Jump to content
Premed 101 Forums

Starting second undergrad! Advice? Reassurance? Warnings???

Recommended Posts

Starting my second undergrad in three weeks and am becoming increasingly anxious about it. Is it a crazy idea? What if I fail? What if I'm not ready:(:(


To anyone who is doing a second undergrad or have done one or thinking of doing so: Any advice, personal stories, warnings, anything at all you guys could offer would be amazing.


Link to comment
Share on other sites



First of all, congratulations on your decision to pursue a second UG. I imagine it was a difficult decision to make, so remember that just making a well informed choice and sticking to it is commendable regardless of the outcome. Feelings of fear, uncertainty and doubt are to be expected, especially when you're first starting out. New school? Not knowing anyone? Pursuing a goal that may not pan out? These are all issues that may, and more likely WILL come up throughout your second UG (and into the application process). I think it's useful to try and develop skills now to try and deal with these emotions. A great book on this that I would highly recommend is "Feel the fear and do it anyway" by Susan Jeffers. It may give you a different POV on decision making and the anxieties that go along with it. 


I just finished my second UG this year, and felt the exact same way you did three years ago. Thanks to resources, such as the thread below, I was able to get a competitive gpa this time around (although the MCAT and applying is another journey. Oy!). If you haven't already, I would recommend this thread. There's a ton of great advice on here:




I'm not sure what your program/life experience/etc is, but hopefully some of my advice can be of use to you:


- Adopt a growth mindset. ie. regardless of subject difficulty, with resilience, hard work, and dedication, you can learn and be successful in your classes (the opposite being fixed mindset..ie "i'm not a math person".) Having a growth mindset, leading to a more positive attitude, will be critical when you're faced with tough science classes that you may have been removed from for years. Basically, you've gotta believe that you can do this…because you can :)


- Sit in front of the class, for every class. This will force you to be engaged in lecture, less distracted by noise from the back (especially in large lecture halls), closer to the prof so that after class you can quickly ask questions on concepts you didn't understand, and most importantly, sitting at the front will connect you with other students who are also striving to do well. This leads me to...


- Study groups (even just a study buddy). This helps with learning, getting that high GPA, accounts for social time, and establishing friendships (which is really important to have during this journey). When you're sitting at the front, be aware of students that seem like they know what's up, and befriend them. 


- Record lectures (via your cell or a legit recorder) for those classes that seem to whiz right by you. In my experience, most profs are ok with this. Also, I found it helpful to have an audio option when I was studying in order to fill in the gaps for lectures. 


- Go to office hours with questions whenever you have them.


- Find out who is marking your assignments, and visit office hours accordingly. So if a TA is marking your paper, make sure you get the most advice from her (especially in more subjective courses). 


- Remember there's a BIG difference on the OMSAS GPA scale between a 79 vs 80%, 84 vs 85% and 89 vs 90%. Although you shouldn't bug your profs too much with grades (unless of course there's a huge discrepancy), it's worth a shot to see if there were any mistakes made in marking, especially when you're hovering between these gpa thresholds. It can make a significant difference in a few years time.


- Have a positive attitude. I really can't overstate this one enough. 


Good luck as you begin this journey. And to answer your questions:

It's not a crazy idea, failure is just an illusion, and... you ARE ready :) 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey there! I finished year 1 of 3 of my second undergrad in April, with a relatively competitive GPA (3.94 OMSAS). Good for you for biting the bullet and doing what needs to be done for a competitive GPA. A lot of people have too much pride to do this.


I started having nightmares a few months before school started. I would dream about scrambling to get assignments done and bombing exams :eek: (which is the story of my first undergrad). Fortunately the fear of letting myself down really motivated me to pull off things like handing in my assignment a month early, and studying throughout the semester.


For me it was important to stop every couple of months and re-evaluate what my priorities and goals are in life, how am I progressing towards my goals, and what things are important for my overall happiness and quality of life. It's good to be motivated and feel the pressure to do everything at once, but don't bury yourself with commitments to the point where you start viewing the volunteer/work opportunities you've been given as obstacles rather than blessings. During my first undergrad, I signed up for everything and anything without evaluating whether I could actually handle it, and ended up with mediocre results in everything. Last year my strategy was the reverse--do few things that are picked strategically, but do them very, very well so that it's hard to be unnoticed. This is way more conductive to opening up doors for more opportunities.


Don't ignore things that are important for your mental and physical health! You will probably do better if you are happy and satisfied with life.


Making friends with other mature students can be a double-edged sword. They can motivate you or their neurotism and anxiety about the future can mess up your mentality.


Never forget that GPA is king. Always remind yourself why you are doing a second degree. I printed a sign that says "DO YOU WANT A 90???" so that everytime when I felt like slacking I would answer the question and know what to do.


Hope that helped, and best of luck!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, eggmcmuffin (what a great name, now I want one)!

That's so funny about your nightmares because that's exactly what has started happening to me. I keep having dreams that it's like November and there's a math class I haven't even gone to yet. Or I'm in a class and there's a test and I just don't know a thing on it. My hardcore procrastinating in my first degree is coming back to haunt me it seems D:

I think that fear will keep me going everyday and keep me on track. I think the fear of screwing this up an wasting a years tuition is setting in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it depends on what did *not* work with your first degree (I'm assuming that is the case).  Was it the field? Your motivation level? Study habits? Personal stuff? All that matters, because figuring out what didn't work is your best route towards success.  For me it was fairly straightforward; in my first degree, I had no clue why I was there, was unmotivated and did not go to class. I had no desire to pursue further education, so a B average was fine by me.  I actually finished with under that - a 2.92/4.0 GPA overall (with a first year 2.3 GPA dragging the whole thing down).


Now, in a program that's about the same difficulty, I'm finishing my third year with a 3.96/4.0 GPA.


I knew that 90% of the reason for a second degree was to increase my GPA, so that's where I directed my energy. Unfortunately, that does mean other things suffer - social life, activities, etc... Obviously you've got to keep some things going, but know what your priorities are. It can be hard when all your friends are working and lots of spare time - you have neither the time nor money to do the same things as them. But remember this is all part of a broader goal.


Some random tips:

  • Profs often indicate subtly or even bluntly what is most important to understand. Pay attention to those tips and know that material 100%.
  • If you don't understand something, work at it until you do. Every time I've said "Ah, I doubt this'll be tested" it has bitten me.
  • That said, don't waste time studying things that are clearly NOT important. I see many younger students wasting time on material that was covered for 1 second, memorizing tables that weren't even discussed, etc... Granted, there are profs out there that test that stuff (don't get me started), but in my experience this is rare. Talk to other students (or check rate my prof) to see what people have to say re: the prof's style.
  • Do past exams whenever these are available. Do them all.
  • My study process is kinda ridiculous, but involves re-typing all of my notes, then re-typing a condensed version, then again re-typing an even more condensed version, etc... It takes forever. However, it has also worked. I'm not sure this is the best method, but what I do know is that just reading powerpoint slides is not a good study method. Make your own study materials in some way, especially for anything that needs to be memorized.
  • Group studying... meh. I'm not convinced. Because of my study method (see above), time spent group studying is time away from my own effective method. I use group studying to clarify things and answer questions, but I would avoid group studying until you know your stuff first. But, that's just me...
  • There is an app called FlashCards++, which I find super helpful. It can import excel spreadsheets into iPhone flashcards. So if you do need to memorize stuff, just make an excel sheet with definitions on one side, and terms on the other, and you've got instant flashcards wherever you are.
  • You did mention procrastination... that's a pretty common thing. I think everyone procrastinates, but there has to be a limit. I have a google calender with everything on it, so I can tell right away which weeks are going to be rough. That makes me work in advance on things to prevent any problems.
  • Procrastination on studying is a bigger issue. While a paper can get written overnight, studying doesn't work that way. Ideally you should be constantly reviewing (still haven't gotten that one down), but you do need at least 3-4 days before the test to review study materials and do sample questions (if possible). And I mean to review prepared study materials, not to be writing your notes the day before the test.
  • Sleep. So many students mess this one up. You need sleep. Memory consolidation does not work without sleep. You won't be focused. If you don't procrastinate and prepare in advance, there is no reason you can't still be sleeping 7-8 hours per night, even during exam time. People will brag about needing less (and the very rare ones might need only 5), but the science is pretty clear on this point. We need sleep. I've seen students that can barely put sentences together in the morning, because they've studied all night. How they expect to do well on tests is beyond me.
Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...