College Pressures

I know I have been putting off writing about “College Pressures” because I have been trying to avoid confronting many things the essay addressed. Many of them hit home and closely reflect my recent sentiments about college; to talk about these issues would be opening an internal dialogue (or debate) with myself, something which I am awfully bad at (and incredibly skilled at avoiding). Many things the essay wrote about sort of hinges on the crux of everything; my future plans, my goals, ambitions, etc.

I have no idea whether I want to attend medical school or not. I have never shown any passion for a particular subject, I came to college not knowing what I would want to do in the future. Since I didn’t seem to like anything specific, my family suggested I find a “marketable” major (i.e., something that I can find a job with after graduation). Hence, I choose health science (with a concentration in clinical laboratory sciences). As a result, I have a lot clinical and research experience under my belt. I also have pretty good grades. However, I still don’t know what I like. I feel very neutral about health science, I don’t hate it, nor do I like it. Now that I’m close to graduation, my family, my friends, classmates, and my (annoyingly) competitive Asian peers all suggest that since I have good grades and accumulated a lot of related experience, why don’t I just go to medical school? Well… I don’t know. But I agreed anyway. So I am currently taking an extra year to finish all my premed requirements.

Most of my friends from high school have either moved on to medical/pharmacy/dental school or a ridiculously prestigious Ivy for higher education.  I’m still stuck in Stony Brook, unsure of what I want to do. I feel that should go to medical school to match them. Also, all my relatives (my brother, my cousins, etc.) have formidable degrees from formidable schools. Although my father always repeated again and again to me that what school I attend doesn’t reflect my value as an individual, and I shouldn’t have that twisted Asian belief that I need to attend a good school to validate my worth, I still can’t help but feel really horrible about myself when all my family and friends are that brilliant. Besides, I still don’t know what I would rather do anyway…

So should I go to medical school? I guess so….

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4 Responses to College Pressures

  1. ktbmuether says:

    This may sound a little crazy, but why not give yourself some time off between undergrad and grad-school? Maybe a semester or so? Give yourself some time to explore possible interests and just enjoy life a little, and then maybe you will gain a better understanding of what road you want to take in the future. As students, we are so wrapped up in our school work that we often forget to take a step back and enjoy life or forget to “smell the roses” (as cliche as that sounds). Don’t be so hard on yourself to make a decision right away, maybe you just need a little time to figure out what you want to do. You have your whole life ahead of you! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Becoming Doctor L.

  3. klucenko says:

    Try not to be unkind to yourself, Helen. You are not the first nor last student unsure of whether to go to medical school. An honest self-examination can be painful but it’s also truly important. It’s OK if the road that’s brought you here has been curved/crooked/full of unexpected turns. That’s the way it is for so many of us. But ultimately you should feel that you’ve chosen your own path, that you’ve chosen your career. Anyway, Katy’s idea is very good. Have you thought about taken a year off to travel/work/volunteer?

    • helensc says:

      Wow, I didn’t expect this many responses! To answer the question: Yes, I have been thinking about taking a year off – I would love to travel or volunteer but out of financial concerns, I believe I would have to work. I will, in the meantime, “try to find myself” (such cliched words!)

      I wrote a very, very rough draft of my PS for medical school – when writing it, I discovered that there is actually still a tiny voice inside me that wishes to practice medicine, for genuine reasons rather than the ones I listed in the post. There is much work ahead of me to really discover/amplify that voice…and perhaps a gap year would help.

      Thank you everyone for all the feedback!

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