The most frequent question I received during CPW was: "You're pre-med? Wait, so why did you pick MIT?" It makes sense that I received this question repeatedly: after all, MIT is primarily a technology/engineering school and has the reputation of being incredibly difficult. This isn't the first time one of the bloggers has written about being pre-med at MIT, but I thought it'd be worth it to add my own thoughts into the mix - particularly since, with the AMCAS (med school app) coming out this Tuesday, I'm about to dive head-first into the craziness that is medical school admissions.
Why I Chose MIT
In all honesty, there are times (*cough* hell weeks *cough*) when MIT makes me feel like this:
But mostly, it makes me feel like this:
(p.s. you should all go waste some time on this site because it's hilarious - and it's also where I got the above two gifs)
I visited MIT for the first time during CPW, and I came in expecting the stereotype, i.e. that everyone here would be incredibly nerdy and anti-social, and that I would fail all my classes because they'd be insanely hard. I was mostly deciding between the Rice-Baylor 7-year med program (where I wouldn't have to take the MCAT and would be guaranteed a spot at Baylor Med School), but my four days at MIT convinced me that MIT was the right place for me to be pre-med...despite the fact that I would have to take the I-never-want-to-ever-take-this-again exam a.k.a. the MCAT.
So what made me change my mind? I think that above all, it was the spirit of MIT. People here want to change the world - in whatever way they can. The pre-med students that I met during my CPW were all down-to-earth, big dreamers, and hard-working. But they were also realistic. They knew that a B at MIT wasn't the be-all-end-all of their med school ambitions. They collaborated with others, they shared ideas, and above all, they held on to the idea that they wanted to make a difference. They inspired me.
That, combined with the ridiculous numbers of opportunities here (UROPs, MISTI, Camp Kesem, proximity of hospitals, etc) pulled me away from Rice (disclaimer: I *do* think the Rice-Baylor program is still awesome). Just a few days after CPW, I comMITed and happily joined the MIT Class of 2013.
What It's Been Like to be Pre-Med at MIT
I like it. I feel like pre-med students here offer a unique perspective on medicine: that of a joint scientist-engineer-philanthropist. MIT has a pre-health office that has streamlined the medical school process and made everything easy to follow and understand. Last semester, all the students planning on entering medical school in Fall '12 were asked to answer a series of questions to allow them to be matched to a pre-med advisor. Over the course of this semester, I've been meeting with my pre-med advisor: the one and only McGreggor Crowley. (Best advisor ever?? Yup, I think so!) Together, we've come up with a list of schools I should be considering, a packet of information to give to those writing my rec letters, and a preliminary draft of my personal statement. Every med school advisor helps his or her advisees through the process, complementing the series of presentations/talks that the pre-health office organizes as a guide and resource to current applicants.
To give you an idea of what these presentations are like: the most recent one featured an admissions officer from Harvard Medical School, who answered questions and walked everyone through the expectations of the medical school application/interview. These sessions are both a little intimidating (so much to do!) and very helpful. I've visited the pre-health office at least 7 or 8 times this semester, as I was toying with the idea of a gap year, worrying over whether or not my recommenders spelled my (very long) last name correctly, and confused about which schools to apply to. They've got my back :)
Of course - this is what everyone is most worried about: will I be able to maintain a high GPA at MIT? Rest assured, it's not impossible. I know a number of pre-med students who have 5.0/5.0 GPAs and have gotten into top schools. I also know people who have collected a few B's and have lower GPAs - they too have ended up at great schools.
I guess my point is: don't let the idea of a B (or even a C) prevent you from coming to MIT and being pre-med. Every medical school in the world knows that MIT is a tough place, and that perfect grades aren't the only thing worth considering in an application. Come here to learn, to be challenged, to gain some engineering intuition - in conjunction with your pre-med course work. And if you get a B, consider it a lesson learned: you're more than a grade/letter.
I'll add more of my thoughts as I get further into the medical school process. In the meantime, feel free to email in with any questions or concerns. To prospective '16s: I hope you all loved CPW - and that I get to see you here in the fall! To those of you who didn't sleep at all during CPW, this is how I'm imagining you:
Haha - peace out, guys!