Lewis Associates
Subscribe to Newsletter Order Brochure View Real Success Stories
FAQ button Services and PricingPlacement SuccessRecommendations and TestimonialsCredentialsNon-Traditional ApplicantsWomen in Medical CareersLinks for Pre-Health StudentsGo To Book RecommendationsContact Us

Pay your bill online with PayPal

Subscribe to our Monthly e-Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust

    Non-Traditional Students 

Questions from Non-Traditional Students

    What is a "non-traditional student?"

    Written for Kaplan's Medical School Admissions Advisor. Posted versions are longer than those published.

    Starting about the mid-1980s, more people from diverse backgrounds, generally older people with rich life experiences, started considering entering medicine in greater numbers. Osteopathic medical schools welcomed them and allopathic schools followed suit. Most traditional applicants to medical school apply directly after completing an undergraduate degree, typically in a science major. Some people have the interest in becoming a physician when they are young, but for one or more reasons, do not prepare to become one. For other students, it may take years for their interest in medicine or for their self-confidence to actually become a doctor to mature. For the 1996-97 entering class, 7.9 percent of the 3,695 applicants who were 32 years or older were accepted to medical school which represents a little less than 5 percent of all accepted applicants.

    Specifically, non-traditional applicants can be categorized as:

    Postbaccalaureate Students

    If you earned a degree in an area that does not prepare you for medical school, generally in a non-science humanity or social science discipline, but it could also be in engineering or in another applied area like nursing, you are a postbaccalaureate student. There is another category of postbaccalaureate students who have completed their premedical course requirements, but have earned marginal grades in the sciences and who need to strengthen their academic record. Some people in this latter group choose instead to earn a graduate degree in a science, in Public Health, in Exercise Physiology or in any discipline which can highlight acquired strength in problem solving and science knowledge.

    Re-entry Students

    Some women have taken a full ten to 20 years to raise a family, and have deferred their own education; some be men enter the military and defer a career in medicine. Of course, there may be many other reasons why men and women enter college, stop, and now find their career goal to be medicine.

    Change of Career Students

    People in almost any career you can consider have applied to medical school. You may have entered a career because it would support a family immediately, because your family expected it, because it was the easy path, or you really did want to be a fireman back then. Over time, you may have rediscovered a repressed desire to become a doctor, or developed one where it did not previously exist because of your direct involvement with a family member or a friend's health condition. There are many reasons why people change careers, including "burning out" from a current career, finding the current career unfulfilling, dull and un-challenging, or deciding that your current career does not allow you to make a significant impact in your world. If you find yourself highly motivated to become a doctor for positive reasons, not just needing a change from your present career, you may be on the right track.

    Non-traditional applicants are often the most interesting premedical candidates because they have a broad perspective on life based on varied experiences, excellent communication skills, and high levels of motivation and focus. Lawyers, corporate executives, engineers and stock brokers don't wish to become doctors to gain prestige and large salaries. In fact, they will certainly lose earning power for many years, and may never earn the level of their previous salary as a doctor.

    You may fit into more than one of these above three arbitrary categories. Most medical schools now treat all applicants processing the same; non-traditional applicants are not singled out. But, of course, your non-traditional qualities can shine in your application, so it is up to you and, perhaps, a trusted Advisor to assess your strengths and to make certain that they are clearly seen and heard.

    Go to Expectations of Medical Schools