Frequently asked questions

  1. How do I calculate my science GPA?
  2. How do I write a personal statement?
  3. What kind of questions are they going to ask me in interviews?
  4. Can I take required courses at institutions other than MHC?
  5. Is it okay to take time off before attending/applying to a health professions school?
  6. How many schools should I apply to?
  7. Can I substitute related courses for a professional school’s required courses?
  8. Should I re-take my standardized exams if I don’t like my score?
  9. Do I need to be a premed major to apply to health professions schools?
  10. What are the most important criteria for getting into health professions school?

How do I calculate my science GPA?
This document will help you to calculate your science GPA: Calculating your science GPA

How do I write a personal statement?
Every fall, the Office of Pre-Health Programs offers a workshop on writing the personal statement. Make sure to attend the workshop, review our page on personal statements, and keep in touch with us regarding your questions and progress. As the application cycle progresses, we offer individual feedback on your essay through appointments with Katie Lipp. 

What kind of questions are they going to ask me in interviews?
For students applying in the current cycle who are offered interviews, we schedule mock interviews here in the office to help you prepare. Please see our page on interviews for more information about how to prepare, and to find sample questions.

Can I take required courses at institutions other than MHC?
Yes. Be prepared to explain why you did so. Course availability sometimes dictates that you must take a course elsewhere (e.g., taking an Animal Nutrition course for vet school at UMass because MHC does not offer the course). Sometimes taking a course elsewhere provides a better fit to your overall schedule (e.g., taking Organic Chemistry in the summer so that you can study abroad the following semester). These are straightforward, valid reasons that are readily accepted by the professional schools. Taking a course at another institution because you think it will be easier or because it will lighten your academic load are examples of motives that will not be considered favorably by professional schools. Keep in mind that if you wish to transfer the credit to MHC you must comply with the MHC Regulations for Transfer Credit. Transferring credit is not required in order to have a course considered by professional schools. Whether you transfer the credit ot not, your application package will need to include official transcripts from all institutions you have attended.

Is it okay to take time off before attending/applying to a health professions school?
Yes! In fact, we recommend this pathway for most of our advisees. There are many valid reasons for not going straight to a health professions school from your undergraduate program. These include taking additional course work, gaining clinical experience, performing volunteer work, earning money, and pursuing other life goals. Talk your plans and ideas over in advance with your health professions advisor, and read more about long-term professional planning here

How many schools should I apply to?
Careful, deliberate investigation of schools that match your needs and qualifications is essential to being able to apply to the right number and the right kind of program.  It will also save you a great deal of money in application fees.  Students who have done their research really well, picked realistic programs, and polished their applications can apply to ten to twenty schools with an expectation that they will be admitted to at least one. Understand the selection criteria used by each school, and what their acceptance rates are.  Plan to include your in-state or state-affiliate schools among those to which you apply.

Can I substitute related courses for a professional school’s required courses?
Direct questions about specific course substitutions to your pre-health advisor and to the admission office of the professional school.  The main concern is whether the course’s content provides the subject coverage intended by the requirement.  You may need to provide a course description and/or syllabus in order to get an accurate interpretation.

Should I re-take my standardized exams if my score is not competitive?
Yes, but consider the following questions as you plan for a re-take: Why was your score sub-par?  What did you do/not do in preparing for the exam?  What will you do differently in preparation for the second exam?  How do your scores compare with your other academic records?  Finally, will the schedule of taking the exam and getting the score reported fit with the ongoing consideration of your application?  Keep in mind that the schools will see all of your scores, and you want to show improvement on a re-take.  As a rule of thumb you should not take an exam more than twice.  Speak to your health professions advisor about your plans and methods of preparation, and read more about entrance exams here.

Do I need to be a pre-med major to apply to health profession schools?
No, in fact there is no such thing as a “pre-med major” at Mount Holyoke, nor do you need to major in a science to qualify for admission to health profession schools. While many applicants to schools in the health professions are science majors, these schools welcome non-science majors, recognizing the diversity of background such applicants represent. Admission committees are looking for the well-rounded, interesting student: someone who brings a variety of experiences and who has made a deliberate, well-informed decision about their choice of career. All applicants must show strong records in the specific courses, entrance exams, and clinical experiences that are set forth as requirements for admission.

What are the most important criteria for getting into professional school?
Your job is to stand out. Major in a discipline where you will thrive, get involved in extracurricular activities, athletics, community service, leadership, and research. Admission to graduate training in the health professions is highly competitive and does not follow a set formula. Admission committees review an applicant’s entire package, and while GPA and standardized exam scores are important, so are your essays, clinical experience, extracurricular involvement, letters of recommendation and interview.