Going back to school is a big decision. There are many factors to consider, including whether or not you’ll be accepted. If you’ve been out of academics for a while, getting into medical school may be more challenging, but it is certainly possible.
Start by carefully choosing the right program for your needs, and then get ready to apply. You’ll have to pass a notoriously difficult test, consider the finances, and make sure your online history doesn’t hold you back. However, with a little planning, the process can be less stressful.
1. Find Your Dream Program
The first step is, of course, to find somewhere to apply. This step may seem simple and obvious, but it’s essential. Not all schools or programs are the same. Figure out what you need and then search for the perfect match.
You have many things to consider, like the quality of the program and the area of specialization that interests you most. Of course, you want a good program but also look at practical factors. These include tuition and other fees and what you can afford. Location is important too—do you need to stay where you are, or can you relocate?
If you are an older student, you may have other things to consider that younger people don’t. Do you have kids and need a childcare solution? Do you need a program with flexible hours or course times? Maybe you need to be able to keep a job while studying. Make sure the program you choose fits your lifestyle and needs.
2. Strap in for the MCATs
Your application for medical school may be stellar, but if you don’t have a decent test score, you’ll never get into a program. Medical schools require MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, scores in the application process. It’s just one aspect of getting into medical school, but it is crucial.
Take plenty of time to study and prepare for the MCAT. You can take it more than once, but it’s best to get a satisfactory score the first time around. Search online to find plenty of practice tests, preparation materials, and descriptions of what to expect on the exam.
3. Plan Your Finances Early
Medical school isn’t cheap, especially if you need to relocate. So don’t go into the process without considering how you’ll pay tuition and other costs. Otherwise, you could end up dropping out due to a lack of funds.
If money isn’t your forte, consider working with a certified financial planner. They can help you create a budget and determine how to finance your education. Also, keep an open mind about borrowing. Most medical students need loans to get through the program. If you can keep your debt to a minimum, though, you’ll be better set for your career after graduating.
4. Clean up Your Online Reputation
Admittance to medical school is about much more than application and an MCAT score. It’s competitive, and that means admissions committees look at several aspects of candidates. They want applicants with solid academics, personal drive, maturity, and a desire to help others.
Expect admissions to search you online. If they don’t like what they see, you could be in trouble. Make your social media private and delete anything that puts you in a bad light. An online reputation management company can go through your online footprint and make changes if you have serious concerns.
5. Make Time for Work-Life Balance
You’ll put a lot of energy into applying and getting admitted, but don’t forget to prepare for actually being in medical school. Medical school is particularly intense and challenging. Be realistic about the demands this will place on you and your life. You may have to make some changes.
If you plan to work while you go to school, talk to your boss and coworkers so they know what to expect. You may need to cut your hours or request schedule changes. Work with friends and family to get support as needed, such as childcare or just someone to talk to when things get tough.
Plan for Success
As with most things in life that are hard, the effort you put in will be rewarded as you work toward a dream career as a physician. Getting into medical school is just the first step of a long process. Start on the right foot by planning your strategy. With the proper steps in place, you’ll be in medical school before you know it.