By: Savvy Pre-Med Staff
We’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of pre-meds, and every year we encounter dozens of reapplicants who ask us to troubleshoot their past applications and help them reset for the future.
One of the most common trends in these reapplicants is a poorly constructed medical school list.
We thought we’d share an (anonymous) example of one to show you the most common mistakes applicants make with their school list and illustrate how our Savvy Pre-Med Med School Search Tool can help you avoid these issues.
Let’s consider the following candidate:
Ethnic Background: White
State Residency: California
University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
Baylor College of Medicine
Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Duke University School of Medicine
Emory University School of Medicine
Geisel School of Medicine
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Howard University College of Medicine
NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Feinberg School of Medicine
Meharry Medical College
Ohio State College of Medicine
Perelman School of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
University of Minnesota Medical School
UNC School of Medicine
University of Virginia School of Medicine
Keck School of Medicine of USC
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
University of Washington School of Medicine
Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences
Yale School of Medicine
This candidate’s story eventually ends in success, but it took them two cycles to get into medical school. That’s a lot of extra work and money!
And it could have all been avoided with a more carefully constructed school list.
Before we give the final list that got this candidate accepted into multiple schools, let’s discuss the things that they did wrong the first time around!
A high GPA is nice, but it only carries so much weight on its own.
Many candidates have GPAs in the 3.9 or 4.0 range, so it’s not going to be a difference-maker for elite, prestigious schools on our candidate’s list like Yale.
Also, GPAs are susceptible to grade-inflation and may not be viewed as a very standardized metric for medical schools. Oppositely, they will likely consider the MCAT to be a more accurate indicator of a candidate’s academic ability.
So, assuming that our candidate does not retake the MCAT and improve their score, 21 out of the 23 schools on their list are statistical reaches (not to mention the problem with Howard and Meharry that we’ll discuss next).
This candidate clearly did not do enough research on schools like Howard and Meharry before constructing their list.
Let’s take a look at Howard’s mission statement:
Howard: “Howard University College of Medicine provides students of high academic potential with a medical education of exceptional quality and prepares physicians and other healthcare professionals to serve the underserved. Particular focus is on the education of disadvantaged students for careers in medicine.”
And let’s take a look at the data surrounding ethnicity at Meharry:
“The enrolled student population at Meharry Medical College is 80.1% Black or African American, 9.93% White, 5.45% Asian, 4.12% Hispanic or Latino, 0.363% American Indian or Alaska Native, 0% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, and 0% Two or More Races.”
So, as a white applicant with no disadvantages in their background, our candidate has a very slim shot of getting into either of these schools.
It’s not impossible, but those two slots leave our candidate with 23 out of 23 schools being reaches. Not good!
Again, if you use the Savvy Pre-Med Med School Search Tool, you’ll see that certain schools on our candidate’s list, like the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota, have a low out-of-state friendliness ranking (with 4 being the highest).
It’s also important to note that the candidate only applied to TWO out of the 16 schools in their home state of California.
Even though it’s difficult to get into California schools, it would have behooved our candidate to apply to more in-state schools and remove unfriendly out-of-state schools from their list.
Yeah, neither did our candidate! They realized it too late, after they had already paid their fees and pre-written those schools’ secondaries.
To avoid a big waste of time and money, make sure to review schools’ requirements surrounding letters of recommendation, prerequisites, etc.
Our Savvy Pre-Med Med School Search Tool includes links for all these requirements for every school, making your research all that much easier.
According to our Savvy Pre-Med Med School Search Tool, there are only 11 MD schools that fall into the <507 MCAT range. And two of those are Howard and Meharry, which we’ve already removed for our candidate.
So, statistically speaking, this candidate would only have NINE statistical matches for MD schools, and that’s not even accounting for out-of-state friendliness.
Oppositely, there are 38 DO schools that fall into the <507 MCAT range. That’s a much healthier pool of schools to pull from, and there’s no reason why our candidate couldn’t apply to both MD and DO schools.
So, let’s quickly review the criteria for our candidate’s improved list:
Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine - California
Western University (COMP - Pomona)
Western University (COMP - Lebanon)
Loma Linda University
California University of Science and Medicine (CalMed CUSM)
Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM)
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM-Seton Hill)
Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM) (Patel)
A.T. Still University of Health Sciences - Kirksville (ATSU-KCOM)
A.T. Still University of Health Sciences - Mesa (ATSU-SOMA)
Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (AZCOM) (Midwestern)
Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) (Midwestern)
Des Moines University
Kansas City (KCU-COM)
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM-Bradenton)
Marian University (MUCOM)
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT-COM Old Westbury)
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)
Rocky Vista University - Colorado (RVUCOM)
Rocky Vista University - Utah (RVUCOM)
Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine - New York
Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine - Nevada
University of New England (UNECOM)
Lincoln Memorial University (DeBusk) (LMU-DCOM)
If our candidate wanted to add a few reach schools from their previous list (perhaps UCLA, USC, and/or NYU), that would be fine! We’re not in the business of crushing dreams, but it’s vital for your list to be balanced and realistic.
And that’s why the Savvy Pre-Med Med School Search Tool is so useful. It’s a simple, objective tool that you can rely on when constructing a strategic school list!
Have any questions about constructing your school list? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally.