Please help!! Does where you go for your undergrad really matter!?!

carn311

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Disclaimer:

I enrolled in SUNY Albany only because it met the following criteria: I'm poor - its a state school and I live near albany - its in Albany. To this day I am regretting my decision and transferring to another institution outside of the capital region is not an option.

Let me also make it clear that I have met some very intelligent people at Ualbany, MANY of them premeds, but the VAST majority of undergraduates are there to party, have sex, and not touch a book with a 10 ft pole.​



That being said let me move on to my actual question....

My spider-sense began tingling early during my first semester there. I was a transfer student from one of the best community colleges on the east coast and knew what good students looked like; as stated above, these guys didn’t really fit the bill.

The next blow came when I got a strange email from the president of the university saying that the school: “needed to rise above the rating given to it by Princeton Review”. “What rating?” I asked myself. Well, its actually ratings. Remember these are NATIONAL rankings!

I'm just in awe... Im sorry I'm ranting on and on. But believe it or not the faculty and administration play into the students' idiocy. Example: we get the muslim new year off. (no offense to muslims) And we get TWO count them...TWO DAYS off for presidents DAY. And I could of course go on and on..


So my question is...will medical schools know that my school is a joke when I apply because of of its horrid reputation and disreguard my application because of it. Ive checked mdapplicants.com and there were only two guys who posted who went to Ualbany and one persons stats were pretty good and he didnt get into very many schools.

I really need help guys because I either stick it out here or pay 40K a year at the local engineering school (RPI).
 

AStudent

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I didn't read your long post. The quick answer is no. Just do well in your classes and on your MCAT.

andj04 said:
 

JDAD

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AStudent said:
I didn't read your long post. The quick answer is no. Just do well in your classes and on your MCAT.
Wrong, the answer is YES. It matters. If you don't belive me, look at the list of schools that are represented at the top medical schools. You won't see "Southern College of Eastern Idaho" on that list.

If everything is equal, they will accept the kid from the prestigious school EVERY time. It sucks, but it's life.
 

AStudent

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My cousin went to Hopkins on a full ride after going to a small bible college in Missouri.....I beg to differ.

JDAD said:
Wrong, the answer is YES. It matters. If you don't belive me, look at the list of schools that are represented at the top medical schools. You won't see "Southern College of Eastern Idaho" on that list.

If everything is equal, they will accept the kid from the prestigious school EVERY time. It sucks, but it's life.
 

banana k

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it matters, but only as much as you let it-- i.e. make up for it with killer stats and mcat scores. plus, don't be all picky about which schools you apply to, and whether you go to them straighta way or spend time doing research first. for what it's worth i went to the dodgiest-ranked little school overseas, and i still got in.
 

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Transfer to SUNY Binghamton it may be what you are looking for but Albany is not a bad school. Coming from there will not hurt you in my opinion.
 

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JDAD said:
Wrong, the answer is YES. It matters. If you don't belive me, look at the list of schools that are represented at the top medical schools. You won't see "Southern College of Eastern Idaho" on that list.

If everything is equal, they will accept the kid from the prestigious school EVERY time. It sucks, but it's life.
Well, JDAD *said in the most patronizing, fatherly tone* that's because those lists are typically incomplete. They only show the top represented schools. So, in a sense you are right, and in another sense, you're wrong.

To the OP: I didn't go to a nationally recognized undergrad institution, and I have been able to interview at the top schools. Just work hard, and things will happen for you. Hard work never goes unrewarded - even if you're from university of Nowhere.
 

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it matters, but not as much as MCAT, gpa, extracurrics/experiences. One thing to keep in mind is a better undergrad may do a better job at doing well in these 3 areas....
 

tgerwuds

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GuyLaroche said:
Well, JDAD *said in the most patronizing, fatherly tone* that's because those lists are typically incomplete. They only show the top represented schools. So, in a sense you are right, and in another sense, you're wrong.

To the OP: I didn't go to a nationally recognized undergrad institution, and I have been able to interview at the top schools. Just work hard, and things will happen for you. Hard work never goes unrewarded - even if you're from university of Nowhere.
Sorry dude, this is totally bullbutter. It totally matters where you do your undergrad. Just check out my link to md apps. Sure my MCAT was good... maybe nothing to brag about. But damn, I have solid extra curriculars, a very good GPA in a very difficult major! But, does that even come into consideration? NO! I did not go to Harvard (etc etc) and no one cares! When it comes down to it JDAD is right. The people on these app boards care about two things... a kick ass MCAT (if you get 36+ then you are in this zone and you dont have to worry about anything) and if you went to one of there good ole' boy ivy league alma maters! Shoot! I go to the University of Texas (we recently surpassed Harvard with the most endowments) and study in a top 10 chemistry dept (better than most IVY). I teach, do research (like real research... I have my own project and my OWN AUTHORED paper publication), volunteer, I work to support myself, and I think that I am more well rounded than someone from H-Vard or S-ford (IMO of course... I dont know them)... I tried to emphasize all of this in every app... and they were damn good too. But sorry bud, when it came down to it... Pub U just ain't good enough (even though they are probably better learning institutions than those dubbed "good enough")
 

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carn311 said:
Disclaimer:

I enrolled in SUNY Albany only because it met the following criteria: I'm poor - its a state school and I live near albany - its in Albany. To this day I am regretting my decision and transferring to another institution outside of the capital region is not an option.


So my question is...will medical schools know that my school is a joke when I apply because of of its horrid reputation and disreguard my application because of it. Ive checked mdapplicants.com and there were only two guys who posted who went to Ualbany and one persons stats were pretty good and he didnt get into very many schools.

I really need help guys because I either stick it out here or pay 40K a year at the local engineering school (RPI).​


If your really all set to make the change, (and clearly since you've started researching it's on your mind), for god sakes find a better school then RPI--people transfer from there to go to "good schools", especially if it's 40k a year. I would suggest an institution that is either a bigger name or simply sends a higher number of it's grads on to med. school. Do you know how many of Suny Albany's grads go on to med. school or are you just relying on the SDN board?---Do you know how much larger that percentage is at, let's say RPI?​
 

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tgerwuds said:
Sorry dude, this is totally bullbutter....
I am sure you're an excellent applicant - your profile confirms as much. Your acceptance at Southwestern is impressive and I congratulate you. Still, I should say that part of what is unfortunate about not being on the admissions committee is just that. You're not on the admissions committee. Neither am I. You cannot say emphatically that it was the school you attended that soured your application to the schools you've deemed as top schools. It could be any number of factors.

Besides, University of Texas is nothing to be sneezed at. It is pretty well-known around the world. I believe it even ranks in the top 30 schools in the world. Your school has provided you - it appears - a very strong foundation to go out into the world and bring home the spoils. You shouldn't give weight to other people's perceptions of your school. It's served your purpose quite nicely. Besides, whatever else that can be said, your chances of becoming a physician are greatly enhanced now that you've been accepted at a great school. Be happy and let go of the acrimony.
 

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I think if you do well on your MCATs and keep your GPA high as well as have solid extracurricular activities you should be fine. You will have to work harder to make yourself stand out coming from a lesser known/less ragarded school. This is what I had to do and I think I'm doing okay having gotten about 13 interviews. Granted that the same GPA from a lesser known school will not be regarded in the same manner as that from that of a Ivy League school example. But everyone takes the MCAT and comparisons can be made easier using your MCAT performance. Just work your butt off to do well wherever you are. Hope that helps!
 

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I think it is a matter of common sense that a highly laureled application would benefit the applicant.
However, my intuition says that different adcom's have different personalities as a result of the ensemble of individuals that compose them. Some of them, it would seem, would be more in touch with the fact that there are excellent students and individuals biding their time in lackluster institutions. And just as likely some are probably actively engaged in maintaining their good ol' boys prestige club.

I'm in a similar situation. I go to San Francisco State where there are 13000 psycholgy majors and the average student doesn't crack a book. Sitting at the top of the class is easy if your a motivated pre-med. But you know, what choice do we have? I couldn't afford to go anywhere else either.

I think we should just play our hands the best way we can. Knowing how the deck is stacked should help us develop the best strategy. Good luck!--Ben,
 
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carn311

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fateema368 said:
If your really all set to make the change, (and clearly since you've started researching it's on your mind), for god sakes find a better school then RPI--people transfer from there to go to "good schools", especially if it's 40k a year. I would suggest an institution that is either a bigger name or simply sends a higher number of it's grads on to med. school. Do you know how many of Suny Albany's grads go on to med. school or are you just relying on the SDN board?---Do you know how much larger that percentage is at, let's say RPI?

My premed advisor is a joke but she does voice some desturbing facts...

for example, she SAYS that she had one student who was a computer science major, 3.6 gpa, 30 mcat, and captain of the division I basketball team and he could only get into one school.

Another girl she said had a 4.0, 27 mcat, and couldnt get in anywhere after trying twice.

Im concerned that this is because they both went to the university at albany. I see many people on mdapplicants that have much worse stats and got in...

It just seems that people are aware of how much Ualbany stinks....

DID YOU READ THOSE RANKINGS FROM THE FIRST POST???
 

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i think using these facts can be dangerous and i've also been guilty of hearing things like this and freaking out that i'm never going to get in anywhere. also, you only need one accpetance!
there are other factors to this process, mostly letters and ECs. perhaps the people in your post who didn't get in couldn't get solid enthusiastic letters, maybe they were too shy to get to know profs and recieved generic letters, maybe they didn't apply to a wide range of schools. maybe the girl with a 4.0 didn't have any ECs, or very few that didn't show her enthusiasm or out side interest. probably they had nothing to distinguish themselves.

i think where you went as an undergrad does matter to a certain extent. but if you are not at a top well known school then it is your business to make yourself stick out even more.

carn311 said:
My premed advisor is a joke but she does voice some desturbing facts...

for example, she SAYS that she had one student who was a computer science major, 3.6 gpa, 30 mcat, and captain of the division I basketball team and he could only get into one school.

Another girl she said had a 4.0, 27 mcat, and couldnt get in anywhere after trying twice.

Im concerned that this is because they both went to the university at albany. I see many people on mdapplicants that have much worse stats and got in...

It just seems that people are aware of how much Ualbany stinks....

DID YOU READ THOSE RANKINGS FROM THE FIRST POST???
 
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carn311

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Letters of recomendation ARE the only thing that can set me apart now and you know what...there are very few good professors at Ualbany. The ones I've met have been full of themselves and downright rude or even in somecases excentric.


I really want to transfer. But I cant afford it. Honestly, do you think it would be worth it to: A) take the hit financially and go to some other local school or even B) major in something that has a valid career option should I not get in (ie computer science).


There is more to consider here than just myself. Im married and finances are a big deal for us. I really do feel that the situation warrents some kind of action.
 

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carn311 said:
Disclaimer:

I enrolled in SUNY Albany only because it met the following criteria: I'm poor - its a state school and I live near albany - its in Albany. To this day I am regretting my decision and transferring to another institution outside of the capital region is not an option.

Let me also make it clear that I have met some very intelligent people at Ualbany, MANY of them premeds, but the VAST majority of undergraduates are there to party, have sex, and not touch a book with a 10 ft pole.​



That being said let me move on to my actual question....

My spider-sense began tingling early during my first semester there. I was a transfer student from one of the best community colleges on the east coast and knew what good students looked like; as stated above, these guys didn’t really fit the bill.

The next blow came when I got a strange email from the president of the university saying that the school: “needed to rise above the rating given to it by Princeton Review”. “What rating?” I asked myself. Well, its actually ratings. Remember these are NATIONAL rankings!

I'm just in awe... Im sorry I'm ranting on and on. But believe it or not the faculty and administration play into the students' idiocy. Example: we get the muslim new year off. (no offense to muslims) And we get TWO count them...TWO DAYS off for presidents DAY. And I could of course go on and on..


So my question is...will medical schools know that my school is a joke when I apply because of of its horrid reputation and disreguard my application because of it. Ive checked mdapplicants.com and there were only two guys who posted who went to Ualbany and one persons stats were pretty good and he didnt get into very many schools.

I really need help guys because I either stick it out here or pay 40K a year at the local engineering school (RPI).
When you hear "I know of so and so who got into Top 10 Medical School" just be logical. How many people who end up at top 10 schools started at top 10 undergrads? You're smart and obviously looked at mdapplicants so you've thought about this yourself and are looking for validation. If you score a 4.0 from albany and there is a 3.8 from hopkins, and lets say both of you have a 33, who would you choose? The ranges of MCAT scores drop dramatically when you start looking at the better medical schools. Most cases you hear of so and so getting in are either because of incredible extracurriculars (ambassador for UN) or incredible MCAT scores to validate the GPA (we're talking 40+). And for those who argue with that, sub-40 you'll find WAY too many people with high GPAs from top 25 schools to compete with. Don't forget the quality of your undergrad parlays into the quality of your letters, another important part of your application. Same goes for research oppurtunities.

I forgot to add, if you can't afford it means you'll graduate with 200k+ debt (i.e. you REALLY can't afford it) then obviously adcoms will look at that and you can talk about in your PS PROVIDED you have a great MCAT score, extracurriculars, etc. (if you are a minority, these matter less).
 

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fun8stuff said:
it matters, but not as much as MCAT, gpa, extracurrics/experiences. One thing to keep in mind is a better undergrad may do a better job at doing well in these 3 areas....
Are you saying going to a better undergrad would cause you to have a better gpa/MCAT/ECs?

Not true at all. IN fact, i believe the opposite. If you go to a worse school, you're likelyto stand out more, get better recs from profs, and have a better overall experience.

Another thing to keep in mind, if you're currently deciding btwn undergrad schools, is that college experience can make or break your confidence in yourself. Don't choose a tough school and then a tough major cuz you're going to get burnt out. Save the burning out for med school :)
 

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carn311 said:
My premed advisor is a joke but she does voice some desturbing facts...

for example, she SAYS that she had one student who was a computer science major, 3.6 gpa, 30 mcat, and captain of the division I basketball team and he could only get into one school.

Another girl she said had a 4.0, 27 mcat, and couldnt get in anywhere after trying twice.

Im concerned that this is because they both went to the university at albany. I see many people on mdapplicants that have much worse stats and got in...

It just seems that people are aware of how much Ualbany stinks....

DID YOU READ THOSE RANKINGS FROM THE FIRST POST???
I'm always amused by people on this board who look at the numbers of one or two people and try and extrapolate that into a formula for success/failure (or as here use that infor as damning evidence of a particular school). For all you know, both of these people were unlikable or poorly thought out people and their true personalities shone through in their LORs or interviews. Or perhaps they couldn't write a decent PS to save their lives. Maybe their MCAT scores were unballanced and contained eg. a 6 in the verbal section. Or maybe they foolishly only applied to the top ten schools. Or maybe they lacked decent health-related ECs (baseball only gets you so far with adcoms...) and thus lacked a demonstrated commitment to medicine. Truth is you cannot know enough about anyone else's situation to ever use it as an estimate of your own chances, and you certainly won't have a clue what adcoms felt was important or not on these applicants.

That being said, I suspect that if all things are exactly equal (in terms of grades, MCAT etc), the candidate coming from the better regarded school will have a small advantage. But I suspect that a stellar student from a mediocre school with a higher MCAT will generally beat out a less stellar student from a higher ranked school in this admissions process.
 

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Well on the plus side you won't have as many loans as your Ivy League brothers.. and you'll probably get into a state medical school which may be cheaper and better for you in the long run. On the other hand, you could do yourself some other favors by getting yourself published and actually making a contribution to your undergraduate institution instead of just dissing it.
 

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carn311 said:
So my question is...will medical schools know that my school is a joke when I apply because of of its horrid reputation and disreguard my application because of it. Ive checked mdapplicants.com and there were only two guys who posted who went to Ualbany and one persons stats were pretty good and he didnt get into very many schools.

I really need help guys because I either stick it out here or pay 40K a year at the local engineering school (RPI).
Unfortunately, I think it matters. You can learn just as much at a state school (I did), but you have to really, really stand out to get the admissions committee's attention. I think letters of recommendation are given more weight from the more prestigious universities.
 

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It matters, but not that much. I went to an unknown state school and still got into Wash U and other top schools. I did well on the MCAT but I did not get 40+.
Considering how much medical school will cost, and the way medicine it going right now, I don't think it is worth it to take out massive loans for undergrad. You should just try to be top of your class in everything, volunteer, shadow, do tons of research and nail the MCAT. If you do that, you will be fine. People who go to the Ivies have to do those things too. It is just that people who go to the Ivies for undergrad tend to excel in those things anyway.
 

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after many, many discussions with adcom members about this topic, i'll let you in on a little secret. it doesn't matter. really, honestly, it does not matter. it is not your school's fault that you didn't get into school. it is not your professor's fault. it is not the kid in the front row in biochem that asks obnoxious questions every class. these threads fundamentally are all looking to pass blame to something/someone over which the OP has no control.

law2doc raises some important and valuable points. grades/mcats only get you so far. one must show a dedicated commitment to medicine through service, research, shadowing, etc. did anyone ever bother to think that harvard or yale might provide more opportunities? thus making it easier to gain the needed ec's. while the kid at public u. has to work a little harder to find a research spot or a doc to follow.

furthermore, most every med school uses comparative gpa's. they are not looking at ivy girl with a 3.6 in psych in the same light as pub girl in mechanical engineering and a 3.2. med schools have very detailed lists of the average gpa for every university with further breakdown by major. med schools are looking at how you stack up against your school. they are looking for excellence wherever they find it.

it is up to you to make your university experience. no one else can do it for you.
 

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well. . . Just take a look at the MSI profiles for some of the schools you want to apply to. Often, the med school will give a profile of all the first year students, with a listing of how many hail from which undergrad. You're going to see the same thing over and over though:

Harvard
Yale
Princeton
Columbia
Dartmouth
Brown
UPenn
Stanford
UC Berkely
U Chicago
Johns Hopkins
Duke

I think of it like getting into college out of high school. Sure, you COULD go to Joe Schmoe Public Highschool (like I did) and get into an ivy league school if you were exceptional, but it was fairly uncommon. Whereas you could go to Choate or Exeter, be a mid range student, and get in an ivy. You'll find that ivy league schools are made up mostly of students from elite private schools. Similarly, you'll find that medical schools are made up mostly of students from elite ivy league universities. That's not to say its not possible to get in, because it definitely is, but you have to be just that much more exceptional.

I should say that although this sounds very unfair (and it is) it's not totally irrational. I have a sister in a state school that took physics last year and it was not even remotely as challenging as the physics I study here (Columbia). She didn't even go most of the time and pulled an A. In a class of 200 people at an elite school there's NO SLACKERS. That's what suprised me the most, how virtually nobody ever misses lecture. We have graded homework due every week (which involves around 6 hours to do) and the median grade, at the end of last semester, was a perfect score.

It really is a million times more difficult to stand out in an ivy league school than at a state school--I remember from my undergrad days that the students who showed up for every class almost always got As. Here, it's just expected that you'll show up. And do all the homework. Every week. And ace all the exams. And then, you are just in the majority. There is a huge difference, IMHO.

That said, there is nothing superior about the student who goes to an elite school--learning general chemistry or physics in greater depth isn't going to make you a better doctor than someone who learns it superficially. None of the premed work we agonize over will even matter when we get to medschool.

Also, many medschools (i.e. Washington U) are numbers whores, so all you need to do is have the numbers to get in. I wouldn't fret, and I wouldn't transfer. Get a 3.9 and a 33 and you'll get in somewhere, no matter what your alma mater.
 

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Crake said:
well. . . Just take a look at the MSI profiles for some of the schools you want to apply to. Often, the med school will give a profile of all the first year students, with a listing of how many hail from which undergrad. You're going to see the same thing over and over though:

Harvard
Yale
Princeton
Columbia
Dartmouth
Brown
UPenn
Stanford
UC Berkely
U Chicago
Johns Hopkins
Duke

I think of it like getting into college out of high school. Sure, you COULD go to Joe Schmoe Public Highschool (like I did) and get into an ivy league school if you were exceptional, but it was fairly uncommon. Whereas you could go to Choate or Exeter, be a mid range student, and get in an ivy. You'll find that ivy league schools are made up mostly of students from elite private schools. Similarly, you'll find that medical schools are made up mostly of students from elite ivy league universities. That's not to say its not possible to get in, because it definitely is, but you have to be just that much more exceptional.

I should say that although this sounds very unfair (and it is) it's not totally irrational. I have a sister in a state school that took physics last year and it was not even remotely as challenging as the physics I study here (Columbia). She didn't even go most of the time and pulled an A. In a class of 200 people at an elite school there's NO SLACKERS. That's what suprised me the most, how virtually nobody ever misses lecture. We have graded homework due every week (which involves around 6 hours to do) and the median grade, at the end of last semester, was a perfect score.

It really is a million times more difficult to stand out in an ivy league school than at a state school--I remember from my undergrad days that the students who showed up for every class almost always got As. Here, it's just expected that you'll show up. And do all the homework. Every week. And ace all the exams. And then, you are just in the majority. There is a huge difference, IMHO.

That said, there is nothing superior about the student who goes to an elite school--learning general chemistry or physics in greater depth isn't going to make you a better doctor than someone who learns it superficially. None of the premed work we agonize over will even matter when we get to medschool.

Also, many medschools (i.e. Washington U) are numbers whores, so all you need to do is have the numbers to get in. I wouldn't fret, and I wouldn't transfer. Get a 3.9 and a 33 and you'll get in somewhere, no matter what your alma mater.
Keith, are you calling Lincoln High School "Joe Schmoe Public High School"? We had some all-star teachers, man... I don't know.
 

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Oh yeah, Varun, Reevian physics really prepared me for E and M. Remember all that time we spent on Gauss' Law?

Sorta like how that Labrancheian US History course prepared me for undergrad.

Not that I would have enjoyed private school any better--I mean, we did get to go to the prototypical American high school, can you get that experience anywhere else?

Oh, the memories. . .
 

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This is so silly. I am convinced anyone can get into anything regardless of what school they're from. I think when it comes to competitive residencies where you have 400 applicants for 2 positions in a hospital, then splitting hairs becomes the norm. (For instance, I was commenting on how a friend who scored in the 99th percentile of the boards was very smart and could now get into any residency of his choosing. He immediately quipped about how everyone trying to get into neurosurgery has a similar score). At this stage, residency directors may then begin to look at any discrimanting factors that they can find. Also, even if you attend HMS, and fail to make contacts during your clinical years, then you're seriously diminishing your chances. The stakes are a lot higher at this point.

However, on the lower scale of getting into an undergraduate institution or indeed medical school, I am convinced it really doesn't matter. What matters in these rudimentary stages is whether or not you've done the work and you've excelled. While I have seen a lot of Harvard students or Princeton students at my interviews, I have also seen a lot students from undergraduate institutions I do not recognize. It does not matter what instituion you're coming from. Full stop.

In summary then, I'd like to call on some people who are merely undergraduates, albeit undergraduates in elite institutions, to get over themselves. You are still at the absolute bottom of the totem pole and while anyone attending a Harvard or indeed a Stanford should be proud of themselves, their pride should certainly be within measure. I make the same call to medical students at similar institutions. They are no better than undergrads.
 

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Crake said:
Oh yeah, Varun, Reevian physics really prepared me for E and M. Remember all that time we spent on Gauss' Law?

Sorta like how that Labrancheian US History course prepared me for undergrad.

Not that I would have enjoyed private school any better--I mean, we did get to go to the prototypical American high school, can you get that experience anywhere else?

Oh, the memories. . .
Yeah, I hear ya. What I loved about it, though, was how they kept telling us it was going to be that way in college and in the "real world", but college wasn't really anything like what they said. We did have a good number of alcoholics teaching, though, and that might've been the only thing I learned from them about the "real world".
 

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I think of it like getting into college out of high school. Sure, you COULD go to Joe Schmoe Public Highschool (like I did) and get into an ivy league school if you were exceptional, but it was fairly uncommon. Whereas you could go to Choate or Exeter, be a mid range student, and get in an ivy.

But, it's a lot easier to be exceptional at Joe Schmoe Public High School.

I've encountered the exact opposite. I think the best way you can guarantee your kids getting into a top-notch school (HYPS and others) is to take them to a so-so public school where they can REALLY STAND OUT.

I know this is a generalization, but chances are the mid-range prep-school student is 10 times more talented/intelligent/better-trained than an exceptional public school student (not talking about kids from really good nationally known public schools)...but the prep kid is gonna get into Cornell, like dozens of other classmates...whereas the public kid is gonna get into Harvard. Of course, if the public-school kid doesn't have what it takes to compete w/ his prep-school classmates in college, then he'll struggle thru his undergrad and maybe go back to his state school for medicine, so it all balances out.
 

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funshine said:
I've encountered the exact opposite. I think the best way you can guarantee your kids getting into a top-notch school (HYPS and others) is to take them to a so-so public school where they can REALLY STAND OUT.
This is true. One other thing to keep in mind is the following: who will you be competing with when you apply? Not only will schools compare you to the other applicants in the entire pool, but they will also compare you to the other people from your school. Last year, over 700 (that's right seven hundred) people from UCLA applied to medical school. With Berkeley, it was something like 550, with the Ivies not too far behind. Try standing out in this crowd.
 

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You'll find that ivy league schools are made up mostly of students from elite private schools.
true, but they'll accept 5-7 students from each elite prep school. So 5 from Exeter, 3 from Milton, 4 from Choate, etc. when there are probably dozens of students at each school more than worthy of being admitted.

THey may accept 2 from "Whatever" public school, but it's likely that there were only 5 who were "exceptional."

So obviously, it's to your advantage to go to a public school. ANd in case there are any parents on here who have Ivy-dreams for their little kids, make sure that when they apply, they're living in an underrepresented state like Alaska, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota...etc
 

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Stay at SUNY-Albany.
1. You'll save A LOT of money.
2. You'll actually have MORE extracurricular opportunities - everyone has to fight for them like empty parking lot spaces at hard schools.
3. If you're smart and/or work, you'll get a high GPA there. At some schools, you need both of those plus luck.
4. You'll have more time to study for the MCAT.
5. You don't have to be surrounded by spoiled kids,tools, and phonies.
6. You'll probably have smaller science classes so you'll actually know the professors you're getting recs from.
7. I can imagine the girls there being hotter :cool:
 

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funshine said:
But, it's a lot easier to be exceptional at Joe Schmoe Public High School.

I've encountered the exact opposite. I think the best way you can guarantee your kids getting into a top-notch school (HYPS and others) is to take them to a so-so public school where they can REALLY STAND OUT.

I know this is a generalization, but chances are the mid-range prep-school student is 10 times more talented/intelligent/better-trained than an exceptional public school student (not talking about kids from really good nationally known public schools)...but the prep kid is gonna get into Cornell, like dozens of other classmates...whereas the public kid is gonna get into Harvard. Of course, if the public-school kid doesn't have what it takes to compete w/ his prep-school classmates in college, then he'll struggle thru his undergrad and maybe go back to his state school for medicine, so it all balances out.
dude, where are you getting this from? How did you come to this very scientific conclusion that prep school kids are "10 times" smarter and better prepared? It's ridiculous. First of all, there are many extremely good public schools in the US many of which I'm sure rival and surpass prep schools. There may be a few "disadvantaged" kids from really ghetto schools but ivies are filled with the kids from the scarsdale highs. Second, it is children of wealthy parents who go to prep schools and this probably has minimal correlation with how talented/intelligent their offspring are. Third, you are pretty naive if you don't realize that prep schools are basically in the business of getting kids into good colleges and are totally in with the ivy admissions people. Fourth, in college I met many kids from both public and private schools and guess what, there was absolutely no difference in terms of ability to handle the coursework, except the prep-school kids tended to have nicer clothes. Fifth, As someone coming from a really mediocre public school, I will tell you that ZERO of the top 10 students in the class were accepted to Ivy league schools. Oh, and the fact that you are even drawing a distinction between cornell and harvard shows how out of touch you are.
 

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funshine said:
But, it's a lot easier to be exceptional at Joe Schmoe Public High School.

I've encountered the exact opposite. I think the best way you can guarantee your kids getting into a top-notch school (HYPS and others) is to take them to a so-so public school where they can REALLY STAND OUT.

I know this is a generalization, but chances are the mid-range prep-school student is 10 times more talented/intelligent/better-trained than an exceptional public school student (not talking about kids from really good nationally known public schools)...but the prep kid is gonna get into Cornell, like dozens of other classmates...whereas the public kid is gonna get into Harvard. Of course, if the public-school kid doesn't have what it takes to compete w/ his prep-school classmates in college, then he'll struggle thru his undergrad and maybe go back to his state school for medicine, so it all balances out.
lol! Most of my classmates who are acing their classes came from public schools (like me). "I know this is a generalization, but chances are the mid-range prep-school student" would have had a hard time getting into their colleges if it weren't for their parents' money. I see them come into college, break free from their parents, and go wild. The public school kids at my school are hungrier for success.
 

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Will Ferrell said:
Stay at SUNY-Albany.
1. You'll save A LOT of money.
2. You'll actually have MORE extracurricular opportunities - everyone has to fight for them like empty parking lot spaces at hard schools.
3. If you're smart and/or work, you'll get a high GPA there. At some schools, you need both of those plus luck.
4. You'll have more time to study for the MCAT.
5. You don't have to be surrounded by spoiled kids,tools, and phonies.
6. You'll probably have smaller science classes so you'll actually know the professors you're getting recs from.
7. I can imagine the girls there being hotter :cool:
1. true

2. in terms of having time to do them? this depends on the individual school, it's surrounding area, and your effort to get involved not if it's an ivy or a public.

3. this is true

4. this depends on how many classes you take and how hard you study, but i'll agree that the classes at albany will probably be easier so you'll have more time to study for the MCAT

5. :laugh: yeah, instead you will be surrounded by burn outs and idiots. (because everyone who goes to an ivy is a tool or a phonie :rolleyes: ) please, you'll find people of all kind anywhere you go. the difference is that, generally, at the better schools people tend to care more about academics and be more studious (of course there are exceptions).

6. so not true! i'm doing a post-bacc at a SUNY now and the classes are HUGE! you really need to go out of your way to get to know the profs.

7. again not true. the undergrads at the SUNY i'm at are smelly, can't dress well and are generally ugly. go to yale, brown or harvard and the people are exponentially better looking than at my state school.

I've been in both worlds, a well known private school and a SUNY school. there are wonderful things about the SUNY school i'm at now, the research opportunties are excellent. the classes are interesting but really easy and there is this underlying assumption from the professors that the students don't study enough, which is true. the exams are really easy yet, the averages tend to be lower than they should be. call me elitist, but these are my observations after spending four semesters at a state school. of course, not all state schools are created equal and there are plenty of great ones and plenty not so great ones.
 

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the only true, incontrovertible answer to this question is: IT DEPENDS.

it depends on many things. if you are an average student/applicant, regardless of where you go, then your undergrad school DOES matter. if you are a kick-ass worldbeater student/applicant, regardless of where, then your undergrad school DOES NOT matter. where this gets dicey is the spacious gray area between average and stellar.

also, it depends on where you want to go for med school. are med schools totally blind to your undergrad school's rep? not totally, but some moreso than others. does ucsf consider this factor more than univ of kentucky? you bet. just use common sense.

for one man's voice in the wilderness, i go to the quintessential "no-name state school", and it didn't seem to impede me too much. acceptances/potential acceptances aside, i've interviewed at 4 of the 6 top-25 schools that i applied to (including 2 of 3 ivy league). it can be done, you've just got to make it happen.
 

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dude, where are you getting this from?

OK, I knew this would provoke some angry reactions.
I am very aware that there are excellent public schools that surpass many private schools in quality of education/students. But the person I responded to was referring to a a "Thomas Shmoe" public school, NOT Scarsdale.

I went to this very "THomas Shmoe" school, and it was not fun going to college and realizing how unprepared I was. Any ambition or competitiveness you had is quickly drained. From my experience, the people who struggle at these top colleges are NOT from private schools, but from the kinds of public schools that I went to.

ANd relaly, my major point, which I failed to mention in my posts, was that it's so important to go to a school where you can stand out and get personal attention from profs. THere may be a limitless number of opportunities at a great school like Yale, but if you don't stand out, you might as well have gone to a lesser school wher you could.


:::went back and corrected my typos :D
 

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funshine said:
But, it's a lot easier to be exceptional at Joe Schmoe Public High School.

I've encountered the exact opposite. I think the best way you can guarantee your kids getting into a top-notch school (HYPS and others) is to take them to a so-so public school where they can REALLY STAND OUT.

I know this is a generalization, but chances are the mid-range prep-school student is 10 times more talented/intelligent/better-trained than an exceptional public school student (not talking about kids from really good nationally known public schools)...but the prep kid is gonna get into Cornell, like dozens of other classmates...whereas the public kid is gonna get into Harvard. Of course, if the public-school kid doesn't have what it takes to compete w/ his prep-school classmates in college, then he'll struggle thru his undergrad and maybe go back to his state school for medicine, so it all balances out.
1.) No, that is not a generalization; it's a delusion.

2.) "Talent" has nothing to do with where you go to school. Are you a better at playing tennis or the tuba because you went to Choate than your public school counterpart?

3.) Yes, both Stanford_Playah and I went to a lousy public school; the teachers were drunks, the "curriculum" was a joke, and our tennis coach wore pink short shorts. Nevertheless, I know many people from my school that went to college--both ivy and non ivy--and many have finished at or near the top of their class. I've also been through college and have had many prep-school classmates; I'm even friends with a couple of them. If anything, the only skill (or "training" as you call it) that they had in excess of their public school comptition was the ability to balance that giant chip on their shoulder. I may also add that they seemed to dominate the bottom of the class by graduation; I suppose it's quite a shock to them when they find out that the professor doesn't care how rich or "important" their dad is.

4.) I did not struggle "thru" undergrad. And I can imagine worse fates than having to go to the University of Virginia for medical school.
 

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Crake said:
1.) No, that is not a generalization; it's a delusion.

2.) "Talent" has nothing to do with where you go to school. Are you a better at playing tennis or the tuba because you went to Choate than your public school counterpart?

3.) Yes, both Stanford_Playah and I went to a lousy public school; the teachers were drunks, the "curriculum" was a joke, and our tennis coach wore pink short shorts. Nevertheless, I know many people from my school that went to college--both ivy and non ivy--and many have finished at or near the top of their class. I've also been through college and have had many prep-school classmates; I'm even friends with a couple of them. If anything, the only skill (or "training" as you call it) that they had in excess of their public school comptition was the ability to balance that giant chip on their shoulder. I may also add that they seemed to dominate the bottom of the class by graduation; I suppose it's quite a shock to them when they find out that the professor doesn't care how rich or "important" their dad is.

4.) I did not struggle "thru" undergrad. And I can imagine worse fates than having to go to the University of Virginia for medical school.
Listen:

First of all, I state explicitly in my post that I am NOT talking about good public schools...I'm talking about the exact kind that you went to: a lousy public school.

And you say it's a delusion that kids from a crappy public school are likely to be not as well-trained as kids from a good private school?

You must be in denial.

Money buys a lot: Chances are, the private school kid's parents are not just paying for his/her education, but also for excellent violin teachers, tennis instructors, private tutoring/mentoring etc. These kids have been benefiting from enrichment activities since they were born. Of course they're probably going to have developed better minds and talents than the average public-school attending kid by the time they go to college!

I know a lot of prep-grads have nothing going for them except their parents' money. Yeah, they do badly in college. BUT, I also know that the ones who care and work hard, are...amazing.

WIth that being said, I know that this is just my theory, backed up by my own personal experiences. You clearly have different ones. OK, I"m going to stop replying. The number of posts I've written is grossly out of proportion w/ the amount I care about this topic.
 

Ross434

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IT DOESNT MATTER WHERE YOU GO TO SCHOOL

I dont know if this makes any difference, but i'd just like to throw my experience out there for you guys.

I was at an elite private high school and am now at a crap public school.

The quality difference between public and private schools is enormous. Private academic schools do better at preparing students for their futures than public ones (we're talking on average here). I think it is this factor that makes a difference in admission to the next school down the line. At a place like exeter, you have a lot better educated students who, in general, are more motivated to do academics. Because of this, there are probably 15-20 students who are really qualified for ivy league study. Its not because of old-boys connections, its because they simply have more good students. At a public school, there might not be that many extremely motivated people or talented people. And the ones who are have usually not been given the same opportunities. So, only 1 or 2 get into ivy league schools.

If you're smart, and motivated on your own, like most people on this board, It really doesnt matter where you go, as long as you're satisfied with your education. Im sure the OP has the motivation to learn and excel within himself, and he probably doesnt need coddling and a high powered class of peers.

I disagree with some people who say private schools are tougher. Private schools are easier. There's a lot more grade inflation there, and the entire administrations are dedicated to helping the best and the brightest go on and secure their elite futures. EC's are everywhere, everybody's networking, and you're taking the classes that are designed to teach you how to critically analyze and become a better thinker (ie: the classes are taught at a more rigorous pace and the material is more difficult). This is the perfect environment for success, which is why so many people here become successful. Public schools are actually harder because you're on your own. Often times, your peers dont give a **** about studying, your professors dont care about your future or even teaching their classes properly. There are no support administration (for example, here, there is no pre med committee, you're left to fend for yourself) and EC's are pretty much **** quality. Sure, you can get elected to them pretty easily, but try convincing anyone to start something, or getting anything done around campus. There's nothing to be done!, nobody cares. And classes at public schools are taught with a focus on memorization and recall, not on thinking and reasoning. Here, they're taught in a weed-out fashion, where professors literally try to weed out as many people as possible by making basic material (like factoring, density, and stoichiometry) as hard as they can. I know some professors who have actually been given a quota of people to weed out. Thats insane. They would never do that at most private schools i've been to. (Instead: they'd go out of their way to teach the material well and help people succeed)

If there were two students who were absolutely 100% equal, yeah, one adcom might say, wow, that guy succeeded in an elite school, he must be one of us, lets let him in. But for every adcom that's like this, there's another that will say, look at the other student, he's from a tougher background, he couldnt afford the private school education, but he put in hard work to get where he is today, lets let him in and get some diversity. Oh btw, the idea of all things equal is false . Never is there a situation where two candidates are COMPLETELY equal.

Bottom line: nobody cares where you went to school. Its all a huge fallacy of logic. Correlation DOES NOT imply causation. I thought you guys had taken philo or psychology. Dont you learn about that in experiment design?
 
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well, i am about to graduate from a fairly unknown state school and i feel like i must emphasize that the major benefits of the higher ranked schools is that they are 1) well known (quality of educatio will not be challenged) 2) way more available opportunities, and 3) more opportunities to meet the "right people". It is all about who you know and who knows you. I've gotten into a few med schools, but i had to do summer research opportunities at other institutions during the summer, where I got some good LORs. I've never had an advisor that has really known what is entailed in this process- just that "there was some girl a few years back who got in somewhere...".

It's not impossible by any means if you go to a lower tier school, but you shouldn't ignore the advantages of going to a higher ranked school.
 

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Ross434 said:
IT DOESNT MATTER WHERE YOU GO TO SCHOOL

I dont know if this makes any difference, but i'd just like to throw my experience out there for you guys.

I was at an elite private high school and am now at a crap public school.

The quality difference between public and private schools is enormous. Private academic schools do better at preparing students for their futures than public ones (we're talking on average here). I think it is this factor that makes a difference in admission to the next school down the line. At a place like exeter, you have a lot better educated students who, in general, are more motivated to do academics. Because of this, there are probably 15-20 students who are really qualified for ivy league study. Its not because of old-boys connections, its because they simply have more good students. At a public school, there might not be that many extremely motivated people or talented people. And the ones who are have usually not been given the same opportunities. So, only 1 or 2 get into ivy league schools.

If you're smart, and motivated on your own, like most people on this board, It really doesnt matter where you go, as long as you're satisfied with your education. Im sure the OP has the motivation to learn and excel within himself, and he probably doesnt need coddling and a high powered class of peers.

I disagree with some people who say private schools are tougher. Private schools are easier. There's a lot more grade inflation there, and the entire administrations are dedicated to helping the best and the brightest go on and secure their elite futures. EC's are everywhere, everybody's networking, and you're taking the classes that are designed to teach you how to critically analyze and become a better thinker (ie: the classes are taught at a more rigorous pace and the material is more difficult). This is the perfect environment for success, which is why so many people here become successful. Public schools are actually harder because you're on your own. Often times, your peers dont give a **** about studying, your professors dont care about your future or even teaching their classes properly. There are no support administration (for example, here, there is no pre med committee, you're left to fend for yourself) and EC's are pretty much **** quality. Sure, you can get elected to them pretty easily, but try convincing anyone to start something, or getting anything done around campus. There's nothing to be done!, nobody cares. And classes at public schools are taught with a focus on memorization and recall, not on thinking and reasoning. Here, they're taught in a weed-out fashion, where professors literally try to weed out as many people as possible by making basic material (like factoring, density, and stoichiometry) as hard as they can. I know some professors who have actually been given a quota of people to weed out. Thats insane. They would never do that at most private schools i've been to. (Instead: they'd go out of their way to teach the material well and help people succeed)

If there were two students who were absolutely 100% equal, yeah, one adcom might say, wow, that guy succeeded in an elite school, he must be one of us, lets let him in. But for every adcom that's like this, there's another that will say, look at the other student, he's from a tougher background, he couldnt afford the private school education, but he put in hard work to get where he is today, lets let him in and get some diversity. Oh btw, the idea of all things equal is false . Never is there a situation where two candidates are COMPLETELY equal.

Bottom line: nobody cares where you went to school. Its all a huge fallacy of logic. Correlation DOES NOT imply causation. I thought you guys had taken philo or psychology. Dont you learn about that in experiment design?

A valid argument, and I agree with you on much of this. I'm curious, have you ever studiedat an ivy (which one)? Because you seem to say that students from questionable public schools (as opposed to their "well trained" private school counterparts) are doomed to failure because of their lack of preparation. I don't think that this is necessarily the case. While elite colleges and universities are more difficult than state schools, that doesn't mean that a hard working person cannot succeed. Even the best prepared private school students won't have a background in organic chemistry or electricity and magnetism--everyone is learning this stuff for the first time. The math is really pretty elementary; certainly you don't require a background in calculus (for premed physics, at least).

Also, while you make a valid point in terms of the influence of campus culture on academic success, I think you overlook some drawbacks as well. For example, here at Columbia, it's assured that not everyone will get an A. The courses are all curved; some obscenely so (Biology is centered on a B-, Chemistry Lab a B, Physics a B+, etc.) To some this may sound generous, but it isn't at all. Like you said everyone is a gunner, so grades are actually curved DOWN. Grade inflation is something people like to bitch about when they talk about elite schools--I used to do so myself when I was an undergrad. We've all heard "I wish I went to Harvard, anybody with a pulse gets an A." Well, in truth, practically everyone deserves an A. You can only make an introductory chemistry course so hard, before it ceases to be an introductory course. And they do the best they can to make it difficult. But in the end, everyone study's around the clock, learns the material inside out, and aces the exams. That's the way it is. I would never have believed it before I got here--you only realize it when you go to a review session on a Sunday a week before an exam and the ENTIRE class shows up. It's that competitive.

I agree that it is very hard to succeed at state schools though. At my sister's state school, a professor of hers made it a requirement for the class that each student recruit 5 people to take part in his research study that he was conducting as a post-doc. Such unprofessionalism would never fly at a private school, but that's how state school professors often are --they just want to get their research done and get the hell out; they want to land the job with the better office and the higher prestige. The vast majority do not care about their students, and this is a shame. So I do agree that getting good letters of rec is much harder at a state school than at a private school. At the same time, getting great numbers is much easier at a state school than at a private school. And in the end, numbers matter more than everything else.

Oh, and that was a trick question at the end: no, correlation does not imply causation because cause-effect relationships are completely arbitrary constructs. I've read my Hume. :laugh:
 

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carn311 said:
the VAST majority of undergraduates are there to party, have sex, and not touch a book with a 10 ft pole.​
Isn't that what everyone does? :laugh:

I think it may matter just a tiniest bit what undergrad you went to. Just get a grand GPA and that's the bottom line. I know lots of people who went to community colleges for their first 2 years of college to save money and then went to universities that most would probably have never heard of. Yet they still get into medical schools and it's not something that penalizes them.

Dont' even sweat rankings and all that bull****. Unless you're going to big name schools or ivy leaguers then everyone else will be swamped in together and the name of your school is basically meaningless.
 
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What exactly is a stellar gpa from a state school? Are we talking 3.7+? or basically a 4.0?
 

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3.7 is fine, just back it up with a similar MCAT. Nobody's going to be impressed by a 3.7 and a 23.

I wonder if adcoms have any data on the correlation between undergraduate GPA and MCAT scores? That would make for an interesting (and fair) way to level GPA's, in my opinion. (e.g. if a school is consistently presenting applicants with a 4.0 and a 22, the GPA gets curved down; a school with presenting applicants with a 3.2 and 37 gets curved up)

Just a thought