Newsflash — you don’t have to choose a science-related major to be pre-med. Medical schools could not care less what you choose as a major. They look to see if you’ve completed the required coursework and how well you scored on the MCAT. The most common majors among pre-medical students are biology, chemistry, psychology and biochemistry. Obviously, these majors align more with the necessary coursework that medical schools look for, but understand you are not limited to just these.
The required coursework for pre-medical students is already difficult enough, so why not choose a major you’re passionate about? If that happens to be a science major, that’s great. If not, keep in mind my experience as a non-science major, pre-medical student and my tips to choosing a major you’ll be happy with.
When I first started at Baylor, I initially chose to major in biochemistry because that’s what my advisor recommended, since I was interested in going to medical school after graduation. About a semester in, I came to the realization that I was miserable with my major choice. I had little to no room for any fun, easygoing elective classes or time for extracurricular activities because schoolwork and studying had taken over my life.
I started on the search for a new major that I would be passionate about to give my mind a break from the several science classes I needed to take for medical school. Although I wanted to keep a science major initially, I later decided to pursue a professional writing degree while continuing to complete my required pre-medical coursework. Choosing a non-science major was the best thing I could’ve ever done for myself. When it comes to choosing a major while being pre-med, here’s some advice.
1. Know Your Strengths & Weaknesses
Knowing the areas that you excel in and the areas where you are lacking is super important when choosing a new major. When I made the decision to become a non-science major, I did some self-reflection to see what my strengths and weaknesses were. I knew I excelled in areas like English and the social sciences. I also knew that I was a strong writer and eventually wanted to go into medical research. I knew math was my weak point after my dreadful attempt at Calculus 2 while I was a biochemistry major. By knowing my strengths and weaknesses, I narrowed down my major choices to about three: sociology, professional writing and child and family studies.
From there I reached out to faculty in each department and talked to friends I knew in each major to decide if it was the right fit for me. Knowing that I eventually wanted to become a pediatric surgeon and hopefully conduct my own research one day, I was able to make my decision. I chose professional writing to further my own writing skills and to learn more about the writing process, so that one day I can be able to author my own research from start to finish.
2. Remember Medical Schools Could Not Care Less About Your Major
A piece of advice that both my advisor and the pre-health department gave me after my first semester at Baylor was that medical schools do not particularly care about your choice of major. After hearing that a science major wasn’t necessary to be considered a great medical school applicant, I was relieved. It eased my mind about switching from a science major to something I was passionate about.
Instead of focusing on what you chose to major in, medical schools look to see if you completed the required coursework and at your MCAT scores. They also look to see if you are a well-rounded applicant. Medical schools don’t just want a student that looks good on paper, they want students who were actively involved on their campus and the surrounding community.
As long as you are involved, complete the necessary classes and score well on your MCAT, medical schools will for sure be interested. Choosing a major outside of the typical biology, chemistry or biochemistry academic disciplines can make you stand out as an applicant.
3. Choose a Major You’re Passionate About
Chase after your passions. Don’t let your advisors, family or friends push you into a major you aren’t happy with for the sake of being pre-med. Initially, I let those around me sway my decision when I chose biochemistry as my major. The decision about your major should be yours and yours alone. Don’t let others sway your choice. Yes, the typical biology or chemistry degree already incorporates a majority of the required pre-medical classes, but are you really going to be happy with it? If the answer is no, then find out what you’re passionate about and pursue it.
There is always a way to incorporate the pre-medical classes. In my degree plan, the pre-med classes filled in as my electives and I’m still able to graduate early. The key is to change your major early on, instead of waiting until your junior year. The earlier you decide to change to a non-science major pre-med student, the easier it will be to incorporate the necessary classes into your new found major.
Most schools urge students to choose a science major because most of the required coursework is already worked into the major. Choosing something you’re passionate about can be the difference between excelling and just barely skating by in your classes. Being a pre-medical student is already stressful enough as it is, so take the time to look at other options.
Before deciding on professional writing, I considered sociology and child and family studies. Choosing to be a non-science major was definitely difficult for me in the beginning because I was unsure of how medical schools would look at it. I felt they would see it as me taking the easy way out, but after doing my own research and talking to my advisor and my school’s pre-health office, I discovered that medical schools don’t care about you being a science major. They care about you being a well-rounded applicant.