Choosing an undergraduate school is the first major step on the path to becoming a physician for any student. If you want to be a pre-med student in college and beyond, you’ll want to make the most of your opportunities and support networks. You’ll need to be prepared because applying to (and succeeding in) medical school is a difficult process. In this article, we will be discussing the best pre-med schools, best pre med colleges in California, and medical schools in st vincent.
Before I get into the good stuff: the list of best pre-med schools, I’ll talk about what makes a school good for pre-meds.
What exactly is a Pre-Medical School?
Pre-med is a college track that consists of specific courses you agree to take to be eligible for medical school. Students can major in any field they want, but they must complete all of the required pre-med courses to continue on the pre-med track. Premedical work should eventually prepare you for a bigger goal: medical school. Success in these four critical areas of a medical school application will be ensured by a pre-med program at an ideal institution:
- achieving a high-grade point average
- Obtaining a good MCAT score.
- Finding meaningful hobbies and putting together a strong CV are two of the most important things you can do.
- The application (including letters of recommendation and essays), as well as the interview, must be completed (though these are largely independent of the undergraduate school you choose).
What Characterizes a Good Pre-Medical School?
Pre-med students need a lot of specialized resources and opportunities as undergraduates to improve their chances of getting into medical school. Aspiring physicians must attend schools that are not only highly ranked but also offer unique pre-medical support. When compiling this list of the best pre-med schools (as you should when choosing a school!).
1. Medical Schools Admissions History
This is perhaps the most obvious and crucial consideration to make before applying to college. Various specialized resources for pre-meds are fantastic, but what really matters (and what determines whether or not these resources are effective) is the percentage of pre-med students who go on to medical school from that university. When it comes to applying to medical school, the higher the number, the better your chances are.
The issue is that not all undergraduate institutions make this information readily available, and even if they do, the figures may be skewed. For example, students who begin as pre-med but do not complete all of the requirements may not be counted. Alternatively, they may use difficult classes to “weed out” weaker students from the pre-med track. As a result, here are some steps you can take to get a general idea of a school’s medical school admissions history:
- Begin by conducting an online search to see if any statistics for the colleges you’re considering are available. Try a Google search for “[School Name] pre-med admissions.”
- Examine the class profiles of the medical schools you’re considering. Tulane’s School of Medicine’s most recent class profile, for example, lists the major colleges and universities from which its students hail, including Tulane, UCLA, Emory, UNC-Chapel Hill, and UC San Diego. However, many med school class profiles do not include information about undergraduate institutions, which is not the norm.
- Examine other statistics such as student-to-faculty ratios, internship opportunities, admissions rates, and national rankings to learn more about a program’s quality.
We’ve compiled available medical school admissions statistics in the descriptions below to assist you. I didn’t include stats on the list if I could only find them from shady sources.
2. Pre-Medical Counseling
When it comes to medical school applications, there are a lot of requirements and activities to keep track of—something you’ll be thinking about as soon as you start your freshman year (or perhaps even earlier). Special pre-med advising programs can be extremely beneficial when it comes to making sure you’re on the right track. That’s because pre-med advising programs are dedicated to assisting students in obtaining admission to medical school, so they know the ropes when it comes to keeping you on track.
Pre-med advisors and mentors who are knowledgeable about the application process should be able to prepare you for all aspects of it, including course and major selection, application development, and interview preparation. The more comprehensive the advising, the better prepared you’ll be for your medical school applications. Make sure you see your pre-med advisors early and often to ensure you’re on the right track.
3. Research and Publication Opportunities
You’ll need research experience in a STEM lab for medical school applications. The sooner you begin your research and the more you complete it, the more impressive you will appear to medical schools. Because more research is being done at well-funded research institutions, there are often many opportunities for undergrads to get involved in labs. More research also means more chances for your name to appear in a paper or two, which is a huge plus for your CV.
It’s no coincidence that most of the schools on this list are highly-ranked research powerhouses with excellent medical schools. The same research funds, facilities, and faculty that make a medical school great also help to make a pre-med school great.
4. Clinical Experience Opportunities
For your medical school applications, you’ll need more than just research experience; you’ll also need clinical experience. Often, you’ll need to gain this experience by volunteering, such as at a clinic or nursing home. If you live in an area with few clinical settings, getting the experience you need will be difficult, especially if you have to compete with other pre-med students. If you’re interested in a career in this field, make sure you pursue opportunities early in your college career. Keep an eye out for internships in other cities and states that will help you expand your clinical experience.
Medical schools want to see that you’ve worked in the field, so make sure your preferred school provides opportunities for you to do so.
5. Rigor of Curriculum
You may not be looking forward to taking difficult courses on purpose, but a rigorous curriculum will prepare you for both the MCAT and medical school. Schools that are tough on pre-meds will produce stronger med school applicants at the end, which is a good thing given that only about half of all pre-med applicants make it to medical school!
6. Pre-Med Major vs. Pre-Med School
Some colleges and universities do not offer a pre-medical program. If that’s the case, you’ll opt for a STEM-related major. It will be your responsibility to learn about and keep track of the requirements for medical school. However, many of those schools provide a pre-med track or emphasis to assist aspiring doctors in achieving their goals. Make sure you do your homework to find out what kinds of pre-med programs are offered at your school.
Some of the best schools for pre-meds, as you might expect, don’t have a specific pre-med major. Nonetheless, their biological and physical sciences departments are strong. (In fact, many students choose these majors because they have a lot of pre-medical requirements in common.) Check with your university and advisors to see which major is the best fit for you.
Rankings of the Best Pre-Medical Schools
When it comes to starting your college search, college rankings are helpful, but no list is perfect because there is no way to create an officially objective system that applies to all students. I’ve compiled this list of the best pre-med schools using the abovementioned factors to be as transparent as possible. Keep in mind that these schools are excellent choices, and the rankings aren’t particularly significant. What matters is how these schools may or may not meet your college requirements. Let’s look at the best medical schools now!
According to Harvard’s Office of Career Services, 17% of any class will apply to medical school— that’s a huge percentage of the student body! In 2013, pre-med applicants with a 3.5 GPA or higher had a 93 percent acceptance rate to medical schools, compared to an average acceptance rate of about 42 percent that year. Students are assigned a pre-med tutor from sophomore through senior year as part of Harvard College’s peer pre-med advising program.
Harvard University is home to the United States’ top-ranked medical school and strong biological sciences departments. There are also a number of affiliated teaching hospitals in the area (which are great for both research and clinical experience).
2. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins is well-known as a top-ranked medical school and medical research institution, which means you’ll have plenty of research and clinical work opportunities. Because the university is affiliated with one of the best teaching hospitals in the country, you’ll have access to a wealth of resources. At Johns Hopkins, undergraduates follow a pre-med advising program track (which isn’t a major).
Individual appointments, small group meetings, and other special programs are all part of this advising track designed to help aspiring medical students succeed. Many health-related student organizations exist at the university, providing undergraduates with opportunities to build their med school résumés.
Stanford is home to not only a top-ranked university but also a top-ranked medical school. Pre-med advisors are available to talk over ideas, plan your coursework, help you visualize your long-term goals, and suggest ways for you to gain experience in the field. They also provide undergraduate students with internship opportunities to help them gain clinical hours and excellent letters of recommendation. Stanford’s pre-med community appears to be particularly well-organized and cohesive.
The Stanford Pre-Medical Association provides students with a wealth of information and resources in one convenient location. Unfortunately, there are no reliable statistics on how many Stanford graduates enter medical school each year. Given Stanford’s world-class degree programs, you can bet that number is high.
4. University of Pennsylvania
The Perelman School of Medicine at UPenn is one of the best in the country, and having access to it means a plethora of research opportunities. Take my word for it, but don’t take my word for it! In 2020, 80% of Penn students who applied to medical school were accepted, which was significantly higher than the national average of 44% at the time. The school also has a pre-health advising program that helps students complete pre-med requirements and apply to medical school successfully.
In addition, some majors (such as engineering) have a pre-med component that can help you prepare for the next step in your med school journey.
5. Columbia University
Columbia has a top ten medical school. Students are assigned a pre-med advisor and must attend informational meetings sponsored by the Premedical Committee as undergraduates. Columbia’s convenient New York City location also ensures easy access to many clinics and hospitals, providing you with plenty of clinical and research experience. Columbia also provides a sample course curriculum for pre-med students to help them meet the minimum requirements for med school applications.
This handy sheet, combined with the university’s top-tier advising services, can help you get a leg up on the competition when it comes to medical school admissions. On the other hand, Columbia does not publish statistics on how many of its undergraduates are accepted into medical school each year.
6. Duke University
Duke is not only one of the best universities in the country, but it also has a strong pre-med program. Students are immediately plugged into the pre-med advising program, and they have access to a wealth of resources, including health-focused study abroad programs and hands-on research opportunities. Duke undergrads have incredible med school acceptance rates: according to Duke, 70-80 percent of its college students are accepted to medical school, which is nearly twice the national average. This is likely due in part to the fact that Duke is home to a top-10 medical school.
7. University of Washington
You may have noticed that all of the schools on the list have been private so far. The University of Washington, however, is not one of them! In terms of research and primary care, UW is one of the best public medical schools, and pre-med students benefit greatly from these resources. Through a combination of individual and group meetings, pre-health career coaches and advisors assist students with academic and vocational concerns such as class selection, job shadowing, research, and volunteering.
Many pre-med student organizations, such as Alpha Epsilon Delta and the Student Health Consortium, can assist you in continuing your pre-med education outside of the classroom. While there are no medical school acceptance statistics for the University of Washington, the fact that it has one of the best medical schools in the country guarantees that pre-med students will receive a top-notch education.
8. UNC-Chapel Hill
Unfortunately, UNC does not keep track of specifics when it comes to med school acceptance rates for pre-meds. Given UNC’s excellent reputation in many health fields for both undergraduate and graduate students, we can assume the number is quite high. They also have specialization tracks available, which can help you stand out when applying to medical school (especially if you want to go into medical research).
UNC’s Medical Education Development (MED) summer program is a nine-week intensive program for smart and committed students who have had limited opportunities to pursue a career in medicine in the past. This could be a good option for you if you’re not ready to start college as a pre-med student but want to be a doctor.
9. Cornell University
In 2016, 76 percent of Cornell pre-med students with a GPA of 3.4 or higher were accepted into medical school, and 63 percent of all Cornell applicants were accepted the same year. If you decide to pursue a career in medicine as a pre-med at Cornell, you’ll be in good company: about 17% of undergraduates there are interested in doing so. Pre-med students benefit from the school’s Health Careers Program, which offers specialized advising, programs, information, and an Evaluation Committee.
When it comes to obtaining letters of recommendation for medical school applications, this Committee is especially helpful. Students who prefer the outdoors may not mind leaving the city for the beauty of Ithaca, NY.
10. Northwestern University
Northwestern University’s medical school is ranked in the top 15 in the country, providing a wealth of research and clinical opportunities. The school’s location in a bustling urban area helps. Unfortunately, there is no information available on pre-med acceptance rates to medical schools for Northwestern students. Northwestern does, however, publish a list of medical schools to which its graduates have been accepted in the last five years, which includes prestigious programs such as Harvard and Columbia.
Northwestern also offers a wealth of resources to pre-med students, many of which can be found on the school’s pre-med advising website. These advisors assist students with everything from course selection to medical school applications. Pre-meds are also welcome to set up individual meetings or drop by during drop-in hours, ensuring that they receive plenty of hands-on assistance.
11. Georgetown University
We’ve included Georgetown on this list because it offers the Early Assurance Program, which is a great option for students who like to plan ahead. You can get guaranteed admission to Georgetown School of Medicine at the end of your senior year if you’re a high-achieving pre-med student at Georgetown. That’s a fantastic deal, especially considering that Georgetown’s School of Medicine is ranked among the top 60 medical schools in the country.
Three Final Recommendations for Future Pre-Med Students
If you’re considering a pre-med track (or even if you haven’t decided yet! ), these three tips will help you succeed. Remember that medical school admissions are extremely competitive, so focusing on your goals now can help you gain a significant advantage later.
1. Focus on Math and Science in High School
You’ll need a strong foundation in high school to prepare for your pre-med courses in college, and you’ll need to excel in those college courses to get into medical school—that it’s simple! Take as many STEM classes as possible and concentrate on learning the material in high school. If you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to seek assistance from your teachers, and don’t be afraid to hire a tutor! If at all possible, try to take your math and science courses like AP or IB classes.
First and foremost, you must learn how to succeed in even the most challenging courses. Second, many high schools use weighted GPAs for advanced courses, which can make a significant difference in your overall GPA. It may be difficult at times, but excelling in math and science classes will help you gain admission to one of these top pre-med programs.
2. Look beyond the Pre-Med programs offered by schools.
There are numerous other factors to consider when deciding where to attend college. Of course, the pre-med program at a school is important, but so are the more practical aspects that will affect your quality of life. Is the general area in which the school is located satisfactory to you? What about the school’s options for room and board? Are there any student organizations or activities that you’re particularly enthusiastic about?
If you’re unhappy at school daily, it could affect your performance when it comes to meeting your pre-med requirements. Take some time to think about your personal goals and needs to make sure you’re choosing the right pre-med program.
3. Maintain a high GPA.
Many of the statistics we found on pre-med acceptance rates to medical schools were qualified by data based on students’ GPAs. The implication here is that students with higher GPAs have a better chance of being accepted into medical school. While an undergraduate institution with research opportunities and excellent advising will undoubtedly help your chances, those resources will only go so far if your grades are poor. A challenging undergraduate program is only beneficial if you succeed in it!
Conversely, even if you didn’t attend a prestigious undergraduate institution, you can still get into medical school with good grades and a high MCAT score.
Consider getting some hands-on experience if you’re still unsure whether a career as a physician is right for you. You might not think you can do much as a high school student, but you can! Begin by shadowing a physician, and then review our list of the best medical schools for high school students. You might be interested in BS/MD programs if you’re interested in pre-med programs. To make the med school application process go more smoothly, check out our comprehensive guide on how to get into a great BS/MD program.
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