There are a lot of factors that can and should contribute to deciding what medical school to attend. Just like when determining what schools to apply to, considering the unique things each school has to offer is what will make this decision easier. I think the most important things to consider throughout the application process are as follows:
Curriculums may not vary much, but it is a vital component to consider. Think about if the school is on a Pass/Fail system, or still gives letter grades. Consider when the curriculum plans for you to take Step 1; some schools have changed to a curriculum that has students take Step 1 during or after the third year. Research if school’s release class rankings for everyone, or if it is only shared by request. Look into if school’s include time for research in their curriculum, or if students coincide research along with classwork. Try to find out if attendance in lectures is required, how often students are tested, and if the curriculum is organized by body system or separated into basic sciences. These may seem like small nuances but could affect the experience you have at a school. There are pros and cons to each way a school’s curriculum may be set up. Do your research and think about what is most appealing to you.
It may seem minute, but wherever you decide to attend will become your new home. Think about the weather in certain cities or regions. Think about what places are nearby if you decide you want a quick weekend getaway. Think about how far you will be from your loved ones and support system. If you do not like cold weather, maybe reconsider attending school in Boston or Chicago. You will be spending the majority of the next four years in this place. It is essential to keep that in mind.
It will be imperative that wherever you attend, you take advantage of extracurricular opportunities that give you a break from school. Whether these are activities organized through the school, or things throughout the city, look into what will be available. Talk to current students when you go to interview and ask what they do for fun. Look into student organizations at the school that allows students to explore their interests outside of the classroom.
You may have made a note of some of these opportunities on your list of schools you had an interest in attending. Check back with that list to remind you of the unique things each school has to offer. Medical school will be a significant thing in your life, but it cannot be the only thing in your life. Extracurriculars provide a significant opportunity to continue to do the things you love outside of medical school.
Medical school is quite costly. Therefore, for most students, it is important to consider cost when thinking of where you are going to attend. Look into scholarship opportunities that a school may offer, especially if you are a minority applicant. Don’t let cost be the one thing that keeps you from following your dreams, but it is something to consider.
This list is not exhaustive. Many other things could be considered when deciding where to attend. Think of any students you know at a school and ask them about their experience. Consider whether the school seems to offer a community that is supportive of diverse and minority students. Most importantly, consider your interview experience. Trust that the experience you had was a good insight into what it would be like to attend that institution. If you genuinely enjoyed the encounters you had on interview day, it is likely the school would be a good fit. Don’t hesitate to follow your intuition with this decision. Keep in mind that this will be your home for the next four years and make the decision that feels best for you.