High School Students

This page is specially designed with high school students in mind. Parents and school counselors will also find the content helpful in supporting their student. Read this information thoroughly. Students may also find it helpful to read the UB Freshmen and Sophomore Prehealth Handbook to provide information on what the professional health schools are looking for in applicants, what a student should do each of those years, and answers to other common questions students have.

We typically have an information table at UB Open House Events and Discovery Days and will be happy to answer your questions.

Typical Prehealth Activities to Complete During High School

  1. Get good grades
  2. Take SAT or ACT exam
  3. Take Biology (1 year minimum)
  4. Take Chemistry (1 year minimum)
  5. Take Physics (1 year minimum)
  6. Take Mathematics (4 years)
  7. Take English (4 years)
  8. Take Advanced Science Course (1 year minimum)
  9. Take Foreign Language (3 year minimum)
  10. Do volunteer community service
  11. Shadow a physician/dentist/vet, etc.
  12. Participate in Prehealth Club
  13. Do Must/Want Analysis for colleges you consider
  14. Get college/university information
  15. Get Medical School Accelerated Program information
  16. Apply to Accelerated Program (if you want to)
  17. Apply to colleges
  18. Consider taking Psychology/Sociology
  19. Consider taking Computer Science
  20. Consider taking Speech/Public Speaking or join the debate team

*See special tip at the end.

List adopted from:
Iserson, Kenneth V. M.D. Get Into Medical School! A Guide for the Perplexed, Second Edition. Tucson, Arizona: Galen Press, Ltd., 1997, 2004.

1. Senior-itis is NOT okay. Not only could it ruin your high school GPA and chances at honors programs and scholarships, it could ruin your chances if you would like to pursue an Early Acceptance, Early Assurance, or Accelerated Program. Further, it might enforce bad habits that will carry over into your freshmen year of college. Keep working hard all four years of high school.

2. Prepare for the SAT and take it seriously. Take it twice if you like. Colleges use your score as a determining factor for admittance and for merit-based scholarships and honors programs. Also, typically the SAT or ACT score is used for admittance to Early Assurance or Accelerated Programs. Keep in mind that some colleges and programs will combine your highest math and verbal scores while others will only accept your highest *single* score.

3., 4., and 5. You will need to complete several of each of these courses in college as prerequisites to the professional health schools. By taking at least one year of each in high school, you will be familiarizing yourself with necessary basic knowledge of these subjects. If you do not take at least one year of each of these in high school then it is highly recommended that you take a basic introductory course once in college before moving on to the recommended course sequence of the subject.

6. You will most likely need two semesters of calculus once in college as part of the prerequisites for a degree or for a science major. If you take too long of a break without studying mathematics, you may begin to forget key mathematical concepts that you will then need to relearn.

7. The professional health schools want students who write well and who can communicate effectively. By taking four years of English in high school you will continue to learn new vocabulary and build skills necessary for your undergraduate years in college and beyond.

8. If you truly enjoy one of the sciences then it is a wonderful idea to take an advanced course in that subject. Although many colleges will give you course credit for AP credits in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, it is still highly recommended that you actually take the courses from that content area once in college. Be sure to speak to a prehealth advisor about your individual circumstances. View how UB accepts AP and other forms of alternative credits.

9. Taking Foreign Language provides you with a broader educational experience – something the professional health schools look for in applicants. Further, many colleges have foreign languages as part of General Education, or Core Requirements, and it will be helpful to take several years of a language if you then choose to continue learning that language in college.

10. Begin volunteering and performing community service, not just for high school graduation requirements, but to learn about serving others. The professional health careers are all about serving patients and caring for others, so it would be wise to develop an attitude of giving now. Performing community service can be a lot of fun and each community has dozens of ways for you to get involved. You can find service opportunities that are health-related such as for the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and United Cerebral Palsy, just to name a few, or begin working with specific populations you would like to learn more about such as with day care centers to explore working with children or nursing homes to learn more about the geriatric community. Any community service is great!

11. This is probably one of the best ways to really learn what the career you're interested in is like. You can start with shadowing your own doctor, dentist, vet, etc. if s/he is willing since you already have a relationship with him/her. You may also wish to ask for referrals to their colleagues. You can also feel free to open the phonebook and call another type of health professional in a specialization in which you are interested and ask if you can shadow him/her. Keep track of where you shadow and for how long. You may include it on your applications in the future and will want to continue to gain these experiences in college.

12. If your high school offers a prehealth student club, join! It can be a great way to learn more information about the field you are interested in and offer insight into health fields that you may not have considered. It will also be fun to meet and become friendly with other students who have similar interests.

13. and 14. A must/want analysis is a list of factors that are important to you when determining what college to go to. Make a list of various factors as you research and visit colleges. Then next to each factor, write what you have determined you “must have” in a college and what you “want” in a college, but could do without. Then as you compare and contrast colleges, apply to the ones that fit the most of your “musts.”

15., 16., and 17. If you are interested in colleges that offer Early Assurance or Accelerated programs, find out the details now. View web sites and read thoroughly through brochures. If you qualify and are interested, apply for such programs. Apply to the colleges you have discussed with your parents and guidance counselor.

18., 19., and 20. Taking elective courses such as Psychology, Sociology, Computer Science, and Public Speaking are courses that will broaden your educational experience, developing you into a well-rounded student. If you qualify and apply for Early Assurance Programs, these electives will also strengthen your application.

*Most professional health schools will want to see your natural science courses (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics) taken at a four-year college or university. If you choose to attend or take a few courses at a community college, it would be wise to take courses in other subjects, such as the Social Sciences or Humanities.

Last updated: October 02 2014 13:51:39.