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I'm starting college: where do I begin?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by kingkavin, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. kingkavin


    Jun 4, 2008
    I am going to be an undergraduate at the University of Iowa next year. I'm pretty sure that I would like to pursue medicine, but that's some I'd like help figuring out.
    I have had experience in a medical research lab and I have volunteered in a lab previously.
    I've been heavily involved in extracurriculars and I am trying to decide which ones to continue.
    I'm trying to figure out a major. I'm thinking of biology with a focus in neurobiology or biotechnology. Our school also has a physiology major that looks appealing. Other majors, such as journalism and business look appealing, but I'm wondering what type of benefit I gain by taking those. I have 30-40 credit hours walking in, with Calc 2 from a university and statistics.
    I'm not familiar with the different pre-med activities. I know that you need to take an MCAT and apply early senior year. I also know that it's recommended you get clinical experience and volunteer, but I'm not sure how the best way to approach either of these would be. (ex. work in a lab or shadow).
    I guess what I'm trying to ask if any more experienced people have some words of wisdom for me as I head into college green behind the ears.
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  3. 186321


    Jan 29, 2008
    Wow, you're really on top of things. First, don't worry about not being sure about medicine.. you will figure it out eventually. As for major, if you're not 100% sure about medicine maybe you should take a general approach like Biology. You could always minor in business and journalism especially since you have so many credit hours already. Like you said, get involved early so your application looks good. Join your school's pre-med groups, go to meetings, and take a position if possible. Ask advisers about volunteer and research opportunities. Most schools have research opporunities with their own professors.

    Now.. this is very important. Remember that you're in college and this will be the best time of your life. Enjoy yourself and booze it up (if thats your thing) as much as you can while maintaining good grades. Remember that grades are important, but the memories you take with you after college will mean a whole lot more (I know that sounds gay but its true). For me personally, I pledged a fraternity and made some of the best friends I'll have in my entire life. It also made it extremely easy to go out.. there would always be a party going on so I could study in the library until 11 and then go straight to the party without having to figure anything out. Also, fraternities give you a TON of leadership and volunteer opportunities through philanthropies and the like. To each his own though (a lot of people in here probably hate fraternities).
  4. eeyoreDO

    eeyoreDO 2+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Chem 1
    Bio 1

    Good luck :D
  5. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    The first thing I'm going to do is contradict Cottenr. ;) Don't go off boozing it up, especially if you're underage. I don't want you coming back here six months from now asking if you've blown your future over a night of drunken shenanigans, or wound up with a dismal start on your GPA because you got sucked too far into the party scene.

    There's a balance between social life and academic life. Use that first semester to find yours. Even though the school catalogs and promo materials make everything sound top rate and exciting, once you are actually in the school you will be able to get a better idea which courses and what majors are most suitable for you. There is no right major for undergrad. Go for what interests you and you can do well in. To start with, choose any major you want that will allow you to take the classes that you want to start with. You can change it later if your interests wind up guiding you toward a different path.

    Take the first semester easy. Don't over reach on the course difficulty or load. This is a time of adjustment. Check out the clubs and other activities that are available to you and gradually add to your involvement. Too much, too soon can mean that you can't give your all to anything, including your studies.
  6. Green Grass

    Green Grass Physician 10+ Year Member

    Feb 7, 2007
    Under Your Feet
    Don't suck it up from the get-go. Definitely study your ass off and get good grades starting in the fall. It will pay off when you are applying down the road.
  7. 135892

    135892 Guest 2+ Year Member

    Feb 5, 2007
    Do yourself a favor, and don't heed this advice... go booze/party it up :cool:
  8. dasz

    dasz OSUCOM 2012

    May 22, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    one note about applying, you'll want to start the actual application i.e. AMCAS, end of junior year (i think you posted something about applying early senior year). it'd be good to send out your AMCAS before july pre-senior year. that way you can work on the secondaries and hopefully have those all sent out in august or earlier.
  9. GoldShadow

    GoldShadow 2+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2007
    Do yourself a favor, and don't heed this advice... go study it up :cool:
  10. Bacchus

    Bacchus Administrator Moderator Physician 10+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2007
  11. Twiigg

    Twiigg Banned

    Nov 18, 2007
    A distant tree..
    Another :thumbup: for the studying crowd. Is it really worth the "memories" you'll make (but won't even be able to remember the next morning) to be completely stressed out the next three years of undergrad trying to fix that not-so-beautiful GPA?

    Oh, and I would totally recommend neurobiology! Very, very interesting.
  12. remo

    remo Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2005
    Bailout Nation
    Blow off all the clubs, research, volunteering, etc.... so you can study and get good grades (most important) AND have some fun. You can do all the EC stuff later.

    Oh yea, make sure to play the game right and get a high gpa. Don't take a super hard major if you don't have to. The medical school application people could care less if you have a 3.2 gpa in a hard major. If you have a 3.8 in business you are much better off.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2008
  13. 186321


    Jan 29, 2008
    A lot of people here are acting like you have to choose between having a social life and not. I don't think thats true..

    I studied my ass off in college but I still went out every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and the occasional Pizza Night Tuesday. The important thing is to be responsible for your own safety (no drunk driving/belligerent fighting) and your grades (don't go out the night before a test). In the end I was able to graduate with a pretty decent GPA and some hilarious stories to boot.

    All I'm saying is enjoy yourself (again, if thats your thing). I would never give up my college experience for anything.
  14. kingkavin


    Jun 4, 2008
    There's a pretty big partying scene at Iowa. I'll probably go to a few parties to meet people and see what's it's like, but I don't plan on making it a huge part of my experience. I do want my college experience to be really awesome and I plan on going out as often as my work load permits.

    What type of a GPA is competitive for most med schools? How about top med schools?

    As far as a major I was planning on bio or physiology (I hear it helps for you MCAT) but I'm hoping to find something else that I"m interested just so I get something variety. Hopefully I'll find something that I'm amazing at and passionate about, but so far I've just liked everything that i've done.

    I plan on taking an easy first semester just so I can adjust.

    Any recommendations on making a schedule or about orientation in general?
  15. Techmed07

    Techmed07 7+ Year Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    High School
    • Come back in a couple of years.
    During School
    • Take college grades seriously, you'll be thankful when application time comes.
    • If you're asking to do something because it might look good on your application, chances are you aren't interested enough to commit to it right now.
    • Go to office hours, even if you are getting an A in the class because rec letters need to come from somewhere.
    • Overstudy your freshmen year in college. Better to get an A+ in all your freshmen classes then wonder if that was time well spent than screw up your freshmen grades and wonder whether you have a chance.
    • Work hard to get a stellar GPA so you can count on the MCAT as additional evidence of your academic capability, rather than a stressful redeeming factor.
    • Don't hesistate to take on a leadership role in your activities. The work you put into it will benefit you twofold, you will learn a lot about time management and build interpersonal skills.
    • Don't think that a great MCAT will compensate for a low GPA.
    • Clinical extracurricular activities show admission comittees you have been exposed to the realities of medicine and you can handle them.
    • Pursue ECs you are passionate about, don't try to do a little of everything.
    • Compete ONLY against yourself.
    • Time is better spent pursuing a mastery of the course material rather than calculating the minimum grade you can get by with for a 90 or planning how to spread a rumour that the date for the final has been postponed (when in fact it hasn't.)
    • Moderation is key. Take the time to enjoy college but keep in mind that your grades and ECs will be important in the future.
    • Remember that medical schools do not want a textbook memorizing machine. What you do outside of class is just as important and what you do inside as far as growing into a well rounded, articulate prospective physician - you can't develop socially if you don't put yourself in social situations and some of the best things do talk about in interviews are interesting things you do for fun!
    • Don't take the MCAT until your full-length practice scores are exceeding your target score (generally accepted to be 30+ total, with nothing less than a 9 in any section).
    • It's MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), not MCATs (Medical College Admission Tests) as there is only one test not multiple ones.
    • Stop reading SDN when you're studying for the MCAT. It'll stress you out when you're inevitably reading those score report threads, and it seems like everyone's getting 36+.
    • If you find yourself asking, "Should I use this book or that book?" it's a good sign that you should probably use both.
    • If you're asking questions about having to "study" after completion of med school, then you shouldn't be applying to doctorville.
    • Take things one-step at a time, rewarding yourself along the way as this process is a marathon, not a sprint.
    • should be used to see on average what kind of people get into certain schools, but it's skewed extremely upwards and don't use a single profile as a ray of hope.
    • When a school offers you an interview, learn as much as you can about the school, its focus, and its history. They have shown interest in you and you must do the same.
    • Look at the mission statements of each school to see if you fit what they are looking for and to answer their secondaries
    • Send Transcripts in MAY even if you don't want to start working on the AMCAS application
    • A good personal statement takes time to write (1+ months) if it's been thoroughly edited and you've had time to reflect on what you really want to say.
    • Show a little cleavage.
    • Show a lot of cleavage.
    • Use the search feature before asking routine questions
    • Take deep breaths.
    • Believe in yourself.
    • Don't ask other peoples' opinions of your chances unless you're prepared for an honest answer.
    • Fat drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.
    • Slow down! Taking an extra year to do things well is much better than rushing through and having to deal with the consequences later.
    • Learn some humility. If you haven't been beaten down to the ground yet, you'll get used to it during this whole process.
    • When deciding what kind of prep material to use, sometimes its a good idea to go to and read the reviews before you buy your material.
    • The farther you go, the more you are in the public's eye. Treat everything you do seriously, respect everyone, and be aware that people will be critiquing you more and more. But don't get paranoid.
    • The SEARCH button is your friend while on SDN.
  16. seven87

    seven87 2+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2007
    Here's my two cents -- I go to Iowa so let PM me if you have questions.

    Study your first semester, don't blow it off. Many students do this and all will regret it later when applying to medical school. You can still go out and do the bar scene, but don't do it 6 out of 7 nights like most freshmen do.

    About the drinking- be smart and do your best to not get a PAULA. UI Carver College of Medicine looks down on that sort of thing. Don't give them a reason to think you don't have your sh** together.

    Hold off doing much other than school and adjusting and meeting new people first semester. I would start volunteering second semester either at UIHC (some of the jobs really suck) or Mercy hospital in Iowa city.

    Take Principles of Chem I first semester. You can't take Bio I until you finish Chem I. There are tons opportunities for research at Iowa, but try not to get stuck washing beakers or cleaning fruit fly cages. Try to get a job actually carrying out experiments and eventually they will let you think of your own ideas (if you have any).

    Bio is a fine major. Integrative physiology is as well. Business will be pretty easy

    I've written too much already but pm me if you have questions. Try to get around a 3.7-3.8 . Just don't get caught up in the party scene, making drinking your life and skipping class all the time, and you'll be just fine. It's not great when all your friends are going out on a Tuesday but it'll be worth it in the end (hopefully).

    Orientation is boring, you basically spend two days making a schedule. I don't remember anything else about it.

    ** and read techmed's post thoroughly **
  17. DoctorDreamer

    DoctorDreamer In a far away land... 2+ Year Member

    Dec 10, 2007
    Here's my advice:

    If your school has a premed committee, meet with them and let them know you're planning on pursuing medicine and ask their advice. They will be writing your LOR, so you want them to get to know you from the beginning.

    Make sure you foster closer relationships with all your LOR writers.

    Take at least your basic sciences (1 year genchem, 1 year ochem, 1 year biology - although I reccommend at least 2 years, and 1 years physics, and a year of calculus for some schools).

    Major in something you enjoy and make sure you make good grades (mainly As, but some Bs are okay if you must).

    Volunteer or work in a health care setting (start by talking to doctors and hospitals in your area).

    Get involved in other extracurricular activities of your choosing (science/medical and other), and just do your best to enjoy your time in college.

    Start saving your money. This is a very expensive process.

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