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Is the rigor of a student’s undergraduate university considered when applying to medical school?

Asked Fort Lauderdale, Florida

For instance, if a student graduated from an Ivy League with a lower GPA than a student from a significantly easier state school, would the name of the school be factored in? Thanks! #premed #medicine #medicalschool

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C Patrick’s Answer


Yes it is considered to an extent—placing grades, coursework, and extracurricular activities in context of applicants from that school historically and the resources available to students. However, attending a rigorous university does not mitigate the need to perform well at your particular institution and cultivate a strong, balanced application. In fact, you may get more leeway from some of the more rigorous state schools than some of the elite colleges to which you may be referring where grade inflation can been an issue. Ultimately, choose the college where you feel the most comfortable and have the resources you personally need to succeed.

C Patrick recommends the following next steps:

  • Consult your prospective colleges pre-medical advising office or committee to gauge the institutional track record. Not just students who enrolled in medical school but the number of applicants vs enrollees.
  • A university with a medical school or major hospital affiliation may offer more opportunities for shadowing doctors and advising on the application process.
Applicants by undergraduate institution with 50+ applicants: https://www.aamc.org/download/493728/data/factstablea2.pdf *note that this is confounded by enrollment, perhaps best to calculate ratio of applicants to number of graduates and applicants:matriculants if you want to compare institutions. Smaller equally excellent institutions may not have 50 applicants that year but fair better in the process so take with grain of salt. For example, WashU had 388 applicants, enrollment is ~1918 per class. University of Illinois had 381 applicants from enrollment of ~8489 per class. Not perfect due to numerous confounded but better than sheer applicant number, so it would be WashU at ratio of 0.20 vs Illinois at 0.04
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