You do not have to be a biology major, a chemistry major, or
even a science major, to apply to an HPS, such as medical school. You should take
at least the core courses listed on the "Responsibilites" page of this handbook,
but you will be much better off to choose a major that interests you (and one that
you can excel in) rather than one that you think will improve your chances of getting
into a professional school. If you do not major in science, it is a good idea to
take one or two "extra" science courses (in addition to those required for admission)
to show the HPS admissions committees that you can handle a heavy science load.
Plan to complete the required courses before you take an entrance exam such as the
MCAT. It is generally considered to be most advantageous to apply to professional
schools the summer before you plan to attend. To do this, you will need to take
the appropriate entrance exam in the spring of that year. If you have not completed
the required courses by that time, it may be better to take the entrance exam during
the summer. Unfortunately, this will (in most cases) prevent you from applying until
after you have taken the exam. While this may decrease your chances of acceptance
to some schools, it is much better than going into an entrance exam unprepared.
During your preparation for HPS, you will sometimes feel as if you are on "information
overload" (especially during the first two years). The members of the Pre-Medical
Advisory Committee will gladly help you plan your academic schedule. Most successful
applicants to HPS find that planning ahead and creating a four-year schedule during
the freshman year helped them to handle the details involved in preparing for the
It is imperative that you recognize that not every applicant to medical school,
dental school, etc. is going to be successful, especially on the first attempt.
This is part of the reason that you are required to major in an area other than
"pre-health" at R-MC. Your major area of study provides you with career options
should the doors to your desired professional school open slowly or fail to open
altogether. Also, medical schools encourage students to have a broad background
and to excel in their major.
Get to know your professors, especially those in science, as you will likely seek
letters of recommendation from them someday! Your professors have seen many pre-health
students and they can provide you with perspectives that only come from experience
and, unfortunately, age. It is also important to make contact with a member of the
Pre-Medical Advisory Committee early in your R-MC education.
Do not become obsessed with your Grade Point Average or your grade in a single course.
As long as you are at or above the threshold level for entrance into a particular
professional school (Appendix B), the combination of your preparation efforts (GPA,
medical-related experience, involvement in extra-curricular activities, letters
of recommendation, personal interview skills) determines how attractive you will
be to professional schools. Medical school interviewers have the ability to sniff
out the good learners rather than the good students. Aim for a well-rounded package
rather than straight "A"s at the expense of everything else.