At the end of every semester, I go over every “premed” mistake I have made in those three months and then vow not to repeat them ever again. This idea of analyzing every academic blunder that made a negative impact on my GPA sounds quite painful but by the end of the semester, all the internal wounds usually fade and the process is quite introspective. Therefore, the beginning of every semester, for me and quite a few other premeds I know, is comparable to the beginning of a new year. We reminisce the failures of last semester as if they are a part of a past long gone and will not come back to haunt us anymore.  We make our new resolutions for the semester. We strive to be better and more productive students. This term, we tell ourselves, is our time to reach the pinnacle of success. Wide-eyed and raring to go, we begin a new semester.

Of course as the months go on and the midterms start clashing with all the extracurricular commitments, it becomes harder and harder to stick to the promises we made at the beginning of the semester. Still we tell ourselves we have to do better this semester, we have to get the 4.0, work on research and aim to be more involved so we must keep trying. As the last week of the semester approaches, in the middle of packing and trying to relax, final grades come out and we find that we haven’t done as well as we wanted to do. For some of us, emotion and instinct override rational thought. We completely overlook the fact that we have done better and that there has been an improvement and instead only choose to focus on the problems still there.

Why do we do this?  Why do we beat ourselves up for the one B and overlook every other A? Why do we lament on not being able to increase our GPA up to 4.0 instead of acknowledging the increase from 3.3 to 3.6? Why do we not appreciate small improvements? Every step forward, nonetheless how small, is ultimately a progression towards our goal. Yet we still want to rise from the bottom of the ladder to the top without having to cross the middle steps. We do this because we think we are running out of time. A Premed student is supposed to follow the guidelines.  Take some requirements in freshmen and sophomore year, then take the MCAT’s sophomore or junior year, and then apply at the end of junior year all the while managing a spotless academic record. We can’t acknowledge our small progressive steps because we don’t think we have the luxury to grow and evolve day by day. As great as a 3.5 might be, it is still not competitive enough for many schools. Slow, consistent improvements don’t lead to overnight success which we so desperately crave to end our premed journeys and begin the med school ones.  However, when we choose to adhere to the conventional premed timelines, paths and routes, we do a disservice to ourselves because as good as instantaneous success is, it doesn’t build character. Slow improvements, take time, which forces us to analyze, critique, and introspect every aspect of our journey. These little developments become a part of who we are and it is ultimately these small improvements, ones we consider meaningless, that ultimately help us be the best versions of ourselves.

For the upcoming semester, why don’t we aspire for those little improvements that bring permanent changes? As long as we don’t become stagnant, every improvement and every effort, no matter how big or small and no matter by how much it causes an increase in our GPA’s, is worth celebrating.

“Without continuous growth and progress, such words as achievement and success have no meaning” – Benjamin Franklin