Being a pre-med student requires commitment and can be a long, hard road; there are many tips and myths out there that may be helpful, but in reality are just adding on to the stress. Some may contain some truth to them, but most are simply just myths.
Here are some common myths:
I have to major in a science subject area like biology.
Not necessarily. While science courses are important for a premed education, you do not need to major in it. In fact, you should major in what you are passionate about since your premed courses take care of the sciences you need. However, majoring in an area other than science doesn’t make you stand out. What’s important is having a strong science GPA. One thing to consider is that since medical schools typically look at your science GPA, if you are a science major, then one low grade in a science class is not going to drastically change your cumulative GPA, but if you are a non-science major, then it may affect it since you probably don’t have as many science classes.
One bad grade is going to kill my chances of getting into medical school.
Medical school admissions tend to look at the big picture and your overall college career, so one low grade or bad semester is not going to make much of a difference in the long run, especially during the first year when students are transitioning into the college experience. Medical schools like to see an upward trend with grades. However, grades aren’t the only factor that medical schools look at; essays, interview, and personality are just some of the many other factors that play into admission, so don’t be disheartened by one bad grade.
I should take my premed courses over the summer so I won’t have to worry about it during the school year.
This is actually not recommended. In medical school, you will be taking multiple science classes together, so medical schools like to see how you can handle taking premed classes along with your other classes to gauge if you can handle the rigorous workload required of medical school.
I need to have more extracurriculars in order to stand out.
Don’t take on more extracurriculars just for the sake of adding more to your resume. It truly is about quality over quantity. You don’t want to overload to the point that it hurts your academics. Doing a few activities that you are passionate about means much more than doing 15 or 20 that you really don’t care about it. This will especially show through in an interview; your interest and passion for activities that really impacted you will shine through in your interview as opposed to those that you are disinterested in. That being said, self-reflection is key. Reflecting on how an experience has impacted you or changed you really matters, especially in an interview where you have the chance to expand on your experiences.
I have to go to medical school right after college.
Nowadays, more and more people are deciding to take time off after college and fill those gap years with more work experiences to make them a more well-rounded candidate. Medical schools prefer mature students who have had more experiences because this helps them in the long run, for instance, with interacting with patients. However, don’t let this discourage you from applying early on; this is just an option to consider.