Not long ago, I stood where you stand. I was an eager premed, daunted by the treacherous landscape that lay before me. A landscape that included rigorous college courses and extracurriculars, and of course, the infamous MCAT. Reflecting on this journey though, I can tell you I survived. Although it is easy to say in hindsight, it is not as scary as you may think. Moreover, maintaining this attitude can be accomplished with one simple tenant, follow your passions.
I challenge you to imagine yourself in each unique climate.
If you are reading this, your passions likely include medicine. (Therefore, I will insert this disclaimer here: to get into medical school you will have to immerse yourself in medically related activities, but like I said, I am assuming your passions include this sphere.) I am not talking about that though. Ironically, I am talking about everything outside of that. For me, that was largely tennis. My love of the sport, and desire to play collegiately, drove me to a small division III school in Southern Minnesota. In fact, the majority of my friends had never heard of it. However, it turned out to be a fantastic decision for a number of reasons. Most prominently, my passions, tennis, a sense of community/connectedness, etc., were allowed to flourish. When you begin considering colleges, certainly start with the traditional, broad categorizations, such as big versus little, public versus private, far away versus local, and so on. Beyond this though, I challenge you to imagine yourself in each unique climate. Will your passions be unleashed or stifled? Most importantly, as a result of the answer to this question, will you be happy? I can assure you that if the answer is no, it will be much harder to be successful and ultimately matriculate into medical school. At Gustavus, the small division III school in Southern Minnesota, I was incredibly busy, but I loved (for the most part) everything I did because of my underlying passions. Building a solid medical school application honestly did not feel like a chore. You spend four years in college, I would hope you plan to enjoy the journey and not merely use it as a stepping stone to medical school.
…there is no “right” premed undergraduate school. There is however the right one for you.
Ultimately, the answer to your question is that there is no “right” premed undergraduate school. There is however the right one for you. Do not stay awake at night fretting over what an admissions committee may think of this school versus that one. If you must stay awake at night, think about which schools will make you happy because they allow your passions to run wild. This is what will make you successful, not some magical premed formula. One caveat though is that the size and or competitiveness of the school influences the opportunities available to you. At Gustavus, which was slightly bigger than my high school, I had no problems getting involved in extracurriculars. This is not to say this is not the case elsewhere, it just may be harder and you may have to be that much savvier to earn those opportunities. In short though, if you have what it takes to matriculate into medical school, then you can be successful wherever you go, using whatever undergraduate school you please as a stepping stone. I would urge you to truly enjoy these four years by picking the school most suited to your personality, not your endpoint.