Selecting Schools

Strategies for Selecting Health Professions Schools

On your standardized application, you will indicate the schools to which you want to apply. Things to consider: average GPA, MCAT score, and amount of research, clinical, and community service experience that matriculants typically have.

Here are some other criteria to take into consideration:

  • Public vs. Private and Residency Preference: The MSAR will indicate whether a school is public or private. Most state schools give preference to state residents or residents of states with whom they have contracted.
  • Coursework Prerequisites: Different schools require different prerequisite courses. Make sure you have taken the required courses.
  • Your Surroundings: Think about what kind of place you would be most comfortable living in for four years. Is it a big city? A smaller town? Is it important for you to be close to family?
  • Family Ties: Students who have physicians, dentists or vets in their families should consider applying to their relative’s alma mater. As a legacy applicant, you may have an increased chance of admission.
  • Cost/Aid: Tuition, fees, and cost of living vary widely among schools, as do their financial aid packages. Although a professional education is still considered a sound financial investment, you should give serious thought to the amount of debt you are willing to take on. The admission guides mentioned above provide statistics on the average aid package and debt load for current students.
  • Mission: Some schools focus more heavily on certain aspects of health care than on others. Some schools will have a strong emphasis on research while others – particularly state schools (and osteopathic medical schools) hope to train physicians to work in primary care. You can easily find mission or values statements on the schools’ websites, and they are also included in the MSAR and other publications.
  • Curriculum and Pedagogy: Schools vary in their curriculum. Here are some considerations that may affect your decision on “best fit” for your learning style and academic preferences.
    • Teaching style
    • Time in the classroom vs. the clinic
    • Curricular design
    • Grading policy
    • Choice of classroom electives
    • Opportunity for clinical electives
  • Residency Placement and Board Exam Pass Rate
  • Support Services
  • Culture of Student Body
  • Popularity with Bates Alums: Statistics regarding acceptance rates and admissions data for individual schools can be discussed with a pre-health advisor. If Bates students have been accepted (and even better, if they have matriculated) in recent years, it may be a good indication that that school is a good fit for Bates applicants.
  • How many schools? AAMC reports an average of 16 applications per applicant. Application fees and interview costs add up quickly, and completing a secondary application can take upwards of eight hours. There are fee assistance programs for most, if not all, of the health professions.


Pre-Med: Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) for allopathic (MD) schools ($28, online, as of 2022)

Choose DO Explorer for osteopathic (DO) schools (free online)

Pre-Dental: ADEA Official Guide to Dental School
Vet: Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements