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A Few Reminders as You Apply To Grad School or Medical School

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

You know what I sometimes do in my free time? I look at articles, memes or videos about applying to medical school, when I’m not applying to medical school, just to remind myself of what I DON’T have to deal with. 

Applying for med school is not for the faint of heart, let me tell you. If I think it’s special to be in the top ten percent of my class, I am about to be told that I am so wrong. Because if I look at applying to med school, according to the articles online, literally everyone else has straight As and has done a ton of internships, job shadowing, research experience, et cetera. They all already have really detailed CVs and they’re not even done with graduate school yet. What is up with that? That’s definitely crazy. 

That’s why I tell myself applying to graduate school should be easier, and, I guess, technically it is, but there is still a lot of comparison and competition. I thought it was basically a given that I was going to be accepted into an undergraduate university, but grad school? That’s definitely not a given, not even close. 

It might cause a lot of self–doubt and a lot of questioning yourself. To apply to graduate schools of any kind (including med schools), you often have to write a personal statement explaining who you are and what your story is as a potential applicant. You have to ask for letters of recommendation. You have to go to interviews and explain why you should be considered. You have to write out a CV, which is like an academic resume, explaining what you have accomplished in your undergraduate career. 

In other words, you are entering the adult world, and our personal adult world is based on the system of capitalism. How much can you produce, what can you contribute and are you worthy to be considered for this position? Why should we accept you? How accomplished are you? What concrete things have you done with your life? While that’s all well and good because you know, you gotta contribute to society and we all have skills and talents that we can use to make money, it can start to feel like your worth entirely revolves around producing, when it doesn’t. 

I could write an article with advice on how you would get into graduate school, but if you are applying to graduate or medical school, I don’t think you need another one of those. Do some basic research on Google, or buy a couple of books about that. Talk to advisors, connections, professors, etc. I’m sure any of you who are planning on applying to graduate school has thoroughly done your research. 

I’m simply here to remind you that first of all, I know so many absolutely amazing girls who are planning on applying to graduate school or medical school. They’re all so incredible, talented people. They’re smart, they’re hardworking, they’re kind and they know where they’re going and how to get there. I’m sure you’re just like them, even if you don’t feel like it. C’mon girl, if you are even considering grad school, I’m sure it means that you’ve done pretty well in school right now and you want to continue pursuing your interests and career in an academic setting. You deserve some gravy for that. You are an amazing girl who’s got goals and plans for the future, and I’m sure you’ve got some pretty cool experience to back your claims up. I mean, all of the girls I know who are planning on applying to grad school do, so of course, you do too! 

So, also focus on yourself. I know everyone says it over and over again, but honestly, life really does get better when you try to outcompete the girl you were yesterday, instead of trying to be better than someone you know, or some random person on the internet. Because, again, I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but you don’t actually know what other people are going through. People hide a lot of things. We’ve all got skeletons in our closets. You don’t know the trauma someone may have been through, you don’t know the struggles or embarrassing moments someone may have lived, and deep down, a lot of people are probably feeling just like you. I’ve been seeing some articles about senioritis and graduation anxiety recently, which I love because I can definitely relate. This is a side note, but I honestly hate when people tell me that it must be so exciting that I’m graduating so soon. No, it’s not exciting. I’m really scared, actually. You wanna trade places? If we could, I would totally trade places with you. But anyway, I’ve been seeing that kind of sentiment in some of the articles that I’ve been reading, and I absolutely agree. But anyway, the point is that a lot of people probably feel just like you, have had to go through a lot of the things you’ve gone through, and also have their own personal frustrations and trauma that they have experienced in their life. Don’t assume that everybody else has their life figured out. Again, a lot of people are good at pretending. 

Also, another thing to consider is, this really is going to be the next chapter of your life. Who knows. Maybe you are ready for it, and that is literally why it is going to be the next chapter of your life. I mean, I say I want to still be in undergraduate school, but honestly, do I really? What else do I have to learn? I’ve almost taken all the classes I need for my major. It’s time to move on to bigger and better things. It’s time to push myself a little. It’s time for new challenges that I haven’t faced before because challenges really are the only way you grow. I’m sorry, another cliche, but I really have grown the most when I’ve been really challenged. When things haven’t been easy for me. That’s when I’ve learned to do new things, I’ve learned to be humble, I’ve learned how to deal with hard times, I’ve learned to pick myself back up and continue on even when I’ve failed, when I’ve been struggling, or when someone tells me I’m not where I need to be yet. Really, if life were easy all the time, I’d never change, and that is definitely NOT a good thing. I’d much rather grow into a better person through whatever challenges are coming my way. So maybe this is a new chapter of your life, and you’re just a little nervous because it looks different from what you’re used to. But girl, you absolutely slay at what you’re used to, don’t you want to try something new? 

Finally, I’ve said this before in other articles. I’m going to say it again. You are, and always will be, more than your career, more than your accomplishments and more than your resume. You are what makes you smile. You are what you enjoy. You are what you love. You are how you describe yourself. And because no one else is you, only you really know who you are, and that means you should be giving yourself some credit. No one has been through the same things you’ve been through. You’re stronger than anyone else in your own way. 

Life really isn’t about your accomplishments or grades or even your job. Life is in the moments that make you glad to be alive, not when you’re really struggling, cramming for a test, or just praying that if you work hard, your future will be better than your present. Life is in the morning sunrises that make you gasp with awe, the autumn leaves that fall around you and brighten your world, that new show you can’t wait to watch, your friends you love to be around, the hobbies that make you happy, the things you love to learn, the traits you love about yourself, the clothes that make you feel cute, and life is also about how far you’ve come as a person. Don’t measure yourself—EVER—by someone else’s standards. Only you can say how you’ve grown as a person. 

So, apply to med school. Apply to grad school. Apply to whatever you want, because there is a place out there for you. Maybe it’s not where you planned to be first. That’s okay. You will end up where you are meant to be. I believe in you and you should too!

A senior majoring in Biology (molecular and cellular specialization), who loves reading, writing, history, philosophy, cool science stuff, listening to music and thinking about things.