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Advice for Current Students

Pursuing a career in the health fields can be an extremely rewarding choice, but it can also be daunting. The Carthage faculty and, in particular, your academic advisor and members of the Pre-Health Committee, are here to support you on this journey.

If you are interested in a pre-health profession but do not have a pre-health concentration listed on my.carthage, or need to change your pre-health concentration, please fill out the Pre-Health Intake Form. We will get this changed for you within 2 weeks.

Make sure you are aware of all the requirements for your desired path and that you are doing everything you can to be successful. We strongly recommend you follow these bits of advice:

Be engaged in the community

  • Join and be active in the Pre-Health Club.

  • Get to know your pre-health advisor. This is most likely either your primary academic advisor or the coordinator for your specific pre-health field. See a list of Pre-Health coordinators. If you do not know who your pre-health advisor is, send an email to

  • Form positive relationships with your professors. Be a model student. Come to class on time and prepared. Engage inside and outside of class with your peers and your instructors. Have a positive attitude about the course and the material. Your letters of recommendation can be one of the most important aspects of your application, and demonstrate to your professors that you are a good candidate.

  • Have meaningful experiences:

    • Shadow health care providers in your field of interest. You must be prepared to demonstrate to an admissions committee that you understand what it will be like as a health care professional.
    • Volunteer and serve your community. Demonstrate to the admissions committee that you care about your community — these are the types of people that the professional schools want to be training.
    • Consider doing research.
    • Think about your summers strategically. You should do something productive during your summer. This list is a good (but incomplete) place to start.


  • Reflect on your choices. Is this your decision on someone else’s?

  • Have a living resume. It can be difficult to reconstruct your resume when it comes time to apply. Start your resume early and add to it as you go. Career services can help with this.

  • Start considering your personal statement very early. It will help you realize the types of experiences you are missing and help you address it before it is too late. Career Services can help with this.

Research Professional Schools

  • Look at the recommended courses on this website and know what you have to take.

  • Know the GPA you need to earn to be a viable candidate for your field.

  • Talk to the pre-health coordinator in your field.

  • Know your timeline: When and what standardized test do you need to take? When should you ask for letters of recommendation? When should you apply?

Additional Tips

  • Make sure you have a pre-health “concentration” on This can either be a specific pre-health field (e.g., pre-pharmacy) or the generic pre-health. This is how we know you exist, so please make sure that you have this! If you do not have this concentration listed (or want to change it), you can go to the Office of the Registrar (located in Lentz Hall) or send an email to

  • Be willing to ask for help. There is no rule that says you should try to do this on your own. You chose a college like Carthage so that you are supported throughout your education. Let us support and help you. Ask for help when struggling with your courses, finding meaningful experiences, trying to determine what you want to do, etc. The Carthage community is here for you.

  • Give anyone writing you a letter of recommendation plenty of time to write it. Sit down with him or her to talk about why your want to go into this profession and why you are a good candidate. It will help her or him write a good letter for you.

  • Do not take required coursework online or at another institution (and especially don’t shop around for easier courses!). Admissions committees look for this and view taking required courses outside of your home institution poorly unless there is a very specific reason outlined in your letters of recommendation.

  • If you have any questions, contact your academic advisor, your pre-health advisor, the pre-health coordinator for your field, or email

Tips for Pre-Medical (Allopathic and Osteopathic) Study

  • Choosing a major. Doing well in your major is far more important than which particular major you choose. The acceptance rates to medical school for students who study traditional fields of preparation for medical school (e.g., biology, chemistry, and neuroscience) are identical to those who study outside of them. Be aware, regardless of your choice of major, you will need to take a significant number of science classes!

  • Shadow a Physician. You should be aware of what being a physician looks like! Spending 100 or more hours shadowing a physician will make you more confident in your choice and more appealing to an admissions committee.

  • Volunteer. Be a humanitarian. Medical schools want to train students who want to make a difference in their community. It doesn’t have to be health related, just getting out into the community and contributing demonstrates your commitment. Further, rather than being involved in many different volunteering activities, be focused. Choose one or two causes and spend your entire career at Carthage working there.

  • Grades. Clearly a strong GPA is essential for acceptance into medical school. Aim for a 3.7 GPA. Anything less than a 3.5 GPA and you should talk to your advisor.

  • MCAT Timing. Be prepared to take the MCAT in the winter or early spring of your junior year (if you wish to start medical school the fall after you graduate from Carthage College). This means all courses relevant to the MCAT need to be taken by the fall of your junior year. This includes the following:

    • 1 Year of Introductory Biology (BIO 1110 and 1120)
    • 1 Year of General Chemistry (CHM 1010 and 1020)
    • 1 year of Organic Chemistry (CHM 2070 and 2080)
    • 1 semester of Biochemistry (CHM 3010)
    • 1 year of Physics (PHY 2100 and 2110 or 2200 and 2210)
    • 1 semester of Sociology (SOC 1000)
    • 1 semester of Psychology (This recommendation is under review)
    • Higher level Biology courses, especially BIO 2300, can be helpful
  • Timing of Application. If you plan to apply for medical school to start the fall after you graduate, you should apply in June or July between your junior and senior years.

    • Begin working on your personal statement during your sophomore year.
    • Have a living resume so you only have to update it as time goes on.
    • Ask for letters of recommendation in the early spring of your junior year (give the individuals writing your letters plenty of time!).
    • Know the specific requirements of each school you are applying to.
    • You should interview through the pre-health committee during the spring of your junior year (email Prof. David Brownholland for M.D. programs at or Prof. Dan Choffnes for D.O. programs at
  • GAP Year. Consider taking a gap year between graduation and starting medical school. You will start medical school with more maturity and preparation. A small majority of students entering medical school are not starting immediately after they graduate.

  • Other Tips:

    • Read for fun!
    • Be active on campus (but not at the expense of your GPA).
    • Join and be active in the pre-health club. Your participation will be noted by the pre-health committee.
  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • Beyond the campus boundaries, dinosaur fossils are prepared at the Carthage Institute of Paleontolgoy in Kenosha. A lengthy pterodactyl flight away, Finca Esperanza serves as a base camp for J-Term medical and water quality missions to Nicaragua. 

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …