Advice from Alums for Future Applicants

Pre-Health Hoos who successfully gained admission to a health professional program during the 2017-18 application cycle offer reflections and tips for future applicants

Preparation for the Health Professions
"Pursue the things you are passionate in. This might mean joining a lot of clubs, or maybe joining just a few and finding one you really click in. Be dedicated, and don't sweat minor setbacks. If you do your best, the end result can't be all that bad!"
-Timmy Nguyen, UVA '18

"Note that the journey to medical school is a long process. You will definitely thank yourself later if you engage in activities that are sincerely meaningful to you. This will show on your application and in your interviews!"
-Prinyanka Vuppala, UVA '17

"Be true to yourself."
-Siva Rajamarthandan, UVA '16

"The journey to reach your goals may look different from what you anticipated. Every diversion can be an opportunity to learn and expand your understanding. These diversions have enriched my story and carved my path."
-Karla Platzer, UVA '11

"I wasn't pre-med while I was an undergraduate, but for students who are thinking about medicine later in their college careers, begin getting clinical exposure as early as possible to see if healthcare is something you really want to do."
-Christian Gigante, UVA '16

"Do only the things you love and are passionate about because those are the things you will be able to discuss in interviews."
-Alana Ines Castro-Gilliard

"Don't give up. It's hard but worth it."
-Ashli Everstine, UVA '17

"Pre-health culture these days is dominated by a "box-checking" mentality. Grades, MCAT, volunteering, leadership, research, etc. But becoming a doctor, and demonstrating a real passion for medicine is about way more than checking. Yes, you need good grades and a good MCAT score sure helps, but don't do things simply because medical schools want you to. Do things you're passionate about. Things that will help you build skills that will contribute to your ability to become a physician. The check boxes will fall into place from there."
-Jesse Persily, UVA '18

"Work on creating a holistic application with non-medical community service / activities you are legitimately passionate about rather than just focusing on resume boosters."
-Alexa Dzienny, UVA '18

"Talk to as many health professionals as possible about their experience to make a more informed decision about your own health profession choice."
-Mitchell Popielec, UVA '18

"If you do your best, you will achieve anything you set your mind to. Also, do not be confined to school. Make sure you have something to do that's NOT academics or career related. My thing is CrossFit, both as an athlete and coach."
-Hannah Hardy, UVA '18

"Don't be afraid to explore different academic disciplines. Majoring in religious studies made me stand our during the application process and gives me a unique and sought-after perspective entering the physical therapy field!"
-Laura Guy, UVA '17

"Be true to who you are and why you are pursuing graduate school. Don't be fake or try to be the applicant you think schools want. You want to attend a school that truly believes you will thrive there by being who you are."
-Besty Pettit, UVA '17

"No one's path is the same. Everyone acts like you have to hit exactly X, Y, and Z in that order but it's so inaccurate. You can take that path. Or you can do them backwards and upside down! Do what's right for you at the time that it's right for you. Being pre-med is stressful and trying to check boxes off of someone else's list makes it worse. And make sure to add in plenty of nights with friends to keep yourself balanced!"
-Danielle Hafer, UVA '17

"Get to know your professors, find mentors you admire, seek leadership positions in organizations you are passionate about (doesn't have to be healthcare)."
-Sandy Hoang, UVA '17

"Do not give up if you haven't performed as well as you hoped whether with your grades of your MCAT score. If you work hard and remain dedicated, you can achieve your goals. Figure out what went wrong and put all of your effort into fixing the problem. In the end, your weaknesses can become your greatest strengths."
-Chioma Elechi, UVA '11  

Application Process
"The application process is long and hard. Make it easier on yourself by valuing quality of schools over quantity. To avoid draining yourself mentally and financially, select schools based on where you think you are likely to get in AND enjoy yourself. No point in applying to 30 schools that aren't reasonable."
-Nayla Labban, UVA '18

"Start early on your application! The earlier you start writing your statement and completing parts of the application, the better, as the application can feel very overwhelming if you try to finish it all in one go."
-Jackie Lee, UVA '17

"Don't be afraid to ask for help. The application process can be lengthy and confusing, but there are so many resources to turn to if you are feeling overwhelmed."
-Joanna Hsu, UVA '18

"Apply to all your state schools, pre-write your secondaries as much as possible, and don't compare your application process to anyone else's -- focus on your journey!"
- Savannah Barkdull, UVA '16

"Make your application unique. Don't stress about doing everything everyone else does!"
-Emily Mosher, UVA '16

"The application cycle feels incredibly long and daunting. Keep your head up and surround yourself with supportive people. I found I made new friends just by supporting each other through the application."
-Peyton McElhone, UVA '18

"Do your best to stay positive! Everyone applying to professional schools is different, which is something to celebrate. Remember you have strengths unique to you alone - present this side when applying to schools. They want to see why you are special!"
-Kathleen Kelly, UVA '18

"Write a cohesive personal statement. During interviews, find a connection between you and the interviewer and be the interviewer's friend! In the end, you'll get matched into medical schools that'll fit you best."
-Sandy Hoang, UVA '17

"Consult advice from current students who are already in your desired program; they have the best advice and will be happy to provide guidance."
-Kathryn Veltman, UVA '18

"Make sure to stay on top of the application. At times (especially during secondaries), there's a lot of things coming at you fast, so stay organized and keep pushing, and you'll get through it. It's a stressful period but it's over before you know it."
-Hans Prakash, UVA '17

"Don't stress out too far in advance. When the admissions process is laid out in front of your, it can seem pretty daunting, so take it one step at a time. Don't start worrying about the interview before even taking the admissions exam. Focus on one thing at a time and by the time you get to the next step, you will feel more prepared."
-Amber Watkins, UVA '18