Imagine this — you’ve just about finished up high school, you’ve gone through all the testing struggles — SAT and AP — your grades are good, you got the last letter of rec from your teachers, and you sent in all your college applications. Weeks or months later, you got the coveted interview invitation, which went pretty well.
A short while later, you got that awesome, incredible, amazing, fat acceptance letter from the college of your choice.
Whew. You made it.
Now you’ve been in college for a short while, and you’ve started to get comfortable with the idea of calling yourself a “pre med” or “pre health” major. You haven’t decided for sure if you’re going to apply to medical school, but you’ve at least started down the road — you’re taking bio classes and you visited the pre-health / pre-professional advising office.
So let me be the one to say it — you’re a premed. Or a pre-dent. And I wrote this article especially for you.
Here are “Four Essential Tips for New Premeds.” Let’s go.
Tip #1: Grades Over Everything Else
Since medical school is so difficult to apply for, you really need to focus on grades early on. Even better, you’ll enjoy your social life more once you get your grades figured out and on a schedule.
In order to do well, you need to start your college years right. What does that include?
- Get into a routine of doing homework — Once you get into the groove of getting work done, it’ll come much easier to you and won’t seem like much of a hassle.
- Plan out your week — On Sunday, while you’re recovering from a fun weekend, take some time to make sure you’re not overworked this week. Grab your calendar, look through the coming week’s workload, and make sure there are no nasty “gotcha’s” — no papers due, no tests.
- Space out your work — Don’t fall into the habit of saving big papers until the last day. Start them early so you can edit them right and hand in good work.
- Actually Enjoy the Material — You’re studying sciences for a reason, right? Really indulge yourself in the material so it doesn’t feel like tiring busywork.
Grades are going to cause you the most stress and if you have them under control early on, you’ll be so grateful.
Tip #2: Clubs, Clubs, Clubs
Clubs are your ticket to making new friends, but they’re also a crucial part of being a pre-health student. They let you discover your passions and make life-long professional relationships.
Grades come first, but clubs are definitely a close second — so make sure you’re in the right ones. You’re going to need to prove to medical schools that you’re capable, so be involved in pre-med/pre-dental clubs and volunteering. Most importantly, these clubs allow you to get in contact with other pre-health students who could become your future colleagues.
And finally, one last thing on clubs… if you’re planning on doing research, don’t overwork yourself. Research is an excellent thing to have on your resume, but it should not come at the expense of your grades. Create a healthy balance and if you really want to do research in a particular medical field, go for it.
Tip #3: Do Some Networking
It is very important that you use your time in college to network and establish working friendships. I know, to the average student, networking seems a lot like brown-nosing and involves kissing up to the professor, but it’s not. Everyone does networking, you just need to be conscious of it and do it well. Another term for networking in college is “connecting with other human beings on a human level.” As you step into adulthood, you’ll find that other people can be very useful to have around, and to have on your side.
I made an entire guide on how to network which will likely answer any questions you may have [include link]. Students older than you, younger than, your professors, and connections through social media — I discuss it all in this article on INQUARTA. It’s in your best interest to give that a read because it contains a whole lot of juicy information to help you build a strong networking base of people you can rely on and work with for the future.
Tip #4: Map Out A Multi-Year Timeline
When you’re just going into college, it might be hard to even have the slightest clue of what your life will be like six, 12, or even 24 months from now. However, you are much more likely to get to your preferred destination if you 1) know what that destination is, and 2) have a map to guide you on your journey.
Before you start you life as a pre-health student, consider a few things for the future (not in any particular order):
- When will you be volunteering?
- Do you plan on interning over the summer?
- What are your required courses to apply to medical school? When are you taking them?
- When will you start studying for the MCAT?
You don’t need to know the exact date when you’re doing these things, but you for sure want to lay out a broad month-to-month overview of when all this stuff is going to happen. The last thing you want happening is to have the MCAT come around and realize you still have tons of volunteering hours to do and you’re missing some required coursework. Yikes.
So it helps to plan ahead. Like I said, not in extreme detail, but you should have a general idea of what you’re doing so you’re not caught off guard. Being prepared is key.
Some Final Thoughts
I hope this info has given you some idea of how to best deal with the four years ahead. All in all, you should be excited!
If you have any other tips I should add that would help pre-health students out, add it down in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!