Welcome to campus! The next four years of your life will help you grow as an individual and prepare you for your next journey – medical school! You will make life-long friendships and lasting memories on this campus, so cherish these years! It may seem like you have a lot to worry about going in as a pre-med, but if you systematically space out all of the pre-med checklist requirements throughout the next 4 years, you will have plenty of time to complete everything, along with plenty of leisure time.
Although you will have some spare time, it is important to remember your non-science/non pre-med major friends will have more. The medical journey is all about sacrifice. What you sacrifice today will be the recompense of your tomorrow. However, with proper time management, it IS possible to make time for yourself, family, and friends.
Now that I am done with my pep talk, I’ll move on to the important tips that you are waiting to hear about!
Obviously, there are a lot of requirements to fulfill before applying to medical school. By making a target goal every year, you can cross things off your list of requirements and determine your next steps. As a freshman, you will need to fit-in time to adjust to the campus environment. Since that adjustment period takes up time and energy, I would encourage pre-med freshmen to simply target two things: connect to a pre-med health profession advisor and join at least one pre-med organization.
Connecting to a pre-med advisor will aid in guiding your next four years as a pre-med on campus. Additionally, advisors can provide you with information regarding pre-med opportunities that pertain to your school. Further, joining a pre-med organization will allow you to establish networking with other pre-meds in the same boat as you, including helpful upperclassmen. Often, these organizations provide you with a tremendous amount of volunteering and shadowing opportunities, so take advantage of this during your first year.
During your second year, finishing all your pre-requisites will allow you to begin studying for the MCAT. Therefore, this should be your priority. Additionally, use your second year to search for potential research opportunities/projects that you can start during your third or fourth year. Dedicate your third year for the MCAT only. Lastly, devote the summer between your third and fourth year to your application cycle!
Most pre-meds wait until the last minute to secure their letters of recommendations. You don’t want to be that person! Start as early as your first year! Try to build a rapport with a professor of your liking, and request one from them early on. Give them a heads up and ask them before simply assuming that they will write you one. If you are proactive with these letters of recs, you will have one huge requirement crossed off your undergrad checklist!
Okay so, pre-med courses are hard. Most of them will kick your butt and leave you with numerous sleepless nights. To avoid this, I spaced out all my challenging pre-med courses during undergrad. I strategically tried my best to not pair up two extremely difficult subjects under one semester. By doing so, I was able to focus all my attention on one difficult course and aim for a good grade in that class. Med schools focus on a student’s GPA, so it is EXTREMELY important to keep it as high as you can. During your first two years, work hard to keep it high since the third and fourth years can get complicated with the MCAT and med school applications. If you reach for the moon, you may land for stars! Strive to do your best, but do not get defeated with a couple of low grades. Stay positive and keep pushing yourself.
Picking a major is not easy, and it is completely okay to take the first year or two to figure it out. As a pre-med, you can pick whatever major you want. However, picking a science major DOES help with completing all the pre-med course requirements. If you have a strong passion for art, political science, business, then you should not shy away from picking a major that will drive and motivate you through your undergraduate experience.
Lastly, double majoring or adding a minor to your degree plan does not add much value towards your medical school application. However, it expands your knowledge and helps you appreciate other interesting subjects. Med school application committees look at your GPA, not the difficult major you pursued. While you may pursue the most difficult major, it will not matter if your GPA is not high. Keep that in mind when deciding on your major.
I hope these tips help you home in on what you need to prioritize during your first and second years of college. As always, feel free to reach out to our AcceptMed advisors if you have any questions or need guidance on your pre-med journey! Good luck freshmen!
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