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Articles / Applying to College / Is the National Future Physicians Congress Worth Joining?

Is the National Future Physicians Congress Worth Joining?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 10, 2020
Is the National Future Physicians Congress Worth Joining?


Is the National Future Physicians Congress worth joining? I received an award in the mail claiming I was selected due to my high grades at school, but I don't know if it's worth the $975.

Don't reach for that credit card just yet! The National Future Physicians Congress (along with other similarly named programs that focus on different career goals) is usually described as fun, interesting and well-organized by its teenaged participants. But before you shell out all that dough, here's what you should consider:

  • The "award' is not really an honor. Although not everyone receives an "invitation" to attend, the admission standards are not especially high. Organizers are banking on the fact that recipients (and especially their parents) will be flattered and impressed by the selection and thus will opt to enroll.
  • Attendance does not provide a leg up in the college admissions process. Admission officials are well aware that these programs are neither competitive nor academically rigorous. Most feel that a student's time could be better spent — whether by pursuing one of the activities below or even by flipping burgers at the closest Mickey D's. Some college folks even roll their eyes when they spot a listing such as this one on an application.
  • If you are aiming for a future in medicine, there are more effective, less costly ways to test-drive your goals. These include volunteering at a hospital or clinic (if the pandemic permits), shadowing a physician at work (many doctors allow this, at least during "normal" times), engaging in a research project (including those you initiate from your bedroom), and taking classes (beyond the ones you elect at school) in related fields. While summer programs, such as the one you've named, can be pricey, you can usually find low-cost courses at community colleges or online. (The latter can even be free. For example, go to this site). In addition to academic offerings in subjects like biology, chemistry, biochem or pharmacy, look for options such as First Aid or First Responder certification. Your regional American Red Cross chapter may have ideas for you.

Bottom Line: The National Future Physicians Congress will probably provide an engaging experience, but "The Dean" recommends this route only for those who can fork over a thousand bucks and never miss it, and it definitely won't give you a fast track to a top-choice college.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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