PRE-HEALTH ADVISING FAQ’s
¨ Do I have to be a biology major to get accepted to medical (or other health professional) school?
No, you can have any major. But you must complete pre-requisite courses including:
1 yr. of general chemistry (Chem 1A, 1B)
1 yr. of organic chemistry with lab (Chem 24, 124, 25)
1 yr. of biology (BIO 1 and 2 [formerly 10, 11, 12])
1 yr. of physics (Phys 5A, 5B)
usually calculus (Math 26A/B) and biochemistry (Chem 161).
These are all included as requirements for the biology degree, so a biology major is the most “economical.” Students are urged to major in whatever area they find most interesting. Drama, English, Psychology, and other majors are accepted to medical school. Most pre-meds are Chemistry or Biology majors because they are interested in science.
¨ Do I need to complete a B.S. degree to get accepted?
No, health professions require sound scientific backgrounds, but they also require the art of working with others in a sensitive and compassionate way. It is important for health professionals to be well-rounded and to have rich life experiences. Sometimes it is easier to achieve this with less specialization in the major.
¨ Do I need a 4.0 gpa to get accepted?
No. Professional schools do need to know that you have a solid educational foundation and the ability to learn a lot of material quickly. But they realize that employment, extra-curricular activities, and personal commitments make it difficult to get straight A’s. As an indication of your academic preparation, schools look at your gpa, admission test scores, and letters of recommendation. Admission test (MCAT, DAT, OCAT, etc) scores are probably most important because the tests are standardized nationwide. The quality of your other experiences is also very important. Doing volunteer work not only signifies your motivation, but also gives you a chance to see that you are really comfortable with your chosen profession. Through personal essays you need to demonstrate that you know your strengths and weaknesses as a potential health practitioner, that you know how to work toward goals, and that you know how to give of yourself to others.
¨ How do I find a volunteer position?
See a pre-health professional advisor, join a pre-health club (AMSA=American Medical Student Association, PPSO=Pre-health Professional Student Organization, MOSS= Multicultural Organization of Science Students), talk to your classmates. They can give you leads. In addition, all of the hospitals in the area have volunteer programs in which you can serve. You need to tell them you are interested in the profession, so that you do not just push magazine carts around.
¨ Should I take all of my GE courses before my science courses?
No. Because the chemistry courses must be taken in sequence, it is important to start with Chem 1A as soon as possible. You should try to complete the first four above requirements (biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics) in the fall before your last year of courses. This will allow you to be prepared for the admissions tests in spring and to apply to professional school in summer before your last year of classes. Take area A general ed classes early, but mix other GE classes in with science classes for variety.
¨ How do I apply to professional school?
There are advisors in biology and chemistry departments to help you; get to know them well. Typically, you will take an admissions test the spring of your “junior” year, apply that summer, complete secondary applications and send letters of recommendation in fall, go for interviews in late fall and early spring of your last year, line up financial resources, and sit and wait until you are notified. All of this is quite costly, so you should plan to spend several thousand dollars on the application process alone.
¨ Do many students from CSUS get accepted to professional school?
CSUS has about the same acceptance rate as the average (35-40% of applicants are accepted to medical school). While we do not have a prestigious name, our former students who attend professional school tell us they are better prepared than many of their classmates. Another plus for our school is that small classes with laboratories taught by professors enable you to get to know faculty members well. This leads to letters of recommendation that can really say a lot about who you are.