By Kiran Munir
Undergraduate students that are either pre-pharmacy, pre-dentistry or pre-medicine all share a common goal: to get accepted into the graduate schools of their respective fields of study. All of the pre-something undergraduate students are plagued by studying hard to achieve a high GPA, volunteering endlessly, furiously looking for research experiences and even simply exposing themselves to their respective field of interest.
With the amount of competition to get into graduate school, it is important to keep in mind that extra-curricular and leadership roles are to supplement applications and NOT take the place of one’s GPA or the MCAT, PCAT and DAT. Some larger graduate schools put all their received applications’ statistics into a computer, which automatically rejects anyone who does not meet the minimum GPA or standardized test score. So guess what? Admissions counselors do not even get a chance to get the application in their hands, hence they will never get to see how well students shined outside of the classroom or what may have been a downfall of GPA one semester.
When planning a schedule for undergraduate years, be sure to take all recommended courses that will help prepare for the standardized exams. Furthermore, check with desired graduate schools to see which courses they prefer their incoming students to have taken. Generally, try to take a broad range of courses to be a well-rounded applicant.
At times, pulling a high GPA while taking three 300-level core science classes is difficult, but don’t forget that dream of holding the acceptance letter in your hand. All the hard work does pay off. Always be wise when making future schedule. Do not take so many demanding, upper level classes at once.
Volunteer, volunteer and do more volunteer work. This is another important aspect in an application. All of the pre-health professionals must acknowledge needs of others over themselves, and volunteering does just that. Despite a hectic schedule, a couple hours a week volunteering anywhere will add up after three years. Make sure to get clinical volunteering (place where you can actually see people you may be assisting as a professional) and other types of volunteering in general.
All undergraduates belonging to one of these pre-professional programs should consider doing research. Any type of research greatly enhances an application, but try to take on research that caters to one’s own interests.
Regardless to say, the uncertainty of working so hard and not having the assurance of being accepted anywhere is kind of like running in a dark tunnel without knowing if indeed light is on the other side. But the light will be seen; slowly at first, but then it rapidly will shine bright and strong. After all, no one ever said it will be an easy journey, they just said it would be worth it.