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.
CHEM 215 (spring)
BIOPHYS 399 (spring)
2 thoughts on “Lindsay’s Exit Ticket”
I saw biophys 290 in your exit ticket, and just had a few questions about the course. I am taking it to fulfill my physics requirement next semester and wanted some advice on how to do well in the course. The only prior exposure to physics I had was AP physics in high school and wanted to know more about this course in sense of difficulty and workload, and above all some input on how to succeed. Thank you so much for all your time!
Lindsay Ma says:
Hello! Thanks for taking the time to read my exit ticket. Let me first disclose that it’s been several years since I took BIOPHYS 290, so the tips and reflections I provide may be outdated–the course content may have changed, the professor may have changed, etc. Nevertheless, I hope that the following will be both specific and broad enough to be helpful to you as you embark on this course.
1. I only took AP Physics as well before taking BIOPHYS 290. I know my ticket shows I took PHYSICS 135/136, but it was essentially a repeat of the AP Physics mechanics material I learned in high school, so I wouldn’t say I learned anything in PHYSICS 135/136 that I didn’t know before. In short, something happened with my credit transfer such that I needed to take PHYSICS 135/136–this I presume is irrelevant to you, but the extra detail might make my ticket make more sense. One other thing–this class was meant to use the knowledge students already had of physics (from UofM’s intro sequence, from AP, or IB) and apply it to physical, human concepts. You should expect to learn some new equations and concepts, but many of the equations you’ll use you will have probably already worked with.
2. As someone who felt comfortable with AP Physics, I felt the workload and difficulty was very reasonable. To me, it was much less difficult than the organic chemistry courses, for example. Workload-wise, I think we had weekly homework assignments and periodic exams throughout the course which meant that the final exam contributed a reasonable (perhaps 30-40%) portion to our grades. Dr. Zochowski taught when I took the course, and I found other students and I were very comfortable approaching him to ask questions in and outside of the classroom to fill any knowledge gaps.
3. I think this leads nicely into some tips that may help you succeed in BIOPHYS 290. I will say though that I think the following applies for any physics class in my opinion: Ask question and for clarification on a weekly basis; this means using the office hours or scheduling 1-on-1 appointments to ensure you’re fully comprehending material at the rate it is taught; don’t wait until the end of the semester to catch up since this tends to create undue stress for students and professors. After any assignment or assessment, review what you got wrong AND what you were unsure of but got right, and figure out how to be more sure of yourself on those questions and questions like them. Physics is inherently a building block type of discipline, so I highly recommend sorting any of your misunderstandings out ASAP. If there are practice questions available to you through the course or online, take advantage! Practice questions are key to succeeding in physics (and many other fields). I think this is true because practice problems help you develop “muscle/word memory”, meaning, you’ll start to associate certain key words with certain concepts and thus be able to quickly determine what equation(s) are most appropriate to use. Also, practice problems can challenge your to think through slightly different iterations of the same concept, ultimately improving your understanding of how the concept works (instead of just memorizing greek letters in an equation). Understanding a concept thoroughly will give you a better chance of remembering things in the long term, so save your future self some energy and time by putting the effort in now the best you can 🙂
I hope this helps!
Lindsay (PMH Alumni)