Check out this quick reference to important information about your HUCM experience so that you can hit the ground running!


Weather in DC changes often! With this, you should prepare for the extremes of each season of the year.  Summers are known to be very humid in the DMV due to the adjacent Potomac river, and swampy nature of the land.  Fall and Spring have large swings in temperature and conditions from day to day, in addition to high pollen levels. It begins cooling down in October and by the end of December you should have snowfall through the end of March. Basically, you need to be ready for anything. Umbrellas, long winter jackets, and preparation for allergies, if needed. The area also is prone to other weather events such as hurricanes, major thunderstorms (look up Derecho!), and blizzards. While they do not occur annually, preparation is key!


Your Freshman Liaisons have created a living document with suggestions from the Class of 2022. 


Your fellow classmates might have suggestions or may be looking for roommates! Talk with them on Facebook!


Howard Parking Passes

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  • Howard offers parking passes for their respective lots surrounding HUCM--most are within a 5 minute walk to campus.

  • Parking passes are dispursed a via a lottery system and you will need two passes:

  1. Temporary Summer pass

    • You will need this pass at the beginning as our school starts while the main campus is on summer break

  2. Fall/Spring semester pass

    • Parking passes are purchased via a lottery system. A link to the lottery process will be sent to the student body in the middle of August. Prices are subject to change, but were around 600 dollars for September - May. Refer to the following link for new information:

Street Parking

  • There is street parking around the HUCM but it fills up very fast and it is expensive. Depending on the time of day--a usually about $ 2-4 per hour

  • ParkMobile App is useful for all street parking in DC, in addition to around Howard. It will making paying for metered parking quick and efficient.

Out of State License Plates/ Tags

  • If you have a home or apartment in Washington D.C. where you park on the street for, you may be cited for "Failure to secure DC Tags"

    • This ticket occurs when you have been sighted as residing in DC for more than 3 months and can also occur from meter parking at HUCM during overnight hours (Read: study time!)

  • If you receive this citation, you do not need to obtain DC tags! You have two options:

    1. Obtain a Reciprocity Permit for being a Student

    2. Obtain a Temporary Resident Permit

  • Read More about this with the link below!


DC Metro


There are various color coded train lines that run across the DMV. (That's DC-MD-VA area, for those new to the terms of the area!)  Most train stops are no more than a 15 minute walk in DC proper. HUCM has two nearby stop:  Shaw/Howard and U St/Cardozo. Both are on the yellow/green line.  Because of current track work, the train system closes at midnight, everyday.

Prices vary depending on the distance that you travel, somewhere between $2-$5 one-way. NOTE: For the metro trains (subways), you cannot use a SmartTrip or fare card more than once per trip. Meaning, if 2 people are traveling… 2 cards need to be purchased


There are dozens of bus lines that transport across the DMV. Both Hyattsville and Silver Spring are two most common outer DC areas that students live in. Major lines for those residents run up and down Georgia Ave, 16th street and many other major arteries. Prices: $1.75 flat rate and free transfers for 2 hours. The buses also use SmartTrip cards.

Check out the trip planner below from WMATA to learn about times and routes!

Transport Apps

  • Google Maps gives bus/train/uber options

  • Uber: Prices are generally lower than calling a cab from the street. Be mindful, prices rise during rush hour and heavy demand time frames.

  • LYFT: same as Uber. Sometimes cheaper.



Driving in DC can be hectic, as expected for any major city. Roadwork and street closures are very abundant. There are also numerous roundabouts across town that can have 4-10 streets funneling into it, so please pay attention! Most importantly, there are speed cameras everywhere!  Beware, some cameras are portable and can be moved/relocated. 

Typical Day


During your first year you will take the following basic science units: Molecules & Cells I - II  and Structure & Function I through III. A typical day varies with each unit. However, everyday class begins at 8 a.m. and finishes somewhere between noon-3 p.m., depending on the unit. Every Tuesday, you will also take Medicine and Society, which is usually scheduled between 1-5 p.m.

During your first few weeks, you will begin each day with Team Based Learning (TBL).  Your TBL group will be assigned to you during orientation. Prior to each TBL you will be given a problem set/case study that you need to work on in order to be prepared for the following day’s TBL. At the beginning of each TBL you will take an individual readiness assurance test (iRAT), which is just a small quiz covering topics from the problem set/case study. Afterwards, you will take a team readiness assurance test (tRAT), which is the same quiz as the iRAT but taken with your entire TBL group. An average of your iRAT and tRAT score will be used to calculate your final TBL grade for that day. Afterwards, you will review the answers with the proctor.

Around week 6 or 7, you will move away from TBL’s and begin Small Group Learning (SGL). This format is very similar to TBL. You will be assigned your SGL group of 10 students. You will be given a case study prior to each TBL and questions that you need to answer as a group before each SGL. During SGL you will go over the questions/answers with your proctor and usually take an individual quiz at the end of each session.

In addition to TBL/SGL, each day will consists of 2-4 lectures a day. During your first few weeks, you will also have weekly quizzes (usually on Fridays) covering lecture information from that week. After a few weeks, labs will be added into your schedule, including Histology Lab and Microbiology Lab. As you enter Structure and Function, you will also have Anatomy Lab and Physiology Lab.

Check out the Link below to your first unit schedule!

(Editor Note: As soon as it is released by your Faculty, We will link it here and send you an alert)

Exam Day


Exams will always be given on Mondays (or Tuesdays if there is a holiday), and are usually scheduled for every 2-3 weeks.  Lecture exams include information from lectures, TBL, SGL, and labs. As you move through each unit, exam days will consists of anywhere between 1-4 exams. For example, during a Structure and Function exam day you will have a lecture exam, lab exam, Brainstorm exam, and radiology exam all in one day (Don’t worry! It sounds scarier than it is!)


Learning Resources

Office of Medical Education (OME)

  • MedSTARS -Sophomore and junior students will hold tutoring sessions almost daily covering the lecture material from that day.

  • Individual Tutoring- For those who need extra assistance individual tutoring is available, but limited.

  • Learning Styles- A learning styles quiz will be given at the beginning of the year to determine how you learn.

  • Tegrity- All lectures are recorded using Tegrity. If you ever need to re-listen to a lecture you will be able to do so.

  • Mentors- Each freshman student will be assigned a mentor from the class of 2020. Utilize this resource for all your needs. You will have your mentor throughout your medical school career to help guide you in any way possible.

  • Books- Most required books can be checked out from the OME office if you do not own a copy. Also, you should be getting most of your books passed down to you by your mentors, whether it be a hard copy or e-book.

Where can I study?

  • HUCM- open 24/7 and has several study areas

  • The Loud Lounge- also includes couches perfect for napping!

  • The Quiet Lounge

  • Learning Resource Center- computers and printers can be found here!

  • TBL/SGL rooms

  • Classrooms (1008, B12, and B14)

  • The 1008 lobby

  • Louis Stokes Health Sciences Library- right across from the medical school.

    • Times vary depending on the time of year and it functions off the general campus schedule (not the Med School schedule).

    • You may check out a group study room with HUCM ID

    • Some rooms require a minimum of 2 people checking out (using school ID) and some bigger rooms require a minimum of 3.

    • It is a quiet place, but it is open to all of campus and undergrads are frequently there

    • It will be open 24/7 during the reading periods (finals)

  • Information Lab (I-lab)- Open 24/7 on schooldays and contains computers and printing where students are allowed to print 210 pages weekly


Computers and Software

It is the student’s responsibility to purchase his/her own laptop. After being fully admitted each student will receive an email address. This will also give access to the WIFI network, computer tracking software (similar to lojack). 


The Mac vs PC debate should not affect your HUCM experience. Although HUCM highly suggests use of Windows machines primarily, most of the programs and files we use can be used on a Mac. The only exception is with ImageScope, our Histology software that allows you to view large images with fine detail.  This will require the use of an emulator such as VMware or Virtual Box. Bootcamp is also useful but highly optional. 

Most students already have a workflow and products that work for them, before medical school. As long as these meet the minimum requirements set, you will be set to succeed!

Requirements include:

  • A Windows or Mac device with a Core i5 processor (or higher)

  • 4 GB of RAM or higher

  • Microsoft Office (can be obtained at the iLab)

  • 256 GB of HDD storage ( Higher is better! Many feel cramped at this minimum, others use cloud storage such as Google Drive, iCloud, or Dropbox)

Highly Recommended items include:

  • An external HDD of 500GB or higher to back up your Devices

  • A 8GB or higher flash drive for shuttling files

  • Wireless mouse


Other students use this opportunity to purchase new devices, and we would like to share some advice for various setups that students are loving right now such as:

  1. Mac Pro/Air with Ipad pro - This allows for note taking on the ipad with a pen and the Mac for everything else.

  2. Surface - Many students like this option as it handles both handwriting and Howard windows software.

  3. Convertible PC (like Lenovo YOGA) - This has the best of both tablet and laptop worlds in one device. If you are going to spend money on these high-end machines, make sure it has an active stylus/pen, so that handwriting will be easy.

  4. Laptop only - whether Windows or Mac, these students prefer typing over writing, or writing notes by hand. Many have smaller tablets as a second screen, or to use at home.

There are also a few things to stay away from: 

  • Do not plan to only use an Ipad / Ipad pro or android tablet exclusively.You need a Mac or PC to run certain software.

  • Pre-2015 Macbook Airs or Lower end PCs may be slow and erratic when running our software.

Night Life

DC nightlife has a wide range of things to offer. Most places close  around 2 a.m. and even during the weekend you can find local places that are open (which is essential for us Medical School students who appreciate a turn up during the week.) Some prime areas to go out are Adams Morgan, U Street, and DuPont Circle. U Street is on the Green/Yellow line and within walking distance from School. is a great website to use to check user reviews on nightlife, restaurants and more.

Bars: If you're looking for a good bar, then DC is your place. During the summer they have countless available rooftop bars. They can be found throughout U Street, which is convenient since it’s close to Howard.  

Clubs: DC clubs are definitely a must. On U Street, you will find countless dances clubs. Some cool places include: Red Room, Tropicalia, Kabin, Park, Eden, Josephine’s and Lux Lounge.  

LGBTQ: There is definitely a strong nightlife scene for the LGBTQ community as well. Some good turn up spots include Nellie’s Sports bar, Cobalt, and if you are looking for a dance club, there is a club called Town.  

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