Being a competitive medical school is a challenge for even the most established institutions, but Cooper Medial School of Rowan University says its charter class represents a broad mix of successful students.
According to Paul Katz, dean of Cooper Medical School, as of May 15th, the school's first class of 50 students compare nationally on undergraduate grade point averages and admission test scores. But those are not the important metrics to the dean.
Generally, med schools are divided 50-50 in gender of students but Cooper starts with 28 women and 22 men. The percentage of students from underrepresented communities — mostly black and Latino — is double the national average. More than three-quarters of the first class come from colleges ranked highly or most competitive by Barron's Profile of American Colleges, a well-regarded ranking in the higher education community.
"What we wanted to do was find the right 50 students for us," Katz said. "For a school that is untested as ours, a school that hasn't had a single student or a single graduate, I think that's very good. We were able to compete with other schools to get students."
Seventy-two percent of the charter class is New Jersey residents, which Katz says will increase the likelihood they will stay in state once they graduate.
"Every year, there are a lot of New Jersey kids who leave to go to college … to go to medical school — and it's possible they'll come back, but it becomes a lot less likely," Katz said. "Our interest is primarily making sure we meet the needs of the state of New Jersey. That's what our focus has been."
Katz said he did not have class demographics for other schools in the Philadelphia-South Jersey region, and could only compare to national averages.
"We had a lot of our students were accepted at other medical schools, as well, so they had choices, and a lot of them chose to go with us," Katz said. "I think they chose to go with us, among the reasons, was because what we're about and the history of medical education at Cooper, our commitment to the city of Camden and the region."