How to Succeed as a UNC Premed

July 4, 2024
5 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 7/3/24

Discover essential insights and strategies for success as a premed student at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

In this guide, we'll provide you with valuable tips and strategies to help you succeed in meeting UNC premed requirements and preparing for a successful career in medicine. We’ll also show you how to find academic resources, UNC Premed extracurriculars, and more. Keep reading to learn how to succeed in this prestigious medical school.

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UNC Premed Requirements

Aspiring premed students at UNC Chapel Hill must fulfill specific requirements to prepare for medical school admission. Here's an overview:

Requirements Description
Biology Biology 101/L, 202, and 252/L or 474/L
Chemistry Chemistry 101/L, 102/L, 241/L*, 261, and 262/L
Physics Physics 114 and 115
Physics 118 and 119
Statistics Statistics and Operations Research (STOR) 155, STOR 151, Psychology 210, or Biostatistics 600
English English 105 or 105i
Behavioral/Social Sciences Any course within the sociology or psychology departments
Biochemistry Chemistry 430

Students are encouraged to engage in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and clinical experiences to enhance their candidacy for medical school admission. It's essential to consult with academic advisors and the UNC premed office to ensure all requirements are met.

UNC Premed Two-Year Course Plan

Planning your coursework strategically is essential for success as a premed student. Here's a sample two-year course plan to help you fulfill the necessary prerequisites for medical school:

Year 1

Semester Courses
Fall Year 1 Biology 101: Introductory Biology
Chemistry 101: General Chemistry I
Mathematics 110: Calculus
English 105: Composition and Rhetoric
Spring Year 1 Biology 101L: Introductory Biology Lab
Chemistry 102: General Chemistry II
Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology
Elective: Humanities or Social Sciences

Year 2

Semester Courses
Fall Year 2 Biology 202: Molecular Biology and Genetics
Chemistry 261: Organic Chemistry I
Physics 114: Introductory Physics I
Elective: Humanities or Social Sciences
Spring Year 2 Biology 203L: Molecular Biology and Genetics Lab
Chemistry 262: Organic Chemistry II
Physics 115: Introductory Physics II
Elective: Humanities or Social Sciences

Make sure to alter the plan based on your needs, advanced placement credits, or the extra prerequisites that medical schools ask for. Regularly consult with academic advisors to track your progress so you can adjust as needed.

Strategies for Maintaining a High GPA

Maintaining a high GPA is crucial for premed students to remain competitive for medical school admission. Here are some effective strategies to help you achieve academic success:

  • Effective Time Management: Develop a schedule that allocates dedicated time for studying, attending classes, and participating in extracurricular activities. Prioritize your academics and avoid procrastination.
  • Active Engagement in Classes: Participate in class discussions, ask questions, and seek clarification from professors. Engaging with course material during lectures enhances understanding and retention, leading to better performance on exams and assignments.
  • Regular Review and Study Sessions: Review lecture notes, readings, and course materials regularly to reinforce learning and identify areas of weakness. Schedule regular sessions and utilize effective study techniques such as active recall and concept mapping.
  • Use Academic Resources: UNC offers academic resources, including tutoring services, study groups, and academic workshops. When needed, seek help from professors, teaching assistants, and academic advisors.
  • Maintain a Healthy Balance: Balance your academics with self-care activities, hobbies, and social interactions. Prioritize adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and relaxation to support overall well-being and cognitive function.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable academic goals based on your abilities, interests, and aspirations. Break larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and celebrate milestones to maintain motivation and momentum.
  • Seek Feedback and Improvement: Actively seek feedback on assignments, exams, and coursework to identify areas for improvement. Use feedback constructively to adjust study strategies, address weaknesses, and enhance performance in future assessments.
  • Stay Organized and Prepared: Use planners, calendars, or digital tools to stay organized with course materials, assignments, and deadlines. Prepare for classes and exams in advance by reviewing materials, creating study guides, and practicing problem-solving exercises.

With these strategies consistently, you’ll maintain a high GPA, demonstrate academic excellence, and be competitive for medical school admission. Remember that academic success requires dedication, perseverance, and a proactive approach to learning.

Finding Academic Resources

Without a doubt, accessing academic resources is essential for every student to excel in their coursework and prepare for medical school. Here are effective strategies for finding academic resources:

  • University Libraries: Explore UNC-Chapel Hill's library system. The library offers access to textbooks, research journals, and online databases. Use library services such as interlibrary loan and research assistance for additional resources.
  • Online Databases: Access databases such as PubMed, JSTOR, and Web of Science to find scholarly articles, research papers, and academic publications relevant to your coursework and research interests.
  • Tutoring Centers: Get academic resources from the tutoring services offered by UNC academic support centers. Tutoring centers provide one-on-one or group tutoring sessions in various subjects, including math, science, writing, and foreign languages.
  • Study Groups: Form or join study groups with classmates to collaborate on assignments, review course materials, and prepare for exams. Study groups facilitate student peer learning, idea exchange, and mutual support.
  • Online Learning Platforms: Explore online learning platforms such as Coursera, Khan Academy, and edX for supplemental educational resources, tutorials, and interactive courses in various subjects.
  • Peer Mentoring Programs: Participate in peer mentoring programs offered by UNC prehealth organizations or academic departments. Peer mentors provide guidance, support, and advice to fellow students based on their own academic experiences and successes.

With these academic resources, premed students at UNC Chapel Hill can enhance their learning experience, strengthen their academic skills, and succeed in their coursework and future work. 

Selecting the Ideal Major for UNC Premed Students

Many times, applicants don't know which major to pick because there are many courses to choose from. However, UNC's five most common premed majors are biology, biochemistry, journalism, psychology, business administration, and computer science. Here are key considerations to help you select the ideal major:

  • Prerequisite Coursework: Ensure that your chosen major aligns with the prerequisite coursework required for admission. Most medical schools require biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and English coursework, so selecting a major that includes these courses can streamline your academic path.
  • Interest and Passion: Pursue a major that aligns with your interests, strengths, and career goals. Selecting a major you are passionate about will enhance your motivation, engagement, and academic performance.
  • Flexibility and Breadth: Consider majors that offer flexibility and breadth in coursework, allowing you to explore diverse subjects and disciplines. Majors with interdisciplinary or customizable curriculum options provide opportunities to tailor your academic experience to your interests and goals.
  • Relevance to Medicine: Choose a major that provides relevant knowledge and skills for a medical career. Majors such as biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, and public health offer coursework related to healthcare, human biology, and medical science.
  • Research and Clinical Opportunities: Select a major that offers opportunities for research experiences, clinical internships, or hands-on learning opportunities. Engaging in research or clinical work related to your major can deepen your understanding of healthcare and strengthen your medical school application.
  • Consideration of Backup Plans: While pursuing a major is important, also consider your interests outside of medicine and potential backup career options. Choose a major that provides transferable skills and opportunities for employment or further education in case your plans for medical school change.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to selecting the ideal major for UNC premed students. It's essential to carefully weigh your interests, goals, and academic strengths and choose a major that aligns with your aspirations while providing a solid foundation for your future medical career.

If you’re not sure where to start, try your hand at our Which Pre-Med Major Should I Pick quiz!

MCAT Considerations

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is a crucial component of the medical school application process for premed students. Here's what you need to know:

  • Start preparing for the MCAT in advance to allow sufficient time for study and practice. Most premed students begin studying for the MCAT during their junior year or earlier to ensure adequate preparation.
  • The MCAT assesses knowledge and skills in four main areas: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills.
  • Aim for a competitive MCAT score that meets or exceeds the average scores of accepted students at medical schools of interest.
  • Register for the MCAT exam in advance to secure your preferred test date and location. Plan your study schedule around the exam date to ensure adequate preparation and minimize stress.
  • Take practice tests to familiarize yourself with the MCAT exam's format, content, and timing. 
  • Prepare for test day by getting a good night's sleep, eating a nutritious meal, and arriving at the test center early. Bring all required identification and materials, such as pencils and a valid ID, and familiarize yourself with the testing procedures beforehand.
  • Familiarize yourself with the MCAT retake policy, which allows you to retake the exam if necessary.

If you still need help, seeking the guidance of an expert can make all the difference. Our one-on-one MCAT tutoring services can help you identify your strengths, create a personalized study plan, and maximize your overall score. Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what Stephany had to say about working with Inspira Advantage:

UNC Premed Extracurriculars

Engaging in extracurriculars allows students to explore their interests, develop leadership skills, and demonstrate their commitment to serving others. In addition, extracurricular activities play a vital role in the development of premed students.

UNC has several extracurricular opportunities for interested UNC premeds, so finding the right one can be challenging. For medical school applications, depth of involvement is more important than breadth, so here are extracurriculars for students.

UNC Premed Clinical and Community Volunteering

Clinical and community volunteering provides students with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in healthcare settings and make meaningful contributions to their communities. Here are the most popular organizations for medical students. 

  • AMSA
  • American Red Cross Club of UNC-CH
  • Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society
  • APPLES Service Learning Program
  • Carolina Bebes 
  • Carolina Health Samaritan Society
  • Culinary Medicine At UNC
  • Exercise is Medicine – On Campus
  • Farmworker Student Health Alliance
  • Heel-Gram
  • GlobeMed
  • Menstrual Health Equity at UNC-CH
  • A Moment of Magic Foundation
  • Nutrition Coalition
  • Student Health Action Coalition
  • Triangle Youth Wellness
  • UNC Dance Marathon – Carolina For the Kids Foundation
  • Undergraduate Family Medicine Interest Group

These experiences enhance your personal and professional development, strengthen your medical school applications, and prepare you for future careers in healthcare.

UNC Premed Shadowing

Shadowing involves observing and learning from healthcare professionals in their daily work. This provides insights into medical practice. It's beneficial to premeds as it offers first-hand exposure to clinical environments, helping them understand patient care, medical procedures, and the roles of various healthcare professionals.

If you want to shadow on campus, follow the instructions for shadowing on the UNC Volunteer Services website. You can also reach out to private clinics to arrange for physician shadowing. 

UNC Premed Research

Research is a valuable opportunity to contribute to scientific knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and prepare for medical school. One of the easiest research areas is the faculty lab. Many UNC faculty members have labs that recruit undergraduate research assistants. 

Some UNC premed research includes Faculty members and laboratories, the UNC Medical Mentors program, and the Carolina Research Scholar. These research experiences will enrich students' academics, expand their intellectual horizons, and prepare them for success in medical school and future careers in healthcare. 

Getting Into Medical School at UNC

Securing admission to medical school is a significant milestone for premed students at UNC Chapel Hill. It requires careful planning, preparation, and dedication. To help you plan and prepare better, it’s necessary that you assess your chances of getting admitted with a medical school chance predictor. Here's what you need to know about the journey to medical school from UNC:

Acceptance Rate and Admissions Statistics

UNC Chapel does not state the admission statistics for premed students, making it challenging to ascertain the precise acceptance rate of UNC premeds into medical schools. As a result, the number of UNC premeds accepted to medical schools each year remains undisclosed to the public. 

While UNC may provide general information about the number of students who apply to medical school from the university, detailed statistics regarding acceptance rates, GPA averages, MCAT scores, and other admissions metrics are private. 

The UNC School of Medicine's acceptance rate is 4.2%. The average GPA of admitted students in the School of Medicine was 3.59. In addition, the average MCAT score was 514. These UNC Chapel Hill Premed requirements suggest that admitted students are high performers.

This lack of published data would make it easier for prospective premed students to gauge their chances of admission to medical school based solely on UNC-specific statistics. As such, students are encouraged to focus on maintaining strong academic performance, gaining relevant experiences, and submitting competitive applications to medical schools.

Getting Into UNC as a Premed Student

Here are key factors to consider when applying to UNC-Chapel Hill as a premed student:

  • Academic Excellence: UNC is a highly competitive institution, and strong academic performance is essential for admission. Aim to excel in challenging coursework, maintain a high GPA, and demonstrate intellectual curiosity and academic potential.
  • Extracurricular Involvement: In addition to academic achievements, UNC values students who are actively engaged in extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and community service. Participate in extracurriculars that align with your interests and passions and showcase your leadership abilities and commitment to serving others.
  • Clinical and Research Experience: Gain hands-on experience in healthcare settings through clinical volunteering, shadowing, or internships. Additionally, consider engaging in research projects to demonstrate your interest in scientific inquiry and your potential as a future physician-scientist.
  • Personal Statement and Application Essays: Write a compelling personal statement and application essays highlighting your motivations, experiences, and aspirations as a premed student. 
  • Letters of Recommendation: Secure strong letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or advisors who can speak to your academic abilities, personal qualities, and readiness for college-level coursework. Choose recommenders who know you well and can provide specific examples of your strengths and achievements.
  • Demonstrated Interest in UNC: Showcasing your interest in UNC can enhance your application. Attend information sessions, campus tours, or virtual events to learn more about UNC's premed program, faculty, resources, and opportunities. 

Focusing on academic excellence, extracurricular involvement, clinical and research experiences, and effective application strategies can increase your chances of admission to UNC as a premed student. 

Final Thoughts

Getting a premed at UNC is challenging yet rewarding since you’ll be equipped with the best medical knowledge. As you choose this institution, remember the importance of resilience, perseverance, and dedication. Embrace opportunities that will help you grow academically and personally, and don't hesitate to seek support from mentors, advisors, and peers. 

Remember that setbacks and obstacles are inevitable, but they also provide valuable lessons and development opportunities. Stay focused on your goals, remain true to your passion for medicine, and trust your abilities to overcome challenges and succeed. 

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