This week was the week of May 15th, which meant that I had to narrow down my decision for which med school I was going to go to! For those of you who don’t know, May 15th is the deadline for accepted applicants to choose one school and notify all other schools that you will not be enrolling in the Fall. If other offers from wait-lists come, you may change your decision to the new offer. For more reference on AMCAS “Traffic Rules,” click here.
It was indeed a tough decision. I actually had to rule out one school on May 1st (they start class early and so are allowed to make applicants declare their choice earlier), and that was really hard to do because it was a really good school that I liked a lot. That meant that this past Wednesday, I had to write another email to another school and tell them I wasn’t going there either. However, in the end, I feel good about my choice to attend… the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX!
I usually have to include the location, Galveston, TX, because most people have never heard of this school. It is the least-known of the schools I was accepted to, so many may question my choice to attend UTMB. While my decision-making may be very different from yours, my process may be helpful to you premed-ers who will be faced with this same dilemma if you have been following my advice thus far. Below are some questions I asked myself when deciding which school to go to:
1. Does the school prepare students well for Step 1? UTMB is very proud of their history of high Step 1 scores–competitive with more prestigious schools in the state such as UT Southwestern and Baylor. I felt good about that.
2. Does the school have a good match list? Because UTMB isn’t very well-known, most students matched into residencies in the South. However, most matched into non-primary care specialties like radiology, anesthesiology, ophthalmology, and dermatology. That was good for me because I do not want to go into primary care or peds.
3. Will my wife be happy there? Everyone knows, “Happy wife, happy life.” My wife said she would rather go somewhere in Texas because of the warm weather and because it will be close to my siblings who live in Houston and Dallas. The only downside is that in Galveston, she doesn’t know if she will be able to find a job.
4. How expensive is the school? This was a much bigger factor than I had anticipated. I knew how expensive med school would be, but I was not prepared for how expensive it really is! Both of the other med schools I was accepted to had tuitions of about $50,000/year, and my federal Stafford Loan limit was only about $44,000/year. If you do the math, that means that I would need to come up with $20-30,000 to pay for the rest of my tuition and cover living expenses. That money would probably come from Grad PLUS loans, which are pretty costly. UTMB, on the other hand, only has a tuition of $17,000/year, which is about a THIRD of the cost of attending one of the other schools.
5. Will I like the curriculum? UTMB has class from 8-12 every day for the first year, and lectures are recorded so you don’t even have to go to class. What is there to NOT like about that??
6. Are there good opportunities for research? UTMB actually seemed to have good research opportunities. I emailed an acquaintance who was an MD/PhD student there and he seemed to like it. The opportunities were definitely not as good as some of the other schools I was accepted to, but I think it will be sufficient.
So, there are some things that I had to think about when considering which school to attend. I really liked all the schools I was accepted to. In the end, the only big thing that stuck UTMB out from the others was the cost and the location near family. Since I am cheap, cost was a big issue, and being close to family was nice. For you, you might prioritize the school’s prestige, location, or curriculum. Whatever your priorities are, it is helpful to vocalize them so that you have an objective decision and not just a gut feeling.
While I am so grateful to have had options to choose from, this was perhaps one of the most difficult choices I’ve had to make. Hope it was the right one!
With all that said, there are still some schools that I am wait-listed at that I would be interested in going to, so this could all change in the next month haha.
**Update** I got accepted and am now attending UT Southwestern!