Should I Prioritize Tuition or University Name Recognition as a Medical StudentNovember 24, 2020
When you’re considering how to choose a medical school, you’ll likely find there’s a big tradeoff.
Some schools offer far more name recognition — but they can come at a much higher price. Others may not be as well-known as big-name universities, but their tuition fees may be far lower.
If you’re deciding between applying to (or accepting an offer of admission at) either lower-cost medical colleges as well as more renowned academic institutions with higher fees, you’ll have a tough choice to make. Asking yourself these three key questions could help you make the decision that’s best for you.
How much will my earning potential change?
Earning potential is an important factor in choosing a medical school. Paying for a more expensive school is ultimately a good investment only if the school’s prestige increases your earning potential. And that’s not always the case.
A lot depends on your desired area of practice and your location. If you plan to go into a specialized field of medicine and the costlier school tends to do a better job helping students to get placed in residencies within that field, it may be worth paying for. Or if you’re working in a location where consumers tend to prioritize credentials when choosing a doctor, then your ability to get future business may depend on having that big name on your diploma.
To determine the potential return on investment of a more expensive medical degree, you can review factors such as residency placement rates of schools you’re considering, job listings in your geographic location or chosen area of medicine, salary ranges in your desired field and employment statistics from each school. This data can give you a better idea of whether you’ll actually end up better off if you graduate from the pricier academic institution.
Will I get a better education?
Earning potential matters, but you also want to be the best doctor you can. To do that, you want to study under skilled professors and at a school that provides ample opportunities for enrichment. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to go to the highest price school to make that happen.
When comparing a top university with a lower-priced school, look at factors such as the percentage of students from each institution who pass their medical board exams the first time, the number of graduates who match into residency programs, the school’s accreditation, the percentage of students who successfully complete the program, the type of learning environment and the opportunities the school presents for research and extracurricular learning.
If the university with more name recognition is genuinely going to provide you with a better education and more opportunities to distinguish yourself within your field, you may decide it’s worth paying extra for it. But if all it really has going for it is a recognizable name and there’s little to suggest you’ll leave better prepared to practice medicine than if you chose a lower-priced school, there’s little reason to pay so much more just for bragging rights.
How will my student loans affect my future financial situation?
When you’re choosing a medical school, be sure to consider your financial situation. If you can afford to attend the more expensive school without having to go into a lot of debt, then the prestige may be worthwhile. If you have to borrow a lot of money, however, you need to think about how this will affect your future finances. The average private school medical cost can be much higher than lower-priced state schools. You could wind up with tens of thousands more in student loan debt if you make your school choice without taking tuition costs into account.
A high student loan balance after graduation can make it more difficult to borrow for other goals, such as buying a home. This is an especially big issue if you already have a lot of debt from earning your undergraduate degree.
When all is said and done, you shouldn’t let the fear of student loan debt alone deter you if one school is genuinely a better choice. After all, even the average medical school cost can be quite high and leave you with lots of student loans. On the other hand, you also shouldn’t avoid thinking about the amount you’re borrowing until after graduation. Before signing on the dotted line, you’ll need to evaluate just how much more debt you’ll incur at a pricier school. Then, decide if the obligation will be worthwhile.
Refinancing Your Student Loans With ELFI
If you’re concerned about student debt, or if you’re struggling to pay down large amounts of debt, student loan refinancing could provide the financial flexibility you need. To learn more about or to explore this option with ELFI, visit our student loan refinancing page.