Part 2: Not a Total Failure
Ok, so where did I leave off? Oh yes, total failure. No chance of going to medical school. No options. Cue the rain clouds and the moody music.
I was obviously disappointed in where I had ended up starting senior year. But I thought in this post I would mention the good things I did during undergrad that helped me. Well, helped me eventually. I was, after all, set to graduate no problem. And I was involved on campus and wasn’t failing courses. These are just a few things that helped me grow while at school and also helped me get into medical school down the road.
The Things I Did RIGHT in College
I loved my major.
I said in my last post that I changed my major around a few times (mostly in my head) and I’m happy with where I ended. I settled on International Studies because it allowed me take courses in four different departments, worked well with my minor in Spanish, and I had most of the early level courses covered with AP credits. I don’t know that this advice works for everyone, but if at all possible you should enjoy the classes you’re taking for four years!
Courses outside of the sciences are a great place to learn how to have courteous arguments, write more than lab reports, and read more than you thought possible. If you love Biology and Chemistry and Physics then go for it! You will be even more prepared for the pre-clinical course work of medical school. I didn’t have the patience for more lab work than I HAD to have and this path worked for me.
I stayed involved with three organizations for almost the full four years.
I believe this ended up looking better on my resume than 15 different organizations scattered through those four years. Being dedicated to a few things allowed me to seek leadership positions. It also gave me the ability to speak eloquently on my time with the groups. They will ask you about your involvement during interviews and you need to be able to say a few words about how it’s relevant to medical school or how it changed you/your career path.
One of these organizations was health related. It probably should have been two, but I loved all three and it shows. All three helped me become the person I am now with talents I wouldn’t have imagined having in high school. My advice from all this is to find some things you’re passionate about early on and get involved freshman year!
I went to the college that made the most financial sense.
I’ve found this to be an interesting topic because I meet a lot of people who went to the best school they could get into. And that’s great and it clearly has worked for them. I knew I was going to go onto graduate school whether it was medical school or not. My parents would support my decisions, but they certainly weren’t going to pay out of pocket for my tuition. So when it came time to choose my undergraduate institution I chose a place I liked that also happened to give me the most money. I graduated with basically no debt and that made choosing my future path so much easier!
When I realized I wasn’t going to medical school I had the option to apply for graduate school and take out some student loans there without adding to a growing number. I could do what I felt was right for me and not right based on my financial situation. This is not an option for everyone and I understand that. I am certainly privileged in ways I can’t even explain. But I want to be honest about my path and this choice really helped me build myself back up towards applying to medical school.
I worked as a waitress during summers.
I was lucky enough to not need to work during the year at school, but my scholarship didn’t cover summers so I always needed something to do. Serving tables is hard work and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I learned to multitask, memorize incredibly large menus, and make conversation with anyone. It also knocked me down a few pegs. I was just another worker there; not a college student, not a sorority girl, not pre-med, just another server with line cooks yelling at her and customers asking for more Diet Coke. And I’m praying that all that stress will lead to me being a successful intern one day.
So there you have it! Just a few things that helped me along the way. Nothing is a guarantee. Every applicant looks a little different and some things help and hurt at certain schools. Obviously, these few things weren’t enough to get me admitted to medical school immediately. But I honestly believe I’m a better person for them. I won’t go into detail about the other things that helped; having an amazing group of friends that never left my side, studying abroad, and going away to school. Those were important to me, and plenty of other people, and don’t need much explanation why.
I hope this helps you a little on your journey. In the next part I’ll cover what I did after graduating from college and before heading off to medical school!
Until then, if you have any questions feel free to drop a comment below or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to talk to anyone that’s considering a career in medicine.