If you’re in high school and you’re reading this, chances are – you have already decided that you defiantly want to study medicine. Yes, that’s true. In fact, more than 30 percent of students entering medical school say that it was during high school or sometime before college when they defiantly decided that they wanted to become a doctor. So, as you head back to school for yet another year of studying and hitting the books to fulfill your dreams of getting into medical school, it made me think about all of the useful lessons that students learn as young children that can be applied to your high school life.

Here are five tips from my grade school days that every pre-med high school student should know:

ASK WHY.

When children get to a certain age, it almost becomes a rite of passage to respond with the word ‘why’ to everything being told to them. But as you will come to learn, asking why is actually something that will play to your advantage as you begin your educational journey toward medical school. There will be many things you’ll need to learn as a pre-medical student and some of the most successful medical students will say that learning becomes more interesting if you know the ‘why’ around concepts, rather just memorizing facts and suggests of information.

When you begin to do this, you see that you may have a greater appreciation for the things you are begin taught and you may begin to make connections and retain knowledge at a much greater capacity than ever before. The road to becoming a doctor is one that involves being a life-long learner. As a health care practitioner, you’ll always be learning new things and why better time to get started and comfortable with this process than now? If there’s something that you are struggling to understand, or even if you think you’ve got a pretty good grasp on a particular topic – go deeper.

PLAY HARD.

If there’s one thing we all know children like to do – it’s play. From the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep, preschoolers are all about having a good time. But there’s nothing wrong with taking break from your studies to participate in something that you enjoy. Since you’ll be going into medicine, it might be in your best interest to take the time now, while you can, to stop for a moment and think about the things that made you happy. For some, it might be difficult to think about spending time doing anything other than something “premed” but taking a break from time to time will be in your best interest in the end. Try thinking back to when you were 10 years old and try to remember what you enjoyed doing most. Experts say that if you can tap into what you did during these pre-teen years, you’ll be able to get back to doing what you enjoy most – and if you’re having trouble remember, ask your parents or someone who you were close to growing up. The point it – if you’re going to pursue medicine, chances are you’re in for a lifetime of learning, working hard, putting in long hours of training, so now is the perfect time to take advantage of the fact that you probably have a little more time to do these kinds of things than you ever will in the future. In the end, it will be good for your mind, body, soul, and future patients. So, the next time someone tells you to take a break or invites you to do something “fun” go ahead and take them up on their offer.

LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH

If you spend a few minutes in a classroom filled with four- and five-year-old girls and boys, there’s no doubt that you’ll find yourself laughing at something. And whether its something a kids says or something a kid does, chances are something funny has happened, is happening, or is about to happen. The bottom line is – the power and effectiveness of adding play into one’s pre-med life has been completely overlooked, yet it yields so many benefits. Really take some time to think seriously (in a fun way) about ways you may be able to incorporate play into your routine, either by yourself or with a group of friends or classmates. Being focused and serious is a top priority for the vast majority of pre-medical students, and rightly so.

Medical schools expect students to be serious and motivated and when a student’s performance doesn’t stack up, there’s a price to pay. Getting into medical school will be no easy feat. It takes a lot of discipline, dedication, and hard work to get there. That’s why, as you embark along this journey, you have to advantage of certain times that come along – when a moment to laugh presents itself. William James said it best when he stated “we don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.”

TRY AND TRY AGAIN.

Getting into medical school is not easy. And for many successful pre-meds, the ability to not give is the most important part of the process. Going through the pre-med journey can be quite scary at times, but it is very important to have goals and execute them without distraction. You probably already embrace and rejoice in your successes, but think about embracing your failures more fully. There’s no better way to learn and move forward from an experience than to be honest about the things that might have gone wrong. Chances are there’s not a single pre-med who has had a painless path to getting into medical school (if you are one, we would sure like to hear from you) – any pre-med who has been through the process has been most likely tested in some way or another. All aspiring pre-meds should remember that adversity doesn’t mean failure. It can lay the foundation for an even greater experience that may ultimately make you a better doctor in the future.

LEARN THROUGH PLAY.

Most educators will tell you that children learn best through play. And just because you’re in high school now doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while learning. “Learning through play is a term used in education and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them” and who says it can’t benefit a high schooler make sense of their premed world. Being able to have fun with all of the subjects you’ll need to take will help you build your own understanding and potentially create a personalized learning experience for yourself. “We are born with the most powerful ability to learn – through play.”