1. Doing it right the first time is more important than doing it all.
You have four years (120 credit hours) to get ready for medical school. Don’t try to cram everything into your first semester.
“A lot of first-year students come to me with a list of 10 organizations they’ve joined, plans for volunteer hours, and they want to sign up for EMT training. I tell them to chill,” laughs Karen Eippert, pre-health adviser at the College of Charleston. “Yes, these are all things they should be doing to get into a professional school, but they need to balance their schedule over the next few years.”
Professional school admissions officers like to see students who have an undergraduate degree that shows diversity and depth.
So, think about what you like before you pick a major. Do you like plants? If not, consider majoring in physics or chemistry instead of biology. Are you more interested in physiology than science? What about majoring in exercise science? Eippert says that both exercise science and public health can be a good fit for almost any area of medicine.
3. Understand this isn’t high school.
When you’re in college, you’ll be taking some of the hardest courses offered – like organic chemistry – so don’t worry if you need a tutor or study group.
4. Be social.
Medical school admissions officers aren’t just looking at your grades and test scores. They want to know that you can interact with patients and can easily establish a connection. Good interpersonal skills are as essential to being a physician as the sciences.
Make some friends, go to some parties and find clinical experiences where you work with patients.
5. Get started with the sciences in your freshman year.
No matter what you major in, you’ll need a concentration of science courses. Your freshman year is the best time to get started.
It will keep you on the pre-health track, while buying you time to make a decision on your major.