The Office of Health Professions Advising provides support to Princeton students and alumni by many means as they consider careers in and prepare for admission to medical, dental, veterinary, and other health professions schools. As you weigh the options for your college career as a pre-health student, here are some of the highlights of our pre-health resources and services at Princeton.
Princeton Pre-health, By the Numbers
Sixteen pre-health peer advisers
20+ student organizations with a health/medicine focus
100-150 applicants to medical school per year (60-70% of whom take a glide/gap year between Princeton and medical school)
85-95% of applicants accepted to medical school annually
Thousands of alumni health professionals in the Tiger network
Over the years, premedical/pre-health students have completed majors in every department at the University. Exploration of all intellectual interests is encouraged by health professional schools at the undergraduate level. About half of our accepted applicants each year major outside of the science disciplines.
- Individual advising is available to any student through drop in hours and by appointment at the Office of Health Professions Advising (HPA).
- Group information sessions are provided for students new to pre-health and to students who are beginning the process of applying to medical school or other health professions training programs.
- A number of workshops and events are offered throughout the academic year. Workshop topics include: alumni and health professions school visits, personal statement writing, and interviewing.
- The HPA Library is a lending library with resources relating to a wide range of health professions, including medical fiction and non-fiction, standardized test prep materials, and brochures from health professions schools.
- Some peer advisers in each residential college are pre-health and are trained to work with first-year students.
- When students apply to health professions school, a committee letter of recommendation is prepared on their behalf. This letter is preferred by health professions schools as one means of evaluating candidates, and summarizes students’ academics, activities, recommendation letters, and interaction with HPA, as established through individual contact and an interview.
- Finally the HPA website features a variety of helpful information and resources, including extensive Frequently Asked Questions.
A Generalized Timeline You Can Expect as a Premed Student
This should be considered a general guide for those interested in health professions as they progress toward application to medical, dental, optometry, or veterinary schools. It is important that you work with HPA to devise a schedule that best fits you.
- Establish your support group. Meet the HPA staff, and get on HPA email listservs, as available. Meet your Deans and Directors of Studies. Make friends.
- Strive to do well in your classes – go to tutors, join study groups, attend office hours, and get to know faculty.
- Develop and improve your time management and study skills, and spending habits (schools may request your credit report, plus, applying is expensive).
- Create a resume, journal, or other way to track all of your activities, awards, and accomplishments.
- Over the summer, pursue an internship, volunteer position, or research opportunity in your profession of interest.
- Investigate potential health professions schools and their entrance requirements and plan classes accordingly.
- Find balance between co-curricular activities and (academics come first, but take care of yourself and find good stress relievers)!
- Declare your major, develop a graduation timeline.
- Reflect on your continuing motivation to become a health professional – you’ll have to articulate your reasons in your personal statement and it’s never too early to refine them.
- Meet with HPA to talk about strengths and areas for improvement in your candidacy.
- Continue summer involvement in employment, research, volunteering, and personal enrichment activities.
Junior /Senior Years
- Prepare for the application process by attending an Applicant Workshop, completing required paperwork, interviewing with HPA.
- Obtain letters of recommendation.
- Study for and take entrance exams (e.g., the MCAT for medical school, DAT for dental, GRE for vet).
- Draft your personal statement, have people review it, perfect it.
- Apply, and keep us informed of your candidate status!
- The application process to medical school takes about 15 months. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of Princeton applicants apply in their senior year (taking one "glide" or "gap" year off between Princeton and medical school), or take even more time off before returning to the application process.
- Taking time off takes pressure off of MCAT timing, allows students to apply after completing the thesis (and accruing a strong letter of recommendation from the thesis adviser), and gives students an opportunity to gain some real world experience before embarking on the next step in their education.