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How To Do YU Pre-Med AND Stay Sane

Upon writing my first opinion piece for The Commentator, I realized this was finally my opportunity to offer the incoming YU community a glimpse of my rewarding experiences spent in and out of the classroom. Concurrently, I realized that it could be my only chance to warn the fresh meat that is about to endure 4 years of pain in pursuit of their lofty career interests. While some will see through my often lighthearted, facetious remarks, make no mistake that I have seen, heard, and encountered most of the pitfalls of a pre-med student.  Heed my words all ye potential biology majors (and the one chemistry major, perhaps) and you will thrive on your journey through YU pre-med.

1. Stay AWAY from competition

This is my first tip because it is one I cannot emphasize enough. Early on, I noticed that smaller classes meant a tight grading curve, and that births sink-or-swim rivalries among classmates. Asking for help on homework problems became seeking a competitive edge and studying for tests meant fending for oneself. I decided to distance myself from this contention and succeed for myself. Finishing pre-med is not a horse-race, but a pursuit of the finish line. Focusing on your own work and understanding of the material will liberate you from the surrounding atmosphere of paranoia, antagonism, and self-seeking maneuvers.

2. Don’t sacrifice sleep for studying

There’s no doubt that YU is a nocturnal university; in reality, our day starts at 3 p.m. (with all due to respect to my enthusiastic MYPers). A 2007 study at St. Lawrence University found that college students who pulled at least one all-nighter each semester actually had lower GPAs than their classmates who spent those nights in bed. Instead of all-night cramming, try reviewing some material every night the week before an exam. The night before the test, perform a light review and log some quality hours in the sack to keep your brain functioning during your exam.

3. The library will eventually give you cabin fever

The fourth floor of Mendel Gottesman is more maddening than the doomed hotel in the The Shining. Its silence will have you hearing voices reverberating from its corridors and the pre-exam tension wafting through the air is palpable. Spending more than a few hours there will have you thinking murderous thoughts (in the vein of Jack Nicholson). Do your studying elsewhere.

4. Keep your posture in check

 Hunching over a textbook, a lab bench, or problem sets will slowly put a curvature in your vertebrae. Add to that lugging around several hardcovers and you’re looking at Quasimodo -level spine issues. Do some simple stretching in the AM and PM and try and strengthen your back in the gym (pull-ups, rows, and lat pull-downs to get started). Which brings me to my next tip…

5. Pump some iron

 I’ve seen too many of my peers make Grandma’s and Golan their meal plan 4 out of 5 weekdays. Following all day studying, this desperation for convenience food often results in inflated waists and empty wallets. Try to prepare a few of your own meals and you may save yourself some pounds and some bucks. Remember, only you can control the oil your meal is doused in.

6. Don’t make your college experience a checklist

The pre-health track has become so systematic over the years that your coursework and extracurriculars will seem almost regimented. While there are necessary courses, (core sciences, Statistics, Calculus) a pre-med must fill the rest of his or her credits with topics of interest or areas outside his or her comfort zone. Finding activities you can be passionate about will certainly stand out to a medical school admissions officer. Individuality will make your résumé unique.


 This tip drives it all home. Do not sacrifice socializing or having some fun with friends for a little more chemistry reading. It will typically be of little use, and your downtime is important for relieving some tension. Those moments are precious and don’t come by often in a single gender university (except for the occasional intercampus shuttle ride). Make sure to pencil some fun into your overworked schedule.

Keep these tips in the back of your brain during your pre-med journey and you will surely enjoy your pursuit of an M.D. We’re all in this together.