Timeline for Students Applying to Schools of the Health Professions 4
Frequently Asked Questions 5
Questions related to Application to Health Professional Schools 7
Questions related to Admission Tests MCAT/DAT/GRE 12
Premedical Advisory Committee Application 14
Applicant Checklist 14
Guidelines for Recommendation Letters for Pre-Health Students 15
Preprofessional Advising Recommendation Waiver 17
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Timeline for Students Applying to Schools of the Health Professions
The timing of your application is extremely important and therefore your goal. There are several parts of an application and your goal must be to complete all application materials no later than mid-September of the year preceding your desired matriculation in the health professional school of your choice. In order for you to do this, your primary application must be submitted in the first part of this coming summer. The timetable below is designed to help you achieve this goal.
which you wish to submit your application. For example, if you wish to attend medical school immediately after completing your bachelor’s degree, you should complete all premed course work by the end of your junior year. Other courses not needed for the exam but for matriculation (i.e. Bio lab or Biochemistry) can be completed after you submit your application.
Fall preceding the year that you plan to apply to a health professional school:
1. Attend the mandatory Premedical Advisory Committee (PAC) Application Workshop in December.
2. Begin assembling letters of recommendation.
3. Begin preparation for MCAT or other entrance exams and register for exam.
4. Formulate preliminary list of schools to which you would like to apply.
Winter Break: Work on your PAC Application for Committee Evaluation.
Spring and summer of the year you are submitting your application to professional school is the most important time in the application process. Below are the steps that should be completed during this time period:
1. In January begin to prepare in earnest for the MCAT or other entrance exam. You may want to take a commercial preparation course or study on your own.
2. Complete your application for a Committee Evaluation by the Premedical Advisory Committee. All parts of the APPLICATION MUST BE COMPLETED BY FEBRUARY 17th, 2014. The PAC application is located at: http://www.studentaffairs.columbia.edu/advising/preprofessional/pacapp. You will attach a photo and Part II of your application at the end of Part I and submit everything NO LATER THAN 5:00 p.m. on February 17, 2014. The completed application packet includes Part I (web form), Part II (submitted online), Photo (submitted online) and outside transcripts (if applicable, emailed to email@example.com).
3. Schedule and complete an interview with the Premedical Advisory Committee. This is a required
portion of the Premedical Advisory Committee Evaluation. These interviews will be arranged by
the Center for Student Advising after the PAC Application has been submitted (instructions for signing up for interview will be sent sometime after the February 17th deadline).
4. Meet with a Preprofessional Advisor to discuss your preliminary list of schools and other issues or concerns.
6. If appropriate, obtain and complete a centralized application (AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, VMCAS, etc.) and submit it as early as possible. Most standardized applications may be submitted beginning on June 1. Apply in June – it really makes a difference!
7. June/July: Submit a copy in .pdf form of your submitted AMCAS application (or other centralized
applications) to the Office of Preprofessional Advising at firstname.lastname@example.org.This is also a required portion of the Premedical Advisory Committee Application.
Questions related to Premedical Advisory Committee Process: 1. What is the Premedical Advisory Committee (PAC) Evaluation?
The Premedical Advisory Committee Evaluation is an evaluation of an applicant’s candidacy for admission to health professional school. It is written for current students and alumni applying to programs in medicine who complete the PAC process. This evaluation is written on a student’s request and only after the student completes all PAC application requirements by the February 17th deadline. The committee application process includes submission of letters of recommendation (letters are due June 2nd), PAC application materials, as well as an interview with the Premedical Advisory Committee. See PAC application for more information.
2. Who is on the Premedical Advisory Committee?
The Premedical Advisory Committee is made up of Advising Deans from the Center for Student Advising and the advising staff of Preprofessional Advising.
3. Who is my Premedical Committee Member?
All applicants will be assigned a Premedical Committee member upon submission of the PAC
Application on February 17th. You will be notified of this person’s name and contact information shortly after you submit your application. This person will be a part of your Committee Interview and will have a hand in drafting your Committee Evaluation.
4. How important is the Committee Evaluation?
Most professional school admissions committees, including all medical schools, place a fair amount of
emphasis on these evaluations. The Admissions Committees are very interested in learning more about
comprehensive narrative discussing your candidacy. The letter is an important part of your applicant file. The
Committee Evaluation may hold more or less weight depending on the type of professional school to
which you apply.
5. How do I apply for a Committee Evaluation?
In order to apply for a Committee Evaluation you must complete the PAC Application by February 17th. A committee interview is also required.
6. If I decide to take time off, when should I apply for the Committee Evaluation?
You should apply for the Committee Evaluation in the spring semester (February) of the year you plan to submit your application. It is important that this letter be current and reflects all of your achievements and experiences. Alumni are always encouraged to come back and access the services of the Office of Preprofessional Advising.
7. If I am an alumnus, do I still have to submit a Committee Evaluation?
Yes. Most schools will still expect that you use this service.
8. Why does the Premedical Advisory Committee need to interview me?
First, the interview is designed to get to know you better. It will help us to clarify things that you have written about and to have an opportunity to discuss some of your interests and experiences. Second, the committee interview will also give you a first taste of what a medical school interview may be like. It will be a good practice run. The interview will be conducted by your premedical committee member and your assigned premedical advisor.
9. How should I ask for letters of recommendation? Who are the best types of people to ask?
• Choose your referees carefully. A person who knows you well can write a more substantial and helpful
letter than someone who hardly knows you. In choosing between a person who taught you in a small class versus someone with a famous name or title but who cannot write a personal letter, choose the former. It is REQUIRED to have at least one recommendation from someone who has taught you in the sciences (2 recommended), and it is RECOMMENDED to have one from a faculty in the humanities or social sciences. Others who may write useful letters include research advisors, administrators, faculty advisors, athletic coaches, supervisors of campus or summer jobs, and those who have known you in volunteer positions. Letters from graduate student instructors are acceptable. It is common to have science letters from faculty and instructors who know you only in the context of a large class. You should be careful to have the rest of your letters some from someone who knows you well.
• When asking for the letter, make an appointment to meet in person if at all possible. Bring your resume
and transcript and, ideally, any papers which you have written for the instructor (preferably the copies which contain their comments) with you and be prepared to talk about your future goals and past achievements. If an individual agrees to write on your behalf, present him/her with the Prehealth Letter of Recommendation
Waiver Form and the Guidelines for Letter Writers. Letters may be submitted to us via email if the writer has their letterhead and an image of their signature available digitally. If they want to send us a hard copy, it is also helpful to provide the writer with a stamped envelope addressed to the Office of Preprofessional Advising. We recommend US mail over campus mail!
• Make sure that you allow the person the option of saying NO. You want to have strong letters and if a
person is somewhat uncomfortable writing for you or doesn’t have enough time, it is likely that the result
will be short and weak. It is much better to have someone be honest with you at the start, so that you can find another referee who will be more enthusiastic. You can determine this by asking the person if s/he feels comfortable writing a strong letter on your behalf.
• Give your referees plenty of advance notice and time to write a good letter of recommendation (a month or even two). Make sure that your referees know that we need to have your letters sometime in the spring or early summer, and that there is a JUNE 2nd deadline. If your letters are not received by JUNE 2nd, it may delay your Committee Evaluation. • Be sure to give your referees friendly reminders about your letter, but do not pester them. Remember they will be writing a letter reflecting on many aspects of you—which includes behavior and interpersonal interactions!
• Inform your writers when you have decided where you will be attending school and thank them again for their assistance and support.
10. What is the Recommendation Waiver Form?
The Waiver Form is a document provided by the Office of Preprofessional Advising that will allow you to waive your right to inspect the contents of letters of recommendation written on your behalf. You must complete this form and provide it to each of your recommenders. Waiving your ‘right to access’ means that your letters will remain confidential, and you will not be privy to their contents. Admissions officials may give more credence to the content of a letter that is confidential. If you choose NOT to waive your right, you will have access to the contents of the recommendation.
Please note: You must be consistent on all of your waivers. If you waive your right on one letter you must waive your right on all letters including the Committee Evaluation. Because each of your letters becomes a piece of the overall Committee Evaluation, it would be impossible to grant you access to one portion that didn’t jeopardize the confidentiality of the whole package.