Elis Take Harvard Pre-Meds

Yale Medical Admits 27 Harvard, 14 Yale Undergrads

It may have fallen behind Yale in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, but Harvard still beats the Elis when it counts--at least in admissions to their medical school.

Yale Medical School (YMS) has admitted almost twice as many Harvard undergraduates than Yale undergraduates in the first round of acceptances despite an overall drop in the number of applications this year.

According to YMS Director of Admissions M. Lynne Wootton, 27 out of the 278 applicants from Harvard were accepted, while 14 of the 214 applicants from Yale were admitted in the first round.

However, Wootton said, "The numbers are very, very premature."

Wootton said she guesses that by the time the class actually enters the school that the numbers of Harvard and Yale students will be nearly the same and attributes the present imbalance to a random fluctuation in numbers, because most years Harvard and Yale have approximately equal matriculators.

"[There] are usually anywhere from 14 to 18 students [each from] Harvard and Yale," she said, "They represent a large percentage of our first year class [of about 100]."

Pre-medical students are not required to make their final decision until May 15. No medical school will have full statistics until that point.

"Harvard students always do exceptionally well," Wootton said.

According to Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Harvard Medical School (HMS) Mehan Boodram, "Harvard College is always the largest contingent in the application pool," and the largest admissions contingent as well.

Harvard pre-med advisors said they are not surprised that Harvard fares so well in the application process. HMS student and Quincy premed adviser Bard J. Geesaman said that "Pre-med advising [at Harvard] is superior to any other school."

In the pre-med process, Harvard undergraduates are individually advised by physicians as well as members of HMS. The advising, combined with the outstanding most Harvard students' outstanding records, makes a successful ticket to medical school, according to Geesaman.

Geesaman and Kerri H. Armon, a first-year HMS student and Leverett House adviser, also attribute the students' good luck to the unique system for writing letters of recommendation for pre-med students that Harvard maintains.

The letter is written objectively by people on the House pre-med adviser committee, who are members of the medical profession.

The seal of approval is given by the signatures, which may include those of the pre-med adviser, senior tutor and house master.

Armon said that it is this letter that gives strength to a student's application.

There are a few advisers who cannot offer an explanation for the success of Harvard undergraduates in medical school other than their well-rounded application.

Leo Trasande '94, an HMS student and Adams House tutor, said the profusion of factors in admissions makes it hard to pinpoint what makes Harvard students excel.

"Individual medical school classes appear different even though they are picked on similar criteria," he said.

In the past year, the number of applications to medical schools across the country has declined.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) said in February that the national applicant pool went down by 6.7 percent.

While YMS received a recordbreaking 3,628 applications last year, this year's total dropped to 3,506.

HMS experienced a similar decline from 3,956 applications in 1996 to 3,708 in 1997, said Boodram.

Judy Colwell, assistant director of admissions at Stanford Medical School, said that the number of applications went down there as well