brainnurse

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Okay, I'm posting this in a public forum because I see that I need an intervention. I also find that writing/sharing is the easiest way for me to work through the reasons behind my anxieties. I need you guys to shame me for my behavior. The stupidity of my actions/thought process is so obvious even to myself, but I seem to have lost the ability to control it. You will get annoyed reading this, and that's precisely my intent. I am in dire need of a good, old-fashioned reality check.

I've been having issues accepting grades that are less than 100% this semester. I think it stems from the fact that I know these are going to be the easiest classes I will have to take in my journey to becoming a doctor. This is going to be the easiest semester I will have in the next ten years, in fact. Yeah, I work full time, but I'm only taking two express classes (Statistics and Humanities) right now. So why the eff can't I get a 100% on every little exam and quiz I'm taking!

I mean, I may not be devoting every waking moment on studying, but I'm certainly putting more time in it than I ever did years ago, so what's the problem? I check every answer twice, I take notes (sometimes), I pre-read chapters (sometimes) -- these are things I never did back in the day, yet I consistently made decent Bs. How am I not getting perfect scores all the time when I'm actually putting some effort in? (Oh god, just typing this makes me realize exactly how dumb and arrogant my reasoning sounds, ugh!)

I have this gnawing fear that if I don't get perfect scores on these easy-peasy classes, then I have no business even thinking of medical school. I'm driving my boyfriend (the only person who knows I'm pursuing this path) and myself with my.. I don't know.. is this insecurity? Perfectionism?

I have never been a grade grubber. I hated those kids in college, and I feel incredibly embarrassed that I've become one of them. I hate that I'm suddenly not content with getting 90s. I would've been extremely happy with - even proud of - those scores in nursing school. Now they look like blemishes on my grade report, and I hate them with a passion. :(

I know I have to find a way to be okay with not getting everything right/not being able to please every professor. It simply isn't possible. Now if only I can translate that knowledge to some inner peace, I think I'll be okay. Thank you in advance for your much-needed patience and bashing. :x
 

crazy87

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Have never heard the term grade grubber but it's a cute term. No but really, it seems like you need to give yourself a reality check and realize you only "need" an A in each of these classes, not perfection. Esp I'm this forum, people deal with Bs and less and still get into med school. Nothing about this process to med school will be easy, so don't psych yourself out so early on. You also need a huge boost of self confidence and I know it's not easy, but it can help you get through these classes. Maybe stats and humanities are boring you to tears and you need some real science courses to get you interested. Lots of hoops to jump through, though. Each course and each semester you get through successfully will validate your knowledge that deep down you can do this. But only you can determine if you can do this. Doesn't matter what anyone else says. Find the strength within you and press on.
 

Gurby

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Try to keep in mind what's important and what isn't. Once your sGPA and cGPA are above ~3.6, other factors are much more important. This means you could get basically straight A-'s and your GPA wouldn't be the main thing keeping you out of top tier schools. I also tend to be unhappy with anything less than 100%, but I try really hard not to be.

If you're consistently scoring 90+ on everything in your classes, it's likely that any extra time you spend studying to increase that further would be better spent doing something else - MCAT studying, volunteering, research, working a clinical job, doing any number of EC's, etc.
 

ridethecliche

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I'd concentrate more on learning, understanding, and mastering the material. Your grades will work themselves out. Getting hung up on a couple of points is ridiculous and will make you look worse to the very people that you want LOR's from. I hope you're not talking to the professors about grades. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Be sure to engage the profs as it's often harder as a non-trad to do this and get good science LORS.
 
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You're too focused on yourself. Get out of your own head and go help someone who is facing something serious. Hospice, homeless shelter, etc. You need a major shift in perspective.
 
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Thank you, guys. I expected an onslaught of bashing, but got really good insight instead. Thank you so much for giving me a clearer version of all the reasonable voices in my head. I think a big part of my anxiety stems from the fact that my current GPA requires some difficult work to be competitive. So I'm also grateful for all the advice on what to focus on aside from grades. Well, grateful for most of the advice, except for this:

You're too focused on yourself. Get out of your own head and go help someone who is facing something serious. Hospice, homeless shelter, etc. You need a major shift in perspective.
This was just funny. Mostly because the day before I wrote that post, I was busting my ass trying to save the life of a man who kept trying to die on me, while also trying to help his wife cope with the fact that he was talking before the rapid and was almost dead by the time she was allowed into the ICU. Sooo.. I don't now that trying to "help someone who is facing something serious" is really gonna help me about my grade anxiety.

I agree that I have to get out of my own head and that I could use some volunteering, though. I've been looking into women's shelters lately. I contacted one, but they're more interested in putting me in their free clinic, which isn't so bad, I guess. Maybe I could do that. Thank you for the suggestion.
 

jl lin

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What makes you think you should get a 100% on every quiz or test? I mean, can't you be cool with just getting A's? If a prof/teacher makes all tests that one could easily get 100% on each time, is he/she really doing his/her job?

OK. Have you ever made tests for students? There's a bit of a science and even art to it. Tests that don't challenge students aren't good tools, and that is exactly what tests are, tools.
Sure they can be used as a basis for quantitation, but the best thing about tests is that they can stretch you and teach you. Being up for the challenge is a great thing. But you have to put all things in balance.

There will be times you get 100% and other times you do your best, or wanted to spend some time out having a bit of a life or dealing with a family issue, and you may only get 92%. Let's think about his. That means only 8% of the test you didn't get, for whatever reasons--choices were close, or you missed a "not," or any number of factors. If you get 92% of something, that's pretty good.

Even this GPA/MCAT thing gets a little whack. A 3.3 GPA is a solid B. So you may well have been averaging 90-92% with grades on exams and other things in the course. That's great. Many people study hard, and the best they may get is 75%. Well, if you told me I had something, but there was a 75% survival rate, I'd say that was pretty good. Sure 93%+ is better. But I am not going to sneeze at 75%. Talk about perspective.

Remember that the biggest reason a pre-med student wants to have a 3.6 to 3.75 GPA is b/c they have to beat all the other thousands of people applying for medical school with such stats. So, it's as much about enrollment trends as anything else.

I mean I see the benefits of getting numerical grades as well as the benefits of simply getting P/F. Both have their pros and cons. It's wonderful to be able to kick back and simply learn for learning's sake. Problem is, most people aren't going to learn for learning's sake if it is something that doesn't particularly peak their interest--unless there is a carrot.

Someone put a latent hippy in me somewhere; b/c when I first went to school for nursing, I didn't kill myself for grades. Pretty much all the nursing exams were application anyway--like the boards. But here's the thing. You had to have enough knowledge-base to be able to apply the information. And really, b/c of my mom's influence as an ED RN, and the fact that I am nosey when it comes to reading, I was ahead of the game. So when I got to nursing school, I knew and gleaned enough to get high-passing grades, but I didn't get top A's or even B+s sometimes. Why? I was a bit of a rebel and I had other things that were important in my life--like a happy relationship with my husband and successfully having children, and a boatload of other things. So long as I knew what I needed to know, that was OK to me. Fortunately I kicked major butt on the NCLEX--back in the days when they gave you an actual score. Frankly, I was shocked b/c it was way higher than I thought I deserved, given my less than hyper-anxious approach.

Now fast forward a number of years later. Went back to school. Big, nice, cool university. The lowest grade I got was an A-, and I was a little miffed about that. But I knew that
1. I was going to a pretty, darn expensive school, so I needed to get into it and get all A's and really get something out of it.
2. I had successfully had my children and so forth, and I have had a successful career in critical care nursing--with may different and interesting experiences.
So, I put more into getting the grades; but I still know that I like to learn for learning's sake.

I think, the thing is, you just have to get really into your courses and try to enjoy them. I have to say, I enjoyed Statistics, whilst everyone else hated it.

Be conscientious, but enjoy your courses--if you don't think you can, find a way to psych yourself into it. But don't beat yourself up b/c you don't get a perfect score each time. Look at the tests as teaching tools --fun, challenging tools. I like to play games, and I am a bit more right-brained. Maybe that's why I liked things like Geometry, Trig, and Chemistry. IDK. Get into it.

At the same time, be realistic. If working FT as a RN (in a neuro ICU no less) is wearing you down, you have to seriously think about cutting down your hours. It sucks if you want/need the money. I just left a job b/c it was salary and it was taking me way over hours. So, since I don't have an eidetic memory, I had to let it go. When you work 70-80 hours all over the place, well, that alone can take the fun out of learning. Plus you get no down time.

Was that a good enough reality check? ;)
 
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jl lin

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PS: What I wouldn't give for an eidetic memory.
 
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brainnurse

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What makes you think you should get a 100% on every quiz or test? I mean, can't you be cool with just getting A's? If a prof/teacher makes all tests that one could easily get 100% on each time, is he/she really doing his/her job?

OK. Have you ever made tests for students? There's a bit of a science and even art to it. Tests that don't challenge students aren't good tools, and that is exactly what tests are, tools.
Sure they can be used as a basis for quantitation, but the best thing about tests is that they can stretch you and teach you. Being up for the challenge is a great thing. But you have to put all things in balance.

There will be times you get 100% and other times you do your best, or wanted to spend some time out having a bit of a life or dealing with a family issue, and you may only get 92%. Let's think about his. That means only 8% of the test you didn't get, for whatever reasons--choices were close, or you missed a "not," or any number of factors. If you get 92% of something, that's pretty good.

Even this GPA/MCAT thing gets a little whack. A 3.3 GPA is a solid B. So you may well have been averaging 90-92% with grades on exams and other things in the course. That's great. Many people study hard, and the best they may get is 75%. Well, if you told me I had something, but there was a 75% survival rate, I'd say that was pretty good. Sure 93%+ is better. But I am not going to sneeze at 75%. Talk about perspective.

Remember that the biggest reason a pre-med student wants to have a 3.6 to 3.75 GPA is b/c they have to beat all the other thousands of people applying for medical school with such stats. So, it's as much about enrollment trends as anything else.

I mean I see the benefits of getting numerical grades as well as the benefits of simply getting P/F. Both have their pros and cons. It's wonderful to be able to kick back and simply learn for learning's sake. Problem is, most people aren't going to learn for learning's sake if it is something that doesn't particularly peak their interest--unless there is a carrot.

Someone put a latent hippy in me somewhere; b/c when I first went to school for nursing, I didn't kill myself for grades. Pretty much all the nursing exams were application anyway--like the boards. But here's the thing. You had to have enough knowledge-base to be able to apply the information. And really, b/c of my mom's influence as an ED RN, and the fact that I am nosey when it comes to reading, I was ahead of the game. So when I got to nursing school, I knew and gleaned enough to get high-passing grades, but I didn't get top A's or even B+s sometimes. Why? I was a bit of a rebel and I had other things that were important in my life--like a happy relationship with my husband and successfully having children, and a boatload of other things. So long as I knew what I needed to know, that was OK to me. Fortunately I kicked major butt on the NCLEX--back in the days when they gave you an actual score. Frankly, I was shocked b/c it was way higher than I thought I deserved, given my less than hyper-anxious approach.

Now fast forward a number of years later. Went back to school. Big, nice, cool university. The lowest grade I got was an A-, and I was a little miffed about that. But I knew that
1. I was going to a pretty, darn expensive school, so I needed to get into it and get all A's and really get something out of it.
2. I had successfully had my children and so forth, and I have had a successful career in critical care nursing--with may different and interesting experiences.
So, I put more into getting the grades; but I still know that I like to learn for learning's sake.

I think, the thing is, you just have to get really into your courses and try to enjoy them. I have to say, I enjoyed Statistics, whilst everyone else hated it.

Be conscientious, but enjoy your courses--if you don't think you can, find a way to psych yourself into it. But don't beat yourself up b/c you don't get a perfect score each time. Look at the tests as teaching tools --fun, challenging tools. I like to play games, and I am a bit more right-brained. Maybe that's why I liked things like Geometry, Trig, and Chemistry. IDK. Get into it.

At the same time, be realistic. If working FT as a RN (in a neuro ICU no less) is wearing you down, you have to seriously think about cutting down your hours. It sucks if you want/need the money. I just left a job b/c it was salary and it was taking me way over hours. So, since I don't have an eidetic memory, I had to let it go. When you work 70-80 hours all over the place, well, that alone can take the fun out of learning. Plus you get no down time.

Was that a good enough reality check? ;)
Thanks, jl lin! I'm actually using the technique of getting into my classes. That part has actually been much simpler, because I am incredibly happy that I am back in school. It's exhausting, but it gives me a lot of joy to be in the academic world again. You're right, though. Working is the biggest hindrance to my schooling. Unfortunately, I have a contract keeping me from quitting. Plus, you know already know I love the hospital. I'll have to let go of it someday soon, but, for now, I'm stuck (sometimes choosing to be happily so): :D
 
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jl lin

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Still, know anyone with a eidetic memory we could steal? I'll split it with you. :p
 
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You will be grateful for this experiences in the long run.

So I started out my premed career in a community college. I'm not here to slam community colleges, but getting A's was not a challenge. I would get 100%'s on every test, and it's a standard I held myself to. Fast forward to my post bacc at a top 20 university...

My first quarter I got OWNED. Seriously. Holy god. I was not prepared. I was upset, I felt like an idiot. I got B's in Gen Chem and Physics. I asked myself, "If I could only pull B's in these classes, was I cut out to be a doctor?"

I kept working hard and I slowly saw my grades rise to A's in the coming quarters. This experience pushed me to become better at studying, managing stress and learning the material. It is better preparing me for things like the MCAT and med school itself. As my tutor says, "If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't pushing yourself hard enough. You only learn when you make errors and know enough to correct them. You're not learning anything when you're going over material you know over and over and over again and getting 100% on problem sets."

Be patient with yourself. Be willing to stumble. It will make you better in the long run.
 

crazy87

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You guys I had to google eidetic memory. Glad I am enlightened. Also when the poster wrote that you should think about others I was like, "OP is a nurse, that is all s/he does for a job..." As In you're doing that all the time.
 

Goro

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Also be aware that trying to learn everything means that you'll end up learning nothing.

Aiming for the stars isn't a sin, but perfectionism can be. If it continues to be a problem, seek counseling for it from your school's counseling center.

Okay, I'm posting this in a public forum because I see that I need an intervention. I also find that writing/sharing is the easiest way for me to work through the reasons behind my anxieties. I need you guys to shame me for my behavior. The stupidity of my actions/thought process is so obvious even to myself, but I seem to have lost the ability to control it. You will get annoyed reading this, and that's precisely my intent. I am in dire need of a good, old-fashioned reality check.

I've been having issues accepting grades that are less than 100% this semester. I think it stems from the fact that I know these are going to be the easiest classes I will have to take in my journey to becoming a doctor. This is going to be the easiest semester I will have in the next ten years, in fact. Yeah, I work full time, but I'm only taking two express classes (Statistics and Humanities) right now. So why the eff can't I get a 100% on every little exam and quiz I'm taking!

I mean, I may not be devoting every waking moment on studying, but I'm certainly putting more time in it than I ever did years ago, so what's the problem? I check every answer twice, I take notes (sometimes), I pre-read chapters (sometimes) -- these are things I never did back in the day, yet I consistently made decent Bs. How am I not getting perfect scores all the time when I'm actually putting some effort in? (Oh god, just typing this makes me realize exactly how dumb and arrogant my reasoning sounds, ugh!)

I have this gnawing fear that if I don't get perfect scores on these easy-peasy classes, then I have no business even thinking of medical school. I'm driving my boyfriend (the only person who knows I'm pursuing this path) and myself with my.. I don't know.. is this insecurity? Perfectionism?

I have never been a grade grubber. I hated those kids in college, and I feel incredibly embarrassed that I've become one of them. I hate that I'm suddenly not content with getting 90s. I would've been extremely happy with - even proud of - those scores in nursing school. Now they look like blemishes on my grade report, and I hate them with a passion. :(

I know I have to find a way to be okay with not getting everything right/not being able to please every professor. It simply isn't possible. Now if only I can translate that knowledge to some inner peace, I think I'll be okay. Thank you in advance for your much-needed patience and bashing. :x
 
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brainnurse

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You guys I had to google eidetic memory. Glad I am enlightened. Also when the poster wrote that you should think about others I was like, "OP is a nurse, that is all s/he does for a job..." As In you're doing that all the time.
:) <- my face when I read your post. Thank you. I was having a particularly hard nurse/premed day and I really appreciated the validation that someone out there knows what nurses do.
 
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brainnurse

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Also be aware that trying to learn everything means that you'll end up learning nothing.

Aiming for the stars isn't a sin, but perfectionism can be. If it continues to be a problem, seek counseling for it from your school's counseling center.
Thanks, Goro. That was gonna be my last line of defense should I prove unable to deal with this. So fae though, I think I'm getting better at it. I didn't even freak out over making a mistake on my last test. :D
 
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brainnurse

brainnurse

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You will be grateful for this experiences in the long run.

So I started out my premed career in a community college. I'm not here to slam community colleges, but getting A's was not a challenge. I would get 100%'s on every test, and it's a standard I held myself to. Fast forward to my post bacc at a top 20 university...

My first quarter I got OWNED. Seriously. Holy god. I was not prepared. I was upset, I felt like an idiot. I got B's in Gen Chem and Physics. I asked myself, "If I could only pull B's in these classes, was I cut out to be a doctor?"

I kept working hard and I slowly saw my grades rise to A's in the coming quarters. This experience pushed me to become better at studying, managing stress and learning the material. It is better preparing me for things like the MCAT and med school itself. As my tutor says, "If you aren't making mistakes, you aren't pushing yourself hard enough. You only learn when you make errors and know enough to correct them. You're not learning anything when you're going over material you know over and over and over again and getting 100% on problem sets."

Be patient with yourself. Be willing to stumble. It will make you better in the long run.
Thank you. I'm taking your tutor's advice to heart. There's just something so satisfying about seeing that 100%, you know? <.< But he's right, doing problems I already know how to do is a waste of time and energy.
 

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Eh, it's not an uncommon mindset, especially when shooting for med school. There's a quote I like that captures this:

"Almost perfect still leaves room for improvement."

Lol

But yeah, you have enough insight to see why this can be a problem. That's why no one is bashing you. Not sure how to fix it as I still struggle with this some nowadays, too. Although not as much now in grad school as I did in undergrad.

Just remember your ultimate goal and what that requires and doesn't require. If all else fails, go spend some time in pre-allo and see where all that obsessive neurotic perfectionism lands you... :p
 

jl lin

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Also be aware that trying to learn everything means that you'll end up learning nothing.

Aiming for the stars isn't a sin, but perfectionism can be. If it continues to be a problem, seek counseling for it from your school's counseling center.

I have to say, I think the above is so wise. "...trying to learn everything means that you'll end up learning nothing." Perfectionism can indeed become an illness; b/c it means you are trying to live in opposition with reality. Reality is that we humans are not perfect, the world around us is not perfect, and no amount of doing anything in this present world is going to change that fact. The very idea that imperfect humans develop tests should in itself tell us something. It doesn't mean we can't learn from them, we should. In fact, that is the point, and that is part of the point of testing--to learn. It also means that we should test what they teach us--just not in an up-in-your-face way in the classroom or in a way where the professor can't save face. LOL

A good book that was actually required reading in one of my courses is the book by Kathryn Schultz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.
Although the writer is an insightful and talented writer, she goes a bit far into abstraction for some readers at times. I heard this from my classmates and others. Nonetheless, if you pay attention, even if you don't always agree, you might be hit by her point in a sort of "A ha" manner. She skillfully shares through history, sciences, and anecdotes why error is a fundamental and necessary part of our thinking and learning processes. It is the kind of book that you have to give a chance though--primarily b/c it's a tad lengthy and because she goes all out into the abstract at times; so if you aren't keeping up, you may not stick with her points. I thought her many examples were great though.
 
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kraskadva

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Just wanted to add one small thing...
As I've been going through my own post-bacc, the single thing that has relieved the most stress for me has been learning to calculate my own grades. I need A's in the courses but I don't need perfect scores on every assignment to get that. Knowing where I stand and what each quiz or test does to my grade lets me know when I'm on the right track or when I need to bump up my effort for a particular class.

The syllabus typically has the assignment weighting listed, so I just pop those into a spreadsheet at the beginning of the semester and then put in my scores as I go along. I can also see the effect of extra credit or dropped quizzes, etc. and toggle numbers to see what I need to get on future assignments to keep the A.
It makes everything much easier.
 
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brainnurse

brainnurse

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Just wanted to add one small thing...
As I've been going through my own post-bacc, the single thing that has relieved the most stress for me has been learning to calculate my own grades. I need A's in the courses but I don't need perfect scores on every assignment to get that. Knowing where I stand and what each quiz or test does to my grade lets me know when I'm on the right track or when I need to bump up my effort for a particular class.

The syllabus typically has the assignment weighting listed, so I just pop those into a spreadsheet at the beginning of the semester and then put in my scores as I go along. I can also see the effect of extra credit or dropped quizzes, etc. and toggle numbers to see what I need to get on future assignments to keep the A.
It makes everything much easier.
THIS. I love spreadsheets. I've been in love with them since I discovered Excel. There is something comforting about seeing my plan/numbers laid out so beautifully (and formatted with different colors, if I'm up for it) in a format I can manipulate to calculate future possibilities. I will likely be doing this over the weekend. :D
 

AM508

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I can definitely understand your perfectionism. I was much the same way in my first year of my second bachelors degree, if I got less than 90% on anything, I was irked. Then Organic Chemistry happened and that cured me of the perfectionism bug :laugh:.