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do med schools look at how 'hard' your undergrad is?

gabbythecat

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I have a few questions about this. First, I am a hard science major and some of my friends are soft science or not science at all premeds. I'm afraid my overall GPA will be lower than theirs and medical schools will see that, passing me up for them. Additionally, for required premed courses, I've noticed my college is 'harder' than some other colleges in my state. For example, my friend who goes to a different college was also in ochem II was learning stuff in her class that I learned early in ochem I. Additionally, my college is the only one I've heard of in my state that takes a cumulative, two semester final for chemistry classes (ACS, if you're familiar). I feel like it's not fair that other premed students don't have to take a final over two semesters and they are learning stuff at a slower pace. Is my major hurting my chances? Will my undergraduate help me (because medical schools know its harder) or will it hurt me (because our average grades are lower than our counterparts)? Please let me know, I am trying to figure out what to do.
 
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KnightDoc

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I have a few questions about this. First, I am a hard science major and some of my friends are soft science or not science at all premeds. I'm afraid my overall GPA will be lower than theirs and medical schools will see that, passing me up for them. Additionally, for required premed courses, I've noticed my college is 'harder' than some other colleges in my state. For example, my friend who goes to a different college was also in ochem II was learning stuff in her class that I learned early in ochem I. Additionally, my college is the only one I've heard of in my state that takes a cumulative, two semester final for chemistry classes (ACS, if you're familiar). I feel like it's not fair that other premed students don't have to take a final over two semesters and they are learning stuff at a slower pace. Is my major hurting my chances? Will my undergraduate help me (because medical schools know its harder) or will it hurt me (because our average grades are lower than our counterparts)? Please let me know, I am trying to figure out what to do.
Nope. This subject has been beaten to death. Search, and you shall find many threads! While there is a theory that you might receive some slack if you attend certain prestigious UGs, in general nobody cares where you go to school or what your major is. Med school admission is insanely competitive, and all they are looking for is excellence in whatever it is you are doing, with no allowances for whether it is easy or difficult.
 
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OfMiceAndWomen

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I think UG schools provide med schools with a 'school profile' that will detail how grades & GPAs work at the UG school, but also how different majors will shape up with one another. I get the sense that applicants will generally be compared with other applicants from the same UG, and to that extent, rigor of academic schedules can be compared. I don't know how rigors of different schools are compared to one another tho.

I may be blatantly wrong tho lol
 
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I have a few questions about this. First, I am a hard science major and some of my friends are soft science or not science at all premeds. I'm afraid my overall GPA will be lower than theirs and medical schools will see that, passing me up for them. Additionally, for required premed courses, I've noticed my college is 'harder' than some other colleges in my state. For example, my friend who goes to a different college was also in ochem II was learning stuff in her class that I learned early in ochem I. Additionally, my college is the only one I've heard of in my state that takes a cumulative, two semester final for chemistry classes (ACS, if you're familiar). I feel like it's not fair that other premed students don't have to take a final over two semesters and they are learning stuff at a slower pace. Is my major hurting my chances? Will my undergraduate help me (because medical schools know its harder) or will it hurt me (because our average grades are lower than our counterparts)? Please let me know, I am trying to figure out what to do.
How are we to know what is "hard"?????

Med schools only truly know the quality of any particular school's graduates.

Here's some advice that will serve you well: life's not fair.

Just do well, whether you go to Kutztown State or MIT.
 
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yogglo

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Two semester final for gen chem?? That’s some rookie stuff. Try a two semester final for ochem. Made me want to cry but my mcat chem was my highest section bc of how hard our chem dep was... you’ll get over it
 
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Lucca

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tl;dr not rly. however, if your "harder" school also happens to be quite prestigious, or you do well on the MCAT from a "harder" school and thus have a slightly lower GPA your app will be looked upon favorably but a low GPA in isolation will hurt you regardless of where you are coming from. There is also space on the app to explain aberrations in your performance from extenuating circumstances.

here are the relevant threads to read through:
 
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Majors within a school also have varying degrees of rigor. Is your biochemistry major harder than a neuroscience major? There are too many variables to systematically rank each undergraduate program (in the same way it does happen ranking tens of thousands of high schools for college admissions). But past history of performance vs. alma maters within a med school curriculum are commonly discussed.
 
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Doggeronie

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I have a few questions about this. First, I am a hard science major and some of my friends are soft science or not science at all premeds. I'm afraid my overall GPA will be lower than theirs and medical schools will see that, passing me up for them. Additionally, for required premed courses, I've noticed my college is 'harder' than some other colleges in my state. For example, my friend who goes to a different college was also in ochem II was learning stuff in her class that I learned early in ochem I. Additionally, my college is the only one I've heard of in my state that takes a cumulative, two semester final for chemistry classes (ACS, if you're familiar). I feel like it's not fair that other premed students don't have to take a final over two semesters and they are learning stuff at a slower pace. Is my major hurting my chances? Will my undergraduate help me (because medical schools know its harder) or will it hurt me (because our average grades are lower than our counterparts)? Please let me know, I am trying to figure out what to do.
100%, emphatically NO. Medical schools DO NOT CARE that your major is more difficult. They don't have time to pore over these intricacies.

A 4.0 in art history is almost always better than a 3.0 in chemical engineering. Everyone has excuses but the numbers are what count.
 
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emergentmd

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Here's some advice that will serve you well: life's not fair.

This is the point of my Ugggghhh. Not everyone should get a ribbon for participating. Not everyone has the same starting point in life. If anyone believes they had it rough or disadvantaged, I will show you someone who makes your life look rosy.

I can tell you from my personal experience that a prestigious UG have little bearing on how you perform in Med school. How prestigious your Med school is have little bearing on how you are as a resident. How prestigious your residency is have little bearing on how you perform as an attending.

If I profiled the top 10 and bottom 10 docs, you will see Ivy leaguers in both groups. When we hired docs for our group, NO ONE cared where you went to college, med school, residency. Academics, sure. But I rather work with a laid back, well rounded guy than an Ivy League pedigree stud who quotes obscure studies.
 
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gyngyn

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I think UG schools provide med schools with a 'school profile' that will detail how grades & GPAs work at the UG school, but also how different majors will shape up with one another. I get the sense that applicants will generally be compared with other applicants from the same UG, and to that extent, rigor of academic schedules can be compared. I don't know how rigors of different schools are compared to one another tho.

I may be blatantly wrong tho lol
I've never seen this.
We get a committee letter with (slightly) varying degrees of enthusiasm for the candidate, though.
 
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datboi_58

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I have a few questions about this. First, I am a hard science major and some of my friends are soft science or not science at all premeds. I'm afraid my overall GPA will be lower than theirs and medical schools will see that, passing me up for them. Additionally, for required premed courses, I've noticed my college is 'harder' than some other colleges in my state. For example, my friend who goes to a different college was also in ochem II was learning stuff in her class that I learned early in ochem I. Additionally, my college is the only one I've heard of in my state that takes a cumulative, two semester final for chemistry classes (ACS, if you're familiar). I feel like it's not fair that other premed students don't have to take a final over two semesters and they are learning stuff at a slower pace. Is my major hurting my chances? Will my undergraduate help me (because medical schools know its harder) or will it hurt me (because our average grades are lower than our counterparts)? Please let me know, I am trying to figure out what to do.
It is called the MCAT. Get a decent GPA and if you know more than your peers, you shall outperform them on the MCAT and you’ll be fine. Besides, thinking about this is in no way going to help you unless you’re actually thinking about transferring schools. Your time and energy are better spent on focusing on yourself. If you’re truly learning more than them, then it will be reflected not only in your MCAT but hopefully also in your experiences and letters from professors as well as the people overseeing your performance in your EC activities. You can look at it one way and say they’re getting better GPAs for less work or you can look it another way and say you’re getting a better education that will be more beneficial in the long term. Your choice. In the end though, I’m assuming you actually haven’t done the research and are speculating so I would say just assume you don’t know what school is harder or more lenient and do the best you can.
 

Isoval

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Answer is "kind of".

Schools often do consider prestige, especially the further you go up the prestige list for medical school. For example, an application to Harvard while having a pedigree of Brown is much more favorable than applying to Harvard from, let's say, UT Austin. Fine school, high rank and all that, but the prestige is certainly less than Brown. If we start talking about middle-tier schools and below, including DO, they care a lot less about the "prestige" of the undergraduate university.

Now, difficulty is a different topic. More accurately, medical schools will treat undergraduate universities as "known quantities". For example, let's say a medical school accepts 10 people from your undergraduate university. Those students perform very well. The next year, they accept 15, and those students also perform very well. This makes your school a known quantity that the quality of student they produce is prepared for medical school. This generally will correlate with the rigor of your undergraduate university, but not entirely, and is much more prevalent in the middle-tier and lower schools (e.g. regional schools) that commonly accept high amounts of students from the same universities every year.
 
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Obnoxious Dad

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It is called the MCAT. Get a decent GPA and if you know more than your peers, you shall outperform them on the MCAT and you’ll be fine. Besides, thinking about this is in no way going to help you unless you’re actually thinking about transferring schools. Your time and energy are better spent on focusing on yourself. If you’re truly learning more than them, then it will be reflected not only in your MCAT but hopefully also in your experiences and letters from professors as well as the people overseeing your performance in your EC activities. You can look at it one way and say they’re getting better GPAs for less work or you can look it another way and say you’re getting a better education that will be more beneficial in the long term. Your choice. In the end though, I’m assuming you actually haven’t done the research and are speculating so I would say just assume you don’t know what school is harder or more lenient and do the best you can.
I have to disagree. A low GPA is a low GPA. There is no evidence that a tougher undergraduate school or tougher major will enhance a student's performance on the MCAT or that his/her transcript will be normalized by most med school admissions officers. If a student earns a lower GPA because he or she picked a tougher college or major, that student is always a less competitive applicant. If you want to be a physician, don't major in chemical engineering at Lehigh.
 
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datboi_58

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I have to disagree. A low GPA is a low GPA. There is no evidence that a tougher undergraduate school or tougher major will enhance a student's performance on the MCAT or that his/her transcript will be normalized by most med school admissions officers. If a student earns a lower GPA because he or she picked a tougher college or major, that student is always a less competitive applicant. If you want to be a physician, don't major in chemical engineering at Lehigh.
Good point. I guess I should clarify that by “decent GPA” I meant a good gpa. But personally, I think it’s worth it to get a better education via a “harder” (quoting because I don’t think all higher ranked schools are harder) school and get a 3.7 than go to an easier school where you don’t get as good of an education and come out with a 3.9. Of course, a lot of this does not have to do with just the formalized education but also the culture and your peers at the institution. I would have to agree with you if the GPA difference between schools for the same amount of work is substantial (>0.1 or 0.2) but as stated before, this would be difficult to measure.
 

Office Visit

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I will drop my 2 cents here from my experience. Several friends of mine all applied to medical school over the past couple of cycles. One of them went to my undergrad (a fairly competitive private university) for a year and couldn't get above a "B" in any of his classes and decided to transfer back to our state school (notoriously non competitive school affectionally nicknamed "High School Round 2"). He performed much better there and scored averagely on the MCAT and is now entering his second year at one of our state MD schools. Another couple of friends and I decided to stick it out at this competitive university and performed OK but not great (GPAs between 3.5-3.7 between the group) and similarly on the MCAT and have not been so lucky. My takeaway is that as long as you can score 510+ on the MCAT (which is getting less tied to undergraduate education due to test prep companies), it will always be better to go to Joe Schmoe U and get a 3.8+ then go to The Ivory Pillars U and get a Sub 3.6 GPA or below.
 
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Commrade

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Don't think the undergraduate institution has any bearing. I was told this outright by a couple people who used to be on medical school admission committees who said that the higher GPA always wins, regardless of whether the applicant with the lower GPA is from an Ivy League-caliber school and the applicant with the higher GPA is from a random state school. Also, from my own experience coming from a Top 10 undergraduate school, it doesn't seem to have helped me at all.
 
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mdapplicant2024

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I'd put it this way. Top 30 medl schools won't look at your application unless you come from a prestigious undergraduate, but you have to also have the scores. Lower tier medical schools care less about undergrad prestige, but you also have to have the scores. Regardless, you have to have the MCAT and the GPA, regardless of the prestige of your undergrad to get into med school. For example, there are no top 30 schools that take students from Rutgers undergrad https://hpo.rutgers.edu/admission-statistics/180-medical-admission-stats-2019/file
 
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KnightDoc

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I'd put it this way. Top 30 medl schools won't look at your application unless you come from a prestigious undergraduate, but you have to also have the scores. Lower tier medical schools care less about undergrad prestige, but you also have to have the scores. Regardless, you have to have the MCAT and the GPA, regardless of the prestige of your undergrad to get into med school. For example, there are no top 30 schools that take students from Rutgers undergrad https://hpo.rutgers.edu/admission-statistics/180-medical-admission-stats-2019/file
Wow -- who is going to give the bad news to Penn, Pitt, Vandy, Mt. Sinai, UCSF and Yale that @mdapplicant2024 has kicked them out of the T30???? :laugh: Did you even glance at the document before posting?

And by the way, the report you linked only reported matriculants. I GUARANTEE you Rutgers had more acceptances, because it is highly likely some people accepted to T30s matriculated at other schools, and that the 7 T30 matriculants reported had multiple acceptances to other T30s.

And, this is just one year at one school. Of course T30s look at the applications, because, collectively, they literally accept a lot of them each year.
 
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darth_chonker

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I'd put it this way. Top 30 medl schools won't look at your application unless you come from a prestigious undergraduate, but you have to also have the scores. Lower tier medical schools care less about undergrad prestige, but you also have to have the scores. Regardless, you have to have the MCAT and the GPA, regardless of the prestige of your undergrad to get into med school. For example, there are no top 30 schools that take students from Rutgers undergrad https://hpo.rutgers.edu/admission-statistics/180-medical-admission-stats-2019/file
****ty state school grad here, will attend a T10. This isn't true.
 
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datboi_58

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I'd put it this way. Top 30 medl schools won't look at your application unless you come from a prestigious undergraduate, but you have to also have the scores. Lower tier medical schools care less about undergrad prestige, but you also have to have the scores. Regardless, you have to have the MCAT and the GPA, regardless of the prestige of your undergrad to get into med school. For example, there are no top 30 schools that take students from Rutgers undergrad https://hpo.rutgers.edu/admission-statistics/180-medical-admission-stats-2019/file
Yah this is just false. Had 2 T30 interviews and there were people at both of them from small local schools you have never heard of before.
 
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mdapplicant2024

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Wow -- who is going to give the bad news to Penn, Pitt, Vandy, Mt. Sinai, UCSF and Yale that @mdapplicant2024 has kicked them out of the T30???? :laugh: Did you even glance at the document before posting?

And by the way, the report you linked only reported matriculants. I GUARANTEE you Rutgers had more acceptances, because it is highly likely some people accepted to T30s matriculated at other schools, and that the 7 T30 matriculants reported had multiple acceptances to other T30s.

And, this is just one year at one school. Of course T30s look at the applications, because, collectively, they literally accept a lot of them each year.
****ty state school grad here, will attend a T10. This isn't true.
Yah this is just false. Had 2 T30 interviews and there were people at both of them from small local schools you have never heard of before.

You can justify all you want that undergrad prestige doesn't matter, but numbers are numbers: Data: A Case Study in Bias for Prestigious Undergrads, Yale SOM

There are few exceptions, but yeah 6/487 applicants from Rutgers who got into top 30 is not goods odds . Prestigious schools go for prestigious undergraduate programs, generally. Exceptions do exist though. Prestige matters
 

KnightDoc

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You can justify all you want that undergrad prestige doesn't matter, but numbers are numbers: Data: A Case Study in Bias for Prestigious Undergrads, Yale SOM

There are few exceptions, but yeah 6/487 applicants from Rutgers who got into top 30 is not goods odds . Prestigious schools go for prestigious undergraduate programs, generally. Exceptions do exist though. Prestige matters
Again, what are you talking about? First of all, the Rutgers number is 7 out of 246 matriculated, not 6 out of 487, and certainly not "no top 30 schools that take students from Rutgers undergrad." There were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, count 'em, 6 T30 schools that took Rutgers grads just last year, and one of them, a T5 at that, took two of them!!! Second, Rutgers is one school. How many less than prestigious schools, just like Rutgers, are feeding students to T30 med schools each year? The answer is going to be dozens if not hundreds of schools, producing hundreds or maybe a few thousand students each year.

Does prestige matter? Sure, to the degree that prestigious schools disproportionately attract excellent students who become excellent med school applicants, who are then disproportionately represented in top med schools. No, to the extent that the 7 people in the report you posted did not go to a prestigious UG, and it did not matter one bit, at all, for them, and they are not the only 7 students last year who graduated from less than prestigious UGs and matriculated at T30 med schools.

Exceptions exist? Great! But if there are a handful of exceptions at a ton of non-prestigious schools all over the country, maybe the central thesis is crap and they really aren't exceptions at all, and it's not true that "Top 30 med schools won't look at your application unless you come from a prestigious undergraduate."
 
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blackshade

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You can justify all you want that undergrad prestige doesn't matter, but numbers are numbers: Data: A Case Study in Bias for Prestigious Undergrads, Yale SOM

There are few exceptions, but yeah 6/487 applicants from Rutgers who got into top 30 is not goods odds . Prestigious schools go for prestigious undergraduate programs, generally. Exceptions do exist though. Prestige matters


You seem to be neglecting the most important variable here, IMO: self-selection
 

detritus

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You can justify all you want that undergrad prestige doesn't matter, but numbers are numbers: Data: A Case Study in Bias for Prestigious Undergrads, Yale SOM

There are few exceptions, but yeah 6/487 applicants from Rutgers who got into top 30 is not goods odds . Prestigious schools go for prestigious undergraduate programs, generally. Exceptions do exist though. Prestige matters
Yeah it matters, but to what extent will depend on the medical school in question and the individual application. Many of my classmates will be from top undergrads, many will not. We are sharing our experiences because we don’t want students like us who chose less prestigious undergrads for many reasons (proximity to family, culture, specific academic programs) to be discouraged from applying to top medical schools. If you have the scores and experiences, you have a shot at even the most prestigious MD schools regardless of undergrad. There may be moments where you’re the only state school kid at your Penn interview. You might not get into Harvard, but on the aggregate, top schools will not ignore you just because you didn’t go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.
 
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KnightDoc

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Yeah it matters, but to what extent will depend on the medical school in question and the individual application. Many of my classmates will be from top undergrads, many will not. We are sharing our experiences because we don’t want students like us who chose less prestigious undergrads for many reasons (proximity to family, culture, specific academic programs) to be discouraged from applying to top medical schools. If you have the scores and experiences, you have a shot at even the most prestigious MD schools regardless of undergrad. There may be moments where you’re the only state school kid at your Penn interview. You might not get into Harvard, but on the aggregate, top schools will not ignore you just because you didn’t go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc.
Does it really matter? Is it cause and effect that great school = great applicant, or does it just so happen that a lot of great applicants go to great UGs? My sense is that the successful Rutgers people could have gone to great UGs and for whatever reason chose not to. They ended up being no more or less successful than if they went to a prestigious UG, and, no, prestige did not matter for them.

I truly believe that if ALL the T30 med school matriculants from Harvard UG this year were instead scattered across the country at non-prestigious UGs, each and every one of them would have ended up exactly where they ended up, because they make Harvard what it is rather than the other way around, and it's that special mojo that allows them to be admitted to Harvard that the med schools find so attractive, rather than the fact that they go to Harvard. If this were not the case, pretty much all the Harvard premeds would end up at T30s, just because they are coming from Harvard, and we all know this simply does not happen.
 
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detritus

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Does it really matter? Is it cause and effect that great school = great applicant, or does it just so happen that a lot of great applicants go to great UGs? My sense is that the successful Rutgers people could have gone to great UGs and for whatever reason chose not to. They ended up being no more or less successful than if they went to a prestigious UG, and, no, prestige did not matter for them.

I truly believe that if ALL the T30 med school matriculants from Harvard UG this year were instead scattered across the country at non-prestigious UGs, each and every one of them would have ended up exactly where they ended up, because they make Harvard what it is rather than the other way around, and it's that special mojo that allows them to be admitted to Harvard that the med schools find so attractive, rather than the fact that they go to Harvard. If this were not the case, pretty much all the Harvard premeds would end up at T30s, just because they are coming from Harvard, and we all know this simply does not happen.
Fair point, I personally think it does make a difference because of the halo effect. If someone knows you go to a top school they will see you with rose tinted glasses compared to someone who goes to a lesser known school. Maybe the difference is minimal and definitely won’t make up for any deficiencies in your application, but with a huge numbers game like med school admissions, any little leg up counts. Also, the top undergrads tend to have top medical schools so that by itself will be a big leg up if we’re specifically talking about the best MD schools. If we’re concerned with med school admissions more broadly, you’re right it definitely doesn’t matter.
With that said: medical schools want the best students. If you’re from a state school you will 100% still have a shot at top schools if you impress on the MCAT, GPA, and experiences metrics.
 
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KnightDoc

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Fair point, I personally think it does make a difference because of the halo effect. If someone knows you go to a top school they will see you with rose tinted glasses compared to someone who goes to a lesser known school. Maybe the difference is minimal and definitely won’t make up for any deficiencies in your application, but with a huge numbers game like med school admissions, any little leg up counts. Also, the top undergrads tend to have top medical schools so that by itself will be a big leg up if we’re specifically talking about the best MD schools. If we’re concerned with med school admissions more broadly, you’re right it definitely doesn’t matter.
I'll concede that, at a minimum it's a tie breaker, plus you make an excellent point about home school advantage, so I think we both agree that while it's not nothing, it's not a "factor of highest importance" one of the adcoms was claiming in another thread it is based on a 2013 AAMC survey!
 
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