Top Medical Schools: How to Choose the Best Med School
- Jun 01, 2023
- MCAT Blog, Med School Admissions, Top Medical Schools
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
It’s human nature to seek out the best of life; we want to eat at the best restaurants, visit the best vacation destinations, and watch the best television shows. Likewise, pre-med students want the best MCAT prep course, the best MCAT score, and want to attend the “best” medical schools.
But wait, if all medical schools are competitive, is there such a thing as a top medical school? Yes, and no.
To better understand “top” medical schools, we’ll discuss how medical schools get a high ranking, what you should consider when choosing a school, and how important a school’s ranking is in your decision. The fact is, the best medical school on paper may not be the best medical school for you.
What Are the Top Medical Schools?
When creating a list of medical schools to apply to, many students start by typing “Best medical schools” into their search bar and sorting through ranking lists. The most popular medical school rankings come from U.S. News, which releases two lists annually based on an institution’s primary care and research programs. This ranking system is hotly debated, as some programs have chosen to withdraw due to various methodological flaws. Some of the metrics that U.S. News uses are subjective, such as the peer assessment score, and others have nothing to do with the quality of education you’ll receive, such as research activity or admission rate.
These rankings feed into a school’s reputation; graduates at top-ranked schools are perceived as more capable doctors than graduates of lower-ranked schools. There has been little investigation into the validity of these perceptions, but they can have significant consequences for networking, residency applications, and other opportunities. In other words, graduating from a top-ranked school can open a lot of doors for physicians.
Nonetheless, rather than relying on an arbitrary ranking system to create your medical school application list, you should consider your own goals and priorities to determine which schools will be best for you. Truly, your “top” medical school will be the best academic, financial, and social fit.
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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Medical School
Find the best medical schools to apply to by determining your priorities and exploring schools that align with them. Many students research medical schools using MSAR, a collection of school data including information on school missions, curriculum, tuition, and admissions requirements. Other concrete considerations include research opportunities, clinical training, faculty, and student outcomes.
There are also important personal factors to think about, such as your learning style and personal interests. You will be a stronger applicant at schools that align with your interests and experience, and these schools will offer programs and opportunities that foster your growth. For example, if you have done undergraduate work in global health, apply to schools that emphasize global health and provide opportunities for medical students to do rotations abroad.
And we can’t forget about your MCAT score. It goes without saying that the more competitive your MCAT score is the higher your chances of admission are to the top medical schools, but also medical schools in general. However, don’t be discouraged if your score falls below the median MCAT score of a given school; remember there are admitted students that fall below and above the median.
A good rule of thumb is to consider a medical school’s ranking if all other factors are the same; however, this is unlikely since each school has many unique characteristics. Although med school rank may feel like an essential piece of the puzzle since residencies are becoming more and more competitive, remember that residency program directors place medical school prestige behind 31 other application factors. Furthermore, only 38% of programs identified rank as a factor in their decision to interview a candidate!
Which School Should You Choose?
It’s tempting to stress over medical school rankings, but is that the best way to approach how to choose a medical school? The truth is that the best-ranked medical school is not always the best option for you. There are tons of factors that influence which medical schools you should apply to and which you should ultimately choose. Determine your priorities and which schools align with your interests, and please, ignore the rankings. After all, you want to thrive at whichever school you attend.
No matter what you decide, a top MCAT score will always help your chances of getting accepted. Blueprint MCAT is here to help with MCAT prep options that fit every learning style and have been proven to increase your MCAT score by 15 points on average! If you’re serious about getting into the highest-ranked medical schools or simply want to become a more competitive applicant, check out our 515+ Course that’s guaranteed to help you score at least a 515 MCAT score.
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