The Best Colleges for Pre-Med Students
April 20, 2020
The Best Colleges for Pre-Med Students
Whether you’ve known all your life that you want to be a doctor or it’s something you’ve realized more recently, you’re sure that medicine is the right path for you. Even though you might know that medical school has your attention, there’s an important step in the middle: undergrad. As a high school student interested in medicine, you’re here because you’re in search of the best colleges for pre-med students.
Although there’s no specific “pre-med major,” there are schools which have gained recognition for providing some of the best resources, networking options, and access to facilities when it comes to academic and extracurricular opportunities. To help you decide which schools might hold a place on your list, we’ve outlined some of the best colleges for pre-med students along with how to boost your application as you prepare.
The Best Colleges for Pre-Med Students
This might come as a surprise entry on the list of best colleges for pre-med students, but 75-100% of Bates College alumni have been admitted to medical schools each year. Bates is a liberal arts school that provides students with a supportive environment to pursue their love for medicine. The college has compiled a list of healthcare professionals in the Lewiston area, including alumni, who provide pre-meds with insights into finding shadowing, volunteering, and internship opportunities. The school grants students access to the CMMC Family Practice Residency Program, where you can shadow at the Family Medicine Clinic and receive mentorship from interns and residents. Although most Bates applicants to medical school receive a B.S. degree in Biology, Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, or Neuroscience, others have also concentrated outside the sciences in subjects such as English and Psychology.
Bowdoin is part of the Northeast Consortium on Medical Education (NECOME), a group that includes nine medical schools and nine undergraduate institutions. The Office of Health Professions Advising at Bowdoin prides itself on helping undergraduates explore their specific interest within the field of medicine. Bowdoin also provides resources for students to build their extracurricular profile and network through panel presentations and discussions with health care providers, medical students, and professional school admissions representatives.
The Health Careers Advising team at Brown helps students starting their freshman year to begin finding the right balance between getting their pre-med prerequisites in while exploring the freedom provided by Brown’s Open Curriculum. Alongside guiding students through their pre-medical coursework, Brown is also home to the Program in Liberal Medical Education. If you know for certain that you want to pursue medicine after college, you should look into PLME, an extremely competitive program that allows students to be admitted not only to Brown for undergrad, but to Warren Alpert Medical School. Of course, to be admitted to a BS/MD program, you have to demonstrate the ability to keep up with challenging coursework and a commitment to the field through your extracurriculars.
Duke has a highly comprehensive team that helps students from the get-go. From guiding pre-meds through how to begin using their checklists and tips, to finding extracurricular experiences and assisting with gap year planning, Duke’s board is equipped to help you strengthen your application. The home of the Blue Devils is a wonderful place to gear yourself up for medical school, as Duke University’s Medical Center alone offers 42 volunteering opportunities for pre-med students! Duke affiliated physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and physical therapists who are interested in allowing pre-meds to shadow them fill out a form which is then shared with students. The university sets up pairs with these professionals to ensure Duke pre-meds get enough extracurricular experience while at the college.
Hamilton College in Clinton, New York is a hidden gem for pre-med students. The school partners with larger universities such as Columbia, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Tufts to guide students in seeking research opportunities and internships in the medical field. The college further awards 90 students with grants to conduct research in the sciences under Hamilton faculty every year. The school’s location in Oneida County allows for numerous volunteering opportunities relevant to healthcare including the Community Outreach and Opportunity Project, which helps students find community engagement experiences that resonate with them.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins is one of the biggest names in medicine, and its undergraduate pre-health advising team is no different when it comes to supporting students. Johns Hopkins is a wonderful option for those seeking the best colleges for pre-med students as it’s a place where you can get plenty of lab experience through the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Design Lab, the Undergraduate Teaching Labs (UTL) and the Applied Physics Laboratory. You’ll also receive the opportunity network with members of the Johns Hopkins schools of Medicine and Nursing, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.
Ranked the number one national university in the country, Princeton is a regular among lists featuring the best colleges for pre-med students. Princeton ensures that students have access to everything they need to build their profile. This includes summer opportunities such as Wilderness & Emergency Medicine Course in Colorado and Health Care Culture & Careers in New York City.
Meanwhile, if you want to solidify your community engagement and clinical experience, Princeton partners with various organizations, such as suicide hotlines, meal delivery services to lower income families, and local animal shelters. The Princeton Office of Undergraduate Research also helps students find opportunities tailored to their specific interests such as the chance to work with elderly patients and the opportunity to increase health awareness in local elementary schools. No matter what you’re looking for out of your pre-med experience, taking advantage of opportunities at this college can make your application look quite impressive.
The Rice Premedical Society holds a big presence in the lives of future physicians at the school. The group organizes the Big Owl/Little Owl Program, which connects undergraduates to current medical students and physician mentors. It also hosts the Medical Speaker Conference, which features physicians, researchers, and professors from Rice and the Texas Medical Center to explore topics in medicine. Like Brown, Rice also has a guaranteed admission BS/MD program with the Baylor College of Medicine. Six incoming freshmen each year are selected to pursue a four-year bachelor's degree at Rice along with guaranteed admission to Baylor through the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program. Unlike at Brown, where students must be admitted to both programs to attend the school, students can be admitted to Rice first and then apply for this opportunity.
Another highly prestigious school, Stanford’s resources help undergrads interested in medicine find their stride. Stanford’s connections and location have allowed the university to provide students with volunteering opportunities both with local groups such as On Lok Senior Health Services in San Francisco to more well-known organizations such as Planned Parenthood. Stanford is also home to the Stanford Immersion in Medicine (SIMS), which provides current Stanford students who are interested in pursuing medicine with the opportunity to shadow physicians at Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, and the Palo Alto VA Hospital. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in good academic standing are eligible to apply to the program.
Union is a liberal arts school that offers pre-med students access to individualized opportunities that strongly support their medical school applications, particularly when it comes to study abroad programs and volunteering initiatives. Union College is located near the Albany Medical Center, as well as Community Hospice of Schenectady, Eddy Senior Care, Joan Nicole Prince Home (for terminally ill individuals), Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital, and Center for Disability Services, all of which welcome volunteers from the school. Union’s study abroad offerings in Australia, England, Italy, China, Cuba, and Ireland allow undergraduates to explore internships and classes related to health, while the school’s National Health Systems term gives them a chance to travel and compare healthcare across different countries.
How to Prepare Your Application
Coursework and Scores
Now that you’ve got an idea of some of the best colleges for pre-med students, it’s time to think about how to frame your application. Remember that “pre-med” isn’t really a major, but more a track with recommended coursework and extracurriculars that will support your application for medical school.
You can apply to college for whichever major appeals to you the most — as long as you’ve challenged yourself in high school and excelled in your courses. Enroll in the most rigorous classes — take AP or IB courses, and make sure you do well in them. It’s particularly important to have STEM courses under your belt. Performing well in your Biology or Chemistry SAT subject tests can further convey your interest and prowess to colleges.
If you do know you want to pursue medicine after college, admissions officers would expect to see relevant extracurriculars and leadership opportunities. Think about traits that people look for in doctors — empathy, commitment, altruism, etc. As you choose your activities, consider how your involvements can showcase these characteristics. Admissions officers want to see you take initiative, but also collaborate with others. So, prioritize leadership and teamwork — for example, you can build a network of people volunteer as blood donors to support members of your community or start a student organization that spearheads fundraisers when anyone in your neighborhood needs help.
Volunteer opportunities and internships in the STEM can also showcase your candidacy as a pre-med applicant. If you find one of the research opportunities for high school students, it will certainly act as a bonus!
Use your personal statement and supplemental essays to further solidify your interest in a medical career. You don’t necessarily have to write about why you want to be a doctor — that’s what your medical school application is for a few years down the line! Your Common App essay can expand on who you are and what matters to you — highlight a part of your background or experiences that have prepared you to go down this path. How have you helped out in your community? Is there an incident that exemplifies your compassion? Make sure you provide the best colleges for pre-med students with the chance to get a sense of your personality and what makes you a unique candidate.
Now that you know some of the best colleges for pre-med students, it’s time to figure out how to tailor your application to suit your specific interests and goals. Remember that thousands of students want to be a doctor, so it’s key that you bring a unique approach to your intellectual pursuits. Think carefully about what each school can provide as you make your list and hopefully, you’ll find the perfect fit for you. Good luck!