Note: The ICP Health and Wellness Track is now its own major, Health and Wellbeing Sciences.

The Inter-College Program (ICP) allows students to design their own degrees, and within the degree’s Health & Wellness track, students can focus on the health care niches that interest them while also getting a well-rounded education in other areas affecting overall health.

We sat down with ICP Health & Wellness alumnus Andy Aldrich (‘15) to ask him about his experience in the program. Aldrich, who is now in his second year at the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry with the goal of one day becoming a pediatric dentist, offered five reasons why a pre-med, pre-PT, or pre-nursing student should consider majoring in ICP, Health & Wellness.

1. The close relationship ICP students build with their advisor is extremely valuable.

My advisor Amy was great. She was really interested in what my long-term goals were, not just my goals within the major. Together, we looked at classes and figured out what would help me get into dental school and what would be beneficial for me once I was in a dental school program. She really got to know me, too--where I was from, my background, and my family. It was nice because we built a close relationship, and I felt comfortable reaching out to her about anything, class-related, job-related, or dental school-related.

2. Writing a proposal, which is required in ICP, clarifies goals and expectations for your degree.

Writing your proposal for ICP, you’re essentially making a roadmap of the classes you’re interested in taking, considering your long-term career goals. Of course, I was interested in dentistry, so I looked at how ICP could get me there. It forced me to take initiative and purposefully pick classes that would benefit me, so I really wasn’t taking any classes that I didn’t want to take, which was nice. In the end, I’d say the proposal was great because it made me justify why I was taking the classes I chose. In the process of writing, I also realized goals I didn’t even know I had.

3. An ICP Health & Wellness degree is really well-rounded, which is great when you’re going into the health care industry.

Something that attracted me to Health & Wellness was how well-rounded it was. I thought it was a good introduction to a bunch of different areas that I could apply to dentistry and my future life. Of course my coursework covered the sciences, like chemistry and biology, which I needed for dental school, but it also covered finance, communications, and business. It was fun to take some of those classes which were outside of my comfort zone and they ultimately made me a much more rounded applicant when it came to applying for dental school.

4. The ICP degree is unique, and helps you stand out from the rest of the competition.

I ended up applying to 21 dental schools, and I did a lot of interviews during that process. I often had interviewers ask me what ICP was. I explained to them that it was a self-designed major, and I only got positive reviews from that. People seemed impressed that I took the initiative to customize my own major rather than just following the status quo and having a typical major. I think it showed I wasn’t just following the norm. I intentionally chose this major and designed it for myself.

5. The ICP degree is a great foundation for students planning to get advanced health care degrees.

There’s a lot more that goes into applying for grad school than just your grades. Your experiences and your volunteer work get factored in, too. ICP helped contribute to my resume in that I was a good, well-rounded applicant who was genuinely interested in going on to dental school and I had shown that through ICP and the classes in my design-your-own Health & Wellness and public health focus area. Health & Wellness encompasses so much.