Choosing the Pre-med Undergraduate Institution

Hello Dr. Gray,

I am a high school rising senior and trying to figure out what type of undergraduate schools I should be going to for the best pre-med experience.

What type of schools would you recommend for pre-med? For example, I want to go to University of California public schools, but some people around me tell me that a large public school is not a good option in terms of having a good GPA because of curves, less opportunities and letters of recommendation.

I really need your help! Thank you!

I am not an expert by any means, but I would say you should go somewhere that you will make you happy. I am not sure about the public university thing you mentioned, but I attended a public university and we have a large group of pre-med students that go on to medical schools in addition to a BA/MD program. In addition, if you look here: , most of the institutions that supplied 50+ applicants in the 2020-21 cycle were public universities.
You can take what I am saying with a grain of salt, but at this point in my life, after spending several years in undergrad and making many mistakes, the advice I would give is go somewhere that will give you a wide range of experiences. Undergrad is not just about taking the per-requisite classes for medical school. You will take many classes outside of the sciences, meet lots of people from different backgrounds and you might even end up finding something you love more than medicine. Good luck.

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Thank you for your response!

Hi Susan,

I graduated from a UCSD, and I can really only speak on my experience but I loved my undergrad. The professors truly care about you passing, especially if you go to office hours constantly. Plus, going to office hours will definitely boost your chances of getting LORs. In regards to opportunities, it’s what you make of it. You can totally join a pre-med society on campus that guides you to LOADS of opportunities. Plus, the pre-health advisors are for life, which a lot of people don’t know. So even after you graduate, you can still get pre-health advising.

In regards to GPA and curving, it depends on the professor. Each prof and department is different and I think that speaks for any University you apply to. However, UCSD science courses are tough but they definitely prepare you! For example, one bio prof I took had questions from previous MCAT exams on his midterm and final. UC campuses want you to succeed but that doesn’t mean they wont challenge you, especially if you plan on applying to medical school.

Hope this helps!:slight_smile:

Thank you so much! Would you say most UC campuses are similar in terms of the pre-med experience (other than LA and Berkeley)? In other words, do you know about UC Irvine and/or UC Davis?

Thank you so much! This helps a lot!

You’re welcome! And I’m honestly not too sure. I know that UCI has a Medical school, so that definitely helps with possibly getting experience, or at least exposure. I don’t know anything about UC Davis :(. I also know the UCLA Cope Health Scholars Program caters to Los Angeles County. I applied and got accepted last year but turned it down because I got a job that offered a better pre-med experience.

The UC campuses definitely vary with pre-med experiences. UCSD had a bunch, but it’s a very science/research heavy campus so that helped a lot!

Let me know if you have any other questions! I’ll try to answer as best as I can :slight_smile:

Thank you so much! This really helps a lot :slight_smile:

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You’re welcome! Good luck!

This specific point is most likely due to simple statistics, as public universities tend to have larger student bodies overall, and therefore will put out a higher number of people doing varies things (including applying to med school).

Having said that, I agree 100%. Go to a school that allows you the opportunity to succeed in your classes and gain life experiences more generally. While academic success is important, it is not the end all be all of life. Don’t forget to enjoy your pre-med journey (i.e. do things because you want to, not just because you think a med school wants you to). Not only will this make the journey easier from an emotional perspective, but it will show on you med school application.

Thank you so much for your help!