Tips every pre-med student should know!
Planning on going to medical school one day? If so, here are a few things that I wish I knew as a pre-med freshman at the University of Florida: University of Florida culture of “pre-medical” students is very competitive. In the 2018-2019 cycle, UF produced the most undergraduate medical school applicants to Doctor of Osteopathic Medical Schools in the nation. With that being said, these three tips are useful to know:
Stand out among your classmates, and the best way to do that is to be passionate about where you spend your time. Many pre-med students become obsessive about getting the “most volunteer hours” or joining a club for the sake of joining because you think it will, “look good.” This is a trap. When it comes time to write your personal statement for medical school applications, reflecting back on the 3 to 4 years you have spent at UF, your statement will sound forced and will lack experience and passion that truly makes you stand out. Choose to spend your time doing things you are most passionate about!
Do not spread yourself too thin. What I mean by that is, do not take on so many activities or clubs that your grades start to suffer. Unfortunately, your GPA and MCAT scores weigh heavily in the initial process of applying to medical school, and starting your freshman year off with a strong GPA at UF will set you up for success. Many medical schools have screening processes that eliminate your entire application if your GPA does not reach a certain threshold.
Create strong relationships with professors and professional mentors for future letters of recommendation. Navigating through UF while juggling difficult classes, clubs, volunteering, research, and the things you actually enjoy can take a toll on your enthusiasm for medicine in general. Creating relationships with teachers allows you to seek advice (if needed), but also, you will have letters of recommendations in plenty. The key is to ask early! Set a date in which you would like all letters to be submitted by and ask 6 to 8 weeks in advance. Polite reminders are usually welcome, but try to have back-up teachers if the initial professor becomes unable to write the letter.
Applying to medical school is an exciting time, and receiving secondary applications and interviews is a wonderful feeling. So, if you put in the work 2 to 3 years prior, all of your hard work will come together to build a great application. Never be afraid to ask for help, and do not let anyone make you feel that you are unworthy of medical school! You can do it! Go Gators!
Stella J. Fedele, UF Intern, and Pre-Med Student
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