Pre-Meds: Who Needs ‘Em?

I hate to put people in a group based on stereotypes. Really, I do. I fought it for a long time. But I realized after meeting pre-med after pre-med that the culture of pre-med life makes it impossible to survive unless you’re a certain personality type.

I know I’ll make some people angry out there, but I’ve noticed a few things about the many pre-meds I’ve come across in my time at college. This surely isn’t true of every doctor wannabe out there, but it is a lifestyle and mindset that ensares many a good student.

1. A pre-med is always the one asking “Will this be on the test?” Yup, the pre-med is always the really annoying kid in a class, ignoring the intellectual meat of any discussion. Pre-meds are fixated on performing well by the numbers, of doing well on the test and getting the A, regardless of what they get out of the course. A pre-med’s moves are often calculated just to get the grade rather than stimulate discussion.

2. A pre-med can’t stop talking about grades. “What did you get on the exam?” “What do you think the curve will be like?” “Man, I was studying ALL last night.” “I’ve got to get an A in this course if I want to go to so-and-so med school.” It can rapidly get exhausting to chat with a pre-med. They can’t stop talking about doing well on exams and actually getting into med school — their singular obsession. They don’t want to talk about literature, art, or culture. They only want to talk about themselves and that big exam coming up.

3. A pre-med is endlessly competitive. If you’re friends with pre-meds, I’ve discovered it’s best to keep your grades to yourself. They thrive on competition and they’re determined to be better than anyone else in terms of academics. GPA’s are thrown around like currency, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep that GPA high, from shamelessly sucking up to professors, to wheedling them for grade bumps. I’m just glad the majority of my classes are arty and not swarmed with these guys and gals.

4. A pre-med can’t relax and enjoy themselves. This isn’t the pre-meds’ fault. Colleges expect a tremendous amount from their pre-meds, and the competition is so fierce that I can understand why students think they have to live this obnoxiously hardcore lifestyle in order to survive. Plenty of people start out thinking they’ll be doctors and find out early on that they just can’t hack it. However, the way the system stands now, the universities reward this bad behavior with success. Rather than valuing learning for learning’s sake and really getting something out of their classes, pre-meds know that what counts is the grade, and not the content of the class. It’s a terrible cycle of competitiveness increasing obnoxiousness, which only increases the competition.

I know some pre-meds who find time to party hard and end up wasted on the weekends, but again, there’s an air of desperation and competition to their partying, as if they feel compelled to do everything just to get the requisite college experience in. Get the grades, do the bodyshots, wear the right pants, and you’ll end up getting into the right med school. When college is only a means to an end, though, it wastes four years of what could be the best time of your life.

So to pre-meds, I say relax, try and enjoy yourselves and enjoy learning a little bit more. And to friends of pre-meds, I say, try and be patient, but make sure you have other friends as well, so you won’t be constantly surrounded by that wearying talk.

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