Did you know that there are almost 4,000 colleges and universities across the country?
It’s easy to forget that fact when the same 50-100 schools get the most news and media attention. At Collegewise, we believe that there is a great fit school for every student--- even if you haven’t considered it yet! Each month on the 9th, we’ll be shining a spotlight on 9 colleges and universities that shouldn’t go overlooked in your college search. Why 9? Well, Collegewise was born in 1999 and we wanted to stick with a number that treated us well...we hope you enjoy our reviews!
So Ya Wanna Be A Doctor: Hidden Gems for the Pre-Med Scholar
Quick note before we dive in:
Before you read any of these, make sure to take a look at the amazing blog post my colleague Meredith wrote about common pre-med myths. I chose these schools because the support and opportunities on campus can help a student stand out in the medical school admissions process but don’t limit yourself to these. Students can apply to medical school from anywhere so the most important thing is to find schools where you feel you will be able to thrive :).
Rhodes College - Memphis, Tennessee
Located in the “Home of the Blues & Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll,” Rhodes stands out for being one of the few liberal arts colleges located in the middle of a major metropolitan area. Its 2,000ish student population means that students are able to really get to know their professors (hello great letters of rec!) in classes that average 14 people. The Rhodes Honor Code fosters a collaborative and inclusive community from the start of a student’s time at Rhodes, when every new student on campus officially joins the Rhodes community by signing the pledge to, “... not lie, cheat, or steal, and that I will report any such violation that I may witness." Add in one of the most gorgeous college campuses in America into the mix and it’s easy to see why ninety-percent of students choose to stay at Rhodes after their freshman year.
As far as pre-med support and opportunities, Rhodes punches above its weight and then some. About 20% of the Rhodes student body has indicated an interest in health-related careers and so Rhodes has a dedicated Health Professions Advising team to help guide those students towards success through one-on-one advising meetings (in addition to the faculty advising meetings a student receives!). The HPA team also plans regular programming and events for students ranging from personal statement workshops to health-specific internship info sessions. Rhodes also offers a number of early assurance agreements including an Early Selection Program with George Washington Medical School.
Outside of the classroom, Rhodes students have many opportunities to engage with the greater community. Memphis is home to a significant number of medical facilities including the world famous St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In fact, Rhodes students have exclusive access to multiple medical fellowships, which are typically reserved for students in graduate school. Rhodes is one of the top schools for service-minded students and the College is serious about providing students with multiple avenues to give back. The Kinney Program focuses on 12 issue areas and connects students to over 100 organizations in the local community for ongoing service projects tailored to those issue areas. There are a number of medical-focused clubs on campus like Global Med and VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood for students that want to get even more involved.
For the pre-health student that wants a blend of big-city options coupled with a close-knit supportive environment, Rhodes is worth investigating.
Brandeis University - Waltham, MA
Just 9 miles from Boston, Brandeis is a fantastic option for students wanting more of a medium size university with access to a major metropolitan area. The total student population on campus is around 5,600 but undergraduates get the bulk of the attention making up 2/3 of the student body. This means there’s a great blend of personalized support and research opportunities that provide perfect fodder for a strong med school application. The First Year Experience program is designed to integrate students into university academic expectations with small seminars centered around topics like “Darwinian Dating” and “Culture and Illness.” At the same time, students have the opportunity to bond with their professors and peers through informal group discussions about how to navigate college life and how to get the most out of the Brandeis experience. By the time students move into their sophomore years, they understand how to approach their studies and the opportunities available to them on campus to explore their interests.
And boy are the resources available to students cooll! For pre-health students especially, the Brandeis Pre-Health Advising team meets one-on-one with students and offers flexible drop in hours each week for those burning questions. A highlight of the work they do is the “Sophomore Check-In” program where students participate in professional development activities and meet with a pre-health advisor to develop a plan for their applications. Additionally, Brandeis pre-med students can take advantage of the Hiatt Career Center. The Center works hard to develop relationships with students, alumni, employers, faculty & staff and organize these relationships into different “ecosystems” with specialized programming. For example, students interested in the medical field should really attend the Biotech, Health and Science Career Fair to learn more about internship and employment opportunities related to science/healthcare.
Brandeis also excels at student research participation, something medical school admissions communities are starting to take a closer look at from applicants. The Brandeis Undergraduate Research and Creative Collaborations Office offers a Research 101 workshop to help students identify their research interests and demystify the process of obtaining research opportunities on campus. Brandeis students have many ways they can get course credit for their research experiences like internship classes and course credit for faculty research collaboration. Students in the Division of Science have access to the Brandeis Science Communications Lab for help with any scientific work like poster presentations, fellowship applications, and resume coaching.
Finally, the pre-health student organization scene at Brandeis is truly unique. A personal favorite of mine is the Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps (BEMCo), the student-run volunteer emergency medical service. BEMCo operates 24/7 during the academic year and all students are Massachusetts-state certified emergency medical technicians. Not a certified EMT? No problem! BEMCo offers an EMT-basic class every spring and active members are required to participate in three continuing education classes each semester on topics like “Pediatric Emergencies” and “Gunshot Wounds and other Traumatic Injuries.”
Brandeis pre-med students benefit from a university environment that is focused on preparing them for their future and so it’s no wonder that the Brandeis med school acceptance rate is almost 30% higher (65-75%) compared to the national average (44%).
Carroll College - Helena, MT
Rounding out our list is Carroll College, a gorgeous Catholic liberal arts and sciences college snuggly situated in the Montana state capital. Carroll offers its 1400 students a unique blend of pre-professional majors and more traditional academic programs. Unique pre-health majors at Carroll include Anthrozoology, Health Sciences, and Public Health. Premed students can also take advantage of a certificate in Healthcare Leadership. A small student body means professors at Carroll know their students-class sizes here average 12 students.
A hallmark of the academic experience at Carroll is the Sed Vitae Experience. Required as part of the Core Curriculum, students connect their experience on campus to the world beyond through either an internship, study abroad program, intensive research project, service-learning experience, or practicum course. For pre-med students, this could mean spending a year at a boarding school for troubled youth and the elderly in Mexico, conducting research on vector-borne diseases, or an internship at a local clinic.
Carroll College pre-med students are able to take advantage of the Pre-Medical Pathway Program, which requires students complete the courses required by medical schools. Students are also able to take unique classes like “Health Politics and Policy” and “Epidemiology” to further augment their applications. There’s even a Public Health and Health Sciences Internship Program! Additional health pathway programs are offered in Dental, Athletic Training, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician-Assistant, Registered Dietician, and Accelerated Nursing.
Outside of the classroom, Carroll pre-health students benefit from being the only four-year college in the city. St. Peter’s Health Regional Medical Center is a mere 3.3 miles away from campus, making it an easy commute for students interested in getting shadowing hours for their medical school applications. Service to the community is core aspect of the Carroll College Experience so students can go to the Hunthausen Center for Peace and Justice to find a community service opportunity that’s right for them (I love Service Saturday!).
Carroll College is a great fit for a student eager to explore the outdoors while receiving top notch pre-med support. In fact, Carroll College students regularly get accepted to medical school at a rate of 85%!
Check out our other 6 college recommendations as part of our 9 on 9 series:
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