Work Hard but Not “Too” Hard

In the last five months, I had taken the MCAT (the standardized examination for prospective medical students), received my Aggie Ring, ended and began semesters, lived in Spain, and applied to medical school.

After the summer I had, I did not think I was ready to get back to the grind. With only 10 weeks to cram as many experiences into my study aboard/internship in Barcelona, Spain, I chose to procrastinate my responsibilities back home.

A biomedical sciences (BIMS) student must balance academic, extracurricular, social, and health duties, while remaining focused on the future. Now imagine mastering the balance and then in comes senior year, throwing on top of everything else the responsibility of medical school applications.

The problem is, as much as we want to give everything 100 percent of our effort, our humanity limits are the capability to manage only a few arduous tasks. Though restricted, it is essential to remember that non-academic pursuits are equally as critical to our future as an education.

So this summer, when I traded a little more stress during these past few weeks for the 10-weeks of pure bliss in Europe, it honestly felt like I robbed the bank. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity demanded I completely immerse myself in the experience.

Now, a quarter of the way through my second to last semester at Texas A&M, I can finally breathe. But pre-health professional students sign up for a lot more than the average undergraduate, and success can cost every ounce of energy available. With the next round of tests around the corner, there is not much time to catch my breath; though my attention is required elsewhere, I will not forget about myself.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned while here at Texas A&M is recognizing when I am pushing myself to the brink of insanity. So, when the to-do list seems infinite and life becomes a little overwhelming, I encourage everyone try to take a break, do something fun, and remember, work hard but not too hard.

The Trials of a Pre-Med Student

Courtney N.The first wave of tests is finally upon us! As the second semester of my junior year flies past, I, like any pre-med looking to apply this cycle, am feeling the pressure of the process. I have found that the life of a pre-med is a delicate balancing act. It is difficult finding time to devote to extracurricular activities, volunteering, research, classwork, and readying applications for submission.  It feels like I am constantly adding things to my to-do list and never crossing anything off.

The first round of tests seems even more daunting when you have to start off the semester behind in all of your classes. I think my experiences are pretty indicative of the typical pre-med experience. I spent the entirety of winter break and the first week of classes studying for the MCAT, and I think about half of my anatomy class took the MCAT right along with me. Medical school hopefuls, and any student who wishes to attend graduate school, do not get time off, even during school breaks. As graduation approaches, breaks are spent gaining pertinent experiences.

I have learned a lot about myself through my experience preparing applications and taking the MCAT. Studying eight to 10 hours a day almost every day for the entire winter break definitely took its toll. However, it showed me how important it is to take some time for yourself. Sometimes stepping away from my studying was one of the hardest things I had to do. There were some days when I became so stressed from not studying long enough that I would force myself to study longer without actually absorbing any of the information; I was my own worst enemy and my stress kept feeding on itself. Stepping away from my studying allowed me to return refreshed and helped me look at old problems from new angles.

Similarly, I found that it was really important to do something fun and stress-free to break up the studying. Whether it was a movie night with friends, a night alone with Netflix, or a nice dinner with my parents, I felt like the day after I had taken a night off was much more productive than one after a long day of studying. Likewise, being able to lean on people who made up my support system (parents, friends, siblings, etc.) was so important during this extremely stressful time. Even if I couldn’t admit that I needed a break, the people who care about me pushed me to take care of myself.

I believe that the things that got me through studying for the MCAT can be applied to almost any kind of situation. It is important to take care of yourself and remember that even if you don’t do as well as you had hoped, you can always find the silver lining and take something away from the situation. With that being said, good luck to all on the first round of tests and good luck to anyone waiting on their MCAT scores!