pre-health beyond the numbers

pre-health beyond the numbers

When I came to the University of Michigan, I did not really know what to expect. I went to a small private school with a graduating class of 16. Because my school was so small, there were no advanced classes for me to take in high school. I knew that I would be challenged throughout my time at Michigan but I did not know what that would look like since I was never challenged in high school. After I started my first semester, I started feeling discouraged. I knew I wanted to go to medical school after college but I did not think that would be possible if I did not do exceptionally well during my first semester.

During the panel in last Thursday’s lecture, I learned that even if I were to fail a class I could still be able to go to medical school. I had already heard that medical schools practice holistic review but I didn’t really believe it. It was very refreshing to hear that some of the graduates that were on the panel had either failed a class or received a poor grade and were still able to be successful. However, it is important to make sure that you are able to learn something from your failures and move on.

Looking towards the future, I know that I will be challenged in many ways along my journey. I hope to be able to find things that I am passionate about to study and to be involved in, instead of trying to make myself into a perfect, cookie-cutter medical school applicant with perfect grades and MCAT score. My question to you, my fellow HSSPer, is “what are you passionate about and how do you plan on being successful at Michigan outside of the classroom?”

12 thoughts on “pre-health beyond the numbers

  1. In my opinion, the idea that a person has to be passionate about a major or a career to pursue it is a misconception. Most students, including myself, are not passionate about anything yet, and I think that is okay. However, I am interested in a few things that I plan on pursuing: pharmacy and computer science. Beyond simply taking classes for these interests, I want to start gaining experience in the fields. For pharmacy, I hope to either volunteer at a hospital or work as a pharmacy technician sometime in the next year. I am not skilled at comp sci yet, but when I become more knowledgable I hope to somehow find a way to apply it, whether through internships or independent projects.

  2. Opposite of Noah, I went to a relatively large high school so I had the opportunity to take AP classes. With this, however, I often found myself trying to compete with everyone so that I could have the best application to get into Michigan. My passion was once cheerleading, but when I got to high school, I stopped because I didn’t think it would help my application.

    After the lecture and hearing that I do not have to sacrifice my passions to be a top candidate was exciting to hear. I plan to pick some of my passions back up through the clubs Michigan has to offer.

  3. I am also different from Noah in terms of my high school experience; a graduating class of more than 400 and my experiences in several advance courses in a way bred me into looking at my grades and extra-curriculars with a sense of competition in mind. The panel reminded me (as I often have to be) that I must continue to do the things I love regardless of what those around me build their applications with, and that I must continue to work hard and do my best without always being influenced by how hard those around me work. The panel also stressed the idea that failure is fine, long as you learn from it. This will certainly be a valuable piece of evidence on the road to medical school.

    I had several passions during high school, such as theater and debate, that I do not feel the need to continue into college. I feel my experiences in these areas are complete; what I do aspire to build upon is further involvement in community service around Ann Arbor, as well as partaking in any activities or clubs that allow me to step out of my comfort zone.

  4. Just like you, I also went to a very small private school that offered limited advanced courses and opportunities. I remember during my first week here at Michigan I quickly became overwhelmed with all the work that was being thrown at me. My classes were very challenging to me and I was having a difficult time adjusting to college. But the panel from Thursday was definitely refreshing to hear. I will continue to work hard to receive the grades that I desire, but it is great to know that a bad grade is not the end of the world.
    I think that one of the things that helped me adjust to college was finding a dance club to join. I have been a dancer since I was five, and my life felt empty without it. But after I auditioned for a dance group and made it, I generally felt more motivated and positive. I would definitely call dance my passion. After a long day of classes, it is a great way to just forget about school for a while and have fun.

  5. I was also very pleased to hear that many people in the panel had failed or extremely struggled in a class during their undergraduate years. This first semester has been a huge change and with all these changes it has been hard to maintain the grades I received in high school. After many years of hearing that I had to get the past grades in high school to get into a good college, it was hard to believe when people told me that doing poorly in a college class will not do anything when it comes to applying for medical school as many medical schools look at each student holistically. By listening to the panel, this became much easier to believe because these students have actually accomplished some of my goals with not doing well in classes. I understand they learned something with each failure and are a better person because of it.
    As for my passion, I don’t think I have found it yet, but I know that the University of Michigan has countless opportunities that I will able to explore. Finding my passion will motivate me a lot and I will be able to feel accomplished in any class because I will be doing something I love. This motivation will hopefully make me do better in school as well.

  6. My high school experience was almost the exact opposite of yours. I went to a very large high school with a graduating class of 600 students. We were offered nearly every AP class possible in addition to IB diplomas. While this was a privilege, it led to the development of a competitive nature. Everyone was working their hardest to beat their fellow classmates. I often found myself comparing my own grades and classes to others. Was I taking enough AP courses? Was I participating in enough clubs? This constant stress about getting into college was such a drain. However, this panel presented a different perspective on school.

    Before coming here, I assumed the University of Michigan would also be very competitive. The panel reminded me of an important aspect of applying to medical school. Grades are not the only thing that matter. It was very relieving to hear that many of these very accomplished individuals had failed multiple classes in their time at Michigan. This came as an extreme shock to me. I had read the article about holistic review but did not totally believe it. The panel provided real life people who had made it despite some setbacks which provided me with hope. It inspired me to consider taking more classes I’m genuinely interested in rather than just classes I know I can get a good grade in. As far as my passion, I have not found it yet. But I think with the broad range of courses and clubs available to me at this University, I will definitely find it.

  7. I feel like often times we are told that we have to do certain things to build the perfect application. In high school, people always told me that I had to join NHS and volunteer groups and all kinds of stuff that I didn’t want to do, just because it looked good on a college application. People made it seem like if I didn’t do NHS I wouldn’t get into college. I think going beyond the fact that in holistic review, extra curriculars are important, it is more important to include extra curricular activities that you are passionate about. For me, that was speech and I displayed exceptional dedication in that. I think what you do and how you display your skills is more important than numbers, grades, and specific titles of certain organizations.

  8. I went to a pretty large school with tons of AP classes, so I’m kind of used to getting worked hard. The people Joyce brought in talked about not doing well in classes and how it all worked out. I don’t really like to look at this as colleges don’t care as much about your grades. I just see it as colleges and grad schools understand your stumbles at a school like this. I still want to be exceptional in the classroom, because I don’t think graduate schools are looking for average students, even at a school like Michigan. I’m trying to get to physical therapy school, so I have to be elite. I do believe that I can boost my chances by getting the many experiences that Michigan has to offer. Grad schools are likely looking for both grades and experiences. I believe that I need to be passionate in what I study because you can only work so hard at something that you hate. I will work to get experiences because this is what I’ve worked my butt off to do. Also, I need to continue to grow as a person because that can carry you a long way in your career and just in life.

  9. Coming from a fairly large and diverse high school, I was always exposed to a large range of different cultures and clubs. In high school I was very passionate about my high school newspaper and dedicated much of my time to it. When I came to the University of Michigan I felt as if I was going to have to find my new passion all over again. Although I still like journalism and writing in general, I knew that such organizations and clubs at college required a new level of commitment.

    Today, outside of academics I am still finding the things I am passionate about but I know that the journey to exploring different things is very worthwhile. I plan on being successful outside of the classroom by really taking advantage of all the different events and opportunities offered here while always striving to meet new people. I think that when you build a foundation of people you can always trust you are able to achieve anything.

  10. Outside the classroom I want to become more involved in clubs and organizations that do things i’m interested in. I’m considering doing community service/volunteering along with joining some recreational clubs next year. I think it’s the combined campus involvement of all UM students that makes this campus great, and I want to be a part of that.

  11. It was very comforting to me to hear that medical schools truly practice hollistic review. You hear it again and again, but it is so nice to hear a medical student who made it into Michigan say that it isn’t all about your grades. I do realize the importance of doing well in school, but listening to these presentations helped me to stop obsessing over the numbers and focus on other ways that I can be the best student and person I can be. Outside of the classroom I am very passionate about service to others and I hope to be able to pursue that through joining clubs in the next semester or next fall. I also would really love to get involved in research and pursue hands-on experiences that I would never be able to get in the classroom. This presentation really encouraged me to be whole as a person and not just worry about being the girl with a 4.0.

  12. I agree that it was really relieving when we were told that even though the people on the panel had failed some classes, they were still in the grad school programs they wanted to be in. As a pre-med, I knew that this school would be challenging, but I did not expect to feel the pressure so soon. I mean, my grade in intro to bio is definitely less than what I had hoped for. At first I was very discouraged by this. How could I be pre-med and do so poorly in intro to bio? This was supposed to be the easiest class! After listening to the panel, and a med school student who came in and talked to my committee, I was relieved to know that many of them had experienced something similar to this. It was comforting to know that there is still hope.
    To answer to your question, I am passionate about helping people around the world, and when I become a doctor, I want to travel to underserved areas and provide relief to the locals. To pursue this passion, figured I should try to have a degree that focused on more than just Biology or Chemistry, so I changed my major to international studies with a focus on global environment and health with a hopeful minor in Spanish. To be successful outside of the classroom, I have joined the Spanish club and MESO, which is a club on campus that takes yearly medical trips to impoverished countries. This spring break I will be working in clinics in the Dominican Republic. We are just freshman though, so I am sure that there will be many more things to come in the next three or four years.

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