I Blew Off My First Year of Undergrad – Now What?

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If you’re browsing the Gap Medics website and learning more about a career in medicine, chances are you already know the importance of maintaining a high GPA throughout your undergraduate studies. But what if you learned that lesson a little too late? Did you blow off your freshman year? Whether you did it on purpose or not, it’s not too late to rectify your past mistakes and plan for your future.  Here’s how you can turn it around: 

Evaluate where you went wrong:  Sometimes, it is crystal clear why your freshman year bombed.  You didn’t attend all your classes, perhaps missed a few (or more!) assignments and papers, stayed up too late socializing, or even experimented with, ahem, mind-altering substances.  If any of these behaviors describes what happened, the remedy is clear.  Don’t do them again! Go to class, complete all your work, limit your social time to a reasonable schedule, and stay clear of ingesting anything that can cloud your judgment.  Of course, this is easier said than done, but acknowledging these factors as your fault will allow you to control them in the future.

Zanzibar Programme Manager, Jerry FernandesIdentify difficult coursework: It’s possible that you blew off your first year of undergrad because your coursework was too difficult for you.  This is an altogether different problem than bad behavior.  Freshman courses are typically the foundation for your future years – English, math, science, history, and language study are all required to move forward in your major coursework.  Medical schools may doubt your ability to handle the rigor of their curricula if you barely managed to pass English 101; if Bio 101 was your nemesis, then you’ll have a truly difficult time convincing an admissions committee that you’re capable of getting through medical school.  By identifying your academic weaknesses, you’ll be able to target them for improvement in future undergrad years.  Because there is a long way to go to the end of your undergraduate study, working on your areas of challenge in a proactive way is likely to reflect in an improved GPA in your sophomore, junior, and senior years, and that is what the medical school of your dreams wants to see on your transcript.

Students preparing for a party at the Morogoro House in Tanzania! Find your passion: The best way to move forward after blowing off your first year of undergrad is to hone in on those classes in which you are most interested and committed.  Freshman year is notorious for “forcing” you to take classes that aren’t relevant to your major. “Why do I have to take European Civilization if I want to become a doctor?” you might ask yourself. That Intro to English Lit might be a torturous endeavor and seemingly unimportant to your future goals.  However, once you move into later years of undergraduate study, your ability to choose the coursework that is most applicable to a medical career becomes primary.  You’ll be more in control of the content of your academic work, and so can select those classes which rock your intellectual world.  Ownership is key. You’ve got to make your education yours!

While every year of your undergraduate studies counts, don’t let a failed first year determine the course of your future.  Every year, every day, is a new one – you can always choose to start fresh with the best intentions of reaching those medical school dreams.  Just leave out the part where you inhaled! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.

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