Just What the Doctor Ordered

Harvard Pre-Meds Praise House Advising System

The road to medical school is often paved with difficulties, but the advising system at Harvard is designed to make the process as painless as possible.

Students say the advising system here possesses several qualities which not only make it unique, but also helpful.

"I think it's pretty good, [but] I...don't know about other houses in general," says Jerry Y. Hsu '97, an Adams student who just applied to medical school.

"I think most other houses have a head pre-med advisor," Hsu says. "What Adams House does is hook you up with a personal pre-med advisor, usually a student at Harvard Medical School."

Hsu says he met with his pre-med advisor once or twice a semester his sophomore year to talk about the courses he was taking, his extra-curriculars and medicine in general.


With the number of people applying to medical school increasing and the process becoming more convoluted, advisors can play a crucial role in helping applicants get through the process successfully.

"[It is] getting more and more difficult to apply to medical school," says Allison S. Bryant '94, a pre-med advisor in Quincy. "Numbers of applicants is sort of increasing exponentially from year to year."

Bryant says that one of the ways advisors aid students is by instructing them on how they can make themselves more appealing to a medical school admissions committee.

"[Pre-med advisors help students] to package themselves to help them to get into med school," she says.

For the most part, the pre-med advising system lies in the houses, where the roughly a dozen advisors, some of whom are resident and some of whom are nonresident, make themselves available to students.

Deepu S. Nair '97, who lives in Quincy House, says he was very pleased with the experience he had with his pre-med advisor.

"The one I had was phenomenal," says Nair, who is currently applying to medical school. "She was very friendly, very helpful and very responsible."

In addition to house-based advising for pre-med students, the Office of Career Services (OCS) also provides resources for them.

Lee Ann Michelson '77, a health advisor at OCS says one of her roles is to encourage students to explore the field of medicine through activities such as volunteering in hospitals or shadowing doctors.

"So students get a sense for what medicine is other than from ER," Michelson says.