Graduate School: The 10 financial questions you should investigate

10 Financial Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Grad School

I like money. I sometimes pull up my banking app just to stare lovingly at my savings account (it’s not robust, but it’s mine). When I chose to attend graduate school, I knew that decision had financial implications, both positive and negative, that I needed to examine. No matter the type of program, you should be asking questions about the financial layers involved in graduate school before choosing when and where to attend. While I am no financial expert myself, I can tell you what questions I would recommend you research, ask about, and think through with every graduate program. Here are my top ten:

#1.  What is the cost of tuition per semester and how many semesters will it take to complete the degree?

#2.  What other costs can be expected in this program, beyond just tuition?

#3.  How do most students in this program pay for tuition and other expenses?

#4.  Are there opportunities for tuition waivers and stipends through assistantships (experiences where you research, teach, or otherwise work for the graduate school)?

#5.  Are there merit scholarships available through the graduate school?

#6.  Are there external fellowships you could apply to and use for graduate school financing? (I recommend utilizing the Lisska Center in answering this question)

#7.  What is the cost of living in the graduate school’s location?

#8.  What is the median income of students fresh out of the program?

#9.  What is the return on investment- will an expected salary post-degree make paying off any loans manageable?

#10.  Is this program flexible with working part-time during the academic year?

Financial aid and admission counselors at graduate programs are a good place to start with these and other questions you may have about the financial investment of attending graduate school. I also highly recommend chatting with Denison’s own Financial Wellness Coach, Samantha Smith. Finances don’t need to drive your graduate school selection process (some investments are worth the money) but they must be a factor considered. The more you know, the more stress you save yourself later!



Authored by Sara Stasko, Associate Director for Graduate School & Pre-Health Advising

Denison Grads in Grad School: MBA

Amanda Adornato

Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2018
Denison Major:  Economics
Graduate Degree Type:  Master of Business Administration (MBA) from John Carroll University Boler College of Business, Class of 2019
Contact Me:  amanda.adornato@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school and career pathway: what impacted your decision?

I knew after I graduated from Denison, I wanted to go straight to graduate school and receive my MBA. I applied to about 5-6 MBA programs ranging from the Midwest to the East Coast. I looked at schools that were small to medium sized, had a strong alumni network, strong reputation, as well as programs that had an internship/working experience component. I chose John Carroll University because they had an accelerated Full-Time MBA program of 16 months instead of 2 years and an internship component. That was very enticing to me as well as their strong alumni network and career placement.

What challenges did you face on the way to or during graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge I face is limited work experience. While in undergrad, I did obtain two internships at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as well as an externship, which was a good foundation going into the program with limited work experience. However, it was challenging at times to connect topics and concepts to work experiences when I was just fresh out of undergrad. But having many business professionals in my classes helped me overcome this hindrance through learning from their shared experiences and discussions in class and working with them on group projects and class assignments. The internship component also increased my exposure and experience to real work life matters. I am able to experience, see, and connect what I am learning in the classroom. Hands on learning is the best kind of learning!

What is your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

My favorite part of graduate school are the professors! They bring so much experience and knowledge into the classroom. They have a vast network that you can utilize and connect with in order to leverage your career.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

Post-graduation, I hope to land a job working for a fashion company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio working in their planning and allocation department.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate program like yours?

Receiving an MBA is so viable and important if you aspire and want to obtain a leadership role in a company. If you decide to work for a couple years then go back to school or go straight out of undergrad, both paths have their pros and cons, but both will lead you to receiving a degree that will allow you to leverage your career to the fullest! Embrace the challenge and success is waiting for you!

A 4-Step Process for Obtaining Flawless Letters of Recommendation

4 Steps for Getting Great Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are more powerful in the graduate school admission process then you might expect. Grades, whether good or bad, don’t tell the whole story about you as a person or about your academic potential, which graduate programs understand. That is where letters of recommendation come in. They provide insight into your strengths, add context to support or contradict your academic metrics, and comment on your ability to succeed in your chosen academic or professional endeavor. We want letters of recommendation to support the claims you are making elsewhere in your application, such as in your personal statement and on your resume. Getting such letters, however, takes an intentional approach.

Here is my recommended 4-step process:

Step 1: Be thoughtful about who you select to ask for a letter

Getting an “A” in someone’s class does not mean you should automatically ask them to be a letter of recommendation writer. Similarly, getting a “C” in someone’s class does not automatically mean you shouldn’t ask that person! Most graduate schools will ask for about three letters of recommendation. You want these letters to provide as close to a 360 view of your strengths as possible. As you consider who is appropriate to ask for a letter of recommendation, think about:

        • How well does this person know me? Have my experiences with them been positive?
        • What perspective will they provide for the admission committee that is valuable?
        • Will they say something meaningful about me that is different from others writing letters?

Step 2: Set up a meeting, phone call or email in which you ask for a letter of recommendation

This can feel intimidating but remember that at an institution like Denison, faculty typically want to help and they field requests like this often. For them, this is a normal Tuesday. When you meet with the potential letter writer, let them know why you are asking them in particular to write a letter. Example: “Because we worked together this summer on research, I feel you can speak to my critical thinking skills and resilience better than anyone”. Remember: letters of recommendation are a privilege, not a right. Understand faculty members may choose to say “no” to your request. To avoid general weirdness, provide the individual with the option of a few days to consider the request. Do not force an immediate decision, but know that they may joyfully give an answer on their own. If that person knows they will be too busy or does not feel able to write you a positive letter, you WANT them to say no. A “No” now is much better than a weak or negative letter later that lowers your chance of admittance.

Step 3: Once an individual accepts your request, set guidelines and provide helpful tools

Yay! The letter writer said yes! I know that feels good. Now there are two important steps necessary for making the letter a smashing success:

        • Agree on a time-frame for completion of the letter. Try to allow a minimum of three weeks for letter writing, and make sure to establish the process for submitting the letter and discuss when/how you can follow-up about the letter (again, we are trying to avoid general awkwardness).
        • Provide them with the tools to write a personalized, excellent letter. Generic letters fade into the background of the admissions process and do not help your chances of admission. A great letter provides positive specifics. To supplement their writing, offer your recommenders a copy of your personal statement and resume, and volunteer to have a conversation with them about your goals if you have not already done so.

Step 4: Follow-up and say “Thank you”

I am a Type-A person, so keeping track of deadlines and tasks is my jam. It is not, sadly, everyone’s jam. A few days before the agreed upon deadline for the letter, email the letter writer with a friendly reminder of the approaching date and the submission process. Once you receive confirmation of a submitted letter, send a “Thank you” note or email to each letter writer. Then, go out and eat as many tacos as you can to celebrate (or drink a healthy smoothie if that is your preference, no judgement).


Authored by Sara Stasko, Associate Director for Graduate School & Pre-Health Advising

Denisonians in Health Professions: Osteopathic Medicine

Name:  Courtney Testani
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Biology, Spanish (minor)
Professional Degree Type:  pursuing a Doctor of Osteopathic (DO) degree from Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Class of 2022
Contact Me:  cjtestani@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I always knew I was interested in pursuing some sort of scientific career, but I was never 100% sure if I wanted to pursue medicine. Quite frankly I kept trying to look at what other options were out there because I knew how much of a commitment medical school would be. When I attended a job interview in a different field however, I knew I wasn’t in the right place. I instantly realized that medicine was the field I wanted to be in.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

Because I didn’t make my decision to apply to medical school until second semester senior year, I had a bit of catching up to do. I moved back home and took all the courses I still needed to meet the prerequisite requirements for most medical schools. Once these were completed I took the MCAT. In total I took 3 years off in between graduating from Denison and starting at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. During that time (in addition to what I’ve already listed above) I also gained invaluable experience working as a medical technician and surgical assistant for a retina specialist. It was a very grueling road to get into medical school and I often questioned why I was doing it. It absorbed all of my time and a lot of my finances, and I often felt like I needed more guidance from someone who knew how this process worked. The thing that helped me the most during this time was contacting anyone I could possibly think of who was in medical school and had recently gone through this same process. People in the medical field know how hard it can be, and pretty much all of them will want to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone, even if it’s a strange connection like a friend of a friend. I promise you they will be happy to answer your questions. All you have to do is shoot them an email or ask them if they have time for a 15 minute phone call. It will help guide you in the right direction during the application process, and reassure you that you’re doing the right thing. If this is truly the path you want to take, the hard work will 100% pay off.

What has been your favorite part of your medical school experience so far?

I just completed my first year of medical school and my favorite part so far has been the incredible professors and mentors that I’ve met. We have an incredible faculty of physicians and it has been such an inspiration to hear their experiences in the field.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

When I graduate my hope is to get a residency in Orthopedic Surgery, or a residency in Internal Medicine and then a fellowship in Sports Medicine.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Medicine is an incredible field but you need to be prepared. Know what programs require of prospective applicants and make sure you have your ducks in a row before you begin to pursue your applications. It is a very competitive field and you want to make yourself as desirable of an applicant as possible the first time around. With that being said, do NOT be discouraged if you don’t get accepted anywhere the first time you apply. This is becoming more and more common, and it happened to me too. It is certainly frustrating, but if you know this is what you want to do, just ask yourself what you could do to make yourself look better for the next round, and apply again. My second round of applications to medical school were much more successful than my first and now I’m already a quarter of the way done!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physical Therapy

Name:  Thomas (Tommy) DiFilippo
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2015
Denison Major:  Physical Education/Athletic Training
Graduate Degree Type:  pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Degree, from Nazareth College, Class of 2018
Contact Me:  tdifilippo5@gmail.com


Describe the process you went through while selecting your graduate school pathway: what impacted your decision?

In reality, the first part of the decision is based on admission. Don’t down play this, it is hard to get accepted into these graduate programs. After that, I reached out to professionals in the area to get a sense of the reputation of the program, cost of private vs. public etc. as well as extras or perks that set the school apart.

What challenges did you face on the way to graduate school, and how did you overcome them?

The main challenge is the academic rigor and time commitment. It can be more challenging than undergrad to work, balance a social life, etc. I found it crucial to do other things with my life to “escape” physical therapy for a little because in graduate school it can be all you think or do.

What was your favorite part of your graduate school experience?

My favorite part was networking and working with people all interested in the same field. This is the point where you truly choose what exact route you want to go and you take classes and meet professionals with the same interests.

What have you enjoyed most about your work post-graduation?

Putting 7 years of education into practice and having patients trust you immediately made it very rewarding.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Do your research. Shadow, talk to people in multiple jobs, think hard about career goals. These programs are very time consuming and very expensive. Make sure you want to be that type of professional and then commit 100%.

Writing an Awesome Personal Statement: 5 strategies for success

5 Strategies to Writing a Successful Personal Statement

Every student I have ever worked with has absolutely loved writing their personal statement for graduate school. Who wouldn’t, right? Ok, honestly, no one does. It is a notoriously painful process that few people relish; trying to encompass who you are and what you want from life in 5,300 characters. But, it doesn’t have to be such a difficult endeavor! Follow these five strategies for success:

#1. Have other people read it

Listen, I get it. I hate people reading my work before I feel like it is shiny and wonderful. But that is not how a personal statement process works. You need to let other people read it, and you should let them read it early in the process to save yourself time and angst. Why obsess over perfecting sentence structure before you get feedback regarding whether the content you have is on track? People to consider for reviewing your statement: a Knowlton Center Career Coach (Pick me! Pick me!), a faculty member, someone from the Lisska Center, a professional in the industry you have an interest in, or a mentor. However, don’t ask more than 2-3 people to help with the review process. Any more than that, and you have too many cooks in the kitchen (as my grandma loved to say, probably to keep me out of said kitchen and its customary cookie jar).

#2. Start early

I mean it! Not just early, I’m talking EARLY early. When working with a student, I typically go through a minimum of four drafts with them. I reviewed 13 drafts for one student I worked with last year (let me tell you, that was a polished final product!). So, this isn’t something where you sit down, pound back a Vitamin Water “Focus” drink and write the night before you submit. I recommend starting your first draft two months in advance of when you hope to apply, at minimum. This also allows you to provide your personal statement draft to letter of recommendation writers if they want it, which enhances the cohesiveness of your application materials.

#3. Focus on a few things, but tell them well

I 100% understand that you, as a complex human being, have so much you want the admission committee to know about you. However, I strongly recommend not telling your audience ten things broadly, and instead telling them 2-3 things powerfully. Always strive for depth over breadth by focusing on key ideas and expanding on those well.

#4. Create a compelling narrative

Show, don’t tell. Give readers a story to connect with. This means providing examples that expand and connect to your goals and values, not just reiterating your résumé. Your goal is not to just list experiences, but to make meaning of them. Discuss what life events brought you to this decision, the experiences that confirmed it for you. Ask yourself:

  • What kinds of qualities are necessary for the profession I wish to pursue?
  • Where have I demonstrated those qualities?

The personal statement is your chance to show why you are a good fit for the profession and the program in an authentic manner. You don’t have to be “unique”, you just have to be real.

#5. Just get started!

You are never going to feel excited to sit down and bust out a personal statement. The hardest step will be writing the first sentence on a blank word document. Stop, breathe, just begin. Here are some strategies to get started:You are never going to feel excited to sit down and bust out a personal statement. The hardest step will be writing the first sentence on a blank word document. Stop, breathe, just begin. Here are some strategies to get started:

Make a Life Timeline: Outline your life in chronological order. Include anything that is important to you, from running a marathon to conducting research with faculty. Put this aside for a few days, then revisit it and ask: “What are the things that most excite me and relate to my pursuit of graduate school?”

Free Write: Sit down and start writing. Don’t worry about if it is “good”, just write.

Here are some questions to free write in response to:

  • Why am I interested in pursuing this program of study?
  • What experiences have confirmed my commitment to pursuing this program?
  • Who has influenced my decision?
  • What challenges have I faced on the way to graduate/professional school?
  • What kind of impact do I want to have on the world with this degree?
  • Why do I believe I will be a good fit for this program & excel in it?


 Authored by Sara Stasko, Associate Director for Graduate School & Pre-Health Advising

Denisonians in Health Professions: Physical Therapy

Name:  Alexandria Nickles
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2017
Denison Major:  Biology
Professional School:  pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy from High Point University, Class of 2020
Contact Me:  alexandria.nickles1@gmail.com


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

I definitely spent a lot of time talking to individuals who had gone through the process of applying to physical therapy school before me to gain advice on how to proceed moving forward. Their advice helped guide me into understanding the process a little better and helped prepare me early on in my Denison career to make sure I could attend PT school right after graduation. I also was fortunate enough to apply to schools that had interviews so I was able to explore different campuses before I made my final decision.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

I faced many challenges applying to graduate school. One of those challenges was trying to show schools all of the wonderful things that I learned at Denison beyond my GPA. I definitely worked a lot with mentors at Denison and mentors within my desired field to help edit my application to make sure that was showcasing my diverse experiences from my undergraduate degree. Future, I also struggled with knowing if physical therapy was exactly the way I wanted to go with my career as went into my junior and senior years at Denison. To make sure, I actually spent a lot of time with alumni of Denison and my mentors at Denison talking through my options. They were the best sounding board of reflecting what my career goals were with my interests.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

My favorite part of my graduate school experience was getting to attend a medical mission trip to Jamaica this summer. I was able to go down with a few of my classmates and my mentor here at High Point for a week and a half to provide care to patients with neurological conditions such as strokes, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. I had a completely life changing experience through learning about many different clinical techniques, the importance of inter-collaborative patient care, the cultural differences that exist in the medical field worldwide, and through all the people that I met.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

Post graduation, I plan on finding a job as a physical therapist in a hospital system, hopefully specifically a hospital with an inpatient rehabilitation facility. I hope to continue to pursue mentorship and education wherever I work to someday hopefully become a clinical instructor and maybe a faculty member at physical therapy program.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Definitely start looking into programs that you think that you want to attend early in your career. It will help you plan out classes that you want to take throughout your Denison career so when it does come time to apply you don’t have to take classes outside your Denison education. I would also recommend reaching out to your Denison mentors and asking their advice when it comes to what you personally should look for in a graduate program. They are full of knowledge and can help you prioritize a list of characteristics in schools that fit your learning style best.

Graduate School: Is it right for me?

Is Graduate School Right for Me? Four people you should talk to!

Graduate school is a big decision. A big decision that means a significant investment of time, energy, money, and your ability to binge watch the latest Hulu original series. Before you dive in, it’s best to be intentional about why you are going to graduate school and why you are choosing to go now in particular. This reflective thinking is a daunting task to tackle solo, but if you talk to the right people, you can feel so much better in your decision-making process. Who are these magical individuals that will help you decide “YAY” or NAY” on graduate school? Here are the four major players we suggest…

#1. A Faculty Member You Trust

Faculty see into your soul, we mean it. They have observed you in an academic setting: how you approach intellectual tasks, how to face challenges, and what excites you within the sphere of learning. They also have a deep, can’t-forget-it-if-they-tried memory of what the graduate school experience was like. Faculty can provide advice that combines their knowledge of graduate school processes with their knowledge of you, producing some pretty accurate feedback in most cases. If this faculty member also happens to be in the discipline you aspire to join, all the better! Then they can also provide advice on faculty members at other schools who are solid (and maybe those who are less so) as well as schools with stellar programs (and those that you should stay far, far away from).

#2. A Denison Alumnus

Alumni know things. They too have stress eaten at Curtis while trying to figure life out. They want to help. Find an alumnus who is in the industry you want to join: they will give realistic advice on how a graduate degree will influence your employment ability and the tasks/skills/knowledge most beneficial for the industry. Find an alumnus who went to graduate school for what you want to study: they will let you know the ins and outs of the application process. How do you find such alumni? Let’s count the ways:

       1.  Faculty in your field often remember their students, keep in contact and give out referrals.
       2.  Wisr: a networking platform meant to connect Denison students to Denison alum in a magical synergy.
       3.  The “Find Alumni Tool” on LinkedIn: don’t know about it? Your life is about to change.

Reaching out to alums can be scary…. don’t be afraid to stop by the Knowlton Center for advice on how to do so professionally!

#3. A Knowlton Center Career Coach

You all knew this was coming. Knowlton Center Career Coaches can help you examine your interests, goals, and motivations for graduate school and help with strategy on deciding when and where to attend. Plus, we can help you rock the application process if you decide it is right for you to attend graduate school! Everything from selecting graduate programs, preparing for the GRE, writing your personal statement: we’ve got your back. How to begin? Make an appointment online via Handshake, call (740) 587-6656, or just stop by Burton Morgan 306. We hope to see you soon!

#4. An Important Person in Your Life

People who know you well are always good to talk to. For some, that is a parent, a significant other, the guy down the hall who is a great listener, whatever. Talk out your thought process, ask them to listen for the underlying motivations you have, encourage them to ask you questions, let them help you think through this decision. The more you talk about this, the more aware you will become of your own goals, strengths, and values.

Ok folks, time to buckle down and get talking! Best wishes on the graduate school exploration process!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Genetic Counseling

Name:  Samone Schneider
Denison Graduation Year:   Class of 2016
Denison Major:  Biology
Professional School:  Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics, Class of 2018
Contact Me:  vt.samone@gmail.com


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

I entered college knowing that I wanted to become a genetic counselor. The field is very new and continuously expanding with many different opportunities. In addition, I had a real passion for genetics and a desire to work closely with patients. Genetic counselors work with their patients to evaluate their personal and family history and determine which tests are the most appropriate. Also, genetic counselors work very hard to obtain true informed consent and educate the patient on not only why we are offering the given test, but how it can impact the patient and their family.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

The majority of individuals who enter a genetic counseling training program end up taking at least one gap year. The acceptance rate for these programs is actually quite low, so it was important to have an impressive resume. While your academic performance is very important to these schools, so are your experiences outside of the classroom. One of the largest examples is some sort of counseling experience and some exposure to the field itself. Personally, I quickly became a part of SHARE on the Denison campus and became as involved as possible (being an advocate, being on-call trained, participating in events, and presenting during freshman orientation). For my exposure to the field, I spent all three of my summers shadowing and eventually interning with a genetic counselor. My summers were quite busy, because I also worked throughout the summer too. It took a lot of work, but I was able to get into the program straight from undergrad.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

Definitely my relationships with my classmates. Graduate programs tend to be quite small (mine was ~25 individuals), so it becomes a very tight knit community. In addition, our program worked very hard to eliminate a competitive environment and instead made us feel like we were working together to accomplish a goal. This attitude extends to the professional community as well: genetic counselors tend to look out for one another.

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

That is a very hard question! I love my job for many different reasons, probably the most of which is the relationships I am able to cultivate with my patients. I have a lot of autonomy in my job, so I can really take the time my patient needs to hear them out and what they need from me or the hospital. It can be an extremely satisfying job.

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Take the time to build your resume with things that make you an interesting applicant. There are many experiences you can get while at Denison (ex. tutoring, TA-ing, SHARE, research, etc.), but it is also important to get experience off campus. Take advantage of the internships that are available. Also sometimes you need to create your own opportunities. When I was shadowing with a genetic counselor I kept asking what I could do to make her life easier. I ended up getting involved in research with her and eventually becoming her intern. Even if you are only given the ability to redraw pedigrees for example, that is still a huge learning opportunity. To find a genetic counselor, use the NSGC.org Find a Genetic Counselor tool. Many hospitals have strict rules about students, but even chatting with a genetic counselor over coffee is something you can add to your resume. In addition, many programs do “career days”, which can also count as exposure to the field. I am also always happy to speak to any student in more detail!

Denisonians in Health Professions: Allopathic Medicine

Name:  Carol Vitellas
Denison Graduation Year:  Class of 2018
Denison Major:  Computer Science
Professional School:  Pursuing an MD at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Class of 2022
Contact Me:  carol.vitellas@osumc.edu


What is the focus of your professional school and what content has most engaged you?

At the OSU College of Medicine, I am most engaged when working with patients. What makes being a medical student at OSU so unique is that during your first month of school, you are paired with a physician and get to work in their practice every other week for 2 years. In my first month of medical school I was taking real patient vital signs and histories, as well as presenting this information to the doctor. At other institutions, medical students usually do not get to work with patients until their 3rd year, so I am very appreciative of this opportunity. The ability to help real patients not only gives me valuable practice with my clinical skills, but it also gives meaning to my schoolwork at times when studying can seem overwhelming and tedious.

Describe the process you went through while selecting your professional school pathway: what impacted your decision?

While at Denison, I had two seemingly conflicting passions: medicine and computer science. I had always known I wanted to attend medical school upon entering college, but accidentally fell in love with computer science during my first semester. Rather than give up one of my passions, I pursued a degree in computer science while simultaneously completing my pre-medical course requirements. I was constantly asked why I was majoring in computer science if I wanted to go to medical school, as the two fields seemingly have little overlap in their application. However, I actually found that computer science opened several unique opportunities to me! One such opportunity was the ability to lead data analysis for a clinical research project in a gene therapy lab at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I also had the opportunity to design an artificially intelligent diagnostic algorithm for breast cancer in my Artificial Intelligence class. Not only were these projects extremely interesting to partake in, but they also provided great talking point for interviews! In fact, my computer science major was brought up in every interview that I attended, and it was really neat to have something to talk about that helped me stand out from other applicants. I would therefore encourage pre-med students to pursue their passions, even if they don’t fall within the typical pre-med pathway! Medical schools are interested in you as a whole person, and your unique abilities, talents, and interests will only add depth to your application.

What challenges did you face on the way to medical school, and how did you overcome them?

While I have only received one-semester of medical school education, I have definitely encountered several challenges. The main challenge that I did not foresee was having to completely change the way that I study. Although I have been a high achieving student in the past and had a great handle on how to study in high school and undergrad, medical school proved to be an entirely different ball game. It is not unusual for my peers and I to put in 10-12 hours a day reviewing material. The sheer amount of information forces you to come up with new, more efficient, and quicker ways of studying just to keep from falling behind. Every student that I know in my class has also had to adapt to new study methods this year, and everyone’s technique is constantly shifting and evolving, even now that we are in our second semester! My advice to students who are entering medical school would be to be ready for change, focus on what works best for you and not what works best for your peers, and to be patient with yourself as you adjust to this new way of learning!

What are your professional plans post-graduation?

When I graduate from medical school in 2022, I plan on entering some kind of residency program, but I am currently very unsure about what specialty I would like to pursue. Although it is a little scary being so uncertain about the future, people tell me that going into my 3rd and 4th year rotations with an open mind will help me find the field that best suits me. I hope they are right!

What advice would you give a current Denison student considering a graduate or professional program like yours?

Apply EARLY. I cannot stress this enough. Medical schools admit students on a rolling basis and classes will fill up, so it is in your very best interest to apply right on June 1st. I took the MCAT late and couldn’t apply till the fall of my senior year. This put my application deep under the pile of the students who had applied early, and definitely added unneeded stress onto my application process. While some students were interviewed in August and received acceptances in October, I didn’t receive interviews until January, and acceptances until a few weeks before graduation! Do yourself (and your mental health) a favor and apply as early as you can! On another note, I would recommend students complete some sort of anatomy coursework before they enter medical school. I did not take anatomy in high school or in undergrad, and found it challenging to adapt to the anatomical terminology used in our most recent muscular/skeletal system unit. It is absolutely not necessary to take anatomy, but it will definitely make the transition into medical school a lot smoother and easier! Even if it is just taking a free online “Intro to Anatomy” class the summer before, I would recommend students familiarize themselves with the field before entering medical school.