Kristi Harrison is a 2014 graduate from Louisiana State University. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Engineering, and a minor in Biology. As a pre-medical student, she was involved in the pre-health honor society and volunteered at places such as a St. Joseph’s Hospice and McMain’s Children’s Neuromuscular Developmental Center in Baton Rouge. Kristi hopes to attend Medical School in August, but in the mean time she has been working as a Physician’s scribe at an Emergency Room, and tutoring high school students in math and science subjects. When not working, she enjoys exercising, baking, and traveling on mission trips!
Just like every college student, I’ve been asked the question ‘what’s your major?” countless times. When I answer Biological Engineering, most people become wide-eyed and say something like “Wow, you must be a genius!” but I always politely say, “not necessarily, I just work really hard!” Yes, math and science have always been my natural strengths and what I have an interest in, but the difference is that I set high expectations for myself. I wasn’t going to settle for mediocre when I knew I had the potential and determination to achieve what I set my mind to. Succeeding academically in college was something I deemed very important from the start.
My 4 years of college were indeed very successful, and I am very proud to have graduated with a 3.79 GPA in the top 5% of my engineering class, along with many other awards and achievements. So how did I do it? I simply put a lot of time and effort into my schoolwork, and had a strong motivation to keep me going. I went to (almost) every class, did every homework assignment, and studied all hours of the night. Anything less than 100% was not in my DNA. So I give the following advice to help you succeed as well.
1. Time. You have to expect to devote a great amount of time to your schoolwork if you expect to see successful results. Sometimes that means skipping outings with friends so that you can finish your homework before midnight, or not going out to bars on the weekend to take advantage of the extra time to study without having class. Learn to manage your time well so that you are always productive. Don’t waste an hour in between classes shopping online if you could be starting an assignment that you know will take you hours that night. Always dedicate a large block of time to your schoolwork daily, but also allow time to relax and spend time doing things you enjoy.
2. Effort. You won’t get very far if you do not put forth a great amount of effort. In college, there will always be ways for you to take the easy road, such as copying the answer keys from past semesters for your homework instead of figuring it out yourself, or not going to class and getting notes from your classmates. The easy road will always be easier at the time, but always come back to haunt you at the most important times like a test or project deadline. As I mentioned, anything less than my absolute best was failing to me, and that attitude seemed to be the difference in my success compared to other lazy students. With the persistence of working at an assignment until it is the best and most accurate you believe it to be, or studying until you are confident about the test material forwards and backwards, then I believe you are set up for success. Don’t sell yourself short by not giving 100% to everything that you do. Set your expectations high and always strive to achieve them, because so much of what you think you could never do if achievable with effort and determination.
3. Motivation. You have to find something that motivates you, or else you will so easily give up. After anatomy & physiology senior year in high school, I had my mind set on going to medical school to become a doctor. Therefore I was going to do everything in my power to be a strong applicant for medical school. I learned about the importance of high grades early on, so getting A’s became a very strong driving point for me. If any kind of master’s or graduate program is in your plans after college, then high grades should also be a motivating point for you. But it’s also deeper than that. You need to learn what your passion is, even if that means trying a few different majors or shadowing several different professionals. I have a passion for people, and a passion to care for people medically, so working to get me into medical school to fulfill those passions is what kept me persevering through the tough mundane. I encourage you to explore then take hold of a goal that gets you unexplainably motivated.