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What to Consider When Choosing a Pre-Med School
Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.Full Bio
Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.Full Bio
Before you can choose a pre-med school, you have to know what you’re looking for in a school. In this article, we will talk about the various aspects to consider when choosing a pre-med school. Some factors will be more important to you than others, but there is always something to take away!
What does pre-med mean?
Let’s take a quick look at what it means to be a pre-med student before going any further. Pre-med is not actually a major, rather, it is a path that you take in order to become a medical student and eventually a doctor.
As a pre-med student, you will complete a curated set of courses that prepare you for medical school. Because pre-med is not a major, you actually have a lot of flexibility to also dip your toe into other academic areas. This means finding a school that can support your other academic interests is a good idea.
You can be a pre-med student pursuing a degree in anything from history to biology to criminology, as long as you fulfill all the pre-med requirements that are required to apply to medical school.
Factors to consider when choosing a pre-med school
As mentioned, some of the following factors will be more important to you than others. However, all are worth learning more about when you consider how to choose a pre med school. Let’s take a look!
Knowing what potential majors you are looking to major in is the first thing that you should have in mind when you’re searching for a college or university. Because students will often switch majors when they are in their first year or two of college, you should have a few possible majors in mind.
Medical schools like to see that students are well versed in more than just science and math courses. They want well rounded students, which means looking for a school that offers an array of majors instead of just science might be a good place to start.
See also: What are the best pre-med majors?
Extracurricular opportunities are an important part of medical school applications. Extracurriculars include volunteer work, internships, research positions, and more. These things may be associated with a college or university or within the community.
The purpose of these things is to show medical schools a bit about who you are and how you spend your time. There are no strict requirements about what extracurriculars you must complete, but rather, it is a voluntary way for you to show more about who you are. Take a good look at what opportunities potential schools provide and what type of community they are situated in. Some places will certainly supply more opportunities than others.
Student to faculty ratio
The student to faculty ratio at a college is something to keep in mind when thinking about if it will be a good fit for your pre-med journey. Medical schools often ask for letters of recommendation with your application. Therefore, being able to interact with professors and build relationships is something you may want to consider as a factor. It is of course entirely possible to build relationships with professors at any school, but may be easier at some schools than others.
Personal preferences are going to be things that you may have to compromise on but should be considered. These are things like geographic location, size of a school, and living accommodations. They aren’t things that need to be at the top of your list, but knowing the answers to these and what you like might help make your choice.
An example of this might be your housing accommodations. If you are someone who knows that dorm life might be difficult for you to manage and may take a toll on your mental health, then it is important to know what various schools require in terms of on campus living. The same applies to things like meal plans, location, and size.
Ability to take tours
It’s true that websites are a great way to find out preliminary information about a school. But nothing beats being able to see it in person and talk to real students. Obviously in person tours aren’t always possible if a school is far away. However, in some cases that might be more of a reason as to why you should go visit in person. Before moving to a school halfway across the country, you should see it in person.
At a minimum you should check to see if the school you’re interested in offers virtual tours. Virtual tours may help connect you with current students who you can correspond with for more information.
Don’t miss: Top questions to ask on a campus visit
Prestige vs practicality
Let’s wrap up with a note about prestige. It’s not that a prestigious school is not a practical choice, it’s simply that at times, prestige is not as important of a factor as you might think. Medical schools will look at where you received your undergraduate degree, but also at other factors such as personal recommendations, extracurricular activities, GPA, and MCAT scores.
You don’t need to attend an Ivy League college or university to ensure that you will get into medical school. A prestigious school doesn’t ensure that you will attain the grades or MCAT score that you need, but the effort and work you put in can do just that. Aim to choose a school that you feel fits you and can support you in the ways you need. By doing so, you will set yourself up with all the right tools to accomplish your goals of eventually becoming a doctor!
Continue reading: Scholarship360’s guide to college majors
Also see: How long is medical school?
Frequently asked questions about how to choose a pre med school
Is there a lot of math in pre-med?
What is the easiest pre-med major?
What is the best pre-med major?
Chemistry might be a good pre-med major for a student that can maintain a high GPA in those courses, but it may be a hindrance to someone who manages to only just pass those courses. The best pre-med major is different for every student. As long as you perform well and it is relevant to the field of pre-med, it will end up being the ideal pre-med major for you.
Related: What is medical school residency?