Getting admitted into medical school is no easy feat. There are a lot of ups and there may be some downs. I’m in medical school now, but I’ve looked back and here’s what I would tell myself during my second year of college.

Everyone likes to say that Junior year is the hardest year but I felt that Sophomore year was just as difficult. Freshman year I was taking a bunch of electives and one or two science/math classes so it did not feel like I had to learn a lot of difficult concepts there was just a lot of busy work from the electives. However, Sophomore year there were more classes that were difficult to grasp and a lot of extra work from labs. I just felt like I was constantly drowning with the amount of reading and understanding that needed to be done.

Know that you need to work hard

For some reason, I always imagined that college would be easy but I felt like there was always something to do and I could not take a break during college. I was always stressing myself out and thought that was the only way to do well. But something that I wish I could tell myself is to not forget to give yourself some time to relax after working hard. Everything ends up falling into place somehow.

Make a routine of exercise

Freshman year I kind of forgot about going to the gym even though I was an intense runner in high school. But because I had so much work to do during Sophomore year, I felt like I did not have time to go to the gym. This was not true because although I did not have a lot of time, I wish I could have made gym a really big part of my life because those habits carry through for the rest of your life. Every time I would exercise, I felt much better and could get my work done more efficiently but sometimes remembering this when I had a lot of work was difficult to do.

Participate in activities not just for “show”

I always thought that I should only participate in activities because they would look good for medical school applications. But after a while I stopped doing stuff to impress medical school admission boards and did activities because I wanted to and thought they would help me grow as a student. I realized during medical school interviews, I was asked about these types of activities more so than the regular premed associations that all premed students join.

Trust yourself

I think as a Sophomore you still are unsure of yourself and it is hard to convince yourself that you may be doing things right. Even though I did pretty well during my Freshman year, I kept doubting how I should be doing my work and kept getting sucked into trying what other students were trying. Instead of wasting time trying out too many different things, I should have just stuck to what actually worked for me and only try new things when I was not succeeding. Because Sophomore year is pretty early in your undergraduate career, confidence may be hard to come by but remember to trust yourself, especially your gut instincts.

Accept your mistakes but learn from them

I think I mention this a lot every time I write and that is because this is very important. Most people, including myself, have a very hard time letting go of some of the mistakes that we make. After a mistake is made, nothing can be done after that mistake except taking time to step back and understanding what happened and learning from that mistake. You will make mistakes, some small and some big, but it is not the breadth of the mistake that defines it but rather it is the way that you come back from the mistakes that defines your character. Next tim you make a mistake, take a second to see how you reacted from it and try and change the way you reacted.

Sophomore year is deceptive because you think you are past your Freshman year when mistakes are made but this is the opposite of what is actually true. Sophomore year has a lot of pitfalls and can take you down the wrong path. Just stay proactive and remind yourself what your goals are and stay true to those goals. But remember that if you do stray away from the path, it is okay to get back on the path.