First Time Students
First Time in College
We are excited to have you join the USF community and are eager to assist you in building a competitive application for your health profession program of interest. It is important that you become knowledgeable about your intended health profession program and we recommend that you review the all of the information below and throughout our website.
The journey to become a healthcare professional is long, and usually requires completion of a Bachelor's degree prior to matriculation into your program of interest. Once admitted to your intended health profession program (i.e. Medical School, Dental School, Physician Assistant Programs), it will generally take between 2 to 4 years to earn your advanced degree and pass certifications. Following graduation, you may be required to attend a residency, specialist, or fellowship program before you are able to practice.
Even though you have just arrived, your pre-health journey begins now! Your most important task for your first semester is to become a good student. Your courses will be much more demanding than in high school. The professor’s expectations and the competition for grades in class may both be much greater than you experienced in high school. High grades in high school do not necessarily predict high grades in college, as many bright students do not have to really push themselves to do well in high school and thus may not have good study skills. Establish good study habits and time management skills. Locate all of the school resources and become well acquainted with the USF Library. Try not to be employed more than 15 to 20 hours per week, and not at all if possible. (Yes, you can ask your parents to read this!) The science courses you will be taking will often require much more time than similar course loads in other majors, both in laboratory time and in study time. Don’t skip any prep courses that may be recommended for you in chemistry, reading, or mathematics; they will help you in your subsequent courses. Many of your science courses will be sequential, and it will require careful planning on your part with the assistance of an academic advisor to plan a reasonable four-year curriculum. Keep in mind that although most professional schools will accept AP credit in lieu of some courses, not all will. Contact the health professional schools you are interested in to find out if they will accept AP credits.
You should also begin to gain extra-curricular experiences, especially in healthcare (such as volunteering or shadowing), and consider getting involved on campus. You might begin by participating in a student organization in your area of interest. Research is another popular activity for pre-health students (although you may need a few semesters of science coursework if you plan to participate in science research specifically).
Be sure to see both a Health Professions Advisor (about building a competitive application) and an Academic Advisor (about meeting graduation requirements) every term before registering for the next semester. If you have any low grades when your midterm grades arrive, don’t wait- see an advisor immediately. The Pre-health Advisors are here to help you succeed and to enjoy your first year at USF!