Category Archives: Tips

Halloween Doozy.

Fail for having a real Halloween…. this is now two years in a row I haven’t gotten to properly celebrate… Why? Because my professor decided to have our midterm on Nov 1.

1) Why in the first place would any upper-div bio professor have only one mid term – that means my mid term was worth 40% and the final 60% …. in stead of 2 mid terms like a kind and understanding professor, where each is 25% and the final 50%


2) Why, if a one mid term class, would one make it for the day after halloween? That’s just mean. I’d rather take it early than lose a Halloween… I’m just a child, I want to dress up not study!

So what did I do… I dressed up…. and studied. Ya I sat in a fat tutu with an unnecessarly amount of make up caked on my face, and read through my notes while simultaneously watching a terribly written “scary” movie.

whatever. the life of a pre-med student.

you make it work.

The Personal Statement

I can’t sleep.

And I have a sore throat (double whammy).

Which means of course that I have to embark on my person statement (jeeze seems like I while since I have done anything Medical related! ha)

I got down version 1… I don’t know if it meets all the goals that one should have for such a statement but luckily I have 11 and a half months to edit it… and have been blessed with an amazing professor that has agreed to help me write it well.

It is always a challenge for me to find people whose advice I honestly trust when it comes to medical school. Likely because there is no one right way. What worked for someone else may not work for you, and vice versa. You have to hope that you are right, is some way, I mean given you’re not a super genius with an incredible GPA and MCAT score, you gotta hope you can show medical schools your edge (because you know that you have it, it’s just about how you show it off).

So luckily I have my favorite professor whose advice I do trust and who is going to help me with the personal statement. yay. sigh of relief. And i got time. Just can’t let it tick away

Tip #9 — Go to class

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I reluctantly hurry across campus, only to enter one of the most boring and occasionally frustrating classes I have taken at UCSD. Molecular Biology. It is not in fact because molecular biology cannot be interesting, because in fact I think there is a way to approach protein synthesis and bacterial reproduction that even non-science people would enjoy. But, it is because my class is taught by Miss Swan from Mad TV. I have no problem with foreign teachers. I actually enjoy the fact that most of my classes are taught by people born outside of the US. But I have a serious problem with a professor that expects to teach difficult material without a mastery of the English Language. Frankly, it’s just not fair. the 300+ kids in that class are paying tuition, only to find ourselves with a biologist that does not understand how to teach, nor can proficiently speak English. This class is my hell. 1:20 minutes feels like 3 hours, and this class comes immediately after a 1:20 min lecture by a great doctor, with such monotone oration that we can only help but fall asleep to images of insulin and glucagon battles…

I’ve had some amazing teachers at university, many are pretty good. But Miss Swan and my freshman physics teachers really take the cake, illustrating the sad phenomenon of geniuses with an inability to teach others the complexities that they have mastered. My roommate once told me that the best teachers are those who have struggled with the material themselves, because they can then use their mastery to guide yourown. I’m actually starting to believe it.

In the end my point is no matter how much a class sucks or a teacher refuses to live up to the standards we are guaranteed, it is still necessary, if not more necessary to go to class. With exceptions: if there is a video podcast and you can really sack up to watch it every day, then you’re saving yourself. But for me, this teacher doesn’t even audio podcast, and she tests off her lectures. If this is the case, force yourself to go to class. There is no other way to have hope in such a bleak situation. I know this seems slightly drastic, but if you have ever had awful teachers and know the importance of grades, you will understand.

Make’s you appreciate the brilliant teachers ever more (:

Tip #8 Building Relationships

So it’s fourth week. And I now find myself with 2 days to make final decisions about add/drop class and grading options. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a minor freak out yesterday. I have quite an interesting schedule this quarter… endocrinology, molecular biology, historical archeology, and politial psychology. Endocrinology is going to be hard, I’ve accepted that, my teacher is an MD who taught at the med school, I get what he expects from us. Historical archeology is a seminar, so I’m hoping that since 45% of the grade is based on participation, I shouldn’t have any problems.

The issues lie with my Poli and Mol Bio classes. Day 1 Poli the professor said this is one of the hardest Poli classes at UCSD. Hmmm not my favorite thing to hear as a bio major. In theory, I could take it pass/no pass, but I actually like the class, and I want to work hard. I  taking a P/NP gives you the ability to focus on your other classes and still get credit for doing nothing in that class, so actually caring and putting in effort defeats the point. Then there is Mol Bio. I cannot understand the professor, she doesn’t hold my attention in lectures, she assigns incorrect reading so I can’t even teach myself in the book, she doesn’t curve the class so it’s a rote memorization nightmare. Basically 3 weeks in and I’ve learned close to nothing. A combination of her inability to teach effectively, and my frustration.

So what do I do now? Drop Mol Bio? Put that puts me with only 3 classes and med schools wont like that I’m “not working hard” or take a P/NP in Poli, but I would have to convince myself to direct some of my efforts from that class to Mol Bio or another subject? Or stick with Mol Bio, and take the chance of not doing well in the class?

For me, my decision hinges on how med schools will view my decisions. I’m only concerned with this quarter because I know I won’t want to take 4 challenging classes every quarter of my senior year and I refuse to let my desire to ensure a “fun” senior year shine unfavorably in the eyes of admissions committees…

So with 38 hours to change grading options, I set out to consult anyone I know that has med school knowledge….

This is why building relationships is important. Or, I should say, one reason why building relationships is important. I e-mailed my Ochem professor right away. I knew he had some background in med school apps, and I figured he could give me some advice. I also know a med student that is always available to answer my questions to the best of his ability. Having reliable people, whose opinions you respect and more importantly whose advice is valuable is critical. You never know when you might need an on-the-spot question answered (even if your question is dumb…). Furthermore, hopefully these relationships you build, whether it be a professor, TA, employer, advisor can probably write you a pretty good letter of rec in the long run. Either way, as I’ve said before, get to know and build a friendship with every one you can because people are cool. They have led interesting lives and have the stories to prove it. Life is short, why not make it a little bit bigger by sharing the experiences of others?

The Point.

Today has is a good day. So far. So far as it’s 11am and despite not going to bed until 3am I’m awake and feeling pretty good. Fiona and I got up at 7:30am and did some

All 3 of my roommates and I do yoga pilates blend Monday and Wednesdays. Usually we complain the it’s not hard enough, and that Alexia our instructor (not yogi), doesn’t work us hard enough, doesn’t talk in a soothing voice, etc. But today it was actually decent. Got a small work out, did some stretching, and actually was able to hold my sun salutation correctly, and not fall down. I planned on running back from the studio, but it was sprinkling raining, so I decided to decline, and make some bomb

YES. Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes reminiscent of some good Jack Johnson, although I can’t unfortunately pretend like it’s the weekend… Given I have a meeting at 1, office hours at 2:30, class at 5, chapter meeting at 8, and homework to complete.

If not already apparent, the case I make for getting into med school is living a balance life. No one score, point average, or activity can get you in. Plus, who wants to live a one-sided life anyways? Life is too short to not do what you love. Yes sometimes school or studying sucks, and you might not be necessarily doing what you love. But it’s having the right of mind to plan ahead, so that the majority of your life will be spent doing what you love. I honestly think that is the most important thing that all people can aim for. You want to be able to look back years later and reflect on the good life you have lived. I try to live balanced, so that I can both prepare for my future, and still have small moments of bliss every week. The real point is that living a balance life is so much more than just getting into med school, its about fulfillment. Life is more than med school, despite what many of my fellow pre meds would say. And I think if they just acknowledged that fact, they would be even closer to reaching their goal.

Live balanced, be happy.

Check The Pastry Affair for some delicious, healthy pancakes.

Tip #4 — Living up to your leadership position.

Sometimes I pretend I’m really mature, and that I’m done learning anything in life (other than medicine of course). Who am I kidding I always pretend I’m more mature than I am…

…But then sometimes things happen, to ground me, and remind me that I have so much more to learn…

Lesson of the day: Taking leadership position does not in fact mean you are taking a leadership role.

Anyone can find some random club or organization and get the title. If you go to college, you know how to compete, you do it every day in your classes what makes you think you can’t do it in an organization too? But just because you gain a title doesn’t mean your living through that responsibility. I’ve come to realize that it’s important to take an active leadership role–

1. You will quickly find out if you are the leader your parents, always so humbly, said you were. I don’t think anyone is a leader by accident, and I hardly think anyone is a leader that doesn’t want to be. It’s time to put the talents God gave you to the test!

2. In parallel with #1 — you learn about yourself. Subjecting yourself to difficult situations that require leadership skills and complex problem solving only allow you to grow as a person and to find out just how successful you are.

3. It’s purely living up to your responsibilities. You took the role, you committed to working hard and helping others succeed. People depend on you and you have a duty to carry out your task at hand. Shrinking from a difficult problem is not the path. As a leader it is important to be strong, even if inside you are unsure, outwardly carry yourself high and work through it.

4. As stupid as this sounds (I could kick myself for writing this, but alas, I say this to new Pi Phi’s all the time), you could really inspire someone to take a leadership roll as well. Leading by example is pertinent to be a guider, as well as a leader. Promote the best interests of your organization by working hard and demonstrating the challenges and rewards of leadership.

So yeah. Today I learned that while it’s easy to sit passively, and watch endless opportunities fly by, I could technically say I’m a leader. But neither my peers nor myself will believe it unless my actions personify the title that I hold.


Tip #7 – Take a Diverse Course load

Key to getting into med school is being well rounded. duh. If I need to be more clear that means taking a load of humanities classes you have little to no experience in, and often times aren’t very interested in. Luckily, I love history. Unluckily, my roommates talked me into signing up for the most deadly Polisci class ever. Not only does it present 100s of pages of dense reading a week, it so damn subjective and wack that I forgot what it was like to not learn pure fact, and how frustrated that can make it. Alas, endocrinology and molecular biology is my escape. Oh yeah, that probably sounds weird. Once again I forgot that normal people don’t take joys in learning about the mechanisms of sodium regulation in the kidney, or reverse transcriptase viruses. Anyways I don’t think I’m off the charts by saying the Political Psychology taught by Darren Schreiber could be the most jacked class I have ever taken.

Alas. It is important to take a diverse course load, hence, but I think the aim is to take humanities classes that are intesting, because hands down it’s better to maintain your GPA then take a load of random classes you can’t pass.

Adventures in Polisci land to continue the next 10 weeks…

Yay tomorrow is Friday. Gotta get to business on ordering lamb kidney and eyes so I can do some more dissections.

Practice makes perfect.