Applying to health and medicine professional or graduate program is a long, detailed, and sometimes complicated process – but you’re not alone! Between the information on these pages, application prep workshops and events, and individual advising appointments, the Careers in Health and Medicine office provides a number of services and resources to help students and alumni navigate the application process.
Additionally, the Health Sciences Advisory Committee (HSAC) aims to guide students and alumni through the processes of deciding when to apply, completing the application in a timely and comprehensive manner, and navigating the admissions cycle. This includes writing a committee letter of recommendation on behalf of each eligible applicant.
GENERAL APPLICATION INFORMATION
One of the most important decisions you will make in the application process is deciding when to apply. There is no one timeline that fits all students. It all depends on when you can submit your strongest possible application. A significant amount of planning must go into preparing a competitive application, so it’s important to carefully consider your timeline. The Careers in Health and Medicine office emphasizes the importance of applying when you are the most competitive applicant you can be; do NOT rush your application timeline. Being competitive relies on academics, extracurricular plans, AND experiences. You will need to assess when you will be the most competitive applicant.
If applying to begin health professional school directly after graduation, the preapplication preparation begins in the fall of junior year. A majority of Kalamazoo College applicants in recent years have taken one or more “growth years” between undergraduate and health professions school. Throughout the year, potential applicants should think carefully about when to apply and utilize the matriculation year google sheet to determine how the rest of the application process fits into your timeline.
Things to consider when determining your application timeline:
- Have you finished ALL pre-requisites? When will these be completed?
- How have you performed in those courses? Do you need more time to improve?
- When will you be ready to take your admission exam? You should not plan to take these exams multiple times.
- Service should be substantial and consistent. If you just started, you’re not ready.
- Have you gained clinical experience? Some programs have specific requirements.
- Do you have professors/PIs/supervisors who can write letters of support?
- Are your family/friends are supportive of your goals?
Your professional and personal goals
- Are you sure of your professional goal?
- Do you need/want some time for other experiences between undergrad and graduate school?
- Do you need time to save for/pay for your next program?
Sample Application Timeline
Applicants for medical and dental school apply a full year before planning to matriculate. There are a number of steps that precede and follow the submission of your application, so please review this timeline carefully.
- If you hope to attend medical school immediately after you graduate, then you will need to complete pre-med coursework and take the MCAT by early May of your junior year in order to get your score before submitting your application in June when the cycle opens.
- In order to apply to medical school with one year in between, you would need to take the MCAT by early May of your senior year to get your score before submitting your application in June.
- If you choose to take the MCAT in the summer after you graduate, then you would submit your application in June following your graduation, resulting in two years in between college and medical school. This option enables students to spread their premedical coursework over four years.
Students planning to apply with support and to obtain a committee letter of recommendation from the Health Sciences Advisory Committee (HSAC) will need to adhere to the following application timeline.
Centralized Application Services
Many of the health professions utilize Centralized Application Services as their primary application. Centralized Application Services (CAS) provide standardized information to the individual health professions schools from a single application completed online. This allows applicants to submit one application to multiple schools. Although many individual schools will also require a secondary application, the CAS streamlines things by serving as a hub for transcripts, entrance exams, and letters of recommendation.
If a school participates in a CAS you MUST use that service to apply to the professional school. It is important to submit your primary application EARLY in the application process. Applications will take longer than just a few hours to complete. You should begin to prepare well in advance of when you plan to apply.
For information regarding the Centralized Application Service for your chosen healthcare profession, please see the EXPLORE page.
The websites for each Centralized Application Service include detailed instructions and information for students. It is critical that you read ALL instructions before beginning your application. The primary application will be the first thing schools see when evaluating your application, so it is critical that you utilize all the resources available to you to help you prepare an error-free application.
Most health professional programs require students to take a standardized admission exam as a part of the application process. Different programs require different entrance examinations. The entrance exam is a critical part of the application process and will be weighed heavily in the admission process.
Depending on your chosen profession, there may be a number of courses you need to complete in order to be prepared to start studying for your entrance exam. For most entrance exams, we recommend you begin studying 3-4 months in advance of the exam. You should plan to take your entrance exam when you are at your most prepared. If you find yourself rushing to take the exam in order to apply within a certain application cycle, you should connect with the Careers in Health and Medicine office to discuss your application timeline.
The CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) test was developed at McMaster Medical School (also the birthplace of the multiple mini-interview, or MMI) and is now used by a number of schools. The goal of this 90 minute test is to promote holistic review by assessing each applicant’s interpersonal competencies, empathy, professionalism, and situational judgment skills. You can take CASPer from any computer that meets the system requirements at specified test dates and times (you will register online). You will respond to 8 video-based scenarios and 4 text-based scenarios and scores are sent to medical schools about three weeks after the test is taken. You will not receive your score. You should take CASPer in the summer around the time that you’re completing secondary applications, so that your score will arrive at your schools around the same time that your file will be complete. The cost to take the test is $12, plus an additional $12 for each school that requires a score report. Familiarize yourself with the test and its format by reading the CASPer webpage and working through the sample scenarios. Many of the same materials you’ll use to prepare for MMIs may also be useful for CASPer since both involve responding to scenarios and ethical situations.
Several MD, DO, PA, PT, and nursing programs in the U.S. require the CASPer test. Visit this webpage to see a current list of all of the U.S. professional schools requiring the CASPer test. If any of your schools require the CASPer test, you will be directed to take the test as you complete the supplementary application process. Your application file will not be considered complete until you have taken the test and the schools have received your score report three weeks later. Plan your test date accordingly to ensure that you have completed all steps of the application process in a timely manner. If you aren’t sure which test date is optimal, review the “Application” section o for your profession and plan to take the CASPer test 3 weeks before the latest recommended date to complete your application file. (If you are applying to medical school, for instance, choose a late July test date so that your entire application file will be complete at the medical schools by mid-August.)
CRAFT YOUR APPLICATION
The HSAC (Health Sciences Advisory Committee) provides advocacy and evaluation for Kalamazoo College applicants to professional health programs.
Almost all health professional schools require recommendation letters as part of the application process, although the specific letter requirements vary from school to school.
A personal statement is an opportunity for you to support or enhance other parts of your application.
The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process.
The period of time between the end of your undergraduate education and the start of professional school education.
Kalamazoo College has established a preferred partnership with Western Michigan University Homer Stryker MD School of Medicine (WMED). Kalamazoo College students meeting pre-established criteria are eligible to apply early in their junior year for WMEDStart, an admission program that does not require the MCAT for admission.