How do I get into a competitive graduate school or medical school?

“Most of all, get good grades.”

Good grades show you are intellectual, hard-working, and stable – perhaps the three most important qualities an admissions committee is looking for in a prospective student. Here are tips.

1. Take a light course-load. Remember, “of writing many books there is no end and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Minimize the course-load to minimize the weariness! You will need the energy to pursue excellence.

2. Overstudy. Learn to study and purpose to know everything possible about the topic to be tested. Study beyond what you may think is necessary. “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” (Proverbs 12:24) Shoot for the moon- you just may make it over the barn. 

3. Review. God instructs his servant Joshua to constantly review in his mind the early Scriptures (Joshua 1:8). We are creatures who tend to easily forget spiritual lessons. So much more so it is with the more mundane topics of life such as glycolysis and hydrogen bonding. Therefore, it is advisable to review for twenty to thirty minutes the information taught in class within the first twenty-four hours after class. This way the information is fresh and can be reinforced easily.

4. Get to know your professors. Proverbs 13:20 says, “he who walks with the wise grows wise.” Ask your professors questions during and after class. Show up in their offices during office hours and politely ask them questions. Also, you will be paving a road that you may return on one day asking for a recommendation letter. 

5. Learn to say no. There are many, many opportunities to be a part of truly worthwhile events during college. Have the maturity to say “not now” if you know that it will be helpful in the long run. To paraphrase the Ecclesiastical Preacher, “there is a time to play and a time to work.” College, it must be said, is a time to work.

Excerpt from the book Preparing for a Career in Medicine: A Christian’s Guide to Getting into and Surviving Medical School by Kent Shih, MD.

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