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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by muchconfuse, Aug 1, 2015.
Going to be honest, I got lost a bit in your acronyms. Also, the answers to your questions depend on info not given above. That said...
I'd recommend not transferring.
Couple of reasons:
1. Your father's connections will definitely be useful, but you can shadow, etc during the summer when you're home. I don't see why that should be a reason to transfer.
2. Transferring is a PitA.
I also want to mention that I'm thrilled for you that you've done some introspection and have given yourself the means to succeed. The most deadly thing to a pre-med's chances is failing to take responsibility for their successes and failures. This is actually also a reason which I feel transferring is unnecessary. Now that you recognize that you are capable of success and simply failed to do what was needed, you will be able to achieve what you set out to do.
As far as your chances as a whole:
Lots of people tank their freshman year, and (though others may tell you otherwise) it's completely reasonable to panic about. You've put yourself in one of the worst spots for a pre-med. Though others DO INDEED turn their grades around on a dime, they are the EXCEPTIONS. Most people who get poor grades once continue to get poor grades. Use that terror to drive yourself to straight As for the rest of your college career. Your aim should be to get 100% on every exam from now on. Without that goal and drive, you won't join that tiny group of exceptions. Are you going to get 100% on every exam? Not likely. But it should be your goal. Every point you miss, ask yourself what you could have done to net it.
Someone gets an A in every class you're going to take. They're not smarter than you. They're not luckier. They're not better test takers. They put in work that you can also put in.
You can do this, but you have to expect the very best from yourself.
Sorry but I strongly disagree with some of this. A lot of people struggle in their first year because of the adjustment to university life. I'm not saying that most people get 3.9s after that, but increasing your grades after first year is extremely common. Secondly, talking about terror and saying that you should feel like you have to get 100% on every test is really, really, genuinely, god awful advice. Putting outrageous and unrealistic pressure on yourself is how you flame out. Your goal should be to study as much as you can to achieve your maximum potential, and if you do badly on one test DON'T be hard on yourself, just try harder next time. It sounds like you've already identified the problem and have done some soul searching. Turn your work ethic around and the rest will come.
Also OP, you have NOT put yourself in one of the worst spots for a pre-med. A 3.2 GPA in your first year isn't close to sinking your dreams of becoming a doctor. I'll leave advice about transferring or not to others.
You're right that people commonly increase their grades after the first year, but it's the degree that's significant. People who land a 3.2, in my experience, just typically don't improve drastically. They could improve, even quite a bit, and get a ~3.6 in their future semesters. However, that averages to a 3.5. This is versus someone who, again, is the rare exception, who gets 3.9 or 4.0 their remaining years. That person averages a 3.7-3.8. It only takes a second to check the statistics to see that the latter person has a roughly 15% higher chance to get into medical school at just about every competitive MCAT score. What's it worth to you to go from a 70% acceptance rate to a 95%? We're on the pre-med boards, and I can tell you that the value of that is very high to people. I think the OP also values that very highly. This is all assuming that the OP is in the right half of that bell curve and also that something extraneous doesn't happen and grades suffer independently from ability.
Aiming to achieve a 100% on every exam is a great attitude for GPA. It is far from the most relaxing perspective. I like to run, but ask any runner: if you train 'as much as you can', you'll achieve less than if you train as much as you really can. I like this motivational video to illustrate this idea.
The idea is not to become a neurotic basket case and stress yourself into oblivion. Achieving 100% on any given college exam (with rare exceptions) is doable with less than 20 uninterrupted study hours.
You're doing the OP no favors by telling her to take it easy on herself. Currently, that is not the problem nor a solution to the actual problem. An over-correction is indeed possible, and flaming out is indeed a risk. However, I would wager that she would rather risk that than risk having another 3.2 semester.
Think about those stats though, a 70% acceptance rate when you're applying to 20+ schools is really good. I'd say that most people want to get into med school, not get into the #3 ranked research school. I also disagree that aiming for the best you can do will result in lower grades. Why would anyone think "Well I only want to do as well as I am able to so I won't study that hard!". Among pre-meds putting too much pressure on yourself can dramatically lower your grades due to poor test performance and reduce ability to cope with the workload (when you're constantly thinking you have to get high 90s on everything). If you get a 75 the healthy response, and the one that will result in a higher GPA, is to say "Man I really didn't work hard enough, I have to rectify this next time". Your advice fosters the idea that the common pre-med reaction of "CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP I'VE NEVER GOING TO BE A DOCTOR CRAP CRAP CRAP *three hours of crying*" is appropriate and should be encouraged.
Cracking the whip could be useful for some obnoxious pre-med who thinks they're going to cruise in because their father is a big-wig surgeon. For most people, NOT being hard on yourself is what you have to work on. How can you effectively work on an essay due in 2 days when you feel like the world is ending because you got an 87 instead of a 95?
From my personal experience, I agree more with @Pacna. For background, I got a 3.05 my first semester and never got below a 3.9 my last 5 semesters of college, just to give you an idea of the fact that I was in OP's position and very successfully turned it around. Obviously, its not effective to just tell yourself "I'm never going to be a doctor!" after a B on a test, but OP SHOULD be in panic mode at this point if he want's to do well here on out. I was the same as OP, I screwed around in high school so I never had any real experience studying. It took time for me to get my sh$t together, but once I did, college became a breeze. The panic helped me put my nose to the grindstone and put in the necessary amount of work.
It is ABSOLUTELY a great strategy to make A grades your goal for every class. It certainly worked for me. I EXPECTED an A, and settled for no less. If I felt complacent with Bs then I would have gotten many Bs. Obviously you need to be realistic, and there is a point where if you have A's in your other classes that semester, you can tell yourself "okay, I should at least get a B+ in this class if I get so and so on the final" but going into a new semester, you should have the mindset of "I'm going to get a 4.0."
So, for the OP, I suggest sticking with your school and just getting it together there. Put in some serious work and you may just find that getting straight A's becomes easy for you after a while. The brain is a muscle, train it. Make sure you not only study hard, but study SMART. Don't read textbook chapters if the professor takes all his test questions from the notes. Figure out what works for you. You should be able to legitimately see yourself slowly starting to learn information faster, your brain will get better and better at learning and then you will be able to relax more even though the classes are more difficult.
Firstly, that 70% is for a year of application, not of applying to an individual school. Chances at each school are much, much less than that.
However, I completely agree that there is an upward boundary of appropriate self-criticism. I'm not saying go cry in a corner for 3 hours. This is about bearing the responsibility for successes and failures. When you get a 91% on an exam, you should be glad you got a solid grade and also wonder what you could have done to get those other 9%. Ask the person next to you if they got #14 right and how.
Humans evolved fear, anger, and anxiety as positive survival mechanisms. If you experience things like those because of poor personal performance, don't throw them away! Use them as a fire under you to become a better student. Personally, I facepalm when I make mistakes (ex: on exams) because I'm frustrated with myself. I don't suggest that for everyone, but find what drives you and use it. If it's panic/anxiety, use it!
Basically, this is about caring which is the root of motivation. If you care a lot about something, it is scary to see it threatened and provokes anger towards the threat. I'm going to share this little secret: To get into medical school, you have to want it a lot. You have to care about that goal a lot.
Now I feel like I have to add a disclaimer, and maybe rightly so: If you think your level of these emotions are high in an unhealthy way, then absolutely do what you can to tone it down. For instance, if you find yourself crying in the corner for 3 hours, you might consider learning a more positive method of motivation.
My brother, who I think is much smarter than I am, is an engineer. He achieved a pretty good engineering GPA, but it was much lower than mine. Why? Because he wanted to graduate and work as an engineer, and grades matter very little in that field relative to the medical field.
I point this out because I think you said it better and more concisely than I did. Set the bar high for yourself, or don't be surprised when you don't reach it.
I agree with most of this, but the difference is that I think telling yourself (or the OP) you should get 100% on every test is what leads to the neurotic, unhealthy behaviour we're both talking about, which is all too common among pre-meds. Self-reflection and trying your hardest are what get you into med school, and it sounds like the OP has the first one down. How can you remain mentally healthy when every single time you don't get 100% on something you're letting yourself down? That's why I so strongly disagreed with this advice, while it may have worked for you it's a very dangerous way to think.
Making a tangible goal and holding yourself accountable to meeting it is one of the most healthy roads to success. The problem I see with your proposed strategy is that it lacks any clear goal. If I get a 92% is that good enough? What if the class is curved? What if I needed a 93% in this class to get a 4.0? The 100% is a clear goal, and it's completely natural to feel like you let yourself down somewhat if you come short of your goal - any goal!
Like I said, you're right that there is a limit to healthy self-criticism. When I failed an exam in medical school, I was pissed at myself. Had I been so mad that I carved the % I got wrong into my genitals, that would be an unhealthy reaction. However, if I didn't care about it and just figured I'd do better the next time, I would have failed another exam down the road.
So yes, there's a balance, but the OP isn't currently on the side of the equation that she wants to be. For that reason, telling her to relax is not helpful to her at this point. If she came and said "I GOT 99% ON MY OCHEM EXAM AND DON'T KNOW HOW TO FLIP BURGERS - HELP!!" then I'd be right there with you telling her to take a chill pill.
Yes it is true most people who get 3.2's freshmen year stay that caliber student. That is also in true to a significant part because many 3.2 students realize they really aren't suited for medicine and it's not something they really want to do and go on to other fields.
The doing an analysis of yourself introspectively is a good sign and alone puts you ahead of alot of 3.2 freshmen pre-meds who just think things will just get better "Because" and they'll "magically start working harder". What caused you to not do well? Not putting in the time? Poor study skills? Having a hard time grasping content even when you studied? Having problems with reasoning problems and not simple memorization questions? Seeming like there was too much information? Making stupid mistakes on tests? Take the time to seriously evaluate WHY it is that your grades aren't what you want them to be.
My advice is always when you haven't had good grades thus far you have to put yourself in a position to get good grades and see success and what it entails, even if it is done on a lighter and easier courseload. Start somewhere. If it means having one semester of 12 credits with one science course to get you to a semester of 3.7+ work so be it. Build yourself up. Next semester, maybe take 14-15 credits with 2 science courses. While it's great to say "reach for the moon even if you fail you'll fall upon the stars" be realistic with yourself. Sophomore year is often the time for OCHEM aka "the class where many 3.8 students have had struggles even getting B's in". If you need to push back taking OCHEM till later when you have developed better study habits and are a better student. You don't need to take OCHEM and other hard classes right away when everyone else takes them.
You get rewarded for success in admissions process, not for trying and giving yourself a very difficult path. Many people get into med school only taking the bare minimum pre-reqs. I say this because the need to ease yourself into success is huge. Don't delve right into a difficult schedule next semester. Slow things down; whatever it takes to pull off good grades. You don't magically go from being a 3.2 student to a 4.0 student. What you can do is slowly build yourself up so you are a 3.7+ student who is taking a lighter course load and then overtime become a 3.7+ student who is taking the standard or advanced course load.
Good luck. I don't agree with the above post that it is time to panic. That won't do much good for yourself. A 3.2 isn't a 2.2: this is hardly insurmountable. What it does entail is evaluating where you stand and what has caused your prior problems and coming up with a future plan that maximizes the odds of success. To me, that means starting slow and prioritizing GPA. If you have to cut back on EC's so be it; gap years exist for a reason. It's a marathon not a sprint for getting into med school. When in doubt about am I taking too many credits: its usually smarter to precede with going the cautious route.