HS doesnt matter, specific college doesnt matter...

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
I have only been reading this forum a few months, and have to say that I have been bothered by the continued theme that people believe high school and specific college do not matter.

In my humble opinion, this is very disturbing.

I read a post about a high schooler who has a near C average and who has started getting grades even lower on their most recent report card and SDNers are telling this person that they shouldn't worry about it. This is outrageous! of course they should worry about it. These grades signify a problem in this student's study habits, knowledge base, and commitment. If they actually have the knowledge and are still getting these grades, I would question their ability to achieve their potential. Are there doctors who have struggled like this in the past? Of course! They would never dream of dismissing these grades as unimportant but rather persevered to find success! They revamped their study techniques, constantly asked teachers for ways to improve, studied harder and longer.

High school is one part of a solid academic foundation that allows for success in college. Anyone who says they achieved success in college without their high school knowledge is selling themselves short because that same person could have achieved even more in college if they had built a foundation of excellence in high school. It all pays forward.

If I were reading this as an underperforming high school student, I would want people to tell me its okay and that I didnt scar my future at all. I would want people to tell me that getting into a, "good," college makes no difference or has no bearing on my future. But the truth is these are completely false. Completely false.

Does this mean that I as a reader should cower and feel inadequate and be crushed? NO, not at all! What I hope you will take away from this is that you should acknowledge the shortcomings and push yourself to find ways to achieve success in the next phase of your life. Push yourself harder and longer to achieve your career goals and don't accept mediocrity or worse yet failure as your legacy in high school. Do not become fat on your achievement of average, be hungry and lean for greatness at every level!

The second idea, that colleges are equal, is ludicrous! Of course they are not. Do you think any money savvy CEO is going to pay an IVY league grad more for no reason when every other college grad is their equal? Of course not! There is a higher chance of excellence at the next level when you graduate from a traditionally better school. This doesn't mean that students from the state and community colleges cannot succeed ( I am a graduate of a third tier state school), but it means the chances are lower and the road is more arduous. Don't put yourself through this under the delusion that a medical school is going to weigh your application from the community college as high as they do the one from the IVY leagues....fight to be in the best school you can both academically and financially.

Fight in high school and fight for the best college, come on!

TL
 

MilkmanAl

Al the Ass Mod
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2008
12,032
62
Kansas City, MO
www.facebook.com
Status
Resident [Any Field]
That was a great rah-rah speech, but I think you're kind of missing the mark a bit. The message is that the grades you achieve in high school are irrelevant where getting into med school is concerned, which is objectively true, no matter how you slice it. Nobody (I hope) is saying that the skills you acquire during high school are irrelevant. Similarly, the argument regarding colleges solely applies to getting into med school. there really is not that much difference between a small state school grad and a Harvard grad, in that regard. Will the Harvard grad get the edge at schools the two are deemed more or less equal? Sure. That relatively small advantage is nowhere near worth going out of your way for, in my opinion. It shouldn't be that way, but it is. When I am reviewing applications next year, I will absolutely give a significant bonus to people who endured difficult academic programs in college. Unfortunately, that is not how med school admission goes, as a whole.
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
That was a great rah-rah speech, but I think you're kind of missing the mark a bit. The message is that the grades you achieve in high school are irrelevant where getting into med school is concerned, which is objectively true, no matter how you slice it. Nobody (I hope) is saying that the skills you acquire during high school are irrelevant. Similarly, the argument regarding colleges solely applies to getting into med school. there really is not that much difference between a small state school grad and a Harvard grad, in that regard. Will the Harvard grad get the edge at schools the two are deemed more or less equal? Sure. That relatively small advantage is nowhere near worth going out of your way for, in my opinion.
having been part of both medical school and residency selection committees, I completely disagree. Someone who is in the middle of their harvard class is going to gain heavy points in a committee view compared to a top third lower school grad...it is a misguided belief if you think they are weighed equally.
 

MilkmanAl

Al the Ass Mod
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2008
12,032
62
Kansas City, MO
www.facebook.com
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I just said they weren't weighed equally, didn't I? However, I also said the difference wasn't enough to matter to me. Speaking in numerical terms, a seriously rough college experience doesn't buy you any more than, say, .2 GPA points, at the absolute most. Put another way, going to an easier school will likely boost your application by way of inflating your grades more than going to a big-name school will boost your application by adding the prestige factor.
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
Listen, Milkman, my point is simple and it is not meant for you as you seem to be in medical school already...high school is important. People should try hard and not be accepting of less than their best. Realistically, someone who is average, below average etc in high school is not going to be leading the class even in most state schools.

I am not posting this because I want to get on a high horse and feel superior to young kids who have big dreams. I truly want these kids to have good advice from people who have the credentials to give advice. You say you get my point, but I am not sure that all the posters and and the readers walk away understanding the value of high school when "High school doesn't matter," is clearly written in many other posts.

If you get my point, I'm glad. Others can maybe walk away with something from my, as you put it, "rah rah" speech. Thank you.



TL
 
Last edited:

Badger MD

Distance Running Addict
5+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2010
99
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I think you are missing Milk's point as much as you think he is missing yours :oops:
 

Seahawk

Nothing to do here
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2010
786
16
Status
Dentist
But....It doesn't matter....I was a slacker in HS and now I have a 4.0 in college.....Only thing it would have helped with was acceptance to my first choice school....but now I see that the school you go to doesn't matter...So back to square 1...
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
I think you are missing Milk's point as much as you think he is missing yours :oops:
I get his point. He thinks that HS grades are not directly evaluated in medical school admissions and that there is a difference between top tier schools and lesser ones, but that the difference is negligible in his opinion. I hear his point.

I disagree. The grades themselves are not viewed, but the habits behind them are definitely criterion for medical school selection. The difference between a lesser tier college and a top tier one is notable. This is my view.

The difference between a lesser tier college is that a GPA of 3.0 there may be very difficult to get a medical school admission with (not impossible, but exceptionally difficult). A 3.0 at any IVY league school is likely to gain admission into a medical school and even have a chance at a more competitive medical school.

Every step has a direct effect on the next step. If one's end goal is to become a ENT, plastic surgeon, emergency physician, orthopedist etc, and to train at an outstanding residency, they have an significantly higher chance of acceptance when they train at a top level medical school. To get into a top level medical school is significantly easier from a top level college. To get into a top level college, it generally goes without saying that you require excellence in high school.

Each step is not an all or none, but as my wife (also a physician with experience in the selection processes at the medical school and residency levels), was saying, its like a dart board and the center is the end goal. The dart board is much closer when excellence is achieved at each step, and much farther when going from average to subpar at each step....trying to get a competitive physician career from a subpar state school is like throwing a dart at this board from twice the distance of the competition....who is most likely going to win?

As an aside, both my wife and I have been part of the interviewing and ranking committees for the medical school and residencies where we trained. We reviewed transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendations, interviewed students, creating rank lists, and flat out accepting / denying applications. So it is from this experience, and from the experiences we have had at each step to become attendings that I bring this information to you.

In the end, it is your choice to do as you will with and I wish you all the best of luck in your still developing careers.

Cheers,
TL
 

chinocochino

7+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2009
913
10
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I hope that you mean to say "3.5" instead of "3.0" for a competitive college GPA. The percentage of 3.0GPA applicants with solid MCAT's (30 or so) getting into med schools is fairly low.

N=1 but going to a prestigious college didn't help me with med school admissions. I really wish that I had gone to a "easier" college so I could have racked up a more competitive GPA.

I get his point. He thinks that HS grades are not directly evaluated in medical school admissions and that there is a difference between top tier schools and lesser ones, but that the difference is negligible in his opinion. I hear his point.

I disagree. The grades themselves are not viewed, but the habits behind them are definitely criterion for medical school selection. The difference between a lesser tier college and a top tier one is notable. This is my view.

The difference between a lesser tier college is that a GPA of 3.0 there may be very difficult to get a medical school admission with (not impossible, but exceptionally difficult). A 3.0 at any IVY league school is likely to gain admission into a medical school and even have a chance at a more competitive medical school.

Every step has a direct effect on the next step. If one's end goal is to become a ENT, plastic surgeon, emergency physician, orthopedist etc, and to train at an outstanding residency, they have an significantly higher chance of acceptance when they train at a top level medical school. To get into a top level medical school is significantly easier from a top level college. To get into a top level college, it generally goes without saying that you require excellence in high school.

Each step is not an all or none, but as my wife (also a physician with experience in the selection processes at the medical school and residency levels), was saying, its like a dart board and the center is the end goal. The dart board is much closer when excellence is achieved at each step, and much farther when going from average to subpar at each step....trying to get a competitive physician career from a subpar state school is like throwing a dart at this board from twice the distance of the competition....who is most likely going to win?

As an aside, both my wife and I have been part of the interviewing and ranking committees for the medical school and residencies where we trained. We reviewed transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendations, interviewed students, creating rank lists, and flat out accepting / denying applications. So it is from this experience, and from the experiences we have had at each step to become attendings that I bring this information to you.

In the end, it is your choice to do as you will with and I wish you all the best of luck in your still developing careers.

Cheers,
TL
 

raginfly

5+ Year Member
Nov 10, 2009
131
1
Status
Pre-Medical
i like this post. it makes me want to study for my finals. no joke. about to get started.
thanks
 

loveoforganic

-Account Deactivated-
10+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2009
4,222
13
Status
I think the OP and MM are kind of talking past each other with respect to high school.

To summarize - The study habits you develop during high school are important toward helping you in college. Additionally, you will see some rewards ($$$, acceptances) for your high school work. Don't completely dick around in high school. However, if you've already done some dicking around, you haven't completely screwed yourself over - don't give up. Even if you fail out of high school, you're not done for. Get your GED, go to a CC, succeed, transfer to state u or wherever, continue to succeed. It can be done.
 

MilkmanAl

Al the Ass Mod
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2008
12,032
62
Kansas City, MO
www.facebook.com
Status
Resident [Any Field]
He thinks that HS grades are not directly evaluated in medical school admissions...I disagree. The grades themselves are not viewed, but the habits behind them are definitely criterion for medical school selection.
...That sounds like you agree with me, actually. I don't really think study habits in high school are all that important in the grand scheme of things, but they certainly can help. If you've learned how to budget your time well, you can adapt that strategy to college and later med school. Like loveoforganic said, though, you're not boned if you floundered a bit in high school. College offers plenty of easy classes for you to catch up on your study skills and time management with. I'm not sure if this is the norm or not, but the people I went to high school with who did poorly but had big long-term goals just hated high school and everything it involved. Once college hit, they got their respective acts together and started plugging away at whatever they wanted to do.

The difference between a lesser tier college is that a GPA of 3.0 there may be very difficult to get a medical school admission with (not impossible, but exceptionally difficult). A 3.0 at any IVY league school is likely to gain admission into a medical school and even have a chance at a more competitive medical school.
See, this is the kind of thing that high schoolers definitely do not need to be hearing. No matter where you go to school or what you score on the MCAT, you're not likely to get into med school anywhere with a low GPA. UNC isn't an Ivy, but I doubt anyone would argue that it isn't one of the best schools in the country. Its physics department is in the top 5 and is ruthlessly difficult. I came out with a 3.15 after double majoring in bio and physics and got a whopping 1 interview out of 28 applications, and despite not really knowing what I was doing, I had applied fairly wisely. My rec letters and essays were excellent, and my EC's were above-average. The three schools I spoke with post-rejection all mentioned the difficulty of my school and course of study. However, they also rejected me without an interview. The moral of the story is that a solid GPA anywhere trumps a bad GPA any day of the week. Again, it shouldn't be that way - I worked far harder for my 3.1 than most of my bio major friends did for their 3.6+ - but it is. I wish more schools evaluated applications like you apparently did, but they just don't. Play the game, and go to a school where you can crank out solid numbers.
 

BigRedBeta

Why am I in a handbasket?
10+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2007
1,423
819
Status
Attending Physician
I get his point. He thinks that HS grades are not directly evaluated in medical school admissions and that there is a difference between top tier schools and lesser ones, but that the difference is negligible in his opinion. I hear his point.

I disagree. The grades themselves are not viewed, but the habits behind them are definitely criterion for medical school selection. The difference between a lesser tier college and a top tier one is notable. This is my view.

The difference between a lesser tier college is that a GPA of 3.0 there may be very difficult to get a medical school admission with (not impossible, but exceptionally difficult). A 3.0 at any IVY league school is likely to gain admission into a medical school and even have a chance at a more competitive medical school.
I'm more towards Milkman on this one.

TL, you're saying that quality begets quality. No doubt about that. If a student has the skills to excel in HS to reach that level of accomplishment, then they're likely to continue along that trend. No one is arguing that.

Where I have concerns with your argument is your overstatement of the effect that an Ivy League or other "name" school carries with it. If anything you're contradicting your earlier message. Ivy or no Ivy, merely getting a B average is wholly unacceptable.

Of greater issue is the fact that your post will be held up as evidence that it should be Ivy League or Bust for a number of HS students that don't understand the process. It happens frequently enough that posters come to SDN with the idea that if they don't go to a top "name" school, they'll never have a chance at medical school. Of course that's absolutely ridiculous, but it's important that SDN relays that message, because that's the truth (as you're own academic career provides evidence of). The other important aspect is that the Ivies are not for everyone, and in some cases are detrimental to a future applicant, who, had they gone someplace more in tune with their personality and academic needs, would have been far more competitive. Along those same lines, given the rate of pre-med attrition, it's also worrisome to push students towards schools they are only considering only because of medical school goals...goals that by the numbers they are unlikely to maintain 3-4 years later.
 

getdown

7+ Year Member
Nov 16, 2010
1,562
2,658
Status
Attending Physician
TL, I agree on some but not all your points. And a lot of that comes from my own personal experience ... yeah I know it's anecdotal but only I have my specific set of experiences.

On your count about high school matters. Yes, I agree high school matters in the sense that you're developing your study habits and possibly setting you up into a better college. However, let's not kid ourselves about the rigorousness of high schools. There's such a wide spectrum ranging from the supreme prep schools that mimic college courses to the inner city high schools that don't even teach their students reading. Whatever grades you make will not matter and even study habits may not necessarily be developing as I seem to recall many "intelligent" kids seem to sleep through their high school courses before "getting their act together" in college.

On your count of your college choice mattering, I would agree in that a higher tier college will improve your chances for success. However, I contend that that is more true for other non-medicine careers than to actual med school admissions success rates. I disagree, though, when you say a 3.0 from an ivy will get you in. I went to the University of Chicago and that school is known for it's brutal academics and grade deflation. I came out with a 3.3 and applied as broadly as possible (26 schools) got 2 interviews and eventually rejections. Only after reapplying the following year did I get in to my state school. Like someone said above, given the chance of a redo, I'd probably go to my state school for college and rock the GPA. It's about playing the game and NOT giving adcoms a reason to reject you. My friends who went to the state school for college not only had more fun but are currently 2 years ahead of me in med school.

It just bothers me when I see kids say prestige is the ONLY thing they look for in terms of college decision. Your fit and CULTURE of the school should be the ultimate decision. Furthermore, if you know that medicine is what you're goal is there's even less of a need to go to an "IVY/top tier college" because at the end of the day your GPA is what matters. A low GPA at a great college DOES NOT equate to a 3.8 at state school ... it just doesn't and won't help you get into a med school much less a higher tier one. Again, if you're undecided and want to keep your options open than by all means hit up top tier colleges because name matters when applying for a job for reasons I have no yearning to discuss at this time. That's my personal view from my experiences. Apologies if I rambled somewhere in the middle.
 

TallScrubs

Coude Rockin' Everywhere
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2010
547
53
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I think I'll have to disagree somewhat.

My study in high school were an absolute joke, meaning that I didn't study ever. I still got into my top choice college and now I got into my top choice med school.

Of course, my sample size is very small but I do know others in med school now who also did nothing in high school and accomplished everything they wanted to accomplish. Granted, if you're stupid and lazy in high school and don't get into a respectable college then med school might not be an option.
 

fahimaz7

15+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2004
3,286
216
Colorado
Status
Attending Physician
I was C student in high school. I rarely ever studied, and my grades reflected the laziness that was my teenage years. With that said, I'm not in medical school with great grades, and if my step 1 score is reflective of my percentile rank here (top 20thile) then I should be able to go into whatever I feel like.

But, would I let my kid mess around in school? Absolutely not. My case is by far the exception to the rule, and shouldn't be followed unless it just happens.
 

fahimaz7

15+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2004
3,286
216
Colorado
Status
Attending Physician
I think I'll have to disagree somewhat.

My study in high school were an absolute joke, meaning that I didn't study ever. I still got into my top choice college and now I got into my top choice med school.

Of course, my sample size is very small but I do know others in med school now who also did nothing in high school and accomplished everything they wanted to accomplish. Granted, if you're stupid and lazy in high school and don't get into a respectable college then med school might not be an option.
Your scores 3.37 cGPA 3.10 sGPA and 27O MCAT

I wouldn't be in this discussion if i had mediocre scores for any school in the country. You could have easily been rejected for years with those scores, if you had applied to MD schools instead of DO schools. Even then, you're lucky to have gotten in to a DO school with a 3.3/27.
 

TallScrubs

Coude Rockin' Everywhere
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2010
547
53
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Apparently neither should you:

3.35 UG
3.95 MS
31 MCAT (10,10,11)

4.0 after 3 modules in medical school (Biochem & Genetics, musculoskeletal, and head and neck/neuroscience)
 
Last edited:
Dec 10, 2009
367
2
New Jersey
Status
Pre-Medical
Your scores 3.37 cGPA 3.10 sGPA and 27O MCAT

I wouldn't be in this discussion if i had mediocre scores for any school in the country. You could have easily been rejected for years with those scores, if you had applied to MD schools instead of DO schools. Even then, you're lucky to have gotten in to a DO school with a 3.3/27.
Apparently neither should you:

3.35 UG
3.95 MS
31 MCAT (10,10,11)

4.0 after 3 modules in medical school (Biochem & Genetics, musculoskeletal, and head and neck/neuroscience)
 

TallScrubs

Coude Rockin' Everywhere
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2010
547
53
Status
Resident [Any Field]
...anddddddd, my uGPA will be a 3.45 after Monday.

Of course, I would certainly eat a huge piece of humble pie if those weren't, in fact, your stats.
 
Aug 13, 2009
468
18
Status
Medical Student
HS doesn't matter, unless you want scholarships. Stupidest mistake I ever made was not trying in HS, and finding that everyone around me had a full ride in university. I consistently do better then most of this people in classes as well...

As far as University, it only matters in better preparing you for MCAT and medschool, as well as the people and environment you are surrounded by. I you go to some crap school with no other premeds around to compare yourself to or push you, you could easily settle for less than what you could have otherwise done.
 

fahimaz7

15+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2004
3,286
216
Colorado
Status
Attending Physician
Apparently neither should you:

3.35 UG
3.95 MS
31 MCAT (10,10,11)

4.0 after 3 modules in medical school (Biochem & Genetics, musculoskeletal, and head and neck/neuroscience)
So, I can't come on here and tell people not to make the same mistake that I did? You come onto this thread and flaunt your laziness like it's the gold standard, and that it's easy to get into medical school with sub-par numbers? A 3.3/3.1/27 is not even anywhere near the average medical student's numbers. A 3.1 science? Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how lucky you were to get into PCOM?

I was C student in high school. I rarely ever studied, and my grades reflected the laziness that was my teenage years. With that said, I'm now in medical school with great grades, and if my step 1 score is reflective of my percentile rank here (top 20thile) then I should be able to go into whatever I feel like.

But, would I let my kid mess around in school? Absolutely not. My case is by far the exception to the rule, and shouldn't be followed unless it just happens.
Here's the difference between our two posts...

1. I actually admitted my laziness and poor performance.
2. I have detailed the difficulties of getting into medical school with a sub-par GPA. It took me 3 waitlists to get into medical school. I also declined two DO offers during that time. You can find this story all over SDN.
3. I had a 3.35 in Cell and molecular Biology (with 170 hours when I graduated). At UGA there were 7 Cell biology graduates (vs 1500 biology graduates). Why? It's the most demanding major at UGA.
4. I had a 3.9 after 3 years of a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology, with 2 chapters of dissertation finished in cancer oncology and immunology, as well as several first author publications.
5. I currently have a 3.93 in medical school after 1.5 years. Top 20% of my class

You have a lot to learn. You got lucky as crap to get into medical school on your first application. Applying DO was a very smart decision. But, you shouldn't come onto this forum and tell high school students that they too can be slack ass, and they will end up at their "first choice school". You are the exception, and you need to recognize that fact.

PS. I am such a slacker now that I get the privilege to teach anatomy for our dental school as well as travel around the state with our admissions committee, while we talk to students about how to make their application stronger. I have way more experience than you do (not only educational but professional), and I came on here to tell kids not to make the same lazy mistakes that I did. If you want to contest that, you will certainly be in the minority.
 
Last edited:

TallScrubs

Coude Rockin' Everywhere
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2010
547
53
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I wasn't saying that at all. I was a straight A student in high school and because of my laziness I screwed up my first year and half of my second. I've had a 3.8 cum and a 3.75 since then which is the only reason I got in. If I had a 3.3 steadily for my whole academic career I would not have gotten in. I was not trying to say he should be lazy and expect to get into his top choice school.

What I was really trying to say and in retrospect I guess I actually forgot to say it while I typed my first post is that what you learn in high school is not really applicable in college. What I mean is that just because someone gets Cs in high school is not necessarily indicative of what kind of students they really are--I think you and I are examples of that.
 
Last edited:

fahimaz7

15+ Year Member
Jul 18, 2004
3,286
216
Colorado
Status
Attending Physician
I wasn't saying that at all. I was a straight A student in high school and because of my laziness I screwed up my first year and half of my second. I've had a 3.8 cum and a 3.75 since then which is the only reason I got in. If I had a 3.3 steadily for my whole academic career I would not have gotten in. I was not trying to say he should be lazy and expect to get into his top choice school.

What I was really trying to say and in retrospect I guess I actually forgot to say it while I typed my first post is that what you learn in high school is not really applicable in college. What I mean is that just because someone gets Cs in high school is not necessarily indicative of what kind of students they really are--I think you and I are examples of that.
Just wait until you get to medical school, and everyone around you is as smart and motivated as you ever thought you could be. I hope you have the same academic excellence in medical school as you have had these past few years, and that you soon realize how much effort it's going to take to succeed at the next level.

The workload in medical school (and the work ethic that it takes to honors your classes) is so much higher than anything that you have experienced before.
 

TallScrubs

Coude Rockin' Everywhere
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2010
547
53
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Ha ha ha--it's funny that this whole little whatever you want to call it could have been prevented by my word choice.

To the OP:

Yes, there are people in high school who get bad grades and think they are unimportant and then wind up doing well in college and beyond (fahimaz7). There are also people who do well in high school and do piss poor in college (TallScrubs until sophomore year). Point? Some people need to do poorly. I was knocked off of my high school high horse but it was needed--I am a better student for it.

Take home message: do well
 

URHere

10+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2007
1,775
546
Status
Resident [Any Field]
People should try hard and not be accepting of less than their best.
I mostly agree with this sentiment, but I think that it can be dangerous when followed too strictly.

Yes, every stage of life is important because it determines which doors are open for the next stage of the game. If you do well, most doors will be open and you can pick the one that makes you happiest. If you don't perform quite so well, that doesn't mean that all hope is lost, but it does mean that the same door might be too far buried behind years of poor performance to be opened easily.

The thing that worries me is that it isn't always easy to identify the point of diminshing returns. I remember going through high school believing that if I didn't ace everything that I was a failure. I graduated with perfect marks, but I was miserable because school was my only focus. Had I realized sooner that a 3.7 was nothing to be ashamed of, I would have been a much happier, and arguably more complete person.

So, I suppose I would say that it is important to work as hard as you can while still maintaining balance. Don't slack off, but do keep things in perspective. A few Bs really won't kill you.
 

Badger MD

Distance Running Addict
5+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2010
99
0
Status
Pre-Medical
The thing that worries me is that it isn't always easy to identify the point of diminshing returns. I remember going through high school believing that if I didn't ace everything that I was a failure. I graduated with perfect marks, but I was miserable because school was my only focus. Had I realized sooner that a 3.7 was nothing to be ashamed of, I would have been a much happier, and arguably more complete person.
Quoted for truth.
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
I love reading the discussion that people are having! I think its great that everyone is engaged in this discussion more than other threads that stated things simply and as if they are facts..."HS doesn't matter" or "which college doesnt matter" This is a better discussion going on now.

A couple of things come out when I read this...

1. Some of you seem to be stating your poor performances in HS as if others should emulate that and be not afraid of the implications...if this is truly your advice for your successors then go ahead and post it, but its disappointing to me as an educator and as a physician.

2. There is a lot of passion being put into word in this thread, I have no doubt. For the sake of the readers who are lost and looking for truth, it would be helpful as some of you did to state your qualifications for making your claims. As you will find anecdotal evidence is not evidence. Your personal story or that of your friends is just that...its akin to a case report in medical literature...which is the weakest form of evidence.

3. One individual mentioned that they excelled in HS without studying and then faltered in college...if anecdotes are to be accepted, this one would be the proof that working hard and refining ones study methods does pay dividends that medical schools will see. My point originally that medical schools will see fruits of the effort put into HS studying and work. There are exceptions, but as many of you talk about....when trying to get into medical school why try and be an exception when it is so much easier to get in the standard way of achievement at every stage?

4. Those of you who are worried that people will be crippled with fear or disabled of their hope for success by my statement that people should not accept anything less than their best....well, maybe you're right that there are a couple HS kids out there who will take my statement to the extreme. My guess is though, they do not need me to say that to them to make it happen, those kids are usually motivated to that extreme intrinsically. The ones more likely to pay any attention to a chat room such as this one are the ones who are wondering if their C's and B's in HS are good enough even though they haven't put in the effort to achieve better....maybe I'm wrong, but I think those who are achieving and those who intrinsically will push themselves to the limits dont need me to say to not accept anything less than their best to motivate them....

5. Regarding the colleges debate. I DID say and mean a 3.0 at an IVY league school (not UIC, not UNC, not Umich, not UCLA...but an IVY league school: harvard, upenn, etc) has a chance at getting into medical school at many places. With that said, this can be broadened to say a better ranked school will gain benefit over a lower ranked one. So UIC, UNC, UMich is not IVy, but they will gain benefit over UAkron (where I went). Harvard will gain points over UNC. Also, Harvard vs. UAkron would be very little contest. This is a fact that I know from being on the selection committees. I know this from talking with others who sat on selection committees. This is not my personal (n=1) anecdote. This is not my friends said or told me or anything, this is fact from doing the selecting. If someone has all the other credentials like a good MCAT, research, LORs, interview, etc but have a 3.0 at Harvard with a major in Biology, they will likely get into medical school somewhere. The same person with a 3.0 at the University of Akron (where I graduated) may not find it as certain and in fact as many of you have documented will have great difficulty. Also, I'll tell you if someone has community college transcripts in their packet, it is a red flag to me. This is potentially a sign that this student struggled in HS. Is it a no-go? not at all...but it means I want to see no other dings in the packet or interview.

By the way, if you have a 4.0 at a lesser tier school and an otherwise complete packet you have done an excellent job! When I look at that, my team and I have asked often if this student has maxed their potential or if they haven't shown it yet because they have maxed the school. It creates a great discussion Maxed potential or Maxed school resources...so try and answer this question when you go to interview. This is the reason I didn't post anything about the IVYs and a 4.0 or 3.7 or something, because the difference isnt as important there...the GPA is outstanding and although IVYs are then definitely going to get accepted, the lesser tier producers are almost certainly going to get accepted too....the difference between the tiers only becomes apparent at the lower GPAs.

Its not just IVYs though. The UNC and UIC is going to trump U. of Akron where I trained. U. of Akron is going to trump the next tier and so on and so on...so choose where you think is best for you. There is some truth to the idea that the top may not be the best for you...it may not highlight your college career as strongly as you will want. But pick the school that will be the highest ranked one in which you think you can succeed. Do not go for the easiest one.....

6. Those of you talking about your difficulties in achieving excellence in your college careers (other than your seemingly uniform belief that if you had gone to an easier school you would have succeeded), it would be great to hear what problems you ran into and what ways you found to overcome them. I think it is much more helpful information to present that, than it is to say HS doesnt matter, or the university you get into doesnt matter or in fact recommending lesser tier schools. Tell the kids what difficulties you had and the techniques you learned to overcome them, so that the HS kids can begin practicing these things in their HS lives so that they will be ready when they make it to college.

Lastly, I am reading this thing sporadically, so if you post questions to me, please forgive me if I don't comment immediately. Happy Holidays everyone!

TL
 
Last edited:

chinocochino

7+ Year Member
Sep 12, 2009
913
10
Status
Resident [Any Field]
In regards to the 3.0 Ivy league applicant getting acceptances; I've read articles stating that Harvard has massive grade inflation. Apparently, 2/3 of Harvard students graduate with honors. Has that been considered?

Also, I think Milkman is trying to say that you shouldn't stress out too much over some mediocre HS grades (3.0-3.5) since college grades are what matter for med school applications. Of course, the 4.0 HS student that took 6 AP courses will most likely do well in college.

I love reading the discussion that people are having! I think its great that everyone is engaged in this discussion more than other threads that stated things simply and as if they are facts..."HS doesn't matter" or "which college doesnt matter" This is a better discussion going on now.

A couple of things come out when I read this...

1. Some of you seem to be stating your poor performances in HS as if others should emulate that and be not afraid of the implications...if this is truly your advice for your successors then go ahead and post it, but its disappointing to me as an educator and as a physician.

2. There is a lot of passion being put into word in this thread, I have no doubt. For the sake of the readers who are lost and looking for truth, it would be helpful as some of you did to state your qualifications for making your claims. As you will find anecdotal evidence is not evidence. Your personal story or that of your friends is just that...its akin to a case report in medical literature...which is the weakest form of evidence.

3. One individual mentioned that they excelled in HS without studying and then faltered in college...if anecdotes are to be accepted, this one would be the proof that working hard and refining ones study methods does pay dividends that medical schools will see. My point originally that medical schools will see fruits of the effort put into HS studying and work. There are exceptions, but as many of you talk about....when trying to get into medical school why try and be an exception when it is so much easier to get in the standard way of achievement at every stage?

4. Those of you who are worried that people will be crippled with fear or disabled of their hope for success by my statement that people should not accept anything less than their best....well, maybe you're right that there are a couple HS kids out there who will take my statement to the extreme. My guess is though, they do not need me to say that to them to make it happen, those kids are usually motivated to that extreme intrinsically. The ones more likely to pay any attention to a chat room such as this one are the ones who are wondering if their C's and B's in HS are good enough even though they haven't put in the effort to achieve better....maybe I'm wrong, but I think those who are achieving and those who intrinsically will push themselves to the limits dont need me to say to not accept anything less than their best to motivate them....

5. Regarding the colleges debate. I DID say and mean a 3.0 at an IVY league school (not UIC, not UNC, not Umich, not UCLA...but an IVY league school: harvard, upenn, etc) has a chance at getting into medical school at many places. This is a fact that I know from being on the selection committees. I know this from talking with others who sat on selection committees. This is not my personal (n=1) anecdote. This is not my friends said or told me or anything, this is fact from doing the selecting. If someone has all the other credentials like a good MCAT, research, LORs, interview, etc but have a 3.0 at Harvard with a major in Biology, they will likely get into medical school somewhere. The same person with a 3.0 at the University of Akron (where I graduated) may not find it as certain and in fact as many of you have documented will have great difficulty. Also, I'll tell you if someone has community college transcripts in their packet, it is a red flag to me. This is potentially a sign that this student struggled in HS. Is it a no-go? not at all...but it means I want to see no other dings in the packet or interview.

By the way, if you have a 4.0 at a lesser tier school and an otherwise complete packet you have done an excellent job! When I look at that, my team and I have asked often if this student has maxed their potential or if they haven't shown it yet because they have maxed the school. It creates a great discussion Maxed potential or Maxed school resources...so try and answer this question when you go to interview. This is the reason I didn't post anything about the IVYs and a 4.0 or 3.7 or something, because the difference isnt as important there...the GPA is outstanding and although IVYs are then definitely going to get accepted, the lesser tier producers are almost certainly going to get accepted too....the difference between the tiers only becomes apparent at the lower GPAs.

Its not just IVYs though. The UNC and UIC is going to trump U. of Akron where I trained. U. of Akron is going to trump the next tier and so on and so on...so choose where you think is best for you. There is some truth to the idea that the top may not be the best for you...it may not highlight your college career as strongly as you will want. But pick the school that will be the highest ranked one in which you think you can succeed. Do not go for the easiest one.....

6. Those of you talking about your difficulties in achieving excellence in your college careers (other than your seemingly uniform belief that if you had gone to an easier school you would have succeeded), it would be great to hear what problems you ran into and what ways you found to overcome them. I think it is much more helpful information to present that, than it is to say HS doesnt matter, or the university you get into doesnt matter or in fact recommending lesser tier schools. Tell the kids what difficulties you had and the techniques you learned to overcome them, so that the HS kids can begin practicing these things in their HS lives so that they will be ready when they make it to college.

Lastly, I am reading this thing sporadically, so if you post questions to me, please forgive me if I don't comment immediately. Happy Holidays everyone!

TL
 

TallScrubs

Coude Rockin' Everywhere
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2010
547
53
Status
Resident [Any Field]
.

3. One individual mentioned that they excelled in HS without studying and then faltered in college...if anecdotes are to be accepted, this one would be the proof that working hard and refining ones study methods does pay dividends that medical schools will see. My point originally that medical schools will see fruits of the effort put into HS studying and work. There are exceptions, but as many of you talk about....when trying to get into medical school why try and be an exception when it is so much easier to get in the standard way of achievement at every stage?


TL
I absolutely agree with everything you said. I could absolutely kick my own ass for not busting, well, my ass, my first and second years of college. I never meant to imply that you [anyone] should put anything but their best out there. I was simply saying that I do not necessarily believe that a C in high school is the final nail in the coffin. Sometimes, a bad grade, especially earlier rather than later, can get you moving to where you need to be.
 

nlax30

10+ Year Member
Oct 4, 2006
4,051
766
Status
Attending Physician
Everyone has already brought up good points on both sides.

I don't think anyone here is saying that nothing in HS matters and these students should just let loose and be happy with C's. For the most part, the HS students that post on here are more than likely the self-selected group that's already ahead of the curve in regards to study habits and determination.

And with that in mind, when we see a student talking about how they are a HS freshman wanting to go into Dermatology and asking what how they should improve their chances, I think most of us try and get across that they should more time enjoying this period of their life and not stress out about whether or not they should take 4 or 5 AP classes their Junior year.

IMHO, some of the questions that get raised on here are things that are just SO far off from where a HS student should be focusing their attention.
 

Lil Mick

5+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2009
927
33
The South
Status
MD/PhD Student
I think that the key to success in school is balance, and, unfortunately, many students I have known have fallen into one of the two extremes: no work or all work. I've observed a lot of classmates (high school, pre-med, and med) living with a lot of stress and misery for a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, only to continue the pattern at the next level. Personally, I would find myself overwhelmed if I exerted every human effort to enter a level of education that others barely worked to achieve.

Conversely, I would not want to be treated by a doctor who did not care enough about their patients to learn what they need to learn (students slacking off and barely passing in every medical course). Eventually, a time will come where the strategy doesn't work or where that knowledge would have helped you in your practice.

However, sometimes a person runs into a ceiling imposed by their school's administration and policies. I was one of those students who barely ever showed up for most of my courses in high school and nearly graduated as valedictorian. I chose to spend my time reading, attending guest lectures at university, and pursuing opportunities to learn about different careers. The ennui in high school (or even college) may frustrate a student to the point of not caring about grades or competition or even participation. Once one reaches a level of education in which he or she will actually learn something new, grades may improve, as one isn't being graded on busy work and proving twenty times over that they already know something.

In my own experience, I personally would rather be involved in many activities, publish high-impact research, and stay around the class average rather than spend a lot of time studying for my all of my courses. I tend to learn everything possible about topics germane to my future career (research and practice) while "slacking" on other topics/courses in school...
 

Dial71

10+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2008
143
2
Status
Medical Student
I think that OP's premise is a no-brainer. Do well in HS and you'll perform well at the next level.

In my observations, however, I've seen exactly the opposite.

I know many friends from HS who took AP and IB courses, but ultimately burnt out in college, effectively crashing their chances at professional school or even graduation. Those were the lucky ones; I know a few that lost their lives to auto crashes, drugs and alcohol. They were so enchanted by the freedom of college that they snuffed themselves out.

More to the point: their success in HS did not predict their miserable college performance.

Meanwhile, I dropped out, got a GED, attended community college, got an AA and then transferred to a no-name school. This is in addition to working as an EMT on the weekends.

I have had no trouble on my application cycle this year. I landed multiple interviews (even though I applied in late September) and at least one acceptance.

My acceptance is at a school know for Ivy favoritism. Out of my interview group, half were Ivy and the other half were from the college's undergrad program. So, who's smarter, the Ivy kid who got an interview or the GED recipient who got in?

Moral of my anecdote: its not the journey that matters, but rather the destination. Is it harder to be successful as a HS cut-up? Sure. Does it guarantee failure? No.

Success in HS does not predict success in college. Some students can perform at a high level in HS, but they cannot adapt to a new academic environment. Meanwhile, other students don't perform well in HS, but thrive once they leave that constrainted environment behind.

Yes, HS grades matter, but last time I checked, there's no box on AMCAS for them. My advice to high schoolers would be to focus on becoming a better citizen, a more decent person and acquiring better taste in music at your age. Those three matter more in the real world than "college prestige" (i.e. US News magazine sales).
 

Daedra22

7+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2009
769
23
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Yes, HS grades matter, but last time I checked, there's no box on AMCAS for them. My advice to high schoolers would be to focus on becoming a better citizen, a more decent person and acquiring better taste in music at your age. Those three matter more in the real world than "college prestige" (i.e. US News magazine sales).
Amen to that. While doing well in high school is all fine and good, it's not the end of the world if you just do okay, or even if you're flat-out terrible in high school. It's all about the college grades, and I don't know why people obsess and insist that it isn't.
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
...even if you're flat-out terrible in high school. It's all about the college grades...
Exactly why I started this thread :)

Maybe one day, old school crazies like myself will move out of the way and college will be the first part of the education system and we can just let everyone under 18 work on finding themselves and good music;). At least then we wont waste everyone's time with grade school or high school. It will be good because those teachers of K through 12 are just waiting to stay home :laugh:
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
Dial, Excellent life experience and congratulations on your achievements thus far! You have had a great journey that will definitely make you a great medical professional down the road.

...last time I checked, there's no box on AMCAS for them...
About the AMCAS check boxes....I was wondering should I pick them up at triage when I see my next patient? I must have been doing this all wrong by studying and learning for the sake of learning. I thought that it may help my patients, but I'm glad to know I just need the AMCAS. Where do I get one for my next patient with a head bleed?

(I say this all in good fun I assure you :) )

However, just as your point is that the journey is the key, and the grades are not the be all end all...your comment about AMCAS to me seems very narrow. The grades and effort in high school are just the highlights of a journey. I agree the grades do not guarantee anything, but overall, more students succeed in college with success in high school than the alternative.

:)
 
Last edited:

fanlynne

Removed
Jan 6, 2011
3
0
Status
I love reading the discussion that people are having! I think its great that everyone is engaged in this discussion more than other threads that stated things simply and as if they are facts..."HS doesn't matter" or "which college doesnt matter" This is a better discussion going on now.

A couple of things come out when I read this...

1. Some of you seem to be stating your poor performances in HS as if others should emulate that and be not afraid of the implications...if this is truly your advice for your successors then go ahead and post it, but its disappointing to me as an educator and as a physician.

2. There is a lot of passion being put into word in this thread, I have no doubt. For the sake of the readers who are lost and looking for truth, it would be helpful as some of you did to state your qualifications for making your claims. As you will find anecdotal evidence is not evidence. Your personal story or that of your friends is just that...its akin to a case report in medical literature...which is the weakest form of evidence.

3. One individual mentioned that they excelled in HS without studying and then faltered in college...if anecdotes are to be accepted, this one would be the proof that working hard and refining ones study methods does pay dividends that medical schools will see. My point originally that medical schools will see fruits of the effort put into HS studying and work. There are exceptions, but as many of you talk about....when trying to get into medical school why try and be an exception when it is so much easier to get in the standard way of achievement at every stage?

4. Those of you who are worried that people will be crippled with fear or disabled of their hope for success by my statement that people should not accept anything less than their best....well, maybe you're right that there are a couple HS kids out there who will take my statement to the extreme. My guess is though, they do not need me to say that to them to make it happen, those kids are usually motivated to that extreme intrinsically. The ones more likely to pay any attention to a chat room such as this one are the ones who are wondering if their C's and B's in HS are good enough even though they haven't put in the effort to achieve better....maybe I'm wrong, but I think those who are achieving and those who intrinsically will push themselves to the limits dont need me to say to not accept anything less than their best to motivate them....

5. Regarding the colleges debate. I DID say and mean a 3.0 at an IVY league school (not UIC, not UNC, not Umich, not UCLA...but an IVY league school: harvard, upenn, etc) has a chance at getting into medical school at many places. This is a fact that I know from being on the selection committees. I know this from talking with others who sat on selection committees. This is not my personal (n=1) anecdote. This is not my friends said or told me or anything, this is fact from doing the selecting. If someone has all the other credentials like a good MCAT, research, LORs, interview, etc but have a 3.0 at Harvard with a major in Biology, they will likely get into medical school somewhere. The same person with a 3.0 at the University of Akron (where I graduated) may not find it as certain and in fact as many of you have documented will have great difficulty. Also, I'll tell you if someone has community college transcripts in their packet, it is a red flag to me. This is potentially a sign that this student struggled in HS. Is it a no-go? not at all...but it means I want to see no other dings in the packet or interview.

By the way, if you have a 4.0 at a lesser tier school and an otherwise complete packet you have done an excellent job! When I look at that, my team and I have asked often if this student has maxed their potential or if they haven't shown it yet because they have maxed the school. It creates a great discussion Maxed potential or Maxed school resources...so try and answer this question when you go to interview. This is the reason I didn't post anything about the IVYs and a 4.0 or 3.7 or something, because the difference isnt as important there...the GPA is outstanding and although IVYs are then definitely going to get accepted, the lesser tier producers are almost certainly going to get accepted too....the difference between the tiers only becomes apparent at the lower GPAs.

Its not just IVYs though. The UNC and UIC is going to trump U. of Akron where I trained. U. of Akron is going to trump the next tier and so on and so on...so choose where you think is best for you. There is some truth to the idea that the top may not be the best for you...it may not highlight your college career as strongly as you will want. But pick the school that will be the highest ranked one in which you think you can succeed. Do not go for the easiest one.....

6. Those of you talking about your difficulties in achieving excellence in your college careers (other than your seemingly uniform belief that if you had gone to an easier school you would have succeeded), it would be great to hear what problems you ran into and what ways you found to overcome them. I think it is much more helpful information to present that, than it is to say HS doesnt matter, or the university you get into doesnt matter or in fact recommending lesser tier schools. Tell the kids what difficulties you had and the techniques you learned to overcome them, so that the HS kids can begin practicing these things in their HS lives so that they will be ready when they make it to college.

Lastly, I am reading this thing sporadically, so if you post questions to me, please forgive me if I don't comment immediately. Happy Holidays everyone!

TL

:love::love::love::love:Excellent post.I guess you are good at Philosophy for you seems good at analysis and summary:luck::luck::luck::luck:
 

MilkmanAl

Al the Ass Mod
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2008
12,032
62
Kansas City, MO
www.facebook.com
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Just please, please remember that the fact that "a 3.0 at an IVY league school (not UIC, not UNC, not Umich, not UCLA...but an IVY league school: harvard, upenn, etc) has a chance at getting into medical school at many places" does not mean that you have a good chance of getting in. A substantially higher GPA from a crap school is always better. As someone who has done the low GPA/good school/hard curriculum thing, I definitely do not suggest it. Go to the easy school, and get the grades.
 
Jan 6, 2011
772
0
Status
Just curious, but wouldn't better colleges better prepare pre-med students for the MCATs? In that aspect, wouldn't the college you go to matter? Unless I'm wrong in this assumption (like I apparently did with GPA between different colleges).
 

DrYoda

Space Cowboy
10+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2008
13,817
110
Dagobah System
Status
Attending Physician
Just curious, but wouldn't better colleges better prepare pre-med students for the MCATs? In that aspect, wouldn't the college you go to matter? Unless I'm wrong in this assumption (like I apparently did with GPA between different colleges).
They really won't. MCAT prep is largely self study.
 

nlax30

10+ Year Member
Oct 4, 2006
4,051
766
Status
Attending Physician
Just curious, but wouldn't better colleges better prepare pre-med students for the MCATs? In that aspect, wouldn't the college you go to matter? Unless I'm wrong in this assumption (like I apparently did with GPA between different colleges).
IMHO, no. Most of your MCAT prep will be from self-study materials or one of the popular courses like Kaplan or Princeton Review.
 

gettheleadout

MS-4
Moderator Emeritus
7+ Year Member
Jun 23, 2010
11,814
2,783
Status
Medical Student
ThymeLess, why are we to believe that what you say about a 3.0 at any Ivy is true everywhere? Despite your claim otherwise, it IS an anecdote where n=1, because you have served on far less admissions committees than there are med schools in the country. I'd be surprised if you'd been on them at multiple schools at all, but even so, 2 or 3 schools having that biased view in favor of Ivies isn't surprising. The point is there is no reason to think this widely held among schools.

Here's my similar n=1 anecdote: My university is a typical flagship state university, tier 1, football giant, whatever you want to call it, respectable institution, but by no means thought of as a powerhouse of knowledge. It wouldn't stand out academically from anyone else in our football conference, region, or the country in general. You claim that high GPA's at less than famous schools raise questions of maxed potential vs. maxed their school, but again, you don't represent the views of any considerable fraction of the medical schools in the country, and definitely not those of the Ivies. Over the past decade, my University has had various students go to Harvard, Hopkins, and other top med schools. I have no doubt that a high GPA from my school would have nothing but positive effect on my application.

Edit: If the issue is about lower "tier" (as defined by USNWR) schools causing a problem, that's different, and I would recommend people try to go to a "better" school (if only for the increased opportunities to be involved, likely higher endowment and chance for scholarships, opportunities for research if that's what you want, etc...) But the idea that there is this huge chasm between Ivy undergrads and the rest of the first tier is really exaggerated.
 
Last edited:

Neuronix

Total nerd
Staff member
Administrator
15+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2002
13,067
2,372
the beach
Status
Attending Physician
My story:

High school dropout, age of 15. Was a terrible middle and high school student.
GED at age 16
Part-time college at no-name state school at age 17
Full-time age 18, near 4.0 GPA, full scholarship awarded

Got involved in research, blasted the MCAT.

Went to a top-tier MD/PhD program where I was very successful. Currently interviewing at a lot of programs for an extremely competitive specialty.

Is this typical? Absolutely not. Is it possible for anyone who works hard to pull this off? I believe so. It is easy to save money and competition in the process. A 3.8+ looks awesome no matter where it's from and what major you had.

A 3.0 from an Ivy won't even get you looked at at my medical school. I've been involved in admissions and I can 100% promise you that.
 

WellWornLad

10+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2008
1,090
31
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I went to a pretty small high school where the administration was more concerned with getting people to graduate than with college. They spent more time talking to us about the local polytechnic and the stability of a career in diesel mechanics or A/C repair than how to pick a four-year school. When I went to college, I had only the vaguest idea of what an ivy league school was or what it meant. I went where I got the biggest scholarship for both college and medical school and have never regretted it. I've never been motivated to go to an ivy league school, but somehow I'm still pretty happy about where I am as a medical student about to face the match.

I have run across people who put a lot of stock in school prestige, and to their credit it does motivate them to do study and achieve. Unfortunately, it's a source of motivation that tends to warp people. I've seen folks change their grad school major from physics or neuroscience to business or psychology just to have a better chance at going to an ivy league grad program. That is a Pyrrhic victory with awful consequences, in my opinion.

Adcoms are not cloned. They all have varying ideas on how important "ivy" is, especially between the east and west coasts, and frankly I think the idea that going to an ivy is a substitute for accomplishment is becoming an anachronism. Will it be important to some adcoms? Yes, especially adcoms in ivy league schools who have an interest in perpetuating their own myth. Do I want to go to a residency program where people are measured by the cachet of their diplomas? Absolutely not. By the time you get to residency the feeling has to be mutual. It seems hard to believe, but at some point in life you will (hopefully) stop thinking about what other people think about your background and start thinking about where you want to be and who you want to surround yourself with. Some people never get there and just right the competition train right to it's bitter, malignant end at some "prestigious" program filled with miserable residents and attendings. You've been warned.
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
Just curious, but wouldn't better colleges better prepare pre-med students for the MCATs? In that aspect, wouldn't the college you go to matter? Unless I'm wrong in this assumption (like I apparently did with GPA between different colleges).
I wouldn't think its a one to one correlation. The MCAT is based on a small core subject material which is quite standard information available to all across the country. After taking these courses in undergrad most students go through intensive self study as others have posted (often using commercial programs like Kaplan or Princeton review).

Now, the better the teachers that you have for physics, bio, chemistry, and o.chem, the easier time you as the student may have with the examination. There are great teachers everywhere, but as you go down the tiers of schools, the concentration of truly remarkable teachers sometimes is less. This is NOT to say that a higher ranked school will guarantee a better teacher, because sometimes they are there because of research or other influences than teaching abilities, but generally, the concentration of highly effective educators increases as the school rank increases.

The other differences come in regards to resources and examination preparation time. These can be vastly variable between institutions, but again the same trend is noted as mentioned above.
 
OP
Venko

Venko

True to self
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2006
734
464
Rochester, MN
Status
Attending Physician
My story:

High school dropout, age of 15. Was a terrible middle and high school student.
GED at age 16
Part-time college at no-name state school at age 17
Full-time age 18, near 4.0 GPA, full scholarship awarded

Got involved in research, blasted the MCAT.

Went to a top-tier MD/PhD program where I was very successful. Currently interviewing at a lot of programs for an extremely competitive specialty.

Is this typical? Absolutely not. Is it possible for anyone who works hard to pull this off? I believe so. It is easy to save money and competition in the process. A 3.8+ looks awesome no matter where it's from and what major you had.

A 3.0 from an Ivy won't even get you looked at at my medical school. I've been involved in admissions and I can 100% promise you that.
Wow, thats a great turn around from HS onwards and I wish you well in your future endeavors. May I ask, if you had two students as I describe below, how would you rank them?


Student A - Northwestern University (I know not an IVY)
3.2 GPA / 3.8 Math Science GPA, President of student body association, has bench research in summers and two publications. Volunteers with inner city chicago youths. Excellent letters of recommendation. MCAT 34. Great interview.

Student B - Cleveland State University (I know not an IVY)
3.4 GPA / 3.8 Math Science GPA, President of student body association, has bench research in summers and two publications. Volunteers with inner city cleveland youths. Excellent letters of recommendations. MCAT 34. Great interview.


How would you rank these individuals? They have essentially the same package except that the GPAs are different. The GPAs different, and as on most admissions committees you don't know how many of these grades were "curved" or weighted by the performance of the group of students. As we've already heard, its harder to get great grades at a tougher school I think it was Milkman who posted this...

The accomplishments are roughly the same except that I believe president of Northwestern Student Body association might be considered a bigger deal because it is for more students and generally more competitive people who will be fighting for that spot.

So which one would you rank higher? What if there is only one spot left? What if the GPAs were more disparate, but the other qualifications were more in favor of the NU grad? How would that change your rank?

By the way, maybe my point is being lost by the term Ivy. I don't think there is a great divide between IVY and say Northwestern, but I think there is definitely a spectrum of schools and there are higher rank or difficulty ones and lower ranked and difficulty ones. My point is the higher the difficulty the school, there is a leeway afforded their graduates to a degree on their GPAs when all other things are equal.

I'm curious of people's thoughts. Does the school you go to really not matter at all?
 

Lil Mick

5+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2009
927
33
The South
Status
MD/PhD Student
Personally, I'd rank them as about equal and accept both unless there was only one spot left. I honestly don't know which I would choose if only one spot was left unfilled. I'd be tempted to admit the Cleveland kid, as this applicant probably had to work harder for opportunities to do research (fewer research professors, probably smaller labs, less grant money) and to achieve that MCAT score (less rigorous science classes, perhaps not good pre-med advising). The academics would probably depend on each student's college major (communications at Northwestern with only the prerecs in science vs. biomedical engineering at Cleveland, I'd take the Cleveland kid); if the majors were the same, I'd probably choose the Northwestern kid. I'd wager that both of those students would probably be accepted somewhere (MD or DO), though. Isn't that the real measure?

However, I do not think that a 3.2 at Northwestern will compensate for a 4.0 (or even a 3.9) at a smaller school, all other factors being relatively similar. In addition, I think that a students' major and MCAT score carry more weight than just GPA. Assuming somwhat similar GPA and MCAT, taking easy courses at a tough university doesn't carry as much weight as taking the hardest classes at a less-well-known school in my book.

If you excel and challenge yourself as much as you can, it shouldn't matter which college you attend. Personally, I took some of my courses at community college, went to a small school, and took every opportunity I could find to learn and contribute to science and my community. I don't think that I was too badly disadvantaged by this, as I was accepted to several schools...
 

Lil Mick

5+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2009
927
33
The South
Status
MD/PhD Student
I doubt either of them would receive an interview at mine, either, but I'm guessing that those scores would be good enough for some DO or MD schools... I'd suggest going to a less rigorous school if someone would enough up with that sort of a GPA at a more competitive institution, though. A 3.7 and a 34 from a state school would look better than a 3.2 and a 34 from Northwestern...
 

getdown

7+ Year Member
Nov 16, 2010
1,562
2,658
Status
Attending Physician
But the question I've always wondered is how can Adcom members know which classes at which schools are hard and which are "fluff". I know some are pretty obvious like pottery, etc but there are hundreds if not thousands of different schools offering thousands of different classes taught by countless different teachers. This, on top of thousands of applicants there is no way that you can say you know for sure which classes applicants take and compare them relative to each other. Neurobio at school X could be ridiculously easy if taught by a certain professor whereas Intro Bio at school Y is taught by some rancorous prof that fails 50% of his students. Seems like an exercise in futility to me.