Getting Started

Medical School Overview

Getting into medical school is really a two-step process. First, you must determine if the fit is right for you, and if it would truly be satisfying to invest the time, effort, and money necessary to enter the medical profession. Think of medicine as your working hypothesis: How can you test your interest and gather data to support, refute, or refine your goals? Scientific research, education, communications, medical shadowing and community service all overlap with medicine, so all are good areas to investigate. Rather than worry about what medical schools want to see, think about what you want to do. If you find that you enjoy activities in one or more of these fields, they will contribute to your own confidence in your decision and, by extension, to your candidacy.

Applying to medical school is an endurance event, one that takes over a year from start to finish. Typically, a student will initiate an application in June of a given year, having already completed eight to twelve prerequisite courses and having taken the MCAT. There are generally more than two applicants for every seat in medical school. The average applicant in recent years has applied to 10-15 schools. Harvard might have almost 6000 applications for 165 seats, Tufts 8000 for 200, etc. The goal of the application process, therefore, is to gain admission to a school that you’d be willing to attend. There’s no such thing as a bad medical school, and applicants are encouraged to think broadly about schools at which they might be competitive.

Williams supports the applications of all students who choose to apply, regardless of grades or other factors. In recent years, eighty to ninety percent of Williams applicants with competitive science GPAs and MCAT scores have been admitted to at least one medical school.

There is no way to guarantee success in the medical school application process. Demonstrated interest in the health profession and motivation are as important as academic performance, so students become strong applicants by investigating the work of health practitioners, seeking balance in their curricular and extracurricular choices, and managing their time well.

Any student admitted to Williams or its peer institutions has the capacity to succeed in medical school, but sustained effort is still required during and after the college years.