The Challenges of an Out-of-State Medical School

March 18, 2015

by Emily Hause

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 can be extra tricky. Medical school is difficult to begin with, but being far away from your friends, family and support system is just one of many 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 if you’re close to home.


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.


Advice for out-of-state medical school students:

  1. Use technology to your advantage
    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. They will help you stay balanced throughout your medical school career. It’s also important to make time for the important people when you’re building your schedule.
  2. Create a budget and stick to it
    As far as budgeting for that out of state tuition goes, working during medical school is an option. You can often add to your loan cash flow by working in a lab or as a teacher/tutor. There are also great job opportunities for the summer between your first and second year of medical school. It’s also a good idea to live with roommates to reduce expenses.
  3. Research your travel options for getting home
    Lastly, I suggest moving somewhere that has fairly cheap flights home so that if you do need some time at home, you won’t break the bank getting there. After all, there’s no place like home.

Happy studying!

Read more about the top challenges and benefits of being an Out-of-State medical student on the MedSchoolPulse blog: click HERE.