• Sumedha Chalasani

Community College and It's Effect on Medical School Admission

Getting into medical school is the lifelong dream for many students. But for some, going to an expensive college for undergraduate education is simply too expensive, and they choose to complete all four years at a community college. How will this affect achieving their dream?

Only looking at the acceptance rates, there is not a high admission rate for community college graduates. According to a 2010 study, roughly 40% of American undergraduate students attend community college but only 5% of students who enrolled in medical school attended community college. While this may seem bleak, looking at the medical school application process gives more hope. Each school has its own premed requirements, but there are certain things you’ll be required or encouraged to take. Here is a quick list: Biology (with a lab), General chemistry (with a lab), Organic chemistry (with a lab), Physics (with a lab), English, Biochemistry, Calculus, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, Genetics, Behavior sciences, Social sciences, and Humanities.

Moreover, according to an article published by U.S. News, admissions committees are focused on determining whether an applicant is emotionally and academically prepared to handle a rigorous preclinical curriculum and whether they have the skills and maturity to become an effective and empathic physician. This is why your performance in medical school interviews is so crucial. By doing well in your interview and showing that as an applicant, you possess the skills to become a physician, and you have a better chance of being accepted.

In some cases, going to a community college doesn’t hinder you, as the quality of and your performance in the most important and difficult pre med courses such as biology, chemistry and organic chemistry is what admissions committees are really looking for. Therefore, it depends on your reasoning for taking the classes at a community college. If it is because you think the classes will be easier at a community college, the committee might view you as being less competitive or less prepared than other applicants. However, if you made your decision based on other factors, such as financial reasons, you will still have a shot. In the end, it matters more that you take your education seriously than where you obtained that education.

Additionally, here are some tips for when you start looking for a community college to apply to:

· Along with making sure your credits will transfer, choose a community college that is accredited and has a good reputation

· It is important to do some research on the school to make sure they are accredited, and that obtaining your education from that school will help rather than hurt you.

· Get the highest grades you can and make sure your transcript is evident of your academic skill and performance.

· You also need to make sure that your grades remain high throughout the duration of your degree – some schools require that you send updated transcripts each semester following your application.

· You should also make sure that your grades are high in all courses, not just your prerequisites.

· Your MCAT scores are one of the most important things that medical school application committees look at, therefore:

· If you do not perform well the first time, keep in mind that med school admissions committees prefer applicants who perform well when taking the test only once.

· Your best bet is to study hard and to wait to take the test until you are fully prepared

· During your med school interviews, admissions committees will want to know more about you than that you simply want to help people. Expand on your passions.

· Rather than hiding your community college past, use it as a tool to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

· Talk about the unique opportunities you had in community college to shape the course of your own education and any other relevant experiences.

· Maybe you chose to attend community college to be able to afford medical school, or maybe you had to work during school and community college gave you the flexibility you needed. Whatever challenges you faced, community college was part of the solution and you should be proud of it.

It is clear that having good grades and good test scores is a sure-fire way to ace the admissions process. Here are some study tips to help you achieve the perfect transcript:

· Take detailed notes in class to ensure that you take in all of the information you’re hearing – try to put things in your own words rather than simply copying slides.

· Set a goal for your study sessions – take a look at your assignments and their due dates then make a plan for when to work on each assignment.

· Review your class notes in the evening and add to them – this is the best way to move material from your short-term memory into your long-term memory

· Take plenty of breaks while studying – even if you have no choice but to study for long hours, try to take a 10-minute break every 30 minutes or so to refresh your mind and keep you focused.

· Use mnemonic devices to help you remember important information – one way is to create a sentence where the first letter of each word stands for something you’re trying to remember.

In conclusion, community college is part of your unique process and you should use that opportunity to make yourself unique in the application process. Hard work and excellence in your studies will get you through the hurdles and into med school. Happy studying!