We help students each and every year earn admission to highly selective BS/MD programs. But it may surprise our readers that when parents and students first come to us and express an interest in such programs, the first words we utter tend to go something like this: “Don’t do it.” And the parent’s response usually goes something like: “But my son knows that he wants to be a doctor. He knows he wants a BS/MD program. So what’s the issue?”
The issue is that we’ve been doing this a long time and over the years, we’ve helped many students earn admission to some of our nation’s most elite BS/MD programs. We can give students the best shot possible of getting into these programs. But that doesn’t mean we recommend applying to these programs. In fact, we strongly discourage it. But, Ivy Coach, why would you discourage our future doctors from applying to programs that so often save a year of a student’s education and save them the trouble of having to apply to medical school years after they apply to college?
For so many reasons! Where to begin? For starters, students change their minds on what they want to do every Tuesday. A high school junior might say he wants to be a doctor but next Tuesday, maybe he wants to be a yogi. Ok, probably not a yogi but you get the idea. And that’s the least of our issues with joint BS/MD programs. When you apply to a BS/MD program at a school like Brown or Northwestern, it makes it so much more difficult to get into these schools than if you didn’t apply as a BS/MD candidate. So the odds of getting in are unnecessarily tougher. Oh and there’s this — and do read this eight times over — since not so many schools offer BS/MD programs (including many of our nation’s most elite schools), you’re really limiting your options. Sure, a student may earn admission to the BS/MD program at Boston University. But should she really choose that program over attending Harvard? We had a student last year who considered doing just that until we convinced her mother that it was a decision we believed she would deeply regret. An email we received from her just last week confirmed we were indeed correct. She is loving Harvard!
Would you really prefer to have brain surgery from a student who attended Harvard as an undergraduate or from a student who attended Boston University? Be candid. Because it’s an important question that you really should answer before you make the mistake — and it is a mistake — of pinning your hope on BS/MD programs. BU is a wonderful school. It just isn’t Harvard. We’d much prefer to have brain surgery from a Harvard-educated physician. And we suspect so would you.