Advantages of a Non-Traditional Medical School Applicant

While the “traditional” medical school applicant majors in pre-med or the sciences during college, that doesn’t mean there are no other successful routes into medical school.  If you majored in something else, or even if you’ve been out of school for quite some time, medical school is still a possibility.  Of course, if you don’t have a pre-med degree, you’ll need to check and be sure that you’ve fulfilled all the prerequisite requirements to get into med school.  You may be required to take additional classes in order to fulfill these requirements.  But once you’ve done so, you’re in position to enjoy unique advantages during medical school:

1) Non-traditional students are often more well-rounded academically. While traditional med students will have an advantage in terms of their familiarity with the sciences, students with other educational backgrounds possess valuable skills that will aid them both in med school and during the application process.  Medical schools value diversity in their attendees, and a different educational background is a great way to stand out. 

2) Older students have valuable life experience. It can often be a challenge for someone who has spent time in the “real world” after college to recommit to academics.  But if you’re able to make that commitment, you take with you the valuable life experience that most college students simply don’t have.  From stress management ability to a greater understanding of relationships, many skills learned in “real life” will be invaluable both in med school and during the application process.

3) Career experience will help down the road. Job experience that you’ve accumulated after college may not seem particularly relevant to medical school.  But keep in mind that the ultimate goal of many aspiring doctors is to own their own practice—a dream that brings with it all of the challenges associated with running a business.  As a medical school applicant with career experience, you’ll have a major advantage over many of your fellow students who have been focused exclusively on academics.

It’s never too late to pursue your dreams.  If you’re interested in medical school but feel that your background precludes it, think again.  While you will face unique challenges that “traditional” applicants won’t, you also have several distinct advantages over other students.  If you’re committed to working hard and persevering despite challenges, medical school is a possibility for you!


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