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CS -> Pre-med major switch = possible?

StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
Hello,

I am a junior in high school who has done every class and extracurricular to prepare for a CS major. However, I have had a possible change in heart and want to become a neurosurgeon. I need to get into a decent college for pre-med, so I was hoping you guys could look at my classes/extracurriculars and see if I have a good chance at prestigious pre-med colleges. (John Hopkins, Yale, Brown, Stanford, Rice, Caltech, UChicago, etc)


STATS:

Academics:

AP’s: Human Geography (4); World History (4); Statistics (5); Chemistry (5); Language (4); US History (4); Calculus AB (5); Computer Science Principles (5); Computer Science A (5); Psychology (5); Literature (4); Government (5); Calculus BC (5); Biology (5); Environmental Science (5)

ACT: 36

Subject Tests: Math II (800); Chemistry (800); Physics (800)

GPA: 4.52 (W); 3.975 (UW)


Extracurriculars:

Camp Counselor for Kiwanis Camp Casey (576 hours) - Pretty hard job, I am basically one of ~40 counselors taking care of ~100 physically disabled teenagers. Our job duties include: changing, bathing, showering, feeding, putting to bed, waking up, etc etc. One week yearly, 6-day stay for 24 hours each day (sleep with them).

Varsity Tennis (3 years); Captain (1 year); Districts Champ + State Competitor

Hospital internship (1 summer) + volunteering

Worked on independent programming projects; posted on github

Completed CS50 course (~10-week intro to cs course from Harvard) and received a completion certificate

Chemistry Olympiad National Honors

Science Olympiad - went to state (chem, exper. design, machines)


Any response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Replies to: CS -> Pre-med major switch = possible?

  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @DadTwoGirls thank you for your response. This does ease my concerns quite a bit.

    Do you think that when I apply for pre-med majors like biology, colleges will look at my CS extracurriculars and still consider them significant even if they relate to a different major? I am hoping that they will consider my change of heart and still take into consideration my other extracurriculars.

    Also, do you know of any colleges that could be of interest to me besides those top Ivy's like Harvard and Stanford? I will do my own research too but I also want some realistic expectations from another perspective.

    Thanks!
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1583 replies22 threads Senior Member
    You know that you can be a CS major and still go to med school?
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  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @Eeyore123 yes, but if I am going to take the medical path, I will most likely take courses related to biology instead of CS.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 1583 replies22 threads Senior Member
    I would actually suggest that you don’t do that. A very high percentage of pre med students don’t actually go to medical school. A CS degree is worth a lot more than a bio. Even if you go to med school, the CS background could be more useful than a bio.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79687 replies712 threads Senior Member
    edited January 4
    You can take the pre-med courses (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics) alongside a CS major. Pre-med courses in math will likely be included in the CS major, and those in English composition and social studies could be overlapped with college general education requirements.

    It will likely be easier to fit pre-med courses into a CS major schedule if the CS major is not engineering-based.

    Because most pre-meds either drop out of pre-med or (if they apply) do not get into any medical school, pre-meds should consider their choice of major in the context of their backup plan, which is the most likely outcome. Biology majors do not have particularly good major-related job and career prospects at the BA/BS level.

    Also, if you do go to medical school and do not have wealthy generous parents, you need to consider what your financial plan will be to pay off what could be $400,000 in medical school debt -- for many physicians, this can take decades, even on physician pay, unless they continue to spend on a student budget.
    edited January 4
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5857 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "do you know of any colleges that could be of interest to me"

    What is your home state?
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  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited January 4
    @DadTwoGirls
    Washington (but I would kind of prefer not to stay here)
    edited January 4
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79687 replies712 threads Senior Member
    Excluding your in-state public universities and medical schools could cost you a lot of money.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10015 replies66 threads Senior Member
    We were quite impressed with the Washington universities for medical school when my middle daughter was being interviewed. Several of our family physicians had recommended the uni's there for undergrad and med school, but then she was admitted to her targets and the cost savings of staying instate, for undergrad, were just too good.

    Now that our daughter is in "med" school, it is very expensive, and we're glad that we were able to save undergrad money to pay for it. She was able to do very well at her undergrad (since they had a med prep program) and was admitted to all of her target schools including (UW) but chose another program. You don't need an ivy to get into med school.
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  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus @Eeyore123 you both have very good points, I haven't really thought much about the poor success rates of pre-med students. The necessity of a good backup plan like CS is kind of daunting, cause then the college will have to have a good CS program along with a good pre-med program, which already makes the college harder to get into.

    I have two questions.

    1. Should I major in CS at the same time I do pre-med, or major in CS after I (hypothetically) drop out of pre-med?

    2. Do I have a good shot at prestigious universities with good pre-med programs?
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  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus that's a good point. However, the only school I am considering in Washington is UWash, which has a good pre-med program but nothing else. Because of this, if I ever end up dropping out of pre-med, I will have no other reliable major to fall back on because UWash is not great at many things.
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  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    @aunt bea thanks for your response. May I ask what undergrad program your daughter attended?
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  • HamurtleHamurtle 2705 replies35 threads Senior Member
    If OP is interested in a Biology major, focus on Computational Biology with a Computer Science minor as a Plan B if med school doesn’t work out. Data Science and Bioinformatics are pretty hot fields these days.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79687 replies712 threads Senior Member
    StressLord wrote: »
    1. Should I major in CS at the same time I do pre-med, or major in CS after I (hypothetically) drop out of pre-med?

    Better to do CS from the start (with pre-med courses alongside). Waiting until later to start CS can mean having to "catch up" with prerequisites and needing more than 8 semesters or 12 quarters to finish. Also, at some colleges like University of Washington, it is best to get directly admitted to the CS major, because getting into the CS major later after enrolling is very difficult.

    This assumes that CS is a subject that you like and are good at, so that you can earn A grades in those courses (as well as in the pre-med courses).
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  • vhsdadvhsdad 180 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I'm not quite sure what the question is you're asking. Your stats are as good as anyone else's, so of course, you have a better shot than most at those above mentioned schools. Of course, top notch stats and extracurriculars are no guarantee either.
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  • NCKrisNCKris 265 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Premed is not a major, and you can be a CS major and apply to Med school as long as u take the required courses.

    Your Stats are great, congrats!
    Keep doing what you are passionate about and apply to a wide range of colleges with many match/likely colleges and a few of your favorite reach schools.

    Above schools listed do not admit by major and you are free to change your major if your interests change- in fact majority of the incoming class change their intent after a few classes.

    I would encourage you to keep doing whatever you are doing and focus on 1 or 2 activities (Sci Oly or research?) and reach a higher level (pointy candidate)
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10015 replies66 threads Senior Member
    The major is in the UC Davis-College of Biological Sciences and is called NPB-Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. It is relatively an "unknown" major for premed, outside of Davis, if you don't know much about the school.

    Lots of free tutoring for the MCAT and PCAT exams, IF you take advantage of them from the onset of the major.

    They also have lots of referrals to volunteer activities that involve Davis clinics with med students/PAs/ and undergrads in the Sacramento and Stockton areas. You get practical experience, as undergrads, with low-income diabetic/hypertensive patients, in taking vitals, assessing patient needs, medical intervention, pharmacy, patient education and medical "rounds". You just have to ask, get good grades and be interviewed.
    I'll pm you.
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  • StressLordStressLord 25 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited January 4
    @ucbalumnus @Hamurtle @Eeyore123
    I have researched this, and I found that my choice of major should not significantly impact my chances of admission to medical school. That said, colleges like UC Berkeley (which has a lot of prestige and a great pre-med track) have a 17% acceptance rate in general but only an 8.5% acceptance rate for computer science. If both of what I said is true, would it be better for me to apply to colleges like UCB (that have different acceptance rates for CS) after declaring a major in CS, or should I apply under a less competitive major and/or undeclared?

    Please answer in terms of how this will affect my chances of becoming a surgeon, nothing else.

    Also, what would be my chances of admission for UCB if I am not going for CS, and if I am going for CS based on my stats?

    Thank you
    edited January 4
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79687 replies712 threads Senior Member
    StressLord wrote: »
    That said, colleges like UC Berkeley have a 17% acceptance rate in general but only an 8.5% acceptance rate for computer science. If both of what I said is true, would it be better for me to apply to colleges like UCB (that have different acceptance rates for CS) after declaring a major in CS, or should I apply under a less competitive major and/or undeclared?

    UCB is a special case, because you can major in CS two different ways:

    * EECS in the College of Engineering: more selective, but direct admission to the major. However, a higher volume of requirements may make taking pre-med courses more difficult.
    * CS in the College of Letters and Science (L&S): since all L&S students start undeclared, major within L&S does not affect selectivity per se (although consistency of essays and ECs can affect how a reader sees your application). L&S students need to earn a 3.3 GPA in three CS courses to get into the L&S CS major (about half of students in those courses earn B+ or higher grades). Leaves more schedule space to take pre-med courses.

    However, as a non-California resident, UCB will be expensive with no financial aid, unless you get a super-reach Regents' scholarship. Spending more on undergraduate will make it harder to afford medical school, or require a longer term of debt service if you do go to medical school.

    Regarding pre-med at UCB, about a quarter of students in typical pre-med courses earn A- or higher grades. If you get mostly grades lower than A-, you are unlikely to get into a US medical school.

    Here is an older post about grade distributions for selected courses at UCB:
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/university-california-berkeley/2071932-grade-distributions-in-prerequisite-courses-for-gpa-based-goals.html

    For grade distributions by course at some other colleges, see here:
    https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/pre-med-topics/2074436-some-colleges-have-grade-distribution-information-available-by-course.html
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