The other side does look greener

Illustration by Justine Liang.

Sometimes, I wish I were pre-med. It just seems easier.

Don’t get me wrong – I know that medical school is probably the most grueling schooling experience ever. I have friends who were almost broken having to face their fear of blood. I know people can get discouraged before they even step foot in medical school. The application process and all of the prerequisites are the ultimate weeders, stronger than 150 bottles of the best DDT. But at least pre-med students know what they are up against.

In my eyes, it’s simple. You take your pre-med requirements in conjunction with your major requirements, land some awesome internships in the medical field, do some medical research, volunteer at a hospital or two, score the best you can on your MCAT and presto, you’re ready to apply.

And then there are us non-pre-med students. What are we to do? Well, undergraduate research seems like a reasonable option. But what do we do research in? What internships are the best to get? How are we supposed to know which opportunities are the best – the ones that will set us apart from everyone else?

What if you’re indecisive like me? Being a double major, I have to go above and beyond in both biology and environmental policy. For the past few days, I’ve been planning ahead for next year, trying to figure out what I’ll be doing with my time. Like many of my friends, I look at the long to-do list and feel the sudden need to grab a life preserver and save my self from drowning. I know that all of this is in an effort to figure out what I’m interested in so I can go even deeper in my area of interest and apply for one type of graduate school, not multiple, but it’s still intimidating. I’m not saying that being pre-med is as simple as sipping lemonade at the beach, but from a planning perspective, it definitely seems like it. Yeah, we all have to juggle a million things, but at least the million things you juggle as a pre-med student are more likely to be relevant and related to your future.

So what are we non-pre-med kids to do? It’s simple: talk to someone at the Career Services Center. After attending a graduate school conference, I went and talked to an advisor there and she outlined for me everything I needed to do in all three of my areas of interest: biology, environmental policy and journalism. Although trying to excel in all three fields in an attempt to figure out my life is going to be the most exhausting thing ever, at least I’m moving forward, right? Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping a life preserver handy.