10 Mistakes of the PreMed

Originally posted May 2014

And 10 ways to make sure you don’t make them

1. Doing a ton of stuff

Want to know a secret? Medical school don’t really care how much you’ve done, how many clubs you are in or how many times you have volunteered. They like those things, but if it’s a ton of short little sprinkles rather the actual nice, fulfilling, well baked cake, its still just decoration. They are looking for commitment and longevity. They want to see that you can stick with something and see it through, as well as grow and succeed. Jumping from one thing to another doesn’t show your passion.

2. Thinking an A will get you a recommendation letter

It might be a requirement from the instructor to have an A in the class before asking for a letter, but how can they write you a letter if they know nothing about you? The whole point of a letter of rec is so that an admissions committee can get to know you as a student and that you can not only perform but show initiative. If you don’t know your professors at all, then it’s just another paper with a grade. And to be honest, having a bland letter without a personal perspective is quite telling. If you have one like that, okay, but if that’s all of them…you better have some other outstanding assets, I’ll just leave it at that.

3. Overloading on classes to look good right from the start
If you have an intense major that requires things that just happen to be medically related, that’s sort of convenient on your path. But you don’t need to take every human/biology/medically type class offered at your university. I’ve seen people who have done this from the get-go and it looks painfully obvious that they are trying to get brownies points. Most of the time, people don’t do as well when they do that, and then try to make the excuse of “my schedule was just so rough”. Spacing yourself out and learning to take on more and more difficult classes as you progress looks way better and more responsible. Plus your grades will most likely be better.

4. Not knowing the difference between constructive criticism, tough love and negativity  
No one is really that good at taking any form of criticism at 18 (when most of us start college). Especially when it comes from sarcastic or uninterested figures of authority. But so many people never learn the difference between help and hurt because no one wants to be wrong. There will be people who try to bring you down, but there will also be people who try to point out the things that would hurt you or that you might not be doing effectively. Those people aren’t trying to say you are wrong or stupid; they want you to do your best.
Remember, not everyone comes in with a gentile approach. Pay attention to the context and the message rather than the tone or, well, abruptness of what is being said.

5. Not understanding that the due date and submission date shouldn’t be the same thing
Someone needed to give me this memo way earlier than I got it. Most of the time we get the “earlier is best” spiel, but sometimes it’s hard to think that way because we are so used to things being “due”. Just because you submit something on-time doesn’t guarantee you anything and in the world of medicine everything kind of becomes first come first serve. You need to make deadlines for yourself and stick to them (and also do things early).

6. Thinking advisors don’t know what they are doing
Okay, advisors tend to have a bad rap when it comes to premeds. Most advisors have delt with premeds before and will continue dealing with them long after you’re gone. They may not have gone through the process but they (generally) have their facts straight.
Here is the thing though. Universities and colleges have tons of advisors. If you don’t like an advisor, or they are not helpful find a new one. If you have one assigned that sucks but that doesn’t mean this person is your only resource. Not only do those, “advisors” technically don’t need to have that title. It could also be other faculty members you believe can help you in a positive way. Putting in a little leg work can go a long way.

7. Not taking the advice of those who have gone through it
My favorite phrase I hear about that is “well that won’t happen to me”. The intern at my lab just learned that indeed everyone fucks up sometimes (like I told him) as he failed his first immuno test this week (s’okay, he gets a drop test). It’s really easy to say you know what’s up or that you won’t make the same mistake but invariably someone always does. Experience is the best way to learn, but that doesn’t mean that failure needs to be that teacher. Take it from those who have already been there and who have already made it. You don’t need to follow word for word, but you can learn some interesting and invaluable things.

8. Avoiding the statistics
No one likes looking at things that make them sad. And medical school statistics are not exactly joy-filled. You can’t avoid them though. You need to know where you fall comparatively to know how competitive you are so that you can adjust accordingly for your goals. You should know MCAT averages for schools, GPA averages, and how many students have participated in research and volunteering to that gained acceptances to schools. You should know that the average age that students start medical school (25 for those of you freaking out about a gap year or 2) among other things.
Do you need to freak out about this stuff? No. Why? Because statistics is a math that is inherently skewed and made to look better than they really are. A mean is just a compilation of a whole bunch of numbers, so if a school averages a 30 MCAT someone might have a 31 while someone has a 28. So you shouldn’t try to match stats. But you should still know what you’re up against.

9. Thinking you have to choose a science major
This is probably the biggest mistake premeds make. If you are interested in doing a science major, go for it! If you aren’t sure what to major in but want to be a doctor a science major is probably a good choice. But don’t pick biology or chemistry if you don’t think you will enjoy it. Here’s the thing, everyone who gets into med school takes the same basic classes and everyone basically starts on the same level. And just because you’re major says biology, that doesn’t make you a master of all and every human biology. Plus, a lot of other major can help fill is secondary gaps you might not have considered like writing skills, research and statistics knowledge or mastery of a second language.
And just as a personal point, I don’t really like the idea of “premed majors”. My university just opened a new major called “biomedical science” which directly translates to I want to go to medical school, at least at that specific institution. The issue here is that this degree offers zero flexibility if for some reason you choose not to go to medical school. It also really limits your access/timing to advance upper level classes where research is much easier to find. So just tread carefully and always look prospectively at your own school’s major requirements.

10. Trying to “make it through”
Would you want a doctor who is just moving through the motions to get to the end of the day? Probably not right? Don’t get me wrong, it happens to the best of us, but you wouldn’t want someone who’s totally miserable managing your health. You don’t need to be an ace or beat out the curve on every test. But pre-medical students who allow themselves to fall into a pace of easy satisfaction, or doing what they have to so they can get by won’t make doctors who enjoy patient centered care. Settling should not be an option. Even in the future, when you feel like you are dragging your feet, half-assing things should not be an option. Whole-ass it.

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Secrets of the Medical School Application Cycle

Originally posted May 2014

Okay, so they aren’t really secrets but they are things many applicants don’t know or don’t think about when they apply to medical schools unless you have good guidance. Applying to medical school, as many of you know, is a big process that happens over the course of months and months and causes plenty of stress. So in the wake of my loan meeting, I shall share for those of entering the process something you might find useful!

BE EARLY

Get everything in early, I cannot stress this enough. Take the MCAT early, turn in your primary right away, try finish your secondary by the week after you get it, you get the point. Because most med schools are rolling admissions, the earlier you apply, the better chance of the school having a spot that you can fill. It also makes you seem interested and enthusiastic about being in medical school.

Your science GPA might be different from application to application

The science GPA is one of the most important parts of your application, but you already knew that. AMCAS science GPA consists of any classes that fall under biology, chemistry, physics, any health science classes and math (it will say in the FAQs how to calculate it). AACOMAS doesn’t count math in your sciGPA. Furthermore, one of the reasons the schools make you list out every single freaking class is because they have their own formulas for our GPAs. This is why need to make sure there are as little discrepancies as possible on any application and of course get good grades.

Report every MCAT score

This is not a suggestion. This is a rule and a warning. Say you turn in your applications and have started getting secondaries, but you took the MCAT a second time just recently. A few days after submitting you get a second MCAT score and you aren’t happy with it so you just…leave it out. You cannot do that because I believe it is mandated at this point that you must report all scores. You need to report the new score no matter what because if you are accepted and they find out you have an unreported score, more likely than not, your acceptance will be revoked. And that would be absolutely terrible.

You will be doing a lot of introspective writing

I am not talking about your personal statement here, though you should feel that internal connection to it. When you get secondaries some might not have any questions, you might have a one to ten short essays or you might have to write a few 1,000 word stories. Technically, these are maximums, but if you get 500 word limit, you should at least get to 2/3rd of the word count. They want you to explain in that case. Similarly, if they only want 100 words, they want it short and sweet. Some of these questions will be pretty simple, while some ore going to make you dig deep. Either way, you will always have to be creative and play up those positive points. And you be be completely sick of writing about half way though, so don’t burn out!

You will have to be an adaptive writer

Every secondary is different, and even though many of those essay type questions are similar you will almost never have the same word limit. You need to learn how to say the same thing in 100, 500 or 1,000 words. You must also learn how to tone your essays. If something negative happened, like a bad grade you need to make it sound like you learned and improved from it, not that you had a shitty semester for whatever reason. Adapt. Evolve.

Pretty much everyone gets a secondary

I feel like I’m bursting a few bubbles here, but getting a secondary means you fulfilled the bare-bone requirements set by the administration of whatever school. Basically a computer goes; GPA, check. MCAT score, check. Classes, check. No one really looks at any of your stuff until you turn in your secondary. Think about it though. With secondaries ranging from $30 to $120 and some schools having well over 5,000 applications, why not let everyone send them in? It’s pretty great way to make money if you ask me. So keep a level head.
Know how FAFSA works

Even if you don’t know if, when and where you will be going to medical school, you must fill out FAFSA, which you have to do for college anyways. If you want to screw yourself over, then ignoring finaid is the best way to do that. Having trouble or don’t know how to do it correctly? Get help. Ask an adviser, a finaid counselor or call FAFSA. Also, when you first fill out your FAFSA don’t freak when it says you might only get 20k. That is the max for any grad student for a fiscal year. Medical schools go in manually and change it, if needed to the med school max of like 40k (I’m not 100% on that). This is because medical schools are listed under graduate education, not doctorate. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why.

Medical schools have their own magic formulas

Magic formulas for who they invite for interviews of course. Medical schools generally want to keep their stats in the same place, varying slightly from the students who actually go to the school or if they want to up their averages. Basically it looks like this; a school averages MCAT at 508 and GPA and 3.7. Well if you get a 514 MCAT, you are okay to have a 3.5 GPA since it will round out, while another student can have a 502 MCAT and a 3.9 GPA and get into the same program. Of course all the other factors are mixed in there, but that is the basic concept. Remember, an average just means everyone complied together. Every school has their own formula, and their own exceptions.

There is no real timeline after submitting your secondary

It all kind of goes up in the air. Some people get interviews a few days after submitting their secondary, while other wait until the very end of the cycle to just be rejected. You might be given a hold, or the school may provide a loose outline of an expected timeline, but that really means squat. There have even been cases of silent rejects, which is when you don’t hear anything at all. So if you are at this point, don’t freak out, you aren’t the only person suffering.

It’s okay to contact the admission committee

Listen, medical school administration is far from perfect. If it’s been a while and you haven’t heard a thing, it’s okay to call the school and ask if they got all of your application material okay and to find out when they begin and end their interview process. I had a friend who applied to a school which actually had misplaced his application and because he called to ask, they found it and invited him for an interview. Be careful though, because if you call more than once they could just see you as pushy and annoying. And that’s bad.

I know this is way too long, but I hope those of you just entering the application cycle find this helpful! Good luck to everyone out there!

Surviving Finals

Originally posted April 2014

A guide to getting through the last week and worst week of the semester

I’ve seen a lot of final exam weeks in my day. And for the first time this year I saw finals from an outsider’s perspective, since I’m not currently in school. So I’ve compiled some tips to help undergrads get over that last hurdle without falling flat on their face. Everyone is different and if you have a different way to handling finals that’s all right. I’m just sharing the things I know.

Know when your damn finals are

You would be shocked to know how many people can’t answer “what days are your finals on?” I’m not sure if people are trying to act nonchalant about it, or they really just don’t care but either way it’s dumb. I mean these are tests that can make or break your grades and you can’t commit the words Monday = English Lit into your head? Or just writing it down somewhere you can see it? Not knowing when finals are or what tests you have what days just says you are trying to avoid the thought of taking these exams. But that’s how you get blindsided and then have a panic attack because your exam is 4 days away and you haven’t even looked at any of the class material.

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Schedule study time based on course/content difficulty

Once you know when your exams are, you should set a schedule for when and what to study. Obviously, you should study for the classes which exams will happen first and then go from there. But as most college students know, classes are not created equal and therefore do not require the same amount of study time. By the end of the semester you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to do to succeed on an exam in whatever classes you have. Figure out how much time you will need for each class and then plan accordingly, then add a little more time because finals.

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Let others know its finals week

I don’t know what’s up with parents/family members, employers or anyone who isn’t in college currently but finals week is like an enigma to them. No matter how many finals you have, no matter how long you’ve been in college (therefor amassing plenty of finals weeks) they don’t get it. You are busy the whole week. Yes the whole week. You have to let all parties know that you will essentially be inaccessible, and you need to be patient regardless of how many times you have to repeat it. Also, do not allow yourself to be swayed by guilt trippers who try to get you to go out/come home early/do favors. Finals are super important and for all the importance every places on school you’d think they’d get it by now.

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Take breathers and stress-relievers

Having 5 exams all at once that cover everything you’ve learned in a 4 months is a terrible thing. A terrible, stress inducing thing. It’s important to have a way to blow off some of that built up pressure. After an exam you should take at least 2 to 3 hours to distress and come down the test takers high, especially if you had back-to-back exams. You can take a nap, watch your shows, and go exercise, whatever helps you feel at ease. If you have another test coming up the next day (or even that same night) you should still take time out to breath because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. If you have a test a final a few days after the one you just took, I am a firm believer in taking the rest of the day as a study free day. If you are burnt out you won’t be able to retain anything productive anyways.

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Please sleep

I know sleeping is really the last thing you want to do during finals week. I mean why waste 8 hours asleep when you could be learning everything in the universe instead? I’m personally not a fan of cramming the night before, or the morning of if you’re one of those people but there are time when it needs to be done, like if you are taking a particularly tough course load that semester and there just isn’t enough daytime to get shit done. Here is the thing though; if you try to give up the majority of your sleeping time during finals (like getting 10 hours in 3 days) you’re hurting yourself a lot more than you are helping. You retain much less information, lose the ability to fully concentrate, plus you become a zombified shell of a student who is dead on the inside. So if you can, get your sleep on.

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Take the test and forget

I am in no way saying forget everything you learned from your class after you’re done with finals. Don’t do that. I’m saying to take your final, and then forget about that final. It’s done and over with. Don’t go digging through a textbook looking for an answer you weren’t sure of. Don’t talk about how good/bad the exam was and how you knew nothing and the world conspires against you. Save all of that until finals are completely over.

Finals are like war. If you dwell over a win or loss, you won’t be able to focus on the next battle and you can’t win the war. You can celebrate once you’ve conquered all.

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So good luck to all you finals weekers out there!

Love What You Hate

or least tolerate it!

In our education careers there is going to be at least one thing we absolutely despise. We can’t stand even going to class because we feel misery just from being there. Unfortunately, when we dislike something as humans, we tend to give it less care and try to shove it away, leading to results that only hurt us in the end. So how can you turn something you can’t stand, into something totally doable and satisfactory?

Here are some way I have found to make the terrible bearable. These are from my experience and yours might be different and that’s just fine. I hope you do find my ways just a little helpful.

Acknowledge why you dislike the subject

There are many reasons to dislike something. Maybe you aren’t any good at the subject material. Maybe the instructor is a complete d-bag. Whatever the reason for your aversion, you need to pinpoint it. In high school I originally thought I hated anatomy but later realized my teacher was a horrible excuse for a human and she made the class miserable. It wasn’t the subject at all. In fact I love anatomy. I’m really good at it too.

When you figure out exactly why you dislike something pertaining to a subject, that’s the first step to fixing the issue. It also allows you to see what you need to do to be successful.

Work on your issues

Okay, if you have a crappy teacher sorry, I can’t really help you there. But if you find yourself just repulsed by the material, that is actually something that can be helped. Everything in our education eventually builds off itself and off each other. That means even within some topic you hate or totally have no interest in is a smidge of something you like. Find that something.  I don’t really enjoy math but I like watching math in motion, so a lot of times I would need to think about what exactly the purpose of the math is (even if it felt totally pointless). Even if it seems silly, it can help just enough to get you through.

If your problem is not with your interest, but with the physical material then you should know you need to seek help. But not just any help from any tutor. You should try to find someone who really enjoys the subject material and understand it, but also can explain it in a way that doesn’t sound like a foreign language. Just being in the presence of someone who has passion for a topic makes you excited for it too.

Miserable company

You’ve heard it before, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Misery loves company. It’s so easy to fall in with a crowd who dislikes a subject just as much as you do, and it’s also easy to fall into a group which has about as much as a clue as you. You cannot let this happen. It’s only going to bring you down, and while its comfortable it’s not good for you. Gather up some courage, put on your big kid pants and find some good positive vibes.

Surround yourself with happy

Know you have to take a class you dread? If possible, fill the rest of your schedule with classes you like. College students (especially pre-health kids) love to complain about how hard their course load is, but hard doesn’t need to mean soul-crushing. It’s harder to be completely miserable when you have classes that give you pep in your step. Along with that, make sure you leave time for activities you find enjoyable. No matter how bad my day was, or how mean a teacher was going to Tae Kwon Do always makes me feel better, thus giving me that little extra something to get shit done.

Good luck out there!

When Friends are Your Competition

Posted April 2014

Getting into medical (or any variation) school is hard. That’s no big secret.

But do you know what’s harder? Having your friends, your support, be your competition.

Those of us who are pre-med tend to have a lot of other pre-meds in our circle of friends. It just makes sense that we do, since we spend much of our time in class, studying or doing medically (as minimal as it might be) related things. No matter how close we get, we always have that lingering thought in the back of our head “This person is competition”.

So how can we accept that from here on out, everyone is fighting against us and how can we be sane through it all?

Competition does not mean enemy

I come from a world of competition; one where to not be the best means getting you get the shit beat out of you. That’s martial arts for you. But there are times when you have to fight against friends and that’s much harder than fighting a stranger. You know their weakness, but you also know their strengths, just like they know yours. Only one person can win.

Luckily, medicine isn’t the same as martial arts competitions. There is no one winner, and a lot of opportunities to be successful. But something I learned from getting my ass kicked (on more occasions than I would like to admit) is that even when you are fighting, you are still friends. They don’t become an enemy just because we are head-to-head.  And that should carry over to your pre-med and pre-health friends. Your competition with each other makes you better, makes you face the real world with that much more experience and determination. The best thing about competing with friends is that even if you don’t win, part of you wins with them the same thing if you win.

Finding your gold

You’re going to go through a lot of friends in college. Most of the time, universities and colleges support way many more people than high school does, and you will have a chance to meet people who you are really meant to be friends with. I’m not saying your high school experiences in friendship were duds (it’s probably the opposite), but you will find a lot more people of similar mindset in upper level education. But to do that, you have to dig through dirt to find gold.

You will figure out pretty quickly if the people you hang out with don’t have your best intentions in mind (or if you don’t). There are certain red flags like hiding information about a class, unwilling to share helpful resources or trying to psych you out before exams. You don’t need to drop them like a hot potato, but studying or taking classes with them is probably a no-go.

As a pre-med or pre-health, you need to figure out what friends actually want the best for you, and what friends you want the best for. You shouldn’t find yourself feeling uncomfortable sharing good news or feeling weird when they talk about theirs. You want friends who know the competition is there but doesn’t let that get in the way of being there for you and vice versa.

Zen in success

I heard something the other day that I found really true; we are happy for the success of others, as long as it does not surpass our own. Ouch, doesn’t that make us sound like terrible people? It’s something I’m sure everyone has thought at one point or another and it’s natural to want to be better than other people. I’m pretty sure that’s our primordial survival of the fittest thing happen.

I don’t think it’s that we want our competition to screw up or not achieve success. It’s actually the opposite. But there is a sense of relief knowing you were able to do well, really do better, than someone you are competing with. It’s doesn’t make us bad people, but at the same time we want people to be happy for our accomplishments too. We want people to celebrate us so we need to be able to do the same, for better or worse. I know I for sure have had to overcome feeling this way when someone I know does better than me. You need to find a place where you feel good about that you did, and then you can feel good about other people too. It’s a practice in self-control. Don’t let yourself feel any pangs of jealousy or doubt because you didn’t score as high, have as many application points or whatever. And don’t let yourself get an air of superiority over the people you surpassed. We were all in the same boat once.

Focus on you

It’s easy to compare yourself to those you are competing against. It’s also really easy to panic about how much you think you aren’t doing and how much better everyone else has it.

Stop that.

Once you get to med school trying to compare yourself to everyone will do nothing but make it that much harder on you to succeed. Focus on your strengths, rectify your weaknesses and give it 100%. Your goal is to be the best whatever doctor you will be and to do that you need to know what your best is, not compared to your classmates, not compared to your friends and family and not compared to the best people in the world. The one person is truly your competition is you, so beat your previous best and excel. You never know, maybe that’s all you need.

Party Animals: Pets in College

Posted originally in April 2014

Having pets in college.

Last night The Roommate’s dog had explosive diarrhea all over the living room and my cat threw up in the kitchen. We believe they had a grass eating party while we were gone and shit got crazy, literally.

So I thought now is an excellent time to discuss having a pet in college.

 

Having pets is not easy. Caring for a pet on your own is even harder. If you are willing to put the work in, having a little dude around is extremely rewarding and it’s nice to have something that loves you no matter what. A lot of people choose to have animals, and that’s awesome. But if you want to have an animal you better be a forever home.

I had fish (guppies and neon tetras) through my whole sophomore year of college (my boyfriend’s dad took them later, they still live!) and now I have a tuxedo American bobtail, Dodger. The Roommate has a (we think) Corgi and Australian Shepard mix named Oliver, who she has had for three years. Just in case you wanted to know, and yes they are totally named after Oliver Twist/Oliver and Company.

So usually, I say stuff about your own experiences and things of the like, but today I’m telling you straight up. If you want to do things your way, cool. But hurting an innocent animal because you want to be selfish is not okay. If a lot of this seems obvious, it’s not. A lot people take on the responsibility of a pet themselves without properly understand what that endeavor entails. So read and be educated.

Pets have personalities and personal problems

Oliver loves to cuddle but has terrible separation anxiety. Dodger’s favorite place is the red storage cube in my room but he is really passive aggressive. Animals are just tiny people who can’t speak the same language as us, but they try. You have invited a tiny furry person to live with you who either shits in a box, in a tank or in the grass. They develop as individuals and really no two animals are the same despite breed restrictions that animal planet talks about on Dogs 101.

You have to be able to deal with both your pet’s sass and any issues it has, especially if you adopt a rescue. You have to be patient and form a bond with your animal like you would a friend and because they belong to you, you have to have to accept all their weirdness.

Pets are messy

See first sentence for reference. Animals are still animals, and they don’t really have a concept of cleaning up, or sanitary, or don’t throw up on the designer bag. But to keep your pets healthy you must be willing to clean a lot more. Sometimes its actual places your pet hangs out like a terrarium, tank, cage, crate or backyard. You also have to be okay with shedding of all types, cleaning up excrement as well and cleaning things you are not sure of their origin. You also might come home to destroyed furniture, books, or everything you own but hey your little buddy is pretty happy to see you!

Some of this can be trained away, some of it can’t. If you are a clean freak, might I suggest a fish?

Pets are work

I figure one of my greatest accomplishments last year was training Dodger to come when called. It works about 75% of the time, so success! He also knows the words “no” and “get down/away from there you little shit.” Remember, you are the person who has to take care your animal. You are solely responsible for this creature. Some animals are pretty easy to train, while some animals you can’t really train, but they all learn over time (especially when it concerns food). College is also a lot of work. Are you willing to put more work on top of the things you are already obligated to do to be successful? Remember, your parents aren’t here to do any of the hard work for you, or pick up the pieces you leave behind. They aren’t there when you feel too tried to walk you buddy, or give them gross smelling canned food. Having your very own pet in something adults do. Be an adult.

Pets are expensive

The Roommate is a sucker for soft, fluffy and sad. Oliver was one of the sickest puppies at the shelter and she scooped him up and saved his little life, but it cost a pretty penny to do so. Again, animals require care, food, and tons of other things which requires money. My mom told me she would not pay for me to have a pet, and if I wanted one I need a full time job, which I did. In college, a lot of us haven’t exactly mastered the art of budgeting. We learn over time, but it can take a while. Unless of course you are willing to share your pet with your parents, guardians or anyone else you have to be able to fund your animal endeavors. It’s not cheap, and ranges from a minimal financial hit to sucking up your savings. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice something like currency for your new friends, don’t have a new friend.

Pets need medical care

You have no idea how much it pisses me off when I hear people say “well I haven’t gotten my (whatever) fixed/vaccinated/a simple routine checkup because it costs too much/I don’t have the time.” Are you joking? You got an animal you know needs care to keep it healthy and you got it knowing you can’t give it that care? If you read one thing about pets today read this; Animals need healthcare to stay well. Animals need healthcare because they have medical emergencies.  Animals need healthcare as much as people do. If you think that the health of a pet is not so important, then you are dead wrong. Furthermore, if you can’t take care of yourself, you sure shouldn’t be taking care of a pet.

Pets are a priority

Here’s the thing with animals. They are real living beings which need attention and care. Especially young animals. A kitten under 4 weeks needs to be fed every two hours. You have to make sure you have the time for an animal and that you have time to make a bond with it. When you choose to get an animal you choose to make that create one of the top priorities in your life.

Friends asking you out for a drink right after class? Sorry, have to go home and make sure the snake got fed.

Want to go away for a weekend? You can’t because your dog needs a sitter.

Oh, your cat wants to be fed at 6 am? Get yourself out of bed and give them the good stuff.

Your animal is like a child and you can’t be selfish. Pets are not toys, they aren’t fashion and they never, ever are temporary. I understand there are unforeseen circumstances in life, but that doesn’t mean you need to put a pet through hell because you don’t have your shit together. If you can’t put a pet near the top of your priority list you should not get a pet.

Pets are amazing

Having a pet is one of the best things I ever did for myself and for Dodger. I gave a cat a devoted home where he has everything he needs and I got a loving friend who will be there for me. Having any animal is great. Cat, dog, tarantula, fish, snake, cockatiel, turtle, you name it. The best things come from working hard.

Having my own pet is great and I would never change it, but could I have handled it two or three years ago? It’s hard to say. Its a personal choice you need to make if you can handle an new friend while you are in school. I can’t tell you when it’s time or if you will be a good parent. But hopefully this has helped you get some insight to what it really means to have your very own pet that you are responsible for.

Be the person your pet thinks you are.

10 Kinds of Roommates You’ll have in College

Written April 2014

Hopefully you haven’t actually had to live with 10 different people over the course of your college career (I’m pretty close with 7). And most of us are not lucky enough to have the most desirable of living situation. But hey, we experience is the best teacher right? And patience is the more valiant of virtues.

So here are some types of the roommates you may or may not have had the pleasure of living with while gaining your education. Is this all of them? Does everyone fall into these categories? No way, but you’ve probably had at least one.

Neutral territory

You are not friends with this person, but you don’t dislike each other either. Maybe you don’t have any common interests, your hours are completely opposite or you just don’t feel to need to really interact with each other. You just kind of exist within each other’s space and have a mutual, unspoken agreement that you probably won’t ever hang out after you move out that it’s totally okay.

Stage 5 clinger

Wait, you changed your whole schedule so it’s almost identical to mine? Why? So we can see each other all the time and we can be full time study buddies, I see. It’s not bad at first, but there aren’t too many people you are excited to see at 8 am, especially you hover roommate. You’ll be sick of this roommate pretty quickly, they never seen to leave your side. Be ready for a hissy fit or two when you go out without them, because they have put a lot of effort into being around you and you need to reciprocate. Most of the time, this goes pretty sour but it kind of is a relief when it’s over.

 

The Greek

Letters everywhere. Is this because they can’t remember the right Greek letters if they don’t see them all the time? You aren’t really sure. Their hours are kind of all over the place and they get dressed up way more than you do, which makes you question your life choices. Maybe you should actually do your hair tomorrow morning (spoiler; you aren’t). They won’t be your favorite roommate because let’s face it, The most important people to Greeks are other Greeks.  But you learn secrets. Greek secrets. This is pretty cool because it’s mostly a secret society. Just watch out for late night entrances, fueled by liquid courage.

Up all night, up all day

How can anyone be a night owl and an early bird?! Well this roommate is and does so. To bed at 4 am and to class at 9 am! Stay out until 5 but up for a 5k three hours later. You question if they actually do sleep, when they sleep and how can you sleep less and do more. And they aren’t a complete mess, because if you tried living that way you would be the dictionary definition of hot mess. Luckily, they are always up for most anything, but don’t feel bad if you have to tell them to keep quiet at some ungodly hour of the night/morning.

Stuck-up hermit

This isn’t your average hide away roommate. Nope, this roommate hides from all the incompetence in the world, including you and your other roommates. And together you have decided that if your hermit roommate doesn’t appear after three days you are allowed to break down the door to see if they are alright. Every once in a while they act like a human-being, but that’s rare and in-between. Be ready to be yelled at around 10 pm on a Saturday and how senseless certain things are when you do see them.

The one upper

You have two tests this week? Well they have three. Went to the clinic for a cold? Well damn, they had the flu! Nothing you do or say will hold a candle to the things they say they do and how successful (or how terrible) they are. You will by annoyed by the one upper roommate but their isn’t too much you can do. Can you call them out? Sure, but that probably will just start a roommate war (which are tons of fun).Eventually, you figure it’s just better you answer in vague, cryptic messages, because they have forced you to indeed be that person.

The swamped

They say they love the major they picked but the sobbing you hear coming from their room makes you question where the line between determined and crazy is. Their normal response to you asking about an activity is “I’m sorry I can’t go out I have to study/work/do 5,000 applications.” They make you wonder if you’re doing enough, but also that you’re happy to have something that resembles free time. If you want to feel productive, just hang out with this roommate when you study since they can go for hours. These roommates are best if you are also swamped, since you can relate to each other.

Drug Lord

Why does the apartment smell like dry, burning…oh. Yep, the door to their room is firmly closed, but vents opened wide. They aren’t actually drug lords (could you imagine?) but they know where to get the shit they want, as well a lot of hard liquor. If you have chosen live with a roommate who dabbles in the hallucinogenic arts you don’t really get to harp on them about it. If it’s a situation you weren’t aware of, then you have every right to demand they not smoke in the damn living room and take appropriate measures from there onward.

The significant other

I’m not talking about YOUR significant other. I’m talking about your roommate who gets off from being called someone’s boyfriend/girlfriend. They are either firmly attached to their significant other by the hip or constantly talking about them. So much so that you know way too much about their partner. You will see your roommate’s SO all other time, or you never see your roommate. And if you hear sex sounds, you find out you can drop the most subtle sassy hints. Even if your roommate never gets it. Good on you if you tell them you’ve heard their mating sounds.

The chosen one

Finally, someone you can LIVE WITH. You guys are totally on the same wavelength, but know when to give each other space. You have no problem letting each other know what’s bothering you around your living quarters which allows you lead a peaceful co-existence. You most likely will keep in contact with this roommate after you no longer share the same living quarters, since your most likely great friends! This roommate makes your college existence just that much better, because let’s face it, great roommates makes everything better.