Two questions for experienced pre-med students

Discussion in 'hSDN' started by ATLHawks, Mar 6, 2012.

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  1. ATLHawks


    Aug 2, 2011
    I recently found out that I have not been accepted into my BS/MD program, so it looks like I'm going the regular pre-med route. I have some things I need help with now.

    1.) My Major Issue (No pun intended): I have been bouncing back and forth in deciding a major and I am still in high school. I understand that it would be best to do a major that interests me. I think Biology would fit my interests, but I am honestly afraid of taking Calculus because I am struggling with it now. I feel that if I major in psychology, my other choice, I would be able to take and easier math to ease my college experience. Do most medical schools recommend Calculus anyway? Although I am struggling with Calc now, should I fear it in college?

    2.) Now that I know that I do not have a conditional acceptance to a medical school, I want to make sure that I am doing the best I can from the start. This means I want to get a head start in extracurriculars, volunteer hours, research, and of course studying for my MCAT; I feel overwhelmed right now though. Where should I start? I am considering keeping a log from now of all my extracurriculars, service and clinical hours. Is this a good idea?Thanks.
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  3. aSagacious

    aSagacious Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    Moving to hSDN.
  4. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136 5+ Year Member

    Nov 5, 2011
    1.) Most med schools don't require calculus, but you need a math credit like stats. Don't choose your major based on if you have to take calculus or not. If you want to major in bio, then do it and take calculus like a man.

    2.) Dont worry about the MCAT for now. Get started volunteering in a hospital. Think of a non-medical volunteering experience that would enjoy doing. Keep at both of these until you apply, longevity is important. Try to get research, although it might be hard as a freshmen (I pulled it off, so can you). Think of possible ways to get leadership experience (possibly join a club with the intent of being an officer one day, or start your own club). A volunteer hour log is a very good idea.
  5. SLC

    SLC Lock, Step, & Gone (Graduated!!!) 7+ Year Member

    Mar 24, 2010
    The Empire
    Log for EC's is a good idea, don't need to go overboard with it but use it to jot down general info about your experiences (like supervisors, neat stories, and a general summary of your hours) these things can be tough to remember a few years down the road when you go to apply.

    Don't sweat the MCAT, it's not that bad of a test. Work hard on your Pre-requisite classes, strive to understand them well rather than just earn the A at any cost. There's a difference between going through the motions without really understanding things, and spending a bit more time to really nail down the concepts. The few big concepts you learn in each class seem to come up all the time in medical school. Example: knowing a specific organic synthesis process won't help you in medical school, but understanding the principles that make it work the way it does will. That's where you should focus your energy.
    If you can do that effectively, you shouldn't have to study much for the MCAT to do well. It's a remarkably simple test looking back on it now. I didn't even study at all and pulled a 30, and I was a fairly well established underachiever (by pre-med standards), but I built a rock solid basic science foundation that helped my sail through the MCAT and has made M1 pretty low stress so far.

    As far as college major is concerned. Do whatever you want, and whatever you can excel in. I always advise people to treat their major like a backup plan. There's a good chance that you will never make it to medical school (most drop out of the process before they even take the MCAT, and for those that apply, many never get accepted); so do something you would be happy doing as a career because it may end up being just that for you. I liked EMS, so I did an EMS management degree that allowed me to get college credit to become a paramedic, air ambulance was my backup plan and I would have been very happy with that if medicine didn't work out for me. If you could see yourself as a biologist then that's convenient for you because you'll have less courses to take. My major was awesome for me, but basically non of the pre-med curriculum counted toward graduation so it was all taken as electives, which sucked at times.

    You're just getting going, with a very long road ahead of you. Don't freak just yet, you've got to find your groove in undergrad before working on medical school admissions. Walk before you run and all that....

    Best of luck.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  6. Donald Juan

    Donald Juan 5+ Year Member

    May 22, 2011
    1.) If you're not sure what major you want to do at this point, then you could declare "biology" for the time being, or just be undecided. You will need to take 1 yr bio, genchem, ochem, and physics as a requirement for medical school, and you will also have core requirements like english that you have to take regardless. Also, be aware that the 2015 MCAT basically requires knowledge of intro psychology and sociology so you could also take those courses. Basically, regardless what major you choose, you have a lot of classes that you will need to take and you'll have time to decide.

    Calculus is required for some schools, if you are taking Calc in high school, you could take it easy and take pre calc at the college level before taking Calc 1. That's what most college students do anyway.

    Do realize that if you are a psych major then you will have to take additional classes, or use many of your electives on covering your pre-med requirements. If you are a bio major the mandatory classes will likely cover everything you need for med school.

    2.) Don't worry too much about research and volunteering your first year of college, unless you just find yourself with a ton of time on your hands. You should focus on getting into college curriculum and doing well in your classes. Also, the best thing you can do for your mcat at this point is to learn your intro science classes as well as possible. Some people here might say that you won't remember the information by the time you take your mcat, but I'll call bs on anybody that says so. Taking the class and doing well the first time will make mcat studying a lot easier than if you never knew it at all.

    With that being said, Yes: keep a log now of anything you do that you plan on putting on your application. It will make it a lot easier when you are actually applying.
  7. QuizzicalApe

    QuizzicalApe 5+ Year Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    I was a bio major going into college, and switched into neuroscience by the end of the first year because I figured I'd like it more, and was right about that.

    I also took AP calc in high school and basically sucked at it. Later, I ended up slotting it into my schedule as a summer course and completely dominated it. The combination of doing nothing but calc for weeks and it being review of something I had already learned was pretty ace. Being a better learner b that point didn't hurt either.
  8. ATLHawks


    Aug 2, 2011
    What's funny about that is I actually have Neuroscience as my current major kinda as a place holder. I figured that it would be the same as bio with all the additional math courses. How difficult would Neuroscience be compared to the other two majors?
  9. QuizzicalApe

    QuizzicalApe 5+ Year Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    Depends largely on the faculty involved and the specific required courses for Neuroscience at your institution.

    The curriculum as a whole might be easier for you than biology, at least it seemed that way where I was, just because I had to take some psych courses as requirements, and psych ain't no thang. In some ways it can be more challenging because some courses might require you to learn the 3D structure of the brain which can be tricky to reconstruct in your mind from looking at three different slide orientations.

    Ultimately, whatever you enjoy learning will come easier to you than whatever you are forced to learn.

    I went with Neuro because I thought brains were super cool.

    Plus, if you're interested in research, relative to biology it is a smaller field so you're more likely to make connections and work on something novel and cool if you're at a decently academic institution. I wasn't interested in research, but whatever floats your boat
  10. Lil Mick

    Lil Mick 5+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2009
    The South
    Major in whatever interests you. It really doesn't matter for medical school. And don't be afraid of Calc. If you're taking it now, it will be easier when you retake it during college :)
  11. Prncssbuttercup

    Prncssbuttercup Established Member -- Family Medicine Resident 5+ Year Member

    I posted this earlier today in the non-trad forum...
    Do what makes you happy, and don't worry about difficulty or type of major. If you can get a 4.0 in a psych major and still do well in your science courses, do it. If you will do well in a bio major do that. The almighty GPA is more important than anything, and for goodness sake do not do what I did, which is take all the 'hard' courses instead of the ones that will fulfill the requirements and are easier! They don't care that you took a harder organic chemistry or general chemistry, they care that you have an A!

    For the record, your BS/MD pathway wasn't a conditional acceptance to med school. You would still have had to make a min 3.75 gpa (or likely that high) and score at least a 30+ on your MCAT. Do not fret that you will be doing a traditional route, and FYI, some schools will still grant you an MD/DO if you start school without a bachelors but have at least 90 credits... :)

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