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Advice to the Class of 2016

Last week, I got to meet one of the new members of the Class of 2016.  She was really excited to start in the Fall, and, just like I did, wanted to know if there was anything she could do to prepare for class.  I jokingly told her to just sleep and make sure her house was super clean since she probably would be slightly pressed for time next Fall.  I realized later that day the advice I gave her was the exact same that was given me…… and it really wasn't that helpful.  My house is usually cleaner during exam weeks since cleaning is an excellent reason to postpone studying.  I've never pulled an "all nighter" either.  If I get less than seven hours of sleep I am worthless.  I tend to sleep at least eight hours a night, even during exam weeks.  After a little bit of pondering, I figured out what my true advice to the Class of 2016 would be.

Two thoughts come to mind.  First, figure out what makes you happy.  It can be anything from baking, going to the movies, or just taking time to catch up with friends every week.  For me, it is a daily workout followed by a walk with my dog and best friend.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I worked out during the first year, and I often skipped walks to study.  Now, I plan my day around this event and am a much happier person.  No matter how crazy school gets, don't give up something that makes you happy.  The secret to vet school is balance.  While it is important to invest a lot of time in your studies, it is more important to invest time in yourself.  I'm far from perfect and still struggle with balance.  It will take some experimentation to find your own balance, but you can start now by figuring out what you really enjoy and deciding now not to neglect it during school. 

Second, never compare yourself to your classmates.  You just spent four years comparing your GPA, extracurricular activities, and shadowing hours to the averages posted on the vet school website.  You probably compared yourself with your friends, too.  Academia sets you up for comparison.  Professors publish averages, and we all hope we fall on the high side of average.  Honestly, who cares?  Grades are important, but if you are doing your absolute best, does it really matter if you did as well as your friend?  Compete against yourself.  We all come from different backgrounds, have different talents and abilities, and are capable of different things.  Instead of comparing, why not appreciate everyone for their unique abilities and skills?  I spent a lot of time comparing myself to other people, but when I finally let that mentality go, I found myself enjoying school more.  Again, I am not perfect and still catch myself comparing, but at least now I know to stop.

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!  Get excited.  Vet school is a lot of work, but I couldn't think of anything else I'd rather be doing!