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I have literally been in college for nearly fifty years and have degrees that span a multitude of disciplines. I have also taught chemistry, mathematics, engineering, counseling, public relations, and politics. Here are my 21 tips as you go forward.

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  1. Attend class even when other students don’t. Surprisingly, many lecture halls are half empty when there isn’t a test. Go anyway. Most college professors know if you attend.
  2. Buy your books and start reading before the semester starts. When classes begin, you live in a blizzard of activities, opportunities, and assignments. Again, surprisingly, most students do not complete their assigned readings. Some get by without reading but getting As that way is tough.
  3. Work ahead. Finish your paper or project first, then go out and celebrate your friend’s birthday, sports team win, or friend-group’s successes. Not only are you more likely to be relaxed, but you might even improve on your work later when you come up with a new idea.
  4. Most colleges offer free tutoring. Tutors often read over your papers
    or assignments and almost always give you valuable assistance that you would never have considered. Return to #3. To get help you must complete your assignments ahead of time.
  5. Have a backup plan or two. Murphy’s Law says: (1) anything that can go wrong will, (2) nothing is as easy as it looks, (3) everything takes longer than you think it will.
  6. Save your digital documents – often. The worst thing is when you lose an entire assignment, your computer turns off, or malware attacks your files. Google Drive and the iCloud are fine for some things, but there are pitfalls.
  7. Develop solid notetaking and reminder systems that work for you. You will need these for the rest of your life. Small things tend to slip through the cracks. Checklists are extremely helpful.
  8. There is never enough time. Bring enough clothes so you do not need to wash them as often. When you do wash them, take them out when they are done or else someone else will and you may never find them again.
  9. Register for classes the minute registration opens up for you. Trust me on this one. Otherwise, you get a bad professor at a horrible time that conflicts with your commitments. You might not even get into critical prerequisites which may extend your time in college a semester or a year.
  10. Petition to get into a class. Begging is fine. The professor can say no, but at least you tried. Good professors will save your sanity.
  11. If you have any academic problem, particularly with an illness, family matter, or emergency, let your professors know immediately. Most will not help you later if you wait a month thinking you can handle it on your own or if you miss an assignment.
  12. Make a calendar and keep track of what you need to accomplish.
  13. Teamwork is a mantra in college. You will work on teams. A few members are likely to be unmotivated slackers or talented, but extreme procrastinators. Determine this ahead of time and set intermediate goals. Remember, your grade is on the line. It’s not fair but go back to #5. In the end, finish the project anyway. The unmotivated slacker will also get an A, which may thoroughly frustrate you, but you will earn an A too.
  14. Book prices vary widely. The university bookstore prices are often high but the location is convenient. I have friends who swear by certain online stores where they always buy textbooks, get coupons, and then buy more books. One advantage of buying books in digital format is that you can often use ‘Control F’ to find on-demand information you need. Sometimes you can also take digital notes, which is impossible with a physical copy. I prefer physical books, but you choose. Also, renting books is okay unless you forget to send the book back.
  15. Get involved as soon as you can. Meet students who have similar interests. Join clubs, learn about the school’s traditions, try activities you always wanted to learn, ask professors about volunteering on research projects, and get involved with intramural sports.
  16. Don’t bring a car. A car sounds wonderful, offering you freedom, until your vehicle is broken into, the gas runs out, the car breaks down before a test, or you get a half dozen parking tickets. You never realized how much trouble a car could be on campus, particularly when there is limited and expensive parking.
  17. Communicate with your professors and TAs. Most of them have office hours. Well, they probably all have office hours, but sometimes professors or teaching assistants are absent. Either drop by during scheduled times or make an appointment. Especially if you have a question or a problem, speak to them. A professor rarely helps a student after they turn in grades but may have excellent advice during the term if you are struggling. Surprisingly, the answer key is occasionally wrong. Sometimes professors are intimidating, standoffish, or mean-spirited. Fortunately, there are only a few bad ones, and even these professors teach important lessons.
  18. Don’t get so excited about credit cards. Credit card companies will continually hound you to sign up with tempting offers. College students are prime targets because they do not yet really understand the challenge of paying monthly bills when there is little time and numerous items to purchase. You will probably have to learn the hard way, but credit cards are not the savior they purport to be. Furthermore, you will likely spend more than you imagined, and the interest payments will dig a deep hole in your pocketbook.
  19. Drinking and drugs are around you 24/7. It does not matter what school you attend. Rarely is a campus void of alcohol or drugs. However, some colleges have more – much more. Some students will even sell illegal drugs in the dorm. You need to use your own judgment. Be careful. Students consume more than they realize, make judgment errors, get seriously injured, die of overdoses, and spread STDs. This section was not written to scare you but to make you aware of the life-changing realities.
  20. During Christmas break of your first year, apply for internships, training opportunities, co-ops, or jobs for the summer. Create a resume. Getting real-world experience cannot be understated if you want to jump on the job market. Career fairs are extremely helpful so you can explore jobs you might want. Every college has a career center. Get to know the people who work there. It may mean the difference in getting a coveted interview.
  21. Go boldly into this world and try new things. Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Osteopathic medical schools stand out as one option for students who want to become a physician. The degree conferred is Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine or DO and graduates are trained physicians in medicine and surgery.


Twenty-five percent of all current medical students in the United States study at osteopathic medical schools. There are additional osteopathic medical schools in South America, North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.


The American Association of College of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) provides an application service (AACOMAS) for students applying to these medical programs. Osteopathic medicine’s whole person, hands-on medical approach that considers lifestyle, self-regulation, and self-healing.


More information may be found at the American Osteopathic Association website. There are 37 accredited osteopathic medical schools at the 58 locations listed below.


Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM)

Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM)

A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine (ATSU-KCOM)

A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA)

Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine (BCOM)

California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine (CHSU-COM)

Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine (CUSOM)

Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine (DMU-COM)

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM – Auburn Campus)

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Carolinas Campus (VCOM – Carolinas Campus)

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine-Louisiana (VCOM-Louisiana)

Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM-Virginia Campus)

Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM)

Kansas City University – Kansas City (KCU-COM-KC)

Kansas City University – Joplin (KCU-COM-Joplin)

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Erie (LECOM)

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton (LECOM-Bradenton)

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine – Elmira (LECOM-Elmira)

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine – Seton Hill (LECOM-Seton Hill)

Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM)

Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM)

Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine – Knoxville (LMU-DCOM Knoxville)

Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM)

Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM)

Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM-DMC)

Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM-MUC)

Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/AZCOM)

Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (MWU/CCOM)

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM)

New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State (NYITCOM)

Noorda College of Osteopathic Medicine

Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM)

Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (NSU-KPCOM-Clearwater)

Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM)

Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Cleveland (OU-HCOM-Cleveland)

Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in Dublin (OU-HCOM-Dublin)

Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (OSU-COM)

Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine – Tahlequah (OSU-COM Tahlequah)

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine (PNWU-COM)

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM)

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Georgia (PCOM Georgia)

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine South Georgia (PCOM South Georgia)

Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM)

Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine (RVUCOM-SU Campus)

Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine

Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (SHSU-COM)

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM-Harlem)

Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM-Middletown)

Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine-California (TUCOM)

Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine (TUNCOM)

University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine (UIWSOM)

University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNECOM)

University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNTHSC/TCOM)

University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (UP-KYCOM)

West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM)

Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (WesternU/COMP)

Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest (WesternU/COMP-Northwest)

William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (WCUCOM)

Students who seek an accelerated, direct entry to healthcare can apply in high school or during college to programs that either guarantee admission or offer a more streamlined path. There are direct entry, guaranteed acceptance, or early assurance programs for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, nursing, physician assistant, optometry, podiatry, and other related fields.


Admission to these BS/MD, BS/DO, BS/DDS, BS/DMD, BS/PA, etc. programs is typically more rigorous than traditional admission. Many require high SAT/ACT, GPA, and class rank in addition to leadership, service, shadowing, research, and proven commitment to the field. The application process is also more rigorous, including supplemental applications, essays, and interviews.


I provided lists, charts, and requirements on other pages on this website for free and also in my books From High School to Medical School, Medical School Bound: A Guide to BS/MD, BS/DO, BS/DDS, and Pre-Med Programs for High School Students, and The College Guidebook: Biology & Chemistry Degree Programs. You can purchase these books on

GPA & Test Scores: Are your GPA and test scores in the middle 50th percentile?

Admissions Requirements: Does the college require 2, 3, or 4 years of a language, a year of art, AP Physics C, or Calculus?

Major/Curriculum: Does the college offer your major? Do they offer courses you find interesting?

Acceptance Rates: What are your chances of admission?

Rankings: While college counselors dismiss rankings, most parents do not.

Cost, Scholarships, Financial Aid: Complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile (if necessary). Note: Private colleges often give scholarships, making the actual price less than public universities.

Reach-Target-Safety: Your college list should include dream schools, but also those where you have a higher probability of admission.

Early Decision/Early Action: (1) Not all schools have ED or EA. (2) You can only apply to one ED (it’s binding). (3) ED acceptance rates are significantly higher. (4) ED/EA admit/deny/waitlist much sooner.

Holistic Review: Some colleges consider the whole student and their accomplishments (resume, portfolio, video intro) while others only consider transcripts and test scores.

Admissions Interviews: Some interview signups are on the college website. Other colleges contact students after they apply. Preparation helps.

School Activities: Does the college offer clubs, sports, music, art, theatre, films, newspapers, journals, traditions, outdoor activities, free tutoring, health support, etc.?

Sororities & Fraternities: Do you want the study group, social scene, and friendship circles of a house?

School Spirit & Dorm Life: Do you crave big-time sports, school spirit, and dorm activities that offer energy and connectedness?

Research: Does the college offer wet lab, clinical, computer, writing projects, and fieldwork to prepare you for graduate school?

Internship Opportunities: Does your program of interest offer internships, training, and job preparation skills?

Career Center: Are there career counselors? Do companies interview on campus?

Study Abroad: Almost all colleges offer study abroad with professors from other colleges but few host programs specifically for their students. Ask.

Chart Due Dates & Requirements: I highly recommend starting this ASAP.

The all-important essay reflects your passion, persistence, and vision. Yet, your essay must convincingly communicate your intention toward your goal. To do this, you need to explore what is important to you and reveal your motivation for your career. This is especially true for a student who seeks a future in medicine.


BS/MD, BS/DO, BS/DDS, BS/DMV, etc. program officials want to know if you are serious about medicine and what you have done to show this commitment. Every action you have taken demonstrates your resilience, empathy, and leadership.


The top programs in the country have thousands of applicants. Admissions officers cherry pick only the best students from the most compelling stories. Think ahead to the stories you will tell. What have you done? What do you need to accomplish? What people have you met that impacted your life and inspired you to pursue your dreams?


Failure is not an option. Together we can figure out a way to show colleges who you are and why they should choose you. Why are you a great fit? What experiences led you to this destiny? What hardships have you overcome? Why are you certain that medical school is your goal? With a personalized approach to envisioning your past and future, you will shine. Let Dr. Winston, the consummate motivational speaker and author of more than thirty books, help you achieve your goal.

When you apply on the Common Application or Coalition Application you have more than one essay. First, there is a personal statement which is extremely important. However, there are many other essays, short answers, and questions colleges ask to determine if you are a fit in their social culture and academic environment.


The all-important personal statement reflects your passion, persistence, and vision. This essay is an avenue for you to reveal something about you that is not clearly communicated in the rest of the application. Who are you? What is important in your life? What experiences have made you look at life through a new lens?


This may be a moment walking along the road, trail, or beach in which you realized something about life, family, friends, or purpose. It may be an instance when your life flashed in front of you, and you suddenly discovered that you will no longer squander your life. It might be a sight that astounded, amazed, or enlightened you and life’s possibilities awakened. It could have been a family death, travel experience, miscommunication that spurred your thinking about life in a new way.


Supplemental questions ask questions tailored to a specific institution. What experiences will add to the unified college experiences? Why do you want to attend that school? What activities are most important to you and why? Why did you choose your major?  What educational opportunities did you take advantage of? What roadblocks stood in your way and how did you overcome them?


Each of these are chances for you to tell them more about you. Every essay allows you to describe a bit more about yourself. While supplemental questions may seem overwhelming, they are truly opportunities to share your uniqueness. Do you really want to be accepted only based on grades and scores when most of the other applicants have the same qualifications?  These essays are a chance to make you shine. Through our trusted relationship, I am honored to help.

Most BS/MD applicants have participated in a summer science program like COSMOS, RIBS, NIH, or RSI, assisted a college professor in his or her research, or participated in research project through a pharmaceutical, chemical, or medical device company.


Few physicians test animals, examine petri dishes, or fill hundreds of test tubes with liquid. However, it is important for them to understand the research process scientists undertake when they read in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) or other medical journals.


The scientific method is detailed, rigorous, and methodical. Scientists tirelessly search for clues to better understand medicine. When students approach the research process, they may find the repetition laborious, dull, or tiring but they will have an appreciation for the discoveries that transform healthcare.


The key is to initiate a love of discovery and a passion for science. This can be done with a professor or in a program where students are encouraged to think outside of the box and investigate a hypothesis. Merely understanding hypothesis testing, data collection, and statistical analysis solidifies a stronger understanding of science that students can build upon in college.


While a research project is not imperative for entry into a BS/MD program if the student has significant clinical and service hours, research is an important steppingstone to a college biomedical science lab. Search for opportunities in your local area or with a professor who will allow you to work in his or her lab.

Pre-med students often choose to become a medical scribe. This position allows a student to earn an income while also shadowing a physician and gaining valuable clinical experiences. Medical scribes accurately document patient visits in an electronic medical record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR), complete charts, and fill in information so the physician can focus on communication, diagnostics, and treatment. EMRs or EHRs must be accurate since insurance and billing depends on specific details recorded in the document.


Since detailed notetaking take time, physicians often feel burdened by the required paperwork. Scribes increase office efficiency and improve workflow in an office, clinic, or hospital setting. Scribes work one-on-one with a physician to fill this much needed gap between patient care and documentation. While not every physician has a scribe, this function is becoming more popular. Scribes are hired by individual physicians, clinics, and hospitals and the work is conducted in-person or virtually.


Scribing varies by medical specialty and specific terminology is required to perform this role. However, typically, a scribe tracks a patient from the moment they enter to the moment they leave. Initially, scribes review the patient’s record, informing the physician of complaint, history, and medications. The scribe sits in on the visit or listens virtually. The scribe then documents and then concisely organizes the patient’s History of Present Illness (HPI), which takes into account the location, severity, duration, timing, factors, visual signs, and resulting symptoms. Finally, the scribe records the physician’s exam, decision-making, and diagnosis. Scribes follow with a patient until they are discharged.


Scribes typically exhibit strong notetaking skills, are proficient in medical terminology, and can work under pressure. Additional specific terms are taught at the outset as well as the office’s software and process.


Those individuals who seek work as a scribe can go through a hiring firm like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, or JobList. Many pursue this route through a medical scribe company like ScribeAmerica. These organizations often provide paid training and flexible shifts and scheduling. Make sure your supervisors know that you are headed to medical school and ask if they will grant the flexibility to take off for finals or medical school interviews. Remember that working as a scribe should not interfere with your school, getting good grades, or getting accepted to medical school.

After you apply and are accepted to the college and complete a supplemental application, you may be invited to interview for the college, the honors program, and/or the medical school. The top candidates are chosen for an on-campus or virtual interview. Even though the pandemic is over, a few interviews are still virtual. On-campus interviews are preferred, allowing the student to get a feel for the community and the medical school environment. Interviews with professors and/or current students can be individual, group, or both.


All students who pass the initial screening and interview are exceptional. Thus, this interview is the final step in determining your selection. While asking key questions to gain insight into your personality, character, and judgment, interviewers look beyond your grades and scores to see if you can handle the pressure and are a good fit.


Prepare. The simplest questions are surprisingly hard. Deliver answers presenting your organized thought process. There is no substitute for preparation. You would not walk into a test, debate, or tournament unprepared. Mock interviews are extremely helpful. Writing out answers so you have your talking points down is also valuable. I can guide you in answering these questions and give you examples of what my other successful students have prepared.

Some questions are designed to make you feel relaxed and get to know you better. Others will probe into your short- and long-range goals or what you will do if you are not accepted. They may ask about experiences with different groups, challenges, or motivations. However, the most important questions will cover what inspired you to become a doctor or dentist and why medicine or dentistry is important to you as a career goal. They may ask why you chose their school and what attracts you to that campus environment.

You will be on campus for most of the day. You might even walk around a day early to get your bearings and feel the vibe of the community. Dress professionally. The medical school environment is a professional setting. Men typically wear suits, while women wear dresses, suits, or stylish pants suits.


You are not in yet. They may interview three times as many students as they have space, so you must jump this hurdle. You can do this! So that you can prepare, here are some actual interview questions.


Actual Interview Questions

  1. Why xxxx?
  2. Tell me a little about yourself.
  3. What are your strengths & weakness?
  4. Why are you interested in this program and scholarship?
  5. Describe your leadership abilities.
  6. What separates you from others?
  7. What are your future goals?
  8. How do you motivate others?
  9. Tell us a time when you resolved a conflict.
  10. Tell me about _____________ experience.
  11. Describe your time management skills.
  12. How do you deal with stress?
  13. Tell me about your academic achievements in high school.
  14. Describe your study habits. 
  15. Fast forward 4 years to graduation. Tell me about your academic accomplishments.
  16. Tell me how you see yourself contributing to the xxxx community.
  17. How would you show your school pride here at our school?
  18. What are your hobbies & interests?
  19. Tell me about a time you took the initiative.
  20. What are you most proud of?
  21. How will you make the most of your time at xxx?
  22. What will you do if you are not accepted to our program?

The Ivy League is an athletic conference composed of eight colleges:


Brown University

Columbia University

Cornell University

Dartmouth College

Harvard University

Princeton University

University of Pennsylvania

Yale University


Many consider the Ivy League universities the top educational institutions in the U.S. All are in the top eighteen as designated by U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 edition.


While each of these schools is excellent, with some remarkable research and programs, there are many other top schools. The best colleges for a person who seeks interaction with professors and deep intellectual conversations might be a small Great Books CollegeLiberal Arts School, or Women’s College. Larger universities are offering excellent professors, access to internships, and cutting-edge research, like MIT, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.

Many colleges have representatives that serve the school by providing information to counselors and students within their assigned region. Some colleges have up to a dozen people living across the country employed to promote the school to a broader and more diverse set of applicants. Often, these staff members work from their homes, give presentations at local schools, attend meet and greets, and manage their booths at college fairs. They are frequently on the road but still go the extra mile to answer e-mails.

Some of them unite to pool resources and support each other’s work. For example, the Regional Admissions Counselors of California (RACC) includes representatives from about 130 colleges, providing resources and support to California high schools, community colleges, independent counselors, community-based organizations, and students. Their e-mails are on the RACC website. Often, you can also find the contact information for regional admissions officers on each college’s website.

These regional representatives want to answer any of your questions about their school. Please don’t contact them to make a case for your admission or send them your resume unless they ask. They are very busy, especially during application season. Representatives of the top twenty schools are inundated with pleas for help or questions about their applications. These types of contacts are inappropriate. On the other hand, there are some reasons why you might communicate with your regional representative, and they can be very helpful.

Often, they are the individuals who read your application first. They frequently know your school. You can meet with them at a local college fair as well. Stop by their booth. They are often excited to speak with you about their university.

Shadowing a professional in any field allows you to see what life might be like in that career. The value of shadowing is particularly important in healthcare. Before you embark on eight to twelve years of training, you should have a good idea if you are pursuing the right goal or if you cannot stand the sight of blood.

Students shadow physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals in person or virtually. During the pandemic, many physicians limited the number of people in the medical office and rarely had staff enter a treatment room. Some physicians saw the majority of their patients virtually. Many scribes never entered a medical office and, instead, listened to patient visits or viewed the appointments on a webcam.

While physicians returned to their offices and some scribes returned to clinics, only recently are physicians and dentists allowing students into their offices to shadow. Thus, you may have to work a bit harder to get these in-person opportunities. If you cannot, virtual shadowing is an option. Furthermore, the barrier to entry is lowered by websites that now allow you to watch surgeries, visit treatment rooms, and explore areas of interest.

The website is free. You complete a profile and access numerous options for 2-hour visits. Afterward, you take a quiz and earn a participation certificate available in PDF form upon completion. In this way, you can continue to gain diverse experiences and get a better understanding of the options available to you. The site offers shadowing opportunities across almost every area of healthcare, including research, psychology, social work, optometry, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine., offered by the HEAL Clinical Education Network, is another option for free virtual clinical shadowing. Real patients describe their symptoms, and the doctor explains the physician’s thinking process and action steps. Physicians proceed from diagnosis to treatment. Participants can receive five hours of shadowing credit per month. There is a more advanced paid option as well as a monthly membership bundle. After completing courses within a specified timeframe and earning a 70% or more on the quiz, students earn a certificate. is free and includes both recorded and live programs. Participants can earn a certificate after completing a 10-question multiple choice quiz. Session recordings are available on their Pre-Health Virtual Shadowing website. This site also has resource sheets for MCAT prep, slides on session recordings, and a valuable Google doc with a surprisingly wide list of free resources.

While virtual shadowing is certainly an option, particularly when few others are available. Moreover, students can put the associated certificates on a resume or application. However, nothing beats in-person shadowing opportunities through your local hospital, clinic, or physician office. Contact your physician or a medical professional you know who can put you in touch with people in the field who might allow you to gain helpful in-person experiences.

Without shadowing or clinical opportunities in osteopathic medicine for DO schools or veterinary medicine for DVM programs, it is extremely difficult to gain admission. Shadowing is important for all fields. However, experience in general medical practices is not enough for DO schools and DVM programs that want specific experiences in their unique field. You want to have these experiences too.

What Does Your Course Record Reveal About You?


Colleges evaluate students based on their academic record, specifically their transcript. A student’s transcript is a tell-all of educational accomplishments. While an overall GPA gives a ‘round’ number to a student’s big picture performance, the real depth of a student’s willingness to challenge themselves and ability to succeed academically lies in the details. Admissions officers consider progression, grade trends, level of coursework, language proficiency, and rigor of science and mathematics classes to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the student’s academic abilities and perseverance.


Some schools offer only a few Honors, AP, and IB classes. Thus, admissions officers consider curriculum constraints, religion requirements, and specialized programs. Some schools restrict the number of AP or IB classes for freshmen and sophomores. Some schools have specialized programs like the IB Diploma, Health Sciences Pathway, or an Engineering Certificate Program, which often come with specific requirements.


Colleges know what classes are offered. High school counselors submit a profile to the college which explains courses and activities offered as well as demographic and other statistical data. Many students take college classes which offer higher level coursework. For example, students who have taken AP Calculus AB and BC in high school might take Multivariable Calculus or Differential Equations in college. If Physics C is not offered at the high school, a local college might offer a calculus-based physics class.


While students may have As in art, athletics, health, and religion, core courses such as Math, Science, English, Social Science, and Foreign Language are deemed the most essential. In fact, several colleges recalculate the GPA of students based solely on their performance in core courses.


In total, colleges do not reject you because they do not like you. They reject you because they do not know enough about you to accept you. Specifically, you may be disciplined, determined, and diligent but if you do not have a rigorous courseload that demonstrates your depth of knowledge in the classes they require, they may select someone who appears better prepared based on their coursework.


In some majors, prerequisite classes put students on track to succeed. For instance, engineering majors are at a distinct disadvantage if they did not take AP Physics in high school when the majority of their class has taken one or two years. Thus, some top colleges require AP Physics 1, 2, or C as a prerequisite, and some even demand AP Physics C if it is available. Similarly, some prestigious colleges will not accept a student as a business major if they did not take high school calculus.


Students often ask, “Is it better to get an A in a non-weighted class or a B in a weighted class.” While there are other variables like teacher fairness, overall course schedule, balance with extracurricular activities, and amount of reading, in general, it is better to take the weighted class. First, the weighted class is more rigorous and a better preparation for college. Second, with the non-weighted class, there is no chance for a 5-point A.


Finally, if your grades trend upward, colleges will notice your improvement, particularly if you take classes that are increasingly challenging. However, if your grades go down and you have a reason like a family death, personal illness, or emergency (fire, hurricane, tornado, or other), explain what happened in the additional information section of the application. Colleges want to know, and your explanation may make the difference in your admission. Your counselor can also provide context to your situation or possibly a teacher recommendation can present your positive qualities such as effective communication, emotional intelligence, initiative, resilience, and perseverance.


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