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The cost of applying!?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by medicnas, Nov 13, 2002.

  1. Hey everybody,

    It's been a thorn in my side for a while that the cost of applying to medical school verges on utter insanity. In fact, what's worst is that I believe it to be a factor that discourages diversity and adds to the stratification of medicine. Just adding up a few numbers, as the son of two accountants is wont to do, the total cost of applying to 12 medical schools (assuming 5 "flying" interviews and staying with a student at each) is:
    240 (MCAT) + 12x55 (mean 2ndary app fee?) + 350 (? AMCAS, I forget exactly) + 250x5 (flight) + 50x5 (incidentals and transport) = 2750 not including some other small misc. expenses like postage.

    That's a lot of money. And if med schools expect us to give up at least some of our summers (if not all) to unpaid/lowpaid volunteer work or research...how are we supposed to save that up? In fact, I don't think you can get a loan for that? I guess a lot of people pull a me and just borrow (yet again :rolleyes: ) from Mom and Pop Savings and Loan (Hey, they've got great 30 yrs fixed rate loans!!). Fortunately I'm lucky enough to do this. But some of my friends at college last year really freaked about these expenses...and I can't blame them! It's much like the tuition problem (and don't even GET me started on how a school with hundreds of millions of dollars in an endowment (meaning tens of millions, at least, in interest ever year) can't lower tuitions to the inflation adjusted levels of 1980 (or 1960 for that matter)) which is, in my opinion, the worst problem facing higher education today.

    So, anyways, after utilizing some Enron math I decided to guess at what the school's take is. Even though some schools claim that it just covers expenses...I took them at their word. Until I realized that not all schools charge the same amount. In fact, I had one school only charge me $30!!! Wow, what a great deal! Maybe they'll only read 50% of my essay. Probably not. Actually, I bet that they do just as good a job reading my app. as the $80 schools. Gee whiz, $80?! What could they POSSIBLY be spending the other $50 on?! It's certainly not the brochure or the lame websites they have going.

    Maybe, just maybe, it's to discourage applicants? But who are they discouraging? The middle income applicants, the "kinda" poor applicants? Geez, I guess it's possible but they would have be really sick to do that kind of thing.

    So, I posted this in the hope that somebody, somewhere, could shed some light on why the cost is so stratospheric (and I'm not talking about flying around, that's just annoying and possibly unavoidable) and what can be done about it? Also, please feel free to correct my numbers...remember, I was only busting out some Enron math, and consequently the numbers might not even be in the ballpark of the ballpark.


    Wishing Milton Friedman was my uncle,

    Neil

    PS: Sorry for the lame grammar, I've been typing for a while and have gotten laz
     
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  3. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    If you really want to know how crazy expensive it can get (I think your figures are on the low side), check out Who's spent the most $$$ so far? from last year. :rolleyes:
     
  4. Oh my...I didn't even consider the MCAT prep course...ick. It's sick, just plain sick I think. Thanks, SMW, for that link. I never thought about it in terms of things, but here's perhaps a more telling cost (Assuming $3k):

    In cases of beer (@ $10/case) = 7200 cans of beer.

    Do you have any idea how much beer that is?!

    675 gallons worth, or (@ 30 gallons / keg) 22.5 KEGS of BEER!
    Sweet, delicious beer. Imagine the party one could throw with that much beer.
    .
    .
    .
    wait for it.
    .
    .
    .
    THAT'S IT! We're funding adcom parties! The ba$tards. Too bad Hard Copy isn't on the air anymore, they'd love this story.
     
  5. tedstriker

    tedstriker wicked retahhded
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    lol, medicnas. I've been pulling a you and not even knowing it. :laugh: Gotta love ma and pa...
     
  6. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    yes, it's crazy. I think the only thing to do is to fight for medical school admission reform. And I think money is one good reason.

    Let's look at some schools that clearly seem to use a formula...why does it cost >$50 for them to run your numbers through a formula?

    I think medical school admissions is a great example of a powerful group taking advantage of a powerless, desperate group. It's a shame that a profession built on humanism has turned to this. I think we, the future of medicine, need to do something about it.
     
  7. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    what about us reapplicants?

    I got off easy, not having to retake the MCAT. But some unfortunate souls did retake the MCAT - and hey, some reaplicants may have taken that damn thing three times!
     
  8. Adcadet,

    It's my understanding from talking to a few docs on adcoms that they don't get paid, they're doing it because it's important. So, basically our $50 (for the sake of arguement) is funding a few overhead expense:
    1) Cost of the booklet/mailer/catalog (if we interview) - $8
    2) Cost of admissions personel looking at the app. - ???
    3) Office staff time (@ $16/hr, .5 hrs / app aggregate = $8

    Ok, so #2 is the big variable. The dean of admissions, if I had to make an educated guess based on what other deans make, probably draws between 125-160 depending on the size of the school. However, the dean of ad. spends maybe a minute on an app, if at all. I realize that this varies (at loyola, for instance, Dr. Nordstrom reads every app and meets with every applicant when they interview). Ok, so let's say they spend 10 minutes of total time on any given application (this is a LOT of time I think...4k apps / school = 40,000 minutes = 667 hrs.). If we assume 2k hrs / yr (standard working year) and $150k salary...then their time, per app, is worth $7. Let's just say $8 to be fair. Now, we have $24 so far. I'm willing to factor in a 20% error. Also, worth nothing, is that we're assuming that the dean of admissions (with their high salary) reads every app. If two admissions monkeys read the app, they're probably not making more than 65k each...so the figure goes down.

    Basically, by my estimates, it shouldn't cost more than $30 to process an application. If that number is true/close then there is no excuse for a school to charge more because I believe it would be wrong from them to turn a 67%+ percent profit (BMW makes roughly 12% on their cars, and they're the highest in the industry) on POTENTIAL students. There are $30 schools, they're just rare.

    Thoughts/errors? (I'm assuming, of course, that the adcom isn't paid...which could make a big difference...but then I'd be curious how any school can get it done for $30)
     
  9. Random Access

    Random Access 1K Member
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    First of all, you're making an arbitrary and irrelevant comparison by saying that BMW makes 12% profit on their cars. Department stores sell clothing with over 100% profit at full price. Is that "wrong"? I don't see it as wrong, even if your numbers were accurate, which I don't think they are.

    You are talking about the minimum amount of money spent on a given application. For people who are interviewed, there is much more work put in. Plus there is lots of deliberating by the committee, etc etc etc. You're missing lots of costs. The people who are rejected right away help subsidize those who make it further in the process. I don't think admissions offices actually make a profit.
     
  10. Ronin

    Ronin Senior Member
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    i am applying to twenty-something schools..... and this is the second round for me..... so, i guess i have to say that what you are paying is very little. In fact, do you mind lending me $30K or so? thanks :)
     
  11. You're right...the profit comparison was unfair.

    However, I do think that my figures are fair. Here's why:
    -ADCOMs (at least at NU and Yale where I talked to doctors I knew who were on the ADCOMs at some point) are not paid; their hours do not count. Also, there is no opportunity cost for their lost work hours b/c they do this ON TOP of their job.
    -Additional cost for interviewed candidates:
    -Parking validation (for some, and not everywhere)
    -Lunch ($5 / kid)
    -Additional .5 hrs of staff work and a few bucks to mail things.
    -$2 / kid for coffee and donuts or whatever they have.
    -Remember, the tour guides aren't paid.

    I'd go so far as to say even $20 could be spend per interviewed applicant. If the average school interviews 800/3000 applicants, then by charging $7 more per student ($37 total) they could break even.

    That $37 figure has a bunch of fat in it, remember.

    You know, you're forgetting how easy med school admissions personel have it:
    -No "med fairs" like law school
    -Basically no promotion/recruiting expenses at all (compared to law/MBA programs).

    Amazingly, law schools charge the same or lower (and give out a TON of fee waivers if they're interested) despite some higher costs with regards to promotion/recruiting.

    Medical schools are self promoting entities because of the highly controlled amount of schools, and high numbers of applicants.

    Furthermore, how would you explain the ability for any school to get it done for less? Even if we say that $50 is what it takes...and there are a lot of schools that can do it for that much money...then why do schools charge any more? It's not our problem that their office is so inefficient that they need to sock it to us for the additional fee difference from the mean.

    So, no, I don't think my figures are off...and infact, they may be too high. Consider the factors I have discussed above and let me know what you think. I wonder...a public school's finances should be public record. It might be possible to audit their admissions office expenditures and find out if in fact they are turning a profit.
     
  12. plickfu

    plickfu Junior Member
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    See, I have this theory that the Cold War, irreparably and to a greater extent than ever acknowledged, seriously ****ed things up. After World War II, the United States had this surplus of productive, albeit unintelligent, workers (soldiers). With the military-industrial complex already in full force, these soldiers could not simply be returned to their farms; they had to be trained to serve the post-agricultural American Cold War system. To do this, hundreds of thousands of veterans were sent to university on the GI Bill. In so doing this, the arena of higher education was watered down, losing any standards it could once have professed.
    So, any breathing, clodhopping numbskull could get in to college. But wait, thought the white man. The Civil Rights Movement was gaining steam, and soon minorities, free from the centuries of both legal and then de facto segregation, would be an equal part of education and society. Needless to say, this troubled Whitey. So what did he do now that academic and professional standards had been all but diminished? He made it economically infeasible for most people other than the upper-middle class and above (disproportionately white) to afford attending university, a convention that exists to ths day.
    What I am saying is that the reason the cost of 'getting an education' continues to grow unboundedly is that, after segregation was deemed unconstitutional, there had to be implemented a less obvious way of keeping minorities on the fringe.
    Keep in mind that this is just a hypothesis. I have done no active research into the matter, and, as such, I can provide no real support for my stance. But someday, I tell you, the book that I will write based on this notion will be required reading in high schools and universities throughout the world.
     
  13. plickfu

    plickfu Junior Member
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    I would like to say that I DID NOT type those asterisks.

    **** **** **** ****
    **** **** **** ****
     
  14. serge23

    serge23 Member
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    plick..

    Ill be looking our for your book....=)
     
  15. NUgoofygirl

    NUgoofygirl Junior Member

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    Actually, NU pays their student tour guides and gives them a free lunch also.

    They also pay for accepted students to come to their second look weekend, including travel fees--that is a lot of money there. I'm sure most schools that have second look weekends also pay these expenses.

    And what about postage and the cost of paper/ink for applications and interview offers/acceptance/rejection/waitlist letters?

    Medical school admissions people came to my undergrad school for our prof/grad school admissions fairs. And an admissions officer from one of our state schools came to speak to us and then had individual interview sessions with students to help them find out their competitiveness for that school.

    Financial aid office workers usually spend time with the interviewees to discuss loans and budgeting with them also, that is a few hours worth of pay too.

    I think those small expenses add up pretty quickly. I agree that it is painful to part with all that money applying, but it is really nothing compared with how much money you spend once you actually get into medical school--unless of course you reapply and/or take the MCAT multiple times.
     

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