Question of the Week: The Cost of Postbac Programs

Friday, Feb 8, 2019

Hi HPA – I didn’t take premed classes at Princeton but now I’m interested in medicine. I’ve started looking at postbac programs where I can take the science classes but they seem really expensive. Are there any cheaper options?
The range of ways that students complete the prerequisites after graduation is wide and driven in part by what you think that you may need or want in terms of structure and support. The pricier postbac programs often offer more staff, which often also means that there are more services, which may include high quality advising, access to a committee letter, guidance in the application process, linkages to professional schools, shadowing/volunteer opportunities, seminars, programming, etc., as well as an established reputation with medical schools, and a peer community (see more info on our website).
At the same time, some individuals take courses independently without going through a postbac program and reach their goals successfully. HPA can provide guidance and support along the way to alums. If you tend to work well independently, can advocate for yourself, will seek out the information that you need to apply (which includes staying in touch with us at HPA), you may do fine taking classes on your own through a local college or university. If you know that you’d prefer more support and infrastructure, going through a program that has a track record of success, it may make sense to work for a while to earn money to help finance a more structured program. Note that many students choose to take a year or two between graduation and postbac coursework: this will give you time to recharge after undergrad, earn some money, and make sure that it's really worth the time, money, and sacrifice that a medical career requires.
The most important aspect of your science preparation for medical school is that you do well in your classes and on your MCAT, and that you have strong letters of recommendation from your science faculty, so whatever postbac option you choose, focus on one that will bring you academic success and science faculty support via strong letters. We’re happy to talk with you based on your own situation about options from taking out loans, to working for a while before your postbac program, to taking classes independently. Different solutions are going to make more sense for different students.

QOTW in 2017: The Cost of Applying to Medical School
QOTW in 2016: Glide Year Classes