Name: Lindsay Ma

Major(s) and minor(s): Biophysics

Favorite class you took at Michigan: EEB 472: This was a class that pushed my writing, reading, and presenting skills. Sure, the content of the course was not medicine or human health, but this was the class that taught me skills I think will make me a more flexible and adaptable doctor one day. For the first time, I learned how to properly do a literature review solo. I also proved to myself that I could immerse myself in papers from a field I was unfamiliar with and still pick it apart enough to present the paper to the class in a meaningful way. In medicine, I anticipate running into literature I am unfamiliar with, from fields that I may have little experience in, but this class gave me the tools for how to approach these unfamiliar topics and deeply interact with their content.

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Took TPR course, studied June through August

When did you take the MCAT: August of the summer before senior year (2019)

What was your pre-med experience: I had a good experience at Michigan. The beginning was rough for me, as I did not have a sense of purpose for why I was pursuing medicine in my first two years at college. However, trying out research and volunteering and by meeting other pre-med students, I began to develop a sense of why I was subjecting myself to hard classes and a rigorous schedule outside of school. Also, I think I felt very competitive and experienced a fair amount of imposter syndrome as a lower classman. Luckily, this sense of inferiority dissipated when I began spending more time with non-premeds. Because my roommates were all diverse in their endeavors, architecture and engineering majors, I think we were uniquely suited to support each other 100%, and I did not need to worry about feeling competitive around them. Basically, I had a safe space at home where I could pursue what *I* wanted as a pre-med, and began comparing myself less to other pre-meds. 

Recommendations/advice for current students: The four years go by quickly, so try out a variety of things early on to see what works for you. I am a strong believer in sticking with something once you’ve started for sake of building relationships, autonomy, and a steady foundation. Of course, if you absolutely hate something you started, politely leave; however, I think small hiccups are otherwise important to work through and can make you a more resilient person down the line. 

When it comes to school, please do not overload your freshman year. Many people are coming from their highschools at the top of their class, but UMICH intro classes are not easy to transition to for many people. You will have plenty of time to take 3+ science classes simultaneously as a sophomore, junior, and senior. Use freshman year to develop the skills needed to manage science classes well, and you will be better equipped to succeed in later semesters.

Personally, I did not find SLC study groups helpful, but I HIGHLY recommend going directly to professors for help. It can be hard to find time to meet with professors in large intro classes, but especially take advantage of office hours when you get to 300 and 400 level classes. Professors are almost always willing to meet with you outside of their scheduled office hours if you cannot make the normal ones, so just ask! What you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Lastly, try to do things that are not related to pre-med as well. Not all the clubs you join have to earn you shadowing opportunities, research opportunities, etc. Try volunteering for a cause you just care about, regardless of if it is “clinical.” Try to make friends who are pursuing different careers so that you can learn new perspectives from them and potentially reduce a feeling of competitiveness.

Classes:

 

1st year

2nd year

3rd year

4th year

Fall

BIOLOGY 171

ASIAN 252

ENGLISH 124

UROP 280

MOVSCI 241

BIOLOGY 173

PHYSICS 135

PHYSICS 136

CHEM 211

ASIANLAN 135

MATH 216

 

BIOPHYS 370

AMCULT 214

MCDB 310

EEB 472

CHEM 474

BIOLOGY 305

BIOPHYS 495

BIOPHYS 440

BIOSTAT 521

PUBHLTH 311

Winter

BIOLOGY 172

CHEM 210

MATH 215

UROP 280

BIOPHYS 290

CHEM 216

ASIANLAN 136

CHEM 215 (spring)

BIOPHYS 399 (spring)

SOC 302

BIOPHYS 420

PUBHLTH 200

SLAVIC 290

BIOPHYS 417

BIOPHYS 450

ALA 264

RCIDIV 350

PUBHLTH 311

 

Name: Haniyeh Zamani

Major(s) and minor(s): Biology Major 

Favorite class you took at Michigan: My favorite class was BIO 207: Microbiology. I really enjoyed the class because I learned about microbial and viral genetics, medical microbiology, and basic epidemiology. Also, the course had a lab component and I learned new techniques that are applicable in many biological labs. 

When/How did you study for the MCAT: Took TPR course, studied Early December till May

When did you take the MCAT:  Planning to take it in May 2020

What was your pre-med experience: My experience as a premed student at Michigan was great. Michigan provided me with the different opportunities to pursue and expand my horizons. During my time here, I had the chance to take classes in any subjects that I was curious about. The pre-med advisors and many of the professors were friendly and supportive, and they went above and beyond to make sure that students were getting the best out of their education. SuccessConnects and SLC were very helpful resources for me to find my path to success.    

Recommendations/advice for current students: Being a pre-med student is a unique experience, and there are times that things can get difficult, but remember that you are not alone and there are people here to help and support you throughout this journey. Take advantage of the numerous resources that are available to you such as office hours, SLS study groups, and advising sessions. Also, it is okay to take a break every once in a while and reflect on your path to start with a new perspective for the rest of your journey. 

Classes:

 

1st year

Washtenaw Community College (Michigan)

2nd year

 

Washtenaw Community College (Michigan)

————-

Michigan 

 

3rd year

Michigan 

4th year

Michigan

Fall

DAN 180 (no equiv.)

ENG 091 (no equiv.)

MTH 191 (MATH 115)

ENG 111 (ENGLISH 125)

BIO 101 (no equiv.)

CEM 122 (CHEM 230 + 130)

DRA 180 (no equiv.)

ECO 211 (ECON 102)

BIO 172

BIO 173

CHEM 210

CHEM 211

UC 280

BIO 225

BIO 226

BIO 281

CLCIV 253

EEB 400

 

Winter

CEM 111 (CHEM 125 +126)

ENG 226 (ENGISH 201)

PSY 100 (PSYCH 111)

PHY 111 (PHYSICS 125 + 127)

CSP 171 (ENGR 101)

BIO 171

PUBHLTH 200

UC 280 

CHEM 215

CHEM 216

EEB 300

BIOLCHEM 415

PUBHLTH 370

PUBHLTH 381

 

BIO 207

EEB 390

EEB 400

Spring

MTH 192 (MATH 116) MTH 293 (MATH 215)

PHY 222 (PHYSICS 240 +241)

BIO 305  

 

 

The Transfer Experience

 

Each year more than 1000 students transfer to the University of Michigan (UM) and among those are quite a few pre-med students. We decided to ask two of our peer advisors, who transferred to  UM, to share their experiences with us. 

 

How did you adjust to the pace of classes at the University of Michigan compared to your previous institution? 

Haniyeh: Since I was junior standing credits-wise (~ 60) when I transferred to the UM, I knew that I had to take more upper level classes, which meant I needed to dedicate more time per credit. I decided to take fewer credits the first semester to be able to better cope with the new environment and have enough time to explore different opportunities and student organizations that were available to students. When I had questions about specific concepts in a class, I attended office hours to figure it out with the help of the professor well before the exam. Also, I joined the SLC study groups, which helped a lot to connect with my classmates and adjust my study habits to the pace of classes at the UM. Regarding other academic questions, such as which classes to take, I made appointments with both general Newnan advisors and pre-med advisors.

Anni: I had a similar experience to Haniyeh. I was also a junior coming into UM, and as severe as it sounds, I didn’t come to UM for the social aspect of it, I I came to get a degree. My previous school was a private liberal arts college, so the way the academics are structured are very different from UM. I feel that the rigor is the same between the two schools, so the challenge was to figure how to change my study habits based on what UM assignments and courses look like. I definitely had to get better about studying by myself since the classes are so big and you don’t really get to know your classmates or professors. I joined SLC study groups, a research lab, and went to office hours frequently in an effort to be aggressive and integrate myself into the UM community. I finished a lot of my pre-med classes at Wellesley, which made the transition a lot easier than it could have been. Newnan and the UPiN (undergraduate program in neuroscience) office were also very helpful in clarifying the graduation requirements!

 

How did your extracurricular activities change after transferring? 

Haniyeh: As I mentioned, I had a light schedule the first semester at the UM and gave myself some time to explore my interests. Festifall was a great place to start to get to know other student organizations. After that, I attended mass meetings of different clubs and joined a couple of them to learn more about their plans throughout the semester and my commitment as one of their members. In the second semester, I made a decision and chose those student organizations that were most aligned with my interests. In terms of volunteering at local health related institutes and shadowing hours, since I was living in Ann Arbor even before transferring to UM, I kept my previous positions.

Anni: Research was the main reason I transferred to UM, so I really made my lab my main extracurricular activity. At my old school, I was very involved in residential life and pre-health/academic clubs, but made the decision when I transferred that I wanted to completely switch it up. This decision was driven by feeling a little burnt out at the end of my sophomore year, so I steered away from clubs I felt I could be stressed by other pre-meds. I found one of my orgs, Consider magazine, at Festifall, which has been great for making my schedule less STEM heavy and indulges my love for writing. I found the farm at St. Joe’s and Glacier Hills Retirement through the Newnan extracurriculars page. Just like with academics, I jumped right in when it came to extracurriculars because I knew I had so little time here. 

 

How did you find a research opportunity in your field of interest?

Haniyeh: I applied for the Changing Gears program, which is a UROP program for transfer students. I got admitted to their program and that was the starting point for me. I developed some new skills (both technical and professional), which helped me to realize the area of my interest and strategically apply for other positions in future. 

Anni: I knew Michigan had a great Parkinson’s program, so before I was even accepted to Michigan, I looked up “University of Michigan Parkinson’s Labs,” went through the list of researchers on The Udall Center’s website, and cold-emailed all of them with my resume and explained I was a prospective junior transfer student. I ended up going to the first lab that e-mailed back, the Sarter lab, and talked with them through email for the next 8 months so that everything was ready to go when I got here. I also met with Dr. Sarter when I came for orientation in July so he could put a name to a face. 

 

How was your social transition experience in university adjustment? 

Haniyeh: It was challenging at first for me especially because I was transferring from a relatively small community college to a big university. I remember even finding the classes on campus was challenging! I started little by little and took small steps in finding my way. Joining SuccessConnects introduced me to other transfer students and paired me with a peer-mentor and a success coach who were very supportive, and that was really helpful to find my community. Also, since I was an international student, I attended the international center events to meet people from all around the world and share my experiences with them. Participating in study groups and student organizations’ events were other ways of socializing and finding like-minded people for me. One thing that I believe is important to mention is: “It might take time to build friendship and connection with others, do not get discouraged! You will find your community here!” 

Anni: Like I said before, my old school was very small, and though I didn’t like the school itself, I felt I had a great little community there between my friend group and professors. I must say that I’m a very independent person and an introvert, so I didn’t sweat the social aspect of transferring nearly as much as doing well in classes. I got really lucky that my Orgo II lab got along really well, which gave me the feeling that I was getting a handle on social life at Michigan. The Transfer Connections program was great for helping me find other transfer students (there’s a ton of us out here!) through socials, seminars, and mentorship. I ended up making most of my friends at the first social! Lastly, I really hit it off with my grad student and the other grad students in the biopsychology program, which opened up tons of other social and professional opportunities that I wouldn’t have known about had I not been so committed to research. My last word of advice for other transfer students would be to stay in touch with your friends and professors from your previous school! Not only do I love them and miss them, but it’s always good to have connections all over!

 

 

I hope all of you are well! Our latest blog is aimed to help you through a key part of the medical school application process: your personal statement. We have tips for each step of the writing process from brainstorming to writing to editing. The blue text is personal anecdotes from our E-Board.

BRAINSTORMING

  • Start the process by just writing: write anything you feel is relevant to your journey to being interested in medicine, the experiences you sought throughout college to cement your interests and your goals as a physician. 
  • This could take anywhere from months to a couple of hours. Every day when I thought about something that could be included in my statement I went to my google doc and wrote another bullet point.
  • This list included personal experiences I had had with medicine myself, memorable moments I had during my volunteering, qualities I had that I thought would make me a good doctor, and what my experiences in college have taught me about medicine and myself.
  • I had 10-15 pages written of completely unedited material and had to cut it down and draw from there for different paragraphs of my actual personal statement. 
  • Don’t ever delete any of these drafts, though, because they will come in handy later for writing secondaries (adversity, diversity, goals) and scholarship essays. You might also be able to use it as inspiration for things you’ll be talking about in the interviews (why us, why medicine, tell me about yourself).
  • A hard thing to do is to then narrow down this list of random thoughts and ideas. To do this, I tried to focus on things that involved a certain theme or story I wanted to tell in my statement. The best advice I was given while writing my personal statement was to make it a story that intertwines your experiences in one narrative.

WRITING

  • Stay away from cliches: sick relative, ignited your passion, “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor,” “I love helping people,” “I was always a precocious child,” etc
  • Make sure you always tie back to WHY MEDICINE, not why altruism, why science, etc…
  • Make sure that your statement is a good mix of introspection, retrospection, and forward projection. You can even organize the whole paper using past, present, and future as three paragraphs or sections in which to tell separate stories that ultimately tie together
  • Show, don’t tell! Paint a picture for your reader by using the 5 senses while you storytell: write about what you heard/saw/smelled during the memory
  • ALWAYS reflect on what you learned each step of the way (this is also advice you could use in your activities section). Admissions don’t just want to see what you did, but how you’ll use that in the future.
  • Instead of just regurgitating your experiences, be sure to reflect and show how your experiences have shaped you into wanting to go to medical school.
  • Beyond your own experiences, also consider talking about how people have changed you and given you perspective.
  • Step away once you’re done writing, and come back a few days later to really see how you feel about what you’ve written.
  • Be okay with re-writing your essay and doing a total overhaul a few times. Sometimes a few complete re-writes will be necessary for you to reach a clear story on paper.
  • The most important piece of your PS will be the hook — make these POP! You want the reader to immediately label you as unique and interesting before they even start reading the meat of your essay

EDITING

  • Don’t use contractions -> DO NOT use contractions
  • Perfect grammar and spelling is a must!! Edit using grammarly or a grammar nazi friend between each edit and before you send it off
  • I also had a younger sibling read mine to make sure I wasn’t using any jargon or complicated sentence structure, because you want your reader to focus on only the content and not get bogged down by confusing details — my little sister was able to tell me when I had to shorten my clauses or find synonyms for certain words
  • Frame your sentences actively instead of passively, and positively instead of negatively
    • Ex) “I published my research” instead of “the research was published”
  • When you feel comfortable enough with your essay, send it to professors, advisors, or recommendation letter writers for final edits.

Redditor u/  gyubari recommends 4-5 people to edit your PS. Try to find people that fit into the following categories…

  • A loved one. Somebody who is close to you that you have a great relationship with. Ideally this person understands you well and can see if your PS is a good reflection of you. Will also possibly boost your ego. This person can be your best friend, mom/dad, SO, etc.
  • A harsh critic. Career advisor/pre-med advisor/some kind of college writing center/college faculty. Pre-med advisors seem to not always know what they’re talking about, but they can dole out some harsh criticism. Mine told me not to bother writing my PS because I wouldn’t get in this cycle. You may need and benefit from some of this criticism and getting critiques from somebody in academia can be helpful. Don’t let it crush your spirit, just internalize the feedback that makes the most sense to you.
  • A stranger. Somebody you don’t know that well. This can be the random guy on the bus or an acquaintance like the girl that sits behind you in history class. How well does your PS paint a word picture of who you are and your goal of med school?
  • A grammar nazi. Somebody who can edit your grammar. This person MUST be different from the aforementioned 3 other categories of people. This can be your old high school English teacher, your study buddy who happens to write screenplays for fun, or maybe even a hired service.
  • For the fifth person, I would repeat one of the 4 previous types of editors. If grammar is your weak spot, pick another person to edit for grammar. If you need a self esteem boost, have one of your buddies read it.
  • Don’t incorporate edits that you inherently disagree with, because you still want to make it your own!
  • Submit your best work — this is the first thing medical admissions will use to judge your character as opposed to your qualifications.
  • Give yourself a deadline and stick to it! It’s easy to keep editing forever, but at some point, realize that you won’t improve the quality of your piece by continuous editing.
  • You should aim to have it ready by mid-June for primary submission; you will be in the earliest submission/verification group within the first two weeks of AMCAS opening (so don’t worry about submitting the absolute first day, when website is likely to crash. Everyone submitting the first couple weeks will receive secondaries at the same time.