Updated: May 16, 2019
If you are a freshman or a sophomore like I am, you might think that it is too early to be thinking about what medical schools you're going to apply to. But actually, now is the perfect time to start putting together a list and figuring out what you want out of a school and what will be the best bet for you. On average, a pre-med student will apply to about 15 to 17 schools. It can be intimating finding where to start and there are a lot of questions to consider such as location, average GPA, pass/fail or grading system, mission statement of the school, MCAT score and the list goes on. Luckily there are some great resources that you can use to help.
Comparing Medical Schools is more than a website, it is also a community for pre-medical students. This organization was started by three undergraduate pre-med students like us who were struggling to sort through medical school data and decided they wanted to help others with the process. I was really impressed with how friendly and supportive they are, and I can tell that they are genuine about helping pre-med students. I'm happy to share the resources that they have available!
What questions should you ask when making a list of medical schools?
Before you start your search, you need to know what you are looking for. So, I suggest starting by taking time to reflect on your personal goals and what you imagine your medical school experience to be like. Such as:
Where do I want to be?
What reputation do I want the school to have?
Do I align with the school's mission statement?
What makes this medical school unique and different from others?
How does my GPA compare to their average GPA?
How does my MCAT score compare?
Do they have a pass/fail system?
How are students supported at the school?
What opportunities are available to students?
These are just some examples of some things to think about as you make your list of medical schools.
Using the resources at Comparing Medical School to make your list:
Comparing Medical Schools has a comparative tool on their website that helps you to compare the numerous medical schools that are out there. There are 179 medical schools in the United States so it can be intimidating to try to find which is best for you, but this tool really helps. I like sorting them by using the "choose field" aspect. For example, I can choose research rank and see how they rank by research or look at the median GPA. They also have a premium tool which included more information such as: Residency Match List Strength, Average USMLE Step 1 & 2 Scores, School Emphasis (research, policy, community service, etc.), Special Tracks, Scholarships, and Research Opportunities.
Organizing Your List
As a pre-med student you really want to try to stay as organized as possible so that when it is time to apply you have everything in order. This includes logging all your shadowing and volunteering, keeping track of your prerequisites, and a list of medical schools. I organized my list by making an excel sheet and I used the Comparing Medical School list to fill it out. This list is definitely not set in stone, but it is just an idea. I even put Harvard on there because why not reach for the number 1 research school!
Having this list now is good because you can look at the average GPA and keep yourself motivated to get the best grades possible, also when studying for the MCAT you can see what scores you should thrive for. You should have a good balance of reach schools and schools that fall with and below your standings. I suggest going over your list with an advisor before you apply.
What are my top schools?
Getting into any medical school is a difficult task but I am super determined and want to get into the best medical school possible. As a student conducting research during my undergraduate years, I have really come to value research and want to be at a medical school in which I can continue to conduct research, and so I really looked at the research rankings. My #1 dream school would be...... John's Hopkins Medical School because it is constantly ranking high in medical school education and is known to be the best research institution. I've researched a lot of their programs and the opportunities for research that M.D students have. I am stating my dreams and hoping to claim them into existence.
Thank you Comparing Medical Schools for inspiring me to start my medical school list! I hope that you all found this helpful and will start your list too if you haven't already. Be sure to check out their website for more helpful information, it is a really great community for pre-medical students. If you make a list, send it to me I would love to see what schools you are aiming for!