It’s May. The 2009 AMCAS application will be available soon and the MCAT is looming. Have you chosen your schools yet? Even if you have, consider the following:
- Applying to medical school is expensive. The MCAT registration fee is $210. The AMCAS fee to apply to ten schools is $430. Add the school application fees of at least $50 (some are as high as $125) payable at the secondary stage. Your grand total is now $1140, not including the cost of a prep course for the MCAT or travel to interviews. (There’s a fee assistance program for AMCAS and the MCAT, but it’s very difficult to qualify for it.)
- State residency plays a greater role in medical school admissions than in college admissions. Public schools are required by state regulation to give some degree of preference to legal residents of the state. A few simply don’t accept non-residents. The non-resident tuition at some is so high as to be beyond the means of most candidates. Many don’t accept non-residents in significant numbers, and those accepted usually have considerably higher grades and MCAT scores than their in-state counterparts.
- The highest-ranked medical schools want the highest grades and the highest MCAT scores. If you aren’t in the top group in both categories, don’t spend your money on the “big guns.”
What all this means is that every candidate needs a “core group” of wisely-chosen schools. The number might be 10 or 20, depending on how many public schools there are in your state and the strength of your academic record and test scores. It rarely makes sense, financially or in terms of improving your odds, to apply to more than 20. If your list is lengthy, start re-evaluating now.