By Caity Monroe
For a certain subset of Stanford seniors, this fall’s workload and stress levels derive only partially from their course loads. With the pressure of LSATs, GREs, GMATs, medical school applications and interviews, some seniors are busy planning for the next stage of their education–while still wrapping up their current one.
“It’s kind of a struggle to be preparing for a test like [the GRE] while doing school stuff,” said Alex Robertson ’11, who took the general GRE on Saturday.
Students hoping to attend medical school next year are in the middle of the nerve-racking process of awaiting interview offers. “Every time I check my e-mail, I check it hoping to see something from a medical school,” said Chris Sonne ’11. “And that’s been the case for the last month and a half.”
While the process is no doubt stressful, Stanford does have resources to ensure that students aren’t navigating the application process alone. Stanford’s Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR) has four advisors who work specifically with pre-professional students. In addition to advising appointments, UAR provides those students a variety of events and resources.
“There’s a whole array of services available,” said Randall Williams, associate dean of UAR. “[We provide] general advising, info sessions, panels and programs, visits from law school teams, academic and experiential programs.”
Sonne is one of the many students who have taken advantage of the UAR’s help.
“I’ve made appointments with several of the pre-med advisors and they’ve always been helpful,” he said.
“Luckily, I have to say it is pretty busy for us,” Williams said. “Students are coming through the door, making appointments and dropping in to see all the pre-professional advisors, as well as the general ones.”
For the upcoming weeks, UAR has organized visits from deans of admission from various law schools to meet with students and answer their questions. UAR also has joined with the Stanford Pre-Medical Association (SPA) to provide medical students with opportunities to shadow physicians.
“It’s important for medical schools to see students get exposure to the hospital and see what life as a doctor is like,” said Kevin Tran ’12, co-president of SPA. “That’s why we created the shadowing program a few years ago.”
Student groups like SPA, the Stanford Pre-Law Society and the Stanford Pre-Business Association provide interested students with peer support and other resources to help them through the application process.
“Because there is no pre-law curriculum, we try to facilitate intellectual discussion of the different legal issues,” said the co-president of Stanford Pre-Law Society, Jimmy Threatt ’11. “We try to organize events with Stanford law professors and lawyers in the area to give Stanford students the opportunity to discuss legal issues with legal scholars.”
Ericka Sohlberg ’11, an English major applying to medical schools, has appreciated the programs she’s taken part in so far, especially recent events to help her prepare for interviews.
“The mock interview was very helpful,” she said, “and as someone who’s not a biology major, I still feel like I get all the information and support that I need.”
Students made it clear, though, that while the resources are there, they aren’t going to be delivered to your doorstep.
“They don’t come hold your hand and help you fill out your primary,” Sohlberg said. “You have to take the initiative.”
Threatt agreed that the help is there, but only for those who seek it.
“I think the problem is that I don’t know if all students are aware of the resources,” Threatt said.
Not all students who are in pre-professional fields are moving straight on to their next degree, though. Kim Conner ’11 is one of many pre-med students who are taking some time off before medical school.
“I felt like I wasn’t ready to launch straight into another eight years of school,” said Connor, who was just nominated for a health extension position in the Pacific Islands with the Peace Corps. “I felt like I might end up being bitter about it even if I did get into a medical school I liked, just because I have not had the time to investigate any other options in my life other than school up until now.”