Which school to do prereqs?

I have a debate that’s been raging in my brain for the past few months, and it’s time to put it to rest. Maybe you all can give me some advice on my situation

Currently, I have the 2 years of Chemistry and 1 year of Physics to finish up. (My basic biology classes are finished). I have two schools that I’m trying to choose from in order to finish up these classes:

Choice #1: Very large research university (60,000+ students). The pros are it’s closer to my home (10-15 min. drive or could take the city bus) and it would be considered more prestigious than the other school I’m considering. They also offer night class options (good because I work part-time, 2 days per week). It also has a good medical school. Cons, in my opinion, are that it’s a bit more expensive ($100/credit more) and it doesn’t readily admit post-baccs, meaning that you sign up for classes as a non-degree seeking/non-admitted student. The difficulty here is that you would have to show up for the first day of lab in whatever section you are interested in and hope that a traditional (admitted) student drops out. This is the only way to be enrolled in the class. Also, since I am not an admitted student, I could not obtain a degree if med school didn’t work out right away.

Choice #2: Smaller university (@ 6,000 students). The pros are I’ve already taken Cell & Molecular Bio and Alg./Trig here and done very well. They also admit post-baccs into their regular degree programs, and I could graduate with a degree in Biomedical Science while I’m waiting to get into med school. It’s also a bit less expensive than school mentioned above and you can rent your expensive textbooks as opposed to buying them. I also think the advantage of it being a smaller school is that I can get to know my professors more easily, hence good references. The cons are that it is a 40 min. drive from my home and very far (1 hr 15 min.), from my 2 day/week teaching job).

Sorry for this long post! I would love to hear what you all think, though. Thanks!

How does #1 compare to #2? Not in terms of size. But to the eyes of the medical school admission committee?

Hi Ebfor,

That sounds like kind of a difficult choice to make. Generally I would say that taking courses at a more prestigious university would be your better choice, however it sounds like the pro’s of Choice 2 outweigh Choice 1. For the larger university, it sounds like you may not even be able to take the courses you would need! If you do join a class and nobody drops out, then you would have just wasted another semester. A good remedy for that may be to go meet with the professor in person, tell them your story; most professors love students who are highly motivated and so you may be able to get written into the class.

Is the smaller university a community college? If so, I would still have to say go to choice #1 - if it’s NOT a community college, I would say that choice 2 is your best choice. There’s nothing wrong with taking classes at a community college, however classes taken at a prestigious university will always look better. An extra degree never hurt anybody either!

So in summary, unless the smaller university is a community college, I would go with choice #2. If it is a community college, it STILL may be better to go with choice #2, but it may depend on other factors as well.

I appreciate the replies.

To answer Lisaray’s question, school #1 has made some top 20 and top 50 school lists for their professional schools. I think both their med school and law school rank quite well. I’m not sure about their undergraduate programs, though. Like I mentioned, overall, it is a more prestigious school. However, there is no guarantee that because I take about 30 credits there that they will look on me more favorably for their med school. This is why I’m not sure the benefits of prestige outweigh the other drawbacks of enrollment, etc. School #2 is smaller, and it made it into Princeton’s Best of the Midwest Colleges a couple years ago. So it’s a good school, just doesn’t have the money, prestige and associated med school of choice #1.

Thanks for the feedback, jjf2139. I agree with you and am really hesitant about the bigger school because of their sketchy enrollment possibility. Also, to answer your question, choice #2 is not a community college. It’s a university within a large state university system. It’s a university in a state next door that has reciprocity with my state.

Not my intention to hi-jack this thread, but I am going through something similar to this.

Currently I am at USC (south carolina), the #1 or #2 school in my state. It’s nothing prestigious, though it is ranked by US News in the top 100 overall universities, and is ranked highly in international business. However I do not live here, and my job situation worries me. If I can not find a stable and trustworthy job by the end of summer classes and consequently my apt. lease (July 31), I will have to move back in with my parents and go to the local and smaller liberal arts university there, which is #5 in the state (Winthrop).

The university is actually not bad at all, and when I called my state medical schools they acknowledged that it was a good school to attend for the pre-reqs. My worry is that when I apply out of state the other medical schools will not have heard of it and will question my switch from #1/#2 to #5. Just wondering which path to take here.

Financially it’s a sound decision, though in all honesty I’d rather stay at USC. I will do what I have to do though /sigh

(on another note I came to USC for the spring semester and took physics 1, bio 1, and pre cal and finished with a 3.83, so maybe that will make the transfer not look so bad)

I think we sometimes get bogged down in this prestige thing. The reality is, as long as you’re going to a good school, do well, and do well on the MCAT you’re going to be fine. Yes, there are some medical schools which are going to look at an undergrad degree from a very prestigious university with higher regard than another institution, but most are looking for a solid candidate all around. That being said, I will continue to say that one should do everything one can to do coursework at a 4-year university over a community college unless it’s just the very basic of courses. You are going to need to show that you can cut it in an academically rigorous setting (as medical school is) and, right or wrong, community colleges are not viewed in this way generally.

D-gray, I wouldn’t be too concerned with out of state med schools recognizing the liberal arts university. Many liberal arts campuses are small and only known regionally. As long as the institution is solid and you do very well as explained above you will be on par with the students attending the other university you mention (IMHO).

Best of luck to you both!