It is appropriate to apply to fifteen to twenty medical schools, but select them carefully. Talk to your pre-health advisor or use the MSAR to see which schools are the best for you to apply to, based on location, grades, test scores, type of teaching, tuition, and any other factors that are important to you.
It is also important to consider applying to a wide range of schools. You might be surprised to be rejected from a school where your GPA and MCAT scores are higher than its average. On the other hand, one of your “reach” schools might see something unique about you or your application and accept you. A good mix might be to apply to both state schools and private schools where your statistics are competitive, and also to one or two “reach” schools. Stay away from applying to schools outside your home state if they only accept two or three out-of-state applicants per year.
According to the AAMC, 42,231 people applied to medical school for the 2008 entering class. 18,036 accepted students (42.7% of applicants) ended up enrolling at one of the 129 U.S. allopathic medical schools that then existed.
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This is excerpted from 101 Tips on Getting Into Medical School by Jennifer C. Welch, who has served as the Director of Admissions at SUNY Upstate Medical School since 2001.