New Student FAQ

If you're a new KU student be sure to sign up for Orientation! Your orientation day would include advising and enrollment. Your Academic Advisor will help you integrate premedical courses into your schedule. 

What personal qualities are important for future medical professionals?

  • A well-informed passion for the profession
  • Sincerity, honesty and integrity
  • The ability to actively listen
  • The ability to communicate clearly, through writing, talking and non-verbal cues
  • Warmth, compassion and genuine concern for people
  • Problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Thoughtfulness, balanced by the ability to make difficult decisions
  • Confidence, not arrogance
  • A positive and enthusiastic outlook
  • Awareness of current events and social issues
  • Appreciation and respect for cultural diversity
  • A desire to work hard
  • Enthusiasm for learning
  • Appreciation for science, both the process and the value of tested knowledge
  • Comfort with uncertainty
  • Patience
  • Maturity
  • Professionalism
  • Humility - True gratitude for the help, opportunities and privileges one has received
  • A sense of social responsibility - a demonstrated desire to serve those who need help

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has posted a similar set of Core Competencies for Entering Medical Students, with further explanation.

What's the best premedical degree and major?

Because major and degree aren't central considerations for admission, the best choice is the best fit for your academic and other career interests. In general, any undergraduate bachelor's degree and major is fine, though it would take longer than four years to combine some professional school educations with premedical requirements.

What courses should I take in my first semester?

​It depends on your interests, major, degree, transfer courses and placement, however, a typical first-semester schedule might include English, math or general chemistry I with lab, an introductory major course or molecular & cellular biology, a second-language or social science course, and a university or major orientation class. Here are some sample schedules:​

For a MATH 002-eligible B.A. Undecided Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3 credit hours)
  • MATH 002 Intermediate Algebra (3)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)
  • Second-Language (3-5)
  • UNIV 101 Orientation Seminar (2)

 

For a MATH 101-eligible B.A. Undecided Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3 credit hours)
  • MATH 101 College Algebra or MATH 104 Pre-Calculus (3-5)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)
  • Second-Language (3-5)
  • UNIV 101 Orientation Seminar (2)

 

For a MATH 115-eligible B.S. Behavioral Neuroscience Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • CHEM 130 General Chemistry I (5)
  • PSYC 102 Psychology Major Orientation Seminar (1)
  • PSYC 104 General Psychology (3)
  • MATH 115 Calculus I (3)​

 

For a MATH 115-eligible B.A. Biology Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3 credit hours)
  • CHEM 130 General Chemistry I (5 credit hours)
  • BIOL 105 Biology Major Orientation Seminar (1)
  • BIOL 150 Principles of Molecular & Cellular Biology (4)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)

 

For a MATH 115-eligible B.S. Business Administration Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • CHEM 130 General Chemistry I (5)
  • PSYC 104 General Psychology (3)
  • MATH 115 Calculus I (3)
  • BUS 110 1st Year Business Experience (1)

 

For a MATH 115-eligible B.S. Exercise Science Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3 credit hours)
  • CHEM 130 General Chemistry I (5 credit hours)
  • BIOL 150 Principles of Molecular & Cellular Biology (4)
  • HSES 269 Introduction to Exercise Science (3)

 

For a MATH 115-eligible B.A. Psychology Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • CHEM 130 General Chemistry I (5)
  • PSYC 102 Psychology Major Orientation Seminar (1)
  • PSYC 104 General Psychology (3)
  • Second Language (3-5)

 

For a MATH 115-eligible B.A. Spanish Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • CHEM 130 General Chemistry I (5)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)
  • SPAN 101 Orientation Seminar for Spanish & Portuguese (1)
  • As placed, e.g., SPAN 324 Grammar and Composition (3)
  • As placed, e.g., SPAN 328 Intermediate Spanish Conversation (2)

 

For a MATH 125-eligible B.S. Biochemistry Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • CHEM 170 Chemistry  for Chemical Sciences I (5)​
  • BIOL 105 Biology Major Orientation Seminar (1)
  • BIOL 150 Principles of Molecular & Cellular Biology (4)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)

 

For a MATH 125-eligble B.S Chemistry Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • CHEM 180 Chemistry Major Orientation Seminar (.5)
  • CHEM 170 Chemistry  for Chemical Sciences I (5)​
  • MATH  125 Calculus I (4)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)

 

For a MATH 125-eligble B.S Chemical Engineering Major:

  • ENGL 101 Composition, or as placed by English ACT score or credit (3)
  • C&PE 111 Introduction to the Profession (2)
  • CHEM 170 Chemistry  for Chemical Sciences I (5)​
  • MATH  125 Calculus I (4)
  • PSYC 104, SOC 104, SOC 160 or any KU Core Goal 3H (3)

How can I perform well in college courses?

1. Get your textbooks before classes begin, and read ahead. Finish the tables of contents and first chapters before the first day of classes, and keep-up with all your reading assignments.

2. Go to class!

3. Some lectures will be large. If you sit toward the front and center of the class, it'll be easier to connect with what your instructor is saying.

4. While in class, take useful notes. This doesn't mean writing down every word your instructor says. Instead, develop an outline, the essence of what your instructor is saying.

5. Take responsibility for your interest by actively listening and studying. Ask yourself questions: "What are examples of a concept?," "What are limits of principles?," "How do concepts relate to each other?," "What are analogies, similar relationships in different fields?," and, "What's coming next?" 

6. If you have questions, or need to clarify difficult concepts, talk with your instructor. If you can't do this in class, make an appointment to meet with your instructor during office hours.

7. To perform well, develop and follow a weekly schedule to get yourself to actively study an average of at least two hours outside of class for each hour in lecture.

8. Rather than studying one topic for many hours, spend a part of each day studying for each class.

9. Similarly, it's helpful to break large tasks, like term papers, into smaller, manageable pieces. 

10. Take advantage of the many educational resources and supports available to you, especially PLUS sessions, Help Rooms, Test Reviews, Writing Center and all the supports, low-cost tutoring, success workshops and individual consultations available from the Academic Achievement & Access Center.

What medically-related student organizations can I join?
How can I earn substantial recommendation letters from faculty?

When you apply, you will need recommendation letters from faculty who know you well! Many professional schools require two letters from faculty, and a few medical schools require three. Many require at least one from a natural sciences faculty member, and a few require two. Most core science lectures are large. So, beyond taking advantage of office hours, here are some ways you can help faculty get to know you:

1. Regularly consult with a faculty advisor in your major department. Advising isn’t just about having enrollment holds lifted. Faculty know much about the content of courses and sequences that make the most sense for your major and degree program, and related extra-curricular opportunities. If you're  a biology major, see the Undergraduate Biology List of Faculty Advisors by Specialty Area.

2. If you have a passion for science, you can volunteer to help with a research project. See the Center for Undergraduate Research's Tips for Getting Started.

3. Take some smaller classes with a more interactive format. There really are many smaller, more focused topics courses, from which you can choose. Along the same line, even if you’re not in the Honors Program, if you find an Honors course you’re very interested in, you can try asking for the instructor’s permission to take the course.

4. And, as a fun way of getting to know faculty, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences sponsors a Take Your Professor to Lunch Program.

If I'm not doing well, should I drop/withdraw from a course?

From an academic advising standpoint, it’s better to withdraw than to earn an F.

D’s are passing for College of Liberal Arts & Sciences degree and major requirements, however, they have a lot of impact on GPA. So, you have to weigh which is more important to you.

With a "C" or better, if you understand the terminology and concepts, you're usually better off finishing a course, moving forward, and studying to earn A's in more advanced courses.

Before withdrawing, always call 785-864-4700 to talk with a Financial Aid Counselor about the possible financial and scholarship consequences. There are many other standpoints to consider, as withdrawing can have implications for living in student housing, international student visa status, coverage by a parent's health and car insurance, NCAA eligibility, etc. I'm not saying you'll lose everything, just that you should check with experts for all aspects of your situation.

If I didn't do well, should I retake a course?

In general, with a "C" or better and understanding, I recommend moving forward, and studying to perform better in more advanced courses.

With a "C" and lack of understanding, "D" or "F," and continued interest in a program that requires the course, I recommend retaking before moving forward. As to what happens with the grades, it's complicated:

See KU's full policy at 2.2.8 Grade Replacement Policy in Repeat Courses:

If you initially earned a "D" or an "F" in a KU lower-level course (000-299), and meet all the other conditions in the policy, the grade from retaking the course at KU will replace the earlier grade in figuring your KU GPA. The original course and grade will, however, still appear on your transcript, and will be reported in your application to professional programs.

Different application services, and the professional schools they serve, use their own policies for figuring applicant GPA's!

For example, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service (AACOMAS) and American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) do NOT allow grade replacement. All college grades are included in figuring GPA, math & science GPA, etc. 

In general, receiving application services and graduate professional programs follow their own rules to calculate a GPA, regardless of the policies used to figure your GPA at KU or other colleges or universities. So, if you're thinking about retaking a course to improve your application GPA, it's important to check with professional school admissions offices to see how this action will be received.

Admissions decisions are made by people, not just numbers. So, even if a school or application service doesn't practice grade replacement, retaking a course can help answer the question raised by an initially weak performance.

If you get a "D" or an "F" in a course at a four-year college or university, retaking at a community college does more to confirm the problem, than to address the issue.

Because retaking gives you a huge advantage over students taking a course for the first time, there is an expectation that you should do significantly better, i.e., you shouldn't retake a class unless you'll improve your performance by at least two letter grades.

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it." W.C. Fields


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