Pathway to Success

Sample Four-Year Plan

Theme: Exploration

Central Goal: Explore your interest and commitment to the medical, dental, veterinary, physician assistant, and other healthcare fields.


  • Take first-year chemistry.
  • Take first-year biology; otherwise, wait until spring semester to start with biology.
  • Take Intro to Statistics.
  • Engage in general education.
  • At the end of your first year, determine whether you want to continue pursuing a career in the medical field.
  • Keep a journal of all your activities.
  • Apply for pre-med scholarships.

Critical Questions

  • Why do I want to be a doctor, dentist, or veterinarian?
  • Have I established a relationship with a member of the Pre-Med Advisory Committee?
  • What timeline should I be following?
  • Can I study abroad?

Theme: Commitment

Central Goal: Build your credentials, and search for high-impact experiences (HIEs).


  • Take Organic Chemistry I & II.
  • Take first-year biology or a biology methods course.
  • Explore potential minors or a second major.
  • Review your progress with your advisor, and draft a plan to complete your timeline.
  • Plan and acquire HIEs (e.g., research, shadowing opportunities, internships, study abroad, or community-engaged learning); journal about your experience(s).
  • Apply for pre-med scholarships.

Critical Questions:

  • Am I getting the grades that I need to be a competitive applicant?
  • Am I involved in student organizations (e.g., Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, Southwestern Pre-Health Organization, or American Chemical Society)?
  • Is this still the right path for me? What is my parallel plan?

Theme: Reaching the goal line

Central Goal: Submit application materials, and participate in high-impact experiences (HIEs).


  • Complete prerequisite courses.
  • Review for admission exam (e.g., MCAT, DAT, or GRE).
  • Inform the pre-med chair of your intent to apply through the committee by February 1st.
  • Complete your applications by June 1st.
  • Request letters of recommendation.
  • Work on your personal statement; refer to your HIE journal to complete your statement.

Critical Questions:

  • Is this still the right path for me?
  • What am I doing to get the most out of my time at SU?
  • Do I have what it takes to be a competitive applicant?
  • Work on my parallel plan (e.g., gap year: a postbaccalaureate program, a job, and/or volunteering).

Theme: Finish strong

Central Goal: Prepare for interviews, or execute your parallel plan.


  • Complete coursework.
  • Prepare for interviews by practicing with someone at the Center for Career & Professional Development.
  • Work on plan B, such as a postbaccalaureate program (applications are due in the fall), a job, and/or volunteering.

Critical Questions:

  • How do I prepare for the transition?
  • If not invited for an interview, what could I do different next time?
  • Parallel plan: How do I stay in contact with recommendation writers? If accepted to a postbaccalaureate program, what do I want to gain from this experience? What do I want to get out of the job or volunteering?