Let’s face it. Being a pre-medical student can be exciting but also stressful and time-consuming at times. Coming into college as a pre-med we not only have to worry about getting acclimated to living on our own at school, but there’s an unspoken pressure to maintain the best grades possible. Perfection is what a lot of us strive for and the transition from high school to college can be a hard one. So today, I thought I would provide some pieces of advice that I wish I would have known going into my freshman year of college as a pre-med student.
#1 – Meet with your pre-med advisor early
From my own personal experience, I wish I would have looked into finding a pre-medical advisor earlier than I did. If you haven’t found one yet, it’s never too late! Whether your school has a pre-medical/pre-professional advisor or not, try to find someone that has knowledge and experience with the path from undergraduate to medical school. Having someone who has been through the process or has helped others through it can be very beneficial to understanding what steps you need to take in order to be a competitive applicant for medical school.
#2 – Become friends with other pre-med students
There’s nothing better than finding people who have the same passions and goals in life as you. These people may be in your classes, in your clubs, or even sorority/fraternity, but regardless, it’s great to connect with others and bond over the struggles of the pre-med life. For me, I met a lot of my pre-med friends through my sorority and my medical fraternity. The greatest part of these organizations is that both have people older and younger than me who can relate to and give advice on their pre-medical journey.
#3 – Study hard but make time for fun
There may be times where you feel like all you do is study. I don’t think I truly realized this until my freshman year roommate made the comment to me, “I feel like you’re always studying.” And sometimes, you really cannot help it. This past semester, I was constantly in the library or my favorite coffee shop because I had an exam almost every single week of the semester. You’ll have those weeks where you feel like all you have time for is studying, but remember to make time for fun things outside of school. I always like working out, going out to dinner with friends, or doing fun things around campus. Anything that helps clear your mind from studying can be extremely beneficial.
#4 – It’s okay to not be okay sometimes
The courses you’ll take as a pre-med are going to be hard. Sometimes you may get frustrated or even cry about a class or the amount of studying you have to do. I know I’ve had plenty of meltdowns over test grades and the amount of schoolwork I may have that upcoming week. So cry. Laugh at how frustrating that chemistry problem is. Go for a run or workout when you’re angry. But don’t let these small moments get you down. It’s perfectly natural and healthy for you to get upset and overwhelmed as a college student.
#5 – Don’t give up! You can do this!
There may be times where you think that the pre-med path is not for you or that you can’t do it. I promise you, you can do anything you set your mind to. If you are committed and determined to do well and become a future physician, you will. YOU CAN DO THIS. To provide you with an example… this past year I really questioned whether or not I was cut out for the pre-med path. I was taking the first semester of organic chemistry, which is often the “weed out” class for a lot of pre-meds. With most chemistry classes (at least at my university), majority of your grade consists of your exam scores and a small percentage of quizzes/homework. At the time, I had just taken my first exam and thought I had done pretty well. I was not confident that I had made an A, but I never expected that I would make a 68 on the first exam. But sure enough, that was my score. I remember calling my mom and sitting by the pond in front of the library on the phone with her crying for 2 hours. I questioned if I should drop the course because I was so worried that I wasn’t going to be able to recover from this grade. However, my mom convinced me to stay in the course and reminded me that the final exam could replace my lowest exam score. So I did. I went to my professor’s office hours and discussed my exam with him, figured out all of the dumb mistakes I had made, and studied so hard for the second exam. The second exam was rumored to be the hardest out of the three, with most people getting Cs and Ds. However, I made a 96, which really boosted my confidence and proved to me that I could do this. The third exam I made a 88 and at the end of the semester, I ended up making a 94 on the final exam, which replaced my 68. I ended up with an A in the first semester of organic chemistry. If you had told me that I would have ended up with an A after making a 68 on my first exam, I would have laughed. I never thought that I would have been able to do this, but I stuck with it and found success. So moral of my story is: Don’t give up. You can do this.