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Choosing an undergraduate major as a pre-med student

By October 28, 2016No Comments

If you want to go to medical school, you may be frustrated to learn that you cannot major in pre-med. What is the best major for a pre-med student?

Let’s look at the data.

Biology (and related biological sciences) is by far the most popular major for pre-med students. Fifty-three percent of medical school applicants in 2015-16 claimed this major. However, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice.

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The percentage of applicants and matriculants (those actually entering medical school) is pretty much the same for any given major. In other words, no one major gives a clear advantage– pre-med students enter medical school in the same ratios by major with which they apply.

Rather than focusing on a title, choose your major based its ability to help you earn a good MCAT score, keep a high GPA, meet prerequisites and foster excellent relationships with your professors.

Choose a major that won’t consume all your time.

Although medical schools do not care about the title of your undergraduate major, they do care about your MCAT. The average MCAT for a student entering medical school last year was 31.4. This is significantly higher than the average score for applicants, which was just 28.3.

While choosing a major in a relevant area might help your score, ultimately you’ll still have to study outside of regular classes. You won’t be able to do that if you choose a major that is too difficult and consumes too much of your time.

Choose a major that is interesting to you.

Medical schools are also going to judge you based on your GPA (Grade Point Average).

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While choosing an “easier” major could lead to better grades, be wary of getting too bored. A more “difficult” course of study might keep you more interested and engaged.

Choose a major that meets medical school prerequisites.

One thing you can be sure of is that without your prerequisites you won’t be applying to medical school at all. A benefit to studying biology is that the prerequisites are often built into the course of study. Depending on the school, this may be the case for other majors as well.

In this respect, studying for a degree in the humanities might be somewhat troublesome. After all, organic chemistry is rarely part of a theater and dance student’s curriculum.

Choose a major with friendly professors.

In order to get good letters of recommendation, you’ll need to know some of your professors. Of course, that might be exceedingly difficult if all of your courses are taught in amphitheaters with hundreds of students.

Consider what major will give you smaller classes or a chance to talk with professors who share your interests.

 

Maija Wallace is a freelance writer for college admissions blogs. Her website is located at www.travelinglang.us

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