Reflecting back toward my undergraduate years, I wish I knew certain things about being premed when I was an underclassman. Knowing these things would have made my premed life and my medical school application a lot easier. In this article, I share practical advice for premeds that many people tend to overlook.
1. Start your extracurricular activities as soon as possible
If you want to be a competitive applicant, you have little time to waste. Don’t spend your first year just taking classes. Try to volunteer, shadow, research, or get involved in clubs as early as your second quarter or semester of your first year. This will not only open up more opportunities as you become an upperclassman, but will also allow you to spread out your activities over a longer period of time. For extracurricular activities, depth and duration is more important than quantity.
2. Your freshman GPA does matter.
I don’t know why so many premeds think that their freshman year GPA does not count. Every class you take in college counts, even those you took in community college or other universities. If you have GPA has already taken a hit, here are some tips to improve your GPA.
3. Start an ongoing CV your freshman year.
Having an ongoing updated CV enables you to keep a log of all the important information you will need for your medical school application. This will ensure that you do not forget anything for your application. Compiling an ongoing CV also makes filling out your Works and Activities section much simpler. You can also apply to research positions with this updated CV as well. If you do not know how to write a CV, click the link. Make sure you record how many hours a week you participated in an activity and the overall duration of your involvement.
||Read: How To Write An Undergraduate CV||
4. Learn about the schools you want to apply to
Knowing about the schools you want to attend will give you extra motivation as a premed. Understanding what it takes to attend a certain school will also keep you realistic about your goals. For example, if you want to attend NYU, you should know that the median GPA and MCAT for NYU medical school matriculants is 3.8 and 515. Being aware of this information allows you to set tangible goals. You should also start developing reasons why you want to attend certain schools and keep them documented. This will help you tremendously in your medical school application process.
5. Think about letters of recommendation (LORs) early
One of the biggest reasons why applicants get held up or cannot apply is because they do not have enough strong LORs. Starting freshmen year, start looking for potential letter writers. It is hard to receive a strong LOR without attending office hours or being involved in extracurricular activities. Be active early and prevent future suffering. ProspectiveDoctor.com has a comprehensive FAQs section on LORs.
6. Keep an ongoing document of personal statement ideas
Starting your freshman year or maybe even before, you might have reasons why you want to be a doctor. And most likely there are certain experiences that helped develop your motivation. Keep a log of all these experiences and your thought process during each event. This log will serve as a good foundation for when you want to write your personal statement in the future.
||Read: Personal Statements And Emotional Topics||
7. Utilize your career center or any premed counselors
Often times your career center or premed counseling centers have useful services that you will need. These resources include mock interviews, resume workshops, application help, LOR services, etc. Don’t be shy. Use these resources early and often.
8. Your major, minor or double major is not that important
Some people think that certain majors have advantages over other majors when applying to medical school. That is not necessarily true. Having a difficult major such as electrical engineering does not impress medical schools if your GPA is not high. Also, double majoring will not impress admissions committees either without the proper GPA. Double majoring may sound cool but it is not worth it if your grades are going to suffer. It is all about the GPA (given that you complete the appropriate pre-requisites), no matter what major you are.
9. Ask for help. A lot.
Become friends with older premeds, medical students, and doctors. Ask them for advice and guidance. Trying to go through this journey alone is one of the worst decisions you can make as a premed.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor. Follow ProspectiveDoctor on Twitter @ProspectiveDr