CC or 4 year?

I was recently accepted to a 4 year school. However, I am contemplating going to CC instead to get my Associates in Biology because of the cost and because they offer some career enriching courses for my current job (I do not want to be going to 2 colleges at once). I have not taken any of my science classes yet. I already have about 70 credits. This includes 2 other colleges which I have already been to. Anybody have any advice? How do med schools look at CC credits? I would only be taking half of my science classes at CC.

Hi Ron,

Welcome to the marathon.

Do yourself a favor and do a search on this or even of my screen name, since I asked quite a few questions regarding this very thing. I was trying to decide if I should stay at cc or go the the 4 year. Ultimately I opted for the 4 year, but in those threads, many people gave their input and perhaps some of that will help you decide too.

My own personal opinion? One should be as competitive, if not more than the rest of med school applicants. So going to a 4 yr is somewhat of a foregone conclusion…in my book. In my own academic career which is as varied as it is long, is that I have used CC’s to enhance my success in 4 yrs i.e., do ‘extra’ work/classes at CC(where its cheaper) and then knock it out of the ball park in a 4 year when it matters (and is more expensive). CC’s are really good places to prepare yourself for university and should be considered as such. In my state the CC’s have special transfer agreements with both sets of State institutions. I did it before for GE because it was cheaper when I got my first bachelors. When it comes to med school, I’m no fool. I know for a fact they aren’t going to let me just roll on into med school like I rolled into my first degree, no matter what my GPA is! Also remember what’s important is the idea of RIGOR. CC’s aren’t as rigorous as 4 years, and for that matter some 4 years aren’t as rigorous as others. So I’ve learned its important to pick the right school with the right reputation when considering this whole med school thing.

What I would like to know is…

Is there any Medical School students or Doctors that have Community College in their background, that would have been considered in their application process?

University of Washington has some Facts and Myths for their Medical School info pre…

I am constantly scared it’s too good to be true. At this point, I am where I am. CC. Nor am I ready to begin the 1 hr 30 minute commute due to Seattle traffic. Supposedly, 4 students from my CC have won a NASA award in science. So, hopefully this is recognized by UW, and my CC has a good science reputation.


Hi Kimberly

I’m sorry if I forgot to mention specifically, but yes I do have TONS of CC coursework. But I’m interested in applying to really competitive med schools here in my state, 2 in USNews and World Report are in the top 10, the other one, a 20 minute drive away is in the top 20 and I’m just too leary to rely upon my CC work for getting in. I know I shouldn’t be such a snob, especially since my particular CC is known as the Cadillac of CC’s in my region. And they have ‘transfer agreements’ with the state universities. I could do worse! Maybe it’s because GM is begging for a bailout from the Trez.

But it sounds to me like you have a very specific case and while I’ve learn in pairs of opposites that “things that are too good to be true” sometimes are or sometimes aren’t, it ALWAYS pays to speak to someone associated direactly with the university in question. I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve called or emailed people off of contact lists for programs/departments I was interested in with my nosy questions. I’ve found that people really don’t mind busting off a 4-line email, but just be advised these are busy people so make sure you ask brief, well-considered questions; they usually don’t like to stick around for volley-emails. And those are my two point fifty-four cents.

I’ve looked into U of Illinois and U of North Carolina about this issue. It seems combination of CC and 4-yr university is fine. U of I specifically states that CC’s do not affect an application negatively and UNC has around 10 out of 150 incoming student with CC background. U of Chicago does care about CC courses but as long as you complete upper level science classes at a 4-yr university then it’s okay.

I have okay undergraduate record and graduate record so I chose to start the prereqs at a CC then finish off with 2-3 semesters at a 4-yr university.

I have drawn a conclusion that 4-yr university is definitely better, no questions. But for some reason, if you cannot attend 4-yr university, then you can start out a CC then finish off at a 4-yr university. Obviously, GPA from CC has to be nothing less than 4.0

But I should add that it all depends on personal situation. If you got some major baggage you have to get rid of (e.g. poor undergraduate records, etc), you probably need to start and finish at a 4-yr university.

According to the US NEWS report University of Washington IS number 6 in research and number 1 in Primary Care. So, that information to their school would be accurate as far as community college. I just don’t think they would risk misleading people saying that it can be done. Deep pockets, ya know? So those links I gave you would still be excellent advice. Where there is a will there is a way. I refuse to give up on that one.

I can’t remember… did you give SPECIFICS for the schools you are looking into? Since, my state doesn’t seem to apply to your interests? Then maybe there is someone on here that can answer about those schools specifically? That might be more helpful for you in making that decision. Wait, it sounds like you have already made it. Just go to the university and breath easy.

I guess I have not reached the conclusion that a 4 yr univ is definitely better. Kimberly - thnx for the link to U of Wash’s myths & facts page.

I will take all my new science classes at the CC. I’m not at all worried about it. . .I know the med school I’m targeting is fine with classes from this CC. I personally think it’s better for us OPM’s to have some places in mind so that you can know what your school prefers, rather than fret on the forum about it.

That said, I think people with a lot of formal education, which includes med school and university administrators, seem to think that they “own” the information. Anybody can learn anything they want to learn, and they don’t necessarily need to sit in class with a PhD to do it. Sometimes it’s nice to have a prof, but other times I am just fine teaching myself the material. You just have to be able to know what you don’t know. Why not do away with prereqs all together and just have a competency exam? Oh wait, the MCAT is supposed to do that. . .

I need a little clarification, are you addressing me or OP? If I read your post correctly it would seem as though my post may have appeared to draw some kind of conclusion between a newspaper ranking of colleges and a community colleges value to acceptance into med school. Please know that I did not intend anything of the sort. The bit about USNews is simply a supporting detail regarding my own decision to proceed with my own pre-med requirement completion so as to best give myself the chance of getting accepted to the schools I wish to apply to, as I see them. If I didn’t word my post clearly enough, I do apologize. I’m sure if I were getting graded on my posts I would have done a better job

P.S. I’m a really annoying slave-driver. I am this way with myself and I was this way as a teacher. I got pretty good results, but I’m also used to the “geez” and “oh my god”'s this kind of obsessive behavior can elicit. Sorry if I’m doing it again.

Well I certainly appreciate everybody’s response to my question(s). I found your information very helpful. I am going to go to an Open House at PCOM next week and ask a bunch of questions. I’ll post what I find out.

Yes, Coco I was replying to you and to OP. When you referred to “really competitive” I wanted to let everyone that is contemplating this same issue that my resources were from a “really competitive” school. You also refer to “snob” as far as CC not …being good enough? What I think the case here is that we all question whether anything we do is good enough. All of us. I have to refer to the experts on that and it is the Medical School itself. This is what my expert recommends (see links on post above). If credible is based upon ranking, UW is credible. Not always applicable to every school.

If a University degree gives you (I don’t mean YOU, I mean everyone on here)then go that direction. Don’t even mess with a CC. However, if money is an issue, you can know full well that if you do well in both CC and University that they will accept your science grades as accurate of your ability. If you don’t rock your science when you go to get your BS, they will question your CC credits. Make sense? CC peeps like me need to know what they can do to make their CC credits count.

For me, CC is 1/3 the price as UW. It is 15 minutes from home vs 1.15hrs (depends on traffic) and UW’s price is about to go up 30% in the next 2 years. I have to weigh cost, time wasted in travel that could be used in study/kids, and et cetera. That gives me 2 years to sell my home and get closer to the U.

Coco your choice is like you said, “is what you consider to give yourself the best chance.” However, it isn’t the only way or necessarily the best chance. You/We still have MCAT’s and once those are reviewed…the interview. I know you are talking about your own personal circumstance, but, alot of people surf this site and I would like to add additional perspective.

My findings are that people will blame their not getting in on … “CC” or fill in the blank. In reality, we don’t know. My guess is they failed to really enroll the Medical School Board in their great “possibility”. Or were up against some fantastic people that had better MCAT’s, better grades, better volunteer/research work, better references, or just give a great interview. For all of us, we just have to give it 100%.

How a University could actually indirectly HURT you’re competitiveness or your ability to pursue medicine:

Sometimes, it’s not just the academics that matter. (some of these are stolen from kimberly’s post)

  • I have no $$ saved up because I had to go to work P/T instead of F/T to attend day classes and now can’t quit my job in 2 yrs. (or just tuition cost differences hurt the finances)

  • I have no time to volunteer b/c I am spending extra time driving.

  • I have no marriage b/c we were broke and I had no time to give. . .I couldn’t go to school w/o my husband’s income and being a single mom.

  • I had to take classes from a GTA who was not a native English speaker and learned nothing.

  • I got discouraged because I was paired with an advisor/classmates who had never seen a nontrad as old as me before.

  • I am a small town person and being in a Chem lecture with more students than my hometown population was overwhelming.

    I’m not really that down on 4-yr schools. . .I graduated from a large state school once before and would not have spit in the direction of a CC when I was 18. I just wanted to point out that you can get tunnel vision about the need to go to the 4 yr school, when really it could end up costing you your dream if it’s not manageable.

To Kimberly and Ali,

I like what you both said…it’s helping me to open up my definition of what it means to be non-traditional. Tunnel-vision, I can totally own that one! Non-traditional could also mean that one does not go to a 4-year to get the pre-med req’s. Sorta makes this whole conversation moot, no? Sounds simple enough, but it’s a real light-bulb moment for me. Thanks, Lord knows I’ve beaten myself up long enough for not being the traditional med student.


Just wanted to add my $.02 here. This spring ('09) was my first semester as a pre-med. I’ve been taking G Chem 1 at the local CC, 10 minutes from my office and also taking G Bio 1 at a 4-year state U. that is an 80 mile round trip for me. I have to allow 1.5 hours one-way, to arrive in time. The reason for the split was that I got accepted to the post-bacc program at the U. too late to get into a G Chem 1 class. I have lost sleep and agonized over this question of the 4-year vs. CC. I can’t begin to tell you how much better and easier it would be to do it all at the CC. The cost is FAR cheaper, but the biggest problem is my work.

I am now registered to take summer and fall classes at the U. - not planning to do anymore at the CC. As you can see from the responses here, there is no black & white answer. I am making an unbelievable sacrifice to go to the U. However, I’m not saying it’s best for everyone as Kimberly and AliJ so effectively pointed out. For me personally, I’ve realized that at my age (33) I only have 1 shot at this so even though the benefit is probably very small in comparison to the sacrifice, I’m doing it anyway. My situation is a little different because I already have baggage in that I took science classes 12+ years ago that I did poorly in and need to prove I can excel in a tough environment. (Although the U. is not actually any harder so far)

Going to the U. means I’m having a tough time with my full-time work, family, etc; the strain is large. AliJ’s list is spot on. I’m getting A’s and making it work for me. I’m blessed to have a full-time job that I can make it happen with - although the strain there is great. If I were doing pre-reqs for a BA, planning to transfer to a 4-year to finish a degree, and planning take a lot more science at the U., then I would definitely be going to the CC. But I already have a BA and am just taking the classes I need for the MCAT.

Like many, I called a few med schools I’m interested in and heard the same things others have posted here such as: “yes, we certainly accept CC credits, but if there were 2 identical candidates, 1 from U., and one from CC, the edge goes to the one with the U. credits.” and “You’ll want to get A’s at the CC.”

By all means, don’t do a 4-year if its going to cost you the whole boat, but also be aware that IF you can manage to make it work, it may provide a slight edge. You can definitely do it from a CC, but don’t give up any advantage unless you really must.


When I spoke with the med school here in town, the gal said to me that they do have med students who had previous careers, lawyer and engineer (no math teachers were in that list, by the way). And she told me that the average age was 24. She said simply that they don’t have any CC transfer students ‘of a certain age’. Now, as for the reasons why, one can only guess. So if I want to go there (and thus avoid moving altogether), I may just need a miracle; a really big fat miracle covered in chocolate with a brandy-filled center!

But I am lucky- I live in California which has 7 or 8 med schools with two more coming on line in about 2 years. So I’m not panicking just yet