SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!


Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by ham29, Sep 20, 2014.

  1. ham29


    Jun 19, 2014
    Just wondering if anyone else feels isolated and lonely taking pre-med classes as a non-traditional student? I am in my mid-20's and am taking the basic science classes with college freshman. I'm finding it hard to relate to them or form much of a social life, and I don't have much time to meet people outside of my classes.

    I'm wondering if I will continue to feel this way if I make it to med school and am in my late 20's while most of the students are straight out of college. I know there are usually a few older students in every class, but would imagine that most are married, in serious relationships or have kids while I would be single and alone.
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Elizabethx89

    Elizabethx89 Banned Banned

    Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
  4. Drogo

    Drogo hakuna matata 2+ Year Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Well I'm joining this party when going back in the winter. My ex and I split up over the summer, so yeah things might get a little 'awkward' when running into each other. I'm closing in on 29, so um yeah I'll be in lecture halls full of freshmen and sophomores this winter. Maybe I'll startup a non-trad support group. :)
    Mr Roboto likes this.
  5. DocWinter

    DocWinter 2+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2014
    Sweet Home Alabama
    Yup, 2 years of post-bac classes at the CC and state Uni. Ages 26-27. Surrounded by 19,20 year olds. I'll spare you my feelings and just say I feel your pain. I was like a ghost in the University, had maybe 2 friends during my 2 years there in the postbac. Just wasn't relevant to the school. The CC was actually better for me as a non trad - the professor actually knew my name and seemed to care about my goals.

    Now, I'm in med school. Rocked the interview, had life experience to talk about, could actually communicate with the interviewers (and didn't even need to take a communications class to do it - turns out being in the workplace for a decade actually was helpful)
    I have many friends in med school who are right in my age range, 25-33ish, and I'm happy as I've ever been. In a study group with several other late 20's folks, half of us married, some purely single, some in a relationship, we hang out every once in a while. The maturity level is better than undergrad by a long shot. Most of the class is still 23-25, but that's ok. At this level, everyone is now either very intelligent or very hard working, and that's a lot more fun than your typical undergrad.
    Push through, believe in what you can't see, and you'll be fine.
  6. Gauss44

    Gauss44 5+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    I luckily look 10 years younger than I am. In that sense, I will probably fit right in. The trouble will come when someone notices my age. Then everything will just seem weird.
  7. Elizabethx89

    Elizabethx89 Banned Banned

    Jul 23, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
  8. IslandStyle808

    IslandStyle808 Akuma residency or bust! 5+ Year Member

    Aug 5, 2012
    I did not quite have this problem when I took more undergraduate courses. It was because I was taking mostly upper division courses, where having a handful of graduate students was the norm. The youngin's would just think of me as a grad student and just left it as that.

    If I were in medical school, I don't think I would feel the difference as much, since people will be 22+ vs. 18+. Then again I saw a lot more people in their mid 20's in my state med school (I have a friend in his late 30's at my state school). I hope to get in there one day.
  9. puppylatte


    Sep 1, 2014
    Just show up for lecture, listen, leave. Rekindle old friendships, join a dating site, make new friends during ECs. It's not that bad.
  10. Gauss44

    Gauss44 5+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    Yeah, IMO, the main thing a bachelor's degree does is make you ineligible for many types of undergraduate college funding. Had I known this prior to graduating, I might have opted to NOT complete my degree, but to take all the pre-med classes - so that I could continue to receive ample funding between undergrad and medical school. Of course, that plan would only work if medical schools didn't require an undergraduate degree, and I'm not sure about that.

    I have AIS, so people tend to either pin me as being a very young guy or much older woman, which can be disorienting (since there are different social norms for those groups). But I'm going to make sure it's the former, rather than the later, before interviews start. I'm also single, no kids, etc. Plus, I still play video games, go to concerts, and make a point to do something I truly enjoy every now and then - and all of that can make me seem even younger to some people.
  11. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004

    OP, try to stay focused on why you're there. You're doing a post bac to get ready for med school, not to relive your college social life. So focus on your work while you're in class, and socialize with your non-post bac friends outside of school.
  12. keitaiKT

    keitaiKT Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 3, 2005
    I dunno ... I don't recommend totally unplugging yourself from your classmates. Unless they truly are all really immature and unfocused. I was 26 in a class with a bunch of 18 year-olds doing my pre-reqs, and was lucky enough that there were some other nontrads doing the same thing as me. We made a great study group and we really helped each other through in the end. And actually, we included a college freshman pre-med major in our study group. He was very serious and intelligent, and he was a great member of the group too.

    In medical school I was friends with a group of older nontrads like myself but also hung out with a group of girls right out of college. Honestly, I ended up having more in common with the younger group, and spent more time with them. The older group were a little bit more all over the place, and although I hate to say it, some of them had chips on their shoulders about their ages, and if I hadn't branched out I would have missed out on a great support group. Some of those girls are still my friends now.
    AspiringERMD and wholeheartedly like this.
  13. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2004
    Totally agree. I think this might be one of the unadvertised benefits of a more formal post-bac -- you will be in a group of similarly situated people rather than the one old person in the room full of college freshmen. However I think people on here focus too much on their age and how they will or won't fit in. These kids are going to be your (OP) future colleagues and in some cases your senior residents or chief residents. It will benefit you to stop looking at them as youngsters, maybe even hang out with them or go to their happy hours. Older people than you (OP) have made it down this path, and didn't need to have a BFF in class to do it, but I think most of us who were successful also managed friendships along the way with people that didn't depend on them being the exact same vintage.

    I also cringe when people talk about how isolating premed is, because honestly you really don't know isolating until you get to residency. You could be doing months of night float where you may work 13 hour shifts 6 nights a week, all night, all alone, trying to sleep days, barely having time to eat or do bodily functions while at work let alone being on phone or Facebook, and really doing nothing else in your life during that time, such that bills pile up and laundry baskets fill to the brink. You'll miss tons of family events, holidays, friends weddings. Even if you had dozens of friends you wouldn't see them during these blocks of time. THAT'S real isolation, not jyst the "I don't have people my age in class".
  14. Prettywoman0172

    Prettywoman0172 2+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2011
    I am very nontraditional but relate very well to even the youngest students. Some have even become great friends. So I am definitely not in the same boat as I am having a great time :)
  15. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    Agree. Although at least there, you have your fellow residents and the whole misery loves company camaraderie. But regardless, it's still not necessary to depend on them for your social life.

    It's obviously going to depend on the individuals involved, and I agree that one shouldn't automatically write off any potential friendships with classmates just because they're young. But if there isn't someone there who's your soul mate, that shouldn't mean you're completely socially isolated. I didn't do a post bac, but I was not close friends with anyone in my med school class and don't keep in touch with any of my former classmates. I do keep in sporadic touch with my closest friends from my time during medical school, neither of whom was a fellow med student at all. I was not close friends with any of my residency classmates either, and while I don't hate them all or anything like that, I have no particular desire to keep in touch with them either. For most, if I ever ran into them somewhere, I'd say hi and chit-chat for a few minutes, then move on.

    Personally, I think it's good to have at least some of your support network be outside of work/school. During your medical training in particular, it's easy to get so caught up in everything medicine that you forget there is a whole other world out there. Many nontrads with families have a nonmedical spouse and/or kids to bring them some outside perspective. Those of us who go through our training without families could use some similar balance. For most of my time in residency, I was going out with a police officer who worked nights, and it was actually nice to spend time with someone who A) didn't think/breathe/eat/sleep medicine 24-7 the way that I was, B) understood gallows humor and the general suckiness of the human race sometimes, and C) didn't harass me because we couldn't have a standing date on Saturday nights.

    Now as an attending, I do occasionally hang out with my coworkers. They're all nice people; everyone here is very friendly in general. But one of the primary reasons I wanted a job in Florida was so that I could be near my family, not so that I could hang out with my new coworkers. My social life here revolves around my family, and I'd say that is much more the norm among my colleagues than is any of us having our social lives revolve around each other.
  16. Rady Ruck

    Rady Ruck

    Apr 1, 2014
    There are a few non-trads with and without children in my classes, but the vast majority of folks are traditional students. I think that camraderie with any age of classmate depends on how adaptable you can be socially. I can switch back and forth from talking about the upcoming game to what I cooked the family for dinner and so on. If this means that much to you, maybe trying to meet them more on their level would have better results. Even if hearing about the dance team or [insert other traditional activity] doesn't interest you, sometimes giving a curious (wow, really?) or enthusiastic (huh, I didn't know that!) response will get people to open up a little more.

    When times are rough, try to remember that this is really a means to an end. Maybe some of these folks are better note-takers/classroom listeners than you, and you gain a useful friend! You may have a roughly 50/50 chance of meeting someone who will become a lifelong buddy. Relationships like that grow organically. Though it's easy for me to socialize, I have many more fingers on one hand than real friends, and I consider myself a very rich person for having them.
  17. wholeheartedly

    wholeheartedly Administrator 7+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2009
    Beyond the Wall
    Agree with a lot of the others.

    You don't need to make friends with your classmates, but I don't think you should close yourself off to it either. It can be great to have study buddies, or just a friendly we're in this together smile before a big exam.

    I did my masters field experience in a program with a bunch of premeds. Most of them were 19-20. A couple were older. Normally I socially gravitate to people older than me (31), but I had no problem with the group and would be happy to have most of them as classmates and colleagues.

    It turned into an interesting give and take. They'd ask me for more grown up life advice and I'd ask them for tips on MCAT review or who was open to letting premeds shadow, etc.

    So just smile, say hello , and see where it takes you.
  18. kraskadva

    kraskadva ... 5+ Year Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    in a bubble
    I've always had friends who were older than me (sometimes as much as 50 years older) and they never gave me flak for being younger, so why should I give the trads flak for being the age they are? They didn't get to pick their birth day...
    That said, I don't hang out with the really immature ones, but I have made a number of friends in my post-bacc with the other students who are 5 or 10 years younger than me. I've also made friends with a lot of the grad students and professors.
    Sure, the first few weeks were a bit socially awkward, but I think that was mostly "new kid in school" syndrome since the science depts at my school are fairly small. A few labs and study sessions later, I had a pretty solid circle of people I knew. I rarely hit the bars or party with them, but that's not really a hindrance to being friends. I still ask them study questions and they come ask me questions about grown up life stuff (1001 relationship questions fielded and about 50 CVs edited at this point), and we all commiserate about classes. Some are friends for the moment and some are friends for life, but they're all mostly good people, in spite ;) of being younger...
    So smile OP and strike up a conversation, it may be the start of a beautiful friendship.
    wholeheartedly likes this.

Share This Page