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The difficulty of courseload & school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by wahoo2010, May 14, 2008.

  1. wahoo2010

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    Do medical schools consider the difficulty of courseload as well as the difficulty of school? I go to a tough school with terrible grade deflation. I did pretty well in my first year, but I then took very tough classes in my sophomore year. As a result, my GPA dropped by 0.12, even though I got respectable grades in Organic Chemistry and Biology at the same time.
     
  2. Dendrite

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    This has been a bit of a contentious topic, but overall, it depends on the medical school. With some of the top schools out there, there is at least some consideration to the difficulty of the undergraduate program and courses taken; for example, there are admissions members that understand how difficult physical chemistry is, and a B in that course means a lot.

    I have a friend that ended up with a GPA of around 3.6 that went to a top 10 school, and another friend that went to a lesser-known school and got a 3.8 GPA. Both were chemistry majors. The one with a 3.6 GPA ended up getting around 15 interviews during that cycle, whereas the 3.8 guy got under 10. This is anecdotal, but I think it does show that it can play a difference.

    That being said, the safest combination to have is a good GPA and a good MCAT score, supplemented with "everything else" in the application file, regardless of where you went.
     
  3. flip26

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    Per your screen name, do you speak of UVa? Organic Lab is brutal there...and Physics is real nut cutter, too...

    Send me a PM and we can compare notes...
     
  4. skyjump

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    I think the MCAT is a great equalizer in that respect. I double majored in math and biochem so my gpa wasn't the greatest in the world but I still got in to some decent schools with an above average MCAT. I was asked a lot of questions about my performance in school during my interviews and I was brutally honest with them, I took hard classes and I didn't spend enough time on my school work (was also doing research and played DIV I sports) and they seemed to understand and took that into account.
     
  5. nikeshp

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    I don't think that really explains much, how did their MCATs compare?
     
  6. Dendrite

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    Forgot to mention - Same MCAT, although different breakdown. The one with the 3.8 did better in the verbal section, but the 3.6 did better in bio science. I would rather not mention the score in particular.

    That's why I used that particular comparison.
     
  7. BigRedPremed

    BigRedPremed Senior Member
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    I don't see how the MCAT is the equilizer. So the 3.4 students at School A score the same on the MCAT as the 3.6 students at School B. Well, the School A students would still have a lower GPA with the same MCAT so I don't see how they would fare better than the School B kids.

    Anyway, the reality is that it probably matters some but not enough to fully compensate.
     
  8. flip26

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    Still not very convincing evidence that the school prestige accounts for the difference.

    Maybe if they applied to the exact same schools, submitted to AMCAS on the same day...but even then we can't know how their PS, LORs, ECs, etc., compared and made a diff...the only point I am trying to make is that it is virtually impossible to isolate a single difference between otherwise comparable applicants to explain different outcomes in something like med school applications...

    Regardless, 10 to 15 interview invites is a ton...not exactly certain from this piece of info that one did a whole better than the other...
     
  9. majik1213

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    I doubt they will take the difficulty of the course into question because difficulty is all relative. What one person finds hard may be another person's milkshake (that brings all the boyz to the yard ..). I also think that if you are taking PChem you are a major in chemistry and have to take it. From the ADCOM's point of view you are majoring in something you excel at, so a good grade in that class should be easy for you because you have declared interest in that field. I majored in Physics, and I have an above 4 GPA in those classes, because for me I find the subject engaging and enjoyable, but I'm aware that people out there do not share my interest. At the same time, I do worse in biology, and much much worse in classics, english, and theater and dance courses.
     
  10. CubaLibre

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    from what I have seen amongst my peers, strength of school matters much much more than difficulty of courses. I know 2 psych majors whose most advanced science class was orgo 2 who are now at harvard med and some other people with "easier" majors who are now at top medical programs. None of which are uRM by the way.
     
  11. Dendrite

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    Exactly why I prefaced the post with it being anecdotal. Although they did not apply entirely to the same schools, the schools that the 3.6 interviewed at were schools that the 3.8 applied to. Both submitted their applications as soon as possible, although the time apart may be a little bit off - it was not, however, weeks or months apart from each other. I don't want to divulge more information to maintain their anonymity. I am sure differences may have arisen within the more subjective aspects of their application, which, once again, makes this case anecdotal.

    I still maintain that a GPA and MCAT are the most important parts of the application, like I mentioned earlier. But as a previous poster also mentions, the strength of an undergrad program does play at least somewhat of a factor with most else being equal, such as Harvard, Yale, Hopkins, etc.

    There are other schools out there that give less of an emphasis on undergrad institutions. I know WashU is big on just stats, and accepts from a wider range of undergrads than does Harvard. Like I mentioned earlier, it is school dependent.
     
  12. ChubbyChaser

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    :bow::bow:
     
  13. flip26

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    I agree that the undergrad school name carries weight - I am not sure how to prove it by the example you gave, that's all...and I don't think that the name of the UG on the diploma can make up for a significantly lower GPA - maybe a hair lower, but not a big drop...

    Ivy med schools seem to prefer Ivy grads - Ivy grads certainly fill up a disproportionate number of seats in these med schools (not trying to spark an argument here, but all you have to do is look at the matriculant data to see this)...and people from smaller to unknown colleges seem to be at a very real disadvantage with the more "national" med schools no matter how impressive their UG record, MCAT, etc...
     
  14. paranoid_eyes

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    there's no significant evidence that the school you go to makes a difference. There is no significant evidence that your major matters. And there is no significant evidence that what classes you take matters.

    there IS SIGNIFICANT evidence that your gpa makes a difference.

    moral of the story, whatever you do, make sure you can get a high gpa.
     

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