Last semester, I received an email from a reader and prospective applicant to AUC. Here, I’d like to share the letter (which I’ve heavily edited for confidentiality reasons) and my responses.
Hi Benji! I did a google search on AUC and stumbled across this great blog! I’ll keep it short – I am a senior in college and started out on a bad foot, academically. Now that I am focused, my grades have continually improved, and am now looking at cool, exotic opportunities like Caribbean med schools as an option. I’d like to ask you:
Why did you choose AUC as opposed to St. George’s?
What is your uncensored view on life as a student at AUC and everyday life on the island?
Do you have any advice about how to apply and improve my changes of getting in?
Projected GPA at graduation: 3.5; Projected MCAT Score: 27-30; Have clinical experience.
Thanks for visiting my blog. I understand how it is to start off on a bad foot. I did too, and this is something AUC emphasized to us during orientation. One semester can kill you for a U.S. school but schools like AUC look past that to see that semester as an “exception” rather than the “rule.” But that’s awesome you’ve pulled your grades up. I got into AUC with a 3.5 GPA and 28 MCAT, and they gave me the AUC Merit scholarship as well with those stats, so if you do similar, you should have no problem getting in.
It’s hard to rank AUC, Ross, and SGU in terms of which one is “better.” I used to think SGU was the best Caribbean medical school, probably because it is the first one I heard of and they advertise everywhere, but after researching into all three, I’ve come to realize that it all boils down to personal preference. If you haven’t already, there’s a lot of discussion on this topic on www.valuemd.com.
Although I really like St. George’s University, I still chose AUC because of its smaller class size, much more intimate atmosphere (“everyone knows each other” type of environment), cheaper/closer distance from my family/girlfriend, and the convenient, well-developed island. It is much more affordable than SGU and will train me equally well to become a doctor, with the same level of accreditations: Both graduates are eligible to practice in all 50 states. Both are recognized by the US Department of Education as having equivalent accreditati0n standards as LCME-accredited US medical schools, and because of this, both schools have US Federal financial aid for their students. In addition, AUC also has the highest USMLE Step I pass rate among the Big 3 schools, at 94% (the same as US schools), whereas SGU’s pass rate is 91%. Other people may like SGU because it is larger, more well-known, or more clinical location choices (to accomodate their larger student body). In the end, it’s all about personal preference.
In terms of living on the island, there’s no doubt that St. Maarten is a much nicer island than Grenada. Any image search on google can confirm this, and I feel very lucky to spend my time studying and living here. There are some things I’m not used to on the island though. The most obvious one is that everything is so expensive here, probably because St. Maarten is a tourist destination and nothing is produced on the island, so everything is shipped in. Restaurants, of course, is expensive, but I usually cook to save money. Even then, groceries will be on average 1.5x more expensive than the states, and apartments average around $900-$1100/month. From what I read on valuemd, living in Grenada is expensive as well, but I’m not sure about the details. On valuemd, some students complain about the “rude locals” or the lack of customer service here on the island, but I personally haven’t encountered any real problems that is worth noting about the locals. From my experience, most have been nice, probably because I’m nice to them. Many are even fascinated about meeting students.
I’m pretty happy at AUC. The professors have been knowledgeable and approachable, and we get lots of resources from having tutors for every class and countless number of TAs in anatomy lab. I can tell that the professors are really there because they want to teach and help students, rather than just simply get a paycheck. For example, for the last two weeks, my Genetics professor decided to hold “problem-solving question-answer” sessions outside of normal class period for anyone who wants extra help. Our Anatomy professors also held two competitions for the class, one where a team competes to make the best presentation on the heart, as well as a dissection competition for the team who can reflect the layers of the abdominal wall the cleanest. The prize for both competitions were a lunch with the professors (off-campus, outside the professional setting). Many TAs and Tutors (who are students from upper semesters) spend time outside of their “tutoring sessions” to make useful resources for students and give extra help. Its things like these that make me love AUC. It’s small and intimate. Everyone knows each other and there’s so much interaction between the teachers and students, and between students of all semesters. Of course, there are always things that can be improved, like it’d be nice to have a larger library or a student lounge to relax in, but overall I think it’s a great learning environment and I’m pretty satisfied being here.
I hope this helps. I can only speak from my own experience. Whatever school you look into, there will always be some people who are overly positive, or some who complain about every little detail. I try my best to give pros and cons to everything. In the end, the school you choose really depends on which one fits you better as a person, and for me that school happened to be AUC. For you, it might be different.