- FutureMilitaryDoctor Said:
Ok, so you got a half scholarship. Big Deal. You are still paying more for that then just making your own program up. The school knows that or they wouldn't hand out any scholarships. They are ALL rip offs.
Don't hold back...tell us how you REALLY feel..
So lets take a closer look at what formal post bacc can do, claim to do, and actually do.
First, there are about 125 "formal" post-baccs in the country. This is number is derived from self-reporting of the schools that say they offer a program. There is no review, certification, accreditation of these programs. The vast majority are certificate programs (ie the school give you a certificate of completion when you finish the course of study) and are at the undergraduate level, though there is a growing body of master level programs.
The general assumption of these programs is that they help advise/guide you thru the required courses, assist in LOR/committee letters, have more "organized" volunteer opportunities, and may have connections/contacts/form al agreements with medical schools that could give you a major boost in getting into to an MD/DO program. In sum, theoretically these programs should be better able to guide you thru prereqs and application process and make you a better candidate.
The issue with that above summary is the inconsistencies across programs and lack of any clear guidance which are good, or even a guide to what each offers, costs, record, etc.
So lets look at columbia university's program as it has been mentioned and I know at least a bit about.
1) It is expensive $30-$40k per year. But that is the same price as the normal undergrad at columbia.
2) It is one of the oldest programs, well established, has excellent reputation, and connections/agreements with several medical schools. If the oft-noted comment that attending a community college make you a weaker candidate then a good four year school, it could be speculated that attending a well-reputed post bacc makes you a stronger candidate.
3)while you take classes with regular undergrads, you get some priority into registering for those classes (note: this seems a major advantage of private schools over state schools: if you pay the money, they will get you a spot in a course. And as the economy and state revenues go down, state schools will be trimming course offerings).
4) They seem to have a good advising and assist in getting LOR/Committee Letters. This may not a trivial thing for those out of school for a long time and have few good recommenders. But more on that below.
5) Columbia has an excellent, albeit self-reported, acceptance rate to medical school of plus 85% for those who complete the program. HOWEVER, Columbia used to deny university committee letters to those who did not complete the program up to its standards. Therefore, if someone say got a 3.4 in the postbacc, thus a weaker candidate to medical school, Columbia would not give them a committee letter, thus they couldn't apply, they would not be counted in the calculation of acceptance rate of those who applied to medical school, and columbia's acceptance rate of those who applied would be increased.
6)From the columbia website "The Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program maintains admission linkage programs with thirteen medical schools. Linkage programs allow highly qualified students with a strong interest in one of these schools to accelerate the admissions." It seems that if you meet the standards for these, the columbia post-bacc can get your application looked at by the school, perhaps up to getting an interview. However, there is no way to quantify this except by the old jewish adage "it couldn't hurt"
Now some general thoughts on post-baccs.
1) Most seemed designed for those who did moderately well in college but had no premed work. They are not typically geared for those who may have did poorly the first time around and who had previously premed courses. This however, seems to be changing and several of the master degree level programs are geared specifically to this issue.
2) Many schools have a certificate program that basically throws you in with the regular undergrads for advising, classes, priorities, etc. My favorite example of this is a school that charged you graduate rates for this program, that offered the certificate yet the same classes as UG which are 1/3 the price and no additional services
3)Some places undoubtedly are great assets in knowing the overall process. However, as mentioned earlier, many are designed for more recent moderately good to excellent college grads with no premed work and are not used to dealing with "established" older non-trads. A good self-knowledge of the process, as we talk about in OPM often is as good if not better then these programs.
4) While this hasn't been mentioned, I would speculate that having a post-bacc certificate is a tangible way to show your commitment to the process and wanting to be a doctor. Think about the question/issue at an interview or application and how saying that you spent two years in a post-bacc and successfully completed it.
Now, after all that I said, like any program, a good fit between the student and program is essential. Some non-trads who have busy life may find the knowledge, expertise, and organized manner of a good program is worth the money. Some may find that their schedules and budget may make an informal post-bacc a better way to go. Logistics of where schools are and where families and lives are has a bigger impact on older students as well. OPM has had many successes from both formal and informal.
Lastly, a comment about costs. Remember, costs are time, money and resources. If you are contemplating 10-15 years in medical training overall, with upwards of $200,000 debt, additional $200,000 or more in lost or reduced revenue while in school, and the unquantifiable amount of effort to become a doctor, then perhaps $30 to $50 thousand and a couple of years is a reasonably small investment compared to the overall expense.