May 21, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
Regardless of what year you are in your undergraduate studies, there are a number of things that you can do this summer to prepare for your medical school applications. If you haven’t yet finalized your summer plans, select one or two activities from this list and you’ll be one step closer to attending your first choice medical school.
You may think that Harvard Medical School is your top choice, but you really won’t know until you spend some time on campus and exploring the city of Cambridge. Likewise, a medical school in the Deep South may on your list of potentials, but can you handle the heat which permeates year-round? Summer is the perfect time to take a road trip to the medical schools that you find most intriguing. It’s important to not only visit the campus but to also explore the surrounding neighborhoods. The medical school you ultimately select will be your home for four (or more!) years, so you want to make sure it’s the perfect location for you. When you are there, take detailed notes on what you like and don’t like about the school and its location. Speak to both locals and transplants if possible. All this information will come in handy when you finally apply to medical school. You’ll be able to personalize your application to match the school culture and will be able to communicate your reasons for wanting to attend each particular school.
It’s important to have the highest GPA that you can possibly earn before applying to medical school. You don’t necessarily want to take any of your required science courses during the summer, but exploring electives that compliment your medical school ambitions is a great idea. Summer courses are typically intense, but you’ll find that the shorter length of the course typically means less work. Engage in public speaking courses to hone your personal presentation skills, writing courses to develop your communication skills, or explore a Humanities course like poetry or photography to show medical school admissions committees that you are a well rounded person.
You know how difficult it can be to meet with your advisor during the school year. Classes, projects, and internships quickly take priority over meeting with this critical member of your career development team. Your pre-health advisor probably works year round, and if you are staying local to campus this summer, make several appointments with this resource to craft a plan for successfully completing your medical school applications. Your pre-health advisor will let you know if you’re on track and how you can enhance your application to the highest competitive level.
These are important components of your overall medical school application which you can have some control over. If you have taken the MCAT but are not happy with your score, a prep class might be in order. Your letters of recommendation must be top notch, so reach out to those mentors, professors, and supervisors during the summer when the pace of work is a little slower and they will have more time to be thoughtful about your request. Lastly, start to brainstorm that personal statement. Even if you write a draft or two or three and put it away for a few months, using the lazy days of summer to give this a go will be a productive use of your time.
Don’t wait till your junior or senior of college to start thinking about medical school applications. The sooner you begin sorting out the process, the better your chances of admission to your top choice medical school.