Building Your School List
SELECTING SCHOOLS TO WHICH TO APPLY
There are numerous factors to consider when choosing the schools to which you want to apply. Of course, your academic record and standardized test scores are important to keep in mind from the very beginning of the process. The research you do now will likely help you prepare for secondary/supplemental applications.
We suggest you begin by reviewing the requirements for individual schools. The requirements and additional important information (e.g. GPA and standardized test scores of the most recent entering class) are typically available in publications from national associations:
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy – Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements
- Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health Graduate School Viewbook
- Choose DO Explorer
- Medical School Admission Requirements
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing Member Program Directory and NursingCAS Participating Program Directory
- Official Guide to Dental Schools
- OptomCAS and Optometry Programs Admissions Directory
- Physician Assistant Education Associate Program Directory
- Veterinary Medical School Admission Requirements in the United States and Canada
The latest editions of these books (if offered in print) are available in the Preprofessional Advising Office. Similar information is usually available on schools’ websites.
You may find it helpful to use one of our Professional School List Templates as you begin to build your school list. The templates include many of the factors you may consider and will help ensure you are fulfilling school specific requirements. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to verify and understand each school’s requirements.
You will find templates for Medical School, Dental School, Veterinary School, Physician Assistant Programs, Nursing Programs, Optometry Schools, Pharmacy Schools, Podiatry Schools, Master of Public Health Programs, and other Special Master’s Programs. Each profession’s template is labeled by tabs at the bottom of the document.
We encourage you to make a copy of this template in your google drive for personal use.
*Please note that the information provided in each template is an example. The information listed is not all-inclusive and is subject to change.
Other factors may include:
State schools vs. private schools ‑ State schools are usually less expensive for in state residents and many restrict the number of out of state residents who are accepted. For allopathic medical school applicants, the information presented in Medical School Admissions Requirements will enable you to determine whether or not it is practical to apply to state medical schools outside of your state of residence. Furthermore, you will be able to determine whether certain private schools draw heavily from applicants within their states. Many fewer state residency restrictions exist for students applying to MD/PhD programs. Other health profession schools also have publications available that present application and matriculation statistics that will help you develop an appropriate school list.
Fit/quality of life – It’s important to consider “fit” when building a school list1. It’s not just about the school choosing you, you’re also choosing the right fit for yourself. By understanding a particular school’s mission statement, you can determine whether your own interests, values, and goals align with the school. Does the school, campus, and community satisfy your lifestyle and extracurricular needs? It is important to consider the campus culture.
The curriculum – Although the information you need to learn in your chosen health profession school does not vary much from school to school, the manner in which schools present the information does vary. Approaches include lecture‑based curricula, problem‑based learning (faculty facilitated, self‑directed learning groups), integrated curricula (material taught by organ systems or other broad categories), competency‑based curricula (interpersonal interactions are part of the evaluative process throughout the curriculum), interprofessional education (interdisciplinary learning experiences for team based care of patients2), or a combination of these approaches.
What specialization/tracks are available – Does the program provide real world experience such as practicums or internships? Is the curriculum structured or flexible?
Clinical rotations – What kind of clinical sites are available? Do the schools allow you to conduct clinical rotations at other institutions or internationally?
Support services ‑ What services do the schools provide for students having academic or personal difficulties?
Student activities/organizations ‑ How much opportunity is there to interact with your classmates outside the classroom? Are there community service and specialty-related organizations?
Research – What research opportunities exist?
Residency match ‑ In what specialties and in what institutions do graduates obtain residencies? This information is available on many schools’ websites.
Accreditation – Who is the school or program accredited by? Is the school or any of its clinical departments on probation?
Location ‑ Where do you want to live for the next four years? Do you see yourself living in urban or rural location? Is the school located in a place where you would feel comfortable? Considering the weather and political/social climate, will you be happy there for the next several years? Does the area offer cultural and recreational activities?
Cost – What are the tuition and fees? What financial aid is available (loans, scholarships, internships, work study positions, teaching and/or research assistantships)?. How much is non-resident tuition? Funding for international students may vary across institutions. It is important to speak with the admission and financial aid office at each institution to learn more.
After you have considered the factors discussed above, have received your standardized test scores, and have created a preliminary list of schools, you may wish to schedule an appointment to discuss your selections with a prehealth advisor. We recommend scheduling this meeting once you have completed your comprehensive advising appointment.