FAQ about "Pre-Med" at Wofford


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Wofford Resources:

·        Medicine [M.D.]

·        Osteopathic Medicine [D.O.]

·        Typical "premed" schedule

·        Premed/Predental advising letter

·        MCAT dates

·        Download COMMITTEE  evaluation form, in Acrobat Reader format

·        Download PHYSICIAN/CLINICAL evaluation form, in Acrobat Reader format

·        Dr. Moss' med school interview advice

FAQ about "Pre-Med" at Wofford

GENERAL:

REGISTERING FOR YOUR FIRST SEMESTER AT WOFFORD

QUALIFICATIONS:

MCAT:

CLINICAL EXPERIENCE:

APPLICATION, & LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

INTERVIEWS

OTHERS:

In the unlikely event that you have a question that isn't listed here, click here to email it to Dr. Moss!


1. How many students from Wofford apply to medical school?  And what percentage of those are accepted?

Qualified Wofford applicants are very successful. The number of applicants and the number of accepted to medical school varies year to year.

Since 1994, on average 23 "qualified" students have applied to medical school, and on average 18 of those have been accepted. We consider any student with at least a 3.2 GPA and at least a 25 MCAT to be a "qualified" applicant. Among qualified applicants, our overall acceptance rate is 78%. Among students not meeting these minimal criteria, only about 3% are accepted to medical school.


2. What should I major in? Should I double major?

We recommend that students major in what they are most interested in!  Most applicants major in biology, chemistry, or psychology.  And because the MCAT consists of biology, chemistry and physics, majoring in biology or chemistry will give you a bit of an advantage when taking the exam.

As far as what medical school admissions committees "prefer", most state that your specific undergraduate major or majors are not important.  It's the courses you've taken, the grades that you've earned, and the experiences you've accumulated that matter.   So for instance while becoming fluent in a foreign language will make you somewhat more competitive, whether or not you complete a major in that language isn't important. 

The most popular double major at Wofford is biology and foreign language.  The foreign language major, and the associated study abroad, provide many opportunities to expose you to other cultures and languages.  So if you enjoy foreign languages, we recommend it!  But do not feel that you will be at a disadvantage if you don't actually complete the second major.  If completing the second major would strain your ability to maintain a good GPA for instance, we would advise you to drop the second major.


3. Can I study abroad?

Yes!  Many premedical students have studied abroad, and we encourage it!

When you should study abroad is a more difficult question, which needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  For most students, the fall of the senior year is best, after completing your MCATs and your applications to medical school.  But if you are "ahead of the game" with A.P. redit for instance, you may be able to study abroad in your junior year.  Speak to your  premed advisor.  It's important to start your planning early.

You can see possible schedules at: http://webs.wofford.edu/mossre/hc/pdf/study_abroad.pdf


4. Do I need to take summer school?  If so, when and what and where?

It depends on what else you wish to do while you are at Wofford (e.g., study abroad or double major).  It does reduce the laboratory load during the year, especially for Biology majors in the junior year.  Many premedical students do devote a summer to physics, introductory chemistry or organic chemistry.

So until you lay out your plan with your premed advisor, you should plan on taking summer school either after your freshman, or after your sophomore year.

You can take these sciences at any accredited college/university, so long as the course has a lab, and is designed for science majors.  However, in order to get Wofford credit for the course, you may need to get it approved in advance, either by the Wofford Registrar or by the Chair of the department of the course you'd like to take.


5. What science should I take my first semester at Wofford?

That depends on what you plan to major in.  If you're not sure, go with "bio" or "chem":
- If you expect to major in chemistry, register for chem123.
- If physics, register for physics 141.
- If psychology, register for psych 150.
- If bio, or any other major not listed above, register for bio150.


6.  I’ve taken A.P. bio, and gotten a 4 or 5 on the exam.  Can I exempt bio150?  What science should I take?

            Bio 150 is a very different course than the one you took for A.P. biology.  So many students will choose to take bio150 even though they have A.P. credit.  If you're not going to major in bio, then yes, you may use your A.P. credits towards your general education science requirements, and/or skip bio150. 

         If you intend to major in biology, you may, after consulting with the Department chair (Dr. Goldey), be given permission to exempt Bio 150 if they have a particularly strong academic record in science and if other indicators of future academic performance (e.g., superior SAT, ACT scores) suggest that you are ready for more advanced work.   Such well prepared students may exempt Bio 150 and substitute Bio 212 (sophomore level genetics and molecular biology), or chemistry 123 for their first semester science.  

          We do encourage you to weigh carefully the decision of exempting Bio 150.  Moving up to sophomore level bio removes you from your incoming peer group.  In addition, Bio 150 seeks to build skills and competencies that are rarely taught in AP courses.  


7.  Can I take TWO science classes my first semester?

            We generally discourage students from taking two lab sciences their first semester on campus.  There will be many other demands on your time during your transition to college life.

            That said, if you've been getting A's in your science classes in high school, and don't feel like you've been overworked, you CAN opt to take both bio and chem.   And it WILL help to lighten your load later on.  One option would be to go ahead and register for both, and if you think during that first week of class that you’ve “bit off more…”, you can drop one.

 


8. What are the premedical course requirements?

In order to take the MCAT, every student applying to medical school will need:

  • Two semesters of physics
  • Two semesters of general chemistry
  • Two semesters of organic chemistry
  • One semester of biochemistry
  • At least two semesters of biology [bio212 and bio214]
  • One semester of psychology

Although the SC medical schools have no further requirements, a few medical schools will also require 4 credits of biochemistry. 

We also strongly recommend you take physiology before taking the MCAT.  Biology 150 and 151 will also be helpful, but some students will not be able to fit these in.


9. Which math/calculus courses should I take?

Although the SC medical schools have no math requirements, many other schools  will require 3-6 credits of math [including Duke, FSU and U of F, which require 6 credits].  We recommend you take 6: either two semesters of calculus, or one calculus plus statistics (math 140).  We also recommend you take statistics early in your career, as it will help you in many of your science classes.

As far as calculus, it doesn't matter whether you take math 160 (calculus for the social sciences) or math 181 (calculus).  But faculty who teach the course have suggested that science majors might enjoy 181 more, as the problems and examples used are more geared towards the sciences.

To qualify for the new scholarship offered by the state of SC, you must take 6 hours of math during your freshman year.


10. What GPA do I need to get into medical school?

Unfortunately there is no easy answer to this question.  The 'minimal successful' GPA will vary from year to year, and from med school to med school.  We can give you some guidance though:

  • - We consider a 3.2 the minimal acceptable GPA for a medical school application.  As you go below 3.2, it becomes more and more unlikely that you will be accepted directly out of college.
  • - The average GPA accepted to medical school tends to hover around 3.5.
  • - The higher your GPA, the higher your chances become.
  • - It's important to note that it's not your Wofford GPA that will be considered, but your GPA as calculated by the AAMC, on your "AMCAS" application.  Here all of your grades from accredited colleges are included.  So this includes grades you receive from summer school courses taken elsewhere for instance.  It also includes any grades you may have "replaced" at Wofford.  So for instance if you receive a 'C minus' in a course, and re-take it getting an 'A', only the 'A' counts in your Wofford GPA, but both the 'A' and 'C minus' count in the GPA that medical schools will see.

11. When should I take the MCAT?

Click here to see the dates for the MCAT.

See the discussion in the premed advising letter, at: http://webs.wofford.edu/mossre/hc/pdf/letter_2010.pdf


13.  Is there any way to predict what score I will get on the MCAT? What MCAT score do I need?

Most medical schools use your MCAT score as one of the key academic factors that they use to predict your success in medical school.  It's quite important that you do well.

Of course your performance on the MCAT will depend upon many things; your preparation for the exam the most important of them.  But in looking for correlations between many academic factors and MCAT, the only one that predicts MCAT score is your SATs!  That's not terribly surprising, as "standardized test taking ability" seems to play a major role in both exams.

We consider 25 to be the minimal acceptable MCAT for a medical school application.  As you go below 25, it becomes quite unlikely that you will be accepted directly out of college.

You should re-take the MCAT until your score reaches the average score for the medical schools you hope to attend.  The averages at the two SC schools tend to be in the 28-30 range.    If you hope to attend medical school in SC, we recommend you re-take the MCAT until you have at least a 29.  For Emory, 31. Wake Forest 33.  Duke, 35. For other schools, you can check their web sites, or the medical school books in the library, or from your premed advisor.

IF YOUR MCAT SCORE IS:

WE WOULD SUGGEST:

<25

You should re-take it before completing your application to medical school.

25-28

Continue with your medical school application, but consider re-taking the MCAT as well.  You might also consider applying to Osteopathic medical schools.

29-30

If you're planning on attending USC, MUSC, or another medical school having a median score of 30 or less, you're all done with the MCAT!   Do apply to all medical schools in your home state. You might also consider applying to Osteopathic medical schools.

31-34

If you're planning on attending USC, MUSC, Emory, or another medical school with a median score of 34 or less, you're all done with the MCAT!   Do apply to all medical schools in your home state. We'd also like you to consider Emory.

35+

Congratulations!  It's unlikely you would need to re-take the MCAT, unless perhaps you are set on attending an Ivy League medical school.   Do apply to all medical schools in your home state. We'd also like you to consider Emory, Wake Forest, and Duke.

14. How should I prepare for the MCAT?

Assuming you have achieved the 'minimal acceptable GPA' of 3.2,  your performance on the MCAT is the single most important part of your application.  Therefore, you must take your exam prep seriously, and invest large amounts of time studying for this exam!  We strongly recommend you begin preparing six months before the exam. 

The Kaplan prep course is helpful; but we will also provide lots of study materials to help you prepare on your own. If you have trouble with standardized tests, or scored below a 1300 on your SAT, then Kaplan becomes more important for you.   But  you need to really use the resources of Kaplan to make it worth the cost.  If you don’t have time to devote to using their materials and studying regularly, you are probably wasting your money.   The MCAT prep course is usually given by Kaplan on campus at Wofford starting in February. You can learn more about Kaplan at:  http://www.kaptest.com/mcat

General information about preparing for the MCAT can be found at: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/preparing/start.htm

Practice tests: http://www.aamc.org/students/mcat/practicetests.htm


15.  How can I get clinical experience?

Medical schools will expect you to have had clinical experience.   Although there is no set "level" of experience you need to have, both SC medical schools have confirmed that our recommended 200 hours of clinical contact or shadowing will be sufficient.  You can get this experience in a number of ways:

  • Over interim.  We offer a "clinical internships interim"; if that doesn't work out for you, you can propose your own independent interim.  You will have the opportunity to shadow health professionals for 120-150 hours over an interim.
  • Arrange on your own to shadow health care professionals over the summer.  We can provide lists of physicians who have worked with students in the past.
  • Volunteer at a hospital.  Most hospitals will have a volunteer coordinator; contact that person.
  • Get a job in a hospital, such as working as a phlebotomist (drawing blood), EMT (emergency medical technician) or a CNA (nurse assistant).  Each of these require a small amount of training, and there are lots of jobs available.

  No matter how you get your experience, make sure you document it by giving your supervisor/heath care professional a copy of the Clinical Evaluations Form to complete at the end of your work.


16. How do I request letters of recommendation for medical school?

  For most medical schools, you have the choice of submitting 3 individual letters, or a "committee evaluation".  A committee evaluation is actually a packet of information, which includes evaluations from all of your biology, chemistry and physics professors, as well as any "clinical evaluations" you have received from health professionals you have worked with. Some schools, including both SC medical schools, have a preference for the committee evaluations over the three separate letters. If, however, you feel that for some reason a particular professor may not give a good evaluation (due to grades or personality conflicts) you should go with the individual ones. Be certain that the professors you select are ones that you have performed well under and who see you as a bright student who is highly motivated. (All of us take evaluations seriously and are likely to be very candid regarding those evaluations.) Some professors are not on campus in the summer, so it's best you get the process started before you leave campus in May.

  If you choose to do a committee evaluation for medical school, you can access the form at: http://webs.wofford.edu/mossre/hc/ . Fill it out online according to the instructions, print it out, and return the signed form to Ms. Thomas in the biology office. Dr. Bass has the form for dental school. We suggest you submit the form late in your junior year, but it MUST be in no later than September 15 of your senior year. If any of the comments made by faculty on your evaluation would be detrimental to your application, you will be advised to seek out individual letters of recommendation instead.

Most medical schools now ask that recommendations or committee evaluations be submitted online. In this case, you will print out a form to give to the people you request letters from.  If you're doing a committee evaluation through AMCAS, do attach the AMCAS letters form to the Wofford form that you give to Ms. Thomas. Where the AMCAS form asks you to enter the "Primary Author/Contact" for the letter, give Dr. Moss' information.  See the AAMC web site at: http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/faq/amcasletters.htm

** IMPORTANT: ** If you do a committee evaluation, we will automatically send out your "clinical evaluations" along with your committee evaluation, to the institutions you designate on the form. However, if you do the three individual letters, since you will not be going through the normal committee procedure, we will not know to send these additional physician evaluations out for you. In this case, you must fill out a form to have Ms. Thomas send out your clinical evaluations.


17. How do I start the application? What is AMCAS?

Most medical schools, including both SC schools, use a common application from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS). 

Before starting your application, read AAMC’s advice at:

http://webs.wofford.edu/mossre/hc/AAMC_ADVICE.ppt  and

http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/policies/applicants.htm  and

http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/amcas2010instructions080409.pdf

  After May 15 of the year you are applying, you can view or download the application at:

  http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/start.htm

 

Remember that osteopathic medical school applications use a different application service:  https://aacomas.aacom.org/

Regardless of the number of AMCAS schools to which you apply, you submit just one application to AMCAS.  After AMCAS collects all of your information and forwards it on to each medical school, each individual medical school will contact you regarding an individual, "secondary application", which is usually quite short.

 


18.  When should I apply to medical school?

The AMCAS application becomes available on June 1.  You should apply the summer after your junior year.

Most medical schools, including both SC schools, use a common application from the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).  You can fill out their application online at: http://www.aamc.org/students/amcas/start.htm. Regardless of the number of AMCAS schools to which you apply, you submit just one application to AMCAS.  After AMCAS collects all of your information and forwards it on to each medical school, each individual medical school will contact you regarding an individual, "secondary application", which is usually quite short. Your AMCAS application should be completed by September 1 of your senior year!


19. What constitutes a good personal essay?  Should I seek editorial help on my essay?

The "personal essay" is an important part of your AMCAS application.  Medical school admissions committees use the statement to get a feel for you as a person, an individual.   But since it is a "personal" essay, it's difficult to give generalized advice about how to write it.

Your essay needs to accomplish two objectives:

  • It should demonstrate your commitment to a career in medicine, and show that medicine is the right choice for you.

·       It should 'set you apart' from 'the typical applicant'.  The reader will see dozens of personal essays.  If yours simply states that you want to go into medicine because you want to help people, your essay will fade into the background.  Use something from your personal experience to let the reader get to know you.   By this time in your life you’ve had many life experiences:  tackled challenges, experienced disappointment, learned lessons, even learned a lot about yourself as a person.  Now you’re going to share one or two of these personal experiences with the admissions committee; this is not a time to re-list things already located somewhere in your application, but a time to share personal aspects of your life, particularly ones that relate to your experience with medicine, or traits that will make you a good doctor. This process can take lots of time, even weeks.  After reading dozens of essays, you want the reader to come away thinking about yours (in a positive way!).

Avoid espousing strong political or religious opinions.  There is nothing wrong with your having opinions, but it may be challenging for admissions personnel to read in an unbiased way something that could be considered highly controversial, offensive, or disturbing.

Before you begin:

 

1.     Think about your audience.  Who will be reading your statement?

 

2.     Read the prompt for the essay and be sure to answer the question that is asked if you are given one.

 

3.     Reflect back on past experiences and how they have affected you.  Some questions you might ask yourself are:

 

o   What unusual challenges have you overcome and what did you learn?

o   Have you studied abroad, or had experience with medical systems outside the U.S.?

o   Why do you want to go to medical school?

o   Who or what inspired you to pursue this path?

o   Is there something in particular that is interesting about you and/or your family that relates to health care, or why you’ll make a good doctor?

 

I.     Time to Start Writing:

 

1.     Make sure you write in the first person. It is a personal statement !  Make this similar to a letter you might write a friend. It does not need to be formal (but it does need to be technically perfect: grammar, spelling, appropriate word usage, etc.).  Feel free to use humor and creativity, but don’t go overboard!

 

2.     Don’t write what you think someone else wants to hear.  Write about yourself with feeling.  That is what they want to read!

 

3.     Start to put stories/paragraphs into an appropriate order with good transitions in between.

 

4.     Begin your statement with a catch phrase and a story about yourself. 

 

5.     Proof and re-write as necessary.

 

6.     Once you are satisfied, transfer the statement to your application.

We strongly suggest that you ask at least two faculty members to review a draft of your essay.  One who can critique your essay for grammar and style; perhaps a professor you've had for an English or humanities course.  The other who has experience with medical school essays, typically your advisor in the biology or chemistry department.   

Expect the faculty to read your essay with a critical eye.  It's not unusual for one of the faculty advisors to recommend that you scrap your first attempt and start again.  Don't take this personally!  We wouldn't be doing you any favors by holding back and letting you submit a mediocre essay.  But of course, you should view any advice on your essay as just that... advice.  It's your essay, and your application.  So you need to decide which individual bits of advice to take, and which to ignore.

If your advisor feels your essay needs a major re-write, you may want to submit another draft for more feedback.  If so, you should submit your next draft to a different member of the faculty.  It's to your advantage to get a different perspective on your next draft.


20. Which schools should I apply to?

We recommend that you apply to all of the medical schools in your home state.  In addition, we suggest you consider applying to Emory University's medical school, as we have established a relationship with them over the years.  We also suggest that you consider applying to one or more osteopathic medical schools, as they are usually a bit less competitive than the allopathic schools.


What can I expect during an interview?  How should I prepare?

Interviews are scheduled after all of your application materials are received.  It's best to apply early, and to get an early interview, due to the rolling admissions process. 

At MUSC, you will be interviewed by three people  - a member of the admissions committee, a member of the MUSC faculty and a private physician. From MUSC's web site:

Noncognitive traits that are desirable in future physicians, as well as previous accomplishments, are evaluated during the interviews. The noncognitive traits include emotional stability, integrity, reasoning skills, enthusiasm, brightness, and genuine concern for others…On interview days there are opportunities for applicants to tour the university and medical facilities, visit with faculty and students and meet with representatives from support organizations to discuss personal, academic and financial concerns.” 

Dr. Moss' advice on interview preparation is at: http://webs.wofford.edu/mossre/hc/pdf/interview.pdf


What should I wear to an interview?

Wow, do you really want to take advice on how to dress from Dr. Moss??  :-)

Dress as a professional.  For women, this means some sort of suit – pants or skirt. For men, a coat and tie is expected.  Wear clean, comfortable shoes, as you will be touring and perhaps standing for long periods.   


Should I call the admissions office to check on the status of my application? When should I expect to hear back?

You may call them if you haven't heard from by the date you're expecting to.  But don't overdo it.  One phone call shows interest; ten may start to irritate!  You can also check your status via the website at MUSC –

http://www.musc.edu/es/application/progress.html

If you finish your AMCAS application by September 1, and send in your secondary applications promptly,  you are more likely to get a fall interview, and you might hear during the fall of your senior year from MUSC.   October 15 is the earliest date listed for acceptance by USCSM.

Both schools have rolling admissions, and the final decisions are made by the end of March.    So don't panic if you don't hear back immediately after your interview, or if you hear back that they are deferring a decision until as late as March. 


Should I apply “early decision?”

The SC medical schools require that you apply for Early Decision between June 1   and August 1.  You will be notified of your status by October 1.  If MUSC or USCSM is your first choice, you are certain you will go there if accepted, and you have an exceptional record, this may be a good option.  You must accept the offer if it is made, but if your are not accepted by ED, you may apply to other schools after you are notified of that you have not been accepted as an ED applicant..   If not accepted under the ED program, you may still be considered for regular admission to that school, although you will be applying a month late.


What should I do if I get “wait listed?”

Try to relax.  Of course, it is disappointing not to be accepted, but you might still be accepted later.  Many students are accepted to more than one medical school, and then must of course decline their other invitations.   So, space opens up.  Medical schools regularly admit wait-listed students later in the spring or early summer.  By July 1 the class is pretty much full, although on occasion a student may change his/her mind as late as the first day of class. 


What if I'm not ready to apply to medical school by the time I graduate?

The average age of matriculation at medical school is approximately 26.  This means that many students do not enter medical school directly after college.  Many elect to take a year or two off before applying; others enter different careers before electing to apply to med school.


Can I reapply to medical school if I have been rejected?

Certainly.  Many students who are not accepted on their first try get into med school the following year, after addressing any weakness in their applications.   If your MCAT or GPA are below the average for the medical schools you applied to, then you can improve your application by improving these scores.  Perhaps your interview skills need some work.  Or your clinical experience was weak.  It is usually worthwhile to meet with an admissions representative at one of the medical schools; they are usually happy to tell you what weaknesses need to be addressed.

What if I don't get in the first year?

Because there are so many qualified applicants, many applicants will not be accepted during their first attempt, but are later accepted.  You should contact the medical schools, and have them identify any weaknesses in your application.  You may need to improve your MCAT score, or your interview skills.

For the intervening year, some students choose to attend a "Post-Baccalaureate Program"; and intensified course that prepares you for medical school.  Many medical schools have such programs. 

We generally DON'T recommend these programs, unless the program grants admission to the institution's medical school if you do well in the bostbac program.  Two that do so are:

·        Georgetown University: " Based on their successful performance during the GEMS year, 80% of GEMS students that matriculated in the program between 2003 and 2007 have been admitted to Georgetown University School of Medicine." http://gems.georgetown.edu/

Other alternatives are:
- Get a job that gives you clinical experience.  Graduates can be employed as EMTs, phlebotomists (the people who draw blood), lab technicians, etc.
- Begin coursework towards a MS in public health, or in any clinical or scientific field.  Doing well in these programs shows the medical schools that you are capable of handling the work in med school, and you’re also working towards a graduate degree in a field you’ll enjoy.
The MPH program at USC will allow you to take a few classes as “non-matriculated” students for the fall, and you can apply for admission for January.  In this way you’ll be able to dive in for the fall semester!
Another MS to take a look at:  Georgetown University’s MS program in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).  This is an 11 month master’s degree.  The application deadline is June 1, and the coursework will be quite helpful no matter where you end up in health care.
http://camprogram.georgetown.edu/index.html

 

Please report any problems with this page to Dr. Moss.

 

 

 

 

General Information

Your premedical advisors:

Biology Department:

Chemistry Department: Dr. Waidner