2+ Year Member
Aug 23, 2016
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hi, first time SDN user here. Seems like a great, helpful community. I had a couple questions about freshman year as an undergrad. School just started and I think now is the time to get involved in different clubs, activities, etc.

What is some advice regarding freshman year? Any tips or recommendations for studying, connecting with certain people/professors, joining certain extracurriculars? What should I know as a freshman to not screw up my first year as an undergrad? I don't want to drain my first year of all fun, but I also don't want to waste my first year if there's something that I should have been doing. I did that in high school and sort of regretted it when it came to college apps time.

What are your guys's thoughts on volunteering/researching as a freshman? Recommended? Unnecessary? I've heard people supporting both sides: just enjoy freshman year, don't worry about shadowing yet vs. start early and keep at it through junior and senior year. Who's right?

And for volunteering itself, does it matter where and what we do as volunteers? For example, is it recommended that we work at hospitals, or do I really whatever I want?

Thanks a lot for the help, everyone. Cheers.


Adventure Enthusiast
Jun 28, 2016
First of all, good luck with your freshman year! College is a big change for most people so I would suggest taking a little bit of time to allow yourself to adjust to the new environment. Academics is the most important thing you can focus on during your freshman year. Before getting involved in any extracurricular activities, I would suggest making sure you have a good handle on your classes (they can be a big change from high school). If you don't have the best study skills or need help in any of your classes, don't be afraid to seek help on campus whether it be meeting with professors, finding a peer tutor, or going to your school's academic help center. If you can, it is also a great idea to start forming relationships with some of your professors, especially if you will have them again for future classes. The better you get to know your professors and the more they get to know you, the easier it will be to find and receive great letters of recommendation in the future.

If you are comfortable with your academic situation, I would recommend finding a volunteer experience that you enjoy. You will likely need to get both clinical and nonclinical volunteering experience, so it really doesn't matter what you choose to get involved in this year as long as you enjoy it. Hospitals are a great place to start but you can find clinical experiences in many other places as well. There may also be some clubs on your campus that do a lot of community service. It is important to show long-term commitment so getting involved with activities now and sticking with them through undergrad is a great idea. Just don't take on too many commitments at once, especially when just starting out. Figure out what you personally can handle.

It is never too early to start shadowing so you could also look for these opportunities and arrange them for school breaks if that is easier. Shadowing can be great because it will help you decide if this is something that you want to spend your life doing.

Good luck!

Horse Apiece

2+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2015
Enjoy your freshman year. Get good grades. Find some good friends. Soon you'll be too busy putting together a good app for medical school to go out as much (not all together, but as often). Minimal volunteering is advisable (if you can find a position possible if you don't have a car, or opportunities are limited) anyone can put in 4 hours a week without ruining grades, and that is really all you need at that point.
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Current Representation of MS-3
5+ Year Member
Sep 14, 2014
New York
Medical Student
Just keep your GPA high, that is your first priority. Join groups you enjoy, start light volunteering and/or research if possible. I started research as a freshman, quit to raise my grades as a sophomore and started again as a junior. Volunteering is boring in my opinion. See if there are any other clinical programs available to you.


2+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2016
Tethys, Saturn
MD/PhD Student
Plan for a gap year. Even with a strong application profile, it's good to experience the world a little before starting med school - it'll definitely give you some perspective. Other than than, what the other posters mentioned.


*breathes in* boi
2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2016
Medical Student
Try not to get sucked into the whole college drinking lifestyle. Definitely enjoy your experience, but I've seen many people let their GPAs suffer because they discovered a love of booze.
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Reactions: eteshoe
Jan 19, 2016
1) Make ample time for studying. Yes, there are lots of clubs, organizations, and bodies that you can get involved in but grades are most important. Aim to get as many As as possible w/ 1 B at most. Freshman year is not that difficult if you give it the time and energy it deserves.

2) If you are able to start volunteering/research definitely do it! They are great opportunities for you to network as well as a great place to meet similar people. You'll make great friends by volunteering and doing research in your local area.

3) Find a healthy hobby! Make time in your week to do something you really enjoy. It could be working out, rock climbing, bike riding, running, slacking, etc. Maybe get involved with a club as well. I highly suggest you find a healthy alternatives in order to relieve yourself
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