Extracurriculars for Pre-Meds: The Dos and Don'ts

Posted by Zoe on 6/27/16 9:30 AM

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Thinking about applying to medical school but not sure what you’re going to need to get in?  Desperately searching for lab opportunities but not psyched about spending the summer inside?  Frustrated by the constant inunundation of opposing messages and requirements? You’re not alone! Here are some key dos and don’ts that I learned along the medical school process (all of which conveniently begin with F): 

Dos:

1. Follow your interests

Every medical school is going to ask you in interviews why you chose your extracurriculars. When choosing  how to spend your time, it's important to be thinking about what this experience is going to mean to you.  That's why it's best to choose things that YOU want to do—that way when you’re writing your essays and being interviewed, you’ll have real, unique answers to why you took the path you did to medical school. Your experiences will make up a large part of who you are and if at the end of your path you still want to be a doctor, you will have experiences to ground your decision.

2. Find your people

One of the best parts of doing an extracurricular is the experiences you get to have with people outside of school! Finding a place where you enjoy working with the people around you helps build teamwork skills and exposes you to different career paths and interests! Plus, when you’re focused on networking, you have a better chance of impressing your superiors and garnering some great letters of recommendation and contacts along the way—win, win!

3. Flood your resume

People are often tempted to spend the time they have preparing for medical school packing their resumes full with thousands of extracurriculars. However, this often means forgetting that quality is just as important (if not more important) than quantity! It is much better spending more time on valuable experiences than to spend on a little time on many different activities.

Don't

1. Follow the pack

Medical schools want to see you as an individual—don’t spend your summers working in a lab or volunteering for the hospital just because someone told you to! Use the time how you want it! A common trap that people always fall into is the “You’ll never get into medical school if you don’t…” However, there are very few things that this is true for.  Yes, you have to take the course requirements.  Yes, you have to take the MCAT.  But after that the rest is up to you!

2. Forget your friends (or family!

Becoming a doctor is a long journey, and medical school is only the first step! You’re going to want to have your friends and family there to support you and celebrate you along the way, so make sure you keep them as a priority in your life! This goes for the way you choose to spend your time in general, not just your extracurriculars

3. Freak out!!

Everything is going to be just fine. No, seriously. I know its a stressful process but you have to believe that with some hard work, you, too, will become a wonderful doctor!  One more time, for emphasis, Everything is going to be just fine.

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Would you like more pro tips on the MD admissions process?  Be sure to check out more on the subject below!

Medical School Admissions: The Truth About Med School Costs

How To Apply To Medical School: Making Experiences Relevant to Your Application

When to Send Updates About the Medical School Process

Tags: MD/PhD admissions