University of Iowa

Pre-Health Timeline

Pre-Health  Professions Timeline

First Year
  • Select courses that will allow you to be successful.
  • Read your syllabi carefully.
  • Meet with your pre-health advisor and develop a long-range plan.
  • Read your UI emails. Keep informed via pre-health@uiowa.edu.
  • Research multiple programs and formulate three different career paths that appeal to you.
  • Educate yourself on how to become competitive. Our website is designed to help with this.
  • Attend office hours and develop meaningful academic relationships. You need mentors to help you excel in the classroom, find research opportunities, and later to write recommendations on your behalf. Cultivate strong relationships and sustain them.
  • Attend Supplemental Instruction for your science classes.
  • Join a pre-health organization and attend its meetings.
  • Volunteer in a health care setting.
  • Job shadow health practitioners. Learn about a variety of fields in health care.
  • Be introspective. Keeping a journal helps many pre-health students articulate why they want a future in health care. A journal is incredibly helpful when writing admissions essays and preparing for interviews.
  • Record the exact dates that you participated in collegiate events and list the name of a contact person. You will need this information when it is time to apply.
  • Become an avid reader. Motivate yourself to read challenging articles, novels, and essays. Keep current on health policies and scientific developments. Professional programs are looking for lifelong learners.
  • Learn what courses and admissions exams are required for the health professions you are considering.
  • Be aware that one or more convictions for breaking the law (including for underage drinking) may negatively affect your application to professional school.
Second Year
  • Reconnect with your pre-health professions advisor to review your long-range plan.
  • Investigate admissions exams. Most exams are taken junior year. (Consult the Academic Advising Center’s website for information regarding each program.)
  • Review what you learned last year. Tutoring is a great way to keep the information from first-year classes fresh in your mind.
  • Build strong relationships with faculty, advisors, and volunteer supervisors. You will want some of them to write letters of reference on your behalf.
  • Explore research opportunities.
  • Seek out leadership roles in organizations that are meaningful to you.
  • Take a good look at yourself. Are you an excellent student? Do you thrive on patient contact? Do you love learning about science and health? Do you like a challenging lifestyle? If not, perhaps you should reassess your goals now. Your pre-health professions advisor is there to listen and show you alternative ways to help people and make an important contribution to society. If you answered "yes," keep reading!
Third Year
  • Check in with your pre-health professions advisor and keep up-to-date.
  • Select the schools to which you will apply. Review their websites and catalogs. Admissions requirements vary. Schools list their exact required classes on their websites. Plan to complete all the required classes for your list of schools.
  • Write your personal statement. You may want to enroll in a writing class to polish your skills. See the Academic Advising Center’s website for a list of writing courses to consider.
  • Prepare for admissions exams. Study efficiently and steadily. Use study guides available online or from the major bookstores. If you need a coach to be productive or to stay motivated, consider enrolling in a commercial preparation course.
  • Talk to professors, advisors, employers, or volunteer supervisors who know you well to ask if they would write a letter of recommendation or complete an evaluation on your behalf.
  • Be optimistic, but also realistic. Remember, everyone needs alternate plans Research graduate programs or career options at the Career Center.
Summer After Third Year
  • Review any questions you have with your pre-health advisor.
  • Take the admission exams required for your programs.
  • Submit applications early. Most graduate and professional programs have rolling admissions. It is in your best interest to apply early.
  • Promptly return any secondary or supplemental materials.
  • Provide a resume and a copy of personal statement to your letter writers.
  • Practice for your interview. Be able to describe your classes, volunteer experiences, mentors and goals in meaningful detail. Read through your journal and look for information you want to showcase. Make sure you can tell anyone who asks exactly why you want to be a practitioner in your chosen field. (Hint: most humans want to "help people"; be sure your response is unique).
Fourth Year
  • Send thank you notes to evaluators and mentors
  • Set up a mock interview at the Career Center far in advance of your actual interviews.
  • Complete forms for financial aid.
  • Be patient. Most students receive a letter of acceptance or rejection by mid-March.
  • If not accepted, talk with your advisor about whether to reapply or to pursue alternative options.
  • If accepted, celebrate! Your advisor will rejoice with you!

Academic Advising Center, 2017