The most important factor in choosing schools to apply to is knowing yourself and what you are seeking in your medical education. This requires being in touch with your career goals and aspirations, your skills, values and preferences, and what your most inspiring and rewarding activities, experiences and mentor relationships have been to date.
A strong sense of self, the ability to reflect on what you bring to the table, what your experiences say about you, and how you’ll put your abilities to work in a health professions setting will help you immensely in finding the right place to continue your educational journey (to engage in self-reflection, review the prompts about the core competencies and personal statement).
Factors for Consideration
- In-state vs. out-of-state/public vs. private
- The office recommends that individuals apply to their home institution(s) because state schools statistically take a majority of in-state residents—for example, University of Connecticut School of Medicine typically accepts around 80% Connecticut residents.
- Private institutions do not have strong preferences for students from a particular state or country.
- Metropolitan vs. suburban; East Coast vs. West Coast
- When considering location, it’s also important to think not just about where you’d like to study, but also where you’d like to complete your residency—look into where students are placed and what community aspects appeal to you.
- Satellite campus vs. main campus
- A school’s location within the campus and surrounding community is an important component to consider; is it a distinct health center campus, or does it have connections to a network of other centers/programs that an institution offers?
Does the school’s mission statement match your interests and strengths?
Most schools will have a clear focus on one or a few key aspects of health care. For instance, institutions might show a dedication to research, innovation and technological progress, service to particular communities (e.g. underserved communities or rural communities), or student involvement in teaching. It is important to get a sense of what the schools prioritize and how that aligns with your goals and values.
To view a consolidated list of all mission statements for MD schools, visit the MSAR Mission Statement Report.
Pedagogy and Grading System
When making your decisions, consider what your personal learning style is and what the best environment is for you and your academic preferences. Among other things, think about each school’s teaching techniques, core curriculum, electives and typical weekly schedule. Consider other aspects such as what clinical practice will look like, if there are any special program tracks you can take advantage of, and what your access to advising/mentorship will be.
The grading system is also something to take into account when deciding on schools—work will either be on a graded or pass/fail basis. Evaluate which is more appealing to you in terms of the kind of learning atmosphere that is created and what you’ll get out of your education.
As most pre-professional students are very involved both inside and outside of the classroom, it is important to explore the ways you will be able to remain engaged throughout your continuing education. By considering what special programs a school offers, what affiliations they have with other organizations in the community, and what kinds of clubs are available, you’ll be able to get a sense of what you can become involved with to supplement your studies.
Do your best to get a sense of what kinds of students matriculate to which schools and how that creates a certain culture among the student body. Your cohort will not only be your peers but your colleagues as well, so trying to gauge how you’ll fit in is important. If you are interested in trying to connect with UConn alumni that have matriculated to a particular school, you may reach out to the office by email (email@example.com) and we will put you in touch with someone when possible.
Cost and Financial Support
Since professional school requires a significant amount of investment, you’ll not only want to apply to places that are the right fit for you, but also those whose cost and financial support resources meet your needs.
Competitiveness and Selectivity
While most health professions schools participate in a holistic admissions process, applicants will still want to pay attention to certain metrics including GPA and MCAT score. Students can visit the Admissions Statistics page on our website for information on national averages as well as averages for UConn matriculants.
There are also various program search tools offered by the different application services that help individuals gauge themselves against fellow applicants—respective links to those can be found here. For specific data directly from the application services, follow these links for MD, DO, and Dental programs.
How Many Schools to Apply to
The national average for applicants applying to medical school is around 17 institutions in a given cycle. Among UConn undergraduates and alumni applying for the 2020 application cycle, this average was around 19 for MD programs and 9 for DO programs.
Among UConn undergraduates or alumni applying for dental programs during the 2020 application cycle, the average was about 12 schools.
It is typical to begin with a larger list of schools you’re interested in—perhaps double the size of those you’ll eventually apply to. As you move further into the application process, you’ll narrow down your choices based upon the considerations discussed previously. Keep in mind as well the cost associated when applying to schools; there are fees for both the primary and secondary applications. There are links to various fee assistance programs on our Primary Application page, as well as our Standardized Tests page.