This letter is one of a series I am writing following tours to health professional school  campuses to get an
on-site view of their programs for the information of pre-medical students at San Diego State University.  The following account is based on my own personal observations and in no way should be interpreted as an endorsement.

                                Dr. Ronald Garcia, Director,                Dr. Gabriel Garcia, Director
                                Center for Excellence                            Admissions

A Quick Visit to Stanford

2/2/02----Today I attended the Stanford University Minority Medical Alliance (SUMMA) 11th Annual
Premedical Student Conference.  I return with an even stronger sense of Stanford’s commitment to universal
health care and to underserved communities. Yes Stanford is one of the top medical schools in the country, but
don’t be afraid to apply to Stanford as long as you have a passion for medicine and for helping people in your
community.  Yes, they do look at GPA (especially science grades) and MCAT scores (especially the biology
section), but you can also gain points based on achieving in the face of economic, social, or academic adversity;
for advanced degrees; and (my only complaint) “excellence” of undergraduate institution (a handful of
schools—not CSU’s—get a slight advantage).  However, this year Stanford admitted an equal number of students
from the CSU and the UC system.  (Most SDSU students don’t have the money, luxury of not working, or prep
school experience to go to a “silver spoon” or “Ivy League” school anyway—so it is good to know that Stanford
cares about your challenges!)

How does Stanford evaluate a student?  Here are the major areas:

Students should have experiences related to caring as “there is no substitute for being around people who are ill.”
This may also be related to a strong identification with community.   A good candidate for Stanford may want to
be effective in his or her community not only by providing care, but by being involved in changing policy.

“But it is too expensive,” you may say.  Stanford is a private school so students may not apply because of the
cost.  I was certainly surprised to learn that the average debt coming out of medical school for a Stanford student
is $64,000 vs. $120,000 for private schools and $80,000 for public schools.  Stanford has need-based financial
aid and stops looking at parental income once a student turns 30! (Non-traditional students take note!)

At our conference, one premedical advisor said he does not recommend Stanford to students unless they have a
very strong research background.  We were told, “it is not how much research students have, but what important
questions they have asked.”  If you do have research experience, how does it fit your vision of healthcare?

I strongly urge students to attend the next annual SUMMA conference to learn about Stanford for themselves.  In
the meantime, here is a good question to contemplate for interviews or the “disadvantaged” question on AMCAS:

“What challenges have you had to overcome that uniquely prepared you for becoming a physician?”  Think about
it, and then continue to learn all you can about each individual medical school to find the best fit for you.--Barb