PreMed is a popular plan of study for students entering college. Medical careers are considered “recession-proof” so that’s part of the appeal. Students are also drawn to the opportunity to be well compensated in a career where they can help people.
Medical school admissions are highly competitive. Among the top 10 ranked medical schools according to US News the acceptance rate the average acceptance rate was only 2.5%. The average overall acceptance rate for medical schools is 5%.
If your homeschooler is considering a premed major it makes sense to start your research in high school and to discuss the following considerations.
High school matters
Homeschoolers who aspire to med school need to start their preparation in high school. That preparation should include: strong core academics, preferably on the most competitive path, strong ACT or SAT scores, and STEM emphasis, including quality lab sciences. Students aiming at selective schools should take the three core sciences – biology, chemistry, and physics during high school. The reason for taking this solid foundation is not just to get into college but to enter college prepared to get achieve top grades. Most students aiming at selective schools will take at least some college-level work in high school, either through APs or dual enrollment. Homeschoolers should note that even college work taken during high school through concurrent or dual enrollment options will typically be reported during graduate and professional school applications. College grades, no matter the age they were earned, matter.
Premed students have choice of major
While biology is the most popular premed major there are many choices available. All students who apply to med school will need to have taken core science and math requirements, but they can do so while opting for a wide variety of majors. Many people are surprised to find out there are students who major in political science, classics, or computer science and then go on to medical school. In fact, sometimes students with unconventional majors can actually stand out from the pile of applicants when it comes to med school admissions.
Medical schools want applicants who have developed their critical thinking and writing skills. The MCAT test for medical school admissions includes some emphasis on writing skills as well as being able to discuss science and medicine concerns in the context of society and culture. Students can prepare for this emphasis by taking courses in social and behavioral sciences such as psychology. The medical school admissions test also requires students to read passages about humanities and be able to answer critical reasoning questions. Students who have had a well-rounded education with the development of writing skills can be at an advantage on the MCAT.
Interviewing is also a key aspect of medical school admissions. So, students should develop their social and communication skills throughout college.
You may have heard of the idea of “weeder” classes. Courses such as introduction to biology or chemistry often function as a way to clear out students who may aspire to medical school. Organic chemistry is known to be a particularly difficult class. Many students’ path to medical school comes to a screeching halt as they struggle to pass these courses during freshman year. So, arm your premed homeschooler with the best high school preparation you can give them, so they are ready to succeed. It is important to realize that most students in these “weeder” classes will have done well in AP level science and math in high school. Even if your student is highly capable, if they do have that background, they will be at a disadvantage.
Grades and Service Matter
Med school admissions are incredibly competitive. Students pursuing med school need to have top grades in college, period. Medical school applicants are evaluated on a number of factors, including grades, MCAT scores, letters or recommendation, interviews, and extracurricular and volunteer experience. It is increasingly expected that students interested in medicine will devote time to learning about the career through patient care volunteer experiences and medical shadowing and internships. Still, overall grades and grades in math-science courses, remain the biggest determination of which students will be selected for medical school interviews. As student enters freshman year, grades should be a crucial and the most important area of focus. Students should carefully evaluate non-academic commitments (sports, work, etc.) to make sure classes are the top priority.
Develop your college list carefully
Some students assume they must attend an Ivy League or other high-prestige college for undergraduate in order to be competitive for med school. This is not the case. More important considerations include GPA, MCAT scores, service experience, and purpose for attending med school. A low GPA from a highly-ranked college will not position a student well for med school admissions.
Applicants are well advised to consider the full range of undergraduate options with consideration of opportunities and costs. Some colleges offer better support for undergraduate service and internships as well as more intensive support for medical school admissions. GPA is key, so make sure you don’t attend a college with grade deflation or such difficult standards to allow for strong grades and time to develop yourself outside of the classroom.
Im in homeschool and want to go to medical school one day. Can I get into college from homeschool by just studying what I need to and then take the SAT from there and make sure to complete my college courses then go from there?
I’m homeschooled and I don’t know how or what classes I’m really supposed to take to get into pre-med/med school.
My suggestion is visiting the websites of colleges you are interested in – or look at the printable under the resources section of this site. Premed students can major in any college major. You will want to have good STEM education in high school and do well in your math and science courses.