How to be Premed In High School
How to be Premed In Highschool
So, you have decided that you want to become a doctor... But your high school just doesn't have the right guidance. You've lurked on Student Doctor Network, the premed side of Reddit, and resorted to a plain old Google search but ended up with nothing tangible to get you on the right track to a medical school acceptance from where you stand now. You have a love for medicine and the human body but can't even learn the stuff you want to. It's alright -- that's exactly what we are here for.
Let's say you're between the ages of 13-18, a high school student, and confused on what to do next with your passionate cross-section between Grey's Anatomy and plain medical textbooks. Why waste your time learning a ton of pharmacology (even if it's the best thing for you since Netflix) when you already signed yourself up for a 12 year journey to the long white coat?
Let's do better. Instead of spending your high school years merely taking AP exams (that many medical schools don't even accept) and prepping for the SAT like your life depended on it, why not enroll in college and start on your premed courses right now?
Oh. That's right. You're a premed in high school.
The MCAT, the exam that your hard work will depend on in about 4 years, is miles away; and college is kind of far too. You want to still go to prom, homecoming, and all that jazz that high school really is.
But why not be a high school and college student at the same time?
As a premed in high school, you have 2 or 3 categories that you can fall into.
The 90%: Traditional Route: Yup... The tough part is usually only 10% of this group even gets a shot at medical school within their time frame. We are lovers of medicine; we don't want to be patient for 12 years to learn the one this we dreamed about each day. This group takes 4 years to finish high school, 4 years to finish college, and then 4 years to finish medical school (then another 3-7 for residency, and then an additional 1-4 for fellowship for us academics out there). Although you can't speed up medical school, you can speed up high school and even college.
The 9.99%: Long Route: This group is usually older and may have taken several gap years or even done a masters, PhD, and worked prior to becoming a premed or even a medical student. The long route can happen if your college grades or MCAT score aren't high enough, or if your premed resume just doesn't stand out. This category is growing; medical schools are now looking at average entrance ages of 24-26 (that's about 2-4 gap years).
The 0.01%: The Sped-Up Route: This group skips grades, enters college early, or is in a 3 year premed acceptance program straight out of high school. Skipping grades is usually unpredictable and requires a good teacher despite over a million students in California alone who perform at 1-2 years higher every year. Entering college early is actually much easier than it sounds. It entails less homework, more hours to sleep, classes that can start later in the day, and faster classes for the same exact credit. Dual enrollment programs exist in every state and can be found simply via Google search. However, the 3 year program requires 100% perfect performance as a high schooler, SAT scores, and a CV that sometimes even a college premed couldn't top. It's actually much more competitive and can be attempted; but still more difficult.
So you're a premed in highschool looking for your big break. You want the school headlines on you; like your Sheldon from Big Bang Theory; but you want to have a normal life as well. Early college can sometimes but the thing a bored or motivated premed needs to push them to be unique. It not only saves years in your long journey; but leaves space for more masters and PhDs in the long route. Research even shows that grade skippers produce more published papers and more productive research as a group. The long journey you have can be shortened without shortening the quality and length of your medical training. This is the one thing you should always consider; try finding a dual enrollment program in your area or an online private high school to finish up HS courses and begin college courses. Make sure to balance your premed coursework as well; something we will write about soon. Good luck premed; hope you come back in 8 or so years to flash us that white coat that came faster than expected. Never rush the journey; but pace the process so that you can learn what you want when you want. You are more than smart enough to begin college even now; so why not try it (even with an easier class like psychology 101 to get yourself started!). We work with premeds from ages 12-50 to get them accepted; a simple change in approach and motivation can go a long way.