In general, I'd agree that the Japanese cars will be more reliable over a 10 year span. However, when considering used, the prior care - both how it was driven and also how it was serviced, will be most critical. So, for those reasons, I'd encourage you to focus less on the model and more on how gently the car was treated, and how well it was maintained. That will require more detective work. Ask the previous owner (and it should have only 1 previous owner) about his commute route and then evaluate that route.
You want complete records, of course. And you must have your own mechanic conduct a complete mechanical inspection (and examine the car for evidence of accidents) before you begin to negotiate.
Also consider demographics of ownership. For example, an Accord is more likely to have been driven by an adult than a Civic, yet costs little more. Hyundais historically have been marketed to people who can't afford much - therefore, I believe they generally get less maintenance.I would not consider one just on that basis alone. People with no money are not likely to be keeping up with oil changes or to use premium parts.
Any car you choose will require regular maintenance. Once you get over 150K, repairs will become more frequent and expensive (struts, exhaust, etc). You can delay repairs by driving gently. For example, brakes last me the life of the car because I rarely use them and coast to stops & downshif a manual transmission. Consider a manual transmission to further lower your risk of expansive repairs (and to get a better purchase price). If you don't want to be bringing in a car for repairs, then don't buy a car loaded with unreliable factory options (GPS, cruise, remote start, even power options like power windows, etc).
Don't ignore Japanese cars hiding behind American labels. I have a 10 year old Chevy Prizm in my fleet that I bought 7.5 years ago. Its a Corolla with a Chevy bowtie pasted on. When I bought it, it had depreciated like a Chevy and I got it for half the cost of an identical Corolla. That was the last year for those and 2002 is now too long in the tooth for you, but there is another one to consider: the Pontiac Vibe. The Vibe is the same car as the Toyota Matrix and may be found cheaper. It is a Corolla mechanically - which is a good thing and has a versatile roomy interior in the rear. My supervisor at work has one and she just had her first repair at about 160K miles - replacing the struts. Otherwise it has been just normal maintenance.
Good luck with the car and med school.
After posting this, I saw that Steve was saying many of the same things at the same time. So our suggestions should be viewed at independent confirmations.