- Stay organized: This year will be full of important landmarks. Set up a schedule for the whole school year and stick to it.
- Talk to your faculty advisor : It is very important to keep checking back in with your faculty advisor periodically to make sure that you are on track with your course work to reach your goals. A list of pre-professional health sciences faculty advisors is found here: http://www.uis.edu/preprofessional/faculty/index.html
- Set goals for yourself: Start looking at the professional programs and schools that you want to apply to. Know their admissions requirements and start to customize your course work to satisfy those requirements. Go online, visit descriptions of the curricula of various schools, and earmark schools that employ the learning style suitable for you. Some schools have traditional, lecture-based curricula, while others focus on problem-based learning through small-group discussions. You may also wish to consider schools overseas. Ultimately, be realistic—take into account that the latter requires a considerable amount of independence and maturity. Students usually apply to up to 10 schools. There are registration fees so budget several hundred dollars for this.
- Finish organic chemistry: By the end of your junior year you should complete the organic chemistry sequence (CHE 367/368/369/371).
- Finish physics: By the end of your junior year you should complete physics (ASP 201/202)
- Take biochemistry: Biochemistry is emphasized on the MCAT and you will find it useful to take at least one semester of Biochemistry before taking that test.
- Take advanced chemistry and biology: Begin taking advanced chemistry and biology courses which will help you with admissions to the professional program of your choice. See the bottom of the Course List and talk to your faculty advisor for profession specific advice.
- Independent research : If your schedule allows, a semester or two of independent research with a faculty member will also help prepare you for professional school. Independent research is also a good way to get to know faculty members who can write you letters of recommendation.
- Keep your GPA competitive: Focus on making consistently high grades. To achieve this, you may need to decompress your schedule and postpone taking courses less relevant to MCAT exam.
- Work on leadership: To build upon prior record, stay involved in extracurricular activities. Focus on volunteering and other activities which hone leadership qualities, and label you as a person who wants to make a difference. Be wise: do this only to the extent that it does not interfere with your ability to maintain high grades and prepare for MCAT exam.
- Begin reviewing for the MCAT: Successful applicants usually begin reviewing course material for the MCAT around November of their junior year, while still taking courses relevant to the exam. Consult your faculty advisor on where to find MCAT review materials. Some options are: online informational websites, a good local bookstore, a professional advisor’s collection kept in the Biology department, and/or a professional review course (about $1,500). For up-to-date information about upcoming MCAT assistance, please consult our What’s New page.
Develop a Resume and Personal Statement