Pre-med vs. Med School- What’s the difference?

September 5, 2013
Emily Hause

Blood_test_ITESMHello my eager med school applicants! I hope you rocked a great long Labor Day weekend and are happily back in the swing of classes. I know that you’re all busy with studying, volunteering, and preparing for the MCAT. Or maybe you are filling out secondary applications and getting ready for interviews. As you are running around like crazy people, you may stop to daydream how being a medical school student is different than being a pre-med student. Fortunately for you, I have been pondering the same thing and I have some good news for you.

1. No grades = No competition

 The great thing about medical school is that many of them don’t have letter grades for their classes. My school, for example, has pass (above 70%), fail (below 70%) and honors (above 90%). The even better thing is that our honors aren’t limited. Everyone can honor as long as they score over 90% in the class. What that means is that everyone is collaborative. Our first test is next week and our class Facebook page is filled with study guides, flashcards, helpful tips and useful websites. It’s amazing how much everyone wants to make sure that their classmates succeed. After years of fighting to be at the top of the application pile, we’re all comfortable working together to become great doctors.

2. Achieving Balance

Medical school is a marathon, not a sprint. Pretty much everyone in my class works to achieve balance by eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy social life. There is no such thing as cramming, since it’s not really a viable option. Yes, we do spend most of our weekends studying, but we still have time to talk to our families, hang out with friends and do fun things like run electric 5k’s and go to festivals. A successful med student is a well-balanced med student.

3. Only doing things you want to

Gone are the days when you join a club or volunteer at a position so that you can put it on your application. We got a speech about not joining things for the sake of joining things during our first week. Now is the time to explore the things that you are truly passionate about. That means that absolutely every elective class and every activity I join, I absolutely love. Everyone in those classes and activities also is 100% committed. Nobody is joining things half-heartedly and it makes every activity more exciting and rewarding.

4. Being who you are

In undergrad, you were busy trying to transition from high school and living with your parents to living on your own and dealing with college-level classes. You were in an awkward discovery-transition-finding-yourself period. Your quirks and craziness were hidden for at least a few months until you were confident in your friendships. Not in medical school. No one sees the point in masking their true selves, so you get a pretty good read on everyone right away. People admit to their faults and quirks with refreshing honesty. Plus, I think there is a general consensus that we’re all a little Type A, quirky, nerdy, and ready to become rockin’ doctors.

If undergrad is stressing you out, there is hope! So far, med school is much more fun than being pre-med.

Special shout-out to Eli Schwartz for helping inspire this blog post.

Happy studying!

Emily Hause Emily has been a teacher for Kaplan for over eight years; she's taught MCAT, ACT, SAT, SAT2 and tutored pretty much every subject under the sun in both the classroom and live online (aka Classroom Anywhere) settings. She's also worked for Kaplan in content development and teacher mentorship roles. Emily is currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado and is hoping to go into Pediatrics. She's involved in many campus opportunities such as being a Prospective Student Representative, admissions committee member, CU-UNITE member, and co-president of the Education and Teaching Interest Group. Prior to medical school, Emily got a BA in Biochemistry and Spanish from Lawrence University and a Masters in Public Health- Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota. In her free time, Emily enjoys dancing, baking, playing tennis and exploring her new Colorado home.

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