My Experience: Attending a CSU

A question that I have gotten a few times in the past couple of weeks is, “If I go to a CSU school for my undergraduate education, will I be at a disadvantage?” Is it worth the perceived risk?????

I will be sharing my OPINION from the perspective of a student who chose to go to a CSU because of financial circumstances. As a disclaimer, I am also slightly bias because I loved my experience at San Jose State University (SJSU) and the education I received there. In order for this post to be helpful and more objective, I will share with you all what I did a bit differently because I went to a CSU.

What school is best for you, ultimately depends on your circumstances. Out of high school, I was accepted to 3/4 University of California schools that I applied to. I heard from people everywhere that I was “wasting” my potential by choosing to go to a CSU. I honestly disliked that time in my life because people were making me feel “less valuable” simply based on a perceived prestige that a school had.

SJSU was the perfect school for me because I needed to think of the financial aspect. I knew that living at home would save me money and my parents were not in a position to support my expenses. I knew that I needed to work and finding a job near home would be easier. A CSU was much more flexible with my work hours. I also knew that I wanted to pursue more than a bachelor’s degree and I wanted to “save” my debt for later in my career.

Do you spot my paleta?

That was my train of thought and it truly worked out just fine. If I had not been able to work, like I did, I would not have been able to save my family countless times from financial disaster. If I had not lived at home, I would not have been able to drive my mom to work and errands (she does not drive). Family is, and always will be, important to me. So don’t worry about people’s opinions about your choices and do what feels best for your heart and soul. I can proudly say that I was there for my family when they needed me, I worked my way successfully through college and I graduated debt free. Now lets move on to what I would advise you to keep in mind if you go to a CSU!

  1. The bias exists! Make sure you keep your grades as high as possible and make them a priority. People will look at your GPA and judge it based on the perceived rigor of the school you attended. Don’t give admissions a reason to think you cannot handle the rigor of medical school! Doing a ton of amazing activities will NOT substitute for a bad GPA. What I loved about SJSU was that my class sizes were smaller than a lot of the classes I saw at UC’s and that made it easier for me to get to know the professor and ask for help. Office hours were not crowded at all.
  2. CSU’s tend to have less of a premed community. This is both an upside and a downside. On the upside, you don’t have to worry about the crazy competitiveness. On the downside, you may not have as many premed activities, premed advisors, or programs on campus and at your fingertips. Make sure you seek extracurricular activities elsewhere if this is the case at your school as well. I found mentors and experience through doing clinical programs at medical schools near me. Don’t let this be an excuse for not getting experience; start seeking programs early!
  3. Be prepared for the doubters you will meet throughout your career and grow thick skin. I lost count of how many times people were astonished that I even received interviews. You may even meet bad advisors that are uninformed and may tell you to transfer to a UC instead; I know I got that advice before! Just know that your application is about selling YOURSELF and your capabilities. The school isn’t applying to medical school, you are. Stay Confident!

Overall, I do not feel that going to SJSU placed me at a disadvantage because I was proactive. I was accepted into multiple California medical schools regardless of attending a CSU. Don’t feel down if you will be attending a CSU and want to pursue medicine! Pick the school that fits your life and will ensure YOUR success based on your circumstances. If that is a UC, great. If that is a private school, great. If that is a CSU, great. Wherever you go, just make sure you work hard and find the resources that will help you shine! #SiSePuede #SiganLuchando

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