Cornell University

Transfer Students

Responsibility of the Student 

It is the responsibility of the student to attend the Premedical Freshman and Transfer Orientations, or to listen to the audio "Information for Transfer Premed Students - All Colleges" available on the CCS web Media Programs link (Health Careers).

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Students apply to medical school more than one year before they plan to matriculate. At Cornell about forty percent of all applicants apply the summer after their senior year. This latter time may be particularly suitable for students who have transferred to Cornell in their junior year and believe that a year between Cornell and medical school will benefit their personal or professional goals (see "Gap" or "Bridge" Year) or who want to improve their academic or experiential credentials at Cornell and/or more broadly.

The Health Careers Evaluation Committee (HCEC) is responsible for the letter of evaluation that is part of the application to most medical/dental schools. Candidates usually register with the HCEC at the beginning of the spring semester of the year they plan to begin the application process.

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Registering with the HCEC 

The chart below details an alternate timeline for junior transfer students to allow completion of 30 credit hous at Cornell. 

HCEC Schedule  

  Typical Undergraduate Timeline
Transfer Student Timeline
HCEC Orientation October/November same
HCEC Registration Parts 1-3
January same
Deadline for letters of recommendation March (early) June
Interview with HCEC April/May late May/June

Junior transfer students with fewer than 30 letter-graded hours at Cornell planning to apply after junior year should register at the usual time and submit transcript(s) from other institution(s) as well. (The HCEC will obtain a copy of your Cornell transcript.) An interviewer will be assigned only after thirty credit hours (not including PE or S/U grades) at Cornell have been completed and all non-Cornell transcripts have been received.

Interviews for transfer students are typically conducted in Ithaca during the summer at the convenience of the interviewer. This allows junior transfers more time to obtain their letters of recommendation and gives the HCEC a more complete picture of a student's work at Cornell.

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Options for Junior Transfers with less than 30 Credits

For juniors who have completed two semesters with fewer than 30 credits and a strong intention to apply after junior year, the options include:

  1. taking a Cornell course during the 3 week summer session from late May to June,
  2. taking a 6 or 8 week course with the understanding that the letter of evaluation will be prepared after the completion of that course,
  3. not using the HCEC,
  4. getting the letter of evaluation from your previous institution, or
  5. waiting until your senior year to register for the HCEC and apply to medical school.

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Because your time at Cornell will be shorter than other Cornell applicants it is especially important that you meet with a health careers advisor in your college or Barnes Hall to develop your plan.  

See the health careers advisor to discuss: 

  1. the MCAT prep and timing, clinical, extracurricular, and summer opportunities,
  2. the pros and cons of using Cornell's HCEC or of using the committee at your previous institution,
  3. suitable sources of letters of recommendation and supplementary letters,
  4. issues to consider in deciding the optimal application cycle for you, and
  5. gap year opportunities other Cornell students have taken advantage of.

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Fluctuations in Grade-Point Average (GPA) 

Some students transferring to Cornell have seen a drop in GPA in their first semester at Cornell. This observation is not made to suggest an individual's future performance; but to alert transfer students to the possibility. Therefore, transfers for whom grades begin at a lower level in their first semester may want to wait until they see an upward trend of their GPA before deciding to have their interview with the HCEC and/or when to apply to medical/dental school.

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Core Courses or Preprofessional Requirements 

See "Cornell University Courses Recommended to Satisfy Medical and/or Dental School Requirements" (the pink sheet).

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Science Courses 

Students should try to complete some of the science course prerequisites for medical school (introductory biology, introductory chemistry, organic chemistry, and introductory physics) at Cornell if possible. If you complete the science course prerequisites for medical school before attending Cornell, you should consider taking at least one advanced level biology course at Cornell in order to enable the HCEC and the admissions committee to have the basis for comparing you with other Cornellians.

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Non-Science Courses 

Students are also encouraged to explore courses outside the natural sciences. Courses in the humanities and social sciences are highly recommended for all students seeking to become health care professionals.

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Advanced Courses 

Undergraduates who have been at Cornell for a year or more may have learned the reputation for the difficulity of certain courses and may know how to plan their course load and work schedule to take that difficulty into account. Transfer students are advised to discuss advanced courses with their faculty advisors as well as the health careers advisor in their college or major in order to avoid overloading their schedules.

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The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) 

MCAT scores may be especially valuable in the case of transfer students particularly if they previously attended a small institution and/or one that prepares small numbers of premedical students. If an admissions committee is not familiar with a college and its grading policy, it may rely more heavily on the MCAT scores. Also it is helpful to know your MCAT scores before applying, if possible. Do not, however, delay submitting your application solely because your MCAT score will be available later that summer.

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The following are available in the Career Library, 103 Barnes Hall, and on the web.  

  • Guide for Advanced Pre-Medical Students
  • Sophomore Orientation audio available through the CCS Media Site.
  • Briefings on MCAT and other topics regarding preparing to apply and applying.

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