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Cegep students: how to get started on your medical school application

After graduating from five blissful, stress-free years of high school it’s time to step into the real world. In Quebec, students must attend Cegep before applying to university. When students already know they want to apply to medical school they will usually aim for pre-med, a one-year program designed exclusively for Cegep students wishing to prepare and train for their school of choice’s rigorous four-year medical education program. Knowing from the start the end goal is pre-med sets the tone for your Cegep experience. Your time in Cegep can quickly become overwhelming with exams, leadership commitments and assignments and just an overall increase in academic workload makes it extremely difficult to outline exactly how to position yourself for a successful medical school admission.

To make sure your application shines with dimension, here are five simple steps you should take to successfully & strategically set you up.

1. Research the schools you’re interested in

Before applying to any school’s pre-med program, it’s important you do as much research as possible. What are the admission statistics? What are the application components and their weights? What is the required r-score? Are there any application restrictions? What grades do you need to have to position yourself competitively? All of this information should be kept in a spreadsheet or notebook to make it easily accessible. Knowing everything about a school’s medical program already sets you up for success.

2. Set up a realistic timeline

If you’re applying to more than one school’s pre-med program (which you should), you need to keep track of important dates. When do applications open? When is the application deadline? What is the last possible date to write your CASPer test? Keeping track of all this information on a timeline allows you to visually stay organized and keeps you accountable.

3. Develop your hook

Medical schools are increasingly striving to add well-rounded students to their roaster. Students that can add value to the growing student body significantly stand out from other applicants. There is no better time to identify, develop and potentiate the traits that will make you stand out then now. What makes you unique? What differentiates you from every other applicant? What activities do you enjoy doing so much that you get lost in them? How have you contributed to your community? Whatever your passions are, they should take up significant space during your time in Cegep.

4. Apply to scholarships/ awards

Not many students know this but applying to scholarships and awards are a great way to earn significant national distinctions. Not only does this allow you to receive financial support to fund your education, winning a scholarship allows you to prove mastery in a given area, bolstering your application even further. When it comes to awards and scholarships, casting a wider net is the way to go. Don’t be afraid to apply to as many as you can.

5. Strategize for a meaningful summer

The summer between the first and second of year of Cegep could not be a more crucial time in your pre-med application journey. This summer reflects your ability to take reigns on your intellectual development so plan it strategically. Planning for a meaningful summer while your peers may be basking in the sun will allow you to significantly stand out in the next admissions cycle. Research positions, internships, volunteer trips and skill-expanding jobs are all great ways to showcase your maturity, commitment, and on-going interest in medical school.

Your Cegep years play a pivotal role in the shaping and strength of your medical school application. It is therefore very important to approach them strategically, deliberately, and energetically. Your time in Cegep allows you to demonstrate who you are and what you are capable of doing both in and out of the classroom so don’t be afraid to shine!

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