Choosing a Major

 
"What major should I choose if I want to go into health professions? What major looks best when I apply to professional school?"
 
These are very common questions from students, and there is a common misconception that there is a "best" major for pre-health students.  While professional health programs require students to have a solid background in the basic biological and physical sciences, they neither prefer nor recommend any particular undergraduate major. The required prerequisite and recommended courses can be completed in conjunction with any undergraduate major at Colorado State. The majority of pre-health students choose to major in a biologically-based major because that is where their interest lie. However, we have had many successful students go on to professional health programs with majors as diverse as anthropology, business, engineering, foreign languages, and visual arts. There is no “right major” for preparation for a health professions program; there is only a right major for you. Therefore, you should choose a major that is of interest to you and includes coursework that you would like to study during your undergraduate career. 
 
Health Professions Advisors can help you select the courses that will meet the requirements for your health professional program that may not be part of your major.

 

Know your ABCs

Regardless of the major students choose, students who plan to continue their education in a health professional program will work with Health Professions Advisors to satisfy the “ABCs” required of those who apply to these post-graduate programs. 

 

A: Academics

  • A strong GPA, appropriate science, math and elective courses.

B: Background

  • Research, Volunteer and Community service, experiences that demonstrate compassion, leadership and communication skills.

C: Confirming Clinical Experience

  • Volunteer and/or paid experience in health related fields, shadowing and informational interviews with health professionals, and campus involvement.

 

General Timeline for Health Professions


It is important to work with a Health Professions Advisor as soon as you begin to consider going into a professional program.  This is a general timeline to help you get started. Working closely with a Health Professions Advisor is key to becoming a successful applicant!
 

Freshman Year

1. Academics
  • Meet with your CSU Major Advisor and Health Professions Advisors to plan your academic program.
  • If you have not decided on a major, make an appointment to meet with an advisor at the Center for Advising and Student Achievement  (970-491-7095) to explore majors.
  • Visit the Career Center to learn about skill and interest assessments and to schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor.
  • Get to know faculty – you will need to know them as resources for major/career information and for future references and letters of recommendation.
  • Do your best academically – a strong grade point average (minimum 3.5) will provide you with more options.
2. Background Experiences
  • Get involved in student clubs/organizations and community activities/volunteer programs.
  • Student Health Professions Clubs include Premedica, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Occupational Therapy, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy, and Pre-Veterinary
3. Confirming Clinical Experience
  • Investigate and apply for medical/health care-related part time jobs, volunteer experiences, and shadowing opportunities.

Sophomore Year

1. Academics
  • If you have not already done so: Choose a major and continue to refine your academic plan.  Meet with your major advisor to plan your program of study. You may want to explore a minor, interdisciplinary studies program, or a study abroad program.
  • Meet with a Health Professions advisor to learn about prerequisite courses, required entrance exams and deadlines.
  • Research specific Health Professional schools to which you want to apply and learn about specific courses required for admission.
  • Keep your grades up!  Grades are key to being competitive for health profession programs!
2. Background Experiences
  • Continue and/or expand your involvement with student clubs/organizations and community activities/volunteer programs.
3. Confirming Clinical Experience
  • Continue to work/volunteer in medical/health care related settings, and shadow health professionals!
  • Schedule informational interviews with professionals in your area of interest to gain realistic perspectives of Health Professions careers.
  • Find a summer internship or career-enhancing part-time job
  • Read books, journals, and magazines about the health profession that interests you

Junior Year

1. Academics
  • Meet with your major advisor to review and continue your academic plan.
    • Take electives that are relevant to your career goals
  • Meet with your Health Professions advisor to be on track for admission exams, deadlines and course prerequisites.
    • Attend workshops: personal statement writing, interviewing, and applications.
    • Begin to write your personal statement and to develop interviewing skills.
  • Study and prepare for the entrance exams required by the health profession schools to which you wish to apply
    • Attend workshops that will help you to prepare for the exams.
    • You should plan to take the entrance exam the summer after your junior year!!!
    • Begin to work on your applications for the graduate programs you have selected.
    • Contact your references and discuss the letter you will ask each to write for your application.
  • Keep your grades up!  REMEMBER—you will need a strong GPA to be a competitive candidate
2. Background Experiences
  • Continue and/or expand your involvement with student clubs/organizations and community activities/volunteer programs.
  • Review application materials from the health profession schools to which you plan to apply
    • Contact, visit, and/or talk with admissions representatives at these schools
  • Meet with professors, advisors, and professionals who know of your academic skills and activities within a health profession field and ask them to write letters of recommendation that are required for Health Professions program applications
3. Confirming Clinical Experience:
  • Continue working/volunteering in medical/health care related settings. Shadow health professionals!  Find a summer internship!
  • Continue reading about the Health Professions of interest to you; learn about ethical issues and health care issues that directly affect this profession

Senior Year

1. Academics
  • Meet with your major advisor to complete your academic plan and to file your intent to graduate
  • Meet with your Health Professions advisor
    • Attend workshops for Interviewing
    • Discuss  your "back up plans" if you do not get into a health profession program
  • Submit applications to health profession programs—be aware of individual deadlines!
  • Refine your interviewing skills and arrange a mock interview wiht CSU's Career Center
  • This is not the time to get “senioritis”---Keep your grades up!
2. Background Experiences
  • Continue and/or expand your involvement with student clubs/organizations and community activities/volunteer programs
3. Confirming Clinical Experience
  • Continue working/volunteering in medical/health care related settings
  • Continue reading about the health profession you are interested in--having an abundance of knowledge about your specific health profession of interest will help you in an interview!

  

Click here to learn more about preparing for entrance exams