Where to Apply
One of the most important aspects of the application process is choosing which schools to apply to. You should spend a considerable amount of time researching the different schools to determine which you would be interested in attending. Majority of students apply to about 10 schools, while some apply to as many as 20 medical schools. It is important to keep in mind that AMCAS charges a fee for every school to which you apply (in 2014, the AMCAS fee is $160 for the first school and $34 for each additional school) and individual schools charge secondary application fees (ranging from $50-$150). Also, filling out secondary applications is very time consuming. Only apply to schools that you would be willing to attend if they offered you an acceptance.
If you have exceptional financial need, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has a Fee Assistance Program (FAP) that reduces the MCAT registration fee to only $100 and allows you to apply to up to 14 schools at no cost. Most medical schools will reduce or waive the secondary application fee if you are approved for the AAMC Fee Assistance Program. Please visit the FAP page on AAMC site for more information.
For more information regarding costs of applying to medical school, please consult information from the AAMC’s FIRST program.
For a list of Accredited Medical Schools participating in AMCAS, please visit the AAMC Member Directory.
Choosing a School
The best place to begin your search is the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) handbook. This book is published yearly by the AAMC and can be checked out from the PreMed advising office or purchased through AAMC. In addition to providing information on curricula and application procedures it provides profiles and statistics for all the medical schools in the United States and Canada. Another book that provides similar information is the Princeton Review Complete Book of Medical Schools (also available for check out from the PreMed office). Finally, FindtheBest is a great internet resource on medical schools that can help you determine your dream schools vs. your safety schools.
Once you have narrowed your search to a reasonable number investigate the web sites of the medical schools you are interested in. Web addresses are available through AAMC or can be found through one of the search engines on the internet.
Finally, talk to people. Check with any pre-medical advisor on whether s/he has any information on schools you are interested in. Also, talk with any seniors who have recently interviewed. They can provide you with current information and answer many questions you may have.
Montana does not have a medical school, so no matter where you attend school you will eventually have to relocate. Think hard about where in the country you would want to live. Think about what each location has to offer in terms of the types of activities you enjoy and the distance you want to be from family.
Many schools specialize in various aspects of medical care or have medical facilities nearby that focus on particular areas of health care. If you are interested in primary care, research, cardiac surgery, cancer, etc., look for schools that can meet your needs. You will also want to learn as much as you can about class size, curriculum, grading system, and learning options (problem-based vs. evidence-based, team or small group vs. traditional lecture, etc.) of the schools you want to attend.
In-state vs. Out-of-state Acceptance Rates
Most state schools give admission preference to students in-state, and schools that accept out-of-state students do so at a much lower rate than in-state. For further information about what percentage of students are out-of-state at a given school, please visit the AAMC FACTS tables which provide the most comprehensive and objective data on US Medical School applicants, matriculants, enrollment, etc.
Private vs. Public
State Universities have lower tuition for residents than non-residents, however private universities tuition can be lower than non-resident tuition. Also, most private schools do not give preference to residents. Your chances of admission to private schools may be higher than to state schools.
A medical education is expensive no matter how you look at it. Typically, schools will produce budgets for students and a student is expected to live within that budget. These budget figures are used by financial aid offices to determine need. The numbers are the same for all students at the school irrespective of the number of dependents. One way to cut the cost of attending medical school is to apply to medical schools in areas where the cost of living is less. It is cheaper to live in Omaha than it is in San Francisco or New York City. Take some time to research rents and other expenses before you apply.
Look at the admission statistics for the various medical schools. Consider the average MCAT scores of the entering class, average age of students, the percent of residents and non-residents admitted to the school, the percent that pass the USMLE the first time around, and the percent of students that get their first choice residency placements. These statistics will give you an idea if you are a competitive applicant for their program and will also give you some information about the school and the quality of its program. Most of this information is accessible through the MSAR as noted above.