jlgone

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Is is prefferable to have good grades ie, 3.5 cum at top tier school or excellant grades, say 3.9 from a second tier (but still selective) school.

I see Ivies saying they have a 80% acceptance med school rate, while other average only 50-60%. I tend to think difference that is based on the students' inherent abilities (they were able to get into those elite schools)and not their undergrad school's reputation.
 

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jlgone said:
Is is prefferable to have good grades ie, 3.5 cum at top tier school or excellant grades, say 3.9 from a second tier (but still selective) school.

I see Ivies saying they have a 80% acceptance med school rate, while other average only 50-60%. I tend to think difference that is based on the students' inherent abilities (they were able to get into those elite schools)and not their undergrad school's reputation.
3.9 as long as you're not talking about a school like Northeastern Kansas State College or something equally podunk.
 

ktsou

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3.9

3.5 at ivy leagues isnt too high considering their insane grade inflations (average gpa at harvard is over 3.5 and something like 90% of their students graduate with some sort of honors....correct me if im wrong here)
 
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jlgone

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ktsou said:
3.9

3.5 at ivy leagues isnt too high considering their insane grade inflations (average gpa at harvard is over 3.5 and something like 90% of their students graduate with some sort of honors....correct me if im wrong here)
Yes, I have read about the grade inflation. But these schools defense supports my conclusion about higher med school acceptance rates - that these are the brightest students in the country so you'd expect most to get top grades.

Actually, considering how selective they are in adminssions, I'm wondering why it is not more like 95% acceptance into med school instead of 80%.

Two votes for the 3.9 from a really good school vs 3.5 at an ivy league undergradaute school. DOES ANYONE HAVE EXPERIENCES THAT WOULD CAUSE THEM TO DISAGREE?
 

Mitro

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Without actually naming schools, it's hard to say. But I would lean towards the Ivy. This is because I think you'll have just as many opportunities there as any school - be it bigger or smaller. Chances are that your professor may be better know - aka letters with more weight. Also, the quality of the pre-med advising will likely be better as well: better with getting your letters out, arranging for a committee letter, etc. Also, a good name doesn't hurt and I am a firm believer that it is no more difficult to get good grades at an Ivy league school than at any other school - especially due to some of the previously mentioned grade inflation. Ultimately though, you should visit the two schools and check them out for yourself. The gut check is the most important part. Good luck.
 

Larsitron

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Before I post this, I'll put out a few full disclosure type statements:

1. I am graduating from a tier 2 state school.
2. I've already been accepted to med school, and I don't know specific issues that would hold my classmates back, so I can't tell the story from the perspective of a person who hasn't been accepted out of my school.
3. I believe public education and increased funding of universities should be a state's top priority after putting together a good medicaid system.
4. I'm not an expert, I don't claim to be one, and this is just my opinion on the topic.

Now, the post: Barring junior and community colleges, 9 times out of 10 where you're coming out of undergrad will not matter in the admissions process. What does matter is how well you did as far as grades, what else you did besides your coursework, what your MCAT is, who you are as a person, and what your motivation for going into medicine is. The organic chemistry molecules you will learn about are going to be the same from school to school. Is a nobel laureate in chemistry a better teacher than a newly minted professor? I don't think that's necessarily true. Moreover, I think you have to struggle to succeed more in a public university where there's an undergrad population of about 35,000 (as at my school) and the professor is teaching three 300 person classes on top of doing research. Just pick a place that makes sense (knowing that you're not going to want to come out of undergrad with debt and then run up med school debt) and where you think you'll succeed.

To sum: 3.9 from an okay school is better than (or at least equal to) a 3.5 from an Ivy. That's what I think at least.

EDIT- I should also say that a large public school will usually have a good number of opportunities for undergrad research and other things like that. The Ivy may have that in spades too, but the competition of getting those slots may be higher.
 

ktsou

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jlgone said:
Yes, I have read about the grade inflation. But these schools defense supports my conclusion about higher med school acceptance rates - that these are the brightest students in the country so you'd expect most to get top grades.
while i'm sure that those are probably the brightest students in the country, and while you would expect them to get their fair share of A's, i think a 3.9 at a school without grade inflation just tells you more about a student than a 3.5 at a school where the average is above that. furthermore, you would think the profs at the top private schools would try to foster some sort of competition among students instead of practically giving away degrees with honor titles (even worse, what if you dont graduate with honors from an ivy league...i think its pretty bad news if youre the bottom 10% of the class)
 

jhugti

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i think that the grade inflation issue is overblown to some extent. first, its really ever been brought up with harvard- which says nothign about the other ivy/top schools. second, from what i hear from premeds at harvard, class there is no joke. one of my friends transferred from hopkins (said to be a "hard" school) to harvard and has said it is no easier. similar stories abound at princeton, yale, cornell, and other schools.

that said, having been through the application process, i don't think it hurts a person to be from a state/less prestigious school.
 
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jlgone

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Larsitron said:
Before I post this, I'll put out a few full disclosure type statements:


EDIT- I should also say that a large public school will usually have a good number of opportunities for undergrad research and other things like that. The Ivy may have that in spades too, but the competition of getting those slots may be higher.
This seems like a very important point. If you can get the undergrad research spot in a state school, you will get the recommendations as well.

Is it easier to get the undergrad research spots in a very large state university?
 

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Oh yeah. Lots of lab spots. At least where I go to school (the University of Arizona). And there's different incarnations of it. You'll always be able to land a spot for just independent study credit. You sometimes can land a spot for credit/cash. And then there are specific programs where you can apply for undergraduate research grants and do your own work in conjunction with another lab. But yeah, at a large research I institution, you should be able to land a spot. Now, you're going to need to do your job well or they won't hire you on for another semester and you'll find it tough to get in another lab with a tarnished rep, but other than that, they love it.
 

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Students at any top colleges have had established success on standardized exams and competitive grades. An A in organic chemistry at a state school can not be compared to an A at Columbia, Princeton, Bowdoin, Stanford, Amherts, Williams etc. It is for this reason that these schools also have wonderful matriculation rates. Go to Dartmouth, Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins medical schools for example and you will see an overwhelming amount of people from the most competitive undergraduate programs!!
 

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jlgone said:
Is is prefferable to have good grades ie, 3.5 cum at top tier school or excellant grades, say 3.9 from a second tier (but still selective) school.

I see Ivies saying they have a 80% acceptance med school rate, while other average only 50-60%. I tend to think difference that is based on the students' inherent abilities (they were able to get into those elite schools)and not their undergrad school's reputation.
A few things: First, when you’re considering the difference between state and ivy-league school, you can’t isolate gpa from mcat scores. You would be a good applicant no matter what school you went to with a 3.9 and a 39 MCAT. But if you have 3.9 at a state school and a 30 on your MCAT, you’re not going to be as competitive as someone from a top tier school with a 3.6 and a high MCAT. Second, at the very top undergrad programs, the % of students getting into med. school are actually higher than the op’s estimated 80%. Rates at Harvard and Yale are 94% (±1%) and I think Hopkins is hovering around 92%. Finally, the class compositions at some of the most sought-after medical schools are heavily saturated with Ivy-League graduates. For instance, the class of 2008 at Yale Med. had 16 people from Yale undergrad. and 12 people from Harvard undergrad (note that there are only 100 people in that class). Harvard/Yale graduates also make up over 20% of Harvard Med. Anyway, moral of the story is, the most competitive applicants are more likely to come from schools like HYPS, but if you graduated with a 3.9 from a state school and rocked your MCATs, you’ll have just as good a shot.
 

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jlgone said:
This seems like a very important point. If you can get the undergrad research spot in a state school, you will get the recommendations as well.

Is it easier to get the undergrad research spots in a very large state university?
Also, I think it might be easier to get research spots at the top private schools. I went to an elite undergrad. and majored in bio. As part of the major's coursework, I had to do senior research and churn out a thesis. So professors expect undergrads. to seek them out and it's as easy as shooting an e-mail to a lab you're interested in.
 

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Went to a tier two (private) undergrad. Great education, don't regret it. Now I go to Columbia, post bacc. I don't have any personal experience with a state school (although I have a sibling in a state school). Ok, now you know where I'm coming from.

I would say that if you have a choice between an ivy and a non ivy undergrad, go with the ivy. Personally, I think the person who gets a 3.9 at their state school is probably very capable and could get the same, or very close at an ivy. You do have some big advantages going for you by going to a top tier school. Someone mentioned that the nobel laureate may not be a better teacher than your average professor--that may be true. At the same time, that letter of recommendation means a hell of a lot more coming from a nobel laureate than it does from Professor Joe just out of gradschool. It's not necessarily fair, but that's the way acedemia works so you have to play the game. Also, the ivys (minus Princeton) have medical schools affiliated with them, so you can easily get a research post or a worthwhile volunteer experience. You also get the opportunity, if you have the gumption, to interact with the medschool faculty--perhaps even secure a recommendation from an attending who's a professor at the medschool. This is a pretty big plus.

The grade inflation "concern" is a myth, pure and simple. The premed classes at the ivys are curved just like at any other school--down (and they are very strict about this). The reason you hear about grade inflation is that the reported statistics speak for the undergraduate school as a whole, including the liberal arts side. The truth is, you can only grade a paper on Shakespeare so hard; the undergrads at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, etc. are going to pull A's on those papers, no matter how hard you grade. There is no grade inflation; the high percentage of A's simply reflects the quality of the students.

The educations are probably pretty similar, but you have to compete so hard at an ivy for that A that you really do end up learning a lot.
 

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Ivy without a doubt...you won't regret it at the end no matter what you decide to do.
 

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this is a good post and i pretty much agree but the anecdotal numbers dont entirely support this. Just go on MD applicants and see what i mean. One thing this post doesnt mention is research; the reasarch at top schools is leaps and bounds better and will actually get you published in decent journals often. If you dont take advantage of the research then i guess it doesnt make a whole lot of diff; i mean, keep yourself above a 3.7 and i think nobody will question you for the most part on that front.



Larsitron said:
Before I post this, I'll put out a few full disclosure type statements:

1. I am graduating from a tier 2 state school.
2. I've already been accepted to med school, and I don't know specific issues that would hold my classmates back, so I can't tell the story from the perspective of a person who hasn't been accepted out of my school.
3. I believe public education and increased funding of universities should be a state's top priority after putting together a good medicaid system.
4. I'm not an expert, I don't claim to be one, and this is just my opinion on the topic.

Now, the post: Barring junior and community colleges, 9 times out of 10 where you're coming out of undergrad will not matter in the admissions process. What does matter is how well you did as far as grades, what else you did besides your coursework, what your MCAT is, who you are as a person, and what your motivation for going into medicine is. The organic chemistry molecules you will learn about are going to be the same from school to school. Is a nobel laureate in chemistry a better teacher than a newly minted professor? I don't think that's necessarily true. Moreover, I think you have to struggle to succeed more in a public university where there's an undergrad population of about 35,000 (as at my school) and the professor is teaching three 300 person classes on top of doing research. Just pick a place that makes sense (knowing that you're not going to want to come out of undergrad with debt and then run up med school debt) and where you think you'll succeed.

To sum: 3.9 from an okay school is better than (or at least equal to) a 3.5 from an Ivy. That's what I think at least.

EDIT- I should also say that a large public school will usually have a good number of opportunities for undergrad research and other things like that. The Ivy may have that in spades too, but the competition of getting those slots may be higher.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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Ivy, definitely.

I went Ivy, and opportunities are simply excellent. I would encourage you to also consider the graduate/medical school. Cornell has fabulous graduate education in chemistry or physics, it that's your thing. However, the medical school is in NYC, hence inaccessible in Ithaca. Think about such factors.

Yes, Ivy was much harder than the state school classes I took when I was in high school, the courses are faster paced and more intense and the students are a lot more competitive. You have to work really hard to do well. But the profs names carry greater weight on recommendations, you can work with them on research, you have probably greater study abroad and extracurricular activities, and the graduate advising is excellent.

Also, if you aren't sure on your major, Ivys probably give you the richest assortment of excellent majors (with excellent profs) and enormous resources. Where else can you take classes in Akkadian, Aramaic, Chaldean, or Assyrian but Harvard? Where else can you work with the best plasma physicists in the world but Princeton?

N.B. You do have to work hard, though!
 

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marglinw said:
Students at any top colleges have had established success on standardized exams and competitive grades. An A in organic chemistry at a state school can not be compared to an A at Columbia, Princeton, Bowdoin, Stanford, Amherts, Williams etc. It is for this reason that these schools also have wonderful matriculation rates. Go to Dartmouth, Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins medical schools for example and you will see an overwhelming amount of people from the most competitive undergraduate programs!!
This is fine and all, but I think we're confusing cause and effect. Are these people doing so well because of their schools or because they're the type of people who can get into these schools in the first place? I contend it's the latter. However, I'll refer you to the caveats that I posted when I originally responded to the question.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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Larsitron said:
This is fine and all, but I think we're confusing cause and effect. Are these people doing so well because of their schools or because they're the type of people who can get into these schools in the first place? I contend it's the latter. However, I'll refer you to the caveats that I posted when I originally responded to the question.
I would say its partly both. Though the students at Harvard have never really impressed me as being more "brilliant" (or whatever) than those at Princeton or Columbia. I think a lot of well-rounded factors go into it that have little to do with academic aptitude. In my high school class, the one person who got into Harvard was a B-average wrestler. My friend in another high school got in, and he was no more impressive than other friends but had lots of well-rounded activities, editor of school newspaper, varsity sports, volunteering in a veteran's retirement home, etc. There are definitely a lot of other factors that go in, besides academic aptitude.
 

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marglinw said:
Students at any top colleges have had established success on standardized exams and competitive grades. An A in organic chemistry at a state school can not be compared to an A at Columbia, Princeton, Bowdoin, Stanford, Amherts, Williams etc. It is for this reason that these schools also have wonderful matriculation rates. Go to Dartmouth, Mount Sinai, Johns Hopkins medical schools for example and you will see an overwhelming amount of people from the most competitive undergraduate programs!!
this is funny. you think dartmouth and mt sinai are the same caliber as JHU? you need to do some research my friend...
 

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Ivy all the way. Besides helping you get into med school just the people who you will know for your life. My dad knows so many people from his days at princeton...steve forbes, GM of Sacramento Kings, this senior thesis advisor was the ex-president of harvard, etc.... I went to wash u, which is a great school especially for the sciences, but the classmates are what make the Ivies special. Remember no matter what you do with your life you always have your education.
 

mercaptovizadeh

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jjmack said:
Ivy all the way. Besides helping you get into med school just the people who you will know for your life. My dad knows so many people from his days at princeton...steve forbes, GM of Sacramento Kings, etc.... I went to wash u, which is a great school especially for the sciences, but the classmates are what make the Ivies special. Remember no matter what you do with your life you always have your education.
And although this is annoying, it is particularly the case in some of the frat/secret-society cultures at these places. Note how Bush, Bush Sr., and Kerry were all members of Skull and Bones at Yale? Kind of strange/scary, but nonetheless is indicative of the networking/political strength of some of these groups.
 

jjmack

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So true-- and during my interviews for med school I have had big names tell me it's all about who you know in this world. It would be nice if everyone were judged on their merit, but let's be honest that isn't going to happen. It's all about who you know and how much you are willing to pay or can offer them. It may be jaded and cynical, but it is real as well.


mercaptovizadeh said:
And although this is annoying, it is particularly the case in some of the frat/secret-society cultures at these places. Note how Bush, Bush Sr., and Kerry were all members of Skull and Bones at Yale? Kind of strange/scary, but nonetheless is indicative of the networking/political strength of some of these groups.
 

marglinw

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Sinai and Dartmouth are top 50 schools. Dartmouth is the fourth oldest medical school in the country. Rankings are rankings. The purpose of the statement was to show that students from the most competitive colleges are in fact going to top medical schools!! I forgive your ignorance, but fear someone pessimistic enough to misread/misunderstand such a simple and clear response.

i77ac said:
this is funny. you think dartmouth and mt sinai are the same caliber as JHU? you need to do some research my friend...
 

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what exactly constitutes a top tier or second tier school? people seem to be throwing that around and i'm not sure what they consider as top tier? they using usnews rankings?

i come from uci and it's ranked by usnews as 43 or so. would ppl consider that a top tier??? or second tier...
 

MWillie

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marglinw said:
Sinai and Dartmouth are top 50 schools. Dartmouth is the fourth oldest medical school in the country. Rankings are rankings. The purpose of the statement was to show that students from the most competitive colleges are in fact going to top medical schools!! I forgive your ignorance, but fear someone pessimistic enough to misread/misunderstand such a simple and clear response.
How does top 50 and old indicate top top?
 

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Top top sounds like a narcissists ego-centric view. Sinai and Dartmouth are not ranked #1 and #2. However, students at these schools will be provided with amazing opportunities (thus they are top top). USNEWS rankings use factors like how many professors are tenured and how many students in each class. What really matters is the atmosphere for the student. It is not worth questioning more. The original purpose of the message was that people from the most competitive colleges/universities are found more frequently at these schools than people from less competitive colleges/univesities (this includes the top top tippity top).

MWillie said:
How does top 50 and old indicate top top?
 

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Alright, I hate these threads because I think they are ridiculous. I go to an Ivy. Go to the best school you get into and you will be happy at. Guess what, I came from a tiny little nothing school in Oregon and after working very hard I have a great GPA. YOU CANNOT PREDICT HOW YOU WILL DO IN COLLEGE. To assume you'll do worse at an ivy or better at a lower ranked school is silly. Perhaps, my GPA could have been a tiny better at a lower ranked school, I have no idea; however, I haven't been hurt by coming here. Good luck and be happy if you have multiple options for undergrad.
 

Will Ferrell

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At the end of the day both of those students will get into a medical school and that's all that matters.