I am planning to head back to college this summer and begin working on my prerequisites for medical school. I’ve been out for a while, and will effectively be starting at the beginning classes as far as the pre-reqs. go, but I have my general education courses taken care of, so that’s quite a bit I won’t have to worry about.
What my issue is is I’m considering majoring in chemistry, but I’ve noticed that the university I’ll be attending also has a three-year pre-med degree leading to a bachelor of science. It has all of the normal pre-reqs, like organic chem, physics, biology, etc.
So I’m wondering if anyone has any input on majors specifically designed for pre-meds. Do you think medical schools would be accepting of them, or would I be better off sticking with my original plan of a chemistry major?
You tend to get a different answer from every person you ask. Yes, they’re designed specifically to get you into medical school. But the chair of the Biology department once told me “realize that most medical schools won’t admit more than one applicant from any given pre-med program” and that if you wanted to go to a med school that half the students in the program would apply to (like UPenn), you’d actually be better off as a non-premed. The man who said this was an extremely authoritative source. Yet I’ve never heard that from anyone else.
Also, be aware that by matriculating in a pre-med program, you’ll probably get pre-med advisement. The school I started at would give pre-med students assistance in choosing schools to apply to, essay writing, a committee letter, mock interviewing, etc. So it can be worth it. See what benefits they offer.
It’s also worthwhile to as what the retention rate of the program is and what the success rate of applying to medical schools is. Some programs out there boast a 90%+ rates of their students getting into medical school who apply. But there are caveats with this. They may refuse to sponsor you (offer all those services above) unless your grade and MCAT reach certain thresholds. And some have GPA requirements to stay in the program, meaning you can’t continue to be a pre-med (officially, anyway) unless you have a high GPA; ie, the only students who are retained are the ones who’ll definitely be accepted. Make an appointment with the faculty member who administers the pre-med program, and ask what the program can do for you. Also, ask about all those things above. Others here might also contribute some important things to ask about as well.
I wouldn’t go into a chemistry or biology program unless that’s what you are passionate about. The degree program itself seems to make little difference. A liberal arts major with a 4.0 is going to have an easier time getting in than a science/engineering major with a 3.2. Sucks, but I don’t think the difficulty of the program is really considered. It’s a numbers game, and a basketweaving major with a 4.0, as long as they take the required science/math classes, will have the advantage.
Most of the admissions people I’ve talked to say they would rather see that you took something that was of interest to you, than grinding through something you didn’t really care about. That’s what they want…passionate people.