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Big Name Undergraduate and Premed or Less Expensive University and Postbac?

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dag34

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Hello there,
I have read on here for a while without an account and have seen the countless amount of times someone has recommended doing an undergrad major that you are passionate + can get good grades in, and then do a Postbac year. That being said, my parents believe that being at a big name (ivy) school and doing a premed track there is better, despite my possible lower GPA, definitely higher student loans, and less 1-on-1 setting for pre-reqs and MCAT. I just wanted to get some ideas and info as to whether it's smarter to have higher loans to go to big undergrad school and do a premed track with a non-science major, or take less loans at (more-or-less) state school with non-science major + postbac year.
 

Piglet2020

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Med schools dont care what you major in as long as you fulfill the requirements for matriculation.

I’ve seen plenty of successful applicants from state universities and less successful applicants from ivy’s undergrad. I think how you spend your time in undergrad is way more important than the brand name school. Just my $.02.
 
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PreMedMissteps

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my parents believe that being at a big name (ivy) school and doing a premed track there is better, despite my possible lower GPA, definitely higher student loans, and less 1-on-1 setting for pre-reqs and MCAT. I


Parents (and students) need to realize that there are aspects to the premed path that are counter-intuitive.

Med schools don't care about school name as long as it's a decent accredited school.
You won't be given a hall pass for having a lower GPA from an ivy school.
Med schools don't care what you major in. Picking something that sounds sexy, like BioMedE, will not impress adcoms.
Med schools are not impressed by double majors, or extra minors.
Med schools want diversity and that includes students from a variety of schools.
 
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Gurby

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How big is the name, and how big is your scholarship to the state school?

Going to a prestigious undergrad may not make a huge difference for pre-med, but I don't think it's insignificant. Also, if you decide to change course somewhere along the way and go into business, law, etc, you are likely to have more opportunity coming out of HYPSM than you would coming from Idaho State U.
 
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Sharknad0

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Depends what the schools are.
 
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CyrilFiggis

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State School. Music Major. Post-Bac at Top 25. Medical student.


You do you @dag34 Remember, there's no guarantee you'll get into med school so at least have a degree in something you'd enjoy doing with the rest of your life.
 
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dag34

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How big is the name, and how big is your scholarship to the state school?

Going to a prestigious undergrad may not make a huge difference for pre-med, but I don't think it's insignificant. Also, if you decide to change course somewhere along the way and go into business, law, etc, you are likely to have more opportunity coming out of HYPSM than you would coming from Idaho State U.
Depends what the schools are.
Big school is Columbia, would pay $30k about yearly after aid (still need to take out a student loan, despite their "discouragement" of it). State school(s) are NC State, would pay about $10-15k, or UMD, $20k(ish).
 

dag34

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State School. Music Major. Post-Bac at Top 25. Medical student.


You do you @dag34 Remember, there's no guarantee you'll get into med school so at least have a degree in something you'd enjoy doing with the rest of your life.
Told them as long as I had high GPA at state school, did well in pre-reqs at Post-Bac and did well on MCAT, it would be cheaper and I'd still have great chances. They still think going to big school (Columbia) would be better, probably because of stigma with name. Just want to tell them and talk to them about everything.
 

Gurby

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Big school is Columbia, would pay $30k about yearly after aid (still need to take out a student loan, despite their "discouragement" of it). State school(s) are NC State, would pay about $10-15k, or UMD, $20k(ish).

 
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DrDwayneJohnson

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Med schools want diversity and that includes students from a variety of schools.

I think an oft overlooked thing about medical school admissions is that they strive for demographic diversity as well as diversity of thought/ideas. In other words (and said above), don't feel pressured to go into BioMedE. Just get good grades and have solid experiences. The rest will fall into place wherever you go to UG.
 
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Dylanation

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Hello there,
That being said, my parents believe that being at a big name (ivy) school and doing a premed track there is better, despite my possible lower GPA, definitely higher student loans, and less 1-on-1 setting for pre-reqs and MCAT. I just wanted to get some ideas and info as to whether it's smarter to have higher loans to go to big undergrad school and do a premed track with a non-science major, or take less loans at (more-or-less) state school with non-science major + postbac year.

Simply put, medical schools do not care about the prestige of where you went for undergrad.

Whether it be a community college + state university, state university alone or an Ivy league school, admissions look at grades.
Where ever you end up going, if your end goal is to go to medical school, then it's essential to get the best grades possible. The "smarter" path to take if you're trying to avoid loans is to go to a local state university where tuition will be 1/2 cheaper, do well in your science classes to achieve a competitive GPA, and then apply after you take your MCAT. If you can afford to attend an Ivy league, then by all means, do so. However, this does not excuse you for doing poorly in your classes if you end up failing.
 
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efle

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Wait how do you know you're admitted to Columbia in early October ??
 
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dag34

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Wait how do you know you're admitted to Columbia in early October ??
Don't know, this is speculation! Just want to get feelers for if I should do ED, and Financial aid was calculated from admissions/financial aid office when i called
 

efle

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Don't know, this is speculation! Just want to get feelers for if I should do ED, and Financial aid was calculated from admissions/financial aid office when i called
If it's non-binding ED, there is literally zero downside to doing ED, so you should do it. Always good to have the actual options (and their pricetags) sitting in front of you when deciding what to do.

To answer your original question though: $120,000 is an absurd amount of undergrad debt to take on. If you are pretty certain about medical school being your goal, you should 100% not pay that amount for a well known private school. Even the most elite MD programs have their share of public school or unknown private school graduates. If you can get yourself a free degree at a solid state flagship, especially one with an honors college that will put you in smaller classes with other honors students and/or give you better access to professors, it is absolutely the way to go.

That means if it is binding ED, you should forget about it, and just apply regular decision.

Btw if you're national merit, there are a bunch of state schools that will automatically give you a full ride.
 
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gonnif

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Better, more selective schools, may also have more premed competition, in some places cutthroat competition. Therefore, my rule of thumb that the "selectivity" or "prestige" boost a school name can give isnt worth the risk to GPA. You do not get credit for what you attempted (by going to a school with more prestige); you get rewarded by admissions for what you accomplished (in the school where you get the best GPA). Dont pick an school based on any perceived impact that the name and name alone will be a great asset for medical school application. GPA, MCAT, and opportunity for research, activities, and etc, are at least a magnitude or more of importance than "prestige"
 

efle

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^ The one big caveat tho: some people decide against medical school for other reasons than academic difficulty, and for most other career interests, being from an Ivy can be very valuable.

But, for $120k debt it's not worth it either way.
 

calivianya

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Take out as little student loans as possible. There's no guarantee of getting into med school, and even if there was... you'd be looking at piling $120k of loans on top of loans from med school, too. That's a lot of money, and a lot of interest to accrue over the years. I just wouldn't do it.
 

twentyeightmiles

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I chose to go to a big state school on a full ride rather than an Ivy. I'm a science student so I can't speak to the post-bac, but doing very well at my school has worked out well for me so far, and the lack of debt feels phenomenal.

Is there a reason you think you'd have to do a post-bac after going to a state school?
 
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DBC03

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I went for an ivy and paid for most of it myself after I graduated. It took 10 years and a LOT of creativity to pay it off. I promised myself not to apply to any advanced degree programs until it was paid off, so it definitely set me back quite a few years and quite a few dollars. It is also one of the schools notorious for grade deflation, and no amount of post-bac work is really going to get me into a good position as an applicant. I'm doing okay this cycle, but I certainly would be doing much better if I had a higher GPA.

Many of the students I'm seeing who seem to be doing the best (just on SDN - the students at my school still haven't finished secondaries) are the ones who went to state schools and got excellent GPAs and MCAT scores. They were involved in meaningful ECs and had ample research opportunities. I don't think going to a regular state school, then doing an expensive postbac would be that helpful - I would instead choose the best state school you could find (especially if one is willing to give you a scholarship), and then being the best student at that school.

Being one of the strongest students in my post-bac classes (at a state school) has enabled me to get excellent research opportunities and letters of recommendation. Professors have put good words with graduate programs and tried to get me opportunities at other schools. You would have excellent opportunities for one-on-one interactions with professors at an Ivy school - I found our professors were always willing to help and very involved with us as students. But you can find the same at an excellent state school as long as you are willing to seek those opportunities out.

Of course, I should add that I have absolutely no regrets at the decisions I made. I learned a lot from my college years and I would not be who I am today without them. So no matter what you choose, be determined to learn and grow and become a better person despite any challenges you face along the way.
 
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