PMD 6: The Transition From a Community College to a 4-year School

Session 06

What happens when you leave a comfortable school that fits you and feels like home, and transition to a large school where the premed culture is toxic?

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[01:20] Caller of the Week:

“I am premed, who studied at a community college. English is my second language and being in community college felt like home. There was not many premeds, no competition, cutthroat, or any of struggles that we go through for going to big university like where I am right now. At community college, I then struggled with comparing myself with others. I have a couple of premed friends. We always work together, help each other, and it felt like home. Right now, I transferred to a university and it’s one of the biggest universities in the U.S. I started my first semester, this semester on campus. And it’s been a great self-transition. As a Junior premed, there were many students compared to my community college. One of the biggest struggles is studying with other premeds and hearing them discussing their scores on exams, who got A and did not study as much, or those students who ask questions at lecturers and like, “I don’t even know what you’re talking about.” It’s been very tough. I know everyone struggles with different things but being surrounded by students who always get As, not really struggling, or at least, not showing that they’re struggling. I spend hours on studying and trying to understand what’s going on, especially as Englis is my second language. Sometimes, it’s just hard to memorize a bunch of stuff in English. And sometimes, they need double the time that regular students who have been here and English is their first language, being easier on them but not me. I guess, I’m just trying to not compare myself to others. But being in this environment, it’s much harder. Today, after my exams, I decided not to stick around and just go to my car. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, neither before or after the exam. I didn’t want to hear students saying I got an A’s, I did not study. Oh this test was easy or that I wasn’t ready.

I didn’t want to compare myself to them because I have my own struggles. I’m trying to overcome them. So I guess it’s the premed world. Many people just say yeah, it’s easy. But it’s not really easy, especially if you’re jumping from community college to a university. And it’s a totally different environment. Almost everyone in my class is a premed. I know some of my classmates are struggling like me, while others find it easy. I don’t know what else to do other than just walk away from those people or try to focus on me, my self-care, and trying to do my best. Because I know, probably the hours I’m spending learning this information, I’m actually learning for the long-term, not only for the test. And learning, from each struggle, something. Whether it’s like how to study for a test or I should not leave all this stuff for the night before the test, or just learning from those trials and improving myself, while other people are not really learning from their struggle. I guess that’s what’s going on today.”

“Thank you so much for providing this collaborative environment. I listened to the first episode and it helped me a lot because I always feel stressed out and many of my family and friends are not really understanding what’s going on, especially with the transition. It’s not as easy as people might think. People shouldn’t say that community college is much easier than a university. It’s not. I study at a community college as well but I didn’t really struggle with comparing myself to others. I struggled more on trying to understand and study the new material and new language and new environment.”

[07:17] Community College vs. Universities

Switching from a community college to a university is really a hard transition. And when you feel like you have a family and you’re comfortable and if you feel have friends and then you have to change to a big system where it feels scary and you don’t have that collaboration anymore. It’s really hard!

It’s nice to have that feeling of having a family in that community college as opposed to a cutthroat environment in large universities. Unfortunately, there’s still that likelihood of competition.

Don’t care about people talking about how much they’ve studied and them sharing their grades. That can be bothersome. It just makes other people feel bad. Maybe people like to sit around and share about their grades because it gives them some kind of feeling of boosting themselves up. But it’s a disservice to everyone. And who knows if people doing that are really honest. They might just be saying that, but the truth is they’re insecure and they want to make themselves better than other people. So they say things that are not even true.

'Sitting around and comparing your grades is just so not helpful. It makes everyone around just feel nervous and feel anxiety.' Click To Tweet

In fact, we call these people “goners” because they tend to just talk about how easy it is and how great their scores are and the rest of us feel like we’re wanting. So do whatever you can to just put blinders on or headphones. Do what you need to. Going to your car after the exams is a great idea because it keeps you focused on your path.

[11:03] Don’t Compare Yourself with Others

It’s so easy to get scared and bogged down. It’s easy to compare yourself to other people. It’s so human. But at the end of the day, just focus on what you need to do and you will be your best guide in terms of what you need. Then you can course-correct along the way.

'Compare and compete with yourself. Don't worry about other people.'Click To Tweet

Everyone has a different way of learning. Because we learn information from different pieces and we have different tools, what works for one person could be completely different from what works for another individual. That’s why sharing your grades and how you studied would only breed competition and feelings of anxiety for everyone.

[12:52] Thriving in a Competitive Environment

It’s really challenging to be going from a nurturing environment to one that does not. In this case, try to look for 1-2 classmates who share in your philosophy, who want to collaborate and not compete. See if you can have a study group. You don’t have to necessarily study with them, but maybe just be able to sit across from one another. So each one is studying his or her own way and at their own pace, but just to have the company is great.

It can be lonely to study for hours and hours and hours by yourself and to feel that isolation. So if you can find a friend or someone else who is on the same page as you. But it doesn’t mean being with those talking about their scores and how they studied, as they’re more into comparing than collaborating.

[14:46] Community College is Hard!

Just tune all that stuff out with regard to people saying community college is easy. People will just make statements about anything and everything. It’s really, really hard to put blinders on all the time and just focus on what we need to do.

'As human beings and as premeds. It's so hard to not get bogged down in other people's judgments and statements. Just try to tune it out as much as you can.'Click To Tweet

Go to your car or do something nice for yourself that works for you. Keep listening to this podcast as well. Please do call in. The more of you that call in, the more people out there will feel that they have support.

[16:25] Feedback on the First Caller

Our caller today gave feedback on our first caller and she mentioned how other people in your life aren’t just getting it. And so this is the avenue for all of you to be here for one another. And we are here to support you in whatever way possible.

'If you're in the process, you really do get how very hard it is and how hard it is for other people outside the process to really understand at a deep level what you're going through.'Click To Tweet

Hopefully, this community continues to serve you in this way. We’re here to listen and support all of you!

Call in your successes and failures with us, whatever that might be. Just call 1-833-MYDIARY. Leave a message for premed diaries by pressing 1. You have up to 30 minutes and if the call drops, just call us back and let us know. And if you’d like to leave feedback on a previous episode, just press 5 and let us know which episode you’re calling in about.


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