Another question that I get asked a lot involves the number of schools I applied to and how I made my choices. I really think this is dependent on your individual needs, but I don’t mind sharing how I narrowed down my school list. I’ve heard that the average applicant will apply to 10-15 schools. I didn’t consider myself to be an average applicant in the process, so I applied to 26 schools (included MD and DO). When selecting schools, I considered the following factors:
- GPA/MCAT: I looked at the average stats of accepted applicants for all the schools I was interested in. For MD schools, the MSAR is a valuable source for this because it lists all this information and more so every school. It’s not free, but if you are planning on applying to any MD school then you absolutely need it. It lists both the top and bottom tenth percentile of GPAs and MCAT scores accepted by each school, along with other very important information. The link to it can be found HERE (NOTE: Only order the online version. The hardcopy version that they now have will not help you). For DO schools, I used the CIB which can be found as a pdf file for free on the AACOM website (see THIS LINK ). It doesn’t list the individual accepted GPA and MCAT stats for each school, but it will tell you the minimum GPA needed to obtain a secondary. This helped me avoid applying to schools that would automatically screen me out.
- Graduate degrees: I also looked at the percentage of matriculants that held a graduate degree. I figured schools with a higher percentage of students with advanced degrees probably considered those grades more heavily than undergraduate grades. This was just a guess on my part and might not be entirely accurate.
- Race/Ethnicity data: This was entirely just a personal thing, but I avoided applying to some schools that had listed the percentage of black applicants as being zero or less than one percent. I really don’t mind being the only black person in a class, but having absolutely no black matriculants felt somewhat odd to me.
- Location: I know beggars can’t be choosers, but I just couldn’t see myself living out in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no support system or places where I could take my daughter for bonding time. Also, if I was going to be without a close support system, I wanted to at least be in a place with readily accessible babysitters in case of emergencies.
- Cost: One school I looked at had the tuition listed at 80,000 a year. Add housing and other costs to that and it really adds up. I still applied, but had I got accepted, it would have been something to really consider.
- Mission Statements: I know this is probably not the most important, but the mission statement of a school will usually tell you if you are a good candidate or not. For example, if a school says that it is committed to training students who will be physicians in a particular area then it might have a regional bias.
- Regional Bias: Look closely at the schools' mission statements and in matriculant data for this. Some schools only accept in-state residents. There is no sense in spending your money applying if this doesn’t pertain to you. For example, I know one of my state schools only takes Louisiana residents and for the other your parents need to be graduates or you have to have some really strong ties to the state.
I think that is pretty much everything I used to narrow down my schools, but if I can think of anything else I’ll make sure to add it to this post in the future.