This timeline anticipates that you will begin your program in the fall following graduation. If you intend to delay applying, adjust the timeline to suit your plans; health-related programs have no particular age preference, seeking applicants with maturity and a clearly demonstrated interest in their field; thus, there is no inherent disadvantage in waiting to enter professional school if that is your desire.
Particularly in the case of medicine, the most critical element in the timing is to have your entire application complete by the end of summer before your senior year so that you can get an early interview date. That, in turn, allows the admission committee time to consider you before the spots begin to fill up and become increasingly competitive. Below are suggested activities to help you to prepare to apply for your program of choice; note that they are not meant to be used as a checklist, but as a guideline to be adapted to your program and interests.
First / Sophomore Years:
- Meet both with your advisor and with a member of the HSP Advisory Committee to plan a schedule of courses that meets all general degree requirements, requirements for the major, and school entrance requirements, while providing a balance that is realistic.
- Because GPA matters, do as well as possible in all your classes (realizing that grades are impacted by interest, hard work, and natural ability). If you are having a problem with any class, contact your professor for individual assistance right away.
- Buy an admission test (MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT, or GRE) prep book and begin to prepare for the test, noticing the overlap and gaps between your science course work and the topics covered by the test.
- Attend the Graduate and Professional School Fair in September in the Campus Center lobby to speak directly with admissions representatives from a range of health programs.
- If you are considering a semester or year abroad or in a city semester program, plan early so that you will not miss required courses while you're away. Information for study abroad programs is available at the Study Abroad Office.
- Consider and develop alternatives to the program you are considering.
- Check out program web sites during your sophomore year so that you can be familiar with their specific admission requirements or visit their web sites.
- Apply for a Richter Grant, or conduct some other research project to develop your skills in independent investigation.
- Choose a major you are genuinely interested in.
- Test your specific interests within the specific health-related profession by working or volunteering in that setting every possible summer and during the academic year as well, whenever possible.
- Obey college policies; many health-related professional schools request a letter from the Dean of Students outlining any violations you have had.
- Plan your admission test timing in conjunction with the HSP Advisory Committee. Note that you will need to take your test by the end of your Junior year.
Summer following Sophomore Year:
- Get clinical experience: set up job shadowing in the health field you're pursuing, or consider becoming a certified nursing assistant or emergency medical technician, so that you can explore how deep your interests are. For assistance, visit of the Office of Experiential Learning.
- If you think you might like to combine research with health care, begin doing research this summer and build on it next. Consider a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).
During Junior Year:
- Prepare for your admission test (MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT, or GRE). Prepare to dedicate a lot of your life to it; your competition will be.
Be sure to:
- Review or learn the specific material the test covers.
- Take as many practice tests as you can (full-length ones if possible).
- Consider taking a preparation course if you are unable to structure the time to study effectively for the test.
- Continue gaining research experience and volunteering in local hospitals.
- Draft your application essay, and share it with your faculty and the Career Center for their advice.
Summer following Junior Year:
- If you are interested in research, begin to explore project options with a faculty member.
- If you plan to apply to the early decision program (EDP), note that the standard EDP application period is from June 1 - August 1. Check the deadlines for the schools you are considering.
- For regular admission, it is a good idea to complete and submit your electronic application by the end of June if possible. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.
- Complete secondary applications, if required, by the end of the summer before your senior year (or as you receive them); keep copies of each application and record the date each of the application materials is sent.
- Volunteer in a health setting you plan to specialize in.
- If you plan to apply for an MD/PhD, continue to pursue a research project.
- Ask faculty and others to write letters of recommendation.
- Follow up with individual schools to check if your application file is complete; record the date that each file becomes complete.
- Prepare for interviews by: attending the HSP Group Interview session in the fall and scheduling a mock interview at the Career Center the week before your interview.
- At your actual interview, inquire about the notification process for that individual school.
- Search for sources of financial aid using the Internet and guides available through each school.
- Continue to take challenging courses and complete a Senior Thesis that involves novel research and the possibility of external presentation.
- Keep your grades up until graduation; admission to schools is conditional until schools have received your final transcript.