Choosing a Major
Congrats! You are half-way through your undergraduate studies (unless you’re studying in Canada in which case it’s only the end of freshman year) and it is now time to choose a major. At this point, you may have also decided that you want to go to medical school and you are trying to decide what to major in. The first question you may be asking is “Does it matter what my major is if I want to go to medical school?”
Does it Matter
The answer in large part is no. Medical schools want applicants who are smart, hard-working and well-rounded. In addition, medical school requirements state that there are a set of courses which must be completed prior to applying to medical school; these include general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and typically at least 1-2 semesters in English. Aside from those courses which are required for med school, you can major in anything you want. The majority (75%) of medical school matriculants major in the biological, physical and social sciences. This leaves 25% of students accepted to medical school that have majors in other disciplines.
Taking a lot of Sciences Has to Help, Right?
As medical students, we always try to compare ourselves to others. The comparison that is always brought up when discussing majors is, “do students with a lot of science coursework have a leg up on students who majored in the humanities or social sciences?” The answer is probably no overall. Clearly, if you majored in biochemistry in college, you will likely find your biochemistry course in medical school to be far easier than some. However, overall it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference. If you are a hard worker and dedicated to your studies and happened to major in Politics, your chances of doing well in medical school are equal overall to the student who majored in Biology. Hard work will ALWAYS help you overcome any obstacles you will encounter, in medical school and in life.
There is one additional consideration, however, if you choose a non-science major. If you read the Pre Med School Selection article when you were applying to colleges, you will remember that you should challenge yourself and choose a degree program which will demand a certain level of rigor. The best way to prepare yourself for medical school is to set good study habits, study hard and challenge yourself, so make sure that whatever degree program you choose, it will demand these things from you. Remember that medical school admissions committees consider both your GPA and the courses which you took to obtain said GPA. Students who achieve high grades in with a rigorous curriculum will be considered over those students who did not challenge themselves.
Find Your Interests
Finally, make sure that whatever major you choose interests you! You will spend a lot of time studying the material in whichever degree program that you choose. Don’t major in something because you think it will impress an admissions committee or your parents if you have no interest in it. If you find yourself drawn to courses in political science and loathing your science pre-reqs, you may want to consider getting a J.D. Similarly, if you find that you are drawn to bench labwork in college and don’t really like working with people, you may want to consider getting a PhD as opposed to an M.D. or D.O. Remember, whatever you choose, be true to yourself!
Some Podcast Sessions to Check Out
Session 16 – FlexMed talk – Apply to medical school after your 2nd year and skip most of the pre-reqs!
Session 03 – Picking a Major and Undergrad
What are you considering as a major?
1. https://www.aamc.org/download/161692/data/table18.pdf – Retrieved 28 Apr 2012
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