Personally, I feel the first two years are the hardest for the non-trad student. Unless you’re a career academian, you’re most likely not used to sitting in a classroom listening to professors drone on about their topic of the day (We all remember that knowing the material well does not guarantee an individual to be an strong lecturer!). After lectures, you must muster the energy to review and digest all that was thrown at you that day…and retain it of course.
Amusingly, it appears that for the traditional student, the ones who have only gone to school and not lived a real life, the first two years are just like home to them. But, years 3 & 4, the ones where you have to interact with other humans and not just other med students & professors, are the more challenging for them.
My advice for succeeding in those first two years, esp the begining of year 1. Set your priorities…meaning set a rational hierarchy b/t grades, family, friends and personal time…and stick to it, for the most part. However, don’t be so rigid that you go nuts! In essence, you will need to select of level of academic performance that demonstrates adequate mastery of the material, but will not cause a divorce, you to go nuts or you to forget who your family & friends are.
The hardest part of this, esp for those of us who have been battling the “old grades” demon, is to remember that you are here, you made it and the spectre of shitty grades is no longer important! Relax, learn and enjoy where you are…its what you’ve been fighting to obtain for Lord knows how long – so cherish it!!!
You are no longer in competition with your classmates, although many of them will not believe this. Just absorb as much of the knowledge flung your direction as you can. You WILL NOT even come close to learning it all…just do the best that you can.
You, like everyone else, will fret that you don’t feel like you’re retaining anything. However, pay attention to your conversations. All of the sudden you’ll notice yourself saying things that you can’t believe you said, let alone understood and inserted, appropriately, into a cerebral conversation.
It is the same for everyone who takes this journey. If you are in med school – almost by definition, you are self-competitive and an academic over-acheiver. By your own nature and the programming of the system of selection, it is damned difficult to grant yourself some solace. But you can & I suggest that you do so. Your learning & retention will drastically improve if you simply focus on the materials you are trying to learn and not worrying about class rank. More than likely, you’ll find that workling under this cleaner mind-set, that your academics will be stronger than anticipated anyhow.
And, when ever you feel frustrated or simply need to vent…come here and bounce your sentiments off of folks who have been there and can empathize with your plight. I found immensly useful and relieving to talk to upperclassmen about what I was going through – and learning that they had felt the same way and had survived.
Take advantage of this forum…speak your mind and your feelings. And, if you wish to swap mneumonics, study tips, factoids…yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…feel free to do so here.