How much does going to a good undergrad count?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Riddel, Oct 10, 2002.

  1. Riddel

    Riddel New Member

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    I am very worried about this topic because I go to a pretty good undergrad school that is really hard. All the grades are curved to a B- and I'm worried that maybe I've hurt myself by going to a good undergrad school (cornell univeristy) instead of to a local community college and getting straight A's.

    Can anyone tell me if med schools look highly on good undergrad schools or if they simply don't care as long as you get the A's?
     
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  3. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Yes, the difficulty of your undergraduate institution is taken into account. A 3.5 at Cornell is much better than 4.0 at a local community college in the eyes of many admissions committees.

    Just do your best and hopefully you'll keep your GPA around a 3.5.

    BTW, welcome to SDN! :)
     
  4. Riddel

    Riddel New Member

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    Thank you very much Ophtho_MudPhud that makes me feel loads better.
     
  5. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    I think it definitely helps in the med school admissions game to be from a highly competitive undergrad school. I've even heard that your GPA is multiplied by a factor of 1.1. This is totally unfounded rumor -- I can't remember where I heard or read it -- but it does seem to bear some relation to what actually happens. Good luck to you, and let me add my welcome to Optho's. :)
     
  6. Joe Joe on da Radio

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    like SMW said, there is a thing called a "competiveness" factor for each undergrad school that adcoms factor into your application.
     
  7. Dr. Wall$treet

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    yo i dont think that 1.1 deal is true.. shoot that would make like a 3.55 a 4.0.. its not that much of a factor!
     
  8. gooloogooloo

    gooloogooloo Senior Member
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    my gf who works in adcom told me that they use a computer program to adjust ur gpa based on the institution you come from. shhhhhhh, she gonna kill me for saying that. u can pm me.
     
  9. An Yong

    An Yong Senior Member
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    Hmm, it seems kinda arbitrary then, do they consider University of Chicago better than say Northwestern or vice-versa?? Which schools are prestigious enough to get this factor, I mean surely there are some grey-area schools that may or may not be considered "prestigious" enough to get this gpa-boost. I suppose they could rely on the highly accurate US NEWS and WORLD REPORT rankings (Sarcasm).

    It seems to me that this line of argument applies to your undergrad, then the difficulty of your major should be taken into account also. However, who is to say that a dance major is easier than say a physics major? (synonymous with saying, Upenn is more difficult than Podunk)

    In the end, the difficulty of a school/major depends on the teaching style (does the teacher give extra credit, does he/she curve), teaching effectiveness, textbook quality, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    My personal opinion is that I do not think MOST adcoms give preference to your undergrad institution/major. It seems to me that this line of thinking is too generalized (I mean how can you assume that a person from an ivy school has had it harder than someone from podunk?). Remember though, I emphasize the word MOST because I am sure some adcom members do get entranced by the "prestigiousness of a school"

    My 3 1/2 cents =)
     
  10. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    i think a lot of a schools take into account the competitiveness of undergrad. if they don't they should! i'm currently taking a course at a community college, and the grading is WAY easier than at any school i've ever attended. it sucks for those people who go to a podunk university that's really hard, but it is the only fair way to do things. i could have gone to a less competitive school and have gotten much better grades.

    it may seem unfair if the grading at ivy leagues is easier (not really the case in science classes i don't think), but it's unlikely the person got in without being very intelligent. it may be unfair for those people who are intelligent and couldn't afford an ivy league or couldn't go for other reasons, but not adjusting for the competitiveness is less fair in my opinion.
     
  11. Dr. Wall$treet

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    i really hate these threads on podunk v the all mighty IVY. I mean i guess i go to podunk ASU.. doenst help we just voted numero uno party school and our school VP got busted for beng in a porn.. but hey that is a differnet life than what i see as a premed in science classes.. come on now i studied my ass off and to have tomsone knock down my gpa.. i would say i would get the same grades regardless of wher ei went.. i work hard. I thin its unfair to weight grades. if anything and they wanna be anal about the process they should consider ur mcat and gpa and there should be a correlation between mcat and gpa .. i mean i got 11s i science that is 86th -92nd percentile.. and i go to podunk.. there cant be enough ivy leuguers who get 11s or up cause simply there arent that many who do.. i dont like the fact u say weight greades. my $2
     
  12. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    Not sure about other places...but I've heard that Yale average on the MCAT is around a 31. I guess it must be weighted toward the lower end a bit, because I definitely know people who go/went there whose scores you could have divided by 4 and still gotten double digits.
     
  13. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    I think the MCAT is often used in such situations to sort of standardize out the curve. There's much to be said for the 3.5 Ivy Leaguer who pulls a 35+ on the MCAT vs. a 4.0 no-name schooler who pulls a 30 on the MCAT.

    Then again, I'm from a podunk school and I hope my MCAT will convince them my school just isn't easy.
     
  14. JohnnieWalkerMD

    JohnnieWalkerMD Junior Member

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    All that matters is your numbers.
     
  15. gooloogooloo

    gooloogooloo Senior Member
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    i think they will higher your GPA if you are from a competetive school, but they won't lower it if you are from a less one. this is just what I think. and btw, please don't pm me anymore about how they weigh your school, cuz i got tons of pm for that. firstable i can't ask my gf that, cuz she told me that she will get fired for telling me stuff like that. actually, let's just put it this way. she doesn't tell me anything. i don't know anything. :cool:
     
  16. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    What do you expect from a bunch of psycho-premeds? :p :p :p

    But seriously...stop PMing Gooloo^2 about this.
     
  17. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    le me add that i'm not in favor of doing a numerical adjustment to gpa based on the competitiveness of school. it is impossible to know just how difficult it is to achieve a certain gpa at a given school. i do think that the school should factor in at some point, and i think it does at least at private med schools. a 4.0 from podunk may be better than a 3.7 from ivy (?), but a 3.7 at an ivy is harder to get than a 3.7 from podunk. maybe i'm biased, but my experiences with 2 podunk-type schools have proven that at least some are much easier than super competitive schools.
     
  18. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    That was brave, lola, but true. People from the ivys and other highly competitive schools have been working their asses off for years just to get to those schools. It's not about the grades, it's about their proven track record of being able to excel academically over an extended time period.

    Well, seeing as you're new, JohnnieWalker, I'm going to selcome you to SDN, and give you another chance!! :) (But that was the single most uninformed post I've ever seen on SDN! :p )

    You may not like it Wall$treet, but it happens for a reason, That's not to say people from Podunks aren't evaluated fairly, either. Look at the results Jessica got last year, with interviews and acceptances from almost all the top schools, east coast and CA!
     
  19. brownman24

    brownman24 Member
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    I went to a pretty competative undergrad (hopkins), and from my experience there, and talking to ivy kids at grad school, schools like hopkins and emory have it the roughest. We don't have grade inflation like the ivy league (i hear cornell and princeton are exceptions), and we still have classes filled with very competative and intelligent students. All of my science courses had either a B- or a C curve, and I have actually had a professor who gave a student an F- for a course, and a -3 on a test, so that if he overslept and missed the test he would have been better off. Now I did have pretty crappy grades, and a pretty high MCAT, and I would like to think that med schools would would take these sort of things into account when making their decision.
     
  20. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    one more thing...
    on my premed committee letter, the average gpa & average science gpa for my class are included. i think this is a really good idea and think more schools should do this! adcoms already know the competitiveness of a given school but probably often don't know what sort of grades most people get.
     
  21. Veilside

    Veilside Senior Member
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    well my undergrad (chicago) had no grade inflation whatsoever. majority of the means for exams were set at B- and b/c it is a trimester system, we had midterms and papers virtually every week starting week 3 or so.
    so i do believe that it is significantly easier to maintain a 4.0 at Southeastern Golden State Community College than at Chicago or other academically rigorous schools.

    but i also know that if i tried really hard throughout my 4 years, i could have maintained a high gpa of around 3.9 or so. i was a major proscratinator my first two years, and my gpa suffered as a result. my point is that i cannot complain that b/c of my undergrad, my gpa is lower. my gpa is lower b/c i didn't do as much work as i know i could have or should have. if the adcom thinks that chicago is a tough school and gives more weight to my gpa, fine. if not, then that's fine too.
     
  22. Gumshoe

    Gumshoe LARGE Member
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    If you tried really hard then you would have gotten a 3.9?!! That's the whole thing. If I didn't want to have a life in college, I would have gotten 3.7 or higher. That doesn't mean I'm less smart than others (I was 3.35 from a very good undergrad school), but that I just didn't see the undergrad as THAT pertinent. I think it IS legit to say that people will change their tune for the better in med school because it HAS direct impact on what you'll be doing for the rest of your career/life . Undergrad did, but it wasn't all that important. that is why you have to be well rounded, and not just have numbers to get in.

    Cheers,
    Gumshoe

    :)
     
  23. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    That's just evil! Even the SATs will give you a 400 if you have a negative raw score...
     
  24. TranceKitten

    TranceKitten Junior Member
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    The dean of Stanford came to my school (Berkeley) and said that they add 0.2 to our GPA, and they do this for those from other competative undergrads universitys as well. I wonder if this includes places like Harvard where 91% of their students graduate with "Honors". Interesting. http://www.mugu.com/pipermail/upstream-list/2001-October/003686.html
     
  25. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    They probably add 1.0 for Harvard! And they should.
     
  26. TranceKitten

    TranceKitten Junior Member
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    Please expound :)
     
  27. Woots32

    Woots32 kinda funky, kinda fine
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    Well, one thing that I don't think anyone has mentioned on this thread is the trend in your GPA. Remember, on AMCAS your classes and grades appear in chronological order, so they can see if you improved over time. I hope schools do take this into account, because after my first semester I barely had a 3.0, but have since managed to pull it up to a 3.8. Not easy, even if I'm only at a Big-10 school and not Ivy. ;)
     
  28. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
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    i think you mean "multiply"

    maybe they should mutliple by .7 for harvard :D
     
  29. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    there may be grade inflation at harvard (i know there is in their grad schools), but i'm not so sure it's that rampant in premed courses. maybe there is someone on this board with experience?

    and even if there is a lot of grade inflation, i'm not all that concerned about it since almost everyone in the class would be at the top of podunk university's class.
     
  30. Veilside

    Veilside Senior Member
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    .4 sounds better :laugh:
     
  31. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    you make it sound as if ppl who are total non-trads and dont have the opportunity to go to a decent school, dont have a chance at all of getting in.
     
  32. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    No, I meant add. Just going by what TranceKitten said the dean of Stanford said they did for Berkeley. I think if they're going to multiply, 1.1 is about right. All we're saying here folks, is that if you're from a highly competitive or ivy league school, you have less to prove to the adcoms. It only makes sense considering what it takes to get into a school like Harvard!
     
  33. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    well i guess ill just have to wait and see..
     
  34. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
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    SMW, in an extremely rare occasion i'm going to have to disagree with, sort of, you on this point. I'm not trying to single out harvard specifically, but at SOME of the "top" schools, the "gentleman's C" runs rampant along with ridiculous grade inflation and 90 percent of the students getting honors. contrast that to other top 20 schools, like the one i went to, in which we had things like "at least 10 percent of all people taking O chem must fail", or "the average in genetics will always be set at a C+, even if its an 85". It depends on the school, and re the stanford memo that went around, some adcoms are very aware of this fluctuation

    wow, i just disagreed with SMW....am i going to be kicked off SDN now?
     
  35. Sweet Tea

    Sweet Tea Girl Next Door
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    troll. ;) :p
     
  36. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    No, I don't mean that at all. Look at Jessica, from last year. It's just that being from a more competitive school gives you a foot in the door. Being from a lesser ranked school means your app gets scrutinized a lot closer.
     
  37. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    I'm taking it up with Lee at this very moment! :mad: :p ;) OK, maybe because of that "sort of" I'll let you off the hook. But watch yourself from now on!!! :D

    I haven't read the Stanford memo. I'm sure the adcoms are aware of all of this. I'm still sure they think people from Harvard are pretty hot candidates. I don't think being from Stanford hurt my app last year. :)

    State schools have a financial stake in lowering the numbers of science students. They can't have the huge numbers of students that start out as premed in the upper level biology courses. Why, they might have to have professors teach in addition to doing research!! :eek: It's patently unfair to say an average of 85 is a C, or 10% must fail. What if everyone got 90% (not that they'd ever let that happen).? But you get my drift. What if everyone understood the subject? Like they probably do at Harvard.
     
  38. Optime Scit

    Optime Scit Junior Member

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    "it is impossible to know just how difficult it is to achieve a certain gpa at a given school." ~Lola

    So is this true?

    If any private school were to have a majority (or even all) of medical applicants whose Gpas were below a 3.5, then would med schools have to infer that the school is competitive with a "big name" as pertaining to quality instruction?

    I agree with Lola...perhaps the MCAT levels the playing field...but it is a good point to make that "IVYs" (probably) have shown consistent, repectable discipline if they have kept a high GPA since admission. There are of course exceptions.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  39. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
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    unfair, arguably yes, but this was the case during my top 20 small private undergrad days (they've eased up on the orgo thing, but genetics is still a beotch). yes, i got a 86 in genetics, translating into a big fat B farkin minus, which i had to argue up from a C+ :mad:
     
  40. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    Doesn't seem to have slowed you down much! ;)
     
  41. chips

    chips Member
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    you ARE singling out harvard specifically, so don't bring the rest of the "top" schools into it.

    wow, and i just disagreed with DW! i hope i don't get stoned.
     
  42. agent

    agent agent, RN
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    ahh.. ill remember to make sure my app is really strong.
     
  43. An Yong

    An Yong Senior Member
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    I noticed a lot of responses suggest that some of the reasons gpa boosts should be granted to those in IVY league schools is that

    A. They have a proven academic track record
    B. It takes a lot to get into these IVY league schools.


    Does this mean we should take High School into account in the admissions process? After all, it is really your high school record that we are talking about when we say "It takes a lot to get into ivy league schools" or "they have a proven academic track record"


    Thanks!
     
  44. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    i don't think high school should necessarily be taken into account, but when you have so many applicants something needs to be the determining factor. i feel sort of the same way about caribbean med students trying to get residencies. if there are not enough spots, those who did not do well on the boards who went to a foreign school will get shafted. most of these students did not do as well in college as u.s. students. it's a bit harsh, but they have to make a decision based on something!
     
  45. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    It's not about should. It's just the way it is. High school is taken into account in a shortcut kind of way (and not only high school, but everything else you've done in your life until that point), by giving weight to the quality of the undergrad institution. Some medschools even ask for SAT scores (which usually elicits wails of protest on SDN). It's not a perfect system, but then those are few and far between.

    Wishing everyone the best of luck on their applications!! :)
     
  46. Trajan

    Trajan Senior Member
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    Here's what a representative from Dartmouth Medical School said when she visited my college (a top LAC). I paraphrase: "A's are wonderful from any college, but we interpret B's relative to the college where they were earned. If a transcript from a Dartmouth, a Middlebury, or a Williams shows a significant number of B's, that applicant is still competitive in our eyes. However, a significant number of B's from a less rigorous/selective school is frowned upon. C's are noted and not helpful regardless of where they were earned."
     
  47. TheSkywalker

    TheSkywalker New Member

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    SMW-
    I contend, ?what it takes? to get into an undergrad like Harvard has more to do with how much money your parents have than natural talent. (Honestly, I think most people who grew up with my background would have a hard time not gaining admission to a prestigious university) I grew up in one of the most affluent areas in the country and I saw my siblings and friends getting into Harvard, Yale, Princeton etc. Consider this, we are all not brilliant we just have been highly trained throughout our lives. From our prestigious private preschools (there was a wait list for my preschool and my parents had to have dinner with my teacher to gain admission) on to our private junior and high schools. Most of us had a great application that stood out from the crowd because of talent yes, but to a greater degree I contend, because we went to a private college preparatory schools that focused on SAT scores and refused to let any one of us fail (no matter how much we f*cked off). Furthermore, we had private tutors, did not work, had parents who were presidents of a local hospitals, famous surgeons, governors and other illustrious positions that we had access to. Once in, should this benefit of being born to privilege continue through our years at Harvard? As evidenced by our ridiculously high percentage (its laughable) of graduates receiving honors? I think not. Ask your self this question: What kind of applicant would I be if I had unlimited access to private tutors, expensive private editors and did not work so had ample free time to explore my interests? My parents were immigrants and are ?new money? so, I know from their stories what it was like to struggle and they never let me take my privilege for granted or feel I was owed anything because of it. It never ceases to amaze me how many low-to-mid income kids will argue the loudest that this ?affirmative action for the rich? is fair. As we all apply we are not asked to include in our applications our past accomplishments in high school then why, should kids from prestigious universities have an (erroneous) indicator of their talent in high school boost their application? The other invisible signs of our privilege boosting our application will always be present, the tutors, editors, free time, etc. so, why do we need more help in the form of university preference?

    Here is a link that talks about the high family income correlated to high SAT scores:
    http://www.fairtest.org/examarts/Winter%2001-02/civil%20rights.html

    -Gibbson
     
  48. lola

    lola Bovine Member
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    well, at my public high school those who got into prestigious schools did so b/c of their intelligence and uniqueness. i don't recall any of them being particularly wealthy, although most were not poor either.

    anyway, your's is an interesting perspective. i suppose it is that way with a lot of kids who went to private high schools. but being from a part of california where hardly anyone goes to private high school, i didn't experience the same thing.
     
  49. vm26

    vm26 Member
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    Gibbson
    great post. I grew up in a fairly affluent area-north shore of Long Island, so I can relate to what you have described. When I graduated from high school in 91, I had the opportunity of going to a pretty good private school-Hamilton College, or a public one. I decided on a public junior college primarily for financial reasons. Sure Hamilton gave me a great aid package, but I still would have accrued over 20K in debt. Instead I now have 3 degress from 3 different public schools with zero debt. Growing up in an affluent family won't guarantee anyone success, but it sure does help (alot).
     
  50. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    Gibbson,
    You make some good points. But the fact that some kids get more than they deserve and some kids get less is kind of beside the point. We all know life is not fair. Colleges and medschools do what they can to level the playing field by need-blind admissions, scholarships, affirmative action, etc. Medschool adcoms cannot make up for all of life's unfairnesses. They simply have to make the best decisions they can about who will make it through medschool and become decent physicians based on the information available to them. The undergrad institution is just one piece of information.

    FYI, I went to an elite school, and my brother, who had all the same advantages (including being a legacy), which advantages, btw, did not include private schooling, did not get in. For most, if not all, of the top schools, a quite large proportion of the students are on financial aid, and are not the kind of "born to privilege" people you describe. I would venture to guess people like you make up a fairly small percentage. That's definitely the way it was at Stanford. Maybe I'm naive, and Harvard is a special case. But I have a friend from here who went there, and neither she nor any of her roommates there were born with silver spoons in their mouths.

    It's laudable of you to be so concerned about the underprivileged, but I don't think medschool admissions is the proper place to be adressing the problem. I think fixing the public schools in this country is the place to start. Then maybe we could do something about the correlation between family income and SAT scores.

    Oh, and welcome to SDN!! :)
     
  51. Trajan

    Trajan Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

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    Gibbson,

    I do not disagree with anything you said. However, I believe that it requires more effort to excel academically at Yale, Williams, Dartmouth, or Middlebury than at less selective schools. That is not to say that these students are always brilliant or virtuous. They are just bright. However, I will say that in my experience at a top LAC, the public school kids outperformed prep schoolers in the classroom (sweeping generalization). For this reason, I still assert that someone who gets into a top college and excels there will and should get the attention of a med school ad com.
     

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