I made a joke over the weekend about how I couldn’t make my bed because I’m really busy as a full time student. My snide elicited pity laughter at the very least, but it got me thinking about how being a student has been my job day in and day out for the last 15 years of my life…and I’m not at all sick of it! Wouldn’t it be the best if students got pensions??
My peers and I are truly full time students – even on weekends and during vacations. When we’re not in class, we may be working to save money to invest in our education, or we may be in labs building both fundamental and advanced skills to directly apply to classes, or we may be eagerly awaiting highly intellectual conversations so we can casually bring up the coolest concept from our recent lecture. Regardless of our extra-curriculars, we’re full time students. Personally, one of the most thrilling yet high-pressure aspects of attending Harvard is that I represent Harvard when I meet people. I feel like if people aren’t familiar with the institution, their impressions of me will either positively or negatively influence their perceptions of Harvard…scary!
My last post ended with how excited I was to attend the Harvard Club of San Diego’s Early Admit celebration. The undergraduate college has recently reinstated Early Action and a bunch of high school students are taking advantage of it! I sure wish there was Early Action when I was applying! Anyway, I was rightfully excited about the event as it was cool to finally meet people behind all the local club’s emails and also see how eager-nervous the newly admitted students are. It was a great event where newbies could ask questions to both current students and alumni, as well as have current students share with each other about their current experiences. I met and caught up with a lot of great people and had so much fun that I went to another event later that week! It was a Happy Hour get together for alum in the area and the turnout was super diverse! There were people who were in school while I was in school, but we had just never met. There were people who were the high school teacher of my current friends in college. I was essentially drooling over everyone’s cool stories. Since I was the only current student present at the event, there was a lot of interest in discussing how the university is in its current day – there wasn’t always OWAW (Optional Winter Activities Week, explained further below) or finals before winter break!
This past winter break, I dedicated a fair amount of my time studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) – basically a standardized test that all students who want to pursue medical school must take. When I originally tried registering for the test, there were no open spots in Boston or California for the January dates, so I figured I’d have to take the test after Spring Break, which definitely wouldn’t have been an ideal situation. Yet, the MCAT decided to give me an early birthday present this past December, meaning when I checked the MCAT registration site again, there were open testing spots at a test site just 3 miles away from my dorm room! Winter break was the only time I spent preparing for the test, although I’ve technically been preparing my whole life while taking all these classes and whatnot. I’m not an advocate of spending tons of money to prepare for standardized tests – this includes SATs, ACTs, AP tests, etc. as well. My plan of attack included reading some review books and practicing questions. Yet there’s something about being home that makes me extremely lazy and unproductive. The comforts of home is definitely not conducive to productivity, but it was especially nice for my parents to see me study hard so they know I’m actually working hard at school across the country.
Harvard has this week called OWAW (Optional Winter Activities Week, pronounced “Oh, wow!”) which is the week right before the spring semester starts. Students are allowed to return to campus early with most meals provided. Although I didn’t participate in any of the planned activities, I was able to utilize my quiet room and the Harvard libraries to catalyze my MCAT studies. T-day (test day) finally came and my nerves were way worse than the test!! I’ve never been so freaking nervous. Hopefully, when the scores come out in a month, I’ll be pleasantly surprised 🙂
Being a premedical student at Harvard is … interesting to say the least. I feel like there are pros and cons with this decision at every university, but the extremes of these factors are dramatically emphasized alongside the brand of Harvard. I think I feel a lot more pressure to attend a top medical school and be successful due to the fact that my bachelors degree comes from Harvard; yet I sometimes rationalize this concomitant, heightened pressure with the fact that I am so lucky to have tons of resources at my fingertips – this goes from amazing faculty and graduate students, as well as friendly and knowledgeable advisers! There’s also this (mis?)conception that Harvard students are more intense – we stab each other in the back and are just obnoxiously competitive. I can’t say that all of the above isn’t true, but I really, truly, deeply don’t think that we’re evil. Whenever I seek advice about a class or need help understanding a concept, my friends are always willing to sit down with me, even when I’m impatient, rude, and using a mean voice! We’re a community, and a community that I’m proud and happy to be a part of!
As junior spring begins (snowy!), I have the majority of my requirements finished. The weird thing is I haven’t taken a lot of intro classes like genetics and physical science, so I’m creepily excited to make a lot of freshman friends this semester. Let’s just hope that I’m not being presumptuous by assuming that freshmen want to be my friend in the first place…
My next post will be a list of the classes I’ll be taking this spring. I’m currently driving myself crazy because enrolling in 6 classes currently seems both a possible and desirable option…