Selecting schools that are the right fit for you is probably important for you personally. It is also a vital element of application strategy: if a school feels that you are not a good fit, you may be denied admission even if you are otherwise qualified. When you begin looking at programs, create a spreadsheet to track your completion of secondary applications, interview invitations, updates sent to schools, and so forth. Your first column lists your programs of interest. Relevant information about each program follows in the other columns. What information you choose to list will depend in part on the profession to which you are applying and how that application system works, and in part on what factors are important to you personally.
Factors to consider when selecting schools
Selection factors. What are the mean GPA and test scores of a school’s entering class? How much emphasis is placed on research and clinical experience of applicants? What are the demographics of the applicant pool?
Curriculum. Does the curriculum focus on primary care or specialty areas? Does the school use a discipline-based or system-based approach? Lecture-based or problem-based? Do students take single intensive classes for short periods or multiple classes spread over longer periods? What is the grading system?
Residence and citizenship. What are in-state vs. out-of-state ratios? Does the school accept international students? DACA students? If so, does it provide those populations access to financial aid?
Student Profile. What is total enrollment? Diversity? Gender ratio? How well do graduates fare on licensing exams? Where do they get residencies, fellowships, and jobs?
Research & clinical opportunities. When in your training will clinical exposure begin? Is the school affiliated with (and located near) a research university, teaching hospital, or other facility? What opportunities are afforded students? Does the school offer dual-degree programs?
Location. Is the school urban or rural? What is the cost of living? Does the location support your cultural/social/lifestyle needs? What is the school’s proximity to your support network?
Finances. What does the program cost? What kind of financial aid is available? Financial aid is largely school-specific so you need to check with each school to determine what help if any, they will offer. (This often cannot be determined until after you have been admitted.)
U.S. immigration status
Canadian students, international students from countries other than Canada, and DACA students may all be considered differently when it comes to professional school admission. It is important to look closely at the admission policies of each program to determine whether or not you are eligible to apply. The resources listed below can help with this search, though applicants may wish to contact schools directly when information is unclear.
Some students consider attending professional school outside of the United States. The MHC pre-health office has knowledge on schools, programs, and the application process within the United States. We have more limited knowledge of programs in other countries.
A particularly important question to ask yourself when considering schools outside of the U.S. is, where do I ultimately hope to live and work? If you intend to settle in the country where you hope to go to school (whether or not that is your home country), then it may indeed make the most sense to attend professional school in that country. On the other hand, if your goal is to live and work in the United States, attending professional school outside of the U.S. may pose challenges for your future. If you are considering this pathway, please speak with a pre-health advisor.
Resources for selecting schools
Talk to People. Consult with professionals in the field you hope to enter, your internship sponsors, members of the Committee on the Health Professions, other students who have been through the process, and alumnae listed in the Mount Holyoke Career Directory.
Use written sources. School and program websites provide important details on individual programs, but it can be time-consuming and frustrating to begin here. For starters, make use of the resources below for the first round of selections to narrow down your choices:
- AACN Nursing Education Programs
- AANMC Member Schools (naturopathic medicine)
- ACA Chiropractic Colleges
- ACAOM directory (acupuncture and Oriental medicine)
- ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools and online Dental School Explorer
- Medical School Admission Requirements (allopathic medical schools, including Canadian schools)
- OptomCAS Information About Schools and Colleges (optometry)
- Osteopathic Medical College Information Book
- OTCAS Participating Programs (occupational therapy)
- PAEA Program Directory (physician assistant)
- PharmCAS Directory (pharmacy)
- Podiatric Medical College Information Book
- PTCAS Programs Directory (physical therapy)
- SOPHAS Participating Institutions and Program Search (public health)
- Veterinary Medical School Admissions Requirements