Q: I have been going back and forth on this for weeks and making everyone around me crazy because of my indecision. Decision Day is coming up soon and I have a big choice. I am a strong student and was accepted by four colleges. Three schools rejected me, but they are Ivies, so I'm not that disappointed. My main choice is between my state university, which has offered me a place in their honors program, and a much smaller, well-known private college. I hope to go to medical school after college, and think that graduating from this private college will help me get into a better med school. But it is also way more expensive than my state university, and I feel dizzy when I think of years of repaying loans. What should I do?
A: Fast forward into the future: when a hospital patient is facing surgery, no one asks, "Where did this doctor go for undergraduate study?" People do ask, "Where did the physician go to medical school?" In ten years, your undergraduate degree is not going to matter as much as your medical degree.
This doesn't mean your undergraduate study is insignificant. It does count. These are important years, both academically and socially. But is deep debt worth it? You already know that medical school is very expensive. Why burden yourself with double the debt?
You mention being offered a place in the honors program at your state university. That is great! My guess is these classes may be smaller than other courses there. You may find yourself in classes just as small as in a private college. If you have time before Decision Day, visit both schools (unless you already have) and sit on classes you might take. Check out those honors classes!
And please bear in mind: the undergraduate courses one takes in preparation for medical school qualification are the same wherever you go in the U.S. or Canada. When it comes time to apply for medical school, the top candidates will be the ones who do best in those courses and who have the highest MCAT scores. A top candidate from a state university with a solid score is going to fare much better than a middling student from even the most prestigious private college!