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Picking an Undergraduate College and a Premed Major

Session 03

Picking a Premed Undergrad College and a Premed Major

In today’s episode, I talk about choosing an undergraduate school and picking a premed major, two of the most common questions raised by high school or undergraduate students interested in medicine.

Things to consider in choosing an undergraduate school:

  1. Location, location, location

Consider things like your lifestyle preference and wanting to be near or far away from family/friends, etc.

  1. Weather

Do you like the cold or would you prefer somewhere humid and warm? Be mindful of this when choosing a college!

  1. Logistics of travel

Consider access to public transportation for people to come in and see you.

  1. Cost
  • How much debt are you going to take on?
  • Private schools obviously have sky-high tuition, while a state school has more reasonable tuition.
  • Can you do your best to find scholarships that match up to your needs?
  • Check out the websites of the schools you’re interested in or call them to find out about scholarships offered to their students. You can also use the Department of Labor Scholarship search.
  1. Access to a medical school

Is there a medical school nearby or affiliated with that undergraduate school? As they say, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Building relationships is a huge part of getting into medical school, getting into a specific residency, getting into a fellowship, and getting a job.

Building relationships is a huge part of getting into medical school, getting into a specific residency, getting into a fellowship, and getting a job.Click To Tweet

Going to an undergrad school that has a medical school attached to it means less work to get in front of the admission committee members or the dean of the medical school. Reach out to them. Let them get to know you, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. If you do this, they’ll be able to put a face with your name when your application comes in.

If you’re thinking about a specific residency, does the medical school attached to your undergrad school offer residency there?

Going to an undergrad school that has a medical school attached to it means less work to get in front of the admission committee members or the dean of the medical school.Click To Tweet

Does it matter where you go to undergrad?

In terms of the opportunities that are available to you to get into medical school and become a doctor, you will not be severely hindered by attending a no-name school, as long as it’s a 4-year university. In the end, everybody ends up in the same spot no matter where they get their college degree. When you become a doctor, your patients won’t ask where you went to undergrad.

When you become a doctor, your patients won't ask where you went to undergrad.Click To Tweet

Things to consider when picking your premed major:

  1. You can major in anything you want as long as you get the prerequisites accomplished.

  • What are you passionate about? What interests you?
  • Major in what you’re passionate about to get a high GPA.
  • But make sure you have enough time to do your requirements for medical school.

General requirements:

These may vary depending on the specific medical schools you want to apply to, so be sure to check your schools:

  • 1 year Physics with lab
  • 1 year General Chemistry with lab
  • 1 year Organic Chemistry with lab
  • 1 year Biology with lab
  • 1 semester of Psychology
  • 1 semester of Sociology
  • 1 semester of Biochemistry
  • 1 semester of Statistics or Calculus
  • 1 semester of English

[Related episode: Are There Hidden Prereqs I Should Take for the MCAT?]

  1. Be prepared to explain why you chose your major if it’s a bit different than normal
  1. It doesn’t matter what major you choose.

The medical school doesn’t specifically look for a biochemistry major or whatever science major but for a well-rounded applicant with:

  • Good GPA
  • Solid MCAT scores
  • Good extracurricular activities

Data show that only 63% of people getting into medical school graduate with a biological or physical sciences degree; 11% in social sciences.

Some people believe that getting a liberal arts or humanities degree can actually help you as a premed because it helps you become a great communicator and gives you human perspective about the world to pair with your scientific understanding.

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