Ignore the National Rankings and Make Your Own School List

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Yes, you heard it correctly, ignore those medical school rankings! You’ve probably already heard this, and you know deep down it’s good advice. But let’s be honest, it’s easier said than done.

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When starting to consider where to apply, try not to put your initial emphasis on a school’s average GPA or MCAT® scores, and instead, look at school’s mission statements to gauge which ones align most closely with your personal goals and values. Whether it’s the school’s commitment to primary care, the research opportunities available, programs or clubs related to your interests, or a particular class size or format that is a good fit for your learning style, it’s always a smart idea to consider a broad range of factors. A school’s mission informs how they recruit for students, make admissions decisions, and develop their curriculum and goals for where and how they hope their students will eventually practice. Use this worksheet which provides a summary of several different factors to consider for each school on your list.

To learn even more about using medical school missions to inform your application strategy, check out the following resources:

  • How to Use Medical School Mission Statements to Guide Your Application Decisions” Video
    In this interactive discussion with admissions officers, they share how using medical school mission statements can help make you a more competitive applicant. When you speak to how your goals and aspirations align with a medical school’s mission — whether it be research, diversity, or primary community-based health care — you may increase your likelihood of matriculating to schools that match your future career interests.

  • The Importance of Mission Alignment When Selecting Medical Schools” Video
    In this panel, representatives from five different medical schools all choose one attribute of their mission statement and describe how they screen for candidates based on that one aspect. Speakers also touch on how holistic review comes into play in their process and answer audience questions.

  • MSAR® Website: Expanded Mission Statements
    Learn about the AAMC Mission in Action pilot project, where several medical schools updated their mission statements with the goal of enhancing each school’s ability to communicate their mission in a more meaningful, nuanced fashion.

Keeping your own goals in mind will help you develop a school list that is right for you. When creating your list, the Medical School Admission Requirements™ (MSAR®) website is one tool you should definitely consult. Through this resource, you can review each medical school’s profile, save notes and favorites, and compare your favorite schools side by side. You can also review data like median MCAT score and GPA, and view matriculant demographics from the current first-year class. You can also find information such as each school’s teaching style, or if there is a student ranking system, to see what kind of learning environment appeals most to you.

Rank Favorites
The MSAR guide allows you to make your own medical school favorites list completely tailored to you. After you save a school as a favorite, you can build your own ranked list and reorder that customized list of favorite schools. Every time you sign in, you will be able to review and edit your own list, note if you are considering or planning to apply and why, and you can even email the list to yourself or your prehealth advisor to help in the discussion of your school choices.

Expanded Data
Most charts within the MSAR guide display four years’ worth of data, so users can toggle between years or compare them side by side. Additionally, MCAT and GPA charts for each school now feature additional drop-down menus which allow users to break down data by all accepted applicants, all accepted in-state and out-of-state applicants, all matriculants to the school, and all accepted students on a national level.

New Schools
When you are considering where to apply, don’t forget to look at the newest accredited medical schools. The University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science College of Medicine will be matriculating their first-year classes in the 2023 and 2024 application cycle, respectively. Learn more about the benefits of attending a new school and being part of their first graduating class.

Learn more about the MSAR guide and the features included in a subscription. Applicants who have been approved for the Fee Assistance Program will receive complimentary access to the MSAR website.

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the AAMC or its members.

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