It seems like I was a freshman 10,000 years ago but in reality it was just yesterday that I was freaking out about what I should be doing to be prepared for medical school! But don’t worry – I have some advice that 18 year old me would have loved to hear.
Freshman year of college – it’s a new place, new people, new teachers, literally everything is new. So it is way too easy to become overwhelmed. I went to school at Ohio State where there are seriously 1000 clubs… it was kind of a big undergrad. ANYWAY, here are some pieces of advice:
- Med schools love involved students – but this doesn’t mean “over do it” or “join every club known to man”. My advice is to pick 1-3 clubs, groups, or things that you are interested in and stick with them. These things do NOT have to be medically related at all. Do you love to cook? Join the cooking club. Do you love bacon? Join bacon lovers club. Obviously love food like I do? Join a food club. Admissions love to see that you are unique and have interests outside of medicine.
- Along the lines of #1, try avoiding the “cookie-cutter” pre-med mold. It may seem like there are a set list of activities that you need to do during undergrad to sort of check off that med school check list. This is not the case. I can’t stress it enough that admissions love a unique person with real interests outside of medical school. If you do research (which I recommend after freshmen year), know that it does not have to be medically, or even science, related. I did research in Women’s Studies and my interviewers were very interested!
- My last piece of advice (for now) is to take school seriously, but still have fun. It will be tricky finding a balance between school and all this new free time. It might seem like you need to bury yourself in books 24/7 and be super active and involved. Just know that there is plenty of time to be involved, and plenty of time to take for yourself and relax, visit family, and explore. If you learn time management early, your life will only be easier.
Oh ps, yes grades are important – but one or two (or three) B’s won’t kill you. Upward trends are a thing – if schools see you improving over the four years, that’s a great thing. Just try not to dig yourself too big of a hole so early on!