What is the deal with medical schools and community college?

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Ohlawdy
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What is the deal with medical schools and community college?

Postby Ohlawdy » Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:19 am UTC

First of all, I am in the US. I know the rest of the world might work differently with my issue.
I am in my last year of high school and planning on a Biology major with pre-med curriculum. I love the biological sciences so if medical school doesn't pan out then at least I always have biology. However, everyone is pushing me go to a community college, for reasons that I will explain later, but I also hear conflicting reports, some even from medical schools themselves, that I should go straight to a 4-year university and skip doing 2 years at a community college.

I've read that many pre-med advisers at universities and colleges recommend that you take all 4 years at a university. There seems to be a plethora of med students saying that many medical schools have a bias against people who go to community colleges. I've even seen a few medical school admission sites say it is preferable for potential students to take all of their classes at a 4-year school instead of a few at a 2-year school. However on the other end of the spectrum I've read of accounts from people who were accepted into medical schools while taking plenty of courses at a community college. Many medical school admission sites don't seem to take a stance and just say both are accepted. Sometimes I hear something in the middle-ground such as "If you go to community colleges for your first two years, you pretty much have to get a 4.0GPA to be anywhere near competitive to a person who did all four years at a university.". I'm not going to lie to myself, I'm not the greatest student and I don't want to put my career choice on the line because I wanted to take the cheaper route. I know medical school is extremely competitive and I've already begun changing my academic habits to accommodate for this. I do have multiple family members in the healthcare field, including nurses and doctors, but most of them live halfway across the country and they refuse to give me an answer because they were in college over 25 years ago.

My family and friends are pushing me extremely hard to go to a community college first for financial reasons. I'm actually being scolded by my parents for seriously considering going straight to a 4-year university. While I will be saving a lot of money with a community college, if it isn't the smarter choice academically and has a chance of effecting my admission chances to medical school, I'll take the financial hit happily and risk it. However I don't know if that is really the right decision in this case as I can't find a clear answer. I guess I might just have to start calling medical school admission offices and see what they say.

If my financial situation matters, I don't do sports so there will be no athletic scholarships and my high school GPA plummeted from serious medical issues during my Freshman and Sophomore years so I kind of doubt I will get many academic scholarships right out of high school. My family income is roughly $30,000>. My parents have put a large amount of money into savings though.

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KestrelLowing
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby KestrelLowing » Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:27 pm UTC

Ohlawdy wrote:First of all, I am in the US. I know the rest of the world might work differently with my issue.
I am in my last year of high school and planning on a Biology major with pre-med curriculum. I love the biological sciences so if medical school doesn't pan out then at least I always have biology. However, everyone is pushing me go to a community college, for reasons that I will explain later, but I also hear conflicting reports, some even from medical schools themselves, that I should go straight to a 4-year university and skip doing 2 years at a community college.

I've read that many pre-med advisers at universities and colleges recommend that you take all 4 years at a university. There seems to be a plethora of med students saying that many medical schools have a bias against people who go to community colleges. I've even seen a few medical school admission sites say it is preferable for potential students to take all of their classes at a 4-year school instead of a few at a 2-year school. However on the other end of the spectrum I've read of accounts from people who were accepted into medical schools while taking plenty of courses at a community college. Many medical school admission sites don't seem to take a stance and just say both are accepted. Sometimes I hear something in the middle-ground such as "If you go to community colleges for your first two years, you pretty much have to get a 4.0GPA to be anywhere near competitive to a person who did all four years at a university.". I'm not going to lie to myself, I'm not the greatest student and I don't want to put my career choice on the line because I wanted to take the cheaper route. I know medical school is extremely competitive and I've already begun changing my academic habits to accommodate for this. I do have multiple family members in the healthcare field, including nurses and doctors, but most of them live halfway across the country and they refuse to give me an answer because they were in college over 25 years ago.

My family and friends are pushing me extremely hard to go to a community college first for financial reasons. I'm actually being scolded by my parents for seriously considering going straight to a 4-year university. While I will be saving a lot of money with a community college, if it isn't the smarter choice academically and has a chance of effecting my admission chances to medical school, I'll take the financial hit happily and risk it. However I don't know if that is really the right decision in this case as I can't find a clear answer. I guess I might just have to start calling medical school admission offices and see what they say.

If my financial situation matters, I don't do sports so there will be no athletic scholarships and my high school GPA plummeted from serious medical issues during my Freshman and Sophomore years so I kind of doubt I will get many academic scholarships right out of high school. My family income is roughly $30,000>. My parents have put a large amount of money into savings though.


I can't say how this is with respect to medical as I only know slightly about engineering. But, in engineering if you take your first couple years at a community college, you better be going to a good one because the classes will not prepare you for the more difficult classes later on that build on those foundation courses. I did not go to community college but the people I know who did (mainly they dual enrolled during high school) said that their calc and basic courses were not really adequate. They had a lot of catching up to do and their foundations were shaky. As community colleges generally are less difficult, a higher grade point will often be expected.

I don't know if this is also why community college is kind of looked down on for medical schools, but it's a thought.

Also, don't give up hope on academic scholarships! Some really do just look at the last few years of grades, especially if you can mention somewhere that your first few years were low due to medical reasons (often there's a section for explaining things about grades). Just apply to all the scholarships you can and see what happens.

You can make it work with community college, just realize that you may have to be more active and learn a bit more than what's simply assigned on the homework.

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lemmings
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby lemmings » Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:56 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:I can't say how this is with respect to medical as I only know slightly about engineering. But, in engineering if you take your first couple years at a community college, you better be going to a good one because the classes will not prepare you for the more difficult classes later on that build on those foundation courses. I did not go to community college but the people I know who did (mainly they dual enrolled during high school) said that their calc and basic courses were not really adequate. They had a lot of catching up to do and their foundations were shaky. As community colleges generally are less difficult, a higher grade point will often be expected.

As a student who transfered from a community college into a 4 year physics program, I couldn't disagree more. I've had friends transfer into the CSE programs at UCSD and UCB and their experiences are identical to my own. The lower division preparation that we had was more than sufficient. In many ways, our upper division work is easier than the lower division work that we had taken and the lower division courses at our schools is a joke compared to what we had to do and for the most part, this is the general consensus with most of my new peers who've also transfered.

All community college students however are not the same. The college where I came from had only a 15% transfer rate meaning that 5/6 students who you met had no intention on advancing. This pulled the difficulty of non-STEM classes down considerably relative to those I see at university, but, I'm not a SSaH major so that's somebody else's problem and if you're an English major entering med-school, you're fighting an upward slope. As for the STEM courses, everyone's goal is to transfer so the college felt the need to compete with the local university systems of UC and CSU.

Parsifal
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby Parsifal » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:44 pm UTC

I'm in CS not pre-med, but I'd advise going to a 4-year school if you can manage it. You might make it through your first few years OK if you don't, but when you start taking higher levels courses you'll be sorry if you're not prepared, and there won't be an easy way to fix it.

Vangor
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby Vangor » Sat Oct 01, 2011 11:13 pm UTC

Depends on the school and on the program. For medical schooling, I would suggest attending all four+ in the university for a number of reasons. The first is to avoid any issues which might arise from previous courses being inadequate; being unable to complete the work wastes tuition and time. Further, some courses are not accepted flatly or do not meet the prerequisites of the program. Regardless of whether the courses or training are adequate and accepted, though, the atmosphere is different in a university. You will know your professors from the start and have people to rely upon and assist you later. Having those connections to the world of employment and similar is dramatic.

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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby engr » Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:00 am UTC

A friend of mine (who is a former physics teacher turned engineering student) told me once that he would rather take whatever classes he can at the community college because instruction quality may be better there. His reasoning: instructors at CCs actually want to teach, unlike many college professors who are only interested in research and loathe teaching (and/or suck at it).
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby Bakemaster » Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:03 am UTC

Small class sizes can also be much easier to come by at a community college than at a large research university.
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kiklion
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby kiklion » Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:56 pm UTC

I don't know statistics and it is only one data point, but my fiance went to community college and transferred to a 4 year. Her undergrad is going to take her 5 years because classes that weren't transferred. Going straight to the 4 year college may be less expensive over all.

ofMars
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby ofMars » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:33 pm UTC

It's going to largely depend on the quality of the community college - some are essentially high schools for kids that didn't manage to figure out high school while they were in high school. If your only purpose in going to a community college is purely based on the price tag, you might go there for just one year to get any general education (read: stuff that has nothing to do with your biology degree) out of the way, and make sure the credits will transfer. Don't know where you're from, but check out any college access programs that might exist in your city/state. you can search for them here: http://www.collegeaccess.org/accessprogramdirectory/

FrustratedIdiot
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby FrustratedIdiot » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:30 pm UTC

It's probably due to GPA-padding. The conventional wisdom is that it's easier to do well at a community college than at a four-year school. GPA matters for med school, and med schools find it easier to compare GPAs across four-year schools than across four-years schools plus community colleges.

miedvied
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby miedvied » Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:34 pm UTC

So, I was in med school in the NY area. I interviewed at a number of med and dental schools when I was doing my health profession grad apps (I've since gone on to do a grad program in Biostatistics, but...)

I graduated a local college (we won't call it CC - it was a 4 year school, but community-ish, and part of a network of schools that included 2 year schools) with summa cum laude and 99th percentile overall on my DAT and 96th MCAT. A couple of my interviewers explicitly mentioned they don't normally interview people from my uni. One asked me what uni I went to, and when I answered, said "I'm going to have to look that one up in our GPA conversion table," with a tone of "What a crap school." I was in the 4-year school!

A friend of mine took A&P at the 2 year school 'cause he heard it was easier. I don't know if it was, but he had admissions people explicitly grill him on why he dared take required pre-med courses at 2 year school.

It really does hurt your chances, and med applications are getting more competitive by the year (my friend w/ an MS in Cancer Bio with a 4.0 GPA and 84th percentile on the MCAT had trouble getting into low-to-mid-range schools last year, DO schools included). If you're only considering medicine, go community, but be prepared to retake your required classes (gen bio 1/2, chem 1/2, orgo 1/2, physics 1/2) at the 4 year to show you can hack it. If you're intent on it, then you had better go straight to the 4-year, or you might very well be signing away your chance at med school.


------Note: this has nothing to do with the quality of the CC, and everything to do with its reputation.

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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby Darryl » Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:06 pm UTC

miedvied wrote:So, I was in med school in the NY area. I interviewed at a number of med and dental schools when I was doing my health profession grad apps (I've since gone on to do a grad program in Biostatistics, but...)

I'm guessing you mean NYC?

I'm not a med student (math, actually, running into my own transfer problems due to the Registrar not communicating well with the math department), but the CC I went to (Onondaga) had an early assurance agreement with Upstate, and a transfer agreement with St. Elizabeth's. As well, St. Joseph's has no problems with students who did OCC for two-years. And I've not heard anything from the Engineering students there, either.
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby Internetmeme » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:57 am UTC

I'd recommend making an appointment and talking to the dean of the med school you want to go to.

Last summer, I talked with the dean of the local college of pharmacy (a branch of the state's medical university). He told me that admissions honestly does not care if you go to a four year or a two year school. They only care that you've knocked out the prerequisite classes (they've got a matrix on their website listing the equivalencies at the various schools in the state), and that you do well in your interview.

Granted, this is just at the college of pharmacy that I'm looking at, so take that with a grain of salt.
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miedvied
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Re: What is the deal with medical schools and community coll

Postby miedvied » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:36 pm UTC

Darryl wrote:
miedvied wrote:So, I was in med school in the NY area. I interviewed at a number of med and dental schools when I was doing my health profession grad apps (I've since gone on to do a grad program in Biostatistics, but...)

I'm guessing you mean NYC?

I'm not a med student (math, actually, running into my own transfer problems due to the Registrar not communicating well with the math department), but the CC I went to (Onondaga) had an early assurance agreement with Upstate, and a transfer agreement with St. Elizabeth's. As well, St. Joseph's has no problems with students who did OCC for two-years. And I've not heard anything from the Engineering students there, either.



Yep, NYC.

SUNY Upstate is a weak med school, though, and those guaranteed assurance spots are - from what I've seen - for kids that never should have stepped foot in a 2-year uni (I know at Brooklyn Coll. you had to have a 1550 on the old 1600-point SAT to get into their early assurance program with SUNY downstate). For an academic medical center, being one of the lowest NIH grant-money recipients in the country is a hit in the crotch.

As to engineering, etc.; non-med students don't count. Getting into a uni for engineering isn't nearly as competitive, condescending, or degrading as getting into medical school. When you're convincing people with a god complex to let you into the pantheon, perceived weaknesses are problematic.


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