With the average age for medical school matriculant inching toward 25, the “nontraditional” designation no longer means “older student”. More premeds are taking one or two gap years before medical school to either deepen their research skills, improve their grades, gain more clinical experience, and more. More likely, nontraditional applicants to medical school will now come from two different paths: applicants who majored in humanities, or other non-science major, and applicants who are changing careers, for example a nurse practitioner or social worker who want to pursue a medical degree. In both of these categories, these aspiring physicians may be slightly older than the current 24-25 M1 matriculant average, or they may be in their thirties or older.
The good news for those taking a nontraditional path to medical school is that if you are a good candidate for medical school, your nontraditional path is much more of an asset than a liability. So what are the best medical schools for nontraditional students? Take your pick. Check out our advice for applying to medical school strategically as a nontraditional student.
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1. Make sure your science bona fides are up to date.
If you’re a humanities major looking to enter medical school or a career changer, you have several options for getting up to speed on the science and math courses required by most medical schools (a year of biology, organic chemistry, physics, chemistry, and biochemistry). You can take those courses separately through an undergraduate institution or you can enter a post-bacc program designed for students just like you. Post-bacc programs have many added benefits, such a curriculum truly geared toward making you a better premed applicant, access to a committee letter of recommendation, and application guidance.
Either way, you’ll want your science knowledge to be very recent, within the last 5-7 years. If you haven’t taken a science class in more than five years, you should strongly consider retaking it. Not only do even foundational sciences change, but this will also help you refresh your basic concepts in preparation for taking the MCAT. You’ll want to perform your best in these classes as medical schools will pay special attention to your science GPA. They’ll also want to know that you are committed to the study of science and will be able to keep up with the rigorous curriculum in your first and second years of medical school.