Tips every pre-med student should know!
Planning on going to medical school one day? If so, there are a few things that I wish I knew as a pre-med freshman at the University of Florida that I’d like to share with you. The University of Florida culture of “pre-med” 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 acknowledged, these three tips are incredibly useful to know:
First, stand out among your classmates. The best way to do this is to be passionate about where you choose to spend your time. Many pre-med students become obsessive about getting the “most volunteer hours” or joining a club just because you think it will “look good.” This is a trap. When it comes time to write your personal statement for medical school applications, you’ll have to reflect back on the 3 to 4 years you have spent at UF. If you did it or joined it “just because”, then your statement will sound like that. It will lack the experience and passion that sets you apart and truly makes you stand out. Choose to spend your time doing things you are most passionate about! You’ll be happier and it will better serve you and your future ambition.
Secondly, do not spread yourself too thin. What I mean specifically 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.
Finally, create strong relationships with professors and professional mentors who can provide future letters of recommendation. Navigating UF while juggling challenging classes, clubs, volunteering, research — balanced by some of the things you actually enjoy as a college student — can take a toll on your enthusiasm for medical goals. Creating relationships with teachers allows you to seek advice (if needed), but will also provide you with the opportunity for plenty of letters of recommendation. The key is to ask early! Set a date by which you would like all letters to be submitted and ask for them 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 don’t 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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