College Decisions: An Impasse that isn’t really an Impasse // Advice?

I’m a list-maker. It’s in my nature. I make lists for what homework I need to do, what topics I need to study for the next econ test, and even for what TV shows I got half-way through before giving up.

So, it should be no surprise that I made many a list to decide what college I want to attend for the next four years.

I actually was really hesitant to make this post as I haven’t committed anywhere yet, but I figure that I make a bigger deal of things than anyone else really does.

Some background on me: I want to pursue the long and laborious career path of becoming a doctor. Yes, I’m sure. No, I do not want to be an engineer. Yes, I do know how expensive that is and how long it takes and how much studying I’m going to have to do.

Also important: I’m Indian. And Female. From a place filled with Indian Females. Do you know what that equates to? Affirmative Action. And Competition. NOT IN MY FAVOR.

Basically, I have to study twice and hard and do three times as well to get a spot anywhere.

So even if I had all the money in the world, college and med school will be no walk in the park.

In fact, because I am so set on going to med school, I look at residency match lists and med school acceptance rates instead of average SAT scores and incoming freshman class ranking when it comes to undergraduate schools.

That’s how far I’m thinking ahead.

Some may call it crazy, but I think it’s strategic. The average age of people in med school is not 23 or 24. No, it’s like 26. 26. That means that most people in med school took a gap year or worked for a few years at a different job or went to a Post Bacc. program.

I don’t want to do that. At all. I see my goals so clearly in front of me, and I want to go towards them full speed ahead.

So here are my options (after narrowing this down tremendously, even my state school isn’t on here): a four-year undergraduate program at one of the best universities in the nation (perhaps the world?) that I have to pay for completely (and it’s no small amount), a seven-year B.S/M.D. program that after scholarship is still really expensive but basically you’re guaranteed med-school admission, and an eight-year B.S./M.D. program that gave me a full tuition scholarship and has a few hoops to jump through to get into med school (easy hoops, but still hoops).

The second option is pretty much off the table at this point, in my opinion. It’s unreasonably expensive (the school and med school isn’t ranked or known particularly highly for science or medicine) and also finishing undergraduate in three years isn’t really something I’m looking forward to.

The first option is a dream. If I had a scholarship. Which I don’t. It’s basically not anywhere near where I am now, but it’s close to my extended family. My immediate family was planning to move there actually, if I decided to go. So you can see what option they were rooting for. It’s a phenomenal school with phenomenal students, but ultimately things like huge class sizes and grade deflation and cut-throat competition threaten to get in the way of my path. And it’s not that I don’t have the guts to take it or that I’m afraid. It’s that I know what’s best for my career, and I’m not sure this is it. If I didn’t want to be a doctor, or if I didn’t know what I wanted, I would fork over the deposit right here and now. But as it stands, I don’t know if I can make this decision without putting up obstacle upon obstacle [read as: excessive studying and having to take a gap year] on my journey to doctorhood (is this a term? well, now it is). The one thing this school really has going for it (which the other two don’t), is PRESTIGE. And to immigrant parents, that’s a big deal (to me, not so much).

The third option, that’s what I think I’m going to take. It’s a good deal. I’m in the honors program college thing of both of the second and third,  which is another strike against the first, which doesn’t even have such programs. This school is also a lot more generous with scholarships (keep in mind that by this I mean that their maximum merit scholarship is a lot higher and in general I qualify for the highest merit scholarships on most occasions). So I would only pay room and board (and if you’re an RA as an upperclassman, you don’t pay anything). Money isn’t exactly a deal-breaker, but scholarship money is nice. And I get to be in 20 person honors classes. People there are happy, too. That’s not really a frequent thing in my experience for pre-meds. The only downside is that the med school acceptance requires things like proof of shadowing and an interview and other criteria that most programs don’t have (they usually just have GPA and MCAT requirement). With that said, this med school is very good and their match lists (which is where the students go on to do their residency) is amazing.

I kind of just needed to talk about this. I’ve asked the opinion of everyone, from people who are in all three schools to teachers to parents to my mom’s colleagues’ sister’s son. Most of my teachers (the ones in healthcare and science) say take the scholarship and the chance for med school and don’t let go. My family says go to the prestigious school and give yourself a shot at the best med schools out there. My biggest concern is whether I could get into med school the first time around normally at all (it’s gotten extremely hard in recent years; hence, the gap year).

Now, all that I have to do is sit there and really choose. Woman up and pay the deposit. Commit. Secure my future for the next however many years.

If anyone has an opinions or words of advice, I’d love to hear it. And if anyone out there is also making their college decisions or is going to make them in a year or a few, feel free to ask me any questions. I looked into colleges of all shapes, sizes, programs, and locations.



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