COVID-19 and Our Advising Services: FAQs

During this period of uncertainty and rapid change, we want all Cal Poly pre-health students to know that our office is still here to support you. The vast majority of our services will be offered virtually throughout spring quarter, and we will do our best to provide you with the information, resources, and guidance you need to succeed in the new online course format.

Some common questions and their corresponding answers are listed below. Please note that the answers to these questions may change over the course of the quarter, as new information and situations arise.

1. Are Peer-Advisors still available to meet with students virtually during spring quarter?
Yes, we will still be holding regular drop-in hours virtually through Zoom for spring quarter. You can find both the Zoom link and our hours for spring quarter on the pre-health website. We will be available for drop-in advising starting on Monday, March 30th. 

2. How will professional schools view online classes/labs for prerequisites?
The vast majority of professional schools will be accommodating of both online lectures and online labs for prerequisite coursework. This pandemic is affecting virtually every undergraduate student in the country, and admissions committees understand that universities and students are doing the best they can to respond to the situation. If anything, this pandemic highlights the need for more healthcare workers in our country, and the need to reduce potential barriers to admission. However, we recommend contacting schools/programs of interest directly if you have any specific questions or concerns about prerequisite coursework.

For further information on how the Coronavirus will affect the medical school application process specifically, check out this podcast from

3. Can I take prerequisite coursework Credit/No Credit? What do I do if I'm not doing well in my prerequisite courses?

While essentially any Cal Poly course can be taken for a CR/NC grade this quarter, we strongly recommend that students take any prerequisite coursework for a letter grade if possible. Many professional schools have announced that they would be accommodating of CR/NC grading for prerequisite coursework, but others have decided not to accept CR/NC grading for prerequisites if there is an option to be graded, and yet some schools are still undecided. In order to give yourself the greatest flexibility and opportunity when it comes time to apply, do your best to complete all prerequisite coursework for a letter grade. Note: Be mindful when selecting non-prerequisite coursework as CR/NC. Though specific classes may not be required for admission, they can have a positive/negative impact on your overall/science GPA. Also, be sure to check with your individual college/major department first if you plan to take any major classes for CR/NC.

If you're struggling in a prerequisite course as you approach the end of this quarter, at that point you may want to consider changing to a CR/NC grading system. If you have doubts about what option to choose or would like some help in navigating this decision, do not hesitate to stop by our pre-health peer advising virtual drop-in hours or to schedule an appointment with an academic advisor. 

The final day to declare CR/NC grading for eligible coursework is Friday, June 5thwhich means do your best to take prerequisites graded for now and consult with an advisor towards the end of the term to determine if changing to CR/NC is in your best interest.

One final note of importance regarding CR/NC spring 2020: All students will be prevented from changing their grading basis to Credit/No Credit from April 15, 11:59 p.m. to April 20, 8:00 a.m. while the Expected Academic Progress process runs. In order to maintain EAP accuracy and ensure that you are receiving the earliest possible fall registration appointment, we highly recommend waiting to change your grading basis to Credit/No Credit until after April 20. Changing your grading basis before April 20 may negatively impact your EAP and fall registration appointment. 

4. My MCAT/DAT/OAT/GRE/PCAT/TEAS was canceled, and I am planning to apply this year, what do I do?
Similar to the response regarding online classes, professional schools are working to find an accommodating and fair way to handle admission test cancellations and delays. They recognize that this is out of the applicant's control and that safety should be the #1 priority. Each testing organization has taken steps to minimize the impact of cancellation. For example, the GRE is now offered online and the MCAT is providing flexible, free rescheduling for exams originally in May or April. Updates and FAQs for each test are available at the following links:
We also recommend you reach out to programs of interest to learn how they are accommodating applicants.

5. Will personal statement/application workshops still be offered?
Yes, one personal statement workshop and one application workshop will be offered through Zoom during the week of April 20th - 24th. These workshops will be recorded and posted on the pre-health website if you are unable to attend. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, visit the "Workshops" page of the pre-health website.

6. Can my club/organization still request presentations from the pre-health advisors?
Yes, the pre-health advisors will still be available to conduct presentations upon request via Zoom webinar. If you have any specific requests or concerns regarding a presentation, please email

7. What if I'm struggling to adapt to the new online course format?
We are here to support you in any and every way possible. We can also assure you that you are not the only one experiencing difficulty with this transition to online coursework. Do not hesitate to make an appointment with one of our professional pre-health advisors, or meet with one of our pre-health peer advisors during drop-in hours, and we will do our best to assist you or refer you to someone who can. Mustang Success Center also shared tips on their website about virtual learning. Check them out to make sure you are setting yourself up well for online classes.

It is still to be determined whether or not academic coaching will be available for spring quarter, but we will continue to update this post as we receive further information.

8. How can I continue to get community service/non-health related experience while sheltering in place?
It can be difficult to get extracurricular experience while adhering to the current government and public health guidelines, but there are several opportunities for healthy students that are staying in San Luis Obispo for the quarter:

  • Volunteer with HelpSLO to assist at-risk populations (immunocompromised, elderly, low-income) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tasks include picking up groceries, prescriptions, and/or basic necessities. If you would like to get involved, or request assistance for yourself or others, visit the HelpSLO Facebook page or email 
  • Become a scribe for local hospitals and health clinics to assist providers during this incredibly busy, challenging time. Click here for another local scribe opportunity.

9. How can I make the most of my time while sheltering in place and continue to develop myself as an applicant?
While many of the usual pre-health experiences and opportunities are not available, there are plenty of things you can do as an individual to improve both yourself and your application:

  • Reflect on what this pandemic is revealing about the state of healthcare and the healthcare system in our country. Could you see yourself working in a healthcare setting during a difficult time like this? Are you comfortable working around those that are very sick and potentially contagious? 
  • Reflect on and modify your personal and professional goals. What do you want to accomplish this year? In 5 years? In 10?
  • Work on your personal statement (brainstorming, writing, editing, etc.). Attend a personal statement workshop, or schedule an appointment with one of our professional pre-health advisors for assistance with any stage of the writing process. 
  • Research schools and programs that may be a good fit for your professional goals, personal interests, and financial considerations.
  • Listen to podcasts, watch videos, and read books and articles related to your health career of interest. 
  • Learn to take care of yourself physically, spiritually, and emotionally during challenging times: Exercise, practice mindfulness, eat a healthy diet rich with fruits and vegetables, connect with those around you, and do your best to maintain a positive outlook. Also, do not hesitate to reach out for help if needed. 
  • ** here is a helpful list of ideas compiled by the NAAHP
10. Will the application timeline remain the same?
The application timelines for each profession will most likely remain the same unless further notice is released by their corresponding application service organization. However, your particular progress in meeting the requirements to apply to a health professional school may affect your personal application timeline. For example, if you were planning to apply to medical school this cycle but have yet to take the MCAT, you may be delayed until the next cycle if you are unable to take the exam and receive your score before the deadline. This means that each student's situation is likely to be highly unique to them, so we recommend meeting with one of our professional pre-health advisors to receive more personalized advice about how and when to apply.

Application services and schools are also releasing updates about their specific timeline. Refer to these links often as the information is changing often:
PharmCAS (PharmD)
OptomCAS (OD)
11. I need clinical/shadowing hours to apply. How should I accomplish this? 
During this time, it is extremely important to be conscious of your health and the health of others. During the peak of this pandemic, it is safest for you to avoid exposing more people and to focus your time elsewhere. As things calm down and the social distancing restrictions are lifted, consider reaching out to healthcare professionals cautiously to see if they are capable and ready to have additional people in their practice. 

If you have more questions or just need someone to talk to, please reach out at We are here for you during this uncertain and trying time!