Does the admission people factor in difficulty of major?

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My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, respectively. My GPAs were 3.16 and 3.44, respectively. I had a lot of hardships in undergrad, such as my parents were separating, I had 2 jobs, and I tore my ACL my junior year which affected that year's academics severely.

BTW, that was 10+ years ago. Anyways, I can promise you that a 3.2 GPA in engineering is not the same as a 3.2 GPA as a biology major.

I realize that the admission committee for the various medical schools look at your science GPA as well. However, since the course work in biomedical engineering is so hard, we tend to spend less time on Zoology 101 because our study time was getting depleted by Statics/Dynamics, which is FAR harder than anything in biology.

Please let me know if they give any leeway for engineering students, since the major is a lot harder.
 

slowbutsteady

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My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, respectively. My GPAs were 3.16 and 3.44, respectively. I had a lot of hardships in undergrad, such as my parents were separating, I had 2 jobs, and I tore my ACL my junior year which affected that year's academics severely.

BTW, that was 10+ years ago. Anyways, I can promise you that a 3.2 GPA in engineering is not the same as a 3.2 GPA as a biology major.

I realize that the admission committee for the various medical schools look at your science GPA as well. However, since the course work in biomedical engineering is so hard, we tend to spend less time on Zoology 101 because our study time was getting depleted by Statics/Dynamics, which is FAR harder than anything in biology.

Please let me know if they give any leeway for engineering students, since the major is a lot harder.

No, but they does factor in the ability to form a grammatical sentence.
 

LizzyM

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Well, a bioengineering major with a 3.2 is thought more highly of than a nutrition major with a 3.2.... even if there were a 10% bonus for an engineering degree you'd be at 3.52 which is still a bit low. It is the engineering majors with 3.9 who are looked at as comparable to the bio majors with 4.0.... that's my approach, anyway.
 
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My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, respectively. My GPAs were 3.16 and 3.44, respectively.

Please let me know if they give any leeway for engineering students, since the major is a lot harder.
Graduate degree cGPA has little impact on med school admissions.

Engineering major GPA adjustment Quoting a recent analysis by a respected SDN poster who is great with numbers from 12/3/09:
While it may make sense that "harder" majors would make a lower GPA more attractive, the AMCAS data reveals no significant difference amongst majors. Social science majors actually get in with the lowest GPA (3.63). Engineering would be among the physical sciences for the purposes of AMCAS' classification and the physical sciences average a 3.52 for applicants (which is right in the middle) but average matriculants have a 3.66. The SDs between majors are also almost identical across the board. Sorry, your stand may be firm but it's not supported. As SD=0.27, a CE major w/ <3.39 probably wouldn't get in anywhere and <3.12 makes it even less likely (worse than 98% of matriculants on GPA alone).
 

LizzyM

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Graduate degree cGPA has little impact on med school admissions.

Engineering major GPA adjustment Quoting a recent analysis by a respected SDN poster who is great with numbers from 12/3/09:
The problem here is lumping engineering students with the physical science students. ... apples and oranges. Engineering students do get a little more respect but you are right, 3.1x is too low an undergrad gpa and the grad school gpa doesn't carry much (if any) weight.
 

Law2Doc

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My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, respectively. My GPAs were 3.16 and 3.44, respectively. I had a lot of hardships in undergrad, such as my parents were separating, I had 2 jobs, and I tore my ACL my junior year which affected that year's academics severely.

BTW, that was 10+ years ago. Anyways, I can promise you that a 3.2 GPA in engineering is not the same as a 3.2 GPA as a biology major.

I realize that the admission committee for the various medical schools look at your science GPA as well. However, since the course work in biomedical engineering is so hard, we tend to spend less time on Zoology 101 because our study time was getting depleted by Statics/Dynamics, which is FAR harder than anything in biology.

Please let me know if they give any leeway for engineering students, since the major is a lot harder.
While adcoms may differ a bit, the general rule is that major doesn't matter. Major in what you like. A med school would rather see a basket weaving major with a 4.0 who aced the prereqs than an engineering major with a 3.2. Unfair perhaps, but that's the way it plays out. I honestly would tend to advise folks to take whatever easy major they enjoy and will get A's in, and squeeze in the prereqs at a pace you can do well (even if that means taking them as a postbac after you got your 4.0 in primary color studies), and you will have a much much easier time getting into med school than if you suffered through p-chem and got your share of C's on hard courses. Med schools don't have time to parse through what is a hard or easy major -- at the end they want a diverse class consisting of a variety of majors with a GPA/BCPM higher than a B+.
 

flip26

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My undergraduate and graduate degrees were in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, respectively. My GPAs were 3.16 and 3.44, respectively. I had a lot of hardships in undergrad, such as my parents were separating, I had 2 jobs, and I tore my ACL my junior year which affected that year's academics severely.

BTW, that was 10+ years ago. Anyways, I can promise you that a 3.2 GPA in engineering is not the same as a 3.2 GPA as a biology major.

I realize that the admission committee for the various medical schools look at your science GPA as well. However, since the course work in biomedical engineering is so hard, we tend to spend less time on Zoology 101 because our study time was getting depleted by Statics/Dynamics, which is FAR harder than anything in biology.

Please let me know if they give any leeway for engineering students, since the major is a lot harder.
Maybe if you do it at MIT or CalTech, but even then, you won't get much leeway for that low a GPA.

How do you stack up against other engineering majors who are applying to medical school? I don't have the answer to that question, and your GPA still has to stack up against all majors, but maybe you can get some idea of your competitiveness if you explore this.
 
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They does factor in the problems with your grammar.

edit: oh bad luck, should have read thread, beaten to the punch.
 

LuciusVorenus

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The problem here is lumping engineering students with the physical science students. ... apples and oranges. Engineering students do get a little more respect but you are right, 3.1x is too low an undergrad gpa and the grad school gpa doesn't carry much (if any) weight.
Kind of a related question. If you had to make a random guess, what percent of all applicants would you say are engineering majors at your school? All the data I've been able to find on %applicants by major lumps engineering in with physical science.
 

STAT EKG

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More knowledgeable people have already posted, but for what it's worth... I've heard over and over that difficulty of major matters only marginally. Even if it was from a top-tier engineering school, I don't think you're getting much help overall.

I feel your situation because I have a low GPA too (engineering also, go figure) and I've had zero acceptances - but two waitlists - this cycle. I think you should still apply, but maybe apply for an SMP for the fall or take postbacc upper-level science classes during your application year

As far as engineering being harder than bio, that's probably a safe assumption in general... but (having been in both engineering and bio), I can say that many of my bio classes have been at least as hard as engineering classes. It really all depends on the classes a bio major is taking.

Good luck with everything, I hope it works out
 

LizzyM

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I have no idea what proportion of matriculants (or offers or interviews) are engineers. I've interviewed quite a few over the years but I've never kept count.
 

anfleisch

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There are other confounding factors maybe though. As in, the engineering majors reasons for switching into medicine, since they obviously weren't thinking about medicine until much later. But it is hard for schools to transform GPA data too much, especially since each professor in every institution gives out grades based on different scales. You can't account for everything, aka you could have an extremely hard PChem class that gives everyone an A in the end.
 

Brigade4Radiant

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From my talk to the admissions director they take major and course load in account. Adcoms are not stupid so taking 12 hours and spacing out your science classes to get a 3.7 and majoring in communications does not look as impressive as the guy who did a hard science major took an avg of 17 hours each semester and got a 3.5.

Medschools look at ability to do well in Medschool which has an intensive course load.
 

Drrrrrr. Celty

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From my talk to the admissions director they take major and course load in account. Adcoms are not stupid so taking 12 hours and spacing out your science classes to get a 3.7 and majoring in communications does not look as impressive as the guy who did a hard science major took an avg of 17 hours each semester and got a 3.5.

Medschools look at ability to do well in Medschool which has an intensive course load.
That would totally correlate with the data that shows the music, art, and humanities majors have higher acceptance rates.
 

jboz

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From my talk to the admissions director they take major and course load in account. Adcoms are not stupid so taking 12 hours and spacing out your science classes to get a 3.7 and majoring in communications does not look as impressive as the guy who did a hard science major took an avg of 17 hours each semester and got a 3.5.

Medschools look at ability to do well in Medschool which has an intensive course load.
Sorry broski but I'd rather be the 12 hour/3.7 GPA than the 17/hour 3.5 GPA

No Doubt.
 
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That would totally correlate with the data that shows the music, art, and humanities majors have higher acceptance rates.
Selection. Bias. The average premed is a biochemistry/biology major, NOT an arts/humanities major.

But I agree, intuition doesn't seem to match up to reality, at least in terms of numbers. However, I've been told by a lot of people of varying expertise that adcomms take course load into account.
 

apumic

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Selection. Bias. The average premed is a biochemistry/biology major, NOT an arts/humanities major.

But I agree, intuition doesn't seem to match up to reality, at least in terms of numbers. However, I've been told by a lot of people of varying expertise that adcomms take course load into account.
At the end of the day, it's not whether or not an adcom takes Factor W into account. It's whether or not Factor W is able to balance Factors X*Y*Z such that having value W' (where W'<W) is enough of a disadvantage to forgo the higher X, Y, and Z values resulting from choosing the lower Factor W. The fact is that choosing an easier major is likely to raise GPA significantly, give more time for MCAT study, and give more time for the critical ECs. The person with the more time-intensive major is more likely to have a lower GPA, less time for other activities, etc., and so probably has a weaker application overall. In other words, unless you're extraordinary, an engineering major probably will not serve you well. At least majors like music (which are at least as time consuming if not moreso and tend to be difficult to get anything >3.6 or <3.0) have a built-in and relatively "unique" skill/hobbie/interest to talk about in interviews...
 
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At the end of the day, it's not whether or not an adcom takes Factor W into account. It's whether or not Factor W is able to balance Factors X*Y*Z such that having value W' (where W'<W) is enough of a disadvantage to forgo the higher X, Y, and Z values resulting from choosing the lower Factor W. The fact is that choosing an easier major is likely to raise GPA significantly, give more time for MCAT study, and give more time for the critical ECs. The person with the more time-intensive major is more likely to have a lower GPA, less time for other activities, etc., and so probably has a weaker application overall. In other words, unless you're extraordinary, an engineering major probably will not serve you well. At least majors like music (which are at least as time consuming if not moreso and tend to be difficult to get anything >3.6 or <3.0) have a built-in and relatively "unique" skill/hobbie/interest to talk about in interviews...
Very true. I guess you pointed out the differing frames of reference with these discussions. I generally look at things like:

All else very similar (many constraints), will one variable help give an advantage?

Whereas advice is probably more wisely given, as you mentioned:

What will help a student make that "all else" similar or better than others (many variables), more easily, given one constraint?
 

TexasPhysician

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From my talk to the admissions director they take major and course load in account. Adcoms are not stupid so taking 12 hours and spacing out your science classes to get a 3.7 and majoring in communications does not look as impressive as the guy who did a hard science major took an avg of 17 hours each semester and got a 3.5.

Medschools look at ability to do well in Medschool which has an intensive course load.
I have classmate that took 6 years to graduate undergrad because of the few credit hours he/she took.

There are so many variables to take into consideration, but the truth is, if you pull a 4.0 taking only 12 credits/semester and do well on the MCAT, you will get yourself an interview. Then it is up to you.
 
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i was told by an Adcom that they can use ANY one factor or all factors in granting interviews...

so say you have a 3.2 in bio eng.....but one semester you got a 4.0 they can use that 4.0 for your GPA and thats that

then on the MCAT....say you have the highest score in one of the categories of all the applicants........they can use that.........and move on to the next

bottom line they will find SOMETHING to get you in........as long as you have the pre reqs and test required........
 

TexasPhysician

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i was told by an Adcom that they can use ANY one factor or all factors in granting interviews...

so say you have a 3.2 in bio eng.....but one semester you got a 4.0 they can use that 4.0 for your GPA and thats that

then on the MCAT....say you have the highest score in one of the categories of all the applicants........they can use that.........and move on to the next

bottom line they will find SOMETHING to get you in........as long as you have the pre reqs and test required........
The catch is they can also use ANY 1 thing to keep you out. Schools get too many apps to go through every single one in detail. To narrow it down, some schools may not look at any student with a single MCAT category less than 8. Or a total gpa under 3.1, etc. etc.
 

surftheiop

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I'm an engineering major and have talked to several physicians at at academic hospitals about this and talked to one physician who used to be on an admissions committee.

The general consensus is that they will not be like "add +.2 to GPA because of engineering".

But in each case they finish that statement by saying something like "But personally I would take the 3.6 engineer over the 3.7 Bio major every time"

So while officially your not going to get GPA points added to your numbers, it seems at the personal level engineering majors are well respected.

(Small sample size obviously)
 

Law2Doc

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From my talk to the admissions director they take major and course load in account. ...
Well sure they are going to SAY they take everything into account. But guess what -- programs receive as many as 10,000 applications and do you really think they spend much time trying to figure out who took the hard courses and who took the guts? They just look at the GPA and push on through the pile. And whose to say what's a hard curriculum versus an easy one anyhow -- this varies by school, by adcom's opinion, etc. So no, they are going to say they take these things into account, but they won't.

And when you get to med school and meet all the humanities majors who took the minimum prereqs and got into more places than the dude with the intense undergrad sci/engineering major, you are going to realize that that's not how the game is played. It's a numbers game to make the cut, and an interview skills game thereafter. You put up good numbers, your major won't matter. You put up middling numbers, your major's intensity won't bail you out.
 

Brigade4Radiant

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Well sure they are going to SAY they take everything into account. But guess what -- programs receive as many as 10,000 applications and do you really think they spend much time trying to figure out who took the hard courses and who took the guts? They just look at the GPA and push on through the pile. And whose to say what's a hard curriculum versus an easy one anyhow -- this varies by school, by adcom's opinion, etc. So no, they are going to say they take these things into account, but they won't.

And when you get to med school and meet all the humanities majors who took the minimum prereqs and got into more places than the dude with the intense undergrad sci/engineering major, you are going to realize that that's not how the game is played. It's a numbers game to make the cut, and an interview skills game thereafter. You put up good numbers, your major won't matter. You put up middling numbers, your major's intensity won't bail you out.
1. Hardly any school receives 10,000 apps in fact I would say that no med school does.

2. I'm not talking about chances of interviews am talking about the people who have already been interviewed and when they are choosing on who to admit.

3. A lot of people do well on the interview so they use course load, extra-curriculars and trends to dictate who gets an admittance and who gets waitlisted.

4. If its a state school they are mostly going to be looking at their instate people so it doesn't make much of a difference if 3000+ or 5000+ apply.

5. Once your GPA is in the range you get diminishing returns 3.7+ it doesn't matter that much since around 50% are right within the numbers and the other 50% are in the upper and lower range of the standard deviation. With about 10% being in the 3.3-3.4 range.

6. Are you an Adcom or have ever served on an admissions committee before?

7. My GPA isn't that High but my course load is very high and I have been accepted into 3 Medschools already
 

Narmerguy

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1. Hardly any school receives 10,000 apps in fact I would say that no med school does.

Besides the point. The point is the volume forces administrators to ignore some details. Specific coursework is often one of them.

2. I'm not talking about chances of interviews am talking about the people who have already been interviewed and when they are choosing on who to admit.

What's the point of talking about this if you can't even get to that phase? Similarly, even if you are both there and choosing whom to admit, they may not comb through every course or mitigating factor.

3. A lot of people do well on the interview so they use course load, extra-curriculars and trends to dictate who gets an admittance and who gets waitlisted.

Certainly. And they'll also use overall GPAs and MCAT scores as well. They use everything so it's not like they'll suddenly ignore your sucky GPA compared to the humanities major when analyzing you.

4. If its a state school they are mostly going to be looking at their instate people so it doesn't make much of a difference if 3000+ or 5000+ apply.

What does this have to do with anything?

5. Once your GPA is in the range you get diminishing returns 3.7+ it doesn't matter that much since around 50% are right within the numbers and the other 50% are in the upper and lower range of the standard deviation. With about 10% being in the 3.3-3.4 range.

I wouldn't put the cutoff 3.7. Regardless of where it is, there will be people for whom this is applicable and there will be those for whom there is still a big difference in how their GPAs are "perceived".

6. Are you an Adcom or have ever served on an admissions committee before?

Are you? Do you need to be on an Adcom to know elements of the selection process?

7. My GPA isn't that High but my course load is very high and I have been accepted into 3 Medschools already

N=1. Also, no one is saying a high GPA is required. Similarly, you have no idea if your GPA was overlooked because of your course load.
Not picking on you, but your arguments are ones that are commonly made and there are many errors with how they are derived.
 

Brigade4Radiant

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Not picking on you, but your arguments are ones that are commonly made and there are many errors with how they are derived.
1. 5000+ is a Huge difference from 10,000 and also many schools use residency, MCAT subscore cutoffs and basic clinical experience as cut offs also Medschool admissions committees are trained to handle the load of applicants and pick. Also only the upper tier and HBCU schools receive 5000+ apps.

2.The point of talking about it is that you don't know what gets you to that phase since MANY have high GPA and MCAT and have no interview invites.

3. You are strawmaning my arguments I never said they ignore sucky GPA. I am not talking about high course load makes up for GPA please READ

4. The point is that for a state school such as Alabama you are getting about 400+ apps. And for Outstate they use a lot of cutoffs and they also see if you have any connection to the state.

5. I put the cutoff at 3.7 because that is the average of accepted students for an average Medschool. The returns are diminishing because 3.7 is a good GPA and the most you can increase it is by .3.

6. You don't have to be an Adcom to know about the process but to discredit what an Adcom says when one isn't even in the application process and acts as the authority is pretty disingenuous.

7. GPA is never overlooked, many Adcoms say that MCAT and GPA are the two biggest factors but other things to take into account when determining admission. Also by looking at the AMCAs table many non URMs are accepted into medschool with sub 3.5 and sub 30s.

8. They don't have to count or even look at your classes to determine your course load. It's a very simply equation a student has 120 hours and it takes them 8 semesters to graduate then they took an avg of 15 hours and if it takes them 10 then an avg of 12. 175 hours in 10 semesters is 17.5 hours a semester and they can easily calculate the amount of science courses you have taken this takes about a minute.

9. Some of my friends were ragged on in the academic interview for not taking a lot of science courses as a science major but this differs from interview to interview.
 

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1. Hardly any school receives 10,000 apps in fact I would say that no med school does.
this is just so blatantly false. there are a handful of schools that get TONS of apps-- BU, GWU, drexel for sure, and i think georgetown and temple as well? possbily others too. i'm talking OVER 10,000 apps.
 

Brigade4Radiant

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this is just so blatantly false. there are a handful of schools that get TONS of apps-- BU, GWU, drexel for sure, and i think georgetown and temple as well? possbily others too. i'm talking OVER 10,000 apps.
After checking my MSAR you're right.


And I'm not saying that a 3.2 in physics > 3.8 in communications

Im talking about 3.5 and 3.7, 3.6 and 3.8.
 

dw2158

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After checking my MSAR you're right.


And I'm not saying that a 3.2 in physics > 3.8 in communications

Im talking about 3.5 and 3.7, 3.6 and 3.8.
i'm not getting involved in the pointless GPA discussion. just correcting misinformation so others reading the thread don't get confused.
 

surftheiop

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3.8 "basket weaving" from Podunk U >>> 3.2 "bioengin-physio-organochem-calcu-NASA-Nobel-African Village" major from Harvard
Probably true, but once you hit 3.4 I think all bets are off and anything can happen
 

LizzyM

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Some schools can interview only 10-20% of all applicants. There are some gross cut points, with a quick look at those applications to be sure that someone with an unusual backstory isn't overlooked. Much of the screening at those school that interview a small proportion is done before asking you to spend time & money to come for an interview. In those cases, you shouldn't be interviewed unless there is nothing in the file that would make you a bad choice for med school.

After that, you have a bridgade of faculty volunteers. Some of these are retired or semi-retired folks who have all the time in the world to pour over applications, classes taken, course load, etc. In some cases, schools have "specialists" who really get to know the schools in a given region and the courses at those schools. What people sometimes think is "random" can be the luck of the draw and having a very thorough review or, the flip side, getting a review by a distracted and busy OB who reviews files in a few minute of down time between deliveries.
 
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In some cases, schools have "specialists" who really get to know the schools in a given region and the courses at those schools.
This is really cool. Although I wouldn't say I'm particularly worried about the nitty-gritties of the sort in this thread, I think it's comforting to know that there's a chance that someone will recognize the professor here who is known as "the god of thermodynamics" and how hard it's been to get A's in his classes. Haha.
 

Law2Doc

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1. Hardly any school receives 10,000 apps in fact I would say that no med school does.

2. I'm not talking about chances of interviews am talking about the people who have already been interviewed and when they are choosing on who to admit.

3. A lot of people do well on the interview so they use course load, extra-curriculars and trends to dictate who gets an admittance and who gets waitlisted.

4. If its a state school they are mostly going to be looking at their instate people so it doesn't make much of a difference if 3000+ or 5000+ apply.

5. Once your GPA is in the range you get diminishing returns 3.7+ it doesn't matter that much since around 50% are right within the numbers and the other 50% are in the upper and lower range of the standard deviation. With about 10% being in the 3.3-3.4 range.

6. Are you an Adcom or have ever served on an admissions committee before?

7. My GPA isn't that High but my course load is very high and I have been accepted into 3 Medschools already
1. You are simply wrong. The Boston, DC and some NYC schools routinely get this kind of volume.
2. I don't really understand what you are saying, but at most places numbers make the difference as to who gets an interview, and interviews tend to be the single biggest factor once you get to that stage.
3. I question this statement. This is certainly how some premeds WANT adcoms to act, but not my experience as to how they actually approach the post-interview decision.
4. There's always going to be a volume that is too burdensome and will force places to take steps to cull the herd, whether you are talking instate vs out of state or combined.
5. I agree with your diminishing returns analysis. However if you have a 3.7+ you aren't going to care whether adcoms give you a benefit for a harder major so it's not really the type of score we were discussing in this thread.
6. I don't give out personal info on the web. I have been through the process one way or another.
7. Anecdotal evidence (n=1) in a group of tens of thousands isn't exactly strong data. Congrats on getting into med school. You will find lots of people in your class that got in without the same kind of curriculum you logged.
 

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1. You are simply wrong. The Boston, DC and some NYC schools routinely get this kind of volume.
2. I don't really understand what you are saying, but at most places numbers make the difference as to who gets an interview, and interviews tend to be the single biggest factor once you get to that stage.
3. I question this statement. This is certainly how some premeds WANT adcoms to act, but not my experience as to how they actually approach the post-interview decision.
4. There's always going to be a volume that is too burdensome and will force places to take steps to cull the herd, whether you are talking instate vs out of state or combined.
5. I agree with your diminishing returns analysis. However if you have a 3.7+ you aren't going to care whether adcoms give you a benefit for a harder major so it's not really the type of score we were discussing in this thread.
6. I don't give out personal info on the web. I have been through the process one way or another.
7. Anecdotal evidence (n=1) in a group of tens of thousands isn't exactly strong data. Congrats on getting into med school. You will find lots of people in your class that got in without the same kind of curriculum you logged.
:thumbup: