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Top 10 vs. Avg. school...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by CoronaBOY, Nov 10, 2002.

  1. CoronaBOY

    CoronaBOY Senior Member
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    hey guys...
    i was wondering about your opinion about this...

    would you go to top 10 school and become a bottom quater of your class (or below average)

    or

    to avg. school and become a top dog...(if you can)...
     
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  3. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    assuming they all cost the same, i would take top 10.

    but that is just me though
     
  4. surfdevl02

    surfdevl02 Senior Member
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    Average school and be top dawg...i miss the high school days...Duke had too many academically anal people....
     
  5. SM-UCLA tech

    SM-UCLA tech CCOM MS4 soon OB/Gyn PGY1
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    depends on what you are looking for?

    I assume that at all of the schools you will be surrounded by bright and motivated students.

    If you are looking to work in research/academia......then top 10 is the way to go. If you possibly want to be a specialist/subspecialist....then a top 10 school will help to get a competitive residency
     
  6. BrainDrain

    BrainDrain Member
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    I was thinking the same question. I'd choose top10...I'm of the belief that the school's reputation can go a long way (unlike undergrad).

    Just my $0.02
    BrainDrain
     
  7. UCLA2000

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    Remember...some top ten schools don't have grades...
     
  8. *sunny*

    *sunny* ...
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    how does the school work without grades? is it based on a pass/fail basis and USMLE, or some other grading method?
     
  9. S.c. Cdc28p

    S.c. Cdc28p Member
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    USMLE scores and written evaluations.
     
  10. Lebesgue

    Lebesgue Senior Member
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    Top School - no question -

    Get a better education, more of a challenge, more long term opportunities, but you just may have to try a little harder.

    I think of it as the difference between taking an opportunity to be in the olympics, or passing on the chance so you can crush the local talent in some sport. It seems like you'll lose in the end if you pick the easier route, plus it says something about what kind of person you are if your only reason is fear of not being #1.

    Why don't you shoot higher and just try harder. No reason you can't be top at the top...
     
  11. nuclearrabbit77

    nuclearrabbit77 commercial sex worker
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    i'd rather get AOA and a great board score at a non-top 10 school, then to be at the bottom of my class at a top 10.

    nuclearrabbit

    northwestern - 2006
     
  12. Ronin

    Ronin Senior Member
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    just wondering.... what exactly are the top ten schools you guys are talking about?
     
  13. surfdevl02

    surfdevl02 Senior Member
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    The difference folks can be over $100,000. That's very substancial in my case! I don't have money to toss around like that...a doctor is a doctor to me nomatter where he/she went to school.
     
  14. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    I dont see how stating my choice makes me academically anal. Many other people agreed with me in this thread, and they dont goto Duke.

    There is nothing anal about wanting to attend a top 10 school. Especially if you want to work at a university eventually like me. In that case, name recognition is in fact very important.

    Actually, unlike you, I am willing to be mediocre as opposed to thinking Im talk dog. I dont see how that makes me academically anal at all, since I am willing to take the hit.

    But whatever, your post doesnt make much sense at all. :rolleyes:
     
  15. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    Loans-- pay it back after. Going to medical school isnt "tossing money around"-- its a huge investment both mentally and financially. I am willing to stick with my old Honda Accord, not take as many vacations, and maybe not buy as many electronics as I normally would to help fund my education. I think most people on SDN would agree with this as well.

    And it DOES matter where you goto school. People keep assuming it doesnt, and usually these are the same people that assume that anyone who scored above a 35 and has above a 3.7 is some social misfit. There are noticable differences between schools and where they place into residency programs. Now, whether getting into a good residency or not and the importance of this is personal choice. But if you want to enter academia, which I one day hope to do, it is something I have to be careful about, and it is something I am definitely willing to make sacrifices for.
     
  16. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
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    Another thing i would like to add to this debate is something that I've been thinking about on my interview circuit. We can always make the statement "go to the presumably cheaper non top ten school", but how often is this REALLY true? If you're fortunate and get into a solid state school with a great reputation and relatively low cost of education, all the more power to you. But it seems a lot of schools people are applying to fall into the pretty expensive semi public/private category. It seems like the top schools tend to be "cheaper" in the sense that they have much larger financial aid resources and other student friendly amenities, such as subsidized housing, etc. At the "top tier" schools i've been too, they've show us they give out substantial grant money. at the "middle of the pack schools" i've interviewed at, they lead you to believe there is little non loan aid available. At least thats been my experience so far.........

    just food for thought :)
     
  17. The Mysterious Stranger

    The Mysterious Stranger Senior Member
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    You have a good point DW. Another way of looking at it might be that top tier "expensive schools" like the ones you describe give out more $ because they cost more. To fund one year of one person's education at Harvard is about $32,000 whereas at UT houston it would only cost about $8,000. If both Houston and Harvard fund 30% of their students Harvard will spend about 1.5 million dollars and and UT Houston would be $480,000. It would be an interesting topic to pursue.
     
  18. guitarguy

    guitarguy Member
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    I am not convinced that attending a top 10 school gives an individual a better shot at landing a prestigious academic position later in life, or will output a better physician at all. The major reason to go to a top 10 school over a state school lies with pride. It is really important to some people that when they attend medical conferences years down the road, they can say that they attended a highly ranked medical school (to the few, if any, that actually care). Going to a prestigious school is all about pride.

    People who attend top 10 medical school are for the most part students that came from competitive undergraduate schools, had high GPAs, received strong scores on their mcats, and managed to make some major impacts outside of their academic world. In other words, people accepted to top 10 schools thrive in academics. This is not to say that such people do not also attend non top 10 schools--anyone who attends medical school is extremely talented. It is true that students from top 10 schools tend to more easily land competitive residencies as well. But, I am NOT convinced that these students are landing these residencies because of their schools, but rather because they are extremely intelligent and successful in academics to begin with. I believe they would land the same residencies whether they went to the #1 school or the #50 school. For the same reasons, I agree that graduates from top 10 schools may find it easier to work in academia. But once again, people who attend top 10 schools thrive in academics to begin with, and naturally if you thrive in a certain area you are likely to want to work in that same area. Many more students from top schools have the desire to work in academia than other schools. You take any such student, place him in a state school, and I am doubtful he or she would have any additional difficulties landing such a position post-graduation.

    Basically, go to med school wherever you see yourself being most happy. Some schools do offer more opportunities than others. But if you were able to land an acceptance to a top 10 school, then I am sure that you can reach any goal even if you go to your state school. If its important to you to be able to walk around when your old with pride wearing your ivy league school letters across your sweater, then you probably would be more happy going to a top 10 school. If you think you'd be happier being a top student at your state school than being an average student at a top 10 school, then go to your state school. Life is way to short to compromise your own happiness in order to go to a school just because it has received a better score in US News' secret formula.
     
  19. surfdevl02

    surfdevl02 Senior Member
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    I couldn't have said it any better guitarguy! That's what i totally think is true after attending Duke. I realized the name game gets old after 4 years of schooling. Most of the kids at duke are successful because they have a lot of initiative, not because of the name itself. I think if you're successful you can be successful at whatever school you go to, unlike what aegis said earlier. His ultra competitive mentality is something i definitely won't miss from school. Take a chill pill man...you were probably my TA if you're who i think yoiu are...
     
  20. MeganRose

    MeganRose Senior Member
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    Duke is academically anal, not too much doubt about that. But the fact is that big names (both for grad and undergrad) do buy extra consideration. Beyond considering if you could reasonable live and be happy at a particular institution for four years, if I had the option, I would always go with the biggest name that I could get.
     
  21. nina512

    nina512 Senior Member
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    I know of two people who went to an avg med school (not in the top 50, according to USnews).

    They graduated and both got plastic surgury residencies. One of them (I think) got in at Stanford. Like others have said before...it's what you make of your experience at a particular school.
     
  22. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    I have a feeling this "top ten undergrad schools are 'academically anal'" (whatever that means) is analagous to the "any student who scores above a 36 on his/her MCAT and has above a 3.7 is a low-life" argument.
     
  23. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    It is what you make of your experience at the school, but if two candidates are relatively comprable then their institution does come into play.

    Also for as many stories of someone who did get into academia from a lower-tier school, there are probably 100 others that got in from an upper-tier one.
     
  24. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    seems to me that if you want to match to a residency in your home state, it would make sense to go to your state medical school. This way you'll definitely be able to do a rotation in the program you want. Of course, I'm sure most schools will let you do a rotation or two in another state if you have a good reason.
     
  25. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    I agree completely. There are definitely several issues at stake here and the way each of us values different criteria is determining whether we chime in on "top ten and lower ranked student" or "lower tier school and top student". The fact is, if someone was to offer me the ability to be the top student when I KNOW i wasnt working to my full ability, I would feel like Im cheating myself and my classmates. I would rather go into a top 10 school and get the crap kicked out of me, at least knowing that I am trying my best.
     
  26. CU_buffalo

    CU_buffalo Member
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    Some things I'd like to share:


    An acquaintance of mine went to Hopkins and graduated in the top 25% of his class. For residency, he wanted to do cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Colorado. Colorado, however, rejected him and accepted a fellow who went to Temple. My friend ended up going to Duke to do his residency. His Hopkins connections couldn't land him the residency he desired, though Duke isn't too shabby.

    During high school, I worked with an orthopaedic surgeon who graduated from Harvard. I asked him about the importance of going to a name brand med school, and he told me name isn't really important. He advised me to go to a school where I thought I could do well and have the best quality of life. Most of his colleagues went to lesser name schools and were just as capable a surgeon as he was.


    To me, I think your accomplishments as an individual speak better than any school you went to.
     
  27. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    I agree with what everyone is saying on this thread. I would just like to point out that the ORIGINAL question had to do with going to a top school and being mediocre or bad, or going to a mediocre school and being top dog. Based on these two complete choices, I would prefer not to choose an easy school just so I can excel at it. I would rather bust my arse and still get beat badly, because at least Ill know Im working my best and getting better.

    Thats all Im really saying, I am definitely NOT debating top 10 school verus mediocre school, I am debating going to top 10 with intent of good competition versus going to mediocre school solely because I want to be the best there.
     
  28. guitarguy

    guitarguy Member
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    A lot of people hold onto this doctrine of go to whichever school is ranked highest. First of all, who is to say that top schools by the time we are actually practicing medicine will be the same as they are today. I admit, a lot of top schools have always been top schools and will continue to remain at the top of the US News list. However, we live in volatile times.....full of scandals, law suits, a possibility for a transformed health care system....many given factors which can change these rankings. If your only criteria for choosing a school is ranking, and your top 5 school becomes a top 30 school in a few years, how will you feel?

    Don't be so certain that going to a top school will give you "an edge" over an identical candidate at a less prestigious school. My father, who works in the business world, was actually telling me recently that students from one of the most highly ranked MBA programs are not being perceived as strong candidates when they enter the work field because they are perceived as too arrogant. Schools bring with them good stigmas and bad stigmas. I know an girl who went to a very prestigious ivy league school (Yale) as an undergraduate, who had a terrible experience at one of her medical school interviews because her interviewer held some grudge against students from her school--she said as soon as he asked her what school she went to, it was all downhill. A residency director at a top program may be more excited to take a candidate from a less prestigious school that he receives very few applications than from a prestigious school that he always receives tons of applications from.

    The point being is that I think it is very unwise to choose your medical school for only one factor, especially ranking, which for research medical schools is calculated largely based on NIH funding (a number which bears very little relevance to the quality of the medical school education).

    I agree completely with CU_buffalo. And AegisZero, I think you missed my point earlier, that you probably have 100 times more people from top 10 schools with the desire to entire academia than from "lower-tier" schools.

    USMLE's are scored much like the MCAT, with no consideration to your medical school, but based on a national norm. It?s the only way to fairly compare students nationally.

    Lastly, AegisZero, what makes you so sure that you would not work as hard and learn as much going to a lower-tier school over a higher-tier school. If that is how you feel, then I think you are the one with the problem?don?t let environment have such a large influence on your behavior?you do have your own mind. On the contrary, since many of the higher-tier schools are graded strictly pass/fail, you may have less drive at such a school to work as hard. I'm not advocating going to a "mediocre" school because you can be the best there--there is no guarantee that you will if you tried anyways--but go to that school if for a variety of reasons you feel you may be happier there. Prestige vs. happiness. I will pick happiness any day.
     
  29. scootad.

    scootad. Senior Member
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    If you think that just because a school is not ranked by the almighty US NEWS it is an "easy" school, you are clueless. There are no easy medical schools in the United States. Go to any allopathic med school and you will find extremely intelligent, motivated people, yes even many people from, gasp, Ivy League schools. Med school is med school, you learn the same thing everywhere, its mostly how you do on your Step 1 boards that count most, and going to a top 10 school certainly does not guarantee a good board score.
     
  30. gotgirth

    gotgirth Greatest Icon in Wrestlng
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    Some people might not want a school where education is seen as a competition to "be the best there".
     
  31. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Although the school may not have grades, it does have a way to evaluate students. No Pass, Pass, Honors, High Honors, a.k.a. C, B, A. All these can be used to calculate rank.
     
  32. TroutBum

    TroutBum Senior Member
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    CU_Buff, I've heard similar stories. My boss, for example, went to a relatively mediocre (if you want to go by rankings, that is) state school, but she landed a great residency and is now one of the most distinguished doctors in her field. Her husband went to Harvard, and is doing fine also. Neither of them thought (when I discussed it with them) that where they went really made that much difference.

    BTW, CU_Buff, are you a fellow applicant from the Colorado? There don't seem to be too many of us here.

    As far as the original question, which Aegis reminded me of, I would rather go to the tougher school, with a "Bring it!" attitude. I'm not sure very many people get into those top schools if they don't have the attitude that they can be the best anywhere, not just where the competition is less intense (although I'm some of those people might also be pretty cut-throat and try to beat the competition in sketchier ways. . .)

     
  33. MeganRose

    MeganRose Senior Member
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    Hmmm... I can only talk about the school that I actually attended. Wasn't really referring to all top ten undergrad schools-- can't really comment on what the atmospheres at other schools are like....
     
  34. CU_buffalo

    CU_buffalo Member
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    TroutBum,

    Yes, I'm applying to UCHSC. I go to school at CU-Boulder and have an interview in Denver on Dec. 2. Any good advice you can give me? Thanks a bunch
     
  35. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    OK, so apparently Im being misunderstood so I will try to be clearer this one last time.

    The original question was whether I would want to be 1) top dog at a mediocore school or 2) bottom of class at top school.

    I said #2 because I would rather be working my best and still losing than not trying hard and not improving myself.

    I am NOT, for the last time, saying I would flat out pick a school based on rank. That is NEVER a good thing to do. But if you give me the opportunity to go to a school where I am forced to be the best I can, versus a school that I goto just so I can be lazy and still be relatively good, I would take the first choice.

    You don't improve as a person, scientist, or doctor if you don't put in your best effort.

    That is all I am saying. Picking med schools just for rank is NOT a good thing to do. But working hard to improve yourself is a good thing to do.
     
  36. All-Star14

    All-Star14 Wants to Rock Wit U
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    :laugh: So true! But, like Aegis, I'd prefer to go to a top 10 (don't really know why).
     
  37. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. I still maintain that the people who say "top 10 schools are academically anal" are the ones who say "those students with 36+ MCAT and 3.7+ GPA are low-lifes."

    This thread as a whole is a thorn in my side. Either no one is willing to read my whole post or they are dissing my undergrad. I need to stop reading this thread, I am just setting myself up for failure. LOL :p
     
  38. All-Star14

    All-Star14 Wants to Rock Wit U
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    Um...I'm not dissing your undergrad...I happen to go there myself.;)
     
  39. guitarguy

    guitarguy Member
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    Okay, thanks for clearing things up. It sounds to me like you should look into going to medical school either in the Caribbean or Mexico. You will learn the same material at any of these schools as you would in the United States, however since you are then at a disadvantage in terms of obtaining a residency, you will have the pressure that you seem to need to force you to study extra hard and learn the material as best as you can.
     
  40. merlin

    merlin Senior Member
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    Guitarguy, I think you have given some of the best comments I have heard in a long time on this board.

    As for the subject, I am currently going to Einstein and I just want to put it out there that what AegisZero is saying is quite misleading. I have many fellow classmates that were offered spots at these "top 10" schools and chose to come to Einstein instead. So for AegisZero's comment; there is no chance that you are going to go to "a (non-top 10) school that I goto just so I can be lazy and still be relatively good" I have to say I think you are going to be in for one gigantic surprise if you go into medical school with this attitude. There are no slackers in med school, even if there are no grades.
     
  41. DukeBluDevl02

    DukeBluDevl02 Senior Member
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    First, I want to say, GO DUKE!

    Secondly, I need to ask...what makes you think that going to a "mediocre" med school (whatever that is) means you're going to be top dog? And, what makes you think that going to a top ten med school, automatically puts you at the bottom of the class.

    The problem is that while we're at Duke, we are groomed to go to Harvard or to Yale for med school. Not everyone wants that and shouldn't be treated as such. Med school is med school. It's hard, and as much as I hate to say it (since I'm hopefully headed there next year), is much harder than Duke. How can anyone possibly predict how well they're going to do based on a meaningless, possibly arbitrary rank? You go to med school and you're going to work hard no matter what. If you're a Dukie like me, you'll be busting your ass to be the best no matter where you go, and it just doesn't matter. Don't assume anything. If going to a top ten med school is important in your mind, go for it.
     
  42. lotanna

    lotanna Child of God
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    Well said!! Any med student can tell u this. More than anything its where u do ur residency that matters because thats where u get ur training from!!! Book work is not going to make u the best doctor, and as long as u go to an accredited Med schl, then i'm sure u'll get adequate preparation.
     
  43. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    I agree with what is being said on the board. But remember, the initial question was would you prefer: 1) to go to a top med school and be at bottom of class
    2) to go to a bottom med school and be at the top of your class.

    Everyone is now saying "oh you can goto a top med school and be at the top of your class" or "you can go to a mediocre medical school and be at the bottom of your class". These werent choices provided! Neither was "go to good public school in your state and work hard". If that last choice had been offered I would have taken it, but it wasn't!

    So remember, I am choosing between #1 and #2 as the poster put if. If I get to modify his question (like everyone is now doing), I would say: Goto my instate medical school, bust my arse, and try to be at the top of my class.

    Too bad that wasnt one of the choices the original poster offered!
     
  44. DukeBluDevl02

    DukeBluDevl02 Senior Member
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    We all need to take it easy here on Aegis. I apologize for only adding more fat to the fire.

    GO DUKE!
     
  45. All-Star14

    All-Star14 Wants to Rock Wit U
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    Well said, DukeBluDevl02! :clap: (Go Duke!) Hope you get in this year!
     
  46. DukeBluDevl02

    DukeBluDevl02 Senior Member
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    Thank you All Star and good luck to you!! :laugh:
     
  47. AegisZero

    AegisZero Senior Member
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    Haha thanks;)
     
  48. LizardKing

    LizardKing Veteran Member
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    Not completely accurate, at least for most schools. Schools keep track of rankings even if they are Pass/Fail. They keep them strictly for AOA purposes. Usually they don't tell you. At some schools, you can find out your ranking after the first 2 years.

    -LK
    Johns Hopkins SOM Class of 2006

     
  49. UCLA2000

    7+ Year Member

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    HAHAHA. Well if it's "strictly for AOA purposes" then residency programs don't find out about the "internal rankings" at pass/fail schools. So in other words...there are STILL no grades, and no way to tell average students from students at the very bottom of their class.

    ...And I'd STILL rather be at a top 10.
     
  50. Andrew_Doan

    Andrew_Doan Doc, Author, Entrepreneur
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    Actually, there is a way to tell. Pass/Fail schools usually give out honors and high honors. This can later translate into class ranking. Furthermore, the deans letter will specify if you're in the bottom half, top half, top quartile, or top 10 percent.
     
  51. DarkChild

    DarkChild Senior Member
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    look its easy:
    1) go where the chicks are hotter (obviously not the top 10 school)
    2) go to the lower tier school... because that'll open up a seat for me at the top 10.
    ok... while I was being pretty serious before, I'll try and say something constructive, which hasnt been said on this thread already.
    Ultimately this boils down to an thoughtful analysis of who you are:
    1) are you the type of person who doesnt like to be pushed or challenged because you're afraid of failure? or are just generally risk averse?
    2) do you want to open up a small family practice somewhere and live a simple, comfortable and uncomplicated life?
    As I see it, if you dont really have high aspirations for your medical career - then the name of your medical school is largely irrelevant.
    You know the thing is though, the adcom at the top 10 picked you because they believed you can perform well at their school. Honestly, they have a lot more experience evaluating candidates than you do, so they probably see something, or know something that you dont. Regardless, if a school lets you in, it must mean that they expect you to perform sucessfully....
    My $0.02
     

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