Newsweek’s Two for the Price of One reports the growing popularity of medical school programs that offer guaranteed admission to high school seniors. Although the programs vary, most offer students the ability to complete their undergraduate degree in four years, and then matriculate to the medical school, without having to submit an application. The guarantee for acceptance to med school is usually contingent upon a minimum GPA and a decent MCAT score. For example, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Early Medical School Acceptance Program (EMSAP) requires students to maintain a 3.6 GPA.
Such programs enable undergrad students to choose classes and majors without worrying about impact on their medical school admission chances. As long as students complete the pre-med requirements, they can pursue broad interests as undergrads. Allen Young, who is starting the UAB program in the fall, explains, “So many students who want to go to medical school focus on being a premed, but I hope to have an opportunity to focus on other things, such as business and ethnic studies. This program lets you keep your options open.”
UAB also woos students from out of state by offering free tuition. For example, Michelle Chang from Edison, NJ is enrolled in UAB for the fall. In 2009, it accepted 12 students from California, Texas, Missouri, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan, as well as Alabama. All qualify for scholarships that cover tuition and, in some cases, books and housing. In this way UAB is able to attract high-caliber students who otherwise may not consider attending college in Alabama. For Chang, Alabama’s EMSAP is a definite plus, “I didn’t want to do the Ivy path and the traditional premed because I’d be with hundreds of other students who’d be competing to go to med school.”