Premed 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:
1. Strong aptitude in science
- Students should demonstrate this by excelling in the required courses and doing well on the MCAT.
2. Demonstration of humanistic qualities
- Long term commitment to helping others
- An interest in people
3. Evidence that your decision to become a physician has been tested in reality
- Experience working with patients
- Exposure to the patient/doctor relationship
- Self-assessment of how your qualities/traits are a good fit for a career as a physician
Will I be a competitive applicant?
In our workshops and appointments, we help students assess the strength of their application.
Here are some common 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, consider meeting with a Health Professions adviser about your decision to apply.
Important academic factors include:
1. Taking the required coursework
2. Completing the MCAT
3. Choosing a major that truly interests you:
- Med schools are interested in diverse educational backgrounds.
- Your career goal may change; choose a major that can provide a good foundation for alternative career choices
- There is no specific premed major at NU. See our advice for Choosing a Major if you need assistance.
Your non-academic activities are also important, and good ones include:
- Clinical experience/service
- Campus/community Involvement
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 a health professions adviser to plan accordingly.
Review our Applying to Medical School handout!
- Attend premed general information session
- Attend medical school events
- 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 health professions adviser
- Attend workshops/events
Note: All students/alumni can use our drop-in hours for quick questions.