Choosing Where to Apply

Many factors must be considered when choosing where to apply. The process is expensive and time consuming. Many resources exist to assist with this process. Consider the following:

How many schools should I apply to?

The application process is expensive. There is a cost for each primary and secondary application and a cost to go to each interview to which you are invited. The process can run into the thousands of dollars  and it is important to keep this in mind as you select schools. We typically recommend:

For medical school: 12-15 programs; 2-3 reach schools, 8-10 schools that you would consider yourself to be competitive for, based on the selection factors identified in the MSAR and on the school websites, and 1-2 schools for which your scores are above the stated averages for MCAT and GPA. You should always apply to your state institution(s).

For dental school: 7-8 programs. Where dentals school is concerned, private programs are often less competitive than your state institution due to the cost of attending them. You should apply to your state institution(s) and a variety of private programs based on your competitiveness for them relative to their selection factors. Students have also seen success at a variety of regional state programs in the northeast.

For optometry school: 5 programs. Schools that you would consider yourself to be competitive for, based on the selection factors identified the OPTED manual and on the school websites.

REMEMBER: Only apply to schools you would like to attend.


What other factors should I consider?

Read their mission statement: All programs are not created equal, and important information regarding the core values of a program can be gained from reading the mission statement. From one you may learn that a school's main objective is to prepare clinicians for service in under served areas; from another you may learn that the school has a complex mission of combining teaching and research to prepare graduates to be leaders in the creation of new knowledge and the global community.

Public vs. Private: Cost aside (if you can ever really set cost aside), it is important to focus on public vs. private as it relates to the competitiveness of a program for in- and out-of-state residents and access to the program in general. State institutions operate under political mandates to take a certain percentage of state residents into their program. This can vary from 100% to 50%. You can gain some information as to how open a program is to out-of-state residents from the guide books. The ADEA Guide gives actual percentages while the MSAR provides numbers of resident and non-resident applicants and admitted students by school. If, from these numbers, the program appears to be open to non-residents, you can add a few of these programs to your list. Programs with larger class sizes are generally a better bet, as are those that are regionally close to your home state. Sometimes, programs that are geographically far from your home state may be interested in you as you would represent a diverse applicant for them; programs in the middle of the country seem especially disposed to this thinking, while Texas and California schools are always very competitive for out of state applicants.

Grading scale and curriculum: Schools will vary with regard to the way in which information is delivered - lecture and discussion vs. problem and case-based learning. Some schools will integrate clinical exposure from the first semester; some will hold off on clinical training until third- year clerkships begin. In addition, there are differences in grading policies, from traditional letter scales to Pass/No Pass, with the latter approach designed to foster collaboration and teamwork. Virtually all programs will institute some method of structured grading by the third year.

Additional areas to consider: hospital affiliation, special programs and opportunities, student groups and resources, support structure, diversity programs.

Consider schools that UMD students have successfully applied to in the past in the Facts and Figures section of the website.

Are there new schools I should consider applying to?

For a list of newly accredited schools, visit the following:
AAMC
AACOM
ADEA

Resources

  • Use MSAR/ADEA/Osteo Information guides to put together initial list
    • These guides are available for purchase from the professional association webpages and are also available to browse in the HPAO;
    • Contain information regarding selection factors, resident vs. non-resident preferences, financial information, application process details, special program features and a brief summary of the program.
  • Visit the Professional School Websites
  • Attend Open Houses