When choosing an undergraduate institution, the end result can be a huge factor. Students considering pre-medical studies need to know if their school will help them toward the bigger picture. In this blog post, Taylor Knopf ’18 gives the scoop on pre-medicine at St. Olaf.
You know the kids who are born with school colors in their veins? Me too. But I certainly was never one of them. However, I did know from the start that I wanted to go into medicine. And I knew that I wanted to become bilingual in English and Spanish. I also knew that a Spanish major wasn’t the normal track for a pre-medical student. That’s when I discovered St. Olaf.
St. Olaf gives me the opportunity to do research, volunteer in the community, and meet all kinds of doctors. I can also be a Spanish major and a pre-medical student, so I can study abroad twice in my four years and still be ready for medical school!
The thought of being a pre-medical student is really intimidating for a lot of college students. There are quite a few classes to take and activities to do to prepare for the MCAT and interviews. The process for medical school seems far in the distance when you’re just a freshman in college. But if you’re a pre-medical student, you probably already have questions! Turns out, becoming a doctor isn’t as scary as I thought it would be. Check out these Frequently Asked Pre-Med Questions!
Will St. Olaf prepare me for medical school? Yes, and quite well. Typically between 65-75% of St. Olaf students that apply to medical school are accepted.
What’s better: biology or chemistry major? Trick question–all majors are equally amazing, even majors outside of the sciences. A liberal arts college like St. Olaf gives students the opportunity to take a wide range of classes. Approximately 1/3 of your classes are in your major, 1/3 are general education requirements, and 1/3 are “electives” (which would be the pre-medical requirements for you). If you choose a major like biology or chemistry, a lot of classes for your major will intersect with your elective classes. If you choose any other major, many of your classes will intersect with your general education requirements. That means that even if you want to be an English major, you can still graduate as a pre-medical student in four years! We’ll also try to help you fit your interests together in organizations, programs, and study abroad. One trip available is the Peruvian Medical Experience, a biology class for pre-medical and pre-dental students. Of course, you don’t have to speak Spanish to enroll in the course, but it sure is a bonus for the students who share those passions.
What classes will I have to take to be considered a pre-medical student? At St. Olaf, we have a list of suggested classes for any incoming freshmen who wants to consider pre-medicine. These classes include three biology courses, five chemistry courses, two physics courses, a psychology course, a sociology course, and a statistics course. I know that sounds like a lot, but you’ll find that it fits really well into the course structure at St. Olaf.
Are there opportunities to volunteer? Do research? Shadow doctors? You know what they say: opportunities are endless! At the beginning of the year, Volunteer Network sets up a volunteer fair for all St. Olaf students, so there are plenty of volunteer opportunities for any interest. Come find me at the HeadStart table! Every department on campus has some research component, so there are lots of opportunities there as well. You could even start the summer after your freshman year if you play your cards right.
And the Piper Center for Vocation and Career has a networking event every year for sophomores through seniors called Ole Med where you can meet medical students and doctors who graduated from St. Olaf and want to share their steps to success with you. In fact, the Piper Center has numerous resources to help students with everything mentioned in this question.