What to Ask Your PreMed Advisor
- by Fehbe Meza
- Oct 21, 2019
- MCAT Blog, Pre-Med Support
Written By Madeline Zamzow, Next Step MCAT Tutor
One of the very first things you need to do when you become a pre-med (or even when you’re thinking about it) is take a visit to your school’s pre-med advising office. As the year progresses you may find yourself meeting with your pre-med advisor regularly. This is a fantastic opportunity to plan both your courses and extracurriculars to fulfill medical school admissions requirements and discuss the medical school application process. Not only can these advisors be a wealth of information on how to succeed as a pre-medical student at your particular university, but they also likely have knowledge about other resources offered by your school to help you succeed academically and personally. Knowing the right questions to ask will help you to access this information and knowledge! Below are nine questions that will help you get the most of your meetings with your pre-med advisor.
1. Can you tell me about some of your previous advisees who have successfully obtained admission to medical school and what they did to succeed?
This is a great question to start with because it not only allows you to understand what previous students from your university have done to be successful; it also allows you to better understand your advisor’s background and experiences in the field of medical school admissions.
2. Which courses would you recommend I take and when?
Completing the correct college courses at the correct time is not only essential to completing medical school admissions requirements but is also essential to success on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). Not only will your premed advisor be able to help you figure out how to complete all the required courses, but they can also advise you on how to create a course schedule that best prepares you for the exam because, unsurprisingly, there are college courses that help you on the MCAT.
3. What opportunities are there to get involved outside of my classes that will make me a more successful medical school candidate?
While success on the MCAT and in your courses are essential, they are not the only important medical school admissions requirements. Being involved outside the classroom is necessary to confirm medicine is the right career for you and to make you a more well-rounded medical school applicant. Your advisor can help connect you with opportunities to gain exposure to the clinical environment, find meaningful volunteer and research opportunities, and give advice on how to balance these commitments with your academic work.
4. What resources are available to me if I find I am struggling either academically or personally with the stresses of the pre-medicine process?
Everyone needs help sometimes and knowing where to go for help when you need it will be vital to your success in navigating the pre-med process. Your advisor should be able to provide you with information about tutoring, counseling and other support systems in place at your university. Having this information before you need it will allow you to get the help you need quickly if issues arise.
5. Will you or an advising committee be writing a letter of recommendation for me when it comes time for me to apply?
Many universities have the pre-medical advisor of the student or an advising committee write a letter of recommendation for the applicant. By knowing who will be writing this letter, and possibly what this process looks like, you will be able to build strong relationships with those individuals and ensure you submit any needed materials on time.
6. What are your tips for having strong letters of recommendation?
Your advisor may work closely with many of the people you may someday be asking for a letter of recommendation. This means they may have the inside scoop on who to ask to write you a letter of recommendation and how to best ask them. However, even if your advisor is not familiar with faculty members they will still likely have great advice on how to select your writers and how to approach those individuals with your request.
7. When should I begin the process of applying to medical school?
The timing of one’s applications to medical schools is an important factor in obtaining admission. Even if you have exceeded all the medical school admissions requirements and have excellent extracurricular experiences, applying too late in a cycle of medical school applications can have a negative impact on your success. By discussing the application timeline with your advisor far in advance you will set yourself up to have the best chance at gaining admission to a medical school.
8. How should I decide how many medical schools to apply to and which ones to apply to?
The American Association of Medical Colleges reports that, on average, applicants to medical school submit applications to 16 schools. Since this is only an average, your advisor can help you more accurately create a list that matches your passions and experiences to medical schools. This will not only increase your chances of success in obtaining admission to medical school, but it will also make sure the schools you apply to are a good fit for your personality and goals.
9. What other resources are available to help with the application process?
There are likely other resources available at your university to help you succeed as a medical school applicant. Some schools may direct you to MCAT prep courses. Additionally, many schools offer services such as proofreading and interview practice which can drastically improve the quality of your application and therefore your chances of admission.
Your premedical advisor is a wealth of information, advice, and resources. Knowing which questions to ask will help you be equipped to tap into their expertise in both completing the medical school admissions requirements and navigating pre-med life. These questions will help you start a conversation with your advisor and make sure you are getting the most important information to be a successful student.
One inescapable part of becoming a pre-med is taking the MCAT exam. When you’re ready to start prepping, we’re here for you. Next Step is a leader in representative MCAT prep. The Next Step Online MCAT Course was created by experts with 524+ MCAT scores, including MDs and PhDs. We constantly update our MCAT practice tests to reflect the latest AAMC interface and changes; get a free full-length by signing up for the Free MCAT Practice Bundle. If you need more individualized attention, our MCAT tutors provide one-on-one MCAT tutoring personalized to address your unique needs and weaknesses. What works for some may not work for all, so it’s important to find the right MCAT prep that works for you. Schedule a free consultation with our experienced Academic Managers to start you on the path to MCAT success.
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