Pre-Med Academics

Reflections from a Pre-Med Student: 3 Tips for Surviving and Thriving Along the Pre-Med Path 

Four years can fly by faster than you think! After graduating college and successfully applying to medical school, I can look back fondly on my pre-med years and identify some of the best things I did to ensure my success. Keep reading to find out the three most important tips for succeeding (even beyond your grades) as a pre-med. 

Focus on Building a Solid Community 

This isn’t encouraged nearly as much as it should be. There’s a stereotype that pre-med students are hyper-competitive and painfully independent, making group work or collaboration a no-go. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s not always true! There will always be a few pre-med students here and there who live up to that persona, but the vast majority are looking for classmates and friends that they can grow with, support, and succeed. Not to mention, this path is not easy, so why go through it alone if you don’t have to! Whether you befriend fellow pre-meds or people who study totally different things (like I did), make sure to build a community of friends, teachers, and advisors that will support you, pick you up when you’re down, and look out for your best interests. And you can do the same for them! For me, identifying and pouring into my close community of friends and mentors was the single most effective means of staying motivated and positive. I would not have succeeded in college without them! 

Choose the Major That YOU Want 

Thankfully, more and more pre-meds are realizing that they can truly major in whatever they want and still apply to medical school. The days of just biology majors getting accepted are long gone as more and more history, psychology, and other humanities majors are bursting through the gates of med school admissions and becoming amazing doctors. I know it may be convenient to study biology or a concentration within biology, but if it’s not where your interests lie, don’t major in it! The beauty of the pre-med path is that you will still have to take all of the pre-med requirements, but you can take whatever you want alongside those (flexibility varies by school). For example, I majored in Neuroscience in college because I was really interested in it coming out of high school and it made things easy when it came to completing my pre-med requirements. However, if I could go back, I would study something totally different, American Sign Language! That’s just one example, but there are plenty of others! You have 2+ full years of natural sciences waiting for you in medical school, so don’t be afraid to explore something different while in college. 

Remember, This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint! 

I don’t know about you but I was in a RUSH when I started college. I wanted to work in every research lab, join every club, start every volunteer project and still ace all of my coursework at the same time. And if I didn’t do all of those things, I was panicking and thinking that I wasn’t doing enough. Now, I look back on those early college years and laugh! I was unnecessarily hard on myself and I spent way too much time worrying about what other people were doing. The journey is not a short one and had I continued on with that same frantic energy, I would have burnt out by sophomore year. I am SO glad that I had friends and other community members to knock some sense into me. Looking back, I can show grace for myself and respect that I was

naive and eager to succeed. Now looking forward, I make an effort to remind myself that my mental health and overall wellness are far more important than that one extra bullet point on my CV. I’ll get to it another time and it will be just as impactful then and it would have been now. 

While there are many lessons I’ve learned in the past four years, these stand out as the most important to pass on to incoming or current college students. Keep your head up, keep pushing forward, and follow these simple tips. You’ll be a doctor before you know it.


Have more questions about getting into med school or becoming a doctor? MedSchoolCoach has a team of admissions advisors who’ve all served on admissions committees. They are available to help you better your med school application and boost your chances of getting into medical school. Look them up!

Olivia Brumfield

Olivia is a senior at the University of Rochester where she expects to receive a B.S. in neuroscience. She is an aspiring physician with expertise in program management, clinical care, and REDCap with intermediate fluency in American Sign Language. She a Clinical Research Associate at the University of Rochester Center for Health + Technology, as well as the host of the PreMeducation video series.

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