(Scroll down for FAQs)
UCSB's Health Professions Advising is part of the Pre-Professional Advising Office located in 2105 North Hall. Our pre-health advisors provide academic advising services as well as career counseling for current UCSB students and alumni who are interested in pursuing careers in the health professions. While our office directly reports to the College of Letters & Science Academic Advising Office, we work with students and alumni from all programs of study.
If you have questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also utilize our Pre-Health Listserv as the primary form of communication with UCSB students, so we strongly encourage all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and even prospective students and parents to join the mailing list.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is pre-health Advising?
A. Pre-health advising is academic advising that focuses on the unique needs of students who are interested in applying to health professions graduate programs after they complete an undergraduate degree at UCSB.
Q. Where do I go for pre-health advising?
A. Most pre-health advising and drop-in advising appointments take place in the Pre -Professional Advising Office, located in 2105 North Hall. Pre-Health Drop-In Advising: Please visit our home page for hours, as drop-in hours change from quarter to quarter. Scheduled Appointments: Pre-health Appointments scheduled with Dave Lawrence, Yessica Vazquez Arroyo, Dr. Blain, and the pre-health peer advisors will take place in 2105 North Hall, phone, or via Zoom
Q. What services do pre-health advisors provide?
A. Pre-health advisors help pre-health students understand the academic and extracurricular requirements that they must meet in order to prepare for create a competitive application to professional school. This includes helping pre-health students understand the prerequisite course requirements (and UCSB degree requirements), connect them to resources for obtaining shadowing, clinical, research, volunteer, and other experiences, helping them self-assess their competitiveness as applicants, and connecting them to resources to prepare for entrance exams and the application process.
Q: How do UCSB students fare when it comes to applying to medical school, dental school, and other health professions programs
A: Quite well. You can see data on this by visiting our homepage and scrolling down until you find the "heat map." There are also a number of hyperlinks that offer more detailed information on our students, to include what they majored in, what their GPAs were, how they did on admissions tests, etc.
Just below the MD "Heat Map" is acceptance data for other health professions. UCSB's rigorous curriculum is well regarded throughout higher education, which is one of the reasons UCSB students' acceptance rates for professional schools consistently outperform the national average.
Q: How many UCSB students apply to professional schools every year?
A: Historically, between 250-280 UCSB students/graduates apply to medical schools (MD) annually. PA is our second most "popular" pre-health track, with about 100 students/year applying. Dentistry typically comes in third, with about 50 applications per year on average.
Q: Where are UCSB pre-meds actually going to medical school? What is their acceptance rate?
A: Check out this Google sheet to see where UCSB grads have been admitted over the last several cycles. This kind of information is very valuable for students getting ready to enter the application cycle, as it gives them an idea of where UCSB students have been finding success in this highly competitive process.
The M.D. application cycle that began in June 2022 and concluded in the summer of 2023 was one of the most successful in recent UCSB memory: 123 of 259 UCSB grads who applied were admitted to at least one medical school--an acceptance rate that beats the national average by over 1.4 percentage points.
Q: Any tips/suggestions for preparing for the MCAT?
A: In December 2023 and January 2024 I hosted MCAT info sessions with current students and (very) recent grads, each of whom scored > 90th percentile on their MCAT. One of the panelists also shared this great resource document; another panelist offered this incredibly helpful tip sheet for the CARS section--which is often the bane of an MCAT-taker's exisitence.
Q: Do you have any recordings of UCSB grads who've talked about their succesful application cycles for MD?
A: I try to host 10-12 zoom sessions per year with students who've enjoyed success in any number of facets of their pre-health journey: MD, PA, Dental, Post-Bacc, Research, etc. Going away the most well received was this talk from January 2023, with two recent UCSB grads who started medical school programs in summer '23. Between them, Isabel and Rahim were admitted to over two dozen medical schools. Listen to their stories here.
Q: How do UCSB students perform when applying to dental school?
A: Our pre-dents are some of the brightest students we have the pleasure of working with (it helps to have a "ringer"--a retired pediatric dentist and former faculty/staff member at UCLA's School of Dentistry--in the person of Dr. Blain!)
Every year, between 40-50 UCSB students/grads apply to dental school. They consistently outperform the national average when it comes to acceptances. Last cycle, 82.22% of UCSB applicants were accepted to at least one program (compared to 58.97% nationally); the previous cycle 72.09% of Gauchos were offered at least one acceptance (compared to a national clip of 56.62%). Those numbers are extraordinary.
See where those students are going, and how their GPAs and DAT scores compared to their fellow applicants nationwide by clicking here and here. And check out this interview I conducted in January 2024 with several successful applicants (one of whom completed his first semester at UCLA's School of Dentistry in the fall of 2023) here.
Q: Do I have to major in biology in order to go to medical school, dental school, etc.
A: No. Most professional schools are not concerned with what your undergraduate major is; rather, they want to ensure you've taken the appropriate prerequisites for their program (and that you have a record of demonstrable academic excellence). Having said that, most of our pre-health students are biology majors, because a great many of the courses that are required for that major also happen to coincide nicely with pre-health course requirements. Also, it can be difficult to get into some chemistry and biology courses as a non-STEM major. You can see the majors of UCSB-to-medical-school-matriculants here.
Q. Is there a difference between general advising and pre-health advising?
A. Yes; the primary focus of the pre-health advisors is ensuring pre-health students are meeting the unique requirements that health professions graduate programs expect of applicants. The pre-health peer advisors can help students with scheduling questions and general questions about pre-health requirements.
Q. Can I rely on r/UCSantaBarbara instead of pre-health advising?
A. OK, so this isn't a real question, but... Reddit can be a useful tool, but like most social platforms, the admonition "trust, but verify" very much applies. Full disclosure: I occasionally lurk on Reddit and have been known to respond to students' queries or input on occasion (see here and here and here and here). Bottom line: Reddit can be a useful source...but it should not be the source.
Having said that, in the summer of 2023, a UCSB student made public a fifteen (15!) page pre-health "how to" Google doc. A quick read will demonstrate that there are no shortcuts. This student was incredibly thorough, and while the author remains anonymous to Pre-Health staff, I post it here without hesitation. New students should read it slowly, thoroughly, and repeatedly.
It sets a very high bar, admittedly, but so, too, has the student who aspires to a career in the health professions. Welcome to pre-health life!
And a special thanks to the student who took the time to put this document together--a true testament to the collaborative, collegial spirit I've seen time and again from UCSB's pre-health student population. Y'all make my job a treat!
Q: I understand research can be an important component to becoming a competitive applicant to professional school. How do I learn about research opportunities?
I'm grateful to the six amazing panelists from the August 2023 Zoom session who talked about how to get involved with research as an undergrad at UCSB.
Q. How can I schedule an appointment?
A1. Pre-Health Drop-In Advising: Students do not need to schedule an appointment to see a pre-health advisor during drop-in hours. Drop-in appointments are meant to be brief (10-15 minutes) and address student issues/concerns regarding academic probation, add and/or drop a course, withdrawing form a course, repeating a course, changing/adding/dropping major or minor, transferring colleges (L&S→ Engineering) or to a new institution, studying abroad.
A2. Pre-Health Scheduled Appointments: Scheduled appointments run 30 minutes and are meant to address issues/concerns that require more in-depth discussion, which cannot be sufficiently addressed during a drop-in. Students should schedule an appointment with a pre-health staff or peer advisor (Typically, peer advisors meet with 1st and 2nd year students.) to discuss topics including, but not limited to, choosing a major or exploring a pre-health career, considering a double-major, senior checks, degree/progress check, discuss taking time off, long-range planning of extracurricular experiences, discussing competitiveness as an applicant, questions regarding the application process, questions regarding entrance exams.
Q. How can I get pre-health advising if I have already graduated, and is there a "statute of limitations"?
A. We love working with UCSB grads to help them achieve their health profession dreams, regardless of when they graduated from UCSB. Send an email to email@example.com to schedule a phone, Zoom, or in-person meeting.
Q. How should I prepare for my advising appointment?
A. Prior to attending your advising appointment, we expect all pre-health students to have gone to the Health Professions Advising website, joined the Pre-Health Listserv, and reviewed, at minimum, the information relevant to their pre-health track or the pre-health track(s) that they are interested in pursuing while at UCSB. Additionally, we expect students to utilize the Degree Audit tool in Gold to keep track of their progress in meeting GE and major requirements. Lastly, students should come prepared with specific questions for the pre-health advisor and take notes, as needed, during their appointment