Updated: May 24
Pursuing a BSc degree requires much sacrifice – which I am sure you are familiar with - however, life after the degree can be a little more daunting. But don’t throw in the towel just yet! Allow me to share some of my experiences that shaped my journey.
The most important thing to identify is “direction”. But how do you go about identifying this thing called “direction”?
I struggled with this for quite some time, and even though I knew where my interests lay, I still needed some form of validation. At this stage, I had completed my BSc degree in Human Physiology, Genetics and Psychology, and was in the process of completing my honours degree in Human Physiology. I should have had it all figured out by now, right? Well, I did not, and that is ok. I knew my heart belonged to medicine, but the constant battle of rejection resulted in a blurry vision for my future. I ,therefore, decided to consult an educational psychologist in hopes that I would gain some clarity. The psychologist tested my aptitude, my interests, my personality type, and my IQ all in one day; it was quite an interesting day, to say the least! Once all the data was collected, she gave me a list of the various career paths I could follow from the most ideal to the least ideal. This was a breath of fresh air as this not only provided confirmation but also opportunities to consult with professionals in the different fields. This was a pivotal point in my journey as my horizons broadened and I received realistic advice from individuals who were experts in their respective fields.
I also consulted with professors not only from my university but from various institutions and faculties. This was a great help as I become acquainted with the good and the ugly, and through this, I gained a sharper vision of what I wanted. It was challenging to open myself up to the advice of these well-established professionals, but it was necessary and tremendously imperative in my journey. Remember, these professors were once in your shoes too!
Similarly, I made it a point to communicate with my peers and colleagues who shared in my struggles; those who had already conquered the fight and those who were on the battlefield - like me. This was by far the most interesting as I realised that I was not alone, and no matter how hard it was, it could be done! Being able to connect with my friends through such relatable topics made my journey a little more bearable. I didn’t feel so lost all the time and opening up to others who fully understood my situation was my saving grace. I learned a great deal from my peers and obtained further knowledge on what I needed to identify my direction and the various ways I could pursue it. I also gained perspective on life through the eyes of my friends and learned about alternative career paths I did not know even existed.
Basically, finding this thing called “direction” requires much research, patience, time, introspection, confidence, courage, and open-mindedness. Grow through the journey and grab onto every possible opportunity!
So how do we use this “direction” to arrive at our destination?
Once recognising your goals, you need to identify ways in which to achieve them. Do you need a certain qualification for the dream job? A postgrad? Work experience? These are some important things to familiarise yourself with.
After understanding what my next step was, I informed myself about the requirements associated with applications. In my case, I needed to apply to institutions that offered MBChB, however, you might be applying for a job, an internship, a postgraduate degree, or even a different undergraduate degree. Become acquainted with the necessities well before processing the application so that you have sufficient time to meet all requirements. I found it useful to draw up a list of all the requirements of each institution so that I could tick them off as I went along my application process. Once identifying all the requirements, I educated myself on ways in which to achieve them. Do your research, seek help, contact the institutions, and ensure that you are always on par with what needs to be done.
Throughout my journey, I knew that my acceptance into postgrad and medicine was majorly dependent on my academic record. Thus, I emphasized improving my marks through productive studying, personal appointments with lecturers, mentorship from my seniors, study groups with my colleagues, and a whole lot of Khan Academy on YouTube! Trust me guys, you can when you Khan!😉 Although academic performance was a chief requirement for my applications, some institutions and companies base their selection process on additional factors such as work experience, community service, portfolios, leadership, testimonials, motivational letters, CV’s, interviews, and qualifications, to name a few. It is thus, crucial to become familiar with all selection requirements for your application.
Once all my documents were collected and all relevant requirements were met, I started processing my applications. You need to give yourself enough time to complete the process while being mindful of the closing dates. Hand in the application either via post, email, or through their unique online platforms and keep up to date with any information and feedback given to you by the institution or company! Dedicate a few minutes of each day to application shenanigans.
On a final note, be aware of the competitive nature of selection and cast your net wide as this will increase your chances of acceptance. It may take some time before you receive that acceptance letter but be persistent and resilient!
I hope my experiences help you in your journey to success. Remember, life is a journey, not a race. So, breathe – it really does work out!