If I want to become a pediatrician, what college classes should I take?

I’m almost done with my sophomore year in high school, and I have a 3.9 GPA with all advanced classes. Next year I’m going to another part of my school that has dual enrolled classes called Health Occupations. But where I start getting confused is the college classes I need to take when I actually get into college. Do I have to major in Biology to go onto Med School? What is pre-med? Would a major in Biology, Human Anatomy, or Psychology work? And then when I major in something I have to have certain classes. How does college work? I’m so clueless…..

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  • You can major in anything. BUT you have to take at least the required prerequisite courses of the med schools you want to apply to. Each MD program lists those on its website. Usually you have to take quite a bit of biology plus some chemistry and physics, plus a bit of English/math/social science stuff, etc. More is of course always better – and more difficult classes are better too, even though that will tend to drag down your GPA.

    Because of the above-mentioned prerequisites, it is of course particularly natural to major in biology. But since so many med school applicants major in biology, and since the job prospects with a biology major are not exactly stellar if med school doesn’t work out, a major in, say, chemistry may be a better choice. Or something different altogether. But it should ideally be a "tough" major, and an academic oriented one (rather than a mostly professional one). I.e. economics or physics is good, but nursing or dance is not so good.

    A major, or concentration as it is called at Harvard, is a set of required courses and electives that usually comprise 1-1.5 years worth of full-time study. I.e. if you major in, say, chemistry then you would usually have at least 1-1.5 years of your four years consisting of chemistry core and elective courses (some of which will be in biology, math, etc.) Together with your advisor you’ll design a semester by semester plan of classes that will enable you to graduate in time, complete a particular major, apply to med school, etc. You don’t usually have to know your major at the outset (even though it’s good if you do) but usually you have to choose one by the end of the first or second year. Biology and human anatomy would certainly be very suitable for med school, but will limit you in terms of outside options in case med school doesn’t work out. Psychology is probably ok too, as long as you choose the more science-y classes.

    Pre-med is a track that enables you to complete a good sequence of courses that will fulfill most med schools’ prerequisite courses. There is usually also a pre-med advisor, and some schools have a committee that ranks and writes recommendation letters for all med school applicants. You should definitely mention to your advisor at the very beginning that you want to apply to med school.

    In your fourth year you would apply to med school, taking the MCAT normally in the summer it starts. A few schools, but not many, also allow applications from third-year students (even though you’d have to be very strong to be competitive – and there are some advantages to actually completing the bachelor’s degree).

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