Whatever the reason might be, transferring schools is not an easy task. If you are contemplating a transfer, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of such a decision against your passion for pursuing a career in medicine. The following tips will help you out:
Pre-med programs put you on the fast track to med school. However, not every future doctor knows they want to attend med school the moment they enter undergrad. Many students end up joining other programs and transfer to pre-med midway through. Others transfer between two different pre-med programs. The common reasons are often financial issues, low GPA scores, and improper planning during the college application process.
Get Your Financials In Order
A pre-med program, in theory, is just like any other major with a requisite number of theory and lab credits in chemistry, physics, and biology. However, if you factor in observerships, and relevant internships, many of which cost money, the expenses stack up fast.
If finances were the first time around, you need to have a solution now if you want to change your circumstances. The two most important main sources of external funding that you will have at your disposal are:
- Federal Student Aid- You’ll need to apply through FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal loans. Make sure you get your documentation in order well ahead of time to avoid last-minute pileups.
- College Scholarship Service- Scholarships through the CSS are a form of non-federal financial aid offered by member institutions of the College Board. Unlike the FAFSA, a CSS profile provides a deeper insight into a prospective student’s family and financial backgrounds to determine their eligibility for institutional aid.
Put In Extra Study Time for the MCAT
The Medical College Admission Test(MCAT) is the main entryway for admissions to medical schools in the United States. MCAT scores are used to apply to MD programs (accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education) and DO programs (accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation). It is a highly competitive exam, and average MCAT scores have breached the 510 marks (out of 528) for the fourth consecutive year.
The students who’ve already completed a year of their pre-med program will likely be more prepared than you. To close the gap, here are some effective MCAT prep strategies for you to consider:
- Join Study Groups- It helps connect with other MCAT aspirants and share relevant information like effective study plans, books, and so on.
- Attempt Practice Tests- Practice tests familiarize you with the exam pattern and the type of questions asked. Use online resources to find the best MCAT practice tests and regularly attempt them to keep track of your preparation and weaknesses.
- Consider Online Coaching- Online coaching classes are a great compromise if you cannot avail of in-person tutoring but still want an effective and competitive study environment for your prep.
Connect With Other Prospective Transfer Students
If you feel overwhelmed by school, the transfer process, and the MCAT, you can always reach out and connect with other transfer students to help you out. They’re likely in the same boat as you are and can help with your transfer applications, funding options, exchange resources like books and past papers.
You can also consider forming a study group with them since every one of you will be attempting the MCAT and applying to med schools some years down the line. On the off chance that you end up in the same program as them, you will feel much more comfortable in a completely new academic environment.
Get Experience Through Extracurriculars
Medical school is long and hard. However, almost all medical programs have lower-than-expected dropout rates between 15-18 percent. It is because of how the medical schools judge a student’s suitability for the program. Therefore, extracurriculars are an important metric in your med school application. While a high GPA signifies your ability to grasp advanced subject knowledge, relevant extracurricular activities are a testament to your passion, zeal, and tenacity to obtain practical knowledge.
You can start by volunteering at places like care homes, clinics, etc. can help you get to experience that students already in pre-med school have already been building up. You can also get connected with a pre-med supervisor for advice on how to go about clinical internships to build a strong background for your med school applications.
Reach Out to Your Professors and Advisors
One of the best ways to obtain advice regarding the complicated transfer process is to simply ask your professors and college advisors. The advisors will help you keep your stay on track and provide you with relevant information about the transfer process. On the other hand, your professors will be able to help you out in the academic aspect of the application.
Letters of Recommendations(LORs) from your professors can make or break your transfer application. Be sure to stay engaged in your classes and maintain a good relationship with all your professors despite already obtaining a transfer.
Behind Every Success Story is a Proper Plan of Action
Transferring schools is a tough call in itself. You have to adapt to a new environment, a new program, make new friends – essentially rebooting your college life altogether. You also have to prepare for the MCAT and put in extracurricular hours to create a strong profile for your med school applications.
To avoid getting overwhelmed by the workload, you must create and stick to a proper action plan. The tips above will help you get started, but you’ll need to figure out your career goals and your academic strengths by yourself.