Many students like yourself have the same questions about how to use their undergraduate years as preparation for pre-professional and graduate schools. The following FAQ may help you find your answers. If you have additional questions, please ask the C-SC pre-professional program advisor.
Q. Why should I complete a four-year undergraduate program?
A. The vast majority of health-related professional program require a bachelor's degree as part of the admissions standards. C-SC does participate in a special pre-occupational therapy program that allows a student to enter a professional program after three years at C-SC and with two additional years of study at the professional school.
Q. What can I do to strengthen my chances of getting into a professional program or graduate school?
A. In order to be a strong grad school applicant and to be prepared for the rigors of such a program, we highly recommend that you consider the following:
- Either major in biological chemistry or combine a biology major with a chemistry minor
- Complete two physics courses
- Take both a calculus course and a physics course
Q. Is completing my science major enough to make me competitive?
A. Professional schools that prepare students for careers in health care are looking for students with a broad exposure to a variety of courses as well as students who have an aptitude for science and critical thinking. They do not give preference to any particular academic major. By taking additional science courses, over and above the minimum for admission to professional school, you will be better prepared for the admission examinations, which must to be taken, and for the first intensive years of professional school in which the basic sciences are taught. You also need to take the right courses to best prepare you for taking your qualifying admissions tests. We suggest the following courses in addition to completing the requirements for your major:
- Complete courses in molecular and cell biology, general zoology, genetics, and evolution
- Complete two courses in general chemistry as well as two additional courses in organic chemistry
- Take at least one course in mathematics
- Add two courses in physics
- Complete two to three English courses
Q. If I get off to a slow start at C-SC, should I drop out of the pre-professional program?
A. No. Professional schools recognize that the transition from high school to college can be difficult for many students. If you can show an improvement in the following semesters, poor grades in your first year will probably not have a significant impact on your candidacy. When evaluating your ability to be successful in their program, professional schools put more emphasis on your science GPA and your standardized test scores.
Q. Is it OK to drop a class?
A. If it is an isolated case, dropping a class may be okay. Professional schools are looking for evidence that you can handle a rigorous academic load while having an active campus life at the same time. However, if you routinely drop classes or show a consistent pattern of poor performance, this will raise the question of whether or not you can handle the rigors of professional school.
Q. What if I get a "C"?
A. An isolated "C: is not the end of your prospects for a career in health care, and the course should probably not be repeated. However, consistent "C"-work will not produce a competitive GPA.
Q. Should I take extra courses at a community college in summers?
A. We strongly recommend that you complete your required courses, especially those in science, at Culver-Stockton College during the regular school session. Taking courses at a variety of institutions could be considered a disadvantage and may not be highly regarded by admission committees. You need to demonstrate your ability to succeed with a normal academic load.
Q. Would it help if I graduated early?
A. There is no advantage to graduating early. Many professional schools prefer the older student who has some life experience, which provides further advantage for the rigors of graduate or professional school.
Q. What are professional programs/graduate schools looking for in my application?
A. You want to present a balanced picture between your GPA and your admission exam scores. In general, a GPA of 3.5-3.6 with higher numbers in science will be sufficient. Competitive test scores vary. For example, a score of 30 on the MCAT is competitive, while a score of 20 on the DAT is competitive. For the GRE, you are competitive with a score of 1100.
Q. If I don't like my score, can I take the admission exam again?
A. There are some limitations, but you can repeat the admissions exam. Many of the programs that administer admission examinations limit the number and timing of repeats. In addition, professional schools do not look favorably on students who take the exams multiple times. The very best plan is to prepare well and take the exam ONCE, when you are ready.
Q. Are they looking for anything else?
A. Most of these programs want evidence of your leadership abilities. The number of organizations that you participate in while at C-SC is not crucial, but the quality and depth of your commitment to the organizations you choose is important. You should spend a semester evaluating campus organizations and then select a few to participate in during your second semester. A small number of carefully selected projects, which clearly demonstrate that you can be a leader, are better than belonging to many organizations with little depth of commitment. You may also demonstrate leadership in your home community.