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Washington University in St Louis

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Date: Jul 25 2010
Major: Philosophy (This Major's Salary over time)
First off, I'm not going to lie to you. What other people have said about the pre-med curriculum is very true. The prerequisite science classes - especially general and organic chemistry - consume incredible amounts of time, and I spent much of my first two years in the library. The grade deflation at this school can be a little discouraging. And after struggling against the curve, I fully believed that my low GPA would eliminate any chance I had of getting into med school… until I actually started applying.

It turns out that as difficult as the pre-med curriculum is, it really prepares you for medical school. The average MCAT score at Wash U is higher than any I've seen, (including those of much more well-known schools.) In addition, the pre-med advisors give you an amazing amount of support, and Wash U has a lot of credibility in the medical community. I didn't believe it until I saw it, but your undergrad university DOES matter, and coming from Wash U really is an advantage. I had a number of my interviewers comment on how impressive my comparatively low GPA was since I came from Wash U. I came out of the medical school application process with a number of acceptances to top schools that I really wasn't expecting.

But all in all, the pre-med curriculum isn't the most important reason why I would choose Wash U again - it's the people. The pre-meds themselves were an incredible group of individuals. They were impressive and very intelligent, but more importantly they were also great people. As difficult as the curriculum got, I never saw anyone being competitive or catty. You may have had to brace yourself for a tough curve, but at least your classmates were there to support you and help you out.

Setting aside the pre-med curriculum, here are some pros and cons to life at Wash U…

Pros:

  • The campus is absolutely gorgeous.
  • The research opportunities are great, and easy to find. I did research at the med school, and couldn't believe how much freedom I had to explore independent projects right off. My PI was a world-renowned researcher, but he still took the time to guide me through both my work in the lab and my professional development.
  • Greek Life is amazing, but not overwhelming like it can be at some schools.
  • The professors are very accessible, and seem genuinely interested in their students' progress.
  • There are a surprising number of things to do in St Louis. Especially free things. Living expenses were reasonable, and it ended up being a great town to go to college in.
  • The school's financial aid office is excellent, and I got more money from Wash U than anywhere else by a sizeable margin.
  • Wash U offers an incredible number of opportunities of all sorts, although you do have to actively seek them out.
  • Cons:

  • There is basically no athletic spirit at Wash U. Very few people regularly attend games, and athletes are treated just like everyone else.
  • Although I learned a lot from all of my science classes, I didn't find my humanities classes quite as informative. My classmates in arts classes were also, on a whole, less impressive than the people I met through the pre-med curriculum.
  • The school's name recognition (though improving) is still seriously lacking.
  • The weather is awful. The winters are frigid, and the summers are hot and humid. Fall is fine, but in the spring I've seen the temperatures fluctuate up to 40 degrees within hours.
  • Science at this school can succeed, but need to be prepared to work HARD.
  • All in all, I enjoyed my time at Wash U, and don't regret picking it over other "better" schools I got in to. You'll get a great education at a lot of places, but Wash U was also a very enjoyable place to spend 4 years - and a supportive place to learn all of the lessons you can't find in a classroom.

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