For all of your sophomores out there – congratulations! You have been successful at something many premeds don’t do – making it to the second year of college as a pre-med. Now what?

The so-called sophomore slump is quite a common thing in college. Even students who were stellar students during their freshman year fall on their faces when year two comes along, usually because they’ve failed to give this second year the same attention as the first. It’s a mindset that can be detrimental to the dream of getting into medical school. And , while there are many websites and books on how to get into medical school, a play-by-play guide for how to navigate the ups and downs you may personally doesn’t exists, as every pre-med is different. If you’re struggling, try these tips to turn things around.

Be open to learning from others. When I started my first year of college, I was open to hearing whatever advice I was being given, constantly trying to learn everything about what it takes to become a doctor.

Once you’re in your sophomore year, tap into that same energy of being eager to take in knowledge during  this second year of college. My weakness during sophomore year was not caring enough to educate myself about the options I had. It was only when I was able to realize that I did not know as much as I thought I did  that my performance began to turn around.

See the dark side of things. While I’m naturally a person who thinks positive, in the midst of my sophomore year, that wasn’t necessarily the best thing. An optimist outlook can also give a false sense of success, but if you don’t amidst to yourself that getting into medical school is quite competitive, you may not have the same motivation to succeed.

Doing well during freshman year certainly does not mean you will perform as well the next year. There are plenty of students who can share stories about how well they did during their freshman year and how drastically different the following year was for them, that is in a bad way, of course.

The lesson in this is that, while not to be pessimistic, the competition is tough and nothing is guaranteed. As backwards as it may seem, when you expect the worst, you may actually be able to better prepare to step up and succeed when the going gets tough.

Put your best foot forward. Getting into medical school will take a lot of preparation: academically, personally, and financially. Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t rush the decisions you make and stop and before taking the next step think with greater attention than you did when you were a freshman. Make sure that what you’re doing during the second year is what you’re supposed to be doing. Take the time out now and you’ll be thankful later for giving such careful thought.