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« What do majors have to do with anything? | Main | Daily Time Management and Efficiency »
Tuesday
Jun012010

An Argument for Slacking

So you’re probably gasping, “What! Jon! You’re a pre-med! There is no time for slacking!” I, however, strongly disagree with that statement. In fact, I think slacking is a vital component for getting into medical school. Still confused? Read on my friends…

We all know the typical pre-med stereotype: living in the library during midterms and finals, constantly do problem sets, or always in lab, class, or recitation. This sure prepares a student to be the best prepared applicant for med school, right? WRONG! Think about it, if one keeps up this lifestyle for the entirety of his or her education, this leaves very little time for other activities (relaxation, extracurriculars, FUN).

Why are these “other” activities important?

Because they make you different from the rest of the applicants

Remember, you’re applying alongside thousands of equally qualified, if not more qualified, pre-meds. And admittedly, many of them will be exact cookie-cutter stereotypic pre-meds. While their stats are likely super-impressive, nothing makes them stand out from the others. Now, lets hypothetically throw in an applicant with competitive grades and scores, but who maybe didn’t shadow as many doctors, and doesn’t have as much volunteer experience (Wow, that sounds just like someone I know…hehe). Instead he pursued one of his life-long passions as an extracurricular, theater (for anyone who doesn’t know, theater as a hobby takes up RIDICULOUS amounts of time).  To an admissions officer, this applicant may look unique from the others. He has something that makes him different than the rest. He may not have devoted all his time to his pursuit of becoming a doctor, but he pursued his passion and had fun. This not only paints a better picture of yourself for the admission committee, but it also conveys the fact that you are a real person, not some robotic pre-med drone.

Now let me be clear, I’m not downplaying the importance of the typical pre-med extracurriculars (shadowing, volunteering, etc). But PLEASE don’t just do them because they will “look good on an application”. Find a way to fulfill these requirements in a way that is passionate to you (for example, I performed in a few AIDS benefit concerts/performances). Combining a “pre-med” activity with something you’re passionate about adds so much power, meaning, and individuality to your application.

Finally, make sure to make time for yourself! Very often (but not always), your NON-pre-med activities are the best reflection of who you are as a person. They show you’re not a science-spewing robot (unless you are, in fact, a robot….in which case I’m not sure you should be applying to med school). So GO OUT AND DO THEM! It doesn’t matter if they relate to medicine or not. What matters is that they show the admissions committee that you are YOU, an individual unlike any other. It's like the admissions committee has a unfilled coloring book page with your picture on it. Sure, it looks good in black and white, but go ahead and color it in! Add some yellow from your performance experience, some red from pursuing computers as a hobby, and maybe some green from your experience working at an animal shelter. Before you know it, the admissions people have a bright, unique picture of who you are. These activities make you stand out from the crowd of other applicants, hopefully enhancing the chances of you getting into medical school.

So my friends, go slack off! It’s a lot easier to do now because it’s summer (unless you’re taking summer classes…in which case, slack off anyways!). Walk away from the textbook, the assigned summer reading, the MCAT study guide, and the med school application. Go be yourself, be unique, and be awesome.

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Reader Comments (6)

Interesting thoughts. However, I wouldn´t refer to activities outside of the pre med world as "slacking". Like you say, theater takes up a lot of time!

June 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPre Med Journey

Great post Jon. You're completely right. Do something that makes you the person that you are and do something that you want to do. I see a lot of people as pre-health majors choosing certain activities to put on their resume just because they need one more thing to get into medical school. But they don't like it at all and they end up hating it. It will also look great for your interview if you have something passionate to talk about. One of the three main recommendations I saw of medical schools in my area was they wanted someone who took humanities. Someone who can understand the world outside of science.

Funny that you mention this because I'm debating whether or not to take a physics class so I can regroup with myself this summer (hit the books hard for two years straight). I'd love to learn guitar.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

Pre Med Journey: you're totally right. I wrote the title and used the word "slacking" as a tongue-in-cheek description of how some uber-hardcore (and likely completely naive) premeds might see it.

Also, I think it's how all pre-meds feel at some point or another. Personally, I sometimes feel guilty for not taking on more health-related activities, but then I quickly remind myself that I'm spending my time doing what I love, and THATS more important than padding a resume.

June 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Hey Jon, I'm Captain Pep. I've been reading these posts and I know how
important it is to take some time off from studying. Although it's great to "slack off" sometimes, getting motivated to study can be pretty hard. I like to find media on the Internet to help people
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-[link removed]-

Check it out - I hope you find this video helps you get some work done...

Captain Pep

June 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain pep

This post has definitely helped me think things through more clearly.

I'm currently a junior in high school. (or going to be) And the talks of "what I wanna do with my life" will come up way too many times within the next two years. I do a lot of theater (school/community), have a rigorous academic schedule, and volunteer at hospitals.

I've been contemplating majoring in theater or musical theater with a pre-med track. I've discussed it my plans with so many people and they just confirm what my fears are.

1. How I won't be prepared for MCATS.
2. It won't look competitive enough for medical school.
3. There's no jobs for theater majors.

I love performing as much as I love science. Though science hasn't always been my strongest point, I've dedicated myself into making sure I understand the material.

This has definitely made the choice somewhat easier at the moment. So thank you!

July 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKen

A really interesting take on "slacking". I love slacking although I doubt if it helped me so far as it did you. I have to agree that doing what you love makes you a more appealing person. I often look up to people brave enough to this and helping a lot of people in doing so. Kudos to you!

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