Let’s be honest, it’s hard to stay motivated during a typical Michigan winter. When I should be studying for my upcoming tests, all I can think about doing is watching Netflix snuggled up under my covers. While it is difficult to fight this urge, it is possible to be proactive and push through this winter slump. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to help motivate me and keep me on track in all of my classes:
Focus on the now: If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a pre-med student. You probably have an unusually heavy course load and you are trying as hard as you can to be “well-rounded” and seem like you’re the jack-of-all-trades for future applications. It’s important to not allow yourself to get overwhelmed with the endless tasks you have to complete. Focus on the present and think only about tasks that are due in the immediate future. Not only will this help to preserve your sanity, but it will also improve your grades.
Be an ACTIVE listener: While it is easier to sit in class on your computer discreetly sending iMessages to your high school friends (one of my favorite hobbies), you aren’t learning anything. Give yourself the benefit of the 55-minute class that you are paying thousands of dollars to sit in. Put your phone away, ask questions, and actually think about the information that you are processing. By doing this, you can just review the information taught in class, instead of trying to figure it out on your own.
Provide ample time for studying: Don’t over-commit yourself. It’s important to remember that if you are really planning on going to medical school, your undergraduate studies are building the foundation for your future, and that needs to be a priority.
Tell your boyfriend you’ll text him later: Put your phone away when you study. Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter will forgive you. This is a really hard one for me because my phone is attached to my hip at all times, but putting my phone away and only focusing on one task has really improved my grades, and the productivity of my study time.
I hope that all of these tips will help you during the winter semester!
With the winter semester in full effect, I cannot believe that I am already almost a junior in college. Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday that I was going to my senior prom, applying to colleges, and feeling unwanted anxiety over the amount of change that I was about to experience.
While many don’t know this, I didn’t initially start my college education at Wayne State. I applied to eleven schools and in all honestly, Wayne State wasn’t even on my radar. All of my friends were planning wonderful adventures at out-of-state schools, and I wanted that experience as well. While I applied to many Michigan schools, I decided to attend the University of South Carolina as a Bio major. While it was a great school with many academic programs and opportunities, my family was a twelve-hour drive away, and after one semester, I decided to move back home.
This process wasn’t easy. I had no clue where to transfer and no desire to apply to schools again and undergo the nerve-wracking process I had just finished with. I was extremely stressed out and I didn’t even know what I wanted from my college experience. At this point, my parents told me about how great of a school Wayne State is, and how many of their friends who are physicians received their education from this amazing university. I immediately applied, was accepted, and was equally nervous and excited for this new beginning.
I was very discouraged about being a transfer student. Some of my credits didn’t transfer, I didn’t know any of my peers, and I had to basically start over. I was behind, and being a very “Type-A” person, being behind isn’t my cup of tea. I soon realized though that none of these things should have caused me stress.
I’m sure that there are many pre-medical students who are facing some kind of anxiety or nervousness about how they are going to achieve their goals. While going through my whole transfer process, I definitely experience setbacks and challenges. Don’t let these setbacks define you. So what if you need to retake a difficult course, or take the MCAT twice? Everyone has his or her own issues and situations that they must deal with, but if you are passionate and driven, you can do anything.
So at the beginning of this new semester, remember that you are smart enough and prepared enough to succeed. You CAN do this!
With winter weather – and more importantly the winter semester – upon us, it’s even more important to stay on top of school. Every new semester is a chance to start over with new classes, new teachers, and new perspectives. So enjoy your break and be prepared to return to school well rested and fresh faced, ready to tackle the semester ahead!
There’s something about winter weather that makes school seem that much more difficult. While it’s easier to convince yourself to attend class when you don’t have to deal with frigid air and slushy snow, it’s still just as important to be present in your classes during winter semester as it is during the fall. Although your favorite blanket and Netflix addiction may be beckoning you to stay indoors, you’ll appreciate braving the cold when it comes time for an exam and you’re not cramming because you’ve been paying attention in class throughout the semester.
While we can’t change the weather, we CAN change our perspective. Once you begin justifying skipping class because of the weather, it becomes easier to do and suddenly a one-time ordeal turns into a weekly ritual. Instead of thinking of a class as a dreadful obligation, think of it as a place you want to be. We all have future plans and goals we hope to achieve, so if we think about our classes as preliminary steps to achieving our goals, class begins to seem a lot less vile. If your future goals seem too distant to motivate you on a chilly January morning, at least remember that money is being put towards your education. If you’re going to pay for your education, you might as well actually attend the class and learn something!
With all this in mind, make a conscious effort to promise yourself to stay on top of your schoolwork this semester no matter how tempting it is to avoid the winter weather. Order those books, read those syllabi, and fill out that planner because a new semester is just around the corner!
Today, I was unexpectedly overcome by a wave of stress and anxiety that I had almost forgotten I could feel. That tightness in my chest was once the norm amidst the earlier years of my pre-med struggle. Thankfully, With the reception of my acceptance to a medical school that I am very excited to attend, that weight had finally subsided for the past couple months. However, with its rather unwelcome return, I came to two realizations: I had forgotten what it felt like to worry about securing an acceptance, and I’m not completely in the safe zone yet.
After receiving my first acceptance, it was surprisingly easy to suppress the memory of the painstaking work I put in to get to that point (or at least the feelings associated with it). I had somewhat lost that bond with my fellow pre-meds that had not yet reached this glorious part of the journey. With the resurfacing of those feelings, I’m glad that I can now confidently tell those who come after me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I was once in your shoes and if I can make it through, so can you. There were times I wanted to pull out my hair, times I thought I was going insane, and times I melodramatically thought the world was going to end. No pre-med is perfect; I had to take the MCAT twice but they still gave me a chance! Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes. Admission boards care about your commitment to the field, and if you can exemplify that by overcoming your shortcomings, it just gives you some interesting stuff to talk about in your interview.
Second realization: I am not in med school yet. Though finally receiving your acceptance may sound like the most important wonderful prospect in the world, there are certainly still loose ends to take care of before you receive your white coat. I still need to defend my Honors Thesis, finish my degree, squeeze in an anatomy course (my future school is one of the few that requires this, don’t freak out if you haven’t taken it), and apply for grant programs. Certainly I’m less stressed now, but the post-acceptance period is not the time to take a back seat. You have to finish strong and continue to prove why you deserve to matriculate. There are people who have lost their acceptances because they slacked a little too much once they received their letters. Don’t let that be you! Not only does this make your previous efforts seem insincere, it sets you up for bad habits right before med school.
Alright, I realize this entire post may seem very much like an unguided stream of consciousness so I will try to summarize my point. The realization that I still have a lot to accomplish before I matriculate reminded me that life is not sunshine and rainbows once you receive your acceptance. There is still work to be done. It also made me recall the stress I felt for years as a pre-med and gave me a greater appreciation for those fighting that battle. This is my somewhat sad attempt to give you realistic encouragement and assure you that the stress and sacrifice is well worth it. Just make sure you plan an impressive happy dance ahead of time. Keep fighting guys, you’ll get there!
Being that I have many family members with careers in the medical field, I wasn’t very eager to shadow different doctors throughout the hospital. My first shadowing experience was during my summer break before senior year of high school (hello, I was missing the best tanning time) but I was enrolled in a program through my school called “Investigations in Medicine” so I thought I might as well give this whole “becoming a doctor” thing a shot.
I showed up on my first day of shadowing in scrubs that were somehow too short yet way too large, and my old Nike’s. The first day, all I seemed to do was run after med students and observe surgeries. I was that girl who asked a LOT of questions. Granted, I didn’t fully understand everything they were explaining to me because I was just a junior in high school, but I actually kind of enjoyed it. I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career that I was passionate about, and as of now, nothing had sparked a serious interest in me. I mean, my entire life was a LONG time to spend doing something I hated, so I just had to make sure that my career was one that I loved.
I came home that night a little defeated and told my friends and family that I wasn’t so sure about what I had seen. Gearing up for day two, I did a little research and tried to somehow learn everything about the human body in one night. The next morning, I walked into the office of a high risk OB-GYN and she immediately said that it was our “lucky day” and that one of her patients had gone into labor. All of the other high school students with me tried to refrain from gagging at the thought of someone giving birth, but secretly, I was really excited to see this surgery. I felt like a cast member on Grey’s Anatomy preparing to do a dramatic emergency operation on a car accident victim who would end up being my future husband. Sigh, better luck next time.
As I looked at the woman and man whose lives were about to change forever, I was fascinated. I will forever remember this moment and how grateful they were to their doctor for their beautiful little bundle of joy. I saw two other births that day, and thought that this would be the most rewarding career I could do. When I came home that day, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was so excited to pursue something that I was passionate about and have continued to shadow high risk OB-GYN’s and be involved in the care of pregnant women.
While this may sound weird to some people, I think almost everyone who is majoring in pre-health will have this same AHA moment where they know what they are majoring in will satisfy them. Don’t be hard on yourself if you haven’t. Reach our to your doctors, talk to professors, talk to anyone you think can help you, and try to get some experience While it isn’t exactly easy to fit this in your already full schedule, it is so important to do and will give you valuable knowledge you can’t get anywhere else.
Have a great winter break!