College of Arts and Sciences, USF USF Home College of Arts & Sciences OASIS myUSF USF A-Z Index CAS Search

Building a Hollistically Competitive Application

It is important to remember that your application will include both objective and subjective factors. The objective factors are black and white, meaning that they are very easy for admissions officers to review. The subjective factors, of which co-curricular activities will play the largest role, are more difficult to judge. Reviewer bias will largely come into play in this area but their importance should not be forgotten. Whereas the objective factors may keep the admissions officer interested, the subjective factors are generally what push an applicant into the pool of students to be interviewed.


  • Science GPA and Overall GPA
  • Test Score (MCAT, DAT, GRE, PCAT, OAT)
  • Completion of all or most prerequisite courses
  • Number of science courses taken each semester (we recommend 8-11 credits of science coursework in 14-16 credits overall for first degree seeking students)


  • Co-Curriculular Activities (especially healthcare/profession related activities)
  • Personal Statement
  • Humanism
  • Individual fit w/ school's mission
  • Journey traveled (i.e. the challenges you have faced and persevered through)

As you can see, co-curricular activities are integral to almost all aspects of the subjective applicant review. Also, remember that there is no experience that is "better" than another. This is because individuals have different interests and each experience will impact individuals differently. It is more important to pick activities that you personally feel will help you showcase skills and characteristics of a great physician, medical school students, and person.


Co-Curricular Options

There are many types of co-curricular activities recommended for pre-health students. Arguably the most important activities are healthcare experiences. Almost all programs will expect students to have substantial experience in the healthcare setting prior to appying. Such experience can confirm your interest in the profession and broaden your understanding of the health care field. It can also help you better understand the wide diversity in a patient population and offer you greater cultural awareness. Positions in a health care setting need not be in a highly skilled area, but exposure to patients and medical professionals is very important.

  • Healthcare Related Activites
    • Physician Shadowing (read more here)
    • Clinical Volunteering (read more here)
    • Summer Volunteering, Shadowing and Intership experiences (read more here)
    • Work experience in a healthcare setting. Examples include EMT, CNA, Scribe (read more here)

In addition to healthcare related activities, many other experiences can help to showcase your passions, values and skills. Remember, the application for health profession programs is very competitive, so the more you can provide to the school to highlight your strengths the better. Community service is strongly encouraged and many applicants will have hundreds of hours of these experiences. In addition, you will want to choose a variety of other icing on the cake activities, such as:  Paid employment not medical/clinical, conferences attended, presentations/posters, publications, extracurricular/hobbies/avocations, research/lab, leadership, Teaching/tutoring, TA, Honors/Awards, Recognition, etc.

Some common choices for students are below:


Logging your Experiences

Information and ways to keep track of your co-curricular experiences can be found on our ePortfolio & Apps page (under the Applying section). You can check it out here: