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Preparing for College

Selecting A College

There is a wide choice of colleges open to the high school graduate whose ultimate goal is medical school. Students should make their choice from one of the liberal arts colleges or universities accredited by one of the six regional accrediting agencies. This helps ensure that the school has met at least the minimum educational standards for institutions of higher learning. You should determine your personal preference either for a small school, with its opportunities for more personalized instruction and closer interactionwith faculty and fellow students, or for a larger university, with its wider curricular and extracurricular opportunities. Factors such as cost should also be carefully considered. Take into account also the size of the library, the student-faculty ratio, the local environment, and the academic pressures. In addition, evaluate each college keeping in mind the following points:

  1. Does the college offer the premedical courses that are prerequisites for admission to medical school? Examine the school's catalog to determine this.
  2. Does the college have dynamic and modern science departments and adequate laboratory facilities?
  3. Does the list of faculty members in the catalog indicate a competent staff? (Note, for example, the number of faculty with doctorate degrees.)
  4. When you visit the school, do students speak well of the science and mathematics departments?
  5. Does the school have good library facilities? A visit to the library will give you an insight into its quality.
  6. Does the college have a high academic reputation? Examination of the freshman class profile, which should be available from high school counselors, will shed light on this point.
  7. Does the college consistently send a significant portion of its premedical graduates to medical school? This information is very helpful in assessing the school's reputation and the quality of its premedical students. Discuss this question with the college's seniors, its premedical advisor, and its science professors.
  8. Does the college have a premedical advisory program? A knowledgeable and dedicated premedical advisor will help ensure academic guidance, current information, and assistance at the time the student is planning to apply to medical and/or dental school.

A comparative evaluation of these and other issues involves reading the schools' catalogs and visiting each of the campuses under consideration. A visit offers the opportunity of meeting students, admissions and guidance personnel, and professors, and of discussing the aspects of the schools with those who are most familiar with them.

It is very important to give careful consideration to the college you select, for it will undoubtedly have a major impact upon your career. The undergraduate school at which you matriculate can affect your performance. In addition, it is one of the factors in the selection of medical students. Because of this, it is very desirable to secure a quality education at a well-established or prestigious college or university. A private school may give you an edge. To secure admission to a college that will improve your career potential requires competitive grades, attractive SAT I or ACT scores, impressive recommendations, and personal achievement(s).

Bottom Line

Guidelines for selecting a college, can be summarized as follows:

  • • If you have not chosen a major, then check to make sure you have an adequate choice of offerings along with good-quality courses.
  • • If you have chosen a major, determine if you will be offered adequate choices in your area of concentration and how good the quality of teaching is.
  • • If you elect to attend a community college, be certain that your upper-level courses are taken at a four-year college to provide evidence of your ability to handle the demands of medical school.
  • • Determine if the atmosphere of the prospective school is conducive to enhancing your chances for a pleasant, lengthy educational experience.
  • • College rating guidelines have inherent technical problems that may make them a questionable source of information relative to selecting a college. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile ascertaining the rating of possible schools from an acceptable reference source.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesGuide to Medical & Dental SchoolsPreparing for College - High School: An Overview, Program Of High School Studies, Evaluating A College, Selecting A College