top school acceptance?

Hello all,

First, congratulations to everyone for having the courage to aspire. Great things often grow from somebody’s “little” dream.

I am just beginning to seriously explore the possibility of becoming a doctor. One nagging question I have is whether there is a good chance of being accepted by an MD program at a top 25% medical school. Are there many (any?!?) success stories out there of older students getting into top 25% schools and and studying for the MD degree? Any stories of students in their 40’s entering Harvard, UCSF, Hopkins?

Why would I care? Well, I’m not sure if I do yet. I went to Stanford for undergrad decades ago and I’m finishing a PhD in economics at MIT. (The PhD was a bad choice. Ouch.) But I’d like to have an idea if my being a 41 year old applicant will simply rule out top schools.

Thanks all,


Does your pursuing medicine depend upon getting into a “designer” school? I personally plan on applying to several “designer” schools, some “name brand” schools, and your good ol’ “generic” brands. To ensure I make it into ANY school. I, personally, will not be held back by a location or name.

What I want to know is: Do you really want to know? Will “knowing” limit you in any way? That is one fact I prefer to avoid. I don’t want to go in to any interview thinking that a Medical School will not take me due to my age. There is always a first, always an exception. I prefer to go in there feeling like I have as good of chance as any student with a great GPA and MCAT score.

Maybe another good question would be: What are the top 25% of US Medical Schools who DO take Non Traditional Students?

In short, no.

If you read the nontrad acceptance thread on the studentdoctor forum, there are a couple of students who go into JH, Harvard, Brown, Wash U, etc…

In my expereince, yes! Neither Hopkins nor Harvard has to my knowledge, EVER admitted anyone over age 40 and I don’t buy the argument that no one that age that was well qualified ever applied.

What I’m learning is that no one makes a big deal about nontrad between say 23-29 which I imagineis most of ehat is seen on that other popular premed site. Eyebrows are raised between 30-38 but you can still get some love and there are a good number of examples at many top schools . After age 39, people are looking at you like WTF are you thinking, LOL!!!

Then I think it depends on the “type” of nontrad you are. If you’ve always been an excellent student and you’re old (over 40, LOL), you do well on the MCAT plus all those other things a solid applicant has, then you’re OK. But if you’re old and you have “mistakes” in your past, your age can become a major strike against you.

I know folks are probably going to disagree with me on this, but I’m giving my perspective from having been accepted in my early 30’s, to what I’m hearing now from adcoms in my early 40’s and yes I know and they know its discrimination, but hey life ain’t always fair. And for the record, I’m referring to MD programs only.

Thanks for the frank replies.

Personally, I either get into a top ten school or Bill’s not going to be a doctor. There’s no way I’m going to explain to the grocery clerk, my barber, or the mailman how I’m moving to some place like, well, New Jersey or Oklahoma or something, just to go some nameless medical school.

Alright, that’s a little joke…

If we have to move, I want to go some place where my wife will feel comfortable. It turns out that correlates really well with top school locations – primarily San Francisco, maybe Boston, maybe Los Angeles, and don’t forget about San Francisco…

There are non-trads that got into top schools, Joe Wright got into Harvard, myself got into Mayo, Vanderbilt and others with full rides. I also received interviews at top 5’s but after getting into Mayo did not go to them…so it is possible.

  • efex101 Said:
There are non-trads that got into top schools, Joe Wright got into Harvard, myself got into Mayo, Vanderbilt and others with full rides. I also received interviews at top 5's but after getting into Mayo did not go to it is possible.

Weren't all these folks in their 30's?

And to the OP, URM status may also hlep.

I need to add that I heard it straight from an adcoms mouth recently, “the primary reason that post bacc program that didn’t admit was because they think you’re too old”. When I interviewed at Hopkins for the Pathology PhD program, one of my interviewers asked me if I was concerned about being in a post doc in my 40’s.

So again, people are obviously having different experiences but I think that because of the preceived difference between a career changer under 40 and over 40. Either way, acting like it doesn’t exist isn’t a smart way to approach the issue either.

BTW, why does this country have such an obsession with the number 40 anyway, LOL!!!

Soooo. . .let me get this straight. Mr. Nelson is 41 and finishing his PhD in econ at MIT. He is a poor enough decision maker that he’s pursuing a PhD in a field that he no longer has an interest in (in his late 30’s-40’s), but he thinks he’s too smart to go to some podunk midwestern school. You and your wife are both yuppie snobs and I hope you stay the heck out of the midwest. We don’t need or want you here, thank you very much.

Oh, and BTW, people in the midwest are smart enough to not give a flip what our barbers, mailmen, or grocery clerks think about our career plans. Grow up.

Hope you enjoy being an economist. You will fit right in in that field.

I wouldn’t slam him for his goals of going to a top med school. I went to a top undergrad then went to my state school for med school (location trumped the top med school that I got into in a different city). When applying for residency, you can tell that the top places prefer people from other top places.

I am at the annual meeting of the AAN (American Academy of Neurology) this week and the courses are being provided are by leaders in their field. I can tell you that it is a who’s who of people who either went to or teach at (or both) the big names (Mayo, Harvard, Hopkins, etc).

Speaking of Joe Wright, what’s he up to?

I wouldn’t slam ANYONE for a goal of attending a top school, until they insult other programs and states.

Here in the middle of the country, the med schools and premed advisors like to promote that we’re all “doctors” when we graduate, regardless of where we go to school (and how much debt we incur). I am old enough and savvy enough to know that there are opportunities for Wash U grads that aren’t available to University of Missouri grads, but if you really want to be a doctor and Wash U isn’t available to you, you will go to Mizzou. If you only want to be a Wash U doctor (or other top pogram doc), I don’t believe that you really have a passion for medicine. If you don’t have a passion, I don’t care if you did graduate from a top program, I don’t want you taking care of me or my family.

I did notice after I posted that you said you were joking about the mailman, etc. . .Every joke has some truth, though.

Well, AliJ that got your revved up. I was cracking up and I thought, “wow! I am going to have to reread Bill’s post. I wasn’t offended at all.”

Like I said, I plan on moving if need be for a Medical School. However, like Bill I will have to take into some consideration for places that my husband would want to live for FOUR years and where he can get a job. So, I understand that it could work out that I have to apply to more Top 10’s then expected. I also know that this is what I want to do and will NOT limit myself either. There is a possibility that a lower status school is who wants me.

It cracks me up that NEVER is University of Washington Medical School on anyone’s list. You must all be East Coast or something. But, that’s okay, I don’t want to compete with you all to get into UW. Have at Harvard all you smartie pants!

Wow. They only reason I’m considering some of the top names is because they are instate for me and I like the idea of in state tuition. LOL.

I don’t care though. I want the white coat in the end…well…do they even wear white coats anymore? I haven’t seen one in a white coat for a while.

I think that the Wash U referred to as a top school is probably Washington University in St. Louis. It is a phenomenal medical school and is ranked very highly. It is also very competitive.

Also, for Susan. . . yes, white coats are still worn, mainly during rotations. And, while I love my white coat, I can’t wait to trade it for a long one!

I kind of bristled at the post as well, partially because I did move to Oklahoma! Not for the “no-name” medical school or anything and I don’t particularly love it here but I’m willing to move for medical school and some of it rides on where the SO can get a job, location for the kiddos, etc. But top name doesn’t really have anything to do with it, sure I’d love to go to a great school but like you all have pointed all we’ll all be doctors in the end. To me that is what is important.

Kudos to AliJ and his earlier post.

I commend anyone for wanting to pursue medical school dreams, but I stop listening when their focus turns to preserving their immaculate resume.

Yeah, they aren’t referring to University of Washington (Washington State). I live near Seattle, and for whatever reason our Medical School doesn’t make people’s top 10 on this site, even though it is Top 10. Like I said, that’s fine, I don’t want to compete with you all. Keep your east coast schools. I want to stay instate. J/K. Joke I heard today…

Q: What is the best medical school?

A: The one that accepts you! Ha!


Easy does it there… Your post upset my tender yuppie sensibilities so much I nearly spilled my plate of arugala and brie.

Prestige and reputation are funny – almost a taboo subject in many circles, and a subject many would just rather avoid thinking about altogether. Like I said, I’m really not sure it matters to me or not. But it sure does matter in many ways subtle and not so subtle.

For me, if I end up deciding to apply to med school, I admit a top school acceptance would make the experience and all the associated sacrifices a little easier to stomach. But not much easier. And a school in San Fran or LA would definitely be easier for my wife to stomach – she’s Chinese and for her there’s a world’s difference between living in those two cities and the rest of the US.

It is certainly an admirable quality to set aside considerations of prestige and “be true to one’s self”. But frankly, being associated with a prestigious institution always makes things just a little bit easier. Like it or not, it opens doors. Don’t blame me – I didn’t make the rules!


If I had to guess with the limited data I have, I would suspect you’re right about there being a pretty big difference between thirties and the big “4 0”. I saw some “outliers” in their mid-thirties in some school’s demographics data (can’t remember, but it was a top school), but after that it seems the numbers are pretty much 0. I know that’s not good news for many (including myself). I’m just sayin’.

No, I’m not a URM. Been one of those dastardly white guys my whole life. I’ve been successful in some fairly unconventional ways though that might attract some adcom’s attention. But it’s all a big, big, big stretch.