Off-campus study for a semester or a full academic year is possible,
but involves some trade-offs that must be considered in the context of
your entire program of premedical preparation. In particular, going
abroad requires detailed planning in advance involving your entire
If you go to another institution in the U.S. or Canada, the curriculum,
and typically the grading system, will be familiar. You will have a relatively
easy time finding appropriate premedical courses in most North American
colleges and universities. You should keep in mind that credits earned
for work at another institution can be transferred to Colby, but grades
earned at another institution will not be counted as a part of your Colby
GPA. These grades, however, will be reported on your applications to professional
school, and will be included in the overall and science gpas looked at by admissions committees.
The one notable trade-off in attending another U.S. or Canadian institution
is that you will be faced with new faculty and an academic environment
that may be different from what you have become accustomed to at Colby.
If you attend a foreign program (defined here as non-U.S. and non-Canadian)
for a semester or a year, then the situation will likely be more complicated.
You may have to forgo taking any of the core two-semester premedical courses
while you are abroad (see Academic
Concerns ). Additionally, regardless of which specific courses you
take, unless you attend a Colby program abroad for which your grades ultimately
will be recorded in a conventional way on your Colby transcript, you may
end up with a set of grades that are not easily interpreted by a medical
admissions committee. Moreover, if you are away for the entire junior
year (or even for the second semester), it may be difficult to develop
an Honors project or comparable independent research for your senior year.
It is important to note that in our experience the trade-offs are less
marked for the very best students than they are for those who are average
or below-average. For students who have less than exceptional academic
records, time spent in foreign programs may do little to enhance academic
credibility. It may be more appropriate to stay on campus, or to attend
a U.S. or Canadian program, taking conventional courses and earning the
kinds of grades that will impress an admissions committee.
The most significant trade-off may be in regard to your timetable for
applying to professional school. If you go abroad, you may have to
delay taking required courses until senior year, and apply to professional
schools after you graduate. Alternatively, in order to stay on a timetable
that will allow you to apply to professional school in the summer preceding
your senior year, you may choose to take some of the required courses
school. If you choose to study abroad and hope to go directly to professional school after Colby, studying away in the fall semester is highly recommended. You should be studying in the spring for the MCAT and no one wants to spend most of their time in another country studying for the MCAT.
In summary, it is possible for students preparing for medical, dental,
and veterinary careers to study abroad or at another domestic institution,
but it does require careful planning well in advance, taking into account
the factors mentioned above. As is the case for all off-campus study,
a program of study for pre-professional students at another domestic or
foreign institution should fit with your entire academic program at Colby.