Best Electives for Pre-Med Juniors
- Jul 13, 2023
- MCAT Blog, Med School Admissions, Pre-Med Support
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
By the time you reach your junior year as a pre-med student, you are likely approaching a serious milestone. At this point, you’ve worked through most of your science and medical school prerequisite courses, and now that Ochem and Physics are classes of the past you have the space to begin filling your schedule with some electives.
Electives are intended to enrich your learning experience and your journey to medical school. If you’re a little overwhelmed by the variety of choices, here are some thoughts on how to pick and choose some beneficial elective courses in your junior year.
Use Electives To Pursue Your Interests
Your undergraduate experience is a unique time to explore your interests, so choosing electives that you will genuinely enjoy will always be a good option. Although these electives may not make an obvious connection to strengthening your medical school application, they are an important space for you to develop your interests as a well-rounded individual.
Use non-science electives to broaden your perspectives about the world, explore areas you’ve always been interested in, and try new things! The lessons you’ll take away from these experiences will continue to serve you as a medical school applicant and beyond.
Remember, you have not yet fully committed to medicine when completing your undergraduate degree. Make sure that you are still pursuing all of your interests instead of narrowing your sights on science and medicine prematurely. If you have a lingering interest in another career area or discipline, use your electives to at least look into that alternate opportunity.
Use Your Electives To Complete a Concentration or Minor
Another option to consider when choosing electives is focusing your elective choices to complete a minor or a concentration within a department to highlight your interest and dedication to this topic.
Often a minor in Biology, Chemistry, or Psychology is relatively straightforward to complete since you have already taken some of the required classes when completing your medical school prerequisites. You can add a few electives to round out the minor.
If your schedule allows, you can also complete a minor in an area you are passionate about to showcase. You will need to complete more electives in total but if a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies or Creative Writing speaks to you, don’t let that stop you!
Use Your Electives To Prepare for the MCAT
It should come as no surprise that the MCAT is a content-heavy exam. It’s a great idea to use your undergraduate electives to learn the content in depth before preparing for your exam as there are some college classes that can help you on the MCAT. Your major might not require you to take these classes, but taking undergraduate classes in sociology, biopsychology, genetics, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, neuroscience, or biomedical ethics will give you a great head start when preparing for your upcoming MCAT exam.
You can also use the time to dive into MCAT prep. You can start off slow by determining a potential MCAT date and then creating an MCAT study plan to help you plan out your schedule. Make a customizable MCAT study schedule for free!
Use Electives To Prepare for Your Gap Year
If you are planning on taking a gap year and you already have an idea of what you will be spending your time doing, you can use your elective classes to prepare for this experience.
If you are volunteering abroad or closer to home, you can take foreign language classes to prepare yourself. (Sidenote: Knowledge of multiple languages will also be an asset to you even if you are going straight to medical school). If you are working in education perhaps take some teaching fundamentals courses, or some environmental science courses if you will be going to live on a permaculture farm.
Whatever the experiences you are imagining completing during your gap year(s) you can seek out some interesting electives to prepare you to get the most out of your time.
Electives are a great way to seek out your interests and make the most out of your undergraduate degree. Often as pre-med students, we can become focused on requirements and checklists, but your electives are a space where you can highlight your style and interests. Use them as opportunities to learn new things and with some planning they can become powerful tools for a strong medical school application at the same time.
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