High School Students
Are you a high school student who's thinking about pre-medical or pre-professional health studies? Here are a few suggestions for preparing yourself -- in high school and college -- for a professional health program.
What can I do in high school to prepare for pre-medical studies?
What should I major in?
What are the prerequisite courses?
What do professional schools look for in applicants?
How competitive is medical/dental/vet school?
How do I choose professional schools to apply to?
How much does medical (or other professional) school cost, and how much financial aid is available?
I am not sure I want to go to professional school, but I know I want to continue my studies. What are my options?
- Take lots of science and math courses. (Take additional courses in science rather than math if given the choice, unless you plan to major in biomedical engineering. In that case, you should take as many math courses as possible.)
- Consider taking Advanced Placement and/or Advanced Credit courses whenever possible. Although medical schools generally do not accept this credit for biology, chemistry and physics -- they require students to complete these science classes at a college or university -- advanced coursework in science and math is excellent preparation for pre-professional health studies at college. Even if you take AP/AC sciences courses, you are strongly encouraged to take these courses at SLU also.
- Shadow physicians.
- Volunteer in hospitals or other clinical settings.
- Participate in summer programs.
Anything! You don't have to major in biology. Learn more about choosing a major as a pre-professional health student.
In college, you will follow the pre-professional health curriculum, a prescribed series of courses that students must take.
The courses you need to take before applying to professional school include general biology I and II, general chemistry I and II, organic chemistry I and II, physics I and II, upper division biology, calculus I and English composition. Check with individual schools for specific requirements, as some do not require calculus.
- Overall GPA
- Math/science GPA
- Standardized test scores (MCAT, DAT, etc.)
- Motivation to pursue a career in the field, including shadowing and/or volunteer experience in clinical settings
- Involvement in extracurriculars and leadership activities
- Communication skills and the ability to relate to others
Medical school is very competitive. For example, SLU School of Medicine receives more than 5,000 applications for 175 seats. Other medical schools vary, and all schools report their entrance statistics in the MSAR book, available online and in our office.
Vet school is extremely competitive, as there are only 28 schools in the country.
Osteopathic, dental, podiatric and optometry schools are also competitive, but with somewhat lesser entrance requirements compared to medical school.
Choose schools that you have the best shot at getting into based on your GPA and standardized test scores. Also consider location, state of residence and cost.
Cost varies depending on the school and whether you are attending as a resident or non-resident of that state. Expect to have debt of more than $100,000 after four years of professional school, beyond any undergraduate debt.
There are limited opportunities for scholarships. The armed services provide assistance, but you owe them time when you are finished with your training. There are some opportunities for underserved community support, and you would owe them service as well. The most common financial aid route is student loans.
There are many opportunities in and out of the health field, including law school and graduate programs in the sciences and health-related fields. Talk to your major advisers and Pre-professional Health studies advisers for specific suggestions.
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