Senior Year

If Junior year was my second favorite year, Senior year would be my favorite. All of the hard classes were out of the way so all I had to do was take the MCAT exams and the rest would be smooth sailing. Thankfully due to great planning on my part I had a relaxed schedule. I only had to be in class a couple hours a day, but had Fridays off giving me three days every week to get all of my coursework and studying taken care of. I continued to work the hotel job I had picked up the previous year since it was working out pretty well.

While all of my classes were going well, I was increasingly ready to get out of that school. Since I lived off campus I had to drive in to school every day and parking on campus was abysmal. When I had first started there parking was not an issue, but every school year the school would remove parking areas to put up new buildings. What was worse was they then used that construction as an excuse to increase our already expensive tuition. There were even rumors of the administration requiring freshman students to live on campus, even if they already lived locally. While that didn’t personally affect me, I still didn’t agree with it.

I had decided to take the MCAT exam near the end of the fall semester so that I would have my results in time to start medical school the following year. In the off chance that I failed the test it would also give me a bit of a buffer to retake it and hopefully still be able to start medical school when I wanted to.

The last several months of the previous year, and well in to the fall semester of senior year was spent preparing for this exam so I felt fairly  confident in my ability to pass. I was only nervous because I had seen several people succumb to test anxiety. My personal tactic had always been to make sure to get a good night sleep, eat a good breakfast and take deep breaths if I ever started to stress out on an exam. No sense being so stressed out that I’d feel like a zombie after finishing.

The day of the exam was pretty typical. I decided that I would blow off my other classes to get some last minute review time in. The campus had a small testing center near the library so before I headed that way I went to the library to study. In retrospect that was probably the worst thing I could have done because of what happened there that day. Personally I think if you are in a library you need to sit down, shut up, and study. This idea was apparently lost on several people there as they chatted away on their cell phones, and used the private study rooms to play online games or watch Youtube videos. All that ended up doing was aggravating me, which I didn’t really need before taking such an important exam. Thankfully by the time I actually started the exam I had calmed down a bit and was just ready to get through it and go home for the day.

When I started the exam the one thing I had tried to avoid ended up happening. My mind went blank. I probably spent the first twenty minutes staring at the exam before I even marked down my first answer. I initially wanted to rush through the test just to get through it but had to make myself slow down and read through each question carefully before putting down an answer. The first step was realizing that I had plenty of time to take the exam and rushing through it would only cause me to misread something important. There were only a couple of people in the testing room with me, and I could tell that the other people hadn’t come to the same realization I had. It was obvious that they were panicking a little bit by constant sweat wiping and blank stares. After a while time was called and everyone turned in this portion of the exam. We had a small break and then moved on to the next.

After that initial moment of being brain dead the rest of the exam went smoothly. I was able to finish every question well within the time limits giving me plenty of time to go back through and review my answers. I don’t think some of the other students were as lucky though as when time was called you could see them frantically marking down answers before the test proctor had them put down their pencils. By the end of the testing process I felt confident that I would make the necessary score to pass the exam so I packed up my stuff and left.

It did wind up taking a bit longer to get my results than I had wanted, well in to the spring semester. By the time I received my results I had already applied for graduation and it was almost the deadline for medical school admissions. Thankfully when the test results reached me I had passed like I was expecting to. I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but still was a good score. I applied for medical school right away, which meant that I would be stuck at SJU a little bit longer.

Graduation day came and went, my family was not able to make it but that was fine with me. At the time I was still a bit self absorbed so I didn’t miss them. Unfortunately that would come back to bite me.

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Junior Year at SJU

Junior year was probably my second favorite year at SJU. This was the year that I moved off campus and started to find myself. Living off campus allowed me a bit more freedom in the hours I kept, which was good because that year I had started working part time off campus to make money. I found early in the fall semester that I didn’t have the time, or the desire, to continue tutoring but I still needed a way to earn tuition and still live off campus.

Unlike the two previous years where I had classes scheduled throughout the day, that year I decided to have all of my classes in the morning each day which would allow me to work a few hours each evening and still keep up with all of my coursework. I managed to find a job as a hotel concierge in the evenings, which allowed me to study while working and also allowed me to work on my people skills. I’m not going to say I enjoyed the work, but it was better than some of the other options I had looked in to.

The money wasn’t that great, but at the time you could still find a place to stay for not a lot of money. It was close to campus, and the neighborhood was nice. The apartment was sparsely furnished, a bed, couch and space to study is all I really needed. My routine was simple, wake up, go to class, then head home to grab something to eat and study. After all that I would head off to work for a few hours. The hardest part was trying to stay in shape. With such a hectic schedule it was easy to just grab something quick and tell myself I’d go to the gym later to make up for it. Probably should have gained more than I did, but most days I would forget to eat at least once, so I wasn’t consuming more than I was burning which helped keep some of the weight off.

Classes were not as challenging that year as I was expecting. Most of the hard ones had already been taken the previous years so all I had left were a handful of major classes and the general education courses that were required by every student to take. Having classes that didn’t require much time allowed me to start getting ready to take the medical school entrance exams (MCAT’s).

I knew that the MCAT test consisted of four parts, Physical Science, Verbal Reasoning, Writing, and Biological Sciences. When I started going over the material I could tell that the most challenging parts would be the one part of the physical sciences section of the exam. In the years I had been at SJU I had covered Biology, Chemistry and Organic Chemistry, but had not yet tried to take a Physics course which would be covered in that section of the exam. The Spring semester of junior year I signed up for the Physics class that was offered in the morning, which included lab, and started studying before the semester started to get a head start.

The spring semester went by uneventfully. I had my physics courses and general education courses, and continued to work at the hotel. Sadly by the end of that semester you could notice a drop-off in the number of people continuing on in the program. Most switched out to other programs, but a few left the university entirely to go to another school. There was maybe 20 of us that had stuck it out to the end of the semester, and even then some of those who stayed probably shouldn’t have. All that was left for me was one more year and then I’d be off to medical school.

I also found out at the end of the year that my old girlfriend Anna had decided to move back to her home town to take a position as a school nurse, which was probably good for her. She had some training with internal medicine and had been working part time at the local hospital helping out the nurses. At the time I wasn’t sure I would see her again, but funny how things turn out in the end.

Sophmore Year at SJU

My sophomore year at SJU went by pretty quick. Sophomore year was more about Organic Chemistry rather than the general chemistry I had during my Freshman year. I continued to earn money on the side with tutoring, not as much as the previous year, but enough to get by.

I find that there isn’t much to talk about when discussing your college years. Everything, for the most part,  is fairly routine. You meet some interesting people, and you have fun when you can, but when you have lofty goals you have to put a lot of that aside.  However, there were a couple of interesting things that happened during that semester. At least interesting enough that they still stick out after all these years.

During the fall semester of my Sophomore year I was living on the third floor of the dorms. The rooms were fairly sparse, two desks, two beds, two closets and a sink. The beds, for whatever reason, were made out of polyester. These were connected to the closets and folded up in to the wall. On the wall part of the bed was a small shelf so that you could set a lamp, or books above your bed when it was folded down.

One guy on the floor had a brilliant plan to light a candle and stick it up there and leave the room for awhile. Needless to say that didn’t turn out so well.Around midnight that night the smoke alarms in the building went off and we all had to evacuate the building while the fire department came out to put this geniuses room out. Thankfully nobody got hurt. The next day when I left to go to my classes you could see the mattress laying in the bushes with a nice char mark where the candle had fallen on it.

The other really interesting thing that I remember happening was getting my roommate arrested. Not that I got him arrested on purpose or anything *cough*. I just didn’t lie to the cops for him, which resulted in him getting hauled out of the room. I was sitting up late one night NOT playing Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast when my roommate came running in, killing the lights and jumping behind his bed.

The story he told me was that him and a few of his friends had been running around campus with super-soakers spraying girls’ shirts for fun. Which led to them being chased back to the dorms by campus police.  The building we stayed in at the time was shaped like the letter ‘H’ so the police just stood outside and watched for the guys to get off the elevators and then which rooms had lights that came on or went off. A few minutes after my roommate had come back in the police came knocking at our door. When the asked if someone had just come in I pointed over to the other side of the room and said “He’s behind the bed.”

Funny enough, I found out that this same roommate became a cop. Thankfully he didn’t have any hard feelings about getting busted, or at least never said anything about it.

Those were the only events I can remember from that semester. My grades slipped a little bit, but I was able to recover and keep a good GPA
heading in to my Junior year.