If you are interested in attending medical school, but must first attend a community college it is more important to take courses preparing you for your undergraduate major than for medical school. Medical schools do not require a specific major; however, they do expect academic excellence and a demonstrated talent for science. Strong grades, better-than-average test scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), along with positive faculty recommendations and extracurricular activities are all important factors for getting into medical school. There are, however, some specific courses that are highly recommended and that particularly help prepare you for the MCAT.
Take two semesters of general biology with laboratory work included in your freshman year. In your sophomore year take additional courses, such as molecular biology, cell biology and genetics.
Take one year of general chemistry (with labs) as a freshman and in your sophomore year add a semester of organic chemistry and another semester of biochemistry. General chemistry is often taken at the same time as calculus.
Take two semesters of general physics, with laboratory work as a sophomore. The mathematical “language” of physics is calculus, so it is advisable to take calculus prior to taking your physics classes.
Take advanced college math. Calculus and statistics are especially useful preparation. Hamilton College in New York tells its premed students that “all (medical) schools appreciate mathematical competence as a strong foundation for understanding the basic sciences.”
Learn to write well. English language and writing competence are essential to gaining admission to medical school. Verbal reasoning and writing are two major components of the MCAT. Take a minimum of one year of college English while enrolled in community college.
Prepare for the MCAT. The test is taken just before or immediately following your baccalaureate degree. Every natural science, mathematics and English class you take helps you to prepare for this all-important exam.
Explore medical careers by shadowing doctors or volunteering in a medical facility. This will help you to determine what field of medicine you may be interested in. It will also provide you with references and add experience to your medical school application.
Seek advice early. Research what university you expect to transfer to and what medical school you might apply to. Check out their specific requirements and recommendations. Visit the guidance counselor at your community college for advice and materials on potential schools.
Keep up your grades. Competition is tough for aspiring medical school students. Good grades are an essential component if you want to be accepted. Act early if you are experiencing trouble with any course you take. Get tutoring or help from a study group or fellow student if you need it.
Catherine Kohn is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience. She holds a BA in writing from the University of South Florida and is a certified elementary and secondary teacher. She has taught preschool, elementary, middle and high school. At Morris Communications she was special sections editor, education reporter, news editor and features editor. She is also an award-winning newspaper layout designer.