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When should you start thinking about college?

I am interested in going to school to become either a surgeon or a doctor. #medicine

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Richard’s Answer

Start early. Take as many AP or IB courses in high school. You have a lot of years of education in front of you and getting college credit in high school can save you time and money.


In the US, to apply to medical school, you need a bachelor's degree. You can start at a community college to save money. But after that any 4-year university should suffice.

Pick a major that interests you so you don't mind devoting a majority of your hours to studying. You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.

Aside from this, any major is acceptable as long as you complete the prerequisite courses.

Typical medical school prerequisites include:
Biology: Lecture – 4 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
General Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Organic Chemistry: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Biochemistry: Lecture – 1 semester
General Physics: Lecture – 2 semesters; Lab – 1 semester
Math: Statistics – 1 semester
English: Rhetoric (Composition) and Literature – 2 semesters

Try to find opportunities to pursue research.

Volunteer at your local hospital or low-income clinic. Ask physicians, PAs or other clinical providers if you can shadow them.


During college study for and complete the MCAT. Devote an entire summer to studying for the MCAT and consider paying for a prep course if you can afford it.

My son used MCAT Complete 7-Book Subject Review 2019-2020: Online + Book + 3 Practice Tests (Kaplan Test Prep) Kaplan Test Prep
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It was about $140 and he achieved his goal score.



Apply to medical schools during your last year of college.
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David’s Answer

For many, college is a goal that starts before high school and planning begins with what classes to take, what level (IB, AP, on-level, etc), and much more. For others, college is a dream that today's community colleges and technical schools provide a great option for affordable success. For your specific question about a path into the medical field, I recommend that you consider your options early in high school and take the necessary courses (sciences, etc) that schools you are interested in require. Always remember that the best laid plans may require adjustment based on many factors - you may learn that you actually like something much more than medicine and this is why it is important to take a well rounded course load. This in fact happened to me, I always thought I wanted to be a pediatrician until I took Biology! Additionally, schools prefer an individual who is well rounded during their high school years and both participates in on-campus activities (sports, clubs) but also takes their time to help others in the community. There are so many options for college available to today's students, and I recommend that you research and do something different than "everybody else" and try new things. Best of luck in your future endeavors! Asking for advice is a great sign of future success!
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Yasemin’s Answer

Hi Emma, I think around your sophomore year you should being thinking about college! In addition to thinking and researching about college you can take part in extracurriculars, maintain high grades to ensure your GPA is pretty good, and keep in touch with your counselor as they have the most information about colleges. This will allow for a strong application when applying. Also there are always college fairs in high school so definitely take part in those and maybe talk to family and friends when thinking about your choice of college you'd like to go to. My brother and I went to the same university; I was in high school as a freshmen when he began college and I actually got to visit different colleges with him as an 8th grader and fell in love with the university he decided on. That then became my choice as well among others when considering college and applying. If you are thinking about medical school you can always look into colleges that give more opportunity to excel as a premedical student such as activities on campus, research opportunities and also considering the size of a campus as well and how much attention you may receive as a student pursuing the field of a physician. However any 4 year degree granting institute will help in pursuing your dreams, just make sure to study hard and be ambitious!

Best of luck!

Yasemin recommends the following next steps:

Talk to guidance counselor
Talk to family members/friends
Maintain good grades and participate in extracurriculars
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Samantha’s Answer

Think about college in high school, but also think about internships (paid or unpaid) in doctor's offices or hospitals! That way you can get a chance to talk to professionals about what their experience is, what a day in the life looks like, and what they did to get to where they are. Also - remember that there are many many types of doctors, so be sure to research your options.
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Curt’s Answer

You already are because you're asking the question. That's a great first step. Now you're on the path with a lot of things to consider. First goal if you've not already reached it - graduate from high school as prepared as you can. That means pay attention to your grades. All four years matter so take care of business out of the gate. Get involved in different things - sports, clubs, service projects, art, music, etc. Don't take the easy route and fill your schedule with blow off classes. Challenge yourself to take academically relevant classes and explore electives that are of interest to you. All of these steps in high school will help prepare you for getting into a good university and help you prepare for the decisions of where to go, what potential areas of study to pursue, and how long you will need to be in college. If you make the right choices in high school you can enter college with several credits taken care of, which will allow you to either graduate sooner or add some additional courses to further enhance your ultimate career goals. Best of luck!
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Hanna’s Answer

It is never too early to start thinking about college. Since you are interested in going into medical school, start doing your research now on what classes and resources were most helpful for those students.
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Gizel’s Answer

I believe it is best to think about college when you enter high school. By that time you would hopefully already know what you would like to study. You start applying towards the end of the junior year in high school. You should work with your school counselor to take AP classes if you can that are transferrable to the college of your choice.
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Clarice’s Answer

I would encourage you to start thinking about college when you are in high school. Attending college fairs and doing college resource is very important. If you want to go into the medical field, you should look into classes that will help you get into college. Also, dual credit (high school/college classes) is helpful for your future.
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Gizel’s Answer

I believe it is best to think about college when you enter high school. By that time you would hopefully already know what you would like to study. You start applying towards the end of the junior year in high school. You should work with your school counselor to take AP classes if you can that are transferrable to the college of your choice.
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Victoria’s Answer

Hi! It's never too early (or late!) to start thinking about college. You already seem to know what you want to do, which gives you a massive head start over other kids your age. I would recommend researching what classes you would have to take to get your ideal career (in this case, a lot of science). Watch YouTube videos about people who are currently in medical school to hear more about what their schedule is like. Research Universities and look for GPA and SAT requirements, so you know what you'll have to aim for to get in. Also, it doesn't hurt to have a discussion with your parents or guardians about what they can afford in terms of college. That one conversation might save you some serious student loans in the future! Last but not least, focus on studying hard, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
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Riley’s Answer

I think by being proactive and asking questions on this website you're probably already ahead! I think you should definitely have a good idea of what you want to do by sophomore year of high school, and you should be thinking of some options for schools that you would like to attend. For this process, I recommend researching schools that have a good program for the degree that you want to earn. Most people complete their college tours during their junior year, which is an important process used to refine your list and decide on your first, second, and third choices. You will still have some time before you need to apply (usually early Fall semester of your senior year), but its good to be pretty sure about where you want to go by the end of junior year.
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Stephen’s Answer

It's never too early or late.

For most children, it starts in 8th grade as you approach your High School yeas, lead you to a course selection path that can assist you in getting into college.

For those individuals who are outside of grade school, having a conversation about schooling at any time is a good idea.

If you are seriously considering medical school, talk you your guidance counselor and make sure your class schedule will begin preparing you for the science route ahead.
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joann’s Answer

It's never to early to think about college. I recommend you should start applying and researching once you get into high school.
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Britni’s Answer

I would say high school is a great time to start! You can start paving your way towards the major that you are interested in while taking your classes. Preparing for the SAT or ACT during high school is important as well and you can reach out to your counselors as well for guidance. Since you stated that you would like to go into medicine, the best thing that you can do is to focus on your grades to make yourself the most competitive applicant that you can be. Also participating in extracurriculars and volunteering is a great way to make yourself stand out as well!
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