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Pre-Med: What should I major in?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Pathologist, Nov 30, 2000.

  1. Pathologist

    Pathologist Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 29, 2000
    Fostoria, Ohio, USA
    I'm a freshman microbiology major and I'm going pre-med. I'm not sure if I want to major in microbiology. But, I'm not sure what to major in. What do you all recommend? Thanks [​IMG]
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  3. Hercules

    Hercules Son of Zeus 10+ Year Member

    Jul 25, 2000
    Mobile, AL
    I recommend majoring in something you're really interested in. I know that sounds simple, but it is good advice. Take a variety of classes and see what peaks your interest. Definitely don't choose a major just because you think it will look good to an adcomm.


    But there is also a time for sleeping.
    -Odysseus in the Odyssey 11.330-331
  4. alceria

    alceria Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2000
    Detroit, MI
    Yes, I agree. Admissions panels really don't care what you major in, as long as you do well and get your science pre-reqs done. Take something that you enjoy and can do well in, even it doesn't seem like something a typical pre-med student would do. Adcoms also love seeing that you are really well rounded, so I suggest taking classes that interest you, even if they don't go towards your major. If you like art, take art history now or design, it might be your last chance to study art, or history, or whatever. Rememeber to have fun, you've got a lot of work ahead of you! [​IMG]

  5. turtleboard

    turtleboard SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 1999
    New York, New York
    It's best to show the AdCom that you can handle a big load of science courses in the first place, because believe it or not, that's the kind of person they're choosing for the study of medicine.

    People who choose to major in a non-science who only take the premed prereqs of Bio, Chem, Orgo, and Physics are putting themselves at a disadvantage when it comes time for their applications to be reviewed by an AdCom. While you should take courses that you have a genuine interest in, make sure you take a little more than just the basic premed stuff or else you'd better kick science butt on the MCATs.

    Tim of New York City.
  6. lilycat

    lilycat Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2000
    I don't know; I kind of disagree with Tim's take on the process. Ideally, if you have time, and you are interested, (and you are not a science major) it would be great to take science courses beyond the traditional prereqs. However, there are fewer liberal arts or engineering majors applying than bio majors, and it tends to make you stand out in the process (NOT being a bio major. If you go this route, you definitely need to do well in the science classes you do take, and you should do well on the MCAT (aim for at least 10s), but those should be your goals no matter what you major in.

    Do what makes you feel comfortable and what you are interested in -- it will make you a more interesting applicant.
  7. turtleboard

    turtleboard SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 1999
    New York, New York
    What I was trying to say was that being a non-science major is fine -- in fact, it may even help an application stand out. But what the AdComs are worried about when it comes to non-science majors is whether or not they can handle the coursework. Will taking the standard prereqs and the MCAT be enough to convince them? From my experience, nope. Non-science majors must either kick extreme butt on the MCAT or take a few extra science courses to show that they can do the work. This doesn't have to be something like Advanced Organic Chemistry for Nobel Laureates, but something simple like Calculus 1 and 2 and maybe even Multivariable Calculus.

    Tim of New York City.
  8. lilycat

    lilycat Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2000
    I guess I have just had a different experience than yours, Tim. I was an English major, and I didn't have an absurdly high science GPA, nor did I have an absurdly high MCAT, and so far things seem to be going very well for me in the application/admissions process -- of course there are many other aspects to an application, as we all know. And, I believe Calculus is actually required for most schools, or highly recommended anyways.
  9. ringo643

    ringo643 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    To the original poster:
    I wouldn't worry about it. Go for something you love. If you're passionate about biochemsitry and nothing else, major in biochem. but don't do it because you think it's what they want to see. I'm a liberal studies major (harder than it sounds [​IMG] and have taken several hours of advanced bio and chem on top of the prereqs. No matter what you do, I would recommend that. I've had nine interviews, and all the adcoms have been interested in my major - great way to start the conversation rolling. When they see that I love it and do well in it, they always seem impressed. follow your heart, dude.
  10. numinous

    numinous Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 16, 2000
    I absolutley recommend that you take exactly what interests you and what you can do well in. I transfered out of science my first day of undergrad and decided that I was going to spend 4 years learning about what I loved. Although excellence in science is always a requirement, there is definitely a trend in med schools to look for well-rounded, capable students. There are too many impersonal science types running around as MD's. I am not saying that they're not qualified, but many lack certain skills which contribute to a complete knowledge or appreciation of a patient. Talking to admissions personnel, I was informed that the most important thing was excellence. You must show that you are doing what you love and that you are amazing at it. Don't get me wrong - science is important, but I think it is enough to show that you are capable. Many schools like to shape your science knowledge anyway - they'll give you what you need to know, just show them that you are up to it.

    fourth year
    religious studies/pre-med
    McGill University
  11. KeithKow

    KeithKow Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2000
    i hope that tim doesn't take this personally, but what he is saying is a bunch of BS coming from a science major. i am an international relations/peace studies major, and i can't tell you how impressed interviewers were with this. they absolutely loved that i wasn't a normal premed and they seemed so interested in my major. its true that they are looking for people who will be more personal instead of a premed robot. they want personal doctors! one interviewer, a doctor, straight out told me she is so happy she didn't have to deal with another premed! (we then joked around about them for a while)
    so far, i have already gotten into two schools and have been invited to 8 interviews. i only took the core sciences, plus 3 science electives...but i wouldn't even worry about those electives. do what you love, whether it be science or not. in my opinion, non-science majors have a huge selling point at the interview...just be prepared to tell them why you chose your major. however, i'm pretty sure you have to still have a good MCAT score to show you know your sciences, but you can do that just taking your basics. and remember, 1/3 of the MCAT is verbal doesn't do much to help you there.
    so...i guess to sum up, the majority of premeds are science majors, and there is nothing wrong with that if thats what you like. just know that it doesn't hurt to be different, and it usually helps.
    ps- just a quick one interview these two science majors were kind of ripping on me for not being a science major and wondering why. i just took it with a who's having the last laugh?
  12. Stephen Ewen

    Stephen Ewen 10+ Year Member

    This is very much a perrenial question. [​IMG]

    In all seriousness, and I really do mean this with everything I can muster, and think everyone here will pretty much concur:
    Major in whatever you are most interested in.

    Best wishes.
  13. Stephen Ewen

    Stephen Ewen 10+ Year Member

  14. wooo

    wooo Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2000
    I have heard of several schools not even considering applications of science majors for admission to their school. Right in their brochure it states that "science people are all rude, self-serving nerds that are not capable of rational thought processes." These schools are on the cutting edge of student recruiting by using the Jeopary "Tournament of Champions" to select their students. Here is a breakdown of their students that are presently enrolled.

    Art History.......................28%
    Elem. Ed..........................12%
    General Studies...................11%
    Social Work.......................11%
    Political Sc.......................7%
    Small Appliance Repair.............7%
    Other Non science..................6%

    Another interesting note, these schools are getting 100% of their students placed in their first choice for resident programs.
  15. mike_D

    mike_D Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 26, 2000
  16. Ian Wong

    Ian Wong Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 5, 1999
    BC, Canada

    Far be it from me to meddle in what is otherwise a rather one-sided discussion. I've had a Canadian premed web-site up for the last year and a half, and have received this very question numerous times through e-mail.

    I think a previous poster said it best. Medical schools are looking for excellence. If you have a high GPA, solid MCAT scores, and some good extra-curricular activities and a healthy personality, you'll have as good a shot as anyone else in the admissions process (it's virtually impossible to 100%guarantee that you'll get into the medical school that you want). In the above scenario, your chances of admission would likely be equally good whether you are a science major or a non-science major. I always encourage people to study what they like, and to do their absolute best in that area.

    However, in Tim's defense, I think he's working along the lines of something that both he and I, as second year medical students, are encountering. Medical school is hard stuff. You will be expected to learn, and retain an incredibly vast amount of material. In the States, and to a lesser degree in Canada, these test scores in first and second year, your USMLE Step 1 board scores, and your clinical evaluations in third and fourth year will determine whether you get into the residency of your choice.

    As a result, as a non-science major, you will almost certainly have a more difficult time in medical school if only because other people in your class have already covered the Microbiology/Biochem/Anatomy etc, and you are expected to learn it to the same depth as your peers on your first pass through med school. My experience is that repetition and practice problems are the key to retaining this information. Your science class-mates already have been taught much of this material at least once, and they will be your competition for residency spots.

    In the end, if you don't get into the residency that makes you happy, then you've got to settle for something less. How bad that really is depends on the individual.

    One final note. A high match percentage rate isn't necessarily indicative of a highly competitive school. It could simply mean that many of that school's graduates are matching into more available specialties. For example, in Canada, McMaster University has one of the highest first-choice match rates. However, the school has quite a bit of emphasis on graduating primary care doctors, and in general, those positions aren't that difficult to match into. I would be far more impressed with a school's high match rate if I heard that a large percentage of its graduates matched into difficult residencies like: ophtho, derm, ortho, ENT, urology, etc.

    Ian, MS2
    Premed Advice Page
    jb94mg likes this.

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