This year, a record-setting 7,500 individuals applied to medical schools within the U.S. With an average acceptance rate of 7%, medical schools are selective. As such, it can be hard for applicants to realize they can and should be selective as well.  

 Because medical school lasts four years­—and is just the beginning of a longer medical education journey—it’s important that the program selected is well-recognized, a good value, and the right fit. Below we outline other important items to consider when selecting which schools to apply to and which program to accept, should you be lucky enough to receive multiple offers.


1. Compatibility

U.S. medical schools have strict curriculum requirements. Aside from this, institutions can vary significantly. To be successful, you should choose a program that aligns with your learning style, meets your location preferences, and offers extracurriculars or services you deem valuable. Make a list of what you want in a medical school and compare it to the options offered at the programs in question.


2. Quality

If you had to describe medical schools in one word, that word would not be ‘affordable.’ A better option would be ‘lengthy.’ Because medical school requires significant financial and time commitments, you want to make sure the one you attend is worth it.

There are 188 fully-accredited medical schools within the U.S. The committee which accredits them varies based on which degree graduates earn. Individuals can either earn a D.O or M.D. degree. You can find information on these differences here.

Because all these institutions are accredited to some degree, researching school rank can be one way to distinguish between good, better, and best. The U.S. News & World Report publishes medical school rankings annually. Their ranking methodology considers the opinions of school staff and residency directors, information on those accepted (including MCAT scores and GPA), and institutional research.

 Because some programs score better in certain areas than others, U.S. News & World Report offers those researching rankings different ways to filter their data. You can search to your heart’s content here.


3. Competition

When you apply to medical school, you’ll submit applications through the American Medical College Application service. The first application you submit requires you to pay $170. For each application you submit after that, there will be an additional charge. To keep costs low, you should focus on applying to schools that accept applicants similar to you on paper. To determine this, you may research the average MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs for first-year students.


4. Cost

Once you begin medical school, student loans will quickly follow. To avoid accumulating debt that you won’t be able to pay off, you should be aware of annual tuition and fees for each of the schools you are considering. Private medical programs, like those at ivy league schools, are more expensive than their public school counterparts.

While you may not want to select the most expensive school, you don’t want to choose the cheapest one either. There are some trends between medical school tuition and residency match rates. It’s best to research these as well before making a final decision.


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