As Americans, we are bred into a capitalistic society that emphasizes competition. Even as children, we were bred to be competitive for our parent’s attention. Therefore, it is no wonder that competition permeates to education.

In particular, the pre-medical student may find that he or she is constantly bombarded with competition among peers—from sizing up your Biochemistry exam grade against your peer’s grades, to constantly trying to participate in resume-building activities such as volunteering and research—the competition can be overwhelming. One student responded with, “It was hard having all your friends in your science classes because even though they were my friends, I still felt like I was competing against them to get the best grade.”

Higher education has responded to the pleas of many students by now offering some assignments pass/fail or incorporating group activities and quizzes in order to calm the stress of competition.

Of course, competition isn’t always bad. One pre-medical student relays that throughout her four years, she felt that “there was never a time when I didn’t push myself to be the best. I felt that if I slacked off for even a second, I would decrease my chance of getting into medical school.” While undoubtedly stressful, competition amongst peers can allow the pre-medical student to always try to do their best throughout school and can guide them to achieve their goals.

Additionally, it is important to note that competition does not decrease after undergrad. In fact, the competition exponentially increases while in medical school and onto residency, where the same processes of sizing up your grades and extra-curricular activities happen again.