What’s it like to be pre-med at Vandy?
Most incoming students are pre-med, but a lot of them don’t really know what they’re getting into, what it’s really like, or if it’s even worth it? I would have really appreciated talking to someone currently going through it back when I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life, so I sent around a questionnaire to a few of my friends and this is what they had to say. I hope you’re able to gain something from it, and if you still have any burning questions then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, on to the questions.
1. Why did you choose to be pre-med?
- I’m not really sure. I guess it was what my parents had suggested earlier on, but they don’t pressure me to stay on in any way. I haven’t confirmed pre-med either so I don’t really have a reason yet as to why I’m doing it. I think that I would enjoy being a doctor and interacting with patients to help them feel better, but what makes me question pre-med is the path to get there. I’m hoping to know better about why I do pre-med or if I’ll continue after I volunteer in a clinic India this summer.
- I didn’t come in wanting to be pre-med, but I knew that I was really interested in neuroscience. I tried it out and ended up finding all the science courses really interesting so I stuck with it.
- I chose to be pre-med because I have a passion for people and a passion for fixing things. Being a doctor combines the two.
2. Do you feel that being premed at Vandy has made your experience different than if you weren’t pre-med?
- It most certainly did. I don’t think the students at Vandy are cutthroat, but I think pre-med is one of the more intensive tracks during college. I don’t think this is because the material of pre-med is necessarily harder than other fields, but it is the nature of the beast that is pre-med. Pre-med students usually don’t look for jobs after graduation, they are looking to get into more schools. With the med school admissions process comes the whole stress of worrying about grades and all the extracurricular you should/need to do to be a good medical school applicant. I think my experience at Vandy is different since I am premed because it consumes so much of my time and efforts, and at least partially hinders my ability to explore other things (not completely, but at least a little bit). More than that, the environment is just very stress inducing.. everyone in the track is worried about their grades from day one… it’s a lot like being in high school and looking to get into good colleges in that regard. That being said, I like the pre-med students at Vandy, they are not cutthroat and are very helpful to each other for tests and such. It’s just only top 5% of students in intro Bio get an A whereas there is no percentage cutoff for getting an A in my writing class (maybe there is a percentage, but as long as you write a good essay, you can get an A… the essays aren’t made so difficult that they differentiate the class grades drastically and only give the top 5% an A). This is why I don’t know if I want to be a doctor; it isn’t the profession I’m still deciding about, it’s the path it takes to get there.
- I’ve definitely met some great people through required Alpha Epsilon Delta and premed events that I probably wouldn’t have gone to otherwise.
- I mean, of course it has. For one, there a multitude of other premed students who are definitely competing with me. Two, unlike some other people who aren’t pre-med, I know exactly what my goal is after graduating from Vanderbilt.
3. What are you majoring in? Did your major have to do with filling pre-med requirements or because you were interested in it?
- I am majoring in economics. It has nothing to with pre-med and is purely for my interest. I am still thinking if I want a career in economics or something that would combine both the medical and economic/financial field.
- I’m majoring in neuroscience, but I would have done it whether regardless of whether I was pre-Med or not because I find the subject super cool.
- I’m majoring in Neuroscience and may or may not also be majoring in Psychology. I mean, I definitely didn’t have to major in Neuro to be premed. I decided to major in Neuro because it interested me. Same with psychology.
4. What is your opinion of the required courses you took this year?
- I really like the subject matter of pre-med courses… I like what we learn in chemistry or biology. I just don’t like how fast we have to go through it and how intensively we are tested on it. I have always been interested in the sciences, it’s always been the nit-picky tests that often test your ability to memorize every single detail rather than comprehension and application of the material. That being said, memorization is a large part of medicine so I understand the purpose of it to a degree. I think the labs are absolutely ridiculous. It’s often just busy work and detracts from studying for the actual course. I personally believe I would learn the material better without the labs (because I have a lot more time to study for one) and that I’d be a happier person without them.
- I think the required courses I’ve taken so far for pre-Med have all been really great and I’ve learned a lot.
- The prerequisites for premed students are all pretty standard except for physics. Why in the world does a doctor need physics?
5. Do you have any tips for future premed students?
- My tips would be to make sure to not let the grades pre-med courses validate you. Just because you don’t get an A or A- in chemistry doesn’t mean you don’t understand the material well and that you stink at chemistry. They go very quickly through the material and the grade doesn’t always reflect your intelligence. That goes for any course you ever take.. don’t let grades be what validate your intelligence.That being said, do try to develop good study habits. It’s one thing to not understand the material after trying a lot, and it’s another to not understand it cramming for the test the night before… I’m not saying I haven’t done the later and I probably still will every now and then. But almost every student can improve their study habits and I’m constantly trying to improve my own. Honestly, there’s so much to do with pre-med, it is important to relax and enjoy your college life too. Don’t make pre-med the defining future of your college experience… it can be if that’s what you really want. Just don’t forget to take some courses that have nothing to do with pre-med and just for your joy… or take something you think you like and end up hating it to rule out what you don’t like. Same with extra-curricular, it’s fine if you really enjoy medical stuff and want to invest all of your time into that. But don’t miss out on all the other amazing clubs because you think you need to do everything medically related to get into med school. Like everything, pre-med is a balance. It is easy to get caught up in only pre-med stuff, don’t forget that there might be other things that you want to do and explore/do those other things. Invest for your future, and invest time and effort to go to med-school; just don’t invest with at the cost of sacrificing your happiness for years. Balance out what you need to do for med-school, with what you want to do for you (and that could be more medical stuff.. but it also might not be).
- My advice would be to take your prerequisites seriously. Especially the science courses. Also, don’t get bummed out of others around you are dropping pre-med; if you have a passion for it, that should drive you.
- Don’t give up!