Pre-med Overview and Timeline
Jump to a topic:
- What are medical schools looking for?
- Academic preparation
- Non-academic, extracurricular involvement
- What's your next step?
Medical schools are looking for well-rounded, accomplished applicants with the following qualities:
- Strong aptitude in science. Students should demonstrate strength in this area by excelling in the required courses and doing well on the MCAT.
- Demonstration of humanistic qualities. Since the healthcare field revolves around helping people, your application should show that you have an interest in people and are committed to serving others.
- Evidence that your decision to become a physician has been tested in reality. Medical schools will want to see that you have experience working with patients, have observed the patient/doctor relationship, and have taken the time to make sure this is the right career/field for you.
Will I be a competitive applicant?
In our workshops and appointments, we help students assess the strength of their application through conversation about the qualities listed above, individual experiences, etc.
Advisers also want you to be aware of the factors that may weaken your application:
- The science gpa is below 3.0 (3.0 - 3.3. is still a grey area).
- The MCAT is below the national average (changes from year to year but typically 31).
- They have not had a chance to test their decision with clinical experience.
- They are ambivalent about pursuing a career in medicine
If any of those apply to you, meet with an adviser about your decision to apply. We would love to talk with you about ways to strengthen your application, as well as other options and pathways to a career in the health professions!
Important academic factors include:
- Taking the required coursework.
- Completing the MCAT.
- Choosing a major that truly interests you. Medical schools are interested in diverse educational backgrounds, and there is no specific pre-med major at Northwestern. Your career goals may change; choose a major that can provide a good foundation for alternative career choices.
Your non-academic activities are also important, and good activities include:
Get involved in activities that you really enjoy, not just to build a resume or "impress" medical schools.
This sample timeline is for students who intend to enter medical school the fall after graduating from NU. Often, students will opt to shift this timeline by a year or two to strengthen their application and/or pursue other opportunities. Students should talk with an adviser to plan accordingly.
Review our Applying to Medical School handout!
- Attend premed general information session
- Attend events and workshops that interest you
- If needed, meet with our freshmen premed adviser, Melissa Pollay (you must attend a premed general information session first)
Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, Alumni
- Schedule an appointment with a pre-med/pre-health adviser
- Attend workshops/events that interest you
Note: All students/alumni can use our drop-in hours for quick questions.