Commitment is key in difficult academic fields

By Da Yeon Eom

As a student pursuing Journalism, I couldn’t imagine the amount of work she must do before applying for medical schools, and what psychological stress she will be under until then. But I tried to put myself in her shoes as I listened.

Her primary concerns were maintaining her high GPA and doing well on the MCAT, to be considered a competitive candidate when judged by the medical schools she would be applying to during her junior year.

The rigor of medical schools is notorious. According to the Association of American Medical College’s data for 2015 through 2016, applicants’ mean GPA is 3.55 and matriculants’ mean GPA is 3.70. Every exam, class and activity that premedical students spend time on translates to how likely they will be picked amongst thousands of similar candidates.

“A ‘competitive applicant’ is not one who just meets the basic requirements in good standing, but rather is one who is an ‘outstanding applicant,’” says Brenda Wilson, a microbiology professor at the University. “There are many ways to be an outstanding candidate. This usually involves excellent academic performance, but also additional academic activities that enhance the depth and breadth of one’s educational background and distinguish one’s self from a group of very qualified applicants.”

Taking care of academic curriculum, being part of student organizations and participating in service work can be overwhelming for students of all majors, especially if one has to juggle friend groups, family affairs and a love life on the side. While dreaming about wearing a white doctor’s coat that has your name embroidered on the side pocket can be charming, the process may not seem worth giving up so much time out of the best years of your youth.

It is understandable that premedical students would want a way out from the race when considering the fast-approaching horror of taking the exam or filling out applications. It is scary for all students when they realize that graduation is not far off, and there is no time to waste because the opportunity cost could be too great.

Commitment is the key element to staying focused and not drifting from the main objective of excelling in academic performance. Also, it is important to reflect and to realize if “becoming a doctor” is how an individual can best serve society. There are endless possibilities as to where a college degree can be used, and one should be open-minded about which career path they can choose from.

“There are many directions that someone with a pre-health background can take, and for which we have a tremendous societal need such as nurses, physician assistants, medical technologists, therapists, medical clerks, etc.,” says Wilson.

It is important to realize that there are many ways to do good in the world, and students need to find out what specific path suits them the best.

The journey to medical school or the ultimate goal of any career, might seem harrowing. But if there’s enough passion involved in the purpose of helping people, the end result may be the acquisition of one of the noblest vocations.

On the other hand, if students decided that they entered premedical with reasons that are insufficient, it is never too late to switch to a profession that can fascinate them and be profound at the same time.

The night of conversing on the stairs of Krannert ended with getting blueberry pancakes, sundaes and curly fries at Merry Ann’s. She was determined to continue pursuing her goal of becoming a doctor, and I wholeheartedly believe that she has the tenacity to succeed.

For every student at the University, I hope that you are also able to find time to relieve stress by eating and talking with friends or by considering the reasons why you have previously decided to devote your future for a specific profession.

Da Yeon is a sophomore in ACES.?

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