Have you ever wondered, “Does undergrad matter for med school?”
Your undergraduate performance and experiences are strongly related to your acceptance to medical school, along with the extent of success you’ll have throughout the program.
If this surprises you, then you’ve come to the right place to learn more about how much undergraduate reputations matter for your successful entry into medical school.
This article will provide you with a comprehensive answer to whether undergraduate careers matter for medical school. In the context of medical school aspirations, we are going to talk about the importance of what college you went to undergrad, the importance of your undergraduate GPA for medical school applications, and then provide you with some brief recommendations on how to get into medical school based on your selected majors.
Let’s go ahead and get started!
Does Undergraduate Reputation Matter for Getting into Med School?
First things first, does the reputation of your undergraduate school matter for medical school admissions?
The answer is a definite yes, but not for the reasons you might assume.
Let’s talk about some deep-seated assumptions. Some might think that the reputation of your undergraduate school matters; this is only because medical school is an elitist network, exclusively allowing those worthy of attending Ivy League schools. However, it is actually more complicated than that.
The reputation of an undergraduate school matters because of its infrastructure, resources, training, curriculum, and career preparation. It also doesn’t hurt if you have access to leading physicians in the field to help you network, write letters of recommendation, or simply refer you to other medical training opportunities by word-of-mouth.
In actuality, some of the most prestigious medical schools are usually with major research institutions. This affiliation can create a significantly different undergraduate experience when compared to a school that does not have access to research opportunities or resources. Whereas, in the latter case, you’ll have opportunities to work with leading physicians who are conducting medical research that will definitely hone your skills for advanced training and strengthen your application for your future admissions.
We do want to emphasize how this is not necessarily the only thing that matters to your medical school applications. Reputations of undergrad universities might play a significant role in how admissions committees perceive you or will assume about your overall training and preparation for medical school. Generally, it doesn’t hurt to make a good impression by merely attending a prominent school with a prestigious curriculum tailored around the expectations of medical school.
The reputation of an undergrad university might even be the one deciding factor that breaks the competition between two applications. For instance, if you and another student have the exact same qualifications, but the other student attended an Ivy League school that graduates 90% of their students into medical school; chances are that the person who attended an Ivy League school would be selected over you.
There you have it! That’s mostly the extent of how vital your undergraduate school’s reputation is for medical school. It’s not totally crucial, but can be useful to facilitate entry into medical school.
Does Ivy League vs. Public University Matter for Medical School?
Now, we have talked about how undergraduate schools can make a big difference in terms of access to resources, opportunities, and/or curriculums tailored for more challenging career goals. Let’s focus on the distinct differences of what an Ivy League university might offer you as opposed to a public university.
First, we want to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with public universities or community colleges. However, as we just discussed in the prior section, this can positively impact your performance, consideration for admission to medical school, and other factors relevant to your career goals.
Prior studies have indicated that lower-income students who attend Ivy League universities have more opportunities to reach the top 1% of income earnings when compared to lower-income students at public universities.
Because Ivy League schools will not only provide you with the resources and connections you need to move forward but will also give your efforts more credibility that allows for entry into higher-paying jobs.
This translates into medical school admission committees. Here is how:
An Ivy League school might convey your efforts to accomplish more difficult coursework than a public university that is renowned for having “easy classes.” Performing really well in Ivy League classes give your efforts more credibility that shows med school admissions committees how hard you can work.
However, very little research can support this theory. According to other sources, the reputation of your undergraduate university carries very little weight when considering admissions into medical school. What college you went to undergrad is actually not as prioritized as your GPA, which we will discuss in more detail in the section, How Important is Your Undergraduate GPA for Med School Applications.
We’ve also found other sources that claim while the reputation of an Ivy League university wouldn’t hurt; it is important to stay focused on your application package as a whole. That is, did you make enough efforts to participate in additional extracurricular activities that would strengthen skills and abilities needed for medical school, such as research, publications, community engagement, internships, or leadership roles in student organizations?
Do not think that a mere name will assure your entry into medical school. If you are at a public university, you can still make the most out of your existing resources to strengthen your candidacy for medical school. Your talents and accomplishments are worth more than the reputation of your affiliated university.
What Undergraduate Schools are Best for Medical School?
We want to preface this section by saying that you can usually complete your pre-requisites for medical school at any university. Completing your pre-requisites is significant step in how to get into medical school. Courses for these may vary by institution, so just make sure to check with the medical school beforehand.
Here is a common list of pre-requisites for med school to demonstrate just how common these are found in most undergraduate schools.
- Organic chemistry
- General biology
- General chemistry
- Statistics (or calculus)
- Some kind of humanities course
From first glance, you’ll notice that half of these are typically the requirements for any undergraduate student.
Either way, the best undergraduate school is open-ended. However, you may want to look into an undergraduate school that has an advising office specifically for pre-med students. This will make the process much less difficult than trying to figure things out on your own.
We also encourage you to select an undergraduate school that you know will help you thrive as a young professional. Many pre-med schools can cultivate a competitive environment; others may be more laid-back. Think about where you would work best and what you would find most supportive to accomplish your goals.
So, what undergraduate schools are best for medical school?
All types! Large universities, private institutions, small liberal arts colleges, and even community colleges. Just make sure your pre-requisites are available, and make sure there is a coordinating office for students, at the very least.
Notably, it is still possible to get into medical school with community college credits. However, policies for accepting these credits may vary by institution. We suggest taking higher level classes for your medical school prerequisites to demonstrate your ability to perform in challenging coursework. Then, transfer to a four year for university-level coursework.
How Important is Your Undergraduate GPA for Med School Applications?
Your undergraduate GPA carries a lot more weight than the credibility of a university. GPAs are often used to predict your medical school performance than what college you went to undergrad. Some of our sources claim that medical school admissions committees prioritize GPA performance, along with MCAT and SAT scores, much higher than other factors when considering applicants.
However, reputability and GPA performance can also interact.
Let us explain this better with an example.
If there are two students with a semi-okay GPA of around 2.9. One student attended an ivy league school, such as MIT, that is known to have a more rigid grade deflation. The other student attended a small, public liberal arts college and performed just the same. Admissions committees will actually be more lenient for the student who attended MIT than the other student simply because that student did this well in a much more difficult program.
A lot of other factors are included in your application that are not left ignored. So, the important thing to remember is that your application to med school is not solely focused on one aspect, but your overall performance in other areas that help make you a great candidate for medical training.
What Pre-Med Majors are Best for Medical School?
About 75% of medical school students have majors in the field of biology, physical or social sciences. However, what you select as your pre-med major is not very important. Generally, medical schools are searching for applicants who demonstrate hard work, commitment, compassion for communities, and a well-rounded education.
Essentially, you can study anything for your pre-med major as long as you complete the medical school pre-requisites. These courses should be completed prior to attending medical school. Many students try to major in a field that overlaps with the list of pre-requisites needed to get into med school, leading to majors in biology, chemistry, or physics.
As a recommendation, we encourage you to choose a pre-med major that matches with your interests and career goals, rather than choosing something simply to meet the standards of medical school. There is a lot of advantage to diversifying your skills and abilities. For instance, it might be the case that majoring in communication studies can make you an excellent med school candidate because of your effective communication skills.
Wrapping Things Up: Does Undergrad Matter for Med School?
Wow! You’ve finally reached the end of this article. At this point, you should have a firm understanding on how reputations of universities attended during your undergraduate career can play a role in your med school applications. The important takeaway is that what college you went to undergrad actually has very little priority in the med school application process.
Make sure to place your focus on your overall performance to strengthen your application as a full package. Regardless of your university’s reputation, go the extra mile to show your efforts, focus on your GPA, volunteer at hospitals, take up leadership roles and so on. This will matter much more than the name on your diploma.
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