Snapshots of Student Services: Ellen S., Pre-Professional Advising

Name: Ellen S. Snydman

Office: Pre-Professional Advising

Position: Associate Director

As Hopkins students, we have access to amazing student services and the people that work for them. Read these posts to learn more about them! 

As a Baltimore native, I admittedly sometimes take for granted all the interesting and unique aspects of living within the Baltimore metropolitan area.  We have delicious restaurants, fun street fairs, historic sites, a bustling Inner Harbor, spectacular musical venues, and world champion sports teams.  But I never lose sight of the fact that I work at Johns Hopkins University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country.  Hopkins is a big part of my family’s life—my father, sister, and niece all graduated from the university, so we come from a long tradition of Blue Jay pride.  And although I did not study here, I have worked in Pre-Professional Advising for more than four years, and continue to be wowed and impressed by the young adults I meet on a daily basis.

When talking about pre-professional advising, let me first define what we mean by the term.  On the homepage of our website, it says “We serve current students and alumni who are pursuing career interests in the healthcare or law professions. Our role is to help you make informed decisions in such areas as pre-health course planning, securing relevant experience, overcoming obstacles, and navigating the application process.”  A great deal of what we do involves pre-med advising to assist you in becoming a competitive applicant for medical school, but we also advise students who are interested in dental and other health professions such as osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, veterinary medicine, and nursing.

Rest assured that you do not need to decide on a pre-health trajectory the minute you step on campus as a freshman.  Some students do enter Hopkins completely sure of a career in medicine.  Yet others do not realize it until later in their academic career, and that’s fine, too.  There is no rush to the pre-med process…the timeline you choose is ultimately your own decision.  In fact, the majority of our applicants apply as seniors or alumni, and the national average age of a first year medical school is 24.  It takes a great deal of organization, time management, focus, patience, and maturation to prepare for your medical or dental school application, and it’s a gradual process that isn’t achieved overnight.

As you explore Hopkins and the idea of pre-health studies, I encourage you to keep in mind the following:

  • There is no such thing as a pre-med major.  You can choose any major you wish and still take additional pre-med coursework to be considered a pre-med student.
  • We encourage you to pursue your interests both in the classroom and beyond.   You should, however, be careful not to over-commit to involvements outside of the classroom.
  • When you apply to medical school, you will need to demonstrate strong academics, a commitment to serving others, and medically relevant experiences.  Research is not a requirement for most medical schools, but the majority of our undergraduates do obtain research experience while here.
  • In addition, medical schools also want to see that you know how to achieve balance and diversity in your life, so they’ll be looking for extra-curricular activities such as participation in student groups, athletics, and musical pursuits.

We’re pleased that you’re considering a health-related career at Johns Hopkins University and wish you all the best in your future planning.  Although we don’t offer pre-med advising to non-admitted students, we look forward to working with you as a freshman.

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