Pre Med Advice
It’s pretty evident that all premed advisors, just like all of any other group or occupation, are not created equal. If your college has a large number of premedical majors and you are not happy with your advisor, see if you can discretely and tactfully switch advisors. Many advisor’s only training consists of being handed a pamphlet describing the required courses. A good advisor is a very valuable asset in your quest to gain admission to medical school. He or she will advise you on many additional items such as in which order to take the courses, who to approach for references and how to do it, etc. The medical school admission process is extremely competitive; don’t hesitate to seek expert help outside your college if you do not feel your assigned advisor is competent enough or has adequate time to assist you.
Hard work, motivation, and dedication are what really matter here. Most medical school graduates will tell you that the class work was not really that cerebral. It is just extremely voluminous.
Do yourself a big favor and do not CLEP out of an introductory science course in favor of a more demanding one. You will be competing against sophomores and juniors with superior studying skills and you may find out your high school AP class really did no cover the introductory class material as well as you thought. Besides, your science GPA is extremely important to the medical school admissions committees.
If possible, audit a demanding science course over the summer at a nearby university. This is especially recommended for organic chemistry. Just about every university in the country uses this as a “gatekeeper” with a grading curve designed to weed out the weakest pre med students. (While there is reason to believe attitudes toward the necessity of orgo may be changing, don’t expect anything to happen within your application timeframe.)
Take additional science classes after completing the four required ones (inorganic and organic chemistry, biology, and physics) only if you believe it will help your science GPA in your sophomore and junior years. Taking additional classes will not give you a huge advantage in medical school anyway.
Take the most difficult classes required for graduation in your senior year so these grades do not affect the GPA the admissions committees will see.
If your finances allow, we recommend focusing your entire freshman year on your studies. You will want to strongly consider seeking part-time employment in your sophomore year to show that you can manage your time and get along well with others. A job in a hospital ER or ambulance crew is probably ideal for the majority of medical school aspirants.
Not only can such work experience help sway an admissions committee if you are borderline, but it can also lead to a letter of recommendation. Most importantly, however, the job can allow you an opportunity to confirm your desire to attend med school.
Extracurricular activities are another way to show you are genuinely concerned about others and that you have good interpersonal skills – something which is critical for any aspiring doctor to possess. Follow your heart and select extracurricular activities that you will genuinely enjoy. The only stipulation we think you should observe is to avoid those activities that will require too much of your time. Toastmasters, debate teams, premed and science clubs, and intramural sports are all very helpful both to help you manage your work/life balance and to help your medical school admissions chances.