Arts & Sciences Pre-Health Advising focuses on providing Arts & Sciences students resources and guidance to:
- Explore the various health careers
- Design an academic plan that best fits your interests and prepare for health professional schools
- Plan extracurricular activities to explore and prepare for health professional schools
- Manage mental health and its impacts on your academic experience
- Prepare application materials and practice interviews for health professional schools
Exploring Health Careers
The liberal arts experience in Arts & Sciences offers the perfect preparation for the health careers, as it offers contact with the full range of perspectives on the human experience. As an Arts & Sciences student, you will be exposed to a broad base of knowledge while you hone your critical thinking, creative, and analytical skills. You can take a mix of classes in the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences that provides an excellent foundation for future study in this growing field.
If you are unsure which field within the health profession is a good fit for you:
Major and Minor Choices
Cornell does not have a "pre-med" major. Instead, you take a series of required and recommended courses to prepare for health professional school. You may choose any of the 40 majors in the College that interest you. Consult with your advising dean if you need help choosing and when you are ready to affiliate, apply to the major you want, usually by the end of your sophomore year.
A minor is not required for health professional schools. You are encouraged to pursue any minors you'd like. Schedule an appointment with your advising dean to design an academic plan to explore your interests and to prepare for professional schools.
Prerequisite and Recommended Coursework
The Pre-Health Academic Preparation provides detailed information on course requirements and recommendations. All required coursework must be taken for a letter grade (A-F).
Sample plans provide examples to guide your conversation with your advising dean. Focus on incorporating major and college requirements into your plan. Explore your comfort zone and plan on taking these challenging courses when you are most ready.
Advanced Placement Credits
The decision to use AP/IB credits is up to you. Acceptance of these credits vary from school to school. Check the requirements from schools you may be interested in applying. You can choose to be safe and plan to take the required coursework or should you choose to use your AP, consider taking upper-level course/s to demonstrate proficiency in that particular area. If you are unsure, consult with the pre-health FAQ or discuss your decision with with your advising dean.
Why Engage in Activities
Experiences outside the classroom allow you to not only explore the health career that you want but also provide important learning opportunities to prepare for health professional schools. As you plan for activities, consider why they are important for you, what you hope to learn, and how these activities help you demonstrate core competencies such that schools in the field of medicine look for.
Health professional schools do not have preferences or rank what activities are good or bad. Instead, they are interested in knowing why these activities are important to you. Therefore, do not approach your activities planning as a checklist. Cornell Health Careers Advising offers a guideline on designing your activities. If you need help planning, consult with one of the pre-health advisors.
How to Find Activities
It can be intimidating to seek out activities. The process requires thoughtful and careful planning. Be careful to balance your academics with your activities.
- Networking: Do you know someone in your social circle who is a physician/dentist/vet? How about your or your family physician/dentist? Ask them. Career Development can offer ideas on how to network with Cornell alum.
- Handshake: Opportunities are posted regularly. Sign up here.
- Cold-email/call: Look for local professionals in your community (private and public clinical settings). Call or email to introduce yourself and state your interest in shadowing them.
- Volunteer in hospice/rehab center/other clinical settings in your by visiting the organizations' websites.
- Apply to work or volunteer as an EMT in your local community. Cornell University Emergency Medical Service provides opportunities to service the Ithaca campus.
- Apply to work as a certified nursing assistant or medical scribe to gain hands-on experience working with patients.
Medicine is a service-oriented profession, what are you doing to show that you care about people and that you like working with people? This is where you can get creative. Some ideas include:
- Becoming a tutor: Ask a professor if you can sign up to tutor for their class. Apply for a position with the LSC, the Knight Writing Institute, or serve as a student advisor in the OUB. If your classmates or friends struggle academically, offer them the opportunity for one-on-one tutoring. You do not need an official position to justify the experience. It's the act of tutoring that counts. You may also search for outside tutoring opportunities by searching the web.
- Work on campus: Service experiences can be earned through paid employment. Cornell offers student employment opportunities.
- The Public Service Center provides many on-campus and off-campus volunteer opportunities.
Research and Other Scholarly Activities
Research can be obtained in several ways:
- Browse any departmental website or the OUB's research database: Check out professors' websites, look at their research and if you're interested, send them an email. Introduce yourself, state your intention, ask for a meeting or opportunity to further discuss the possibility of joining their lab.
- If you are interested in designing an independent study project in your major, discuss with your faculty advisor on the best way to get started. If you're interested in independent study outside of your major, discuss with a professor whom you think will be able to serve as your mentor.
- The Intergroup Dialogue Program (IDP) offers experiences to "engage in critical dialogue." These are great opportunities for those interested in developing their cultural competency.
- Leadership roles are easily obtained by serving on student organizations. ClubFest is a good place to get started.
- How else can you demonstrate leadership? What about if you work at a restaurant or volunteer as a tutoring organization where you serve as the manager. What other ways can you think of?
- Structured programs require application and possibly letters of recommendation. You can expect to submit applications between the months of January through March. You can find these opportunities by visiting the OUB, NAAHP, and NSF-REU. These are just some a few sites to get you started. If you have a specific program in mind, search for it on their website.
- You can also design your activities to fill your summer days. Think about getting involved in activities you normally don't have time for or that you don't have access to because of being in Ithaca during the academic terms.
When to Engage in Activities
The question of timing depends on what is available and whether or not you have time for the activities. For example, research is available during the academic year as well as the summer. Must you engage in research year-round? That's up to you. Some students do work on research during the summer but they add on some sort of community service when possible.
Summer and winter breaks are great times to engage in activities that are somewhat time-consuming where they normally would conflict with your academic demands. For example, shadowing or other clinical experiences may be challenging to balance with a full academic load; therefore, summer and winter breaks are great times to engage in these.
COVID-19's Impacts on Activities
Due to health concerns related to COVID-19, it recommended that you follow federal and state health guidelines for best practice. In lieu of in-person activities, you can consider virtual opportunities. Health professional schools have shared that they understand the impacts of COVID-19 and will consider all activities from a holistic perspective.
Below are some organizations offer virtual volunteering opportunities.
American Red Cross, VolunteerMatch, Idealist, Amnesty International, Health4TheWorld, UPchieve, HireHeroUSA, Translators Without Border, 7 Cups Online Therapy, Be My Eyes, Crisis Text Line, Chemo Angels
Senior year (If you are applying to go directly to school)
Applying to Professional Schools
- For general information about applying to medical or veterinary school, visit the Health Careers website or schedule an appointment with Ana Adinolfi.
- If your school requires a Dean's Certification Letter, complete this Information Release Request form to authorize Cornell to release your academic and disciplinary information (If you are unable to access the form with Cornell's two-step log-in, please use this release form). Allow four weeks for this process. Once your record has been checked, a letter is prepared and kept on file to be sent out with the medical school forms.
- Submit the Dean's Certification form (a.k.a. College Questionnaire, College Certification) from the medical school, along with a stamped envelope addressed to the school, at least four weeks before the school’s application deadline for admissions.
- Pre-health students who were external transfers to Cornell must provide copies of both their Cornell transcript and the transcript from the external institution when applying to medical school
Student Services Partners
- Career Development supports students with career exploration, internship & job search, interviews, resume/coverletter writing, graduate & professional school applications, etc.
- Cornell Health provides students medical, counseling, and pharmacy services.
- Identity Resources-Students & Campus Life
- John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines provides tutors to help writers get started on an essay, brainstorm an outline, shape coherent arguments, and more. This is your go-to resource for support in FWS courses.
- Latinx Student Success Office (LSSO) hosts programs and serves as a "hotspot" for the Latino/a community
- Learning Strategy Center (LSC) provides services such as study skills workshops, supplemental courses, time management resources, and tutoring.
- Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) provides support and resources to ensure academic success for students identify as under-represented minority, low-income, and first-generation.
- Office of Global Learning
- Pre-Law Advising provides information and resources for pre-law students
- Pre-Health Advising provides information and resources to help students plan and navigate the processes for applying to medical/dental/vet/other health professional schools.
- Student Disability Services (SDS) provides supports, accommodations, and resources for students with disabilities. Students are encouraged to register with the SDS office to request disability services or accommodations for the placement exams and semester courses prior to the start of the semester.
- Undergraduate Research provides information on how to get started in research as well as funding supporting research.