As most of you know, the first year of university is always the hardest to adjust to. The addition of taking care of yourself, making new friends, learning how to get around campus, and school can sometimes be too much to bear. Some kids get the luxury of living on or close to campus in order to make sure that they stay focused on school, but in my case, I was commuting three hours a day to and from the campus.
I would like to attend medical school after my four-year undergraduate. It is well known that medical schools are very competitive and require extremely high marks to even be considered. I had always known that I was meant for medical school and worked hard to achieve 90%+ all throughout high school. I enrolled in life sciences and knew that I wanted to do a double major in neuroscience and psychology, but of course, I wasn’t so fond of the prerequisites to get to that stage. Taking math and physics wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do in my first year, especially when I thought I would finally be studying what I liked.
So after the drowning I call first semester, I looked back on my grades and was shocked. I had never seen numbers like this before; I really didn’t even think they were possible. I had heard that medical schools liked to see an upward trend, so I was dismayed and hurt, but tried not to think about it. Having your grades stripped from you when that was all you had was a huge thing I had to overcome – I defined my worth by how “smart” I was and getting past that mindset was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
After I saw my grades, I kicked myself into high gear. I started working hard, keeping up with assignments, and realized the mistake I made taking a bunch of unnecessarily challenging courses. As if that wasn’t enough, all our lab/practical hours were cancelled and grades had to be shifted around because our TAs went on strike. One of my classes was even cancelled because they were picketing in front of the building. At the end of my second semester, my grades weren’t as high as I wanted them to be, but I accepted it. I knew that there were reasons for the discrepancies but I still saw a huge improvement in my marks from first semester. I had enjoyed my time in my second semester and even though I wasn’t where I wanted to be, it had nothing to do with my place in the university. It was very eye-opening and taught me what I needed to do in order to achieve MY best – not what everyone else considered to be the best.
I’m now taking a summer school course and my marks are astoundingly better than what I was getting during my first year of school. My work ethic precedes my first year grades and I know that if I apply what I learned during this year to the rest of my years in school, I will be exactly where I need to be. The important thing to note from my story is this – adjustment and success takes time and work. You can’t expect to start a new job or do something new and be amazing at it right away. Your learning may not look good on paper – but the lessons that stay engrained in your memory are worth much more than marks or experience to put on your CV. Work hard, stay positive and make sure you enjoy what you are doing. Though I had a rough start, I’m sure my lessons and new attitude will carry me much farther than just to medical school.