Our Pre-Health advisors are dedicated to guiding you on your journey toward a successful and fulfilling career in healthcare. We offer comprehensive support tailored to your individual aspirations and unique interests. Whether you're pursuing a path in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, or any other health-related field, we are here to assist you in charting your academic journey and equipping you to make informed decisions about your future.
Frequently Asked Questions
In general, it is a better strategy to succeed in a more advanced course than to repeat a course for a higher grade. If you don't feel you have the necessary foundation to proceed in a discipline, then you should repeat the class. However, both your grades will be counted towards your GPA when you apply to professional school so retaking a class will not replace the original grade. Note that individual schools set their own policies concerning whether or not a C- grade will satisfy their prerequisite requirement. If you have a C- in a required course, you should consult the websites of all the schools you plan to apply to regarding their policy.
You should repeat a class if you receive a D or F. Such a grade suggests you do not understand the material sufficiently or there was some other significant problem that prevented your success. Medical schools will expect you to remedy these concerns by repeating the course, however, both grades will be factored into your GPA for admissions consideration.
Professional schools can be wary of applicants who must withdraw from classes, especially when there is no compelling explanation or if it occurs often. There are often many factors to consider before taking a W, such as the effect it will have on future courses, the grade you might receive should you stay in a course and the reason why you may need to withdraw. It is recommended you discuss this decision with your academic or pre-health advisor if you have questions about the advisability of this decision.
All pre-medical requirements should be taken for a letter grade and, for the majority of medical schools, you must earn a “C” or higher in those courses. We do not recommend taking any suggested pre-med courses or requirements pass-fail (S/U).
There is no required or preferred major for professional school. You should select a major based on your interest and abilities, not whether you think it will help you gain entrance into professional school. You will need to complete the required pre-health courses regardless of your chosen major. For students who do not major in a life science, it is recommended that you enroll in a few additional science courses beyond those minimally required as part of your elective choices. If you want to go to the most selective medical schools, this is a must.
If there is a compelling reason to enroll in summer school classes, it is fine to do so. In general, if alternatives exist, you should explore these first. Try to minimize the number of premedical science courses in the summer if possible and don't use summer school as a way to lighten your load during the regular academic year. Admissions committees want to know you can succeed during substantial academic activity.
Many medical schools accept community college coursework to satisfy prerequisites; however, we recommend that you take the vast majority of your required courses here at Tulane (this does not apply to transfer students). Medical schools look for patterns- so if you have taken one or two courses at another university (or community college) that is generally fine, as long as you are doing well here at Tulane. If you consistently take all or most of your prerequisites somewhere other than Tulane, it may raise a red flag for medical school admissions committees.
Many schools will accept AP credit to fulfill some or all of their prerequisites. This is not 100% consistent across all medical schools, however, and students should consult individual medical school web pages for individual policies. Generally, it is recommended that applicants take more advanced courses in the subject for which they received AP credit - whenever it is possible to do so.
Dental schools tend to have stricter policies in some cases regarding AP credits. It is important to check school websites for their specific policies early, in case additional coursework is needed.
Nearly every medical school requires a minimum of 6 credit hours, or two courses, in English. While some medical schools may accept literature in translation or writing intensive courses in other departments, it is best to simply take two English courses, as some schools are sticklers about that. Any two courses in the English department are fine, although generally an emphasis on writing is preferred.
In a word, yes. Having a solid foundation of knowledge about the career path you have chosen is essential to most professional schools. As such, it is imperative that you spend time in a clinical setting, observing practitioners and working with patients. This can be in a variety of settings but it is essential that you witness the delivery of health care by a trained professional. It is also desirable to have experience interacting with patients in a healthcare setting, which can be accomplished in a variety of ways including pediatric wards, nursing homes, talking to patients in hospital setting, etc.
Professional schools want assurance that your motivation to be a medical professional is your own and you have not been pressured to do so. Consequently, you must demonstrate through your experiences that you have confirmed that this is the career path for you.
Research is not required for admission to professional school but is viewed favorably should you choose this as one of your experiential activities. Some medical schools will have concerns if you don't have research experience but most are more interested in your clinical and community service experiences. It is important to be active outside of the classroom and conducting research is one valuable way to use your time. If you want to go to any of the most competitive MD programs or to an MD/PhD program you will certainly need research experience.
Community service demonstrates that you have the personal attributes desired in a healthcare professional. By placing yourself in situations where you are serving people in need, it shows that you are caring, compassionate, responsive, etc. The kind of community service you pursue can vary widely; ideally, you should be intensely involved with people in need over a period of time long enough so that you may have an impact. Likewise, significant and substantiated involvement in campus organizations signifies an investment in your community. Acquiring leadership roles in this way is seen favorably by admissions committees. As you plan your extracurriculars, remember quality of experience is more important than quantity.
For optimal consideration by medical schools, it is recommended that you take the MCAT exam by the end of May and not later than the middle of June in the year that you plan to apply. There may be a disadvantage in taking the exam much later as schools will not carefully consider your application until they receive these scores. Other applicants will already have their file reviewed and possibly receive interview invitations before your file is reviewed. Perhaps more importantly, however, if you have an unfavorable MCAT score, you will already have invested considerable time and money in the application process before you receive your scores. This costs you valuable time and money that you could have put towards more productive pursuits. There are instances when a later MCAT is a viable option and these should be discussed with the pre-health advisor.
The DAT can be scheduled at any time although applicants should complete the exam during the summer of the year they plan to apply. Delaying the date of your exam will delay your application. Since interviews begin in the early fall, it is to your advantage to provide dental schools with all the necessary information as soon as possible. This includes your DAT scores. You receive the results of your DAT immediately after you complete the exam.
The OAT can be scheduled any time through a prometrics testing site. There is a 90 day waiting period between examinations should you desire to repeat the exam. Optimal time by which to complete the exam varies from school to school, but in order to utilize the HPAO Committee Process, you should complete the OAT by October 30 of your application year.
You should only retake the exam if you were not adequately prepared the first time or if you had a bad experience that day. Most applicants do not significantly change their score unless they significantly change their preparation. Since medical schools vary in how they view multiple MCAT results (some take the highest, others the most recent, others an average of all exams) applicants should plan to take the exam only once and NEVER TAKE THE EXAM UNLESS YOU HAVE FULLY PREPARED.