So last week, I debunked the myth of the perfect premed school. This week I thought it would be prudent to show how I actually went about finding my perfect premed school. Basically, I want to show you guys that I am not full of @hit, as well as continue providing insight as to how to craft your happiness, and ultimately success, in undergrad.
Growing up, tennis was definitely a burning passion. I ultimately aspired to play at the division I level, however my talents were not going to take me that far. In retrospect this was a blessing though since I doubt I would be in medical school today if I had gone this route, as the majority of my time would have been spent playing tennis. That being said, I still wanted tennis to be a huge part of my collegiate experience. To accomplish this, I played for a top notched division III program. While it was a tremendous commitment, I loved it for so many reasons. First, my passion was built into absolutely everyday of college. We practiced every day for three hours and most weekends were devoted to matches. This is compared to the alternative of playing on a less serious club team or just hitting around with friends every so often. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, however it is just not the schedule that would have made me happy. Beyond this, I immediately had a community I was a part of. The very first day on campus, I had twenty some friends. It certainly helped with the transition to college and it’s no surprise that these individuals morphed into life-long friends.
Alright, so my burning passion was pretty clear to me and I followed it to the utmost. Yours may not be as obvious, and it doesn’t have to be. The point is, I could have chosen a more “prestigious” school, where I more than likely would not have been able to play tennis, in pursuit of the “ultimate” premed experience, but I would have been miserable in the process. You need to enjoy the journey, not rush through it for the endpoint, otherwise you will likely not make it to wherever you aspire.
Enough hounding that point, as I hope I drove it home last week: follow your passions, do not stifle them! What else did I consider? Well personally, I was ready to branch out a bit. I went to a college alongside absolutely no one from my high school. It allowed me to really grow into my own and meet all kinds of fascinating new people, who would become incredibly close friends. Go where friends go if that is what your heart desires, but make sure you branch out to some degree. Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, I promise you will not regret it. Beyond being the only one from my high school, I wanted a smaller school. I discovered some perks here that I feel are worth disclosing. First, the small class size allowed me to form special relationships with my professors, which was invaluable when it came time to ask for letters of recommendation. There is no reason you cannot forge this at a bigger institution, but it will require more effort, things along the line of going to office hours even if you don’t have questions just so they get to know your face, or perhaps working in their lab. Speaking of labs, I had no problems getting involved in one, as there was not much competition from fellow students. There is nothing to say a bigger school will restrict your opportunities, you just may have to be more diligent and persistent to find and secure them.
In short, I found my perfect premed school: a small, cohesive community where I could play tennis. There is nothing that flashy about it. So, don’t anguish over this decision, just give yourself the best opportunity for happiness and I assure you the rest will take care of itself.