Click here for part two of this article: How to Apply to Law, Med and Business School (At the Same Time): Part 2.
Some people are lucky in that they already know what profession they want to go into when they’re in high school. One girl I knew took every accounting class offered in secondary school, became an accounting major in college, and landed a job as an accountant at a Big 4 firm before graduation.
Then there are those of us who remain more undecided or perhaps simply find ourselves interested in multiple areas or just don’t want to make a decision at the time.
I fell into the latter group and because at the time I wasn’t especially enamored with any one profession, I decided to keep my doors open and applied to medical, law, and business school at the same time – and got accepted to all three.
When I tell people this, they presume that I was lucky or had a super stellar GPA. Well, the truth is, my application was actually quite ordinary. However, the fact that I succeeded was came down to really good planning.
As anyone applying to a professional school should know, the process is, at the very least, a two to three year journey before one can even dream of starting the coursework in the field. Medicine, business, and law schools all have different requirements and application processes.
The key to a successful application is being organized.
All three fields require different entrance exams, depending on where you want to apply. If you’re sticking with North American, then you’ll need the MCAT for medical school, LSAT for law school, and GMAT for business school (some are willing to accept GRE scores in place of GMAT). If you’re applying internationally, then these tests will have different names and possibly cover different material.
Preparation for all of these exams all vary as they all cover vastly different subject material. The MCAT presumes knowledge of at the very least 1st year physics, chemistry and biology. The LSAT focuses more on logical reasoning and analytical reasoning. The GMAT itself has reading comprehension and a math section. All three exams have a writing section. It should be strongly emphasized that none of these exams should be taken cold. It is not unheard of for people to prepare for months in advance for any of these exams, especially the MCAT.
This is because all scores can be seen by schools you apply to and one good scores looks much better to admission committees than a string of slowly rising scores. Plus, sitting these exams can be quite tough on the wallet so it’s best to aim for getting it right the first try.
I remember some pre-med classmates who were members of the pre-med society, Red Cross club, volunteered at Ronald McDonald House, and did medical volunteering overseas during spring and summer break. Likewise, I also knew people that only participated in business school related activities such as accounting club, tax clinic, and work as a CSR at a bank. It’s all good if you know what field you’re aiming for but then you wouldn’t be reading this post then, would you?
If you’re planning to apply to different areas, I would advise going for general extracurricular activities and avoiding ones that are too focused. Spread yourself out. Do things like orientations, write for the campus newspaper, help out at a food bank. Basically, the best way to balance your time is to do things that you can speak about and aren’t specific for any particular field.
It’s almost an unspoken requirement for all medical school applicants to haves some sort of hospital or medical-field related volunteering for the admissions committee to even consider your application. Yes, there are the odd cases where the person got in without any, but then those people almost always had something else like getting published in Nature.
Most importantly, spend your time on things that you’re passionate about. If you’re an athlete or simply love performing on stage, go for it! Admissions committees are experienced enough that they can sense if extracurriculars are done for resume padding versus actual enjoyment because the latter shines through in your essays and interviews.
Exam and Application Dates
This is by far the most important part of the whole process. Get a calendar or planner and write down ALL the dates – when admissions for each school open, when they close, interview periods, when paperwork has to be submitted by, exam dates.
Some schools will a timeline of the whole process. It’s important to make sure that everything is submitted on time.
Remember, schools will always have more applicants than spots, so the last thing you want to do is to give them an excuse to reject you.
If you’re one of those thinking of applying to vastly different fields, remember that the process is always more daunting than it seems. I spent a lot of time researching before even embarking on the application process.
For those interested, I will be covering more of this process in detail in a future article right here on GenTwenty!