How to Learn the Most from Your Pre-Health Advisor
For a pre-medical undergraduate student, or anyone studying for the MCAT, perhaps the most important place on campus is the Pre-Health Advising Office. The Pre-Health Advising Office is a great destination for getting to know like-minded peers and learning more about the pre-health journey, but it is also the place where you will meet the pre-health advisor who may be instrumental on your path to medical school.
How Can My Pre-Health Advisor Help?
First and foremost, your pre-health advisor can be a kind and compassionate person who serves as a support system throughout the difficult road to medical school. However, your pre-health advisor is also a guide who can help make your journey smoother. Are you unsure how to map out your undergraduate coursework? Ask your pre-health advisor! Wondering how to approach studying for the MCAT and when to sit for your exam? Ask your pre-health advisor! Looking for help curating your medical school list for your AMCAS application? You guessed it–ask your pre-health advisor! The pre-medical track is not easy, but you are not on this path alone. Don’t be afraid to approach your pre-health advisor for guidance; they are happy to help!
Not only is your pre-health advisor an emotional support system, but they are also an incredibly valuable resource expert. There is a lot of information accessible to pre-health students at any stage in their path to medical school, whether through online platforms, advice from peers, or anecdotal tips from friends. A pre-health advisor is a reliable source of information and can provide accurate answers to your questions and guidance towards study resources or tutors that will be well-suited to your individual needs.
Lastly, a pre-health advisor is a connection within a larger network of professionals. They are often involved with pre-health clubs and can help facilitate your involvement in relevant extracurricular activities and connections with other students. They can also foster connections with alumni, members of the faculty, or people outside of your academic institution, such as PI’s at nearby research labs where you can apply for positions to gain experience and exposure. Your pre-health advisor is also often in contact with advisors at other universities or admissions personnel at medical schools, and as such is the best and most reliable source of information about the medical school application process. They can offer valuable insight into crafting your application and performing your best in interviews. Be sure to ask your advisor about scheduling mock interviews to help you prepare and present yourself as the strongest possible candidate for the medical school of your dreams.
How Do I Approach My Pre-Health Advisor?
Forming a relationship with your pre-health advisor is essential. This is even more important if your Pre-Health office writes committee letters in support of their student’s applications to medical school. A committee letter is a compilation of letters of recommendation that the pre-health office collects throughout your undergraduate career. The committee letter speaks to your abilities as an applicant with the added support of your Pre-Health office, and is preferred by some medical schools. To ensure you receive a strong committee letter that boosts your chances of acceptance to medical school, it is crucial that you form a relationship with your advisor. But how?
Oftentimes, it can be intimidating to approach your pre-health advisor or try to form a relationship with them. It’s always helpful to keep in mind that they are on your side and happy to help. That being said, your pre-health advisor will be impressed by any initiative you take to inform yourself and lay the foundation for a strong professional relationship with them. Here are some tips for building a bond with your pre-health advisor:
1. Attend events hosted by the Pre-Health Office!
Advising offices typically organize meetings with professional panels, group events, or informational sessions about the pre-med process. These events are excellent opportunities to learn something new, get a head start on your application, and see your pre-health advisors in action to get to know them better. You’ll be more informed about the pre-med journey, and can present yourself as knowledgeable and prepared when you first meet your advisor.
2. Engage with your advisors!
Start by actively participating in group events–ask questions, participate in discussions, and demonstrate your engagement to develop your presence. Then, drop by their office to say hi and officially introduce yourself, or send an introductory email following an event. This way, your advisor will remember you as an active participant.
3. Schedule a one-on-one meeting with your advisor!
After seeing you engage in the group context, your advisor will be happy to get to know you individually as you begin to build your working relationship. This may also be a good time to ask your advisor any questions you may have, such as when you should start studying for the MCAT, or how early you should begin your application process to med schools.
4. Start early!
Most importantly, remember that the better your advisor knows you as a person, the better they’ll be able to guide you on your individual path to medical school. Engaging with your pre-health advisor early on in your undergraduate career can grant you a significant advantage, as they’ll have more time to come to know you, your skills, and your interests and ultimately advocate for you as an applicant to your top medical schools.
Your pre-health advisor is an invaluable resource on your journey to medical school, and there is plenty to learn from them that will help you throughout your undergraduate coursework, volunteer and research experiences, and ultimately the application and interview process. Don’t be afraid to reach out early on and start forming the connections that will be instrumental on your path to medical education. Remember: your pre-health advisor wants to see you succeed, and they are happy to help!