Med School Admissions: Don’t Let Procrastination Bring You Down

The process of applying to medical school is long and grueling.  Filling out application after application, writing essays, fulfilling countless requirements—the list can seem endless.  Even the most dedicated and disciplined student can expect to be working hard for many months— and unfortunately, procrastinating can put a prospective med student in a nearly impossible situation.  That’s why it’s critical for an applicant to not fall into the procrastination trap.  If you tend to procrastinate from time to time, sit up and pay attention—below are some helpful tips to help you stay on schedule:

1)     First and foremost, create a plan. As you know, the med school application process is long and complex.  That’s why the first step has to be creating a master plan and timeline.  Sit down and make a list of everything that needs to be done, and then create a realistic timeline for accomplishing each task.  When you’re done, you’ll have taken a monstrous, intimidating task and broken it down into manageable steps.  Each day you’ll have a realistic amount of work to get done, and as long as you stay on schedule you’ll beat your deadlines.

2)     Don’t burn yourself out. Burnout is a major threat to med school applicants.  Make sure you keep this reality in mind while creating your master schedule.  Try to vary your work—for instance, don’t plan on writing essays three days in a row.  It’s also important to schedule yourself some downtime.  Taking a day off will rejuvenate your mind and increase your efficiency when you get back to work the next day.

3)     Each day, attack the most challenging tasks first. When you sit down to start working on the application process each day, start by identifying the most intimidating task.  Do it first—that way, you won’t have it hanging over your head all day (which is a major cause of procrastination), and you’ll have the confidence that comes with knowing that your day will only get easier now that the worst is done.

4)     Make a physical checklist. Before beginning work for the day, make yourself a literal checklist of everything that needs to be completed.  It sounds silly, but the act of checking off boxes as you complete work can be a great psychological boost.

5)     Don’t despair if you fall behind. It’s critically important that you attempt to stick to your schedule.  Falling far behind will leave you with an impossible amount of work to complete in a short time.  That said, if you fall a couple of days behind, don’t panic.  Simply reevaluate your situation and figure out how much additional work you need to get done each day to get back on track.  Once you get back to work you’ll realize that you have plenty of time to get the work done.  (It is a good idea to schedule yourself time to spare while creating your master plan—that way, unplanned contingencies such as illness or personal problems won’t ruin your plan.)

Procrastination is never a good thing, but it’s particularly deadly for medical school applicants.  Don’t let procrastination bring you down!

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“Great presentation! It was great to hear someone tell us about the process and how to stand out. I’m a freshman and now I feel confident on how to become a stand out applicant.” Shelly C.

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