8 days ago
Admissions Advice

What can I do to help me get to great colleges?

I'm a high school freshman right now and am planning to be a doctor. I am taking as many Honors and AP classes as I can and I am trying to learn to study so I can make sure I contain my 4.2 GPA. I am also taking a medical terminology class to learn the medical words and other things I need to know. But right now I am wanting to be good for good pre-med colleges. I'm not sure how to get a physician mentor and I don't know what extracurriculars or other classes I could take to help me along. Any tips?

Colleges in question right now:

-Ohio State University

-Hofstra University


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
8 days ago[edited]

Hi @JaceWest,

Most of us HS students do not know what we want to be professionally as adults so I think it's great you want to be doctor. So props to you. However, you have no clear idea of how to go about that because you have not done enough research and are only in HS. So I'm here to share that you are going about this all wrong.

You do know that you the only way to apply to medical school out of HS is through a BS/MD program and that Harvard does not have a BS/MD program correct? So what's the point of only focusing on Harvard Medical School right now? I don't get it. If you think they give preferential treatment to Harvard College applicants you are wrong. HMS clearly states on their website that no one applying from Ivy colleges gets preferential treatment with regards to admission to HMS.

First of all admits to the Top 25 Medical Schools in the US including Harvard, come from all kinds of colleges, not just from Ivy league colleges, Elite colleges or Top Liberal Arts colleges in the US. They come from public colleges, 2nd and 3rd tier colleges as well and int'l colleges. Why? Because T25 medical schools are agnostic about where you did your undergrad degree from.

If you are talking about only having a goal of going to Harvard Medical School, then you are just denying yourself the opportunity to be the best version of yourself. What if the best program for your medical specialty was at UCLA or Cornell or Yale (ophthalmology for instance), are you going to sacrifice being in the best program for your specialty because of prestige factor winning? That's a bit contradictory.

And if you are thinking of only going to Harvard Medical School, keep in mind that 73% of the incoming class of HMS admits have taking at least 1 year of GAP year prior to applying to medical school. Why? Because HMS actually expects is incoming class to have a rich set of life experiences prior to starting medical schools. They delineate that they prefer those who have a solid foundation in the liberal arts and any kind of coursework or work experiences that will help make them better physician.

You on the other hand feel a compulsion to graduate early from HS, denying yourself the maximum level of course rigor (APs, DE credit, college classes, IBs), ECs (leadership opportunities, varsity sports opportunities, clubs etc) and highest test scores possible. For what I ask? Just to say you graduated early????? If you are think about getting admitted to Harvard College undergrad and then Harvard Medical School, I would honestly say that having the most complete and compelling application is worth much more than a less compelling narrative coming from a younger applicant. You don't get bonus points from any Top College for graduating early in this current hyper competitive college admissions marketplace.

If you have be closely following what has been happening in the last 3 admissions cycles you will be aware that there are 28 colleges whose admit rates are 10% and below and besides Caltech at 2.5%, Harvard is at 3.19%. Long gone is the concept of securing a spot based on a perfect 4.0 UWGPA and 1600/36 perfect test scores. These days if you are not a solid composite 2+, or 2, on the Harvard admissions scoring rubric across all 6 major categories, you will be one of the nearly 97% that do not make the cut.

Some of the criteria you are short-cutting yourself on is IV/IC or intellectual vitality or curiosity and athletics. Although having strong scores in either are only one of say 200 criteria that go into in the Harvard score card, it doesn't hurt to show evidence of having decent or high scores across all of Harvard's evaluation categories.

-My advise you is not to graduate early.

-Use that available time wisely and strategically to get into the best undergrad college you can get into that is the best fit for you personally, academically and financially.

-Once you arrive at college, pick an undergrad major that allows you the most personal and academic growth and something you are good at, are interested in and thrive at. It doesn't matter what your UGrad Major is prior to applying to Medical School. It can be a STEM major or a humanities major like anthropology or English or History.

-During your 3rd year, you will focus on getting a high MCAT score if you still want to apply to medical school. Like the SAT/ACT you will have dedicate a couple hundred hours to master this test as get at least a 515, preferably a 520.

-If you decide not to take a GAP year prior to applying to medical school, then keep in mind that lowers your chances of getting in to Harvard since 73% have taking GAP years. If you get rejected from Harvard because you didn't take a GAP year or something else, you can apply the following year if you don't want to go to your 2nd or 3rd or 4th choice Medical school you get into.

-For some incredibly lucky and incredibly gifted people, they can get to their goals faster. When I look at Olympic athletes, some sports are clearly a function of dedication, effort and skill developed over many years while others are just raw talent harnessed by the best trainers and coaches. When someone chooses to be a physician, its a position and career for life. You don't stop being a doctor at 40, 50, 60 or 80. You stop when you die. So clearly there is not rush to get to one's core competence earlier than necessary. Harvard Medical School prefers older more mature students that have taken Gap years prior to matriculating so there must be some sound logic and backstory to that. I highly recommend that you fully investigate why Harvard admissions prefer that and get on board.

Good luck.

8 days ago

Hi @JaceWest,

While many of us will applaud your initiative, I think it's really important for you to take a step back and ask yourself some important questions about your motivations and your future:

1. Why do you want to become a doctor?

2. Why do you specifically want to go to Harvard, and why do you think that is related to the goal of becoming a doctor?

The reason I bring this up is because there are many perfectly good pathways to becoming a doctor that don't involve going to Harvard. Nor does acceptance to Harvard mean that you will be a successful doctor. Plenty of doctors start their higher-ed journey going to Community college, transferring to a non T20 public university, taking the MCAT like everyone else and getting all of their extracurriculars - Harvard, or any other elite college, is not a requirement to becoming a doctor.

Right now, it's best that you focus on the more immediate future and about growing as a well-rounded young person. You've got time, don't rush for no reason - work on your time management skills, your ability to take notes, and your studying capabilities. Do the extracurricular activities that you are the most passionate about. Think deeply about your motivations and WHY you want to do these things.

If you want to talk more, I'm Carly Tribull on the expert advisers page here.

8 days ago

look, to be honest, there's no secret formula to getting into a good college, or an ivy league college like harvard. If there was, I can guarantee you that everyone would be doing the same thing. College admission officers are looking for you to be yourself and that's all that matters. Make yourself, the best version of yourself that you can be.


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