On this page
- Choosing a major
- Research & Internships
- Talking to professional schools
- Entrance Exams
- Letters of Recommendation
- Staying on track
"Pre-Professional" is an advising category for students preparing to enter a professional school. Pre-Health and Pre-Law areas are not majors and, therefore, cannot grant students baccalaureate degrees.
Get information for your area on Blackboard
Currently-enrolled UNL students must first declare a Pre-Professional interest and fill out our Pre-Professional Interest form to get access. Students who have a declared interest in a Pre-Health or Pre-Law area have access to specialized Blackboard information featuring updates, announcements, curriculum information, events, and activities.
Choosing a major
Pre-health and pre-law are not UNL majors; they are introductory advising categories. For all professional schools, students may choose any major from any UNL college. Professional schools suggest that students major in a field that truly interests them as they will be more inclined to perform at a higher level. As they choose a major, students should keep in mind that the major should reflect an area of interest that they may wish to build a career around should they decide to change their plan of professional study. Students may enter UNL as pre-health or pre-law, but they will need to declare a major to earn a UNL degree.
Students need to be aware of college, major, and Pre-Professional requirements and to work closely with their advisers in these areas. Students should challenge themselves by taking 15-17 hours per semester.
Pre-Professional students should choose courses that are strong in reading and writing elements as well as in analytical and logical thinking. These areas are tested in the Pre-Professional admission tests.
Suggested courses for Pre-Professional students would be English Composition, Math, Logic, Speech Communication, History, Psychology, and Sociology. In addition, specific course requirements and recommendations for Pre-Law and most Pre-Health programs are available in the Exploratory and Pre-Profesional Advising Center in 33 Canfield.
The GPA is important for any professional school. Because professional schools are always competitive, students should strive to achieve very high grades. A strong GPA shows that the student is capable of handling the type of graduate work encountered in a professional school. For this reason, students should establish strong study habits in high school so that these skills will carry over when the student does his/her undergraduate degree. Professional study is very rigorous, so students need to have the strong discipline needed to be a scholar. Students are encouraged not to withdraw from courses once registered or to take courses using the Pass/No Pass option. Pre-Health programs often look at both a student's overall GPA and the science GPA.
Students are encouraged to explore research and internship opportunities to immerse themselves more fully in their areas of interest. Research opportunities are usually developed with the help of a faculty member. Pre-Health students often are able to work in labs on campus or in a Summer Research Program. Internship possibilities are available through Career Services in the Nebraska Union, room 230. Some internships enable students to earn college credit.
Every semester the advisers in the Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center arrange for professional school representatives to make on-campus visits for the purpose of meeting with undergraduate students interested in specific areas of professional study. Students are encouraged to meet with the school representatives to learn about the school represented and how to better prepare themselves for entry into it.
Students interested in admission to professional schools are encouraged to do volunteer work. Volunteer possibilities are listed on handouts in the Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center as well as through the Office of Student Involvement. Some medical areas require students to do shadowing of professionals; these arrangements are generally set up between the student and the health care professional. A shadowing experience is an excellent opportunity for students to gain background knowledge and discover what the field is like. Students should plan ahead to find a way to fit these experiences into their Pre-Professional plan.
Most pre-professional areas have clubs on campus, such as the Pre-Law Club, the Pre-Physical Therapy Club, etc. Students are encouraged to join such clubs, not only because of the informative programs that are presented, but also to meet other students who have similar Pre-Professional goals.
Pre-Professional clubs often feature speakers who are professionals in the field, tour facilities, have panels of current students studying in that particular area, or have specialized programs, such as "Financial Aid" or "The Application Process".
The University also has many clubs that are developed around areas of interest (such as the Chess Club, Mock Trial Club, Amnesty International) and honoraries in specific majors (such as Sigma Tau Delta in English or Psi Chi in Psychology). Students will be able to list their involvement in these types of activities on their Pre-Professional applications.
Professional Schools generally require an entrance examination for admittance. Students need to be aware of when the test will be given to properly prepare to do well. For example, students who intend to enroll in law school the fall after receiving the bachelors degree should take the LSAT in June following their junior year and Pre-Medical students should take the MCAT in April of their junior year. Pre-Professional advisers have information about the tests--the format, the cost, the registration date, etc. The registration information for the LSAT, MCAT, DAT, OAT, PCAT and GRE is available in the Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center, 33 Canfield. Students should familiarize themselves with this information so that they can full prepare fully to take the test only once and do well.
The application process for any professional school is time-consuming. The Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising Center has listings of various professional schools, their requirements, general information, and how to apply. Some professional schools have a central application process by which students complete the application and the agency sends it out to various professional schools. Students should be aware of when the professional school will begin to read applications and whether the program provides for a personal interview as well. Applications often require essays or personal statements, and students should work with Pre-Professional advisers to make their applications as strong as possible.
All applications require letters of recommendation. Students need to rely on members of the professorial staff to write strong letters that testify to the student's academic ability. For this reason, students should have made the attempt to get to know their professors, either through after class discussions or during office hours, to have developed a connection that will allow the professor to have a depth of knowledge about the student. Students may have to make an extra effort if their classes are large lecture classes.
Students should make appointments to visit with their Pre-Professional advisers periodically.
For Pre-Health students, this is essential due to specific course requirements for the various Pre-Health programs.
For Pre-Law students, this is important in encouraging students to select appropriate courses that help them build necessary skills for law school.
Establishing contact with Pre-Professional advisers could also be beneficial for students regarding letters of recommendation to professional schools.