The Challenges of an Out of State Medical School

March 7, 2014
Emily Hause

out of state medical schoolHello my Wizard of Oz-loving readers! Usually when I ask students where they would like to go to medical school, the answer is- wherever I get accepted. Now, while that’s a great attitude, the truth is that an out of state medical school aka away from your family, friends and support system can have some additional challenges. 

Challenge 1- Most of your classmates will have a support system nearby. This was especially evident in my class (where over 2/3 of my classmates are in-state) after our last exam. It was a Friday exam and it was a fairly exhausting run up to the exam itself which meant that by the time we took the test, everyone was dead tired.

When I talked to my classmates about what they were doing after the test, almost everyone was going to have dinner with their parents or spend the night with their non-med-school friends. We had all spent a plethora of hours together and my classmates were ready to blow off steam with people who they hadn’t seen every day.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of recharging by hanging out with people who have known me for a significant portion of my life. Don’t get my wrong, I made the most of it by chilling in my sweatpants and watching some Netflix, but there is a certain recharge factor that’s missing if you can’t spend the evening with people who have known you for more than six months. There’s also less of a chance that someone will offer you a stress-free home-cooked meal like you may be able to score from your parents.

Challenge 2- Paying out of state tuition. If you go to a state school and it doesn’t happen to be your state, you generally end up paying about 20,000 dollars per year more in tuition and fees. Yes, there are copious loans for you to take out, but medical school is already pretty expensive and as it turns out, you will eventually have to repay those loans. That means you spend a lot of time figuring out how to minimize expenses and live responsibly. Sometimes that can have an impact on whether or not you can go out with your friends and what kind of extra expenses you can afford to incur.

My advice- If you’re going to go to medical school away from your family and friends, use Skype frequently to have virtual hangout sessions with your loved ones.  As far as budgeting for that out of state tuition goes, working during medical school is an option, as is living with roommates to reduce expenses and living frugally. Lastly, I suggest moving somewhere that has fairly cheap flights home so that if you do need some home time, you won’t break the bank getting there. After all, there’s no place like home.

Is anyone thinking about going to medical school out of state? Do you have any concerns?

Happy studying!

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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