Undergrad Prestige

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ja312608

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Everyone on this site and Reddit keeps saying undergrad prestige doesn't matter but when I ask my friends who go at top schools they all say that Harvard and the like are way over-represented compared to others. Obviously a Harvard or T10 undergrad name isn't making up a 3.2/500 compared to a 3.8/520 lower-ranked school. Empirically, most of the T10 med schools have a very large proportion of top undergrad schools filled with top-ranked undergrads. Is this because of the connections you make at these schools or the overall caliber of the students or is there some other reason?

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Can confirm - the vast majority of students at my top 10 school are from top-20 undergrads.

To answer your question, it’s probably a bit of everything. Going to a top undergrad makes it easier to build connections and participate in impactful research. Students at top schools are (and/or viewed to be) more competitive/higher caliber.
 
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It's probably both. I have seen top 10 undergrad students at lower-ranked med schools and vice versa although a greater proportion of top 10 undergrads are at top medical schools. It is not absolute. Work hard and you'll get to where you want to be.
 
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Prestige certainly matters to top schools, just take a look at their faculty's credentials to see that. Nearly every professor in every subject at Ivy League schools have at least two degrees from other Ivy League schools. At the highest levels like that, the easiest way to boost their own status is to absorb their direct competitor's people as much as possible.

However, it's not the main factor at all. If they have two applicants with the same stats then yeah they're picking the one from Harvard, but as long as you have great stats from a state school you still have just as much of a chance against the applicants with slightly lower stats from from more prestigious schools.
 
My take is that, all things being equal, coming from a top tier, name brand UG certainly doesn't hurt, but the reason their grads are disproportionately represented at top schools is because they disproportionately produce top candidates. Period.

The HS kid who turned down Harvard UG for a full ride at a state school is not handicapped by that fact when applying to med school, assuming he stayed on track and is performing at an extremely high level. By the same token, the person who never had a shot at an Ivy for UG, who has good but not great stats and ECs, is also probably not going to a T20 med school for many of the same reasons they couldn't be admitted to an Ivy UG.

Most people end up where they belong, and it really is NOT determined by where you go to UG. There are enough people in T5, T10 and T20 schools from no-name UGs to prove this point. There are also plenty of Ivy grads going through multiple cycles who can tell you the reputation of their UGs did nothing for them in the process.
 
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You have to be an exceptional student, unless a good athlete, to be admitted to an Ivy. It's no surprise so many successful grads go on to top 10 and 20 med schools. If you want to do academics and research, or be a PD or Dept Chair, going to a top med school might be more helpful. Otherwise, plenty of residents at top residencies are from lower tier ( under top 10) med schools. Check out the residency rosters.
 
Everyone on this site and Reddit keeps saying undergrad prestige doesn't matter but when I ask my friends who go at top schools they all say that Harvard and the like are way over-represented compared to others. Obviously a Harvard or T10 undergrad name isn't making up a 3.2/500 compared to a 3.8/520 lower-ranked school. Empirically, most of the T10 med schools have a very large proportion of top undergrad schools filled with top-ranked undergrads. Is this because of the connections you make at these schools or the overall caliber of the students or is there some other reason?
It depends upon which school. There's more inbreeding at Brown than in an Alabama trailer park. So yeah, HMS and Yale may care more about where you went than, say, Emory or U Miami. But not everyone gets into the Really Top Schools, and you still have to do well in UG, whether your go to Yale or Kutztown State.

And watch out for sample size errors and confirmation bias.
 
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jai312608 said:
Everyone on this site and Reddit keeps saying undergrad prestige doesn't matter but when I ask my friends who go at top schools they all say that Harvard and the like are way over-represented compared to others. Obviously a Harvard or T10 undergrad name isn't making up a 3.2/500 compared to a 3.8/520 lower-ranked school. Empirically, most of the T10 med schools have a very large proportion of top undergrad schools filled with top-ranked undergrads. Is this because of the connections you make at these schools or the overall caliber of the students or is there some other reason?
I think you answered your own question. Top 20/Top 50 schools look at where you went to undergrad. It's no joke that a degree from a T20/T50 means more to those types of schools than a degree from State U. To each his own.
 
This is born out in the 2013 AAMC survey of medical school admissions where for public schools it was found that state of residency was a factor of high importance while for private schools is was "selectivity of undergraduate institution." The issue with this of course is what does that mean? Is it a formal policy? informal? which medical schools have what? how do individual evaluators use this? Who decides which UGs are selective? Does that vary across medical schools? How does that differ from feeder schools? And most importantly how much weight is this given?

There is no way to discern answers to these question other than in a gross manner. Nor can we discern the effect of just how high quality the students to go to the "selective schools" was in the first place, the opportunities they may have in UG, and the rest. In short, yes it will help but this all that can be said
You do realize that there a version of that report that is less than 7 years old, don't you? The 2020 version of that report lists selectivity of undergraduate institution as a factor of lowest importance, without regard to whether the school is public or private.
 
You do realize that there a version of that report that is less than 7 years old, don't you? The 2020 version of that report lists selectivity of undergraduate institution as a factor of lowest importance, without regard to whether the school is public or private.
I might be wrong, but my impression was that the 2013 report was the first to contain such survey data, and after some controversy over the importance of "selectivity of UG institution," subsequent survey responses confined it to "lowest importance."

From both publicly-available info and my personal knowledge of how admissions works at a couple of schools, it seems like UG school selectivity/prestige is usually incorporated into the evaluation rubric. This could either be additional points earned purely based on the UG school, or some system where your GPA/MCAT points are adjusted based on where you went to school (e.g. a 3.6 GPA usually earns 1 point, but they know UChicago is hard so there's a +0.3 correction factor. So that 3.6 now earns 2 or 3 points as if it were a 3.9.)
 
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And the moment the report came out in 2013 there was such a furor that I think nobody ever was going to honestly answer that question again. The next year the bias "magically" went away. If you mean the report in the Using MCAT® Data in 2020 Medical Student Selection, that is the 2015 data, where the bias "disappeared"
I totally get what you are saying, and pray for my own sake that it's a chicken and egg thing rather than a cause and effect. Either way, it is at least a little disingenuous to cite to a 2013 survey that was superseded the following year, a full 5 years ago, because you choose to give more weight to what you remember from a generation ago than to the results of a present year survey. I humbly submit that if it were true that selectivity of UG were of the "highest" importance to private schools, like grades and MCATs, you'd have less than 10% of the class in private schools coming from UGs that were not "selective," since there are certainly enough qualified applicants from selective UGs to 100% fill those classes. :)
 
Agree with what everyone has posted. Here’s an anecdote: Pre-meds at Harvard get a booklet that shows the average accepted GPA of Harvard students to each med school compared to the national average of that school. It’s like MSAR but specifically for harvard students so you can better make your school lists. Accepted GPAs from Harvard are regularly .2 points lower than the national average.
 
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hence why I stated in that "2013 report" post
But, to be fair, you didn't refer to 6 later surveys that contradict that data point.

Bottom line -- MCATs and GPAs are cited as "highest importance" academic metrics. How many matriculants each year at top tier schools do not have superlative MCATs and GPAs (top 90+%-ile). At the same time, how many matriculants at those same schools each year come from schools other than top tier UGs? Given the numbers, was that metric really of "highest importance," in 2013, 2015 or 2020? What difference does it make in 2020 that things were different in the "good ole days" and were mistakenly reported as such in 2013?
 
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It depends upon which school. There's more inbreeding at Brown than in an Alabama trailer park. So yeah, HMS and Yale may care more about where you went than, say, Emory or U Miami. But not everyone gets into the Really Top Schools, and you still have to do well in UG, whether your go to Yale or Kutztown State.

And watch out for sample size errors and confirmation bias.
Brown inbreeding is due to their large BSMD program (45-60) so not sure it can be compared to Alabama trailer park inbreeding :cool:
 
Agree with what everyone has posted. Here’s an anecdote: Pre-meds at Harvard get a booklet that shows the average accepted GPA of Harvard students to each med school compared to the national average of that school. It’s like MSAR but specifically for harvard students so you can better make your school lists. Accepted GPAs from Harvard are regularly .2 points lower than the national average.
Given that Harvard has grade inflation, 0.2 is like 0.4 from schools like UCB.
 
Given that Harvard has grade inflation, 0.2 is like 0.4 from schools like UCB.

Yeah, something that many people haven’t seemed to acknowledge is that UGs like Harvard have grade inflation (like easier grading than the UCs or UChicago) but also seem to get leniency for GPA in the application process.
 
all of the above

 
Yeah, something that many people haven’t seemed to acknowledge is that UGs like Harvard have grade inflation (like easier grading than the UCs or UChicago) but also seem to get leniency for GPA in the application process.
I hear this, and I have absolutely no first hand knowledge, but I'm not so sure about this. For every Harvard that inflates, there's a Chicago, Princeton or MIT that doesn't.

All I do know from first-hand experience is that it's next to impossible to get into Harvard UG :), so none of us knows exactly what is so special about those applicants in the first place, or whether they actually receive any greater consideration when it comes to the GPAs than anyone else, from any UG, with something extraordinary in their application that allows them to receive an A while being in the bottom 10%, 25% or 50% of a school's entering class' GPA.
 
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I might be wrong, but my impression was that the 2013 report was the first to contain such survey data, and after some controversy over the importance of "selectivity of UG institution," subsequent survey responses confined it to "lowest importance."

From both publicly-available info and my personal knowledge of how admissions works at a couple of schools, it seems like UG school selectivity/prestige is usually incorporated into the evaluation rubric. This could either be additional points earned purely based on the UG school, or some system where your GPA/MCAT points are adjusted based on where you went to school (e.g. a 3.6 GPA usually earns 1 point, but they know UChicago is hard so there's a +0.3 correction factor. So that 3.6 now earns 2 or 3 points as if it were a 3.9.)
Is this actually true? I went to an undergrad known for grade deflation like that and I was told by my advisor that no one cares that our classes were maybe tougher, maybe there's the slightest difference in a break-even case, but certainly not an implicit +.2-.3 adjustment.

Edit: looking around it seems like most people agree that there's no conscious adjustment.
 
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1) the only two publicly available surveys to this detail are 2013 and 2015
2) The **** that hit the fan is 2013 over this was in large part why they repeated in 2015 and why they dont release after that
3) and all the issue was does a prestigious school help, and the answer is yes: Why, How, to What Extent is unknown and variable in numerous ways across multiple schools
4) medical profession and the schools by extension are conservative in the sense that change does not come quickly. It takes a generation (20-30 years) for any major "cultural" changes. For example, the merger of residency governance, was started back in 1995 under a project called "physician 2015" that was attempting to put MD, DO, and DPM under a single umbrella. The only thing that came to that was the MD/DO residency merger and that was finally prompted by the number of open residency slots under DO.
5) yeah I am old, been involved with medical admissions since the 1970s and historical understanding of the changes does matter
Sounds reasonable! So what you are saying is that the table in every annual edition of Using MCAT Data is citing to the same survey taken in 2015? Okay. And I honestly do appreciate the perspective that comes with your many years of experience. I also get that old habits die hard.

Being still wet behind the ears, please indulge me this one question, though -- as I said before, I understand that MCATs and GPAs are cited as "highest importance" academic metrics, and it's obvious that it's true based on how high those metrics are for the top 90+% of matriculants at top schools, how truly rare relatively low GPAs and MCATs are at those schools, and how the very few people at those schools with sub par academic metrics have a hook like military, outstanding public service, URM, etc. I guess it all depends on how one defines "highest importance," but how truly "highest importance" was UG selectivity, not in 1970, but even in 2013, if more than a very nominal amount of matriculants at @Goro's Really Top Schools came from not so top UGs, and those people do not need the hooks that people with crappy MCATs and GPAs need to break through?

I really think that's the flaw in that survey from 2013. No doubt a 4.0/520 from Harvard is more impressive than the same metrics from Kutztown, but that fact alone does not make UG selectivity a "highest importance" admission factor. If selectivity of UG is right up there with GPA and MCAT as a "highest importance" factor, how the hell does anyone, other than a token few with an outstanding hook, get into a Really Top School without it, let alone the vast numbers of people with great applications from less than stellar UGs that do so every freaking year?

Clearly it's really not of the "highest importance" since a lot of people break through every year without it -- many more than are successful at Really Top Schools who don't possess the other "highest importance" academic metrics of GPA and MCAT. How do you explain the divergence, if it's truly a "highest importance" academic metric in 2020? Your historical understanding of med school admissions from two generations ago doesn't really explain it.

You're really just saying what everyone already intuitively knows -- that, all things being equal, it's better to be coming from a prestigious, name brand school than a no-name one. But it's not 1970, and UG selectivity is not a "highest importance" admission factor, and that's why, all other things being equal, a 4.0/520 from Kutztown will beat out a 3.5/515 from Harvard, because Harvard vs. Kutztown is not a "highest importance" factor, whereas 4.0/520 vs. 3.5/515 is!!! :) Today, Harvard vs. Kutztown is nothing more than a tiebreaker.

This is not to say that top UGs do not disproportionately produce a ton of successful candidates at Really Top Schools, because clearly they do. The question is whether, as the 2013 survey implies, this is because an ordinary candidate becomes a top candidate by virtue of attending a prestigious UG, or whether prestigious UGs just happen to attract a disproportionate number of superstar students who later become superstar candidates, because they were superstars going in, not because merely going to the school turned them into studs. I think it's the latter, and that it's a mistake to attribute a cause and effect rationale to the phenomenon. Again, if I am wrong, how is it possible that there aren't enough applicants with this "highest importance" admission factor, in addition to the other "highest importance" factors, to totally or nearly totally fill all of the seats at all of the Really Top Schools?
 
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