Number of medical schools to apply to?

I have heard a lot of advice about applying to a large number of schools. As a woman with a family, who can’t move, I am fairly limited in my choices, but I am very lucky to live in an area that has many great schools. I would really like to attend the state school, and I have heard that my best chance statistically is there too. So, I have a fairly short list at this time, of more realistic level schools. All that said, does it help my chances to add a number of competitive schools to my list to bring up the total number of schools to which I am applying? Or is a smaller number of less competitive schools just as good?

I’d appreciate any advice!

Thanks in advance.

Hi there

I don’t think there is any magical number, 10 to 30 is a wide range in which most of us fall. Some will say apply broadly and others apply wisely (not that they mutually exclusive). I can give you my take on it, knowing that this my own opinion, and that you will hear dissenting voices.

My situation is identical to yours. Couldn’t move, mortgage on a house, wife with a job, 2 kids (6 and 3). So my only option was a state school, and I would even go as far as that the only options that would have worked were in Dallas: MD which is less than 1h commute (by car or train) or DO (in fort worth) which is 1h45 commute. Everything else in the state of Texas would have required to move. Outside of Texas: don’t even think about it.

So I applied to all Texas schools + Okhlaoma (which financially would not have worked, but ti was not extra work to do so). I am lucky I ended up at my first choice. Although other places I interviewed at would have worked great I think, aside from all the headache to get there.

As an older applicant with a life and responsibilities, I’d say do the the best you can to apply where you can go. By this I mean get in touch with the school(s) because they will give you first hand info to act upon to make you competitive for that school. It is then up to you to set a plan, to satisfy the requirements and beyond, to appear a strong candidate.

From the get go, it seems that the DO school wouldn’t give me shot (sounded like don’t even apply). The MD school on the other hand, they were very helpful and considerate and here I am. It is very paradoxical given the ranking and general desirability of these schools. So each schools has its criteria and its ideal applicant types. Up to you to inquire about those and match the profile.

So apply wisely, which in my opinion means that target your state schools doing everything they say you should do. No need to apply to 10+. In fact I’d even recommend apply to less than 10. Read the stories here and you will see. It will also save you time+money (plenty of which you will be hemorrhaging when you go to med school by the way).

You might enjoy the blog post I wrote on this topic: -apply/

I always say never apply to a school you would not attend. What good does it do if you have an acceptance but are unwilling or unable to attend to attend? If anything turning down an acceptance makes you look undedicated should you reapply next year and it may shut a door for you if your ability to relocate changes in a few years. Your situation is unique and if you are unable to move even if that is the only acceptance you can get, then you should not apply to schools outside commuting distance from your home.

Simply raising the number of schools you apply to does not increase your chances of getting in. If these are schools that are really reach schools for you it may be a waste of time and money to apply to them. However you should be sure you are not selling yourself short. Plus if a school is your dream school you should apply - you don’t want to wonder in ten years from now if you made a mistake by not applying.

I know that common wisdom indicates that one “should” apply broadly, but feel that this broad statement needs to be taken with a grain of salt for those of us with significant limitations on mobility.

I agree with the prior posters re: not feeling “obligated” to apply to at least 10 schools, especially if you would not attend them. I sent primary apps to 11 schools, but chose not to finish secondaries on 3 of them once I realized that there was no way I’d relocate my family for those specific schools, at least not on my first application cycle.

And, after going through the primary & secondary apps on the rest, I realized there were only three schools that I really wanted to go to: the local school (1st choice), the school associated w/my undergrad alma mater (near my family on the opposite coast whose mission/“mental models” I resonated with), and one “pie in the sky” school that was a very long shot (but cool enough to be worth moving the family, I think).

In retrospect, I wish that I had only focused on these three schools, rather than spending time and money on the secondaries of so many others. In the end, I was accepted at the local school, interviewed/waitlisted at the school near family, and at least made it past initial screening on the reach school. I heard nothing at all from any of the others, even though my #'s were at or above their average range…which also demonstrates the need to match ideologies/goals in addition to #'s. I have no serious research background (or goals) and most of the other schools I applied to did - not a good alignment.

All this said, I’m speaking with an acceptance in hand. If it were otherwise, I might be singing a different tune. Bottom line, consider all the advice you receive and then do what makes sense to YOU and YOUR situation.

Best of luck!

  • sevenwheels Said:
do what makes sense to YOU and YOUR situation.

I can't think of any better way to say it!