Denison’s Declassified Pre-Health School Survival Guide

Do you remember the Nickelodeon show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide? In this show, Ned shares tips and tricks on navigating middle school challenges. Being a Pre-Health student at Denison can be hard, but there are ways to make it easier for yourself and to enjoy this journey. As a pre-health student here, one may encounter several challenges such as tough coursework, many opportunities to explore, and a diverse range of extracurricular activities that can sharpen one’s skills for graduate school or a future career beyond Denison. With that being said, below is Denison’s Declassified Pre-Health School Survival Guide– a survival guide for anyone who is a pre-health major or who has pre-health interests! 

1: Stay Organized!

Being a Pre-Health student usually means juggling a lot of things. It is important to stay organized to keep yourself on track, and to reduce your stress in the long run. My favorite way to keep organized is through Google Calendar. Did you know that you can sync up your Canvas assignments calendar to your Google calendar? Find the instructions here. Google Calendar is great because it will send you reminders and you can create various calendars to organize your life even more. If you want to stay organized on paper, a planner or even a plain notebook is a good way to go. I always start my day off with a written to-do list for small tasks that I do not necessarily want to put on Google Calendar. Find what works best for you!

2: Prioritize Self Care

Practicing self-care and maintaining good mental and physical health is a crucial part of being a successful pre-health student. Make time for activities that stray away from your health related passions and academics. If you are not well you cannot do well in your classes or extracurriculars! It is extremely important to avoid burnout. Some ways to practice self care could be by simply taking a walk, going for a drive, journaling, calling a friend, listening to music or a podcast, or anything that does not take a lot of effort and that will make you feel better by the end of it.

3: Build Relationships

It is extremely important to build relationships with any advisors, faculty, alumni, or current students who can support you on this pre-health journey. You do not have to go through this journey alone! Denison has so many great faculty and staff members that really want to connect with you. Connect with someone in the Knowlton Center who can support you in applications, interviews, and career exploration in general. It is important to remember that this person doesn’t always have to be someone who knows the ins and outs of your future career field, just someone who you connect/bond with! 

4: Get Hands-On Experience

For pre-health careers it is very important to get various kinds of experiences! Try your best to network and make connections with people who can help you obtain shadowing and volunteering experience. For some fields it is harder than others (I have experienced this in psychology and therapy specifically, for example) but any experience is a good experience! Even by reaching out to someone in your dream career field on LinkedIn and setting up a phone call with them to discuss their work is a type of experience! Any type of work with people can allow you to gain crucial customer service skills that you will definitely utilize in a pre-health field.

5: Be Flexible

It is not normal to have it all figured out by now! It is okay if you are not really sure what you would like to do during your time here or after Denison. It is valuable to remain flexible and to try various different experiences and opportunities, because you never know where it may lead to! One of the main things in common with all pre-health students is that we want to help people, and there are so many ways to get there and to do that. For some of us, being a doctor or a nurse has been a dream of ours since childhood that has been instilled by the people around us. It is important to stay flexible because in college we are learning and discovering who we truly are, and it is okay if we decide to change this life path because we realize we want something else. If you stay flexible this path to discovery will be a lot easier! Also, you may discover new pre-health professions and paths at Denison that you may have never considered before! So it is always good to remain flexible and follow your passions as they change.

By Jacqueline Laskowski
Jacqueline Laskowski Peer Career Fellow: Healthcare and Clinical Research