situation; there is a valid point which no one has yet raised. That point is the consideration of the state of residency when they get around to their application cycle. I am going to go ahead and assume that OP has Arizona residency based upon previous posts. My two cents would be to go to an Arizona school to improve your chances of interacting with relevant faculty and build the network which will hopefully positively influence factors (relevant LOR, research, involvement in programs and local hospitals) of where you will most likely end up going to medical school, that being your state school. With Arizona medical schools now accepting up to 50% OOS applicants, there is greater completion for in-state applicants.
  36. lawvsmed

    lawvsmed

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    I really appreciate everyones input! This is such a touch decision and reading these responses make it a little more comforting.
  37. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    Why does any of that matter?
  38. kpcrew

    kpcrew Removed

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    because first impressions are important and attending a highly ranked university is something that stays with you for your entire life. it allows people to judge your intelligence quickly.
  39. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    His tombstone will read "U.C. Berkeley, Class of 2016."
  40. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    Nonsense. You're paying for a piece of paper. By your logic, Bill Gates is stupid because he's a college dropout.
  41. Osakhomen

    Osakhomen

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    According to someone I talk to who was on admission boards for a pretty good medical school said that one of the things that med schools look at is where a person went to school... I think it was like the 3rd thing admissions look at, behind GPA and MCAT score of course. But of course you want to have a good GPA regardless of where you go... If the only thing that is stopping you from going to Berkley is potential GPA then if you think you won't be able to get a good GPA at UC Berkley, then go to ASU... If you think you will be able to get good GPA at Berkley, go there because it'll give you an extra boost in admissions.
  42. Whiskeypunch

    Whiskeypunch

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    For undergrad the answer is always wherever is cheapest.
  43. kpcrew

    kpcrew Removed

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    no, by "my logic" bill gates is smart because he got into harvard. and he isn't a college dropout in the shallow way that you're implying it to mean, he left to form one of the largest and most influential companies in the world.
  44. circulus vitios

    circulus vitios

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    Oh. You're not trolling.
  45. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    Ok, that's fair. However, there is still a plethora of examples that substantiates my point. For example, Steve Jobs dropped out of Reed College (a top flight Ivy, I'm sure). Michael Dell was originally pre-med at UT-Austin (a big state school) but dropped out because his side business he started in his dorm was booming. H. Ty Warner is the man who got rich off of Beanie Babies but dropped out of Kalamazoo College. These billionaires did not attend Ivies, yet they're some of the most brilliant innovators of our time. Do you see what I'm trying to get across? You don't need an Ivy league education unless you're attempting to leverage your connections with "elite" classmates or firms that love your school (like Goldman Sachs). It's not worth the debt that limits your opportunities to pursue your dream career.
  46. kpcrew

    kpcrew Removed

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    these are all good examples but there are always exceptions to general trends. i'm not saying that attending top schools cements your place in society; i wanted to emphasize the fact that that if you have two similar applicants for the same position, the one with the name brand school has the advantage of school reputation and connections to help him out as tatiana3325 previously indicated in her posts.
  47. Alejandro

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    It's almost the same thing with medical schools too, albeit to a lesser extent. You still people from lower-tier schools all the time matching into big-name residency programs. But obviously, you're going to have to put work in regardless. But most students will argue, it's about FIT, not rank. Go to the place where you feel you will thrive: Have the most fun, get the best grades (not just because the school is easier, but because you feel like you can succeed), make strong connections, and feel comfortable. By the looks of it, it's ASU.

    You don't want to go to a school solely because of its name value, especially when you don't see yourself confidently succeeding there. (And success isn't just numerical, but overall quality of the experience [multifactorial])
  48. crazyasian

    crazyasian

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  49. Ilovewater

    Ilovewater

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    I agree with this post. I graduated from ASU, and I enjoyed my time there. There are a lot of amazing professors in the biology and chemistry departments. ASU also has a lot of research going on especially in Biodesign. If you feel more comfortable at ASU, then go to ASU...especially if it's cheaper than UCB. It's a bachelor degree. I wouldn't go into that much debt for it.

    Maybe there are med schools that care about where you go to undergrad. However, your GPA, MCAT, and extracurricular activities (volunteer, research, work, etc.) will usually be more important than your school name. If you have crappy numbers and activities, UCB's name isn't going to make a difference. If you have a good resume, you'll be a competitive applicant even coming from ASU. So, go where you will thrive and have a good time.
  50. saveourpens

    saveourpens

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    I faced a very similar decision back in the day. I chose the less expensive state school. The cost definitely did not justify the added "prestige".

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