Medical School Application: High School and College Preparation
First and foremost, you should enjoy high school- participate in school activities, play sports, join clubs, spend time with your family, listen to music- you will miss all of these activities soon enough! You should not be doing anything to prepare for medical school admission at this point in time. You should do well in your classes and plan to attend a reputable college.
The only suggestion I have is that if you plan to get a job, get a job that gives you some type of exposure to a potential career path. Paid summer internships are the best. Unless you absolutely have to do so, working in the local grocery or fast food store adds very little to your overall high school experience.
If you do not want delaying your medical school application, you should probably have in the back of your mind that you maybe applying to medical school when you enter college. With this in
mind, get started with a few required courses during your Freshman year. Take classes such as calculus, biology, or chemistry that will satisfy either your major or general education
requirements in addition to being medical school admissions prerequisites (these classes won't be wasted in case you decide not to go into medicine). You will find out if you enjoy science
classes and if you are able to do well in them. I would also strongly encourage you to take other courses that may interest you (i.e. economics, creative writing, computer programming, history,
anthropology, etc.). College is set aside for you to explore your choices and it is paramount that you take the opportunity to do so.
In general, a full load of college courses will not occupy all of your time. You want to volunteer in a hospital or clinic to give yourself some exposure to the field. It would be even better if you can connect with a mentor for additional guidance. It is important to have patient contact in order to get a feel of what it is like to be a physician. Volunteering to sit in the hospital gift shop in order to put it on your resume is NOT acceptable and a waste of your time.
Lastly, please remember to enjoy your Freshman year with some of non-academic activities!
By this time, you should have explored your options and have a rough idea of what you want to do. If not, I would recommend 6 more months of exploration time but you need to intensify your volunterring activities to help you decide if medicine is right for you.
Once you have decided on medicine, continue with your required course work for admission into U.S. medical schools. Ideally, you should finish all the science courses (general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology) that you will need to study for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) by the end of your Sophomore year or the 1st quarter or semester of you Junior year.
It is also the time to get more involved in extra-curricular activities. Working in a hospital or a clinic is a must but deciding on which other activities to participate in is up to you. Whether it's research, building houses in low-income communities, organizing health fairs, or leading a charitable or academic student organization, I suggest you choose a couple causes that matter to you the most. It is not uncommon for students to be under the impression they need to publish, be a Rhodes scholar, a Westinghouse finalist, save starving children in Africa, and be the president the local student honor society in oder to gain admission into a medical school. I am exaggerating, of course, but the point is normal people simply do not have the time or the talent needed to excel in every aspect of their lives. The purpose of these activities is to demonstrate that you, as a future physician, leader, and role model, will be passionate and altruistic enough to participate in the advancement of our society and local communities.
At the beginning of your Junior year, you should continue your course work and your extra-curricular activities. You may want a little lighter schedule when you need to study for the MCAT.
Your last year is spend on preparing your application and interviewing at different schools. Once you have gained admission, I recommend that you take it easy and take some time to enjoy yourself! It is MANDATORY that you engage in activities unrelated to medicine between graduation and the beginning of medical school- free time is going to be hard to come by after this!