Where to go for informal postbac

After months of waiting (& silently agonizing, of course) I finally heard back from the latter half of the two schools where I applied for an informal post-bac. The good news: I’m in at both. The bad news: I’m in…at both.

Both are giant public schools in my state of residency. ABC College is by far the academic superior (a “public ivy”) and indubitably more cutthroat. Comparatively, XYZ is a…em, good (enough?) school with a fantastic pre-health advising office and open arms for non-trads. College culture-football games, raucous frats, seemingly endless strings of head shops-dominates the town where ABC sits, and I’m sick of living here, whereas I’d love to relocate to the urban home of XYZ. Oh, how I miss the city.

Research is very strong at ABC, but I’m not sure how accessible opportunities are to undergrads; at XYZ, research is fairly big and professors are eager to mentor/supervise.

I’ve heard it consistently, & I have to assume it’s good advice: the most important factor=high GPA, high MCATs. But people swing either way on the ‘big name matters’ issue. ABC is a highly-ranked school, but it’s no Hopkins. Another thing, the science departments at ABC are brimming with fiercely competitive international students. I welcome a challenge, but…would it be better to be a 4.0 shining star at XYZ, without having to fight tooth and nail for it? Is the name that much of an advantage when it comes to state schools, or should I play it safe?

Thanks in advance for your advice!

I should mention that I completed my original undergraduate degree at a medium-sized, well-lauded private university with a 3.65c/4.0s. Hoping to pull up the cumulative and maintain (ha, or…not wreck…) the science.

From the way you describe it, I would choose XYZ. They both sound like they are respected schools (perhaps ABC a bit more but…). I would go for the one which will support you better and therefore enable you to shine without causing a nervous breakdown in the process.

Just my $0.02 worth.


When I started the pre-med process, I decided to choose the academically grueling school because it has always been my personal philosophy that if you go for the top, then you know you can do anything else below that. I sort of regret my decision. From what I have learned throughout this process, it doesn’t matter that the Ochem series at my school is a 300-level, masters level series (using the same syllabus as the masters course at Hopkins); it doesn’t matter that students that transfer to my school from other schools usually can’t keep up because they’re not used to the rigor - in the end, all that med schools seem to care about are GPA and MCAT. Had I realized this at the beginning, I may have chosen differently. I’ve also been told by current med students that students from my undergrad school are better prepared for the difficulty of med school; however, if a slightly lower GPA than students from other schools keeps me from being selected, does it really matter that I’m better prepared?! The pre-health committee assures us that the letter they send to med schools on our behalf includes information regarding the difficulty of the courses compared to other schools, but I wonder if this really has any impact. If my ultimate goal was to get a stellar education, I’d still choose my school; but since my goal is to get into med school, I may have chosen differently - does something seem wrong with this picture? I’d go with XYZ.

This is a grueling process, and there’s definitely something to be said for going somewhere that you will be happier. I tend to think that a higher GPA at XYZ will balance out against the better name of ABC.

Thanks for the feedback. It’s reassuring to hear some support for a decision I feel, viscerally, is right.

Personally, I would always go with the school where I felt better about things. Listen to your gut; it’s often smarter than your brain.

I completely agree with other posters, wise to go where you feel more comfortable.

"Listen to your gut; it’s often smarter than your brain. "

This is actually TAUGHT in organizational behaviour and MBA courses. Sometimes you catch something on the subconscious level, but not the conscious level. The text example was the fire chief who pulled his men out of the bldg that was on fire “because the fire wasn’t burning right” He didn’t know why it wasn’t burning right, or why he had a gut feeling. Turns out that it had a subfloor no one knew about; it caved in just afterwards…

I am agreeing with the other posters … I believe you will do better where you feel supported, and where you are happier.

Also, a cutthroat environment doesn’t sound like much fun to me. Doesn’t sound like you want that, either.

Thanks for all the input! I was just concerned with having as many advantages as I can, I suppose. Don’t want to regret my decision come interview time.

Then again, with rockin’ grades/MCAT, will adcoms really care if I went to the flagstaff school versus its cousin?

*flagship, that is

very likely not.