Should I should transfer to Vanderbilt as a pre-med

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Victoria U.

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May 20, 2024
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Hi! I recently got in as a transfer to Vanderbilt and I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to transfer and start over from scratch.
I just completed my freshman year at Wake Forest and my GPA is a 4.0. I already finished Orgo I and II, and Bio I and I have a lot of extracurriculars that are going pretty well. I currently work as an EMT, intern at a research lab, volunteer at the cancer center, and intern for the football team's sports medicine program. I'm also on exec board of our club rowing team and I'm in a sorority.
I have a lot of opportunities already at Wake Forest and it's a great school, but they don't have many public health or neuroscience classes, which I want to study. Wake Forest has a medical school, which is around 50th nationally, but Vanderbilt is much more prestigious and has much more research funding. Vanderbilt's medical school is also incredible. Vanderbilt would open a lot more doors and give me a lot more opportunities, but I would have to reestablish myself and find new jobs and internships. Vanderbilt also gave me a huge scholarship so it would be 20k a year cheaper than Wake Forest.
I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it to transfer next year. My ultimate goal is to go to a top 10 medical school one day. Is Vanderbilt's prestige and medical centers worth starting all over again? Will this hurt my med school application or help it? Thanks!

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"Starting over" is always a risk, especially since you clearly seem to have a good thing going on at Wake. You do need to keep your "eyes on the prize," which ultimately is getting into med school, so being in an environment where you can be successful is ultimately the most important thing. However, if Vandy offers classes that you're more interested in and is also ~$60k cheaper over the course of your remaining 3 years... those would be good potential reasons for the transfer.

Ultimately it comes down to you, your values, and to a certain extent your risk tolerance. However I would not make the swap because you think that the "Vandy" name is going to open doors to you--it's not.
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It sounds like you have given yourself an unnecessary ultimatum. Either transfer AND start over or not transfer…. I would propose this to you: why not transfer; finish what you started and take some extra classes at Vandy in the field you are interested in? Another option would be to transfer to Vandy, finish, then take a gap year working on a research project with the university. Or combine all of that; the sky is the limit.

Another thought; take with a grain of salt because this is mostly anecdotal and grapevine: I grew up in Nashville and I know current vanderbilt undergrad students; attending there as an undergrad has absolute zero bearing on whether or not you will get into the medical school. From convos I have had with past applicants, it seems that Vanderbilt is primarily looking for people interested in a medical scientist career, or academic medicine. This is because they are a huge research institute. They also weight stats extremely heavily, per people I know who have applied in the past. I know someone who had an MCAT of 518, didn't get in, and when they asked for feedback from an admissions advisor at the medical school, Vanderbilt told them to increase the MCAT to a 520+.

TL;DR don't limit your options, and Vanderbilt has very specific criteria for med school. Make sure you weigh that against what you are seeking in a future career.

Best of luck!
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If you’re premed you should stay wherever it’s easiest to get As. Nobody is going to care that you went to Vanderbilt over wake forest. If this was Harvard, that would be a different story. Get easy As and focus your free time on standing out of the from crowd with interesting extras. That’s what I would tell my kids or myself if I could go back.

It sounds like you’re doing great at Wake Forest. I don’t know why you’d want to change that.
Wake Forest, the Vanderbilt of the ACC. Or is that Vanderbilt, the Wake Forest of the SEC.

Seriously, they're peers. You aren't "moving up." Get your profile in gear whatever you do. Do summer research at Vandy/WF and get the best of both.
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Your logic here is incredibly flawed. Nobody cares where you went to college. I also promise you the research opportunities aren’t really any better at Vandy than where you’re at.

If you want to transfer, and you have the money, transfer. But don’t let medical school admissions factor into your decision at all.
This question often gets asked. A recent example of someone wanting to transfer to a more "prestigious" school:

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