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I can’t believe that I am saying this but in 3 months I will have my bachelor’s degree. It seems so surreal. I think the hardest part is that half of the college experience I thought I was going to have been online. I also feel jipped, you know that feeling when you open a chip bag and it is 95% air, that basically sums up how the pandemic has taken away from our college experience. So, the question I swear that every person asks me when I say that I am graduating is, “What next?”. Come on Betty, who actually knows this? The possibilities are endless, so I have no clue. Not to mention the plans that I had established 4-6 years ago have been changed or roadblocked.

My main plan was to do 4 years of undergraduate and then 4 years of medical school, which would have been a perfect world. However, I found that most people do not start medical school until they are 24 or 25 years old meaning they got their bachelor’s degree, got experience after, then applied with a solid background to medical school. Well, I didn’t know this when I applied. $2,400 later and every school denied me. Don’t get me wrong I am a solid candidate, with a combination of community service mixed with a LONG list of organizational officer titles and awards. One thing I lack though is experience, which will be more beneficial in the long run.

I also didn’t really explore my options before jumping the gun in applications. I thought you HAD to move onto school with no breaks or you failed. I found that this is dead wrong, and schools are looking for individuals who can better themselves, in my case after rejection, and see what extra they can bring to the table or have improved on. I didn’t look at other options, my focus was straight to MD. What I found was that a DO program would be better suited for me and what I would like to make a career out of. By the time I realized it was too late for that cycle to apply which is GREAT because it gives me that gap year to improve myself and make myself more competitive.

Backup plans are also something I never thought of. In my mind, I was going to get into medical school and carry on with no gaps and no hardship. I was dead wrong. We can’t expect exactly what we want, and I came to terms with that very hard this year as my plans were crushed and I had no alternative paths to take rehearsed. I think that this helped me soul search a bit and find that really makes me happy. Doing what you love is better than doing something out of money or for a title. I found that lab work and DNA analysis are two things that I love doing. The thing is, I could take this with me to medical school and specialized in pathology or work in a criminal lab dealing with crime scene evidence. With this in mind, what could I do if I don’t get into medical school the second time applying? I could be a lab pathology technician or work in a forensics lab as a scientist.

I am so scared to graduate. I have been waiting 4 years for the moment to be done with my bachelor’s degree and now I am scared. I’m scared because I don’t have a certain plan or path yet. What I have learned is that plans change, and it isn’t the end of the world. I know that whatever I end up doing, I will do it out of love. So, what is next? We have to wait to find the “perfect” answer but for now, I am finishing my bachelor’s degree and looking to see what lies ahead.

Alicia is an aspiring doctor. She intends to graduate from IUP in 2022 and attend Medical School directly after to become a medical doctor specializing in pediatrics. She enjoys watching movies, hanging with friends, and community service. She is a dog lover and has a pug names Porky that makes her smile on her worst days. Family is everything to her as you probably have read.
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