General advice for all pre-professional students

  • Choose an appropriate major and add the necessary supplemental courses. Investigate the admissions requirements for particular schools of interest to check whether any pre-requisite courses are not already required courses in the major. Most professional schools accept students from a variety of majors, as long as pre-requisite courses have been completed. With careful planning, most supplemental courses can be completed while a student is an SPU undergraduate. In a few cases, additional courses may be needed following graduation. Round out a STEM education with electives in the liberal arts, business, psychology, and so on. Be sure to include classes that emphasize cross-cultural competencies.
  • Make arrangements for job shadowing, which is unpaid observation of clinical professionals at work. Students should have at least 20 hours of shadowing by the end of the second year and at least 50 hours by the end of the fourth year.
  • Volunteer for community service outside of campus. Students should have at least 20 hours of volunteering by the end of the second year and at least 50 hours by the end of the fourth year. A long-term regular commitment to one organization is far better than sporadic participation in multiple places..
  • Participate in extracurricular activities. Clubs related to a particular career area are a good choice. Long-term participation with leadership responsibilities is advisable..
  • Cultivate meaningful relationships with mentors, advisors, professors, supervisors, and relevant professionals so that these people can be approached to write letters of recommendation to professional schools. Keep a log, journal, or e-portfolio of all formal and informal professional development experiences, including readings and reflections, to consult when applying to graduate programs.
  • Prepare for and take the entrance exam appropriate for the graduate program. Consider whether completing a self-study program or enrolling in a private exam-preparation course would be helpful. Students should plan to take the entrance exam once and do well. Taking a test without preparation and then re-taking it later demonstrates poor planning. Some entrance exams are scheduled only on certain dates, and scores may not be available for several weeks..
  • Optional: Seek summer jobs or internships or part-time work in a clinical setting. Consider participating in scholarly activities such as an honors project or laboratory research. Demonstrate leadership and reliability through work as a laboratory teaching assistant, tutor, residence assistant, peer mentor, etc.