5 Things I’ve Learned As a Dartmouth Pre-Health Student (So Far)

Because there’s more to it than “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell!”


Adjusting Study Styles

Having enjoyed my fair share of science classes and clubs throughout high school, I expected that my old study habits would translate to the Dartmouth science classroom fairly seamlessly. What I soon realized, however, was that my past techniques did not automatically guarantee a solid understanding of the material. I had to explore and experiment to see which methods and routines worked best for me to internalize new concepts, whether through making flashcards or working through practice problems. I also found that I can’t always study the same way for every science class. For example, physics and biology lend themselves to very different skills. It can take a bit to settle into a groove, but with a strong work ethic, this adjustment eases over time and the rewards soon show themselves, too!


Chasing Opportunities

At Dartmouth, we’re very lucky to have a wealth of resources. There is no dearth of opportunities to join health-geared clubs, to volunteer around our community, or to engage in scientific research on a topic you’re interested in. These chances are everywhere. They are available, but they will not come to you unless you pursue them. So attend activity fairs, and don’t delete every email from the daily Listserv flood. You may just find something you’re passionate about!


Saying No

With all of the above being said, all these opportunities can feel overwhelming. It may sometimes feel like the person beside you is doing everything and that you aren’t involved in nearly enough. The reality is that you cannot possibly take advantage of every opportunity at the same time. It is healthy to give yourself some time to relax and to say no. In the end, how boring would it be if everyone did the exact same things? Let yourself be picky sometimes! Find the people and the activities that make you excited, and pour your effort into those, instead of spreading yourself thin over opportunities you simply feel obligated to participate in.


Slowing Down

The pre-health track is a lot of work. There’s no denying that. When your list of tests, labs, and take-home assignments is lengthening by the hour, it can easily feel as if the only option is to keep working non-stop. Yet, in the midst of all this stress, your brain gets tired. Allow yourself to take a break-- read your favorite book, watch some Netflix, take a walk, or just take a (short) nap, for goodness sake. You deserve it. You’ll feel refreshed afterwards, letting you accomplish much more than you would have had you been exhausted and irritable. Now get back to that to-do list with a fresh mind. 


Finding Community

One of the most amazing things I’ve learned about the Dartmouth pre-health community so far is how collaborative it is. The path to a health profession is long, and in some situations, it can lend itself to a competitive culture. But here, I’ve seen how open and considerate students are, whether it be through tutoring, helping each other become involved in clubs, or just listening to a friend stressing about an upcoming slew of chemistry assignments. Not only is the student atmosphere welcoming, but there are faculty and pre-health advisors who also want to help at every turn. Professors often hold office hours to clarify class concepts in smaller groups, and the Health Professions Program office offers weekly walk-in hours to discuss any concerns you might have.