My time as a Global Engagement Fellow has been wonderful, but not perfect. As a Junior Pre-medical student, my life is about to get crazy. I’m taking the MCAT in January, applying for Fulbright and doing my committee interviews this spring, applying to medical school and studying abroad in the summer, and hopefully going on interviews in the Fall. With all of this, I won’t be able to study abroad for a semester like I originally had hoped. In addition, I’m cramming most of the most difficult classes in my degree program into the last two years. With this in mind, I came up with a list of advice for future Global Engagement Fellows, or anyone studying abroad, who is majoring in science or is hoping to go to medical school. Enjoy!
- Plan Your Entire College Schedule- This is super important. Sit down with an excel spreadsheet before you even come to OU, look at your degree checksheets (ou.edu/checksheets) and plan out every class that you are ever going to take. Of course you can just write “Spanish Elective” or “Upper Division Humanity”, but keeping track of what classes you are going to take when is necessary. Plan out your study abroad. Which summer are you going to go? Which Semester? What classes will you need to take/can you get out of the way during that time? Thinking about this and knowing this will let you know which study abroad programs might work best for you. All plans can and probably will change 10 times in your years at OU, but that’s okay. It’s just important to be thinking all the way through to the finish line instead of just a few semesters ahead.
- Don’t Take an Easy First Semester- This piece of advice is directly contradictory to what most of the academic advisors will tell you, so here’s my take on it. If you’re a person who knows you’re going to have difficulty adjusting to college, by all means take an easy first semester. This could be that you didn’t have the best study habits in highschool, you expect to have a lot of problems with homesickness, or anything else. If that’s you, then the most important thing is getting adjusted. If you aren’t that worried about needing time to adjust, don’t waste a semester on easy classes. If you’re a premed student, I would recommend starting out with Zoology and General Chemistry right away. If you are a science major, start in on those major requirements right away. Trust me, future you will be very happy.
- Save your General Education Classes– This goes along with my last bit of advice. Instead of taking an easy first year and getting all of your gen eds out of the way like most advisors recommend, space them out all the way through your college career. Take a few harder classes and a few easier classes each semester. As a senior you will be so happy that you’ve already taken Quantitative Analysis and that in the midst of your thesis, all you have to worry about is Understanding Music. This also is important as a Global Engagement Fellow Specifically. If you’re pre-med, most medical schools do not accept study abroad credits for medical school requirements. This means that you won’t be able to take your science classes abroad and instead will be taking gen eds and minor classes. Save your gen eds and get your science classes out of the way so you don’t end up taking a semester of useless credits. The exception to this rule is OU programs abroad. If your science class is with an OU professor at an OU study abroad campus then it will count for medical school. I highly recommend looking into these programs.
- Study Abroad as Early as Possible- I highly recommend studying abroad the summer between your Freshman and Sophomore year. This will likely be the most convenient time to study abroad for the summer. In the future you will want to be spending your summer doing internships, research, and/or taking classes and it will be much harder to fit in. Plus studying abroad so early will put you ahead of many other OU students and putting that on your resume will increase the amount of opportunities you have. For the semester, get it done as early as possible. If you’re a pre-med student, it’s basically impossible to study abroad for a semester after the fall of your junior year. So that leaves Fall and Spring of your Sophomore year and Fall of your Junior Year as your options. If at all possible, do it as a Sophomore. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re more involved on campus and don’t have to give up jobs/leadership positions to go abroad.
- Get Relevant Experience Abroad– If you do research, look into a program that will allow you to do research abroad. If you’re a pre-med student, find a program that lets you shadow a medical professional abroad. International Experience in your field looks amazing. This is pretty self-explanatory.