Can I take pre-med classes during summer school and/or at a community college?
In the eyes of med school admissions committees, courses during summer school are no different than the ones you take at any other time of the year. That being said, there are two things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about summer school:
1) You Shouldn’t Take One Pre-Med Course at a Time
Admissions committees want to see that you’re able to take a substantial course load and get good grades notwithstanding. But when students take summer school, it’s often with the intent to take one or two classes to complement a part-time summer job, internship, or tanning schedule. Although I don’t think doing this once will doom your application, doing it more than once indicates to adcoms that whether you intended it or not, your pre-med course load was not nearly as demanding as it was for other students in your application cycle. If you want to play it safe but you absolutely need to take a pre-med course over the summer, sign-up for a full schedule of classes.
2) You Shouldn’t Take Your Pre-Med Courses at a Junior (Community) College
Many students head home for the summer and realize they have more time on their hands than they planned. Since junior and community colleges (JCs and CCs) are relatively quick to sign up for and extremely inexpensive compared to universities, these students may be inclined to try to knock out a couple of pre-med core courses while they’re at home.
While that may seem like a convenient route, you need to be aware that admissions committees see credits you earned at JCs and CCs and think, “easy.” Even if you signed up for a pre-med course at a JC or CC because it was geographically and financially feasible and time-efficient, there are plenty of conniving pre-meds who would take all of their pre-med courses at local colleges to pad their GPAs. That said, don’t take your pre-med classes at junior colleges if you can avoid it. If you attended a junior college before you started at a 4-year university, adcoms are likely to be more understanding, but they’ll be looking for other evidence on your application that you’re capable of excelling in rigorous science courses.