Phi Chi

Writer: Pragathi Pathanjeli

Phi Chi is one of the oldest professional fraternities in the world. At the University of Michigan, Phi Chi is one of a few co-ed fraternities on campus, and the only one with a chapter for medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School. The diverse brotherhood works to ensure that all of its members are well-rounded applicants by providing access to academic resources, talks from medical school students and doctors, volunteering opportunities, and a large network of Phi Chi alumni for informative and career-related purposes 

 Not only have I been able to meet some incredible people as a part of Phi Chi, I have also been able to take-on leadership roles and be a part of rewarding experiences such as planning a 5K, getting trained in Basic Life Support, and getting involved in the community via many different volunteer opportunities. By-far, the most useful resource that Phi Chi has provided me with are med-school talks, where I’ve been able to learn more about the application process from medical students in Phi Chi, and The University of Michigan’s philosophy from members of the Office of Medical School Admissions. 

Our Rush process officially begins the week of MLK day with the following events (see image below). For more information, visit our website under the Rush Page and come to our info sessions!

phichiumich

MED

Writer: Sydney Edwards

MED is the newest pre-medical fraternity on campus. It is a pre-health, co-ed fraternity that consists of mostly pre-medical students with a few pre-dental or pre-pharmacy students. We work to host social events, volunteering events, and professional development events to help our members develop themselves personally and professionally. We have many E-Board and committee chair positions, and each brother gets to choose a committee in which to participate.

This fraternity is very new, so there have been abundant opportunities for leadership within the brotherhood. We recently appointed two mental health chairs for the fraternity, and I feel that this position is one of the most important within the brotherhood. Mu Epsilon Delta provides resources for its members, ranging from professional development days featuring talks from doctors and medical students to biweekly support groups for brothers to talk about their lives in a nonjudgmental setting. I have found people to study with who have helped me learn much better than going at it alone. We help facilitate study groups for members to get to know their peers and excel in their classes. The mental health and academic help are two highlights of this fraternity for me. Additionally, I love the distinct personality of this fraternity. Each pre-medical frat has its own personality, and I feel that my own personality and aspirations fit very well with other individuals as well as the group as a whole. I also find that the time commitment is manageable, and the requirements are very fair.

Rush schedule 

  • Information Session 01/23 7:30-8:30 in Room D at the Michigan League
  • Meet & Greet 01/24 7:30-9:30 in Psych Atrium at East Hall
  • Speed Dating 01/28 8-10 in Hussey Room at the Michigan League
  • Application due 01/31 by midnight
  • Interviews 02/03 and 02/04 by invite

MeD WEBSITE

 

DEM

Writer: Judy Huynh

DEM is the nation’s premier professional pre-health co-ed fraternity dedicated to serving the community and uniting students of diverse backgrounds with an interest in varying health fields through leadership, professional development, and brotherhood. Our fraternity consists of members interested in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, and public health to name a few. The Alpha Iota Chapter of Delta Epsilon Mu at U of M started in 2016, so we are fairly new but established enough to have lots of professional, leadership, and volunteer opportunities. Our national philanthropy is Camp Dragonfly Forest which is  a summer camp for kids with autism and other special medical needs. 

I knew I wanted to join a pre-health professional fraternity because I think learning about different health professions is beneficial to understanding and appreciating the health field. I made a lot of great friends through my fraternity, and I love knowing I can rely on any of them to help me with questions about the MCAT to which classes I should take. Besides e-board, we have many opportunities for leadership such as education chair, fundraising chair, DMUM committee, and others. We regularly volunteer with Ronald McDonald House and World Medical Relief. We cater our professional development events to what the fraternity wants so we have had doctors come in to talk and med school application panels. From my experience, the best thing about DEM is that I honestly feel that I can talk to any of the members and not feel judged at all.

We only hold rush in the fall because rush season takes up a big chunk of time so we want to use the winter season to get to know our new members. If you’re interested, I highly recommend you reach out to me or keep an eye out for our fall rush!

Keith Manning

Product Management

Edna White

Support Staff

PhiDE

Writer: Catherine Marudo

Phi Delta Epsilon is  one of the oldest co-ed professional pre-med fraternity on campus. This has created a vast and diverse alumni network with past-members now as current med students and residents all over the country. PhiDE is great in that is able to act both as a professional and social fraternity. Members are given the skills and knowledge needed to be successful pre-med and med school applicants through diverse workshops like: MCAT, application, backpacking, interview, and many more! Equally as important as professional development is Phamily. We are all phamily in PhiDE. Sure the resources and connections we have are great, but what truly sets us apart are the bonds of friendship and mentorship we form with each other. What better people to have in your corner than the kind and amazing people who have and are still going through this pre-med journey with you. Our members also follow the mantra “facta non verba – deeds not words.” One of the key values of PhiDE is service. PhiDE’s partner charity is the Children’ Miracle Network and fundraising events happen throughout the year for CMN. 

PhiDE has given me friends that I will carry with me for a lifetime and has made my college experience so incredibly amazing. I would not have confidence in my ability to succeed and kick butt in medicine without the mentorship, love, and support of every single person I have gotten to meet in this fraternity. I am excited to see what the future holds for PhiDE and encourage all pre-meds looking for a phamily on campus to come check mine out…we’re pretty amazing.

PHIDE WEBSITE

 

Keith Manning

Product Management

Edna White

Support Staff

 

Looking forward to next application cycle, one consideration prospective applicants have to think about is what type of schools to apply to, a big distinction between medical schools is the degrees they offer: MD and DO!  Our Pre-Med Hub staff decided that making  an  series of easy-to-navigate charts would be a great resource for all of you who don’t yet know the difference between the two, or haven’t made a decision about which ones to apply to.Please feel free to reach out or drop into advising hours for more specific assistance based on individual circumstances.

A special thanks to guest blog contributors Cindy and Daphne!

DO AVG MCAT SCORE – 2018

Applicants: 502

Matriculants: 503

DO AVG GPA – 2018

Applicants: 3.46

Matriculants: 3.56

 

 UM  AVG MCAT SCORE – 2018

MD Matriculants:  513.3

DO Matriculants: 506.2

UM  AVG GPA – 2018

MD Matriculants:  3.71

DO Matriculants: 3.48

 

MD AVG MCAT SCORE – 2019

Applicants: 506

Matriculants: 512

MD AVG GPA – 2019

Applicants: 3.58

Matriculants: 3.73

What is MD?

 

MD stands for Medical Doctor

Philosophy: closer to the idea of a traditional science-based approach, most of the emphasis is placed on the diagnosis and treatment of a patient.

  Applicants describe themselves as more “technoscientifically” oriented — driven by intellectual and technical challenges of medicine. Applicants may be more likely to pursue dual degrees with a PhD or are looking for careers as physician scientists. Many MD schools focus more on discovery and innovation than the average DO school (they have well-established research programs that draw applicants interested in pursuing academic or scientific medicine). 

There are 33 DO schools total. We only have 1 option for DO school in MI (albeit a great one).

What is DO?

 

DO stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Philosophy: holistic approach to health and considers how all parts of the body influence each other; DO schools put a heavy emphasis on prevention and osteopathic manipulative treatment.

This means mind, body, spirit are all thought to be connected. Takes into account multiple aspects to a person’s wellbeing, not just physical healthcare as what usually first comes to mind upon hearing “health”.  Osteopathic physicians focus on prevention, tuning into how a patient’s lifestyle and environment can impact their wellbeing. The focus is not on just treating symptoms.

Applicants describe themselves as more “socioemotionally” oriented — driven by patient-care aspect of medicine. Applicants are more likely to be women, or from rural communities or inner cities (underserved populations or underrepresented in medicine). DOs focus a lot on producing primary care physicians or physicians who practice in rural/underserved areas, which plays into the way they look for potential students (those with a background here could understand the needs of future patients in those areas).

There are 147 MD schools total.  In our state alone, we have 6 MD programs which may place higher preference on in-state applicants and have lower tuition rates.

Previously, MD students could only match with programs that were accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) and DO students could match with residencies that are accredited by either the ACGME which meant they must take the USMLE—or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA).

In July of 2020, the accreditation councils  will merge to form, allowing MD and DO students to apply to any residencies. Everyone, including DO students, will use the ACGME’s National Residency Match Program, the NRMP.

 

Pros vs Cons of MD/DO

MD

More options for residency programs and medical schools. Many MD schools are also well established — all of the oldest schools in the country are MD — so these particular schools can have better reputations when it comes to conducting research and matching into a specialty.

Many of the “top” MD schools are in big cities, which tends to correspond to high costs of living.

DO

Less statistic driven; more holistic approach to admissions.

Extra training (additional 200 hours of training learning manipulation techniques of the musculoskeletal system called OMM) means having an extra tool in your tool-belt. Learning OMM means having a strong overall knowledge of anatomy and physiology and being able to think beyond medications when treating patients.

DO schools tend to be areas that are less metropolitan, which tends to mean lower living costs aside from tuition.

Although public DO schools have a comparable cost to public MD schools, there are  more private DO schools than public.

There are very few public DO schools, so MSUCOM is unique — this explains its significantly lower tuition for in-state applicants.

Often newer schools, so less research funding, opportunities to do research, and grants or scholarships available. However, for those DO schools affiliated with an undergrad institution, like MSUCOM in relation to MSU, opportunities may be higher to find research.

Many MD schools have newly evolving curriculums to focus more on preventative care, public health, and even OMM. This may reduce the edge that DO applicants have during match in the future (big effects have not been seen yet).

Often medical students have to take both the COMLEX and the USMLE exams in order to match into a residency program.

DO

Requirement:

5300 character personal statement (recently increased from 4500 characters)

 

Must shadow a DO:

Look for UM alumni currently attending DO school or recently having graduated from it in UCAN

System:  AACOMAS

$195 for first application, $35 for following

Schools are often more flexible with secondary fee waivers

Timeline:

 1. Opens May 1 for submission

2. Very fast verification (~2 weeks)

3.Cycles run faster (faster interview cycle and begin acceptance notification faster)

4. Cycles run longer (secondaries may be accepted up to March/April for some schools, but since it is rolling admission, it is better to submit earlier)

5. Formal update process in Jan and April through AACOMAS for academic updates

Deposit:

Depends on the school, but frequently non-refundable

$200 – $3000

MD

Requirement:

5300 Character Personal Statement

Can shadow MDs as well as any other health professionals (interesting ones might be DOs, NPs, PAs, etc. to see the intersections between each career)

System:  AMCAS

$170 for first application, $40 for following

Timeline:

1. Opens May 1 for completion

2. Opens June 1 for submission

3. Verification takes longer (6-8 weeks) before secondaries start rolling in

4. No formal update process through AMCAS, so you will have to research and reach out to individual schools about updating

Deposit:

Depends on the school, but frequently refundable

$100 – $150

Common Misconceptions about DO vs MD:

DO schools are a safety/backup to MD programs. Not true because a lot of considerations go into choosing the best school for you: location, cost, interests, goals, experiences, etc.

Getting a DO degree means you can’t specialize. Although DO program curriculums are often set up to focus on primary care, DOs can actually match into any residency, which means the same specialities and opportunities are available to them if desired.

Another misconception is that you NEED to use OMM in future practice. You don’t have to if you really don’t want to, or go into a specialty that wouldn’t benefit from its usage.

Some think DOs are like chiropractors, which aren’t licensed to do surgery/give drugs. This can affect the mindset of DOs not being “real” doctors. Although there is a focus on OMM in DO curriculums, DOs aren’t limited to using their hands. They’re licensed to give medications, perform surgery, etc just as an MD, but are trained to use OMM as an intervention before those routes are taken— which can be beneficial  to the patient’s healthcare as it can alleviate the need for invasive procedures down the line, stronger drug effects and dependencies, or higher medical bills.

MDs make more money than DOs. Not necessarily true, as salary is mostly determined by the specialty you choose to go into.

 

In our latest blog series, we bring you a comparison between similar classes that satisfy common premed requirements: biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, sociology, physics, and  physiology, and physical chemistry. Keep in mind that not all of these classes are required for medical school, and that certain medical schools may accept only specific classes for a certain topic. However, if you are in the tough spot of choosing between two courses for the same topic, we hope our comparison chart can help you pick the right class for you.

We also suggest checking out the Umich Grade Guide and the LSA Audit Checklist ( if you are in LSA) when choosing your classes! Good luck scheduling!

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY

CHEM 230

(3 credits)

  • More heavily chemistry/premed based (more aligned with the MCAT)
  • advisory prerequisite of CHEM 215/216
  • Flipped class, watch videos at home and team-based problems in class, weekly quizzes and online homework (you only need to get a certain percentage right and the professor will make it a 100% at the end), PREP course pack similar to an orgo course pack that has a ton of practice exam problems 
  • 72.5% of your grade is based on exams and the rest of your grade is based off of participation and homework OR you can have your grade solely determined by exams scores
  • Median grade: B+

CHEM 260

(3 credits)

  • More heavily math based 
  • advisory prerequisite of  CHEM 210/211, MATH 115, and prior or concurrent enrollment in PHYSICS 135 or 140 or 160.)
  • Get to use notecards
  • Covers one unit of quantum
  • Most of the grade is composed of exams but there are weekly problem sets taken for a grade.
  • Median grade: B+

BME 221

(4 credits)

  • For BME students- More engineering focused and Calc based
  • 9 homework assignments (36%), 4 exams each 15% of grade (this semester was take-home exams)  80% of it is the take-home, 20% team exam… lots of extra credit (up to 7%) 1 presentation (4% of grade)
  • Median grade: B+

GENETICS

BIOLOGY 305

(4 credits)

  • 4 midterms, all multiple choice
  • No final
  • Grading: Exams (80%)
  • Weekly* online quizzes
  • No lecture attendance taken, all lectures recorded
  • Mandatory discussion sections
  • 2 different professors
  • Extra credit for answering piazza questions
  • The first half of the class is calculation heavy and the second half is focused on molecular genetics
  • Median Grade: B

 

PUBHLTH 311

(3 credits)

  • 2 midterms, short answer + long answer
  • 1 final
  • Grading: Exams (89%)
  • Weekly* homework
  • No lecture attendance taken, all lectures recorded
  • No discussion sections
  • 1 professor
  • Fewer calculations and math than in BIOLOGY 305, but more talk about diseases outcomes and family level genetics
  • Median Grade: A-

SOCIOLOGY

SOC 100

(4 creds)

  •  For freshmen and sophomores 
  • 1.5 hours 2 times a week plus 1 hour discussion section per week
  • General sociology
  • Grade is heavily based on the work/projects your GSI assigns
  • Median Grade: A-

 

SOC 300

(3 creds)

  • For juniors and seniors
  • 1.5 hours 2 times a week
  • No discussion section
  • General sociology
  • Median Grade: A-

 

SOC 302

(4 creds)

  • Health-professions based
  • Specifically designed once sociology was added to the MCAT
  • 1.5 hours 2 times a week plus 1 hour discussion section per week
  • Exams are M/C and free response
  • Memo assignments (essays) 
  • No lecture recordings
  • Median Grade: A-

MICROBIOLOGY

MICRBIOL 207

(4 credits)

  • 3 hours of lectures each week 
  • 3 hours laboratory session each week
  • Recorded lectures 
  • Grading: 75% exams (3 or 4 exams, multiple choice and short answer), 25% Lab.
  • Median grade: B+

MICRBIOL 405

(3 credits)

  • 3 hours of lectures each week
  • No lab, but many students choose to elect MICRBIOL 350 (1 credit) in addition which is a 2 hour section once a week
  • Non-recorded lectures
  • Grading is entirely based on 4 exams
  • Median grade: B+

BIOCHEMISTRY

MCDB 310

(4 credits)

90 min, 2 times a week + 1, 90 min discussion per week

  • Usually in the afternoon/evening (around 4 PM)
  • Have to go to lecture because iclickers,  optional discussion 
  • Exams are multiple choice and short answer, final isn’t cumulative
  • Relatively more bio-based, BIO 171/172/225 -esque, not as much like orgo/pchem
  • Offered in the summer and more SLC study group supported
  •  Other project/hw grades to buffer if you’re not an exam person
  • recorded lectures
  • Median grade: B

 

BIOLCHEM 415

(4 credits)

1 hour, 3 times a week

  • Usually in the morning (around 9 AM)
  • Lecture isn’t required (no iclickers), new  required discussion 
  • Exams are 40 multiple choice questions only, 5 non cumulative exams (90% of grade)
  • Relatively more bio-based
  • Combined class with graduate students 
  • Recorded lectures
  • Weaknesses: Too early in the morning for some people
  • Median grade: B

 

CHEM 351

(4 credits)

  • 1 hour, 3 times a week
  • Usually in the morning (around 10 AM), has a discussion
  • Exams involve problem-solving questions (multiple choice, true/false, short-answer, matching and fill-ins, mechanisms, chemical drawings, etc.)
  • Relatively more chem-based
  •  Some majors require this one, precursor class to CHEM 451, more in-depth knowledge of biochem if you plan to continue in either the minor, major, or field of study (might help for the MCAT, talk to an advisor)
  •  Bigger time commitment than the other two, notoriously “hard”
  • Median grade: B

BIOCHEMISTRY LAB

CHEM 352

(2 credits)

  • 4 hours lab + 1 hour lecture
  • Scheduled for 4 hours, but can often end early. The remaining time can be used as office hours to ask instructors for help writing the reports.
  • Lectures are not required and recorded, but recommended for lab report help
  • Frequently there is quite a bit of work  to get done at home (lab reports and prereading) unlike some labs that only span the 4 hours and you never think about it until the next week
  • Median grade: A

 

CHEM 353

(3 credits)

  • Exact same lecture and lab as CHEM 352, but contains an extra discussion
  •  ULWR
  • 4 hours lab + 1 hour lecture + 1 hour discussion weekly
  • Learn to write a scientific paper
  • Median grade: A

 

BIOLCHEM 416

(3 credits)

  • 2 hours twice a week
  • Grade based on written laboratory reports, homework, preparation for the lab session, and a final paper focusing on an individual experiment or technique
  • No lecture, only lab
  • Median grade: A

PHYSICS

Physics 135/235

(both are 4 credits)

  • Most common physics sequence taken by pre-med students. Life sciences based, learn applications of physics to the human body (blood flow, lifting objects, etc.). Some content in 136/236 (labs) overlaps with 141/241 (labs). 
  • Algebra based. 
    • Physics 135: 3 midterms and a final, can drop any of the 3 midterms not the final. Grade breakdown is each exam is worth 20% (60% total), remaining 40% composed of weekly Mastering Physics problems, iClickers, and Daily Canvas quizzes.
    • Physics 235: 3 midterms and a final, can drop any exam including the final. All exams for both courses are 20 multiple choice questions. Grade breakdown is each exam is worth 20% (60% total), remaining 40% composed of iClickers and weekly Mastering Physics problems.
    • Both courses have non-cumulative midterms and a final that is ½ cumulative, ½ material learned after Exam #3. Both courses allow 1 index card of notes for Exam 1, 2 notecards for Exam 2, and so on.
    • 136/236: Only one credit. Grade is based on in-class lab reports and weekly quizzes on the manual. Overall, the courses are curved depending on GSI averages.
  • Median grade: A- for all 4 courses

 

physics 140/240

(both are 4 credits)

  • Mainly taken by engineers and individuals interested in pursuing a professional career in Physics. 
  • Calculus based. 
    • Physics 140: About half the class is graded on participation and hw, the other half is graded based on exam performance. Each midterm is worth 12% and the final is worth 16%. 
    • Physics 240: No midterms. Every two weeks there are in-class quizzes. Class participation is also recorded with clickers for accuracy. 
  • 141/241:Grade is based on in-class lab reports and weekly quizzes on the manual. Overall, the courses are curved depending on GSI averages. 
  • Syllabus and grading scheme can and does change based on professor and the term it is offered in. 
  • Median grade: B/B+/B/A- for the 4 courses

 

PHYSIOLOGY

BIO 225

(3 credits)

  • Human and Animal physiology
  • Grade is determined exclusively by 4 exams, all multiple choice, point-based, depending on the semester an A is 94% or 93%, 
  • 1 hour 3 times a week
  • 2 different professors
  • Recorded lectures 
  • iClicker points are used as extra credit at the end of the year, so attendance is not mandatory but highly encouraged
  • Median grade: B+

 

 

 

PHYSIOL 201

(4 credits)

  • Grade is determined by exams, homework assignments, extra credit assignments
  • Attendance in class not required, lectures are recorded
  • 1.5 hours 3 times a week  and optional discussion section
  • Only one professor
  • Class is held in the medical school, so may be further away from other courses on central campus
  • Median grade: B

 

 

BME 419

(4 credits)

  • Quantitative Physiology
  • 70% of the grade are based on exams, while the rest of the final grade is based on homework 
  • Each system is taught by a different professor each with different teaching styles (2-3 lectures per professor)
  • 8 system sections total
  • There is some matlab coding involved in the homework
  • Homework and exams are more math focused
  • Class sessions not recorded
  • Median grade: B+

 

Once you find a research lab or project that is interesting to you (we detail how to do this in our below research series blog posts for info on Finding Research and Types of Research), you can send them an email containing a cover letter, resume, and your schedule.

Make sure to state what you are hoping to get out of the lab before committing. Setting the expectations for what you would like your role to be can ensure that you are doing work that you want to do. Be sure to investigate the literature and written work of the labs you hope to be joining before committing. Understanding the research they do can help you to gain a better idea of what your role may be in the lab as a whole. Many UMich labs also have a website that would be helpful for you to look at because it will contain all the different projects and research questions the lab is pursuing as well as possible contact information. The following flowchart will give you a better idea of the hierarchies in many labs:

 If you are interested in joining a lab and want to reach out to them, you can usually just email the PI of the laboratory, unless there is another contact person listed on the website. Below is a good template for writing these emails. Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get a response from everyone you email, and make sure you have a couple backup labs in mind if you don’t get the one you want. Go to our first research blog post to find an email template to apply for a lab position. During the first meeting with the lab manager or PI (which may be called an “interview” if you don’t know the professor already personally, or may just be a casual meeting depending on the lab), be sure to state your intentions and expectations . For example, do you want to complete your own independent project in the lab? Are you interested in writing a thesis? Talk to the PI about being able to participate in actual research (designing projects, statistical analysis, writing up results) rather than doing the basic tasks such as cleaning dishes and making solutions. Have a solid idea of what you would like to in the lab. Some labs involve several research aspects: molecular, behavioral, or clinical research, and you will be able to choose specifically which part you want to get more involved in.

Shadowing is one of the most important extracurriculars you can do early in your undergrad. Outside of being able to put shadowing experience in your application, you will be able to learn about medicine and talk about these experiences in your essays and interviews. Many pre-meds do not know what being a doctor is really about, so shadowing as early as you can will help you make career decisions. Shadowing is also a great opportunity to see all the different opportunities in health and medicine (ex. PT, OT, nursing, NP, PA, DO, public health, clinical research, clinical psych, hospital administration, etc). You can learn about all the different specialties and positions within medicine, and seeing all these different health professionals work together in the hospital system will also allow you to determine why medicine may be right for you.

The specific specialty and location that you choose to shadow can have a huge impact on your shadowing experience. For example, private practices and clinics have fewer administrative barriers to allow students to shadow. You may be able to observe more procedures without having to wait or fill out applications and paperwork. However, one downside is that these smaller spaces may not have existing programs available for students specifically to get more involved. They are built with only enough space for the physician and a few other staff, and you may feel out of place. Bigger clinics or hospitals, on the other hand, may already have medical students and residents present so there is already observation and teaching framework in place for pre-meds to take part in.

If you shadow in a hospital, you are able to choose from a wide range of specialties. Primary care specialties or specialties in internal medicine, pediatrics, neurology, radiology, endocrinology, etc will allow shadowing students to see most or all facets of the physician role, including taking patient histories, physical exams, and interpreting test results. On the other hand, specialties in surgery, ENT, urology, orthopaedics, OB-GYN, etc will often not allow students in the operating room (though this depends on the hospital) so the shadower might only be able to observe pre- or post-operative clinics in these types of specialties. While the physician is in surgery, shadowers may have to stay in a different room and are unable to ask questions and participate, which could get boring. It is quite a bit harder, as a pre-med, to get a complete idea of these types of specialties as they may not be allowed to observe all parts of the job.

Depending on the health care professional you plan on shadowing, a cover letter is a way to express an interest in participating in a shadow experience. Below is a sample cover letter:

Dear Dr. __________:
My name is Name, and I am currently a [year in school] at the University of Michigan. I am in the process of exploring careers in healthcare and I am very interested in the field of (e.g., dentistry, occupational therapy, pediatric oncology, etc.) __________. I am in the process of seeking out opportunities for shadowing and informational interviewing in order to better understand what it is like to be a __________. I found your e-mail through the __________ website (Or, alternatively, I was given your contact information by your colleague, __________). If you are willing and your hospital/clinic/office allows students to shadow, I would welcome an opportunity to observe you work. I would also value the opportunity to have a short conversation over coffee or tea (my treat!) to hear more about your experiences and to get your advice on how to prepare for a career in medicine.
I realize that you are busy and that your time is valuable. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me by e-mail or phone (###-###- ####).
Thank you for your help. Kind Regards,
Name

One of the most common questions we get from new students is regarding choosing a major. The University of Michigan has a huge selection, and while we couldn’t possibly cover each one, we reached out to peer advisors and guest bloggers to help review some of the most popular majors for pre-meds here. Some of the questions we tried to answer include: when and why students choose each major, favorite classes in the majors, and a few possible disadvantages to choosing each major. Similarly, we have also covered some of the minors that students may choose to elect.

 

For more information on all of our university’s majors, visit this link. Above all, we would like to emphasize that there is no “best” or “correct” major for every pre-med or pre-health student. You should study any subject that you are passionate about! Additionally, there is no rush to choose a major as soon as you start college—most of us waited until our sophomore or junior year until we declared majors or minors. As always, for help making an individualized decision or four-year course plan, drop into our peer advising hours.

 

  • Chemistry

    • Biomolecular Science (BMS)

      • Pooja: I declared fall of my sophomore year. I chose this major because it provided a lot of flexibility with courses and allowed us to add minors and majors without overloading on courses and credits. My favorite class in the major has actually been a foreign course. I was able to travel with the UM Chemistry department to China for one month and take courses in the Zhiyuan College of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU): “Biology for Chemists and Biophysical Measurements” taught by Professor James Penner-Hahn and “Bio-Organic and Chem-Biology” taught by Professors Brian Coppola and Jean-Paul Desaulniers. This was a great experience because I only had to pay for my room and flight, not tuition, and received 4 credits, equivalent to one full elective course, for my one month of coursework. Drop into my advising hours for more information on applying! Additionally, I was able to take an ARC (authentic research connection) version of CHEM 125/126 so I got to learn a lot about Arctic and Snow Chemistry in a small course setting with a ton of instruction instead of taking the regular lab with 1000+ students.
      • Brooke: I declared BMS fall of my sophomore year. I chose this major because I really enjoyed Orgo 1 and Orgo 2, which I took my Freshman year, and I realized I wanted to take more chemistry based classes. I am also majoring in BCN as well, and I did not want to just take psychology courses the rest of my college career. Additionally, I realized that the major covers most of the required pre-med courses  that you need to take, so I basically thought if i have to take these classes anyway, I should just major in BMS too. My favorite class in this major thus far has been CHEM 420, which is considered ORGO 3. The class was really laid back, and I really appreciated how the professor emphasized learning the material as opposed to the grades in the class. Also, a lot of the material was an add-on to what was learned in ORGO 2, which was probably my favorite required pre-med course. A drawback to this major is that a lot of people major in BMS. This results in the upper level classes, which are usually smaller in other majors, still being around 100 people. With the classes still being so big, it is hard to get to know the professor. For example, I am in an upper level MCDB course now, which is about 150 students. I went to office hours, and the office was crowded with students asking questions.  
      • Pragathi: I declared BMS during the winter semester of my sophomore year. I ended up choosing this major because while I originally wanted to major in CMB (now called MCDB), the electives for BMS sounded a little more appealing to me. Additionally, I happened to have already taken classes that fulfilled the BMS major so by the time I declared, I was almost two-thirds of the way done with the major. My favorite class in this major was CHEM 352, a biochemistry lab that was actually pretty interesting and easy. This class also had an upper-level writing option (that I didn’t end up taking since I already did my ULWR). One downside of majoring in BMS is that you aren’t able to use your chemistry credit (if you came in with IB/AP credit) to fulfill prerequisites. If you didn’t take Gen Chem, you’ll have to take the CHEM 245/246/247 sequence. This wasn’t my favorite class mostly because it was focused on the more technical or mechanical side of chemistry which wasn’t really of interest to me.
      • Liam: I declared for BMS at the end of the second semester of my sophomore year. I chose this major because while I originally wanted to major in Biochemistry, I had no intention of taking any additional math courses in college (besides statistics), so I settled for BMS. From my understanding its essentially the same major as biochemistry, but does not require CALC 2. My favorite class in this course was intro to biochem because, as I said before, my primary interest is in biochemistry. A lot of what I learned in the course helped my understanding of my current research and gave me a great foundation to build off of in upper level electives. I didn’t really experience any cons to this major because it was pretty much everything I was looking for (biochem minus calculus).
  • Biology

    • Biology 

      • Haniyeh: I declared biology the winter semester of my junior year. I always knew that I was interested in biological sciences, but since UM has so many majors in this field, I had to search deeper to find out which one would better suit my needs. After I transferred to UM from a community college, I compared different majors’ requirements and talked to the advisors in the department of chemistry and biology. I realized that biology is a great major for me since there were fewer restrictions on the number of credits you can take outside the department and this gave me more opportunities to take classes from a wide variety of topics that I was curious about. My favorite class was BIO 207: Microbiology. I really enjoyed the class because I learned about microbial and viral genetics, medical microbiology, and basic epidemiology. Also, the course had a lab component and I learned new techniques that are applicable in many biological labs. Since there is a wide variety of courses that you will take and the class sizes are usually large, the chance of taking classes with the same classmates are low. This can make it hard to develop a good connection with your professors and build a sense of community among your classmates. 
    • Biology, Health, and Society (BHS)

      • Judy; I declared BHS during the fall semester of my junior year. I chose this major because I knew I wanted a science major that covered most of my pre-med requirements while still having classes that I would find interesting to take. I really like BHS because it am interested in the public health/sociology side of the medical field which I feel that the Health and Society section covers well. My favorite classes so far for this major have been BIO 225 and WOMENSTD 220. BIO 225 is human and animal physiology which was interesting because there was a lot of applications to the basic biology that we’ve learned for so long. Women’s Studies 220 was also really interesting because I learned a lot about the social construction of women’s sexuality and health care. There aren’t really any cons I can think of unless you think you would dread the classes in the health and society category of this major (since a lot of you pre-meds are huge natural science people). These HU and SS classes tend to have more essays and be a tad bit more reading based. 
    • Neuroscience

      • Ruchira: I declared my major the winter semester of my sophomore year. I was initially interested in majoring in Neuroscience because it overlapped with the research lab that I’ve been involved in for the past two years. My favorite major relevant class so far has been PSYCH 230 because in the Neuroscience major, the classes BIO 222 and PSYCH 230 cover a lot of the same material. When I took PSYCH 230 after taking BIO 222, I found that I had a better understanding of the core topics of the major and was able to truly enjoy learning the new material that was covered covered. 
      • Owen: I declared my neuroscience major the fall semester of my sophomore year. As a freshman, I knew I wanted to major in MCDB. I took PSYCH 111 with Schreier the winter semester of my freshman year and really enjoyed the neuroscience unit. After I took some time to reflect on my interests, I ultimately decided to go with Neuroscience as my major. My favorite class so far in this major has been PSYCH 230, Intro to Behavioral Neuroscience. This class explored in depth the topics that sparked my interest during PSYCH 111. We got to dissect sheep brains too which was pretty cool! Neuroscience is a pretty common major, so there aren’t too many opportunities to enroll in smaller sized classes. Reaching out to professors individually is a must if you want to develop a relationship with them.
      • Anni: I declared neuroscience during the winter semester of my freshman year. Although I enjoyed biology, I always saw myself as a pretty poor science student. The program was really eye-opening for me because it exposed me to the interdisciplinary nature of neuroscience and showed me that there was a way to choose how much of one classical science subject you want to study and research (the spectrum of behavioral neuroscience to computational, plus everything in between). During this program I also became really interested in movement disorders, which, in conjunction with the interdisciplinary aspect, convinced me that neuroscience was what I wanted to study in college. My favorite class has been Neurology 455: Neuroscience of Parkinson’s Disease. This class isn’t through LSA and is taught by Dr. Levanthal, who is a neurologist at the VA hospital. This class is capped at 20 students and Dr. Levanthal makes an effort to learn everyone’s names and facilitate lively discussion among students. He starts the course with a “clinic visit” with one of his actual patients. During this time, he interviewed his patient as if they were in a hospital exam room and then occasionally provided commentary as to his methodology and observations. The core classes and prerequisites can take a while to get through, so for me at least, I found that neuroscience was a major where there’s a delayed gratification aspect—it was only going into my senior year when I felt that saying I was a neuroscience major actually held weight in terms of my knowledge of the subject. Participating in neuroscience-based outreach programs, research, and/or tutoring can help reinforce that sense of “belonging,” per se. 
      • Karan: While I haven’t yet declared my major (I will this semester), I chose neuroscience because I liked the blend between psychology and biology. I am very interested in understanding the processes behind our behavior. Additionally, the brain has many relevant analogies to circuits which is another field of study I am interested in. My favorite class has been PSYCH 230. This class really bridged the gap between brain and behavior and taught me a lot of important concepts. It was really interesting to see behavior on the level of the organism and how this could be simplified to brain processes. As others have mentioned, the major is fairly large, so it’s hard to find smaller classes where you can build a relationship with the professors. While not the most difficult major here, there are a few difficult core classes that must be completed and this can do some damage to your GPA if you don’t have proper study skills. 
      • Sydney: I declared my neuroscience major during the winter semester of my freshman year. I chose the neuroscience major because I really like the interdisciplinary nature of the program. The classes offered for the neuroscience major are relevant to psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, etc. I really enjoy psychology and have had the opportunity to take psych-related courses that fulfill my major requirements while also allowing my pre-medical and hard science interests to intersect and harmonize with the social science material. The major requirements also overlap almost perfectly with pre-med requirements. My favorite class in this major has been PSYCH 345: Introduction to Human Neuropsychology. This class explored brain injury and neural dysfunction, and I am very interested in neuropathology. Neuroscience is a common major, and classes are generally large. This major also has tough core classes which should be taken relatively early in your college career in order to do well in the elective courses. Although I struggled in the core classes, these classes do enable you to do well in upper level courses.
  • Physics

    • Biophysics

      • Lindsay: I declared Biophysics in the fall of my sophomore year. The biophysics department is very small, and the small class sizes were a major reason why I decided on biophysics. Other than that, I knew I wanted to study physics and needed to fulfill all my pre-medical courses, so I chose Biophysics since it made both possible. I really enjoyed BIOPHYS 420 (MCDB 420) because the class was all about reading scientific papers, synthesizing them, and discussing them. Because biophysics is such a small major, students are sometimes limited to the order in which they take classes. What I mean is that some required courses are only offered in the fall, and others in the winter. Several of these courses have prerequisites within our major, so you have to do a bit of planning ahead of time to make sure you can fit all your classes into to a schedule you like. The process of ordering my classes was infinitely easier because I regularly met with our biophysics advisor (Sara Grosky).
  • Psych

    • Biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience (BCN)

      • Brooke: I declared BCN the summer going into my sophomore year. Ever since taking a psychology class in high school, I have been super interested in the field. However, when I came to college, I realized I was more interested in the biological aspect of psychology, and that is why I chose BCN over a regular psych major. Also, with BCN, there was some cross over with classes I needed to take for BMS, so I could knock out two requirements with one class. My favorite class I have taken for BCN has been either PSYCH 270 or PSYCH 355. PSYCH 270 is intro to psychopathology, and PSYCH 355 is cognitive development. Each class teaches a lot of interesting information that I have, surprisingly, not forgotten. This major is also one that a lot of people choose to major in. Therefore, a lot of the core courses have a ton of people in them. However, as you get to the upper level courses, there are a lot of options, and the classes are much smaller.
      • Johnson: I declared my sophomore year. I chose this major as it combined both the natural sciences as well as the interesting social science classes (psych). I’m also interested in how the mind can affect our behavior. PSYCH 280 was probably the best class I’ve taken in this major because I love the professor and the class was super interesting. 
  • Music

    • Music (LSA)

      • Owen: I declared my music major winter semester of my sophomore year. I initially planned to pursue a music minor through LSA, but ultimately decided to add it as a second major so it could hold a larger presence in my college career. I chose to add my music major because I always knew I wanted music to play a role in my life and during my time spent as an undergrad. I actually almost dual enrolled in LSA/SMTD, but decided against that given the heavy workload and time requirements. Majoring in music through LSA still encourages me to participate in groups and play my instrument (trombone), but leaves much more time for me to focus on other aspects of my college life. The best class I’ve taken was Musicology 307: Music and Community. The course was offered for the first time in the winter of 2019, and it required students to partner with local arts groups in Ann Arbor. I worked with the Michigan Taiwanese American Organization to help them organize events and promote their music and art. It was a really valuable experience, unlike anything I had ever experienced in college. The only things to watch out for with this major concerns thinking ahead to your future. The LSA Music advisor often tells his students to add this major as a second major to an already established primary major, which is neuroscience for me. Make sure you can handle the course load before deciding to add it as a double major.
  • MINORS

    • Gender and Health

      • Pooja: I really love my gender and health minor because it was super interdisciplinary: I was able to take courses in nursing, anthropology, sociology, psychology, and literature. I also feel like I was able to learn material that I could directly apply to my career in medicine—topics in reproductive anatomy/physiology, disparities in healthcare, and issues specific to LGBTQ populations. My favorite class was actually called WOMENSTD 400. The course was taught by two OB-GYNs at the hospital, but most of our lectures were actually given by guest lecturers. We got to hear from people in law, public policy, nursing, psychology, sex therapy, etc. We also wrote a 20 page paper on any gender and health topic for our final project and this fulfilled the ULWR LSA requirement, which honestly wasn’t as bad as it sounds and a pretty cool way to get that requirement out of the way.
    • Asian Studies

      • Johnson: I chose this minor at the end of my sophomore year, because it allows me to get away from the science courses with my major. For me, it serves as a balance each semester when choosing my classes. But more importantly, it is also super interesting if you are into learning about the different cultures throughout Asia.The people running the department are super friendly and accommodating so that’s a plus. My favorite class so far definitely has to be ASIAN 377. It mostly a Korean entertainment and KPop class where you learn the history but also the music and the artist in general. Highly recommend if you are a Kpop stan XD. The only disadvantage of the minor I can think of is that certain classes are only offered once a year, so it can be challenging when planning your classes out for each semester.
    • African Studies

      • Anni: I declared my African Studies minor in the winter semester of junior year. I’ve been interested in African affairs since high school when I did a research project on Post-Apartheid South Africa. I took three AAS classes before I declared (260, 290, 662), which helped me identify my main interest, health structures and institutions in sub-saharan Africa, and confirm that this was something I was passionate enough to minor in. I was actually a big humanities kid in high school, so I was able to rekindle my love of history, english, and political science through this minor, in addition to expanding my knowledge and understanding of public health. AAS 662- “Health and Socioeconomic Development” is a graduate level class taught through the school of public health. It’s cross-listed as an epidemiology course, and a majority of the students are MPH-global health epidemiology students (you need a professor override to enroll in the class). The workload for this class is pretty intense (~300 pages a week and two presentations: 1 hour and 3 hours) but it’s so worth it. This course covers public health in multiple countries and teaches you the basics of colonialism, development, and political economy. I had 8 people in my class and we all became very close. I love this minor. The professors are insightful, wickedly funny, and tell the best stories. The classes are always small (about 15-20 people) which makes for great discussions and class energy.
  • NON LSA MAJORS

     

    • Engineering

       

      • Biomedical Engineering (BME)

        • Nick: I always knew that BME was something I would be interested. Therefore, I spent the first couple of years confirming that I wanted to do it. It also really helped that I took ENGR 110, a course that helped to describe all of the engineering majors and what it means to be an engineer. I chose this major because not only did I really love robotics, but I also wanted to go into medicine. BME was the perfect combo and 4 years later, I still feel it is! One thing I would say is that my love for robotics eventually transformed more into an interest in engineering/research skills. I have a several classes that I really enjoyed in this major, specifically BME 458 and Physiol 404. Both courses are really awesome ways to combine engineering design with medically relevant topics. I can say that I am very happy in this major. It gives me a very good education in a broad span of topics. The con is that it is a lot of work. Any engineering major will lead to long hours of homework. To be pre-med and BME also means a lot of semesters spent taking about 16-18 credits in order to be able to fit all of the necessary courses before graduation. 
    • Kinesiology 

      • Movement Science

        • Michael: I decided to study movement science the fall of my sophomore year. I chose this major because the School of Kinesiology offers smaller class sizes that coincide well with the field of medicine that I hope to pursue. Since I hope to pursue a career in sports medicine, Movement Science offers me a vast range of courses that will only contribute to my growing passion for helping athletes prevent, treat, and diagnose sports injuries. My favorite class is Movesci 330, the Biomechanics of Human Movement. In the class, I get to analyze how the body moves, calculate to what extent the body moves, and describe the motion of the human body through qualitative and quantitative measures. The class is very hands-on and offers many opportunities to actively engage with the material, fellow classmates, and the professor. One con about this major is that typically, students in the School of Kinesiology are not often pre-med. There might not be much overlap with the students you see in your Movesci classes and your pre-med classes.
  • Guest posts

    • Spanish

      • Cindy: I decided on my double major sophomore year (Spanish and BMS). I enjoyed Spanish in high school because language learning challenges you to think differently — it’s not rote-memorization like a lot of the pre-med classes I would be taking in my other major — so I enrolled in a few Spanish classes in college. I mainly chose the Spanish major because the minor requires upper-level literature classes, which I knew I didn’t want to do. I enjoyed the more linguistics-focused classes I was in at the time and wanted to shift away from literature. My favorite class was SPANISH 333; I took it abroad in Salamanca, Spain with Nick Henriksen. It was my first sampling of the linguistics course. I also enjoyed it because it was immediately applicable since I was in a heavy spanish speaking setting. A con of pursuing a language study is that it does require constant practice to keep up the skills. Especially as someone who didn’t grow up learning or using this language and only having limited time with it in class, you really have to make the most of it to get out of it what you want (most people say conversational fluency is the goal). For that reason, a study abroad program is probably the best way to get at least a couple of language classes done because immersion is the best way to learn it, and UM is a lot more flexible with finances and scholarships for abroad trips than many students realize.
    • Public Health Sciences

      • Ravi: I applied to the school of public health winter semester of sophomore year, got accepted that spring break, then committed before the end of the semester. I took PUBHLTH 200 and realized that there’s a lot of correlation between public health and medicine. Since medicine needs more public health initiatives to create a more personalized treatment for patients, public health is a hugely relevant and important field of study. PUBHLTH 370, Biology and Pathophysiology were my favorite classes. In these classes, you get to learn about the biology behind viruses, chronic diseases, and these topics are very applicable to medicine. One downside to this major is that you only get two years to complete all your requirements and almost all your classes have to be in the department for your junior and senior years, which doesn’t create a lot of space for a minor in any other school. Within the degree, though, there’s a wide variety of classes. If you’re a B.S. student, you can still take classes that the B.A. students are taking.

We’re back with more tips and foresight for all of you incoming undergrads and interested pre-meds! If you haven’t already, check out our first installment of this series. This time, Pre-Med Hub has teamed up with all of our newest advisors in the team to bring you some more things we’ve learned during our diverse pre-med paths.

 

It is never too early to start planning out what you want to do and the things you are interested in.

Start briefly planning your future courses and give yourself deadlines for things you want to complete in the future. By setting goals for yourself, it will encourage you to stay on top of things as time goes on. By planning out your time as an undergrad, it will make each step closer to med school less stressful and hectic when the time comes.

Take the time to look into the opportunities and resources on campus as early as possible. Being at a big public university, it can be daunting to know the amount of opportunities on campus. Because of this, students could then be too overwhelmed where they might not know how to start. Therefore, start by talking with people such as pre-health advisors. After that, talk to other students and friends who are interested in the same field as well. Using the umich websites to look for organizations, resources, and opportunities will also be beneficial as well. If you really put in effort and dedicate time into looking for these opportunities, it will pay off in the end when you need them. 

Schedule meetings with your pre-health advisor earlier than you think you need to! They see a lot of students so their schedules fill up quickly – I personally recommend one meeting per semester to discuss course scheduling, summer plans, when to take the MCAT, etc.

The pre-med community is only cutthroat if you let it be cutthroat.

If you find an inclusive community and believe that people are on your side, you’ll feel much better. It’s an entire mindset change. Be wary of being taken advantage of by other students for knowledge/ resources without any reimbursement (e.g. sharing notes versus working on a “group study guide” but only you contribute), but in general, more people are on your side than you think. While you might sometimes want to dissociate completely from the pre-med community, it can be beneficial to have a few friends who are also thinking about becoming doctors. There are so many different opinions and suggestions out there, so having some peers who you appreciate and whose opinions you value can be very helpful in your pre-med journey.

If you know you’re susceptible to adopting or buying into group attitudes, consider fulfilling your pre-med requirements with classes less popular amongst pre-meds. When you’re in class with 200+ other students, most of whom are pre-med, two or three times a week, it can be difficult not to compare yourself to everyone else and feel judged in return. Of course, make sure you’re interested in the material in the class and willing to commit the time required to do well, but the  specific classes you end up taking are not that big of a deal. As long as you fulfill your requirements, any class works. People may say that some classes are harder than others, but really you will have you own experience and it could be vastly different. 

Take the time to explore things that are interesting to you. Med schools want to see that you are passionate about something, whatever that may be. Don’t exclusively look for student orgs and classes that will look good on a resume, instead do things that you enjoy. Undergrad is the time to explore and learn as much as possible. Every student is unique, and med schools aren’t looking for applicants to be carbon copies of each other. They are looking for a multidimensional applicant with a diverse array of experiences and interests.

Choose the classes you want to take, major in whatever you want, and join the clubs that genuinely interest you. While the pre-med track should still provide the overarching framework to your undergrad experience, make sure you’re still being you in the process.If you like to do research, take your time to find a research opportunity that you are truly passionate about. Don’t do research as a way to check the list of common pre-med activities, do it if you enjoy the process of research and the purpose behind it. 

Being involved in what you are passionate for is enough to set you apart. Even if the things you like or want to do may not fall into the medical category, doing things your way can make you stand out and be seen as unique by the admissions department at medical schools. Therefore, try to find a balance of doing things that will help your path to med school as well as participating in things you personally enjoy. Also, having a hobby or a skill outside of your academic career can be a great  source of stress relief!!

Staying organized is the key to reducing stress.

Make sure you have a calendar and to-do list (either electronic or paper) where you can schedule your meetings, assignments, exams, classes, and office hours. This will help you keep track of the countless things you are responsible for and help you prioritize what needs to be done at that hour.

Try to make a weekly schedule and have a plan for your week from the first week of classes. Many classes are demanding and you need to allocate enough time to perform well in them. Having a weekly schedule helps you to manage your time better. However, if you missed something, know that this could happen to anyone and there are things that are out of our control. Try to adjust your plans instead of panicking and quitting.  

Re-evaluate your feelings towards medicine at every step of your pre-med journey.

It can be very easy to register and take pre-med classes without a second thought because your 4-year plan says so. You change a lot in college and medicine is a big, big commitment. Compile your class, shadowing, and volunteering experiences from the semester and think about if pre-med is right for you. Remember, there are tons of other health-related fields! Doing these quick checks at the end of semesters will both help you find what you’re truly passionate about, save you from unnecessary stress, and maximize your time in college.

Don’t get discouraged if you fail a class or don’t get an A. A big part of starting college is learning how to study and time manage. I know plenty of people who had to retake a class or two and still got into grad school.

Taking gap years is completely acceptable. In fact, many med schools prefer older applicants due to maturity (they’ve lived life outside pre-med track and have had time to find their “why” in medicine). It doesn’t mean you’re a “bad pre-med,” or backing down from the challenges medicine poses. If you’ve been dreaming of becoming a doctor since you can remember, that’s great! It doesn’t mean, however, that going directly into med school is the best thing for you. At minimum, you’re looking at 8 years of your life with very little time to yourself. Take advantage of a year or two (or more) to take care of and prepare yourself for what’s ahead. That being said, do something you find meaningful, whether it’s medicine-related or not, during your gap year(s). There are organized gap year programs and positions to help you structure your time better if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance!!

There are plenty of others who have gone before you and can offer advice in your perspective career or major. People will be more than willing to help as long as you ask!  

Invest time into getting to know the people around you. Odds are you might have other classes with these students. Building the foundation of your relationship now will allow you to build a friendship that could span across your entire undergraduate career. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people to study with you. It’s a good way to have someone hold you accountable and be able to bounce ideas off of each other. 

Make time for yourself.

It is easy to get caught up in academics and other responsibilities, but remember that college is one of the best times of your life. Don’t forsake personal relationships and self care for the never-ending grind of being a pre-med. Mental health is extremely important, and spreading yourself too thin will almost definitely lead to burnout. Take time for yourself whether that is working out or taking a nap. We all need time away from studying in order to rejuvenate ourselves and rest our brains.

Take your first semester at college to relax and enjoy the college experience. Branch out and make as many friends as you want, and explore college life. School and life will only get more hectic as you get further into your pre-med journey so make sure to enjoy as much as possible. Don’t put too much on your plate. Try to get used to the rigor of college classes and potentially get involved in one or two extracurriculars.

Spring Term after freshman year is a very good time to catch up on coursework if you feel behind, or it can be a good time to get ahead on coursework. Being able to focus on one tough class is very helpful and is a good way to really learn the material well for the MCAT.  It’s also a great way to enjoy Ann Arbor in the summer! 

 

 Just breathe. Everything will be okay.

 

 

 

Name: Margarete Wallner                    Major(s) and minor(s): Neuroscience

Favorite class you took at Michigan: NEUROL 455: For those of you fellow Neuroscience majors out there, this is an excellent senior-level seminar to take during your fall semester senior year! Dr. Leventhal is an excellent instructor. Not only is he a neurologist himself, but he also does applied research related to the causes of Parkinson’s Disease. This class has no exams, which I found enjoyable as many of my science-based classes were solely based on exams. You have take-home quizzes based on assigned scientific articles. During the semester you also have to give a presentation to the class about one of the assigned scientific articles. Dr. Leventhal always pushed us to think critically in class and was a very helpful/supportive instructor. I would take this class again if I could!

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Studied for about 10 hours a week during my fall semester of my junior year. Did weekly Kaplan MCAT course (3 hours/week).

When did you take the MCAT: Mid January of my junior year.

What was your pre-med experience: My pre-med experience was quite fast paced. I took all my medical school prerequisites relatively early. I liked this, because my last three semesters in college I got to take classes I truly enjoyed. I volunteered at Ozone House as a crisis line volunteer, at Michigan Medicine, as well as an academic tutor for local underserved youth. I participated in numerous extracurricular activities related improving academic accessibility at the university and served as a SLC Course Leader for Chem 130 for two years.

Recommendations/advice for current students: If I had to give three pieces of advice regarding my pre-med experience at Michigan, it would be this: 1) It is totally okay to take a gap year, and in fact, I encourage it. If I had to go back and change anything, it would be to take a gap year. Not only do you have an extra year of experience to vouch for in your application, but it is often looked highly upon applicants to take a gap year. 2) Take the MCAT when you are truly ready! I rushed to take my MCAT because I felt I was on a strict timeline in order to apply on time. Although many medical schools will say that they look at your application holistically, (unfortunately, in my opinion), the MCAT will be weighed relatively heavily in your application. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances where this isn’t true. However, if you take the practice AAMC MCAT practice exams and are not scoring where you would like to see yourself scoring, WAIT. Study more, nail down your strategies, and take the MCAT when you get your goal score on the AAMC MCAT practice exams.

Classes:

 
1st year
2nd year
3rd year
4th year

Fall

  • CHEM 125/126
  • CHEM 130
  • HONORS 241 (Great Performances)
  • MATH 116
  • UC 280 (UROP)
  • BIOLOGY 225
  • BIOLOGY 226
  • CHEM 220 (SLC-related course)
  • PSYCH 230
  • WOMENSTD 220
  • HONORS 291 (research)
  • BIOLOGY 222
  • CHEM 230
  • SOC 302
  • MCDB 300 (research)
  • BIOLOGY 305
  • NEUROL 455
  • PUBHLTH 403
  • JAZZ 450 (meditation)
  • MCDB 400 (research)

Winter

  • ANTHRCUL 101 (Honors)
  • BIOLOGY 173 (ARC)
  • CHEM 210
  • CHEM 211
  • ENGLISH 140 (1st-year writing seminar)
  • UC 280 (UROP)
  • MCDB 310
  • PHYSICS 135
  • PHYSICS 136
  • PUBHLTH 310
  • STATS 250
  • MCDB 300 (research)
  • JAZZ 450 (meditation)
  • PSYCH 336
  • PSYCH 337
  • SOC 495 (Social Inequalities in Health)
  • MCDB 300 (research)
  • HUMGEN 480

Spring

  • CHEM 215
  • CHEM 216
  • PHYSICS 235
  • PHYSICS 236
   

 

Name: Kiran Ajani

 

 

 

   Major(s) and minor(s): Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience major, Religion minor

Favorite class you took at Michigan: ANATOMY 403: Although this class was worth every one of its 5 credits, it was so fascinating to learn about the body in this much detail. Since this course is offered through the medical school, it is a great introduction into what you will see and learn about when you are a medical student. It does take quite a bit of time to learn all the material, but I found it to be extremely relevant.

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Took TPR course, studied June through August

When did you take the MCAT: August of the summer before junior year (2017)

What was your pre-med experience: I had a very good experience at Michigan, in no small part due to the many pre-med (and non-pre-med) friends I met along the way. Pre-med courses at this university can be very difficult, but by taking advantage of SLC study groups and generally studying with friends, I was able to form a community and support network to help me through it. In addition, many of the professors for these courses are helpful and easy to talk to, whether you need help with the schoolwork or want to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Recommendations/advice for current students: Michigan has innumerable opportunities, both related to medicine and not – you can volunteer or work at the hospital, partake in all kinds of research, and join various student organizations. As much as you can, take advantage of these. Push yourself to find new activities that you find stimulating and educational, and pursue what you’re passionate about through these experiences. You have an exciting few years ahead of you, so make the most of them!

Classes:

  1st year 2nd year 3rd year 4th year

Fall

  • GTBOOKS 191
  • CHEM 130
  • CHEM 125/126
  • STATS 250
  • PSYCH 250
  • CHEM 215
  • CHEM 216
  • PHYSICS 135
  • PHYSICS 136
  • PSYCH 230
  • BIOLOGY 200
  • BIOLOGY 225
  • BIOLOGY 226
  • CHEM 230
  • ASIAN 230
  • MCDB 300
  • MIDEAST 321
  • PSYCH 447
  • PSYCH 424

Winter

  • CHEM 210
  • CHEM 211
  • BIOLOGY 173
  • SOC 100
  • HISTORY 105
  • PHYSICS 235
  • PHYSICS 236
  • MCDB 310
  • PSYCH 240
  • WOMENSTD 220
  • BIOLOGY 200
  • ANATOMY 403
  • PSYCH 358
  • PSYCH 349
  • RELIGION 258
  • PSYCH 339
  • PSYCH 418
  • PSYCH 426

 

Below we have provided an example order of how you might split up your science classes. This schedule is VERY subjective. Each of these groups can be split between semesters or years (PLEASE don’t take 4+ STEM classes in one semester), but are a general guideline for popular premed classes that may help to take before the MCAT. Many of the classes listed also have alternates that may be helpful to look into: for example, there are 3 biochems offered, or 3 sets of physics, or 3 pchems. Talk to an advisor for more specific questions.

First Semester: CHEM 125/126/130, BIO 171, STATS 250, PSYCH 111

Second Semester: BIO 172, BIO 173, CHEM 210/211

Third Semester: CHEM 215/216, PHYSICS 135/136, BIO 225

Fourth Semester: CHEM 230, PHYSICS 235/236, MCDB 310

                                 —-MCAT —-

Junior/Senior year: Finish Major and Graduation Requirements


Which classes to take and not take together

When you register for classes, it is be helpful to look at the syllabus to get an idea of what type of class it is. Some classes may be very focused on exams, some may have a lot of writing, some may be math heavy, some may be memorization heavy, etc. I always try to take no more than two of each of these types of classes per semester.

For example, bio classes are often memorization heavy and there’s only so many slides you can commit to memory in a semester, so I wouldn’t take something like physiol and biochem and microbio all together.

Similarly, don’t take your upper level writing together with all other humanities if you don’t find writing to be your strong suite; taking only one or two writing classes allows you to spend more time on each paper you hand in.

Another thing to consider once you have access to all syllabi for the semester is how well the exams are spaced out. Most of the time, exams are spread out enough to make studying for them manageable. However, it is possible that a combination of classes you choose makes all of your first midterms, second midterms, and third midterms land in the same week, and some people are better at managing such a situation better than others.


Additionally, below are our board’s own experiences with U of M courses in our best and worst semesters. We hope you can learn from our experiences!

 

Kiran

My worst semester was the second semester of my freshman year. I was taking BIOLOGY 173, CHEM 210 and 211, HISTORY 105 (Intro to Religion), and SOC 100. I think the reason why this was my worst semester was because I never had exposure to organic chemistry in high school, so studying for Orgo 1 took up a lot of time. Additionally, although I was interested in religion as a topic (and am now minoring in Religion), HISTORY 105 turned out to be slightly different than what I expected, making it harder for me to complete those assignments. Finally, BIOLOGY 173 (like most labs at Michigan) took up a decent amount of time, because we were required to complete pre-labs, 2 papers, 2 presentations, and 2 quizzes. I think this combination of classes – where the subjects were either new or required my full attention – in addition to being a freshman led to me getting a little overwhelmed.

My best semester was actually the following semester, which was fall of my sophomore year. I took CHEM 215 and 216, PHYSICS 135 and 136, PSYCH 230 (Behavioral Neuroscience), and BIOLOGY 200 (Independent Research). I actually really enjoyed this combination of classes, mostly because of the scientific nature of subjects. Taking Orgo 2 (which I found to be easier and generally better than Orgo 1) and Physics 1 (which is often perceived to be one of the easier pre-med courses) concurrently definitely worked out well. PSYCH 230 was also fairly science-heavy, but I really enjoyed the focus on the brain, especially since I am a BCN major. Finally, BIOLOGY 200 allowed me to explore research on my own for the first time. This was also the semester when I started joining more student orgs, and when I learned that I work more efficiently when I am busy.

 

Lindsay

My best semester was the fall of my junior year. I was taking pchem BIOPHYS 370(3)/MCDB 310(3)/AMCULT 214(3)/EEB 472(3)/EHS 474(3). I was also doing 15 hours of research and 4 hours volunteering per week. Honestly, I think I did well because I went to all of my classes and reached out to professors/GSIs whenever I was having a hard time understanding the course material. This meant going to office hours or scheduling a time to meet my professors about 3 hours/week, but I think it was worth it. Plus, my relationships with my professors ended up being great, so much so that three of my letters of recommendation will be written by professors I had the fall of my junior year. I also made sure to give myself time to relax and blow off steam. It seems counterintuitive to commit to do more things during a week on top of school and research obligations, but I found that adding social events into my schedule made me more efficient at and happy to do school work.

My worst semester was winter of my sophomore year. I was taking BIO 172(4)/CHEM 210(4)/MATH 215(4)/UROP 280(4). I was also doing about 15 hours of research and 4 hours volunteering per week.  I think that semester went so poorly because I never reached out for help when I was having trouble understanding concepts, and I was too stubborn to change my study style that was clearly not working. I’m not naturally good at memorizing, and I was stubborn and did not make an effort to switch to a study method that matched the demands of the course. Also, I was having issues with my mental and physical health that I think added to my inability to focus in class and retain information I was taught. My ability to succeed in school since the winter of my sophomore year has coincided with improvements in my state of mind and a better social life.

 

Margarete

My worst semester was the fall semester of my junior year. That semester I took Chem 230, Bio 222 (neuroscience major core class), Soc 302 (essentially the introductory sociology class for Pre-Meds), and MCDB 300 (3 credits of research for the lab I work in). I know this may not seem like a heavy course load, but I was also studying for the MCAT. So in addition to 3 hours of volunteering at the hospital, 4 hours of volunteering at Ozone House, 12 hours of research, my Chem 130 course leader and facilitator job, and numerous other extracurriculars, I was trying to study for what was the hardest exam I was going to take in my life thus far. Reflecting on this time, I realize that I committed myself to too many activities while trying to study for the MCAT. If I had to go back and change anything, I would change the time I took the MCAT. Knowing myself and my standardized test-taking abilities, I should have studied for the MCAT while I wasn’t taking any classes, particularly the summer after my sophomore or junior year. Additionally, my anxiety and ADHD ramped up during this stressful time, so I think that negatively affected my MCAT studying experience.

My best semester was actually the winter semester of my junior year. I took my MCAT in the middle of January, which, naturally wasn’t a particularly fun or positive experience. However, after that was over, it was smooth sailing for the rest of the semester. I continued with the previous extracurriculars and activities I was doing in the fall semester of junior year. Additionally, I wasn’t taking any “Pre-Med” classes. I took Psych 335 and Psych 336 which are neuroscience electives for my major. Additionally, I took Soc 495, which is an upper-level elective focusing on global and local health disparities. I really enjoyed this class as it challenged me to think in a way that was quite different than the way I was challenged in my STEM classes. I also took Jazz 450, which is a meditation class on North Campus. I can say that this class really taught me how to channel my anxiety into a productive, mindful practice, and taught me useful skills to manage my anxiety during my MCAT test day. Additionally, I had no Friday classes for the first time. Every Friday, I would take a mental health day and I believe that this taught me to learn how to reset and ground myself so I could have a productive weekend and following week.

 

Peyton

My worst semester was the fall semester of my junior year. During this, I was taking biochemistry (biochemistry department version), re-taking CHEM 210, and taking Genetics. Off the top of my head, I can’t even remember what else I was taking, because those classes were massively neglected. My thought process for taking this many science classes at once was that Orgo 1 would not be very intense, as I had already taken it once, even though I hadn’t received a satisfactory enough grade in the class. I had also taken Orgo 2 during the term preceding the fall, and I had done much better than I did in Orgo 1 initially. This was the first mistake — Orgo 1 was still nearly as difficult as it was the first time that I took it, only this time I had to juggle biochem and genetics on top of it. You can probably guess how those two classes went. HORRIBLE. It’s probably possible for some genius student to juggle all these classes, but it was not possible for me at all. I ended up retaking both biochemistry and genetics. Not fun.

My best semester was the fall semester of my senior year. By that time, I was finished with the majority of the pre-medical requirements and focusing on finishing both of my majors. I was taking an African history class (AAS 246: Africa to 1850), a new enforced class for the Neuroscience major (BIO 222: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience), a Neuroscience major elective (MCDB 421: Topic in Neurobiology – Sensory Circuits and Disease), a microbiology class (MICRBIOL 405: Microbiology and Infectious Diseases), and an experimentally-focused small group lecture that counted as a lab credit for both my Psychology and Neuroscience majors (PSYCH 402: Experimental Designs & Methods in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience). This semester was extremely enjoyable to me because every class was advanced-level material in topics that I was interested in. I was thoroughly challenged but not overwhelmed. I actually didn’t know how well I did overall until I finished the semester, but I still was content with the course load during the term.

 

Brooke

My worst semester so far was the fall semester of my sophomore year, but I think this semester (winter my junior year) will end up being my worst semester after it is finished. For both of these semesters, I decided to take two hard science courses at the same time. For my fall semester, I was taking PSYCH 240/BIO 225/MCDB 310/SOC 302. Not only was biochem and Animal Phys super hard, but all of my classes that semester were classes that you needed to memorize all of the material to do well. I would recommend taking some classes that require memorization with ones that require problem-solving and not all of one type. This semester I am taking genetics with orgo 3, which again are two very hard science courses. In addition to taking classes both semesters, I was and currently, am doing research and various volunteer activities. From my experience with both of these semesters, I advise to not take more than one hard science course at one time unless you absolutely have to or taking harder science courses with easier classes to help balance out the workload. For example, I would recommend to not take biochem and pchem together.

My best semester was the winter semester of my sophomore year.  At the time, I was taking physics, a chem class, behavioral neuroscience, and a humanities course. In my opinion, the classes balanced out; I was taking two easier classes and two harder classes. Also, I was doing research, volunteering at the hospital during the week, and volunteering with hospice on the weekend, so I was not hectically busy. I think this ended up being my best semester because everything was balanced with my workload from classes and my extracurriculars.

 

Pooja

My worst semester was the fall of junior year. My classes weren’t too challenging (except pchem) but I really struggled a lot because I took on too many non-school commitments at over 40 hours a week, plus had a full-time course load: ASIANLAN 115(4)/CHEM 230(3)/WS 432(3)/COMPLIT 100(3)/INDEP RESEARCH(2). I also finished the MCAT in September of that semester, so I was a little bit burnt out from all the studying and stress from waiting for my scores.

My best semester was probably the fall of sophomore year because I took really challenging but interesting courses but did well in them because I enjoyed them so much and was highly motivated. I took PHYSIOL 201(4)/CHEM 215(3)/PSYCH 280(4)/ANTHRCUL 325(4) while working about 12 hours a week, research for about 6 hours a week, a couple extracurriculars, and participating on a dance team about 8 hours a week.

 

Ruchira

My best semester was my first semester at college. At the time, I was taking PHYSICS 135/ SPANISH 232/BIO 173/ ENG 125 along with 8 hours of research and 3 hours of volunteering a week. Overall, my workload was not too heavy and I had a lot of energy because it was my first semester, so I was able to do well in my classes. PHYSICS 135 ( before it was changed!) and BIO 173, were also good options to ease my way into the rigorous science curriculum here.

My worst semester was fall of sophomore year. I was taking CHEM 215/BIO 222/CHEM 216/HISTORY 282. I was also doing research 8 hours a week, volunteering 2 hours a week, and working 4 hours a week. Still, the workload was not too heavy. I struggled because my test dates overlapped or fell very close to each other several times, which made it hard to study for my classes.

 

Pragathi

One of my worst semesters was the second semester of freshman year when I was taking Stats 250, Chem 215/216, Psych 280 with an honors conversion, and Women’s Studies 220 for my minor. Not only were my stats and chem exams frequently in the same week (my finals were on the same day and that did not work out well), but it was also a really heavy workload for someone that still wasn’t fully adjusted to the rigor of college. While it didn’t turn out to be the best semester for me, I did learn from it and it never happened again.

My best semester was last semester where I took Biochem Lab (Chem 252), Biochem (MCDB 310), a women’s studies class for my minor, and an anthro class as a GPA booster. To be fair, I only had a credit load of 12 credits this semester which not only helped a lot with time management but also really allowed me to focus on Biochem and do the best that I could in a class that I knew was demanding and really memorization heavy. I did have many extracurriculars going on as well (It was my first semester being an RA, I was doing 15 hours of research a week, and I was volunteering, in addition to my campus orgs), so it actually worked out in the end for me and wasn’t too heavy of a workload.

 

Liam

My worst semester was definitely second semester freshman year. I was taking BIO 120 (first-year seminar about diseases), BIO 173 (intro to bio lab), intensive Latin (8 credits), and was still enrolled in the UROP program. Bio120 was a pretty straightforward class, just had to keep up with the readings to do well. Bio 173 was fairly easy too, but it did require a lot of outside work as there were papers and exams to study for. The main reason I suffered so much that semester was due to intensive Latin. As a pre-med student, I wanted to get out of my LSA language requirement as fast as possible so that I could start taking more science classes. After meeting with an advisor, I was told that one of my options was to take an intensive language course, which merges semesters 3+4 of a standard language course. The class met for roughly 10 hours a week, and there were only 2 other students in the class, so if one of us slacked on homework/readings, it was impossible to hide. I have still yet to put in more time and effort into one class than I did with intensive Latin. While I was incredibly miserable at the time, the payoff was great as I never had to worry about my language requirement after freshman year. For anyone trying to get out of their requirements as fast as possible, this is one option (I believe there are intensive language courses for most of the popular languages offered at Michigan), just be mindful of the other classes you’re taking along with it as you will need to devote the majority of your studying to this class.

My best semester was winter of sophomore year, when I was taking CHEM 215/216, PHYSICS 235/236, ANTHRCUL 370 (a linguistics class counting as an R+E requirement), and working in my research lab. I loved orgo 1, and orgo 2 proved to be just more of the same, building on most of the concepts taught in the first class. Physics 1 at the time was pretty easy too, but I’ve heard that recently the class has been changed to be much more difficult. ANTHRCUL 370 was also pretty easy, even though it was a 300 level class there wasn’t a lot of prior knowledge required for the class, and the exam questions were taken straight from the lecture and discussion sessions. Even the 10 page paper at the end of it wasn’t too bad since we got to choose our own topics and worked closely with our GSI to help form the best paper possible. None of my classes were too demanding this semester, so I was also able to put more hours into my research lab, which eventually paid off with a summer job offer.

Overall, the way you plan out your schedule can play a pivotal role in how your semester goes. If you have a question on taking two classes together or how to plan your own schedule, feel free to post a question on this website or come to one of our office hours or workshops. Good luck scheduling!