Looking back to high school, what would/could you have done differently to help?

Dec 10, 2010
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I'm fourteen years old. I'm starting duel credit classes at a college when I'm sixteen so by the time I have graduated high school, I'll have finished my basic college courses(The pre-med required classes) so I can go onto a major in Biology. After I do that, I'm planning on applying to med school. If you have already graduated from Med School, are currently in med school, have advice to offer, or have taken the MCAT, what would you reccomend I do? If you could make changes to your high school years to help you with your life RIGHT NOW, what would it be? Thanks!
I really appreciate your help. :)
Cassie
 

Venko

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It sounds like you're really on a great path! I wouldnt change much about your plan except that make sure you study something you enjoy outside of the path to medicine in College if you can...ie music, language, history etc. It will make you a more rounded individual and a happier student overall maybe? Lastly, if you are sure you want to become a doctor, look into combination BS / MD programs...some are even shorter such as the one I did which is 6-years.

Cheers and good luck,
TL
 

Seahawk

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Loaded up on college credit hours.


Sounds like what you have done.
 

Roma91

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Your pre-med classes you'll probably want to take at the university you choose so i wouldn't waste time on those. Get the core classes you'll need in college like history and english and art out of the way. If i could change one thing about my high school experience, i would have not succumed to senioritis. It probably wouldn't have affected my college choice but i would've felt good about finishing strong.
 

rxlea

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Please, PLEASE read a lot in high school - not just the assigned classic literature but magazines/articles about the world around you. If there is one thing I notice(d) about my peers in undergrad and in pharmacy school, it is that they lack an extensive vocabulary. I highly encourage you to build your vocabulary over time because, not only will it help you on standardized tests, but it will allow you to use adjectives other than "awesome", "interesting", and "cool". Trust me.

Additionally, it helps to be politically informed (even at a young age).
 

keregg228

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If I could do it again I would have taken the GED when I was 14. My parents held me back from skipping grades and I don’t really feel like it did me much good. Most schools districts will pay for you to go to community college until you 18 if you test out. If you go year round you could start university as a junior when you are 15-16 (I had a friend that did this, he had a MS in Mechanical engineering by 19).

Also there was a junior EMT program that let you take all the classes to be an EMT and paramedic (for free) while you were in HS. I wish I had done that. I would have had a better college job and had lots of healthcare experience and networking from a young age.

If I had still gone to HS I would have volunteered more and only played 1-2 sports instead of 4 and taken more AP and CC classes.
 

nlax30

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Someone above already mentioned this but.... I would caution you about taking the actual pre-med required courses (bio, chem, etc...) during high school as dual credit. Depending on what college/university you attend they may give you some sort of "generic credit" for those courses that may not apply towards a science degree. If you want to do college courses during high school then I'd say stick with some of the usual liberal study requirements such as english, history, entry math, etc.... That may be what you meant but just wanted to be sure.

That said, I'm not sure I would change much about high school. I only took I think 3 college credit during high school and I certainly would not have taken anymore, just wasn't worth it. I did AP Physics and AP chem and while I got "college credit" at my university, neither of them counted towards my science major because they were taking during high school as AP courses. It's certainly not necessary to load up your senior year and stress yourself out, there's plenty of time for that during college and med school.

Have fun, get a hobby, volunteer, take up a sport, and so on. I played Lacrosse in high school and college, did the whole band thing in high school and had a blast.
 

Lil Mick

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Take courses of interest to you. If you love physics, take physics at community college and take a few upper level ones when you start full time (community college courses are okay for pre-recs if you have upper division classes in each area). Along those lines, do what you love to do. Soccer? Play on the team while you're taking college classes (probably the best time in my life when I could do that). Music? Get involved with the community college organization...
Also, I would consider taking the GED exam as early as you can if you're bored with high school. This is especially helpful if your district's administration decides to cut the dual enrollment program. I started taking college courses quite early and was sent back to high school at 15 when the program was cut. It is not fun to end up in Algebra II after taking college physics course using calculus...
Finally, consider using some of your "saved" time for something you've always wanted to do. For me, I spent time volunteering abroad and teaching high school during college. You probably won't have time for pursuing outside interests once you start medical school (especially long-term, time-intensive activities)...
 
D

da8s0859q

I'm fourteen years old. I'm starting duel credit classes at a college when I'm sixteen so by the time I have graduated high school, I'll have finished my basic college courses(The pre-med required classes) so I can go onto a major in Biology. After I do that, I'm planning on applying to med school. If you have already graduated from Med School, are currently in med school, have advice to offer, or have taken the MCAT, what would you reccomend I do? If you could make changes to your high school years to help you with your life RIGHT NOW, what would it be? Thanks!
I really appreciate your help. :)
Cassie
Cassie --

I don't know if you like high school, but I'd suggest doing only what you want to do (as in, you just WANT to take such-and-such for DC, which I also did in high school), and screw the rest for now. Enjoy, have fun, be 14. I assure you that in retrospect, time will seem like it flew by.

You're in high school. You'll have years to feel out your biology major, get more coursework under your belt, and otherwise make sure you want to be a doctor. There is no hurry, so don't feel pressured about any of this. Not about courses, not about the MCAT, and certainly not about getting into med school.

Agree with the "be well-rounded"-type answers you've already gotten. If you're the kind of student I think you might be, there isn't a tremendous amount of stuff you can do academically that will be of any use to you when you get to med school. This is personal growth time, not transcript growth time.

Just my two cents. I'm in my second year of medical school.
 

em3761

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Sep 29, 2010
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Cassie--
I just graduated from HS last year, and basically did what you're planning to do (i.e. I took college bio, chem, and physics while I was in high school). If I could do it all again, here's what I wish I'd known:
1) Your study skills improve more than you'd think during high school, so a class that seems really difficult when you're 14 will be way easier if you take it even a year or two later. Sounds obvious, but it didn't occur to me...so yeah, try to take the easier requirements (bio, english) early on and then work up to the harder ones.
2) Find someone in one of your college classes to study with. Even if you don't think you need to, you're going to get bored studying on your own all the time.
3) Do fun stuff too. This kind of schedule is hard, but that doesn't mean you can't have a life...seriously, if I could change one thing about my HS experience I would've tried to make more time for myself. If all you do is work, you'll be burned out before you even get to med school.

Good luck...:)
 

bacillus1

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Party more (seriously). I don't think HS grades matter too much, as long as you have over a 3.6 or so unweighted, and it's not like I studied for the SATs anyway (the night before the 2nd time I took them). Not sure if this would be possible, as I was pretty antisocial in HS. Also throw away less money on applying to colleges that I know I won't go to.

Main thing though that would change my present (and save me money): I would read SDN, and ask about various programs on here. I didn't know about this site back in HS, and if I did and asked about opinions about places I applied, I'd definitely be at a different school from where I go now.
 

ejw5075

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I did my senior year of HS at the college I currently attend for pre-med, and had 16 credits when I officially enrolled as a freshman. The best advice I can give you is to take your time getting your degree. Obviously you will be able to graduate well within the 4 years standard for a BS degree, but there is no sense rushing everything to graduate and apply to med school early. I ended up doing exactly that, taking 18+ credits every semester, 23 one summer, basically burning myself out. Luckily, I am only required to take 12 credits my final semester and start medical school in the fall :)
 

Terpskins99

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Shadow physicians
Find a sport you really like
Learn to play a musical instrument
Learn spanish ;)
 
Aug 13, 2010
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Party more (seriously). I don't think HS grades matter too much, as long as you have over a 3.6 or so unweighted, and it's not like I studied for the SATs anyway (the night before the 2nd time I took them). Not sure if this would be possible, as I was pretty antisocial in HS. Also throw away less money on applying to colleges that I know I won't go to.

Main thing though that would change my present (and save me money): I would read SDN, and ask about various programs on here. I didn't know about this site back in HS, and if I did and asked about opinions about places I applied, I'd definitely be at a different school from where I go now.
High school grades matter if you have a specific college in mind. Ditto as far as the ACT goes (SAT in your case, but ACT in mine). I completely agree that you need to have fun in high school, which is something that i'm just figuring out, but I also know that unless I have a 3.7 (perferably higher) and a 30 (higher as well) on my ACT I can kiss my dream school goodbye.

and as far as applying to colleges that you know you won't go to, I would just like to remind the OP that you do need backup choices. As much as it would kill me to not get into my dream school, I am still applying to atleast four other schools that I know I will get into so that I do still have a choice even if the worst happens.
 
Nov 19, 2010
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Take your courses seriously, but don't forget about your social life. I'm currently doing DE at my local college and am a junior. This past semester I had my regular high school classes and three DE classes. One of my classes were on a Saturday morning once a month. I got great marks, but I wish I would've spent a little less time without my nose in a book.

  • Take advantage of being young and doing stupid ****. You're only able to get away with this for so long...
  • Make friends in college classes, but don't forget about the ones in your high school!
  • Don't choose to burn yourself out. As the person who is self-motivated and a perfectionist, I do this too much and am slowly learning how to not do this.
 

Fedekz

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If I could do it again I would have taken the GED when I was 14. My parents held me back from skipping grades and I don’t really feel like it did me much good. Most schools districts will pay for you to go to community college until you 18 if you test out. If you go year round you could start university as a junior when you are 15-16 (I had a friend that did this, he had a MS in Mechanical engineering by 19).

Also there was a junior EMT program that let you take all the classes to be an EMT and paramedic (for free) while you were in HS. I wish I had done that. I would have had a better college job and had lots of healthcare experience and networking from a young age.

If I had still gone to HS I would have volunteered more and only played 1-2 sports instead of 4 and taken more AP and CC classes.
I want to touch on the EMT part of this. I did a dual enrollment program as well, then moved from WA to TX my senior year to go to the paramedic program at texas A&M. Come next fall I started my first year at a top university, coming in with a 3.8 from ~70 semester credits, I was pretty confident, and decided to work full time as an emt-p ... it caught up to me. Where I worked late calls were frequent, I missed class maybe once or twice every two weeks because of one. I worked full time (48 scheduled hours / week) and took a full course load. Working on the truck wore me out, and then I wasn't motivated to study, and just wanted to sleep or relax. I ended up taking a leave of absence from school because I wasn't doing as well as I wanted to.

An EMT is a great experience, but just don't let it distract you from school at all. Just me 2 cents.
 
Sep 24, 2009
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I was in your exact situation two years ago, but I did not take my pre-medicine prerequisies and only finished my liberal education courses. I have two different forms of advice for you based on my experience. First, I would suggest that you weigh the pros and cons about doing the dual credit program. I myself regret doing it. I missed out on two years of my high school life that I will never get back.

Having said that, I can also say I had a wonderful experience as well. I loved the freedom and independence college offered. Make sure you do plenty of research on which classes you plan to take. Try to check and make sure they will count toward you pre-medicine requirement. My counselor told me to take an interpretive chemistry course and it did not count toward my prerequisites. If you are trying to get rid of two years of you undergraduate degree, make sure you take the appropriate classes that goes toward it.

Make sure that you stay focused on your studies. Of the three people I knew who did a dual credit program with me, they all ended up getting adademic probation and destroying their gpa. Do not forget that your gpa WILL COUNT toward both your high school and college. That means the medical school you apply to will look at the grades you get from age 16 to 22 (Assuming you graduate in four years). Go to the lectures and pay attention. If you do not understand the material, GET HELP. Ask questions in class, after class, or during the professor's office hours. Most colleges offer some type of free tutor service so take advantage of it.

Remember that these years are the best years of your life, so try to have fun too. Good luck!
 

CopToEM

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Probably would have taken all the math I could in high school just to get it out of the way. Calculus II is the hardest course I've ever taken.

Other than that... not a damn thing. I went to a small school of about 126 graduates and I fell in about 80th out of 126. I barely had a 2.0gpa. Needless to say I really, really enjoyed high school.

I was a different person.
 
Jan 20, 2010
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Travel.


I had an opportunity to travel the world for a year but I didn't take it because I "didn't want to be off track" and was honestly scared of traveling alone. I ended up traveling and doing mission work later on during my sophomore and junior year and that totally changed me. I also had friends who took the opportunity to travel for 1-2 years (between HS and freshman year) and they seem to get a better experience out of college.


You're young and you only live once. Forget classes for a while. Load up on them experiences and see what this world is about.
 

SeekerofTruth

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I wish I tried harder on a few classes..
 

torshi

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Wow, your very mature. Are you going to enroll dual credit full-time at college?
I started dual credit at 16 also. I left high school after soph year and enrolled in college


Well it really doesn't matter during your high school years, any activities you participate in won't count towards anything at all, but once you hit 16 and enroll in dual credit full-time, then i would recommend:

-shadowing physicians 2-3 docs (include primary care) total 60-80 hrs
-get involved with summer research programs (They are free, and they pay you) couple summers
http://www.smdep.org/
https://www.aamc.org/members/great/61052/great_summerlinks.html
http://www.asbmb.org/summerresearchprogram/Landing.aspx (Select a State.)
^^^ I wish i knew about these so i could apply on time. Save these sites for future purposes and apply early your fresh/soph year in college.
-Have leadership roles
-Get involved with things non-medicine related
-volunteer work (patient contact) 100 hrs, anything above is unnecessary

If you have any additional questions just PM me
 
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I love my current school but if I had the chance to start over, I would have gone to a state university instead. The tuition is killing me. And by me, I mean my parents.
 

k12123

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Don't think too much about high school. Enjoy it. When you get to college you'll realize how utterly meaningless most of the bull**** related to school was. So have fun, make memories, and get ready to get on the grind in college.
Hahaha...being in my last sem, I realize that now lol. But seriously though, if ur in ur senior year, make it count :)!
 

fahimaz7

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Nothing at all. Get into a good state school and that's about it. Have fun and realize that the route to becoming a doctor is long, and nothing that you do in high school is going to matter at all (other than getting into a decent state school or better).
 

fahimaz7

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Please, PLEASE read a lot in high school - not just the assigned classic literature but magazines/articles about the world around you. If there is one thing I notice(d) about my peers in undergrad and in pharmacy school, it is that they lack an extensive vocabulary. I highly encourage you to build your vocabulary over time because, not only will it help you on standardized tests, but it will allow you to use adjectives other than "awesome", "interesting", and "cool". Trust me.

Additionally, it helps to be politically informed (even at a young age).
Doctors are not literature majors, nor are we creative writers. We are scientific minds that don't really care about becoming a thesaurus. If I want to use some super fancy word, I'll look it up and insert it when it's appropriate. Most of our patients have a 9th grade vocabulary, so I think we'll be just fine in that department.

Plus, we don't take the GRE verbal section to get into medical school, so why does it really matter what our vocabulary is like? If all of your peers "lack an extensive vocabulary", then most of your classmates are not like you.
 

hmockingbird

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I don't regret anything about high school. I overloaded one semester but I got through it. I didn't do DC because our AP classes have a better reputation than our community college and I wanted to stay involved at my high school. I was in a lot of activities and also had a job. High school was really fun. Work hard, play hard.

My main advice would be slow down and enjoy high school. Don't commit to anything this early. Go shadow some doctors or do a summer HS program if you are serious but you don't need to know your major or career goal now. I wouldn't even commit to DC until you really need to. Tour the school you'd be doing it at when it gets closer and see if it's really the right thing for you or if you would like staying at HS better. I ended up getting about 1-1.5 years of college done just with AP, so if you really want to get college credit it's possible either way. High school is a time to explore your interests and have fun. A lot can change in the 7-8 years before you need to apply to med school, so leave yourself open to that change.

Oh and I second reading if you like it, but it's always good to keep up on current events somehow (whether it's a newspaper or watching the news). But I'm a literature major and my vocabulary is shot. :) My writing vocab is different from my speaking vocab. It's really not a big deal.