5 Tips for Deciding How Many Medical Schools to Apply to

Updated on 21/05/2024 in ,
How to Choose How Many Medical Schools to Apply to

Pursuing a career in medicine is a significant decision that could shape your entire life, as medical school in Europe can be demanding, time-consuming, and costly. Therefore, it is essential to be thoroughly prepared when making a decision. One of the most common questions asked by aspiring students is, "How many medical schools should I apply to?" In this article, we will explore the most crucial factors that influence the number of medical universities to apply to and give guidance to help you make a more informed decision.

5 Important factors to consider before choosing how many medical schools to apply to:

There are several fundamental factors that influence the number of medical schools to apply to. We recommend carefully considering each of these and shaping your decision around them. Some of the most significant ones include the following:

  1. Your academic performance

Your academic performance is an essential factor in determining the number of medical schools to apply to. If you have a solid record, including high grades and exam scores, you already have a better chance of being accepted, as long as you ensure your application is done correctly without any mistakes.

If you’re worried that you aren’t entirely ready to study medicine yet, it is possible to sign up for a pre-medical course. Some universities offer their own preparatory courses that are designed to help students pass their entrance exams.

Medlink Students is partnered with several medical schools that offer such courses and can help you find the right one for you. The preparatory pre-med programmes can help you gain all the knowledge you need to get accepted into the medical university of your dreams straight away.

If your academic record isn’t exactly stellar, going through a full-year foundation course is possible to improve your chances of being accepted. These types of programmes are designed to thoroughly prepare you for your respective medical studies and will significantly improve your chance of getting accepted.

  1. Your financial situation:

Another question that needs to be answered is: "How much does it cost to apply to medical schools?" Applying to a given medical school is different for every respective establishment. The application fees can range from €20 to €500, and the price for taking an entrance exam for medicine is around €200 on average. Another thing to consider is whether you will be giving an interview, which could add to the cost.

Additional costs to factor are the fees associated with preparing your documents for submission. To study medicine abroad, you must translate, certify, notarise, and legalise your high school certificates and supporting documents. In Europe and the UK, certification and notarisation costs vary from €35 to €80 per document. To legalise the documents, you must submit them to an "Apostille" office, which usually costs about €35 per document.

Once you have your documents, you must fly to the country of study and submit them to the university for review. After checking for any errors, you must then submit the documents to the Ministry of Education's nostrification office, which usually takes a few weeks. Once completed, you can pick up your prepared documents and submit them to the Ministry of Education for final approval.

This is a long, complicated, and costly process that is essential to successfully applying to a medical university in Europe. But what if we told you that there's a way to get around all that - applying through Medlink Students. We have a dedicated team that is experts at handling the application process in its entirety, from guiding you towards choosing the best university for you to submitting the complete documentation to get you accepted. Sign up for a free consultation, and we will help you kickstart your successful career in medicine.

Consider your financial situation when deciding how many medical schools to apply to
  1. Your preference for location:

Location is an additional aspect to take into account while applying for medical universities. For example, some students prefer studying close to home, while others pick out specific cities or regions where they've always wanted to live.

Other factors to consider could be the airport's proximity, the city's extracurricular activities, and how many students are in the city. It's always wise to consult with someone knowledgeable who has some experience in this city, like a current student there, a local resident or a student advisor.

  1. Time constraints:

Applying to medical schools can be a time-consuming process, requiring a significant amount of hours and effort to complete. Therefore, your time constraints are also a factor in determining the number of medical schools to apply to. Suppose you have other commitments, such as work or study. In that case, limit the number of applications you submit to ensure you can complete the application process thoroughly and to the best of your ability.

In Europe, each university has its own requirements. Generally, most universities publish these on their websites. While it is possible to apply alone, it can be time-consuming and long-winded to understand the bureaucracies of the local country. Some students prefer to leave this for experienced admissions professionals to handle so they can focus on their studies or work.

  1. The curriculum:

Medical school curriculums vary significantly regarding teaching styles, clinical exposure, and research opportunities. Understanding these differences can help applicants choose schools that align with their learning styles, career goals, and interests. For instance, some medical universities in Europe offer a problem-based approach, while others use traditional lectures. In addition, some schools teaching medicine emphasise using machines for simulations, while others push for real-life experience. 

How many medical schools should you apply to?

It is time to answer your question: "How many medical schools should I apply to?" The verdict is clear. Nobody can make that decision but you. We recommend applying to at least 2-3 universities, but overall, there is no definitive answer, as the number of medical schools to send applications to depends on each individual's circumstances.

It may feel like it can be overwhelming to make a decision due to the huge amount of information out there. Many students have felt the same way in the past, but what they have found is that contacting one of the Medlink Students expert advisors can add clarity, streamline the process, and make it much less stressful. Getting a consultation from Medlink Students is quick, easy, and completely free. 

We've prepared a table depicting just how big of a gap there is between the average medical school applications per applicant in different countries. This further shows how the answer to the question is strictly individual. We've used sources from the European University Association (EUA), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and several country-specific research articles.

Our tips on deciding how many medical schools to apply to:

Now that we've told you our stance on the matter and the factors that go into shaping your decision, we've taken the courtesy of preparing a list of tips that will help you find your personal answer to the question.

  1. Research the schools:

Before deciding on how many medical schools to apply to, it's essential to research each university thoroughly. Look at the school's admissions requirements curriculum, location, reputation, and any other factors that may be important to you. We've written a blog explaining the entry requirements for medicine in Europe, which would serve as a fantastic reference point.

We recommend building a long list of potential medical universities to apply to and gradually narrowing it down until only 3 are left. After that, devote yourself to picking the ones that best serve your needs and desires. Building a long list is essential but very time-consuming, which is why we've incorporated the best medical schools in Europe into our system and added additional criteria that will help you find your ideal place to study.

  1. Consider your qualifications:

Consider your academic record, experience, and skill set. How do they match up with the admissions criteria of each medical school? If you have solid grades and meet the requirements of most schools, you may get away with applying to fewer universities. However, if your qualifications are on the weaker side, you may need to apply to more establishments or sign up for a pre-medicine preparatory course.

  1. Check the acceptance rates:

Look at the acceptance rates of each medical school you are considering. This can give you an idea of the competitiveness of applying to a given university and whether submitting an application is worthwhile. Base your decision on your qualifications versus the requirements. We recommend looking at the national averages of accepted candidates and comparing how you fare against them.

  1. Calculate your budget:

Submitting an application can be expensive, so it's essential to consider your budget when deciding how many medical schools to apply to. Write down and calculate how much it costs to apply to a medical school, including the application fees, exam fees, and travel costs. Over the last several years, many medical universities have started offering online entrance exams and interviews, significantly reducing the overall cost and time consumption associated with applying from abroad.

  1. Seek advice:

The best advice you can receive will come from medical school admissions experts, closely followed by counsellors and alumni. They can provide valuable insights into the application process and help you make an informed decision on how many schools to apply to. However, if you want to get answers to your questions right now, feel free to use our contact form below.

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  1. Set realistic expectations:

It's crucial to keep in mind that not every medical school applicant is accepted but don't let that discourage you. To increase your chances of acceptance, get a good grasp of your knowledge and abilities compared to the requirements, and factor in the competitiveness of each program. Applying to schools that are a significant stretch for your qualifications is not recommended, as there may be better uses of your time and resources. Instead, focus on applying to med schools where you have a good chance of being accepted and that align with your interests and goals.

Tips on choosing what medical schools you should apply to:

Choosing what medical universities to apply to will also help you answer the question, "How many medical schools should I apply to?" So, apart from the criteria we've already given you, here are some tips to help you narrow down your options and choose what's best for you:

  • Take part in open days and events:

Participating in open days and other events at medical schools is the best opportunity to learn more about the school's academics and culture. It is also an excellent opportunity to network with students and faculty to gain a greater knowledge of the establishment's environment and values.

  • Calculate the tuition fees:

Most universities have a 6-year medical program, but a few choose to add a 7th. Others offer an accelerated 4-year medical degree. The tuition fees vary greatly depending on the university, so knowing what medical school you plan on applying to and how much it will cost is crucial. We recommend researching each medical university's yearly fees and incorporating your findings into your final decision.

  • Calculate living expenses:

When applying, you should remember that you'll be living in a completely new place for an extended period. Therefore, we recommend analysing the average living expenses of the countries you're planning on applying to and taking them into account when making your final decision. We've created a chart showing examples of various European countries, which can serve as a good reference point.

  • Research post-graduate opportunities:

Think ahead and research what opportunities your medical school can give you to start your professional career after graduation. A good university will provide plenty of opportunities to establish a good network and secure your position as a medical practitioner.

This is just a short list of the absolute essentials. If you want to read an in-depth blog on the topic, our experts have written the definitive guide on choosing which medical school to apply to.

Conclusion

Choosing the number of medical schools to apply to is a personal decision that depends on each individual's circumstances. Academic performance, financial situation, location preference, and time constraints can all influence the number of medical schools to apply to. We recommend applying to at least 2-3 medical schools to maximise your chances of getting in. We strongly recommend reading the Most Common Reasons Medical School Applicants Get Rejected to ensure that you submit the best applications possible.

When choosing medical schools to apply to, it's essential to research each school thoroughly, look at acceptance rates, attend open days and events, crunch the numbers, and seek professional advice. By following these tips and taking the time to make an informed decision, you can substantially increase your chances of getting accepted into the medical school of your dreams and starting your career in medicine. 

Article written by Dr Sam El Mais
Dr Sam El Mais, MD, MSc, BSc, graduated from a renowned medical school in Romania in 2019. He uses his professional knowledge and personal experience to guide students on crucial aspects such as university selection, admissions processes, and cultural adjustments.
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