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The Medical School Application Process (AKA) The Year of Rejection

6 May

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford

Last August, I sent in my final submission to the centralized application system for medical school: AMCAS. I had taken the MCAT twice, written a 500-word personal statement, gotten 6 letters of recommendation from professors, doctors, and my boss, typed in every single class and grade I’d gotten in my first three years at UA, and paid the [substantial] fee to apply to 17 medical schools. Two months later, I got what they call “secondary applications” from all 17 schools who each wanted at least 5 essays and $100 more! My reaction…


Keep in mind this was when I was in my senior Fall semester, starting my honors thesis, and taking 19 units. Needless to say, I had spread myself pretty thin. However, I rallied [somehow] and got off all the applications before the semester ended, and I went home for Winter Break. Next step was waiting to hear back about interviews. The first e-mail I got back the day after sending $100 to a school that shall remain nameless was: “We have decided not to review your application further. Thank you for your interest.”

It was then that I started to realized that I had gone into this process with an idealized perception of what to expect. Fact is, A LOT of kids want to go to medical school and save the world, one patient at a time. After talking with all the other pre-meds I knew that had applied this year, I felt a lot better knowing that I wasn’t alone in the process. After winter break, I got my first interview invitation. And for the first time in the application process, I felt the validation that I was a competitive applicant.

I got a couple more interviews, and I was told multiple times that each school had most of their seats filled with few left to offer candidates. I waited 6 weeks after my first interview to find out whether I had gotten accepted or not. When the letter finally showed up in my mailbox, I opened it up….


…and read through my fingers, “We regret to inform you that you have not been selected for the entering class of Fall 2013.” I was crushed. I felt great after that interview, and I had very high expectations for that first letter. With one down and two to go, I was feeling less than confident and ready to resign to the fact that I wouldn’t get in. The second letter came, and again, “We’re sorry to inform you…” Every since that second letter, I’ve been getting myself prepared to do my re-application: contacting all my letter writers to let them know I”ll need them to send in their support again, and getting all my ducks in a row to make my application better this time around. At first, I was mad at the system, the schools, and everything that the application process had taken me through. As I said, I put a lot of effort into my first application. I felt like I’d put my heart and soul into something and gotten nothing but “Nope” back…

Now, I feel really excited to do this again [no I’m not crazy…I don’t think]. I’m excited that I’ll have the opportunity to put together my accomplishments and experiences in a way that better represents me after all that I learned from going through this process. I was like a lot of other pre-med students: good GPA, few academic struggles, and very few moments of “Nope.” This process renewed my determination to become a doctor, the one thing I’ve wanted to be my whole life. It also reminded me that a career in medicine will offer a lot of challenges, and that each one needs to be taken as a learning experience and a new start. 

Study Diagnosis: What Tips Are Best for You?

10 Apr

We’ve compiled all our blogs on studying to help you correct your specific Study Struggles.

Time Management: Your biggest issues are procrastination and cramming. You struggle to find enough time to study.

procrastinatorsNot the Time Managing Type?

20 Tips and Tricks of Time Management

The Eight-Day Study Plan

Creating a Finals Study Schedule

Time Management for College Students

Study Techniques: Your biggest issue is studying effectively. You spend tons of time studying, but your grades don’t reflect that.

studyDo You Know How to Study Effectively?

I Studied…Now What?

Strategies to Improve Your Test Scores

I Think I Need Some Extra Help…

Outside Distractions: Your biggest issues are focusing and prioritizing. You struggle with Facebook, social events, and relationships.distracted

Family vs. School

Warning! Challenges Ahead

Prioritize with a To-Do List

Top Secret Advice from an Academic Skills Tutor

Sophomore Midterm Study Tips

Health: Your biggest issues are sleep deprivation and getting sick. You struggle to keep up with studying because you got another cold or are too run down to do it.


Pump Up the Productivity

There’s Nothing THONG with Staying Healthy

Embrace Yourself

Mind-Body Stress and Anxiety Management

Motivation: Your biggest issue is not wanting to study. You struggle with using your free time to study because you don’t like the class, find the material boring, haven’t been doing well in the class, or some other reason.

don't want to

How To Get Homework DONE and Still Have Time for FUN

Grades Don’t Define Who You Are

Coping with an Unexpected Grade…

Ease Your Transportation Woes, Ride the Streetcar!

6 Mar

I know we’ve all gotten frustrated a time or two this year because of all the construction going on, but do you know what it’s all for? The Tucson Modern Streetcar is going to be an excellent addition to the University of Arizona and the City of Tucson.

Sun Link Streetcar

I remember being a freshman living in Graham-Greenlee, and, because I didn’t have a car, I was stuck on campus all the time. I rarely ever got beyond Speedway or Campbell. After this project is done, students will easily be able to get to Downtown and 4th Ave. whenever they feel like it. All the stops along the track offer great shops, restaurants, and nightlife locations. This new mode of transportation will change the life of a student at UA by making it easier to get involved in the culture and atmosphere that Tucson has to offer.

The website even has a video where you can see a simulation that shows how the Streetcar will go through UA from the Medical Center past Chipotle and down 4th Ave! Maps are already available to show you all that you can expect from the Streetcar. Transportation to downtown will no longer involve the hassles of traffic or finding parking space.

Stay tuned to the Modern Streetcar website for construction updates and the final date when the Streetcar will be ready! Make sure you check out the frequently asked questions to learn more about the route and how the streetcar will help Tucson community members!

Black History Month Events

6 Feb

The Biggest Decision of Your Life…Well an Important One At Least

5 Feb

You have a huge decision coming up soon:

Are you going to continue living where you are, or are you ready to make a change?

You may feel like you need a change, or maybe you love your living situation this year. No matter what, it’s important to ask  yourself some questions because even when you love your home and your roommates, there are always ways to improve.

If you’re living at home:

  • What are your reasons for living at home? Maybe you prefer living with your family rather than someone you’ve never lived with. Or maybe you felt like you didn’t have a choice. It’s important to ask yourself “Why am I here?”
  • Are you ready to pay rent and other costs? There is a definite financial burden to living on your own, so it’s important to consider this if you’re thinking about moving out. It’s not just rent but also groceries, utilities, and more.
  • What are you missing by living at home? If your answer is “nothing,” then I think we’ve discovered you’re happy staying home. However, if there’s something you feel you’re missing out on, think about the next step towards change. Moving out may not be the answer, so think of other options as well.

If you’re off-campus, but not at home:

  • Are you happy with your location? My first apartment was great, but it was a long drive from campus. I watched all my money go into gas for my car and decided I needed a change.
  • Is your apartment well-managed? Holding your apartment managers responsible is stressful and unneccessary. If you constantly feel like you’re battling with the people who run your apartment, consider finding a more “user-friendly” place to live.
  • Are you satisfied with the living environment? We all have our own preferences, so it’s important to think about your day-to-day environment. Is there a lot of partying? Do you have bad neighbors? Do you feel safe?
  • Are you missing something? My big amenities were laundry, my own bathroom, and furniture. Think about the things you wish your place had and consider whether they’re worth moving for.

If you’re living in a residence hall:

  • Do you like sharing space? This should be an obvious question, but sometimes we get complacent and stop wondering if having a bigger bed or personal bathroom would be better.
  • Are you willing to commute to campus? A 10-minute walk to class is fairly painless. It’s much less convenient to walk/bike/drive/take the bus to class.
  • How will living off-campus affect your involvement? When you live off-campus, making those weekly club meetings and staying late after class to talk to a professor can be a little more complicated. Think about how living on-campus accomodates your social events, and decide if you can maintain that involvement if you no longer live so close.
  • Have you considered all your options? Maybe you’re thinking about living off-campus because you don’t like your res hall, but have you looked into other res halls or alternatives to moving into an apartment?

If you’ve gone through all these questions already and are committed to the decision to move, PLAN AHEAD! Below are some fantastic resources to help you in your quest for a home!

For even more help with this process, check out some of our previous blogs:

ThinkTank Semester on a Page!

9 Jan

Hey Wildcats!

Don’t wait to start planning your semester. ThinkTank has posted the Semester on a Page with all of this semester’s breaks and important dates. Go here to check it out!

Staying organized can lower your stress levels and keep you prepared for everything that will happen this year. If you have any questions about time managment or using the Semester on a Page, just ask! E-mail your Outreach Facilitator, check out some of our other blogs, and stay tuned for each week’s Wildcat Connections newsletter with helpful tips, important dates, and fun things to do on campus here at UA!

Bear Down and enjoy your first day of Spring classes!

Strategies to Improve Your Test Scores!

24 Oct

multiple choice

I know, you’ve heard it before. “Free Testing Tips” that turn out to be things like “sleep and study more.” But I’m not writing this to waste your time with things you already know. This is all about ways to attack the test once it’s sitting in front of you. Step-by-step instructions to improve your score as well as strategies for different kinds of questions.

The Test:

1) Look over the entire test. Flip through the pages. This gives you an idea of how long it is so you can budget your time accordingly. This also helps on tests with multiple pages because you can make sure you have all the pages and whether that last sheet has a backside.

2) Skim the questions. Find ones that you recognize or know the answer to, and do them first. This boosts your confidence and gets you started on the right foot.

3) Skip questions that you don’t know, but make sure you mark them! Circle the number on the test booklet or scantron.That way you’ll know which ones to come back to without searching.

4) Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question. The professor and TAs aren’t only there to make sure there’s no cheating. They helped write the test, so they know what the questions are asking.

5) Always, always, always go over your exam after you’ve answered all the questions. If time is limited, simply check to make sure you answered each question. If you have more time, read through your answers just to double-check. Sometimes we get going and pick answers that we know are wrong because we’re going too fast.


Multiple Choice:

1) Remind yourself that the answer is right in front of you. It has to be one of the choices.

2) Answer choices with words like “never” or “always” are usually not the answer, as most rules have exceptions.

3) If “all the above” is a choice, you only have to find two that are correct, then move on to the next question.

4) IF ALL ELSE FAILS answer “B” or “C”. If you have absolutely no idea whether a single answer is correct or incorrect, just guess and move on. Answer “A” is usually least likely to be correct because test-makers want to “hide” answers. These are not hard and fast rules, but they help if you’re forced to guess.


Free Response:

1) Read the prompt or question slowly, and even take notes if it is fairly long. Underline, highlight, scratch out, anything that will help you organize your thoughts.

2) Outline your answer. Even if it only has to be a few sentences, write down key words you want to remember while you’re writing.

3) Be concise. If you get too wordy, they’ll know you don’t know what you’re talking about.

4) Answer the question. Okay, I know I promised I wouldn’t give any obvious tips, but this one is actually a lot harder than it may seem. A lot of times we get caught up in our ideas and the question changes in our mind.

Hope these tips helped! Just remember to go into the exam with confidence!

Facilitator’s Favorite Study Tips!

23 Oct

Personal Experience–Family Weekend

22 Oct

The Thursday before Family Weekend during my freshman year, I called home like I always did on Thursday afternoons. I talked with my parents about classes, the club I had just joined, and my upcoming tests. Eventually, the topic of my dogs came up (pretty typical for my conversations). They told me they had to get a neighbor to watch them for the weekend which surprised me since I didn’t realize my parents had lives after I had left home. Where could they possibly be going? They both calmly told me they got tickets for the Stanford football game…

I’ll admit, it took me a couple seconds. My parents live in Wisconsin, and I couldn’t imagine who Stanford would be playing way up there. After a few moments of wondering, I remembered that I had just talked with my Chemistry lab partner about this, and WE were playing Stanford that weekend! My parents had booked tickets to come out for Family Weekend and would be there in the morning!

Once they got here, it was great to attend the football game (which, by the way, was an EPIC win over Stanford!) and get involved in all the other events Family Weekend had to offer. It didn’t hurt that I got taken out to eat every meal for three days straight, either!

That visit made a big difference in my first semester here. I was feeling homesick, as I’m sure a lot of you are, and it was great to see my family again. If someone is taking the time to come visit you during Family Weekend, take advantage of all the events going on! This year’s theme is “Under the Big Top,” so you know there are going to be tons of fun things to do.

On the other hand, if you know that it will just be you and your campus friends, JOIN IN ANYWAY! Family Weekend is NOT just for students who bring along parents and siblings. It’s for everyone, and it’s a great way to make a connection to your University! There’s going to be a Redington Catered Kick-off Dinner that’s only $5 for students on Friday night. Saturday is the big football game against Washington–GO CATS! There’s even a pool party Friday afternoon! Check out all of the events here.

No matter who you celebrate with, get out this weekend and enjoy Family Weekend!

Bear Down Through Gen Ed Courses

26 Sep

“Almost 1/3 (of undergraduates polled) said general education courses did not help prepare people for jobs.”

~ The Naked Roommate by Harlan Cohen

Sometime during your first semester of college, you may have found yourself wondering about the relativity of a general education course to your future. You might be listening to a lecture thinking, “What does this have to do with me?” Or maybe you got your first test back with a low grade and are thinking, “Why am I bothering with a course that I don’t care about?” Or perhaps you’re just too bored to think about anything!

You’re not alone in feeling this way. I had a TRAD course my first semester of college that I had to force myself to go to every Tuesday and Thursday. The material was fine, but the class had nothing to do with me or for any of my future career plans. I thought college was about preparing for a job. This was where I was wrong.

College is not just a stepping stone from high school to a career, even if it seems that way at times. It is a pathway from childhood to adulthood. It is a community of students turning into the professionals they hope to become. This is a place to learn and grow which includes expanding your own interests, beliefs, and knowledge. Taking a class outside your major isn’t about challenging you to keep up with the extra coursework or memorize a million irrelevant facts. Gen Eds are about exploring other options, learning things you never would otherwise, and discovering new things about yourself and the world around you.

So the next time you’re in that Gen Ed course that you find frustrating and pointless, try to make yourself see the value of the material the professor is discussing. Try to see how it applies to your life without jumping to the conclusion that it isn’t relevant to your major or career. We are not our majors. We are people who will go out and do much more in the world even after we are no longer students. That is what Gen Eds prepare us for.

And if all else fails, remind yourself that a semester is only 16 weeks of your life, and you can handle it! So be the Wildcat you are and BEAR DOWN!