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Going Into My 2Nd Year..how'd You Get Through It?

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Hey guys! 

I'm a student who just finished their first year at UBC. Many people say after the first year in sciences many students give up on the whole "I want to be a doctor" dreams but I havent. I struggled with the transition, but kept motivating myself to do better and ended up with a decent avg (~80). I got better marks second semester.

My question is for all those people who get 85+ averages consistently:how do you do it?

I've been able to improve my studying habits and sacrificed a lot of time to study instead, but I feel like I'm not working at max efficiency. People say it gets easier after 1st year, but does it really? 

Let alone declaring my major (probably doing bio, I enjoyed it!), I have no idea what arts electives I'd like to take. How'd you all go about selecting electives 2nd year? I don't really have anyone older to talk to so I only have this forum to ask.


Any advice is appreciated :)



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You seem very motivated and passionate about your goal, that is in my opinion very significant on it's own. The journey may seem long and hard at times, but your motivation and passion will be there to give you that push and hope when you need it. As mentioned, as you go through your years you realize the study methods that work best for you; I don't think there is a golden method of studying. I would say don't get caught up on finding the most efficient ("perfect") way of studying, it may get you overwhelmed and exhausted, rather try experimenting what works best for you and you may even find yourself having fun in the experimenting process and learning more about yourself (easier said than done sometimes).

Hope this helps a bit.

Wish you all the best!

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Everyone struggles, but being motivated is key! I didn't even want to apply to med so that wasn't my motivation for studying... it was like an inner pride thing, like... I know I can beat my previous marks. I competed against myself (block out all that pre-med bullshit grade humble bragging, ie. people in classes "disappointed" they only got a 90 on that midterm, or whatever) and didn't tell anyone my grades, nor did I ask anyone else's.


Story time about my journey (skip if bored already): At the end of first year my average was ~81, and I knew I could totally do better than that. I rocked first year bio, but struggled a little bit in chem and quite a bit, unexpectedly, in first year calc. So, in second year I went into it just trying my best... and I'll be damned, I was succeeding at classes I never thought I would be good at. I always assumed I'd like ecology and macrobiology because biochemistry and microbiology sounded scary and hard. I took intro biochem and did pretty good (85, not my highest mark that year, but my hardest earned mark for sure) but absolutely loved the content. I also loved intro microbiology and got a pretty good mark in that, but had a general sense from other students that the micro department was a death trap (it was - so thank god I picked biochem, we have an amazing biochem department of professors who care about teaching and awesome support staff). So anyway, changed major from biology to biochem and my average went up to probably ~83 cumulatively after 2nd year, and I was like wow... I can do this. I set a number goal: I wanted my cumulative average to be above 85 by the end of 3rd year. And, sure enough, by the end of third year I managed to bring it up to 86! I continued to get even better grades in 4th year and ended my degree with a cumulative avg of 88 at the end of my degree.


So... how do you get the upward trend? Well I fumbled my way through without any advice from anyone, really. So maybe if I was in your shoes where you are right now getting advice, I could've skipped a bit of fumbling. I didn't focus on finding "the best way to study" - I just went with my gut instincts of how I learn best. This could take trial and error if you didn't figure that out in high school/first year. I knew I learn best by reading what I've handwritten, and by orally explaining concepts to myself - I am very much an auditory/visual learner. I remember the way words look written in my writing, the kinesthetic aspect of physically hand writing helps, and hearing myself say something helps. For memorization - drawing and redrawing. Flashcards are meh for me, I need to write and write again. This all lead to a style in which for each and every class, for every exam, I would go through my notes and make organized study notes condensed to usually 8-12 pages for a midterm, and up to 30 for a final (but I'd reuse my previous study notes for the first half of the term from the midterm). Then I would go through them, read a sentence and explain concepts out loud to myself until I could basically recite all the concepts in my notes from memory. I would go over things I struggled with several times. Hopefully getting through all the notes at least 2-3 times. You also have to distinguish between theoretical classes where that technique works really well, and problem solving classes like chemistry, physics, etc. Problem solving classes I would do the theory learning, but weeks before an exam set goals for problem sets I needed to work through. Old exams are the best practice! Write practice finals if you can in the same type of setting you'll write the final in.


For me, when studying, prioritization is absolutely key, too. I make study schedules based on the priority of classes (how much time I'll need to study, how much the exam is worth, etc). Studying was never a "choice" I made, really. It was a habit and a part of my life in undergrad. It was just something I had to do, like a job! It sounds like you have the kind of motivation to treat studying that way already... so that's awesome!


As far as electives... do what you are interested in. Honestly. I fell into the trap of "oh, first year sociology is a marks booster all multiple choice!" and did classes like that, but absolutely dreaded them... and ended up doing WORSE in them than the "harder" classes like women's and gender studies (those can be 'easy', but mine was a lot of work with many essays, written assigns, etc), and 2nd year english (fantasy and speculative fiction, amazing class!). I also did a lot of science electives (against the advice of my advisor who said I should take lighter 1st year humanities credits) like microbial genetics and advanced molecular biology... which i also did better in than my crappy 1st year sociology and psychology classes I wasn't into. In my experience, you will tend to do better in classes you are interested in. So if you love history, take some history electives! If you do really love science, do science electives (if you can)! You can look up classes and profs on rate my prof (especially for 1st/2nd year classes) and that can give you an idea of what a class/prof is like.


Hopefully that helps :) you'll make it through the other side, trust me!

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Loving the other comments posted in this thread.  I think the switch from high school to university is a big one, and I would be lying if I said I didn't struggle a bit.  Here are some things to consider:


1.  Take ownership of studying.  Yes you can get away copying someone's homework or just copying your friends answers for a quiz.  However, know that these things help you learn overall. Do it for real.

2.  Enjoy the social aspect of university, but have limits.  A sad truth is that your friends change, but your transcript does not.  All things in moderation.

3.  Course selection matters.  You will find that you excel in some subjects and struggle in others.  Take courses that you think you will do well in.  If, in the first week of class or so, you feel like it is going to be a tough class, drop it and take another one.

4.  Work with other students when you study.  This is really important.  You don't even need to find someone "smarter" than you.  Having someone to bounce ideas off is a great way to remember things, and in some ways this is a social activity as well. 


Best of luck in year 2.  Remember if you take a full courseload, UBC drops your worst year.  For a lot of people, this is their first year, so you haven't really done anything to harm your chances at medical school.

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Wow, I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who contributed their knowledge to this thread. I have a better sense of what I have to do if I want to excel in sophmore year. I will work my butt off, this is something I want to do :)


But first, off to science advising to figure out what courses to take :P 

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