Preparing for medical school is a long and hectic process, and the applications are one of the most challenging parts. Medical school admissions are extremely competitive, which means you will want to start thinking about how to make yourself the best possible candidate early on.
There are many prerequisites to go through before you start medical school, so you need to get working on them as soon as you start college. This way, you’ll have ticked off all the boxes by the time you’re ready to apply for medical school.
Your Freshman Year
Your freshman year of undergrad is probably the most relaxed time you’re going to have in college, so make sure to use it well. The first year is the best time to complete the extracurricular requirements since the closer you get to graduating, the less time you’ll have for other stuff. You can work as a volunteer for charity organizations, hospitals, nursing and hospice care facilities and see what other opportunities are available in your area.
Finish some of the easier med school prerequisites such as English and math early on to lighten the load in your junior and senior years. If you feel like you’re up to it, you can potentially cover psychology and sociology in your freshman year as well.
You should also arrange a meeting with a pre-med advisor to ensure you have a solid grasp of which courses and activities will benefit you the most. Your advisor will also help you make sure not to miss any requirements. Consider joining a pre-med club if there are any in your college, as this will make it easier to access pre-med resources and advising and help you connect with other prospective med school students.
Your Sophomore Year
In your sophomore year, you’ll need to crank up your efforts a bit and start completing the more difficult med school prerequisites.
Ideally, you will find a doctor or other medical professional to shadow. This person can mentor you and offer advice about everything from med school selection to application essay topics. You should already be focused on getting clinical and research experience, so see if there’s anyone at your research experience site who might be willing to provide guidance.
No medical school will consider your application unless you have any medical experience under your belt. Doing a short stint in a clinic as an intern or as a research assistant are both viable ways to gain valuable experience for your CV.
You also need to flesh out your study plan and follow through to make sure you finish every necessary course by the time you graduate. You ought to start taking more science-focused courses like biology during your sophomore year as well.
Your Junior Year
Unlike your freshman and sophomore years, which are taken up with a variety of activities, you will need to spend most of your junior year studying. Ideally, you should be done with general and organic chemistry in your sophomore year, which should leave you with ample time to finish the more advanced med school prerequisite courses such as biochemistry and physics.
This is also the ideal time to take the MCAT, as long as you have sufficiently prepared for it. The MCAT test is required for med school, so the earlier you have it done, the less stress you’ll have later on. It’s best to take the MCAT exam in the early months of your junior year so that the option for a retake is open for you if the results are not satisfactory the first time around.
You can also start researching different medical schools to know the exact prerequisites of the application process. Check to see if they offer any discounts or waivers to save money in the long run.
Your Senior Year
If you’ve already taken care of the MCAT exam in your junior year, then your senior year will be a fairly relaxed experience compared to the previous years. In your senior year, you should spend most of your time whipping yourself into shape for interviews, completing any supplements to your applications, and planning for the future.
Finish off any remaining prerequisite courses if you haven’t taken them already. Don’t forget to plan your finances ahead of time so that you don’t feel financial pressure breathing down your neck by the time you’re done with medical school.
Maximize Your Medical School Admission Chances through Planning
Most reputed medical schools are bombarded with thousands of applications every year and have to make the tough choice of selecting the best applicants. Most applicants are very competent, which means there are only slight differences between those who get chosen and those who don’t. If you want to be part of the former group, then finish all the prerequisites to stay ahead of the pack.