Aug 26, 2017
6
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Pre-Medical
Hi, everyone. I recently started as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh. I plan to major in neuroscience with the intention of going to medical school to be a surgeon, and I would like to know if I'm on the right track. Any general advice is welcome, as well.

This semester I'm taking 16 credits, including a first aid/CPR certification course. I also might possibly graduate early due to AP credits.

So far, I plan on doing the following extracurriculars:
College Campus Ministry
Church Worship Team
Annual mission trips
Ultimate Frisbee Recreational Club
Ski/Snowboard Club
Some music-related club
Volunteering at UPMC
Shadowing at UPMC
Local hospital shadowing
Work study
Some other volunteer organization (possibly music therapy or soup kitchens)
Possibly a neuroscience club
Clerical job at a health equipment office in the summers
Study abroad
Research

Are these good extracurriculars? I'm not too worried about GPA, since I did very well in high school and am extremely self-motivated. Also, what are medical schools looking for in the leadership department? Just looking for a good idea of what to expect going forward.
 

efle

not an elf
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Apr 6, 2014
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That's...a lot. I would hold off on some of the big time commitments (like research-for-credits) until you've at least had a semester or two to master the college academics - it's very different from high school. First semester especially, you should just be aiming for A's and doing a few clubs that interest you.
 

Dox4lyfe

2+ Year Member
Feb 7, 2017
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482
That whole list of ECs became a huge blur as soon as I got halfway through.

As efle suggested, spend at least one semester if not two focusing on your grades with one or two clubs and some volunteering. Once you can prove that you can handle college rigor while doing that much, then you can add on another activity or two.
 
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Half those EC's those are recreational based activity that no one cares about. How does doing ultimate frisbee, skiing, snowboarding, or music club factor have any pertinence to your major or your pursuit of medicine? I understand that it is important to have hobbies because you should be well rounded as a human being. However, mentioning every single minutia is unnecessary in the bigger scheme of things.
 
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Verity

2+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2016
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Disagree with the presentation of the above, but agree with what I believe the overall message is. You shouldn't be doing many of the items on the list to boost your application, but rather because you genuinely want to meet people and pursue your hobbies in your down time... and figure out how to manage that balance.

If you like being involved with religious organizations, playing ultimate frisbee, skiing/snowboarding, and music is important to you, I see no issue with being involved in those organizations. There's also nothing extraordinarily crazy about being involved with a sport, a religious organization, another hobby, and either research/a job while having time to get some routine volunteering in. Actually, that sounds fairly common. The presentation of the list was overwhelming, but I doubt those are activities you'll be pursuing simultaneously.

Be advised that the more you commit yourself to, the less time you will have to commit to each. This likely means sacrificing meaningful connections and leadership opportunities. I'd say keep the fun organizations in and participate in events/games as you're available, and choose a couple substantive activities to really commit yourself to (i.e. research and recurring volunteering).
 
OP
T
Aug 26, 2017
6
0
Status
Pre-Medical
I forgot to clarify that these activities would almost certainly not be happening simultaneously. I'm only planning on starting out with a few. This is just a list of activities that I intend to pursue at some point in my college career. And yes, I actually do enjoy those things, not just for the sake of the application. I plan on dedicating most of my time to clinical volunteering and research, but I as was mentioned, I want to make sure I appear well-rounded and not just an average med school applicant.
 
8

863168

I forgot to clarify that these activities would almost certainly not be happening simultaneously. I'm only planning on starting out with a few. This is just a list of activities that I intend to pursue at some point in my college career. And yes, I actually do enjoy those things, not just for the sake of the application. I plan on dedicating most of my time to clinical volunteering and research, but I as was mentioned, I want to make sure I appear well-rounded and not just an average med school applicant.
You don't appear well rounded with a list like that, in fact I am under the impression that you are naive and neurotic. You are just being unnecessarily verbose. Kind of like how @Verity managed to take the post I wrote in three lines and turn it into three paragraphs. The church related service is honestly just that. There is no need to write about how you go once a year to New Mexico to attend Bible Camp where you learn the Book of John alongside starving Mexican farmers who are only there to receive church related subsidies to maintain their current state of living. Then leave after your one week vacation from suburbia. Or how during winter season you go skiing with your aunt Amy and uncle Larry on the triple black diamond slopes of Camelback. There is such a thing as informational diarrhea whether people are up front about it with you or not is another story. But if you include extraneous information like this in your course work, then you will receive feedback at a certain point that you need to be pertinent and to stick to the things that matter.

So far, I plan on doing the following extracurriculars:
College Campus Ministry
Church Worship Team
Annual mission trips

Ultimate Frisbee Recreational Club
Ski/Snowboard Club
Some music-related club

Volunteering at UPMC
Shadowing at UPMC
Local hospital shadowing

Work study
Some other volunteer organization (possibly music therapy or soup kitchens)
Possibly a neuroscience club
Clerical job at a health equipment office in the summers
Study abroad
Research
 

Vain Brother

5+ Year Member
May 4, 2013
798
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Status
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I forgot to clarify that these activities would almost certainly not be happening simultaneously. I'm only planning on starting out with a few. This is just a list of activities that I intend to pursue at some point in my college career. And yes, I actually do enjoy those things, not just for the sake of the application. I plan on dedicating most of my time to clinical volunteering and research, but I as was mentioned, I want to make sure I appear well-rounded and not just an average med school applicant.
the best way to not be an average med school applicant is to get above-average grades. go to some info meetings for a few clubs that interest you, and keep them on your radar, but if you're serious about med school, give yourself a month to make sure you're on top of your classes before you spread yourself too thin.
 

Boogy'sChick15

2+ Year Member
Nov 9, 2015
194
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Pre-Medical
As someone who made the mistake myself of thinking I will be fine with GPA because I did well in high school, I just want to warn you that college is a different ballgame. That's why most people say to take a semester or two with limited EC's so that you can adjust to college, learn what study habits you picked up in high school work and which ones don't.
Also, be aware that a lot of medical schools don't accept AP credit for some classes. I would take a look around at some schools to see if there are any classes you may need to take so that you don't get screwed when its time for you to apply.

Regarding your EC's listed, pick a few at a time that you would enjoy and try to do them for a decent amount of time before switching between all of them. Hobbies are great to have, but don't make them your most important EC. Do them when you have time or need to unwind, but make sure you are focusing on your volunteering, both clinical and nonclinical.
Also, it's been advised on SDN to be careful with volunteering in different countries because it may come off as voluntourism. You can use the search option to look for some of the threads that discuss why this may not be a good option.

Most importantly though, your GPA comes first. If your grades are starting to slip, its okay to step back from some of your activities until you get your grades back up. EC's are important, but they won't necessarily make up for a bad GPA.
 
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Verity

2+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2016
100
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Pre-Medical
You don't appear well rounded with a list like that, in fact I am under the impression that you are naive and neurotic. You are just being unnecessarily verbose. Kind of like how @Verity managed to take the post I wrote in three lines and turn it into three paragraphs. The church related service is honestly just that. There is no need to write about how you go once a year to New Mexico to attend Bible Camp where you learn the Book of John alongside starving Mexican farmers who are only there to receive church related subsidies to maintain their current state of living. Then leave after your one week vacation from suburbia. Or how during winter season you go skiing with your aunt Amy and uncle Larry on the triple black diamond slopes of Camelback. There is such a thing as informational diarrhea whether people are up front about it with you or not is another story. But if you include extraneous information like this in your course work, then you will receive feedback at a certain point that you need to be pertinent and to stick to the things that matter.

So far, I plan on doing the following extracurriculars:
College Campus Ministry
Church Worship Team
Annual mission trips

Ultimate Frisbee Recreational Club
Ski/Snowboard Club
Some music-related club

Volunteering at UPMC
Shadowing at UPMC
Local hospital shadowing

Work study
Some other volunteer organization (possibly music therapy or soup kitchens)
Possibly a neuroscience club
Clerical job at a health equipment office in the summers
Study abroad
Research
I prefer to think I took an unnecessarily snippy comment, and turned it into something constructive.
 
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Winged Scapula

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I prefer to think I took an unnecessarily snippy comment, and turned it into something constructive.
The comment was found to be insulting by several users and in violation of the TOS; given that it was the second warning in 2 weeks for the same, Id advise the user in question to reconsider their posting style.
 
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The comment was found to be insulting by several users and in violation of the TOS; given that it was the second warning in 2 weeks for the same, Id advise the user in question to reconsider their posting style.
I'm a bitter person. It's the way I was born since I escaped the womb. If several people have reported me then I'd welcome them to respond to the thread and post by example. I want to clarify that I am by far not a perfect person. Despite this, I write pro bono, I am not paid to be professional or to tailor my comments to whatever TOS standards you decide fits the bill based on the situation. Ironically this week I was sent a personal message by a user that thanked me for contributing to their thread. Good comes with the bad and vice versa, c'est la vie.

It's easy to not be criticized when you don't contribute. If you contribute, then you are bound to get your fair share of haters and people who feel you have violated their safe space. I can deal with that as a contracted employee who gets paid because I am a contracted worker who gets paid. For the privilege of giving advice on SDN I have given the type of straight forward and dirty advice no one else gave me as a premed. I write from good intentions regardless of how it comes out. I don't care if there are people that don't understand that. It's their loss.
 
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Winged Scapula

Cougariffic!
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I'm a bitter person. It's the way I was born since I escaped the womb. If several people have reported me then I'd welcome them to respond to the thread and post by example. I want to clarify that I am by far not a perfect person. Despite this, I write pro bono, I am not paid to be professional or to tailor my comments to whatever TOS standards you decide fits the bill based on the situation. Ironically this week I was sent a personal message by a user that thanked me for contributing to their thread. Good comes with the bad and vice versa, c'est la vie.

It's easy to not be criticized when you don't contribute. If you contribute, then you are bound to get your fair share of haters and people who feel you have violated their safe space. I can deal with that as a contracted employee who gets paid because I am a contracted worker who gets paid. For the privilege of giving advice on SDN I have given the type of straight forward and dirty advice no one else gave me as a premed. I write from good intentions regardless of how it comes out. I don't care if there are people that don't understand that. It's their loss.
Actually you can control "how it comes out".

One of the first tenets of the SDN TOS, which you signed when you registered, is to be kind. You can give good advice without name calling.

The TOS was not designed by me to "whatever [you ]decide fits the bill"; it was designed by the team over nearly 20 years of administering the website and we feel it best serves our community. Its not perfect, but it works well.

BTW, ALL staff and members are "pro bono" here; there is no reason to imply that because you aren't paid, you don't have follow the TOS or behave in a fashion that best serves the community as a whole. Since this is your second warning, I take it there won't need to be more.
 
Last edited:
OP
T
Aug 26, 2017
6
0
Status
Pre-Medical
This first semester, I'll probably just do the following:

Volunteer at UPMC (throughout the week)
Possibly shadow at UPMC
Habitat for Humanity (every Saturday)
American Medical Student Association (which will provide more volunteer, shadowing, and research opportunities)
Church Worship Team/Campus Ministry
Still unsure about the casual Ultimate Frisbee club.

Is this a good place to start?
 

Verity

2+ Year Member
Feb 20, 2016
100
111
Status
Pre-Medical
This first semester, I'll probably just do the following:

Volunteer at UPMC (throughout the week)
Possibly shadow at UPMC
Habitat for Humanity (every Saturday)
American Medical Student Association (which will provide more volunteer, shadowing, and research opportunities)
Church Worship Team/Campus Ministry
Still unsure about the casual Ultimate Frisbee club.

Is this a good place to start?
Seems fine to me! I'll just stress that you should take your commitments to these organizations easy until at least midterms when you'll be able to more accurately gauge how well you can balance course work with other activities. So, start low with the amounts of hours you say you are able to put in. It's easy to increase hours, but not always as easy to decrease them. People can come to rely on your assistance, and you don't want to set either party up for disappointment if you are not able to deliver.

Some suggestions on that point: Perhaps to start, see if you can set up shadowing/volunteering at UPMC as an alternating week deal (as in one week shadow, the next volunteer, etc.). Take it easy with AMA, religious orgs, and ultimate frisbee at first. Attend the meetings, suss out the group to make sure expectations match reality (don't just join it because you like the idea of it), and get an honest estimate of how much time is expected from you in order to achieve what you want out of the group. Once you've figured that out, by midterm, you should be in a good situation to commit to your right balance of activities.
 
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