Choosing a major can be one of the most stressful things for a college student to do! I talked to hundreds of early students who wonder what the “best major” for a premed is. That’s a loaded question with all kinds of different possible answers. There is no single best “premed major”. It depends on each scenario, but I wanted to outline a few key concepts that everyone should consider when choosing a major as a premedical student.
Biology major. Biology major. Biochemistry major. Biology major. That’s your typical stack of medical school applicants. Imagine if you could insert something interesting in there like “Beatles, popular music, and society”. Okay, that may be extreme, but the idea would be that you would be a great science student who gets A’s in all your premed classes, does science research and volunteers at hospitals but also brings a completely unique major to the table.
There are a lot of great majors out there that have nothing to do with science or medicine. They may make you an attractive candidate to medical schools because you bring a whole new perspective to the incoming class. I always encourage people to major in non-science fields, however, you have to keep the premed curriculum in mind when you decide to do so. And with the new MCAT coming out in 2015, there are even more courses added to the mix. Remember, every premedical student has to take the classes below. That’s a lot of classes! In fact, it’s over 18 courses. With each semester in college allowing you to take 4-5 classes, the premed curriculum could take up as much as 50% of your coursework. That becomes difficult with certain majors that have no overlap with the premedical curriculum, so you should make sure to plan ahead if you are going to choose a non-science major.
One factor that premeds overlook too often when choosing a major is how they will be able to maintain a great GPA. Remember, your GPA is incredibly important in your premed process! If you are a biomedical engineering major with a 3.2 GPA versus an English major with a 4.0 GPA, the 4.0 wins out every day of the week, despite the potentially more difficult curriculum of a biomedical engineer! You should keep in mind your ability to succeed and maintain a great GPA in the major you choose.
You should major in something that you are interested in. You will spend 4 years dedicating yourself to classes in your major. You better enjoy it! If you don’t, your grades will suffer. And even if you are planning to go to medical school, college is a time where you can learn about something different from medicine. It’s amazing how little what you learn in college will be a part of your everyday life as a physician, no matter what major you are, so it’s great if you can diversify yourself! If you are passionate about film as well as medicine, be a non-traditional premed who majors in film. If you truely are mainly interested in the sciences, don’t be afraid to go for the traditional life science majors.
Finding the perfect major also involves understanding your undergraduate institution’s curriculum, requirements, and pathways. So you need to take into account many of these factors when you decide what you want to major in!
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