An old issue: University v.s. CC!


I have seen a few threads discussing about the advantages and disadvantages of taking prerequisites in a four-year university vs community colleges. But I would like to ask for your opinion in a more specific way.

For people like me (and maybe many others on these forums), taking these courses at CC instead of Universities is almost inevitable for the following reasons:

  1. I have to work full time and most of main science classes in the University are spread over several days and during the working hours.

  2. I cannot be a full time student so I have to wait until the first day of the course to see if I can get the instructor permission to add my name as an “open University” student, which might not happen and is risky.

  3. For the same reason I have to pay a lot of money (like $1200 for 5 credit of biology), while at community college my tuition, which is much cheaper, is waived.

  4. I can take several courses at the same time in several colleges that match my work schedule.

    I know that my MCAT score and GPA, my ability to handle a heavy course work along with full time job, my extracullicar activities, … are more important factors, but there is always a doubt or worry about not being able to take those courses at a four-year school in the corner of my mind. I need someone to give me encouragement and maybe peace of mind in this regard, so I don’t have to worry about it anymore and just focus on doing the best I can in my prerequisites.

    Also I looked up the transfer rate of various CC (to 4-year schools) and some of them are much higher (say %40 to % 50 of applicants were accepted) compare to others (say less than %10), but the way my schedule and available classes have worked out so far, I have to go with the college with lower transfer rate. If I do everything else at highest level, is the college that important?

    Sorry for the long post and I appreciate your comments.

My brief portfolio:

B.S. in Engineering 1990, overseas

M.S. in Engineering 1998, overseas

PhD. in Engineering 2006, USA (GPA 3.8)

Have been working in industry and academia for 20 years

Have published 10 technical papers in my field

Started prerequisites in Spring 2010

Volunteering at a hospital (6-12 hours a week)

Plan to take MCAT in April 2012 and apply the a month later for 2013 matriculation

Your quandary is not uncommon. Well, at least I face the exact same problems (1…4) as you do. I can’t offer you the peace of mind you’re seeking, but browse these threads for information:……

I also recall recently seeing information that people with CC pre-reqs should supplement those with at least 20 credits of advanced science courses at a 4-yr. I don’t remember where I saw that, but I’m throwing it out there for you to research.

It comes down to this – the bias against CC is probably strong, so if you can arrange to take pre-reqs at a 4-yr, it’s probably for the best.

That does not mean that those with CC pre-reqs have not been accepted in the past. My cousin at UCSD-med has a 40+ yr old classmate who took her pre-reqs at a CC. But this is CA, and the person in question was a physical therapist with many years of work experience in the healthcare field and had other things going for her, including a good story to tell…

Anyway, don’t be discouraged. If you have to go the CC route, then so be it. I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it work for you. I know I have to do the same. [edit] In fact, I registered and obtained a student ID at SDCCD in 2008, but held back because of the “CC is not good enough” factor. I’ve not been successful at finding a job in a city where I can take evening classes at a 4-yr, so this fall I’ll probably enroll at the CC because I can’t waste any more time on pre-reqs. Let’s see how it goes! [end edits]

Good luck.

While the question is always as which will be more advantageous: 4 year school vs. CC?

I like to remind people of the other way to view it. Which is better, a CC or nothing?

Non-traditional implies atypical so everyone’s path inevitably follows Rule 2: It Depends.

Having a PhD is a rigorous discipline I think will count much for your commitment, motivation, etc to long difficult process.

While I think CC will put you at a minor disadvantage, but presuming you do well, add some 4 year courses, goo MCAT’s you’ll be a viable candidate. My neurotic thought is you run a slightly bigger risk of expectations. As a PhD in engineering, I would speculate that adcoms would expect near-perfect work. Anything less to you will impact you more negatively than say a MFA who took the same route.

BTW, as I am reading and posting on OPM as well as other popular premed sites, I am beginning to see that the difficulties and challenges of getting accepted to medical school are taking on mythical proportion. Yes it is difficult but for example last year the applicant to seat ratio for allopathic MD was 2.2 to 1.

Thanks gonnif,

It was encouraging. I agree with what you mentioned about high expectations. That is why I am aiming high for MCAT and definitely for a perfect 4.00 for GPA of my prerequisite work.

University of Washington Medical School is a top school, and they don’t care where your classwork comes from, so long as the college is accredited. Or so they told me a couple of months ago.


FWIW, my medical school states that although they prefer pre-reqs be taken at a 4-yr university, they WILL accept pre-reqs taken at a CC as long as your degree-granting institution will accept the CC coursework as transfer credits. Most medical schools practice some variation of this policy. The other posters have the right idea; it may not be as big a deal as you think.

Of greater concern, I think, is the foreign undergraduate degree. I’m not sure how US medical schools will evaluate that.

Dear TicDocDoh

Since I have a PhD degree from a pretty good engineering school in the US and taking all prerequisites (even English) here, I think they would ok with my undergraduate degree from a foreign country.

  • DocBoy Said:
Dear TicDocDoh

Since I have a PhD degree from a pretty good engineering school in the US and taking all prerequisites (even English) here, I think they would ok with my undergraduate degree from a foreign country.

It is an important point that should NOT be assumed. Some schools have as their policy simply an accredited college or university, other specify as in Einstein

"Applicants should have at least three years of study toward a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in the U.S. or Canada ..."

You need to be proactive and contact several schools PRIOR to beginning your studies. Write a concise statement of your issue, give them a brief background where/when you did coursework (note accrediting body for the BS and MS schools), your plan for future course work and ask if this degree would be acceptable. My guess is most places would likely be yes. I would suggest you find a half dozen schools that you would like to attend and do this.....

True. It should not be assumed. Most schools require an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution. For those of us who don’t have that, as a generalization, at least one year of coursework in the US (which you have, given your PhD) AND all pre-reqs taken in the US (which you plan on doing) should do it (again, at most schools.) Once you’re done with the pre-reqs, it’s still best to check before applying because there are schools that do have rigid rules about these things. One such example was provided by Richard, and another one is below:…

There’s several threads on this topic as well on here. Browse posts by Dazed, for example.