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If you're like most pre-meds, you're smart. You work hard. You're committed to becoming a doctor, no matter what you have to give up along the way.
You might wonder, though, whether you're going to be one of the lucky few who get into medical school. All of this effort - will it pay off? Maybe you feel like this pre-med:
We at the Savvy Pre-Med are admissions geeks - we're teachers who have helped hundreds of pre-meds get in to medical school. We made this site because most advice about applying to med school is too simple. "Get good grades," "Volunteer," "Shadow" - certainly true, but not particularly helpful.
We've seen too many pre-meds who are miserable, because they're working themselves to the bone. Most pre-meds assume that they must sacrifice everything in order to get in, that they are unable to be themselves or have a life while pursuing medicine.
Wrong. We're here to show you a better way to be pre-med, and it starts with a choice: what kind of pre-med do you want to be?
Are You a Goat? The Two Ways to Get Into Medical School
It was the day the goats escaped. 800 goats, brought in to be eco-friendly lawnmowers, suddenly burst down the hill from Berkeley National Laboratory, snarling traffic and confusing onlooking humans. There's a video of it on YouTube.
As a pre-med, you're like these goats, racing as fast as you can to a distant goal. You might stop to wonder, "Where am I going? Why am I running so fast?" But then you remember that you're a goat, so you put your head down and try not to think about it.
Goats are actually quite intelligent. They live in complex social groups, jump on trampolines, and plot complicated escapes from their holding pens. You can spend hours on YouTube finding videos of interesting things goats can do (and indeed, I did).
Researchers in 2014 put goat intelligence to a test: could goats be taught to pull on a rope to activate a lever that dropped fruit from a box? Yes. Nine of the 12 goats succeeded in just a few tries. Two of the goats were disqualified after trying to pry the box open with their horns (no cheating allowed). And one poor sap still couldn't open the box after 22 tries, where it became clear to everyone except the goat that this dream of getting fruit from a box was never going to happen.
If they're so smart, why did these goats put their heads down and run? My counter-argument: wouldn't you do the same? The surprising thing about stampedes is that each individual is acting rationally. If 799 animals around you are racing down a hillside, your best bet is to run as fast as you can. Stay still, and you'll get trampled. Fortunately none of the Berkeley goats was harmed (fortunately for the goats and fortunately for the Berkeley community - can you imagine the protests?). The goats were actually being led to a new location for grazing.
However, the pre-med stampede is more deadly. At the end of the journey, 60% of pre-meds are rejected. Countless more drop along the route, changing career paths because they're unable to keep up with the break-neck pace. Under those circumstances, it's risky to be different. Any hiccup - a bad semester, a little depression - can damage your chances of getting in. It's sensible to keep running as fast as you can and hope that you're one of the lucky ones who makes it to the end.
Pre-meds have two options:
1) be faster than the other goats, or
2) stop being a goat.
If you like running fast and enjoy the race, then by all means continue. You may be the Usain Bolt of goats, so choose option A. You can just get better grades and a better MCAT score than everyone else, and you will race yourself right into medical school.
Choosing to be different may sound easy, until you realize that it goes against human evolution. For thousands of years, humans have lived in small bands, where the pressure to conform was life-or-death: violate the will of the tribe, and you're on your own. To resist this ancient pressure requires more than a one-time choice: it requires planning, positive reinforcement and commitment.
If you choose option B, you can't stop running entirely. No, you have to prove that you can at least keep up with other pre-meds. But you can find your own path, out away from the herd. It's scary to blaze your own trail, because you don't know where you're going. But it's the best way to stay out from under foot.
We hope you will poke around the site to learn how to become a Savvy Pre-Med. Many of our readers start at the beginning; others like to read the advice that's relevant to them and come back to it.
Start with the best advice for where you are in your journey:
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Savvy Pre-Med Authors
Founder and Head Advisor at Passport Admissions
I'm a former MCAT teacher and Medical School Admissions Nerd. I've taught and mentored hundreds of pre-meds, first as an instructor for The Princeton Review and for the past ten years. Keep reading about Rob...
Author, Editor, and Graduate School Admissions Advisor
I've taught thousands of students to write better, first as an English teacher and now as a medical school editor at Passport Admissions. As an author myself, I know how hard it is to tell a compelling story. Keep reading about Ryan...