On Twitter, a follower recently asked us:
Do you have any posts on whether it is worth a premed paying $$$ for a degree at a top 20 college over a quality state university?
For a short question, there’s a lot going on here, and we thought it would be worthwhile to discuss it.
First, there’s a basic question of definitions: how much money are we talking about, vs how good a school? Some top private schools offer substantial financial aid, which can mean there’s less of a price difference than you may think (depending on your situation). And some public universities are very highly ranked.
Attending a highly regarded undergrad program can give you a boost in many ways: perhaps you’ll have more opportunities to interact closely with your professors. Perhaps you’ll feel a heightened sense of competition from your classmates.
And if you hope to attend a private med school, going to a private school as an undergrad can help you.
At the same time, there’s no guarantee that a private school will have resources that outclass a public one. For example, a large public research university affiliated with a teaching hospital might have more opportunities for undergrads to get involved in research than a small, private liberal arts college in a more rural setting.
If you know, heading into college, that you want to pursue medical school, it’s worth looking into significant resources at your target schools, including: the strength of the premed curriculum; the strength of the pre-professional advising services; undergraduate research opportunities; student groups you may want to participate in.
Ultimately, what you get out of college has a lot to do with what you put in. You can build a stellar profile at a state university, just as you might fail chemistry at a top-10 private university. Keep your focus, and take advantage of the opportunities you have as a student – whether at a state university or a private college!