Med School Applications: The Important of Setting Goals

“The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them.”–Denis Watley

The process of gaining admission to a medical school is long and grueling.  In order to put together a strong application, you must spend several years getting good grades, participating in extracurricular activities, and volunteering your time.  Once you’ve done that, actually applying can be frustrating, discouraging and incredibly stressful.  Throughout the whole process you are presented with countless opportunities to give up and choose a less demanding career path.  And many students do give up.

What’s the difference between the students that have what it takes and those that don’t?  Talent, academic ability, and determination certainly play a role.  But I believe that the ability to set and focus on goals is the biggest factor in determining whether or not a given student successfully completes the medical school application process.

Pursuing admission to medical schools without defined goals along the way is like attempting to fly a plane from New York to Paris without any sort of navigational equipment.  Sure, you may know the general direction to go, and you may know what the destination looks like.  But there is simply too much between where you are now and where you’re going—you can’t possibly stay on course without help.

For a premed student, goals serve as benchmarks and guides, designed to keep you heading towards your ultimate destination.  It’s important to take time to carefully create these goals.  If you haven’t already done so, do it now.  Take out a piece of paper and make a dot that represents where you are today.  On the other end of the paper, make an ‘X’.  That represents your ultimate goal—admission to medical school.  Now, think about everything that has to happen first—academics, volunteer time, completing applications, etc.  Set a realistic timeline for completing each of these tasks.

When you’re done, you should have a basic list of goals that must be accomplished in order to achieve admission into medical school.  This is a huge step in the right direction—but it’s only the beginning.  Continue to refine your goals and review your progress often.  If you can remain focused on your goals, you’ll have a great chance of safely arriving at your final destination—med school!


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