5 Factors Why Premeds Don’t Get Into Med School

I’ve watched literally thousands of premeds on their journey to medicine. Some are successful and some are not. Like anything in life, repeated exposure to something allows you to appreciate patterns, both subtle and overt. One of the more obvious patterns is evident when I receive that great news, “I got into medical school!” Many of those students share similar traits. On the other hand, there are those students I watch who don’t match the description and are obviously heading down the wrong path. I wish I could yell out to them before it’s too late (if only they would only listen). Here are 5 areas that contribute significantly to premeds missing out on their dream of going to medical school.


1. Wrong Friends

For those who know me, this is no surprise. 9 out of 10 times, your closest friends will make or break you in this life. I’d venture to guess that most people who fail to reach their goals in life do not have the right group of people around them. This may also include your significant other. Time and time again, I have seen very intelligent premeds head down the wrong path for this reason. I personally chose the wrong friends my freshman year in college but quickly learned we did not share the same priorities in life. I corrected this by my sophomore year and this no doubt was instrumental in my successful path to medicine and life in general. Fraternity and Sorority life as well as collegiate athletics can consume you and force you to be around a group of people who may not share or respect your goals. This can be dangerous if you are not disciplined so please be wise.

2. Not Seeking Help

You cannot do it alone. I repeat… You cannot do it alone! One of the more painful, unsuccessful premed journeys I see are from those who kept to themselves and thought they were on track only to find out they missed something very important. There are many premeds who experience a traumatic life changing event and try to manage it on their own. This day and age, there are a lot more tools at your fingertips. If you have a question or concerns, speak with a counselor, premed advisor, or your fellow PreMed STAR peers. Don’t be afraid to send the recruiters, med students, or physicians on the site a question. That’s what we are here for. Don’t wait until its too late and you can no longer make up for your mistakes.


3. Procrastination

As a premed it is crucial that you are aware of deadlines and that you meet them. These includes class registration, class drop dates, exams, letter of recommendations, and applications. Many premeds are perfectionists and this in itself can give rise to procrastination by waiting to move forward once things are perfectly lined up. Some premeds fail to establish relationships with their professors on time making it tough to get a research position or letter of rec when needed. It can be very frustrating for a busy physician or professor to receive a letter of recommendation request just 1 month ahead of the due date. You are liable to get a poor letter on your behalf in that situation. In fact, I will be working on a letter with a deadline in 2 days that I received just 1 week ago from a premed (yikes!). I’m more than happy to support this student but this was not a wise thing to do. Many premeds (including my former self) procrastinate when it comes to logging extracurricular activities. Take advantage of your PreMed STAR Profile by keeping your activities and awards up to date. It will save you a ton of time during the applications and you never know who is watching your profile.

4. Wrong Reasons

These are the students that medicine just was not for them in the first place. The ones that were simply following the premed path to please someone else. Or maybe because everyone else was doing it or solely for monetary gain. A few of these students will make it to medical school but when times get rough, there is little there to keep someone not in it for the right reasons pushing forward. In the long run it is probably best that these type of students never enter this noble profession. I recommend premeds take a step back and and make sure this is what they really want to do.

5. Poor Work Ethic and Motivation

I know I’m preaching to the choir here but you have to work VERY VERY hard to become a physician. You don’t need to be the smartest in your class but you’ve got to work harder and more efficient than nearly everyone in that class. Laziness is unacceptable and cutting corners will only harm you in the long run. If I’m asked what one quality identifies every single sole that graduated in my med school class, it would NOT be that they were all smart or all compassionate but instead, that every single student was extremely hard working. That is the one common denominator that sets nearly all medical students apart from the general public.

So, there you have it. These are the 5 areas that I believe will cause any premed to miss out on their dreams. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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William Faulk

This is absolutely great! When I first saw the title I thought this might be another sort of generic “Top 5” list with reasons like “bad interview skills” or “not applying broadly enough”. But this is much better. These are real things that can keep you from medical school, that you can control without the same effort that you put into trying to control other factors like GPA and MCAT score. These are big picture items. I believe that sometimes as pre meds we can tend to develop a sort of one track way of looking at things. What I mean is that just as Doctor Daniel has said, we spend so much of our waking moments looking at the details and trying to make sure that everything we are doing is perfect, that we lose track of the big picture items that play a huge roll in our total package of being a superior med school applicant.

It is too easy to go down the wrong road with the wrong friends or through procrastination and not even realize it, thinking you are on the right road the whole time, until it is too late. It should be a given, but some people simply will not ask for help and that can be another downfall. I think in a way 4 and 5 go together, because I believe if you are in this for the right reason, then the motivation and work ethic should come to you sort of naturally. Excellent post!

2 years ago

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William Faulk

This is absolutely great! When I first saw the title I thought this might be another sort of generic “Top 5” list with reasons like “bad interview skills” or “not applying broadly enough”. But this is much better. These are real things that can keep you from medical school, that you can control without the same effort that you put into trying to control other factors like GPA and MCAT score. These are big picture items. I believe that sometimes as pre meds we can tend to develop a sort of one track way of looking at things. What I mean is that just as Doctor Daniel has said, we spend so much of our waking moments looking at the details and trying to make sure that everything we are doing is perfect, that we lose track of the big picture items that play a huge roll in our total package of being a superior med school applicant.

It is too easy to go down the wrong road with the wrong friends or through procrastination and not even realize it, thinking you are on the right road the whole time, until it is too late. It should be a given, but some people simply will not ask for help and that can be another downfall. I think in a way 4 and 5 go together, because I believe if you are in this for the right reason, then the motivation and work ethic should come to you sort of naturally. Excellent post!

2 years ago

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Aishat Motolani

You have gave made excellent points, Dr. Daniel. I can attest to all the factors listed, especially point 2. In my freshmen and sophomore year, I had all my plans lined up on how to navigate my way to med schools, but none came to fruition until I sought for mentors to guide me and provide resources. It’s really crucial to put oneself out there if one really wants to accomplish something significant.

2 years ago

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Aishat Motolani

You have made excellent points, Dr. Daniel. I can attest to all the factors listed, especially point 2. In my freshmen and sophomore year, I had all my plans lined up on how to navigate my way to med schools, but none came to fruition until I sought for mentors to guide me and provide resources. It’s really crucial to put oneself out there if one really wants to accomplish something significant.

2 years ago

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Dr. Daniel

Love it Will! “..we spend so much of our waking moments looking at the details and trying to make sure that everything we are doing is perfect, that we lose track of the big picture items”
It’s very easy to fall into that mindset in medicine. It is so crucial that we take a step back every so often.

2 years ago

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Dr. Daniel

That is so true Aishat. When I was a premed (back in the ancient days) we had much less resources so it was tough to speak with med students and physicians unless you were related to one. It made it difficult to find someone to shadow or to talk to about the medical journey. The advice we’d get was from non-physicians who were helpful but couldn’t give us the inside scoop. These days there is information everywhere, which is a great thing but those who take advantage of it tend to come out above the rest. It’s not enough these days to sit back and expect medical schools to show up at your front door.

2 years ago