Frequently Asked Questions
1. I have always heard that WashU is one of best premed schools. What does this mean, exactly?
You probably know by now that people don't 'major' in premed; rather, they need to take a set of prerequisite science and math courses. Yes, you can do premed in any university, but there are several factors that make WashU a great school for premeds:
A. The strength and availability of the advising program
B. The rigor of the curriculum
C. WashU's superb, above-average success rate at getting its premeds into med schools
D. The research culture at WashU
E. The self-motivated students who support each other
I will elaborate on each point below.
A. The strength and availability of the advising program.
Go to Pre-Health | The College | Arts & Sciences
Go to 'Advising' on the left menu.
As you can see, there are at least ten premedical advisors. At WashU, as a premed, you will not only be able to seek the guidance of these advisors, you will also have your four-year advisor and your major (and minor, if you have any) advisors. So most students have numerous advisors.
These advisors are available by appointment, walk-in office hours during specific times and dates of the week, and by phone and email (of course, face-to-face interaction is best, but they are also incredibly friendly by phone and email). Most of the advisors are located in Umrath, the ArtSci student affairs building, but Cornerstone and the Career Center also have premedical staff on hand.
These advisors MENTOR and ADVISE. They don't simply take a look at your grades and give you an assessment of your chances for medical school-- they have the knowledge to do that, but they will do MORE than that. They have access to your transcript, and they will sit down with you to look at the courses you have chosen per semester as well as the trend of your grades. They will help you determine the reasons for a poorer performance one semester, and direct you to the necessary resources. Study problems? Get a free tutor or study group from Cornerstone. Social or personal issues? The premedical advisors are understanding and caring adults and they will listen to your personal story.
Second, the advisors also check in on your activities. No, they will not tell you to do certain 'activities that look good to premedical schools.' From my experience, most premeds at WashU participate in activities they are passionate about. The premed advisor treats each student as a being with unique interests and hobbies, echoing the philosophy that as a premed, you have to get the grades and naturally be compassionate and humanitarian in your involvements, but you also need to do what you love. The advisors will assess whether your activities show academic and inquisitive tendencies and whether they show involvement and leadership. They will also assess whether you are 'on-schedule' -- as in, when should you take that MCAT? Have you gotten all your prereqs? Do you have your medical school resume ready (yes, they will look over your resume, too, to make sure it is clear, concise, and strong)? In short, the premedical advisors mentor students holistically. And overall, they are an incredibly supportive and encouraging staff that you can get close to and who will really get to know YOU.
B. The rigor of the curriculum.
I will create no illusions- WashU premed is NOT easy. Intro chem ('GenChemI')-- you start off with wave-particle duality and Schrodinger's cat, complete with 'alternative universe' questions on your exams. Be prepared to cry and work very, very hard. I know this sounds harsh. I also note that every science class I've taken at WashU has been taught by a professor who are alma maters of other top, rigorous, scientific institutions, and they will write exams that challenge you to 'think-outside-the-box.' Be assured however-- if you have what it takes to be accepted into WashU premed, you have what it takes to succeed at premed here. What distinguishes one student from another is usually how hard they work. Your hard work WILL pay off.
Do medical schools acknowledge the rigor of the WashU curriculum? Simply put, YES, YES, YES!
C. WashU's success rate at getting its premeds into medical schools.
If you want the hard numbers, go here: Life Sciences Forms | The College | Arts & Sciences
Read the Premed Supplement.
D. The research culture at WashU.
Medical schools are academic institutions where research may be tomorrow's cure, and understandably they would appreciate candidates who have participated in research experiences (defined as actually working on research projects, not simply washing beakers and running the occasional PCR). Of course, reseach doesn't just constitute the biological or medical sciences. You can also do research in anthropology, economics, sociology, or political science. WashU allows you to demonstrate your intellectual drive in its full range of laboratories, professors of every field, and interdisciplinary research studies. I cannot stress how amazing WashU's undergraduate research is. You can go to the undergraduate research website at ur.wustl.edu. As you will soon learn, there are tons and tons of research funding for undergrads, for every field. The professors I know are also very friendly and love working with undergrads. Simply put, most undergrads participate in research, often obtaining funding for and working on their own projects. Every semester, there is the Undergraduate research symposium, where undergrads create professional-quality posters and give presentations on their work.
E. The support of the students
WashU premeds are not cutthroat. People share notes, help each other understand that esoteric concept from class, and work together on problems in study groups.