community college vs. University

Does anyone “know” if it matters if your classes are looked on more favorably coming from a University rather than a community college? I am close to the University of Texas (Dallas) but it has a reputation for being more “challenging” than other schools. That is where I am almost finished getting my psych degree, but am not sure I want to take my prereqs there. I have taken Intro to Biology there, but it was in 1998, and I made a C. The text used in the class was “Microbiolgy”, oddly enough, and the professor mostly discussed the disease mechanisms of AIDS and cancer. At the time, I was dating a guy who had just graduated from med school, and when he looked at my notes, he said that it was stuff he learned in his first year of med school. So, perhaps a little more challenging than your average ‘intro to biology’ class…Anyway, wondering if admissions boards will look at that C with a frown? Will taking it (well, anatomy and physiology) again at a community college be looked “down” on, or should I try to take the rest of my prereqs at a University? Thanks for any input…Hill

Hill -

There have been numerous discussions on community colleges vs. four year colleges in the past, so you might want to do some searching through the forums. I know the search function can be a bit tough to narrow down, but if you can make it work for you, there have been some truely awesome discussions/insights on this topic that you might not get in this discussion.

In general, yes, med schools prefer the pre-reqs be taken at a four year university. Fair or not, it is pretty widely perceived that community colleges aren’t as rigorous. If you are aware that the Univ. of Texas is considered more “challenging” and are considering a CC for that reason, you can be sure that admissions committees are also probably aware of that.

The general advice seems to be that if you CAN take your pre-reqs at a four year school, you should. Obviously, not everybody can. For a variety of reasons (commuting time, cost, availability of courses), CC’s are often the only viable option for some people. Given that you are currently finishing a degree at UT, I think it might look like you took the easy route on the pre-reqs if you went to the CC at this point.

Call/visit websites of some of the schools you are interested in applying to. Ask them the CC question. You will likely get a lot of “we PREFER four year schools” and a couple of “we don’t take CC credits”. My opinion is that you would be better served by taking the prereqs at UT and doing well than going to the CC. You need to prove that you are more academically capable than your current 2.9 GPA shows. I’m not sure that heading off to the CC will accomplish that task, even if you get all A’s.

Another consideration - adcoms are often aware if certain schools are more/less rigorous than others. So, if the reputation of UT is legit, then adcoms will be used to seeing lower GPAs out of there. In much the same way, an awesome GPA at a school widely known for grade inflation doesn’t carry quite as much weight. This is also why schools use the great equalizer, the MCAT.

FWIW - I think you should retake Intro bio. I recommend you visit with a premed advisor at UT. They most likely have a list of courses that they recommend as “pre-med pre-reqs”. These are the courses that you should take. They will have been selected because 1 - they have determined that these courses best meet what med schools expect from students taking the pre-reqs and 2 - they should be covering a large amount of the topics that are testable on the MCAT. If they give you a “range” of acceptable biology classes, then see if you can get course descriptions and compare the topics to the MCAT bio topics. At this point, in addition to just taking the pre-reqs and getting good grades, you also want to be preparing yourself for the MCAT.

Good luck.