How to Succeed as a UVA Premed — Shemmassian Academic Consulting (2024)

How to maintain a high GPA as a UVA premed

Maintaining a high GPA as a UVA premed will take dedication and focused effort. If you’ve been accepted into UVA as an undergrad, you likely achieved top-tier grades in high school and did quite well on the SAT, meaning you have the study skills and acumen in place to thrive in UVA’s rigorous academic environment.

However, high school is a far cry from university life. To keep your grades up, you’ll need to cultivate the discipline necessary to stick to a study schedule while also navigating a new social environment.

Given your new undergrad circ*mstances, it’s worth considering the following tips to stay on top of your GPA.

  • Stay on top of your assignments. Striving for a high level of discipline when completing assignments is crucial to fostering academic success. Resist the temptation to procrastinate. Instead, be proactive and aim to complete your schoolwork ahead of deadlines and due dates. Trust us—your grades will thank you.

  • Plan your courses around your schedule and abilities. Whatever your major as a premed, you’ll be expected to take many difficult science and math courses. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on more than you can handle in one semester. Spread out challenging classes over the next four years so you can dedicate effort where needed, and don’t forget to utilize summer sessions!

  • Schedule time for focused study. Segmenting time away from distractions for focused study will go a long way toward maintaining a high GPA. When learning new and complex information, consistency of practice is key, and having focused study time each day will prove more effective than sporadic attempts at scholarship.

  • Use campus resources. Sometimes, struggling with an assignment on your own in your dorm room is not the most effective use of your time. Take advantage of the resources available to you on campus. UVA offers a variety of academic support resources from its writing center to the Math Collaborative Learning Center (MCLC).

(Suggested reading: How to Study as a Premed)

What is the best major for UVA premed students?

There is no premed major at UVA; any major you choose could get you into medical school as long as you’re determined, complete all the necessary prerequisites, and get enough extracurricular hours.

Our advice is to major in something you’re interested in since this will give you the best chance of achieving a high GPA, which is crucial for med school applicants. If you’re studying something you’re passionate about, odds are you’ll do well.

With that in mind, the most popular majors at UVA tend to be in the humanities. According to US News and World Report, liberal arts, social sciences, and engineering round out the top three, while business and biological science complete the top five.

Remember that when it comes to your classes, adcoms don’t make a determination on whether to grant you acceptance based on your major alone. Rather, they take into account your GPA, MCAT scores, and how well you did in your med school prerequisite courses.

(Suggested reading: The Best Premed Majors to Get Into Medical School)

When should you take the MCAT?

During your premed journey at UVA, you’ll be progressing through demanding prerequisites and balancing them with the responsibilities of your major. These prerequisites are not only preparing you for medical school, but they’re also teaching you the fundamental knowledge needed for the MCAT.

Therefore, deciding when to actually take the MCAT depends on a number of factors, such as which courses you’ll have completed by that time and when you plan to apply to med school.

Assuming you wish to continue straight into med school after you graduate—that is, you do not plan to take a gap year—we generally recommend you take the MCAT during the fall semester of your junior year. This will give you the option of retaking the exam if you’re unhappy with your score without disrupting your application timeline too much.

Furthermore, much of what is tested on the MCAT will be covered in your classes, but it’s advisable to ensure you’ve taken those classes before taking the exam. UVA states that almost all of the required prerequisites they list are needed for MCAT prep. For their specific courses, here’s what that would look like:

Biology:

  • BIOL 2100, BIOL 2200

General Chemistry:

Organic Chemistry:

  • CHEM 2410 with either CHEM 2311 or CHEM 2411

  • CHEM 2420 with either CHEM 2321 or CHEM 2421

  • CHEM 2321 - Organic Chem Lab II for Non-Chemistry Majors/Minors

Physics:

  • PHYS 2010, PHYS 2030, PHYS 2020, PHYS 2040

Social and Behavioral Sciences:

  • SOC 1010 Intro Sociology

  • PSYC 1010 Intro Psychology

English:

  • ENWR 1510 - Writing and Critical Inquiry

Statistics:

  • STAT 1120 - Introduction to Statistics

Biochemistry:

  • BIOL 3030 Biochemistry

This list may seem daunting at first but if you’ve planned out when to take the MCAT properly, you should be able to complete these courses in time to sit the exam in your junior year. Don’t forget there’s always the possibility of taking summer courses to help you stay on track.

Part 3: UVA premed extracurriculars

Engaging in extracurricular activities is vital to any medical school application and should never be neglected by serious premeds. Your extracurriculars will be scrutinized by adcoms when determining your passion and dedication to the field of medicine.

UVA premeds are in luck as there are plenty of opportunities to earn extracurricular hours. From volunteering to research, student organizations, and shadowing, graduating with a stunning extracurricular profile is possible, if you know where to look.

UVA hosts over 1,000 clubs and organizations catering to nearly every possible student interest. From architecture to data science, and politics to the visual and performing arts, there’s bound to be a club you can delve into and explore a passion.

Specifically for premeds, health-related student organizations include the Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Society, the American Medical Association (AMA) at the University of Virginia, and even the Student Osteopathic Medicine Organization for those of you who may be considering a DO path.

However, finding the right combination of activities that will appeal to adcoms can be tricky, and with so many options available, where do you start? We’ve listed a few opportunities below and separated them into different categories to get you started.

Remember, if narrowing down how you want to spend your time has you paralyzed by indecision, be sure to reach out to the pre-health advising office at UVA. They’ll be able to give you actionable advice to meet your goals and ensure you stay on the right track.

UVA premed community volunteering

If you’re looking to bolster your credentials as a volunteer in your community, the University of Virginia Internship Placement Program is a great first place to look. In order to join the program, you need to be a UVA undergraduate student in good academic standing and with no disciplinary actions on your record. The IPP can connect you with organizations in the area such as Habitat for Humanity and the Charlottesville Free Clinic.

Participation in community volunteer projects and organizations doesn’t have to be limited to medicine or health-related opportunities. Medical schools use a holistic admissions process and will be looking for well-rounded individuals that demonstrate a wide range of interests and talents.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering options where you can lend a helping hand as a member of the community. This will help showcase your desire to serve and your ability to lead—two qualities that are highly regarded by adcoms.

Around Charlottesville, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities where you can support the local area. The Center Charlottesville is a fantastic resource connecting volunteers to places where they are needed. Interested candidates can volunteer with The Center directly or find out more information about volunteering with other organizations in the area such as:

  • Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA is a collection of Australian aboriginal art housed at UVA and the only collection of its kind in the USA.

  • Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle Spend your time helping adults learn to read and write in English.

  • Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver meals around the region to those unable to cook for themselves.

  • The Haven is a day shelter for people struggling with homelessness.

  • Monticello If you’re a history buff, you could even volunteer at Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello!

UVA premed clinical volunteering

For premeds at any university, gaining experience in a clinical setting is extremely important.

UVA premeds are at a distinct advantage in this regard. The UVA Career Center has put together a pre-health advising page that offers information on clinical experiences, including some useful tips for finding opportunities. If you’re a “current student,” you’ll have access to a spreadsheet of available opportunities.

Otherwise, there are other options in the Charlottesville region. You could volunteer at a hospice such as Hospice of the Piedmont, ProMedica Hospice, or if you’re willing to travel a bit further afield, Gentiva Hospice, which has a branch in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The UVA Health system is also a fantastic place to look for opportunities with specific options solely for UVA undergraduates. UVA Health partners with Madison House, a campus organization that finds volunteer placements for undergraduates. There is even a medical services section of Madison House that can help you find opportunities within UVA Health and various other hospitals in the area. However, keep in mind that they do not assist with finding shadowing opportunities.

The UVA Health system also lists general volunteer opportunities in the Charlottesville area that include working at the ALS clinic, Dialysis clinic, or even the UVA Children’s Hospital.

UVA premed shadowing

To find shadowing experiences as a UVA premed, you may need to reach out on your own. Remember to ask the pre-health office to help you craft an email or for advice about how to contact a physician you’d like to shadow.

Finding someone to shadow is half the battle and to that end, personal connections work well for getting an affirmative answer. If anyone in your family is a physician or if you know of family friends who are practicing physicians, don’t be afraid to ask. These connections often lead to opportunities.

Furthermore, searching through professional websites such as LinkedIn can help you find doctors in the area and will likely give you an indication of their specialty. You can even use it to find UVA School of Medicine alumni, which is a great way to start with a shared connection and serves to break the ice.

(Suggested reading: How to Ask to Shadow a Doctor)

UVA premed research

For research opportunities at UVA, the Office of Citizen Scholar Development offers a wealth of information on everything from getting started to funding a research project.

You’ll also be able to apply for a 10-week Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP) at UVA. Acceptance into this program means you’ll be engaged in an intense biomedical research project under the direction of a UVA faculty member, learn about careers in biomedical research and the application process to graduate schools, as well as be granted chances to present your own findings.

In addition to UVA’s own SRIP, the National Institutes of Health also offers a Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research (SIP). Although conducted primarily in Maryland, if you’re able to travel a bit for the summer it could be a fantastic opportunity.

Finding places to flex your research skills will require time and effort, but with UVA being renowned for its research in medicine, you’re in an enviable position as a premed. Still, you may struggle to find a fit that’s right for you. If that’s the case, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Discuss your options with professors. Your professors aren’t just there to give you lectures and grade papers. Remember, they’ve been in your shoes before and can offer valuable advice or even connections that you wouldn’t get otherwise. Make sure you schedule a time to meet with them during office hours to run through your options and interests. They may be able to point you in the right direction.

  • Discuss your options with upperclassmen. Students who have similar interests and who may be about to graduate can be an invaluable source of information regarding current opportunities. Graduation often means the roles they filled will become vacant as they move on to medical school or professional life.

  • Don’t downplay the cold call. While it’s nice to have a connection to start with, sometimes cold calling or cold emailing are the only options. However, these can still be quite effective. You’ll need to communicate your interest and suitability in an email clearly and succinctly. Remember that researchers are quite busy and appreciate brevity, but they also appreciate someone who shares their passion. Make sure that comes through when you introduce yourself.

(Suggested reading: How to Write a Great Research Assistant Cover Letter)

Part 4: Getting into medical school as a UVA premed

As they say, every journey starts with the first step. For UVA premeds, that first step on your journey into medical school starts early on in your freshman year.

If you’re determined to get into medical school, those first steps should be taken in tandem with the UVA pre-health advising office. They’ll be able to assist you with everything from ensuring prerequisites are met, to letters of recommendation, interviews, and even how to finance your education.

You should plan to meet with a pre-health advisor during your first year as an undergrad and begin to map out a course plan that will help you meet your goals. The advising office provides a handy graphic that can give you an idea of what to do and when. However, sometimes life happens, and plans change. For this reason, it will be in your best interest to meet with the pre-health advisors regularly to reassess where you’re at and to get feedback on your progress.

Ultimately, at UVA, the process works similarly to other undergraduate programs. You’ll need to craft a winning personal statement, obtain glowing letters of recommendation, speak to your actions in the AMCAS Work & Activities section, and finally, wow adcoms with captivating secondary essays.

(Suggested reading: The Ideal Medical School Application Timeline)

UVA premed acceptance rate and admissions statistics

UVA doesn’t publish data on how many of its premeds were accepted into medical school, but we know from AAMC the school supplied 511 applicants to medical schools in the 2022 application cycle. That puts them in 11th place as a U.S. undergraduate institution supplying the largest number of applicants to MD programs.

Given this high number and the fact that it’s in line with other schools that have robust premed programs such as UCLA and UNC-Chapel Hill, UVA is clearly adept at preparing a large number of students for medical school. As such, completing an undergraduate degree at UVA will place you among a higher tier of med school applicants.

Furthermore, UVA does publish statistical information on its post bacc program regarding acceptances. Currently, it notes an acceptance rate of 95% among those who have completed the program with graduates getting into medical schools like Duke University, the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University, and even Harvard Medical School.

Getting into UVA School of Medicine as a UVA premed

When it comes to actually getting into the UVA School of Medicine, there are some statistics available. The most recent stats published are from their class of 2026 and from this, we can see they set a pretty high bar for entry. The average GPA for matriculants was 3.87 while the average MCAT score was 518.41. Moreover, out of 5,892 applicants, only 568 were granted an interview, making their interview rate only 9.64%.

Given these stats, you will have to work quite hard to maintain a high GPA during undergrad and make sure you achieve your best possible MCAT score.

You may be wondering if there’s any advantage to applying to UVA School of Medicine as a UVA premed when it comes to acceptance. While there’s no hard data to back this up, we can glean a bit of insight from one statistic, namely how many applications they received from Virginia.

UVA notes that during the 2022 application cycle, they received 932 applications from Virginia, and 141 of those applications resulted in interviews. This translates to roughly a 15% interview rate—more than 5% higher than the overall interview rate. This could point to a slight preference for Virginia applicants.

Final thoughts

The path to medical school starts early in the premed journey at any institution. You will be tasked with proving your commitment to the field of medicine from day one until matriculation and beyond.

UVA’s first-class research pedigree, the opportunities to show your worth through volunteering in and around Charlottesville, and UVA’s support for its students all combine to ensure that if you take advantage of the resources available to you, you will find your way to a white coat.

How to Succeed as a UVA Premed — Shemmassian Academic Consulting (2024)
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