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How to Get Into Medical School as an Older Student

by Christine Wheatley, Demand Media

    Medical school entrance is highly competitive, no matter what your age. However, admittance for those over the average age of 24 is increasingly possible. According to a 2006 survey of physicians conducted jointly by The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and American Medical Association (AMA), 10 percent of first-year medical students are 27 or older. Additional obligations can make the application process a challenging endeavor for older students, but medical schools seek candidates with depth and breadth of experience to diversify their student body.

    Step 1

    Decide whether you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices and time commitment to go to medical school, and if you have the ability, drive and energy. If you have a spouse and/or children, discuss this important decision with them. Ensure you have the resources to fulfill financial, work and personal obligations.

    Step 2

    Take the classes required to get into medical school. If you already earned your undergraduate degree, choose a post-baccalaureate program to fill in your missing medical school prerequisites. These programs usually last 12 to 24 months and are sometimes linked to medical schools, guaranteeing you a space if you perform at a specific level. Choose a four-year college with a premed program if you need to finish your bachelor’s degree. Meet with a premed adviser immediately at whichever school you enroll in to ensure you are on the correct track.

    Step 3

    Register for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). The MCAT score is a required component of the screening process for most medical school admissions committees. Set aside 20 to 40 hours per week for three months to study for the MCAT. Extend this to six months if it’s been more than three years since you completed your premed courses. If you have a significant other, a spouse or children, prepare them for this time commitment. Obtain a score of at least 30 to be competitive and a score of 33 to offset substandard grades. Register for the MCAT through the Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC) website.

    Step 4

    Apply to between eight and twelve medical schools -- consider both osteopathic (D.O.) and allopathic (M.D.) medical programs. Apply to most medical schools through the website for the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS).

    Step 5

    Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine eligibility for government financial aid, including loans, grants and scholarships. Obtain a FAFSA from your medical school or fill one out online. Research private sources of financial aid available specifically for older students, including scholarships offered by associations and individuals.

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    Tip

    • Preparation courses and books are available to help you increase your MCAT score.

    About the Author

    Based in Royal Oak, Mich., Christine Wheatley has been writing professionally since 2009. She contributes to several websites, specializing in articles about fitness, diet and parenting. Wheatley has a Bachelor of Arts in art from Calvin College.

    Photo Credits

    • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

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