What Makes a Masters/Post Bacc Student Competitive? Blog Post #2
So you got into your master’s program or post bacc. Now what? First you celebrate! Getting into one of these programs, as long as it is what you specifically need (See Masters vs. Post Bacc), is great and can potentially make you a more competitive applicant. Now, it is up to you to rake in the As and bask in the glow of all the interviews and acceptances you’ll get later.
Here are a few rules to follow, that you most likely did not follow in undergrad, like me, that are vital for your success are as follows:
- Keep a positive thought life.
Why is this so important? Because you are AWESOME, INTELLIGENT, and NEEDED in the medical field! You didn’t do as well as you would have hoped in undergrad, but that is OK! You have or are now learning how to fail and that will make you better able to communicate with patients in the long run. But for now, if you believe you’re awesome, intelligent and necessary in medicine, it will show in your classes and in your grades. When I did my post baccalaureate program, we spent the entire summer focused on positive affirmations. We all signed a contract that we had to maintain a 4.0, and when I started having 4.0 quarters, I knew it was largely because I had begun to believe that I could. The mind is too powerful to give in to self deprecating, negative self talk.
- Lose all extracurricular activities.
You’ll be amazed at how well you do in your program when you stop volunteering in all those service programs, drop those two jobs, etc. You did not get the grades/MCAT score you wanted the first time for a REASON, and it’s not because you were incapable. Give yourself a CHANCE to succeed. At least for the first semester, cut all extracurricular activities out, and figure out how you study best. Other students did not have the barriers you did to excel, but now you can show medical school admissions committees what you can do when you pursue the opportunity to focus in school.
- Lose bad habits.
Do not procrastinate. If you get into the flow of procrastinating it is hard to get out of it, and all the sleeplessness, depression, and/or weight gain that arise from being constant state of stress is no joke. Decide at the beginning of your program that you are going to get into a healthy rhythm of reviewing the topics you’re learning in class regularly and stay on top of your work.
Do not be disengaged in class. Like I mentioned earlier, the class sizes of master’s and post bacc programs are smaller than average undergraduate institutions. This means that your professor will most likely know who you are by the end of the semester/quarter. Speak up in class. Show your professor that you studied. Do well. Above all, DO NOT FORGET TO ASK FOR A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION! You will know which professors you have good standing with, and those are the ones who will write you QUALITY letters of rec.
- Find your team.
No one gets through medical school on their own, and the same goes for master’s and post bacc programs. Observe your classmates. Be selective about who you study with; find the ones who are on fire to succeed and stick with them.
- Last, but not least, did you CHEAT in undergrad? That has to STOP NOW. Not just because post bacc and master’s classes tend to be smaller, so your chances of getting caught are greater, but also because what you do NOW will affect the patients you serve LATER. You are at a slight disadvantage because many of your peers have already figured out what their study habit is. Everyone is different. Give yourself a chance to find out how you study best.
Your master’s and/or post bacc years can be fun and exciting, especially when the “A”s start accumulating for, possibly, the first time in your post secondary academic career. Do not lose your focus. Remember that you are BRILLIANT and necessary in the medical field. Never forget it.
Your Sister in Solidarity
Onome Oboh, MS
MD Candidate ‘21
*If you would like to contact Ms. Oboh, please email: ABPWMedia@gmail.com