Pre-Allo FAQ Series: What's most important in where to apply?

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.
Not open for further replies.


In Memory of Riley Jane
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2005
Reaction score
DoctorPardi said:
This is another installment of the Pre-Allo FAQ Series of threads. Basically I'll be offering the community a common topic or question and leaving it to you guys to decide on the best answer. Debate and discussion is allowed and welcomed. The goal is to include the community in answering some of the most common questions pre-meds are interested in.

This discussion will be focused on what are the most important variables to consider when deciding on which schools to apply too. Discussion should include which of the following variables is most important:
1) Location
2) Prestige
3) Cost
4) Likelihood of being accepted

In addition to these factors users are welcomed to include others that they feel are important to the decision process.

Thanks again to the community for participating! :)

Also let me remind everyone that all of the old threads can be found in the Pre-Allo Information Thread.

Pre-Allopathic FAQ Series:

-Pre-Allo FAQ Series:What is more important GPA or MCAT?

-Pre-Allo FAQ Series: Does it matter what university you graduate from?

-Pre-Allo FAQ Series: How many schools should I apply too?

-Pre-Allo FAQ Series: How Do I Write My Personal Statement?

-Pre-Allo FAQ Series: Are EC's really required, and if so which ones?

Members don't see this ad.
I think it all boils down to whether your GPA/MCAT/EC's are close to what the school has for their average. Granted there are people who get accepted who are below and above that average, it is still good to be realistic about things.

A couple of reach schools are okay, but keep most schools to the safety range.
1) Location
Depending on your location, you might be miserable or happy for your four years of medical school. If you are one of those people that can just pick up and go somewhere and be perfectly happy no matter where you are, then location probably isn't a big deal.

However, if you are picky about living in suburbs, or city, or in the middle of nowhere, or in an area of the country that is really hot vs really cold, etc., this may impact you heavily. Despite what people generalize about medical school, you WILL have at least a LITTLE time each week to yourself, and people tend to underestimate the value of this time spent - it is necessary to keep yourself sane. Therefore, if you are in a location that doesn't provide some semblance of life that you desire, you may find yourself going crazy by the end of the first semester.

Also, depending on your location, you may have family or friends nearby. A support base is very helpful in medical school, and may even be of paramount importance if you have children that need taking care of. Location may be important if you have a relationship or spouse, you may want to be located near them, and also some medical schools are not located near airports or other points of transportation in case you do long distance.

2) Prestige
This is debateable - I have been told at interviews during the orientation talk portion that prestige is still factored into residency admissions, that residency directors around the country still have an idea which schools are known to be competitive. Generally speaking however, the level of prestige of a medical school for residency may be somewhat equivalent to the level of prestige of an undergrad institution for applying to medical school. It may be factored in, but it will be minor compared to other factors like grades and standardized exams.

3) Cost
This is probably one of the biggies - we all know medical school costs are rising, and the time it takes to pay back loans is no walk in the park. Thanks to George Bush, the interest rate sucks, and causes an influx of money threads in the preallo subforums here at SDN.

In state tuition varies some, in certain cases like CA or TX, the difference is pretty large. But you must weigh what you are actually paying for, and some would claim that for schools like those in the top 10 like Harvard and JHU, it is worth it. Others claim that paying debt back for up to 20 years is not favorable to their long term goals of buying a house, having a family, etc., so they opt for state schools that generally have a much lower tuition cost.

Look at what you want out of life down the road, and what you want in your medical school education. Weigh those criterion with the money, and find the deal that fits you best.

4) Likelihood of being accepted
This is an important thing to look at when applying, if you are a 3.0/31 GPA/MCAT student, there's really no sense in applying to the top 10 and nothing else. The general scheme used is pick a few reach schools, pick alot that are more within your reach, and pick a few backups. This is an expensive and tedious process, you want to maximize your chances of acceptance because going through this process again is not beneficial to your application or your wallet.
Members don't see this ad :)
In regards to the likelihood of being accepted part of the question, I'd also like to point out that there are different stats in terms of number of out of state vs. in state accepted at particular schools.

This goes under the location thing too I guess.

You should consider where you have a realistic chance of getting in based on your stats, state of residency (does the school take mostly in staters or are out of staters equally represented?), whether you've done enough ECs as well (i.e. if it is a research based school do you have publications or extensive ECs that set you apart or are you the typical cookie cutter who did nothing but the minimal shadowing/volunteering?)

If you have stats that afford you to be somewhat picky with your choices take into account the curriculum, location, etc.
Does anyone have a list of which schools are PBL/Int. and which still use organ-based learning? Is that located in the MSAR?
Does anyone have a list of which schools are PBL/Int. and which still use organ-based learning? Is that located in the MSAR?

There isn't a list per say but there is a glib about the curriculum among the host of other information for each individual school. So they'll tell you what type of curricula it is on the school's individual pages.
Not open for further replies.