Student Testimonials

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Sarah Maxey, Pre-Optometry

Name: Sarah Maxey

Major: Chemistry major, biology minor

HSPP Plan: Pre-Optometry

Hometown: Ashland City, TN

High School: Cheatham County Central High School

 

Why did you choose Chemistry as a major?

There are two reasons why I decided to be a chemistry major. Coming out of high school, I felt more confident in my abilities as a chemistry student than a biology student. Also, I knew that most optometry school applicants were biology majors. I felt that choosing chemistry would not only help to prepare me for optometry school, but would also set me apart from other applicants

 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy reading, running, traveling, and photography. I feel like photography helps me to learn about lenses and light, which I hope will help me in optometry school.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?

I was a member of SMACS. I was an executive member for one year.

 

Where will you be going this fall?

Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?

All the waiting!!! After FINALLY submitting the application, it seemed like an eternity before I heard back from the optometry schools! (Even though it was only about 3 weeks!) After having my first interview, it seemed like forever before receiving my first acceptance. It was only two days later!

 

How many schools did you apply to?

Two. Southern College of Optometry and Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University.

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?

I had worked under a successful optometrist from each of the schools that I applied to. Location was also a factor. I wanted to make sure that I would feel at home in the city in which I would be living for the next four years. When it came down to picking between the two, cost was a deciding factor. In-state tuition is lower than out of state costs.

 

What advice would you give to pre-optometry students?

Start shadowing ASAP. And stay driven! Don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit. Yes, it may seem ridiculous to a future optometrist to have to memorize all those silly reactions in Organic Chemistry, but keep going! Always have optometry school in mind! And when all else fails in your Physics class, read the textbook. Also, if you have to retake a class because you made a C or lower, don’t give up! I had to retake a class, and so did both of the optometrists I worked for.

 

The 2014-2015 application cycle for optometry school opened on July 1st. What advice do you have for students who will be applying?

If you haven’t already shadowed at more than one practice, do that now. I probably had 700 hours shadowing at one practice, and after an interview, I was told I needed to do more shadowing at a different practice. Also, request letters of recommendation as soon as possible. As soon as OptomCAS opened, I called my optometrist and asked for a letter of recommendation. I told him that I needed it by July. I later found out that I didn’t need it as soon as I thought, but it was probably to my benefit that I got that in early. Often, letters of recommendation can take a while to get, so request them as early as possible. Also, don’t stress about writing your personal statement. I know many people take weeks to write theirs. An extern told me that she wrote hers in about 3 hours one afternoon. I took her advice and did the same thing. Just sit down and start writing!

 

How did you prepare for the OAT?

I read the Kaplan OAT Review Notes, a couple of practice test books, and some MCAT review books from The Princeton Review (Hyperlearning Biological Sciences Review and Hyperlearning Physical Sciences Review.) The versions I read were several years old, but they were still extremely helpful and were fairly cheap (about $9 each). I started studying for this early in the summer and made it my full time job. I took the test in late July. I studied for probably 2.5 months. I read through all three review books, and started taking practice tests about 2 weeks before. Optometry students before me told me that I needed to stop studying about 2 days before the test and just relax. I found this to be good advice. The OAT is not a fun test to take and it isn’t cheap, so I only wanted to have to take it once. Thankfully, I made a 330 on my first try and didn’t have to take it again.

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the OAT?

Set aside a month or so to study, and study for several hours a day. This is likely one of the most important tests you will ever take, so study for it! It’s not a fun test to take, so study hard the first time to ensure that you don’t have to take it again. Practice tests helped me, but only after I had read the Kaplan Review Notes. I also read the Princeton MCAT Biology Review and the Physical Science Review. These also helped immensely. I read through these entirely, even through the things I already knew. It helps, I promise! After reading through these books, I started taking practice tests. The scores I got on the practice tests were a lot lower than the score I actually made on the test. And don’t study the two days before the test! It was certainly a long summer studying for the OAT, but it was worth it. Also, take it in the summer if you can. I can’t imagine having to study for the OAT during the semester.

 

What other information do you think pre-optometry students should know?

For one thing, I would like for you to know my email address! If you ever have any questions regarding anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ask! It’s smaxey@student.sco.edu. Also, try to stay up to date with laws and news in optometry. Always try to think about how your major relates to optometry, although it may require a significant amount of thinking outside the box. Not only will this keep you motivated, but you will probably be asked about these things in an interview!

 

Katie McCall, Pre-Med

Name: Katie McCall
Major: Biology: Cell and Molecular
HSPP Plan: Pre-Medicine
Hometown: Greenfield, TN
High school: Greenfield High School
UTM graduate: May 2014

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?
I chose Biology after 1 semester of being undecided because I was looking for a major that would be challenging, and I had the feeling that I wanted to be in some healthcare profession.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
When I do have free time, I like to go to dinner or the movies with friends. 

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
I have been a member of Mu Epsilon Delta, a pre-health professionals club, since my sophomore year.  I was the Vice President of Public Relations in my junior year.  This year, my senior year, I was the President of MED.  I was also a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Gamma Beta Phi, and Phi Kappa Phi.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
I am attending the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
The most difficult part of the application process was writing the personal essay.  I found it difficult writing about myself, but the rest of the application was relatively easy once I finished the essay.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
I applied to 3 medical schools: Vanderbilt, UT Health Science Center in Memphis, and Quillen.

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I chose Quillen College of Medicine because they were the first to offer me a position in their 2014 incoming class.  I didn’t want to miss that opportunity since there was no guarantee that I would get an offer elsewhere.

 

What advice would you give to pre-medical students?
Work hard to have a high GPA in all of your undergraduate courses, not just science courses.  Also, shadow as many different doctors and areas of medicine as you can.  Shadowing gives you an idea of what area of medicine you want to work in, and it shows medical schools that you are dedicated to your chosen profession.

 

The 2014-2015 application cycle will begin in May. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
Finish your application as soon as possible so that you will be on the top of the list for the school to evaluate.  The sooner your application is in, the sooner you could get an interview and hopefully secure a spot in the class.

 

How did you prepare for the MCAT?
I bought a couple of MCAT prep books that covered all of the MCAT topics and studied them for 2 months prior to my test date.  During the second month of studying, I was in a summer Physics course which took away from my MCAT studying.  Looking back, I know that I should not have tried to take a summer course and prepare for the MCAT at the same time. 

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the MCAT?
Study well and study often.  Do all practice tests that are available.  Also, select a test date that gives you plenty of time to prepare.  Rushing your preparation will not help you on the test.  Try to give all of your attention to the MCAT when preparing, and don’t give your attention to two things at once like I did.

 

What other information do you think pre-med students should know?
Medical schools are looking for well-rounded people, not bookworms.  When they evaluate your application or interview you, they are not only looking for exceptional grades and scores, but also for a person who is dedicated to becoming a doctor.  Be confident in your decision to go to medical school and show it in all that you do.

 

Julie Reddick, Pre-Med

Name: Julie Reddick
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology
HSPP Plan: Pre-Medicine
Hometown: Martin, TN
High school: Westview High School
UTM graduate: December 2013

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?
I initially chose to major in biology because it was always my favorite subject in school. It was also the only subject that wasn't horribly boring for me. That worked out well, because it proved to be incredibly helpful, and in my opinion, the best major to choose when you will need to eventually take the MCAT.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I mostly enjoy spending time with my immediate and extended family. Now that I have graduated, I finally have the chance to read books of my choosing, and I spend my mornings exercising.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
Because I spent so much time studying, I was not involved in school sanctioned activities outside of academics. I spent my last semester of college doing research for Dr. James Smart.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
James H. Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City, TN.

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
Waiting was easily the hardest part. Waiting the month for MCAT scores, waiting for the application to be processed, waiting for interviews, and definitely waiting for the final decision from the schools at which I interviewed.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
Seventeen

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I knew for years that I wanted to go to Quillen. However, I was getting such low scores on my MCAT practice tests that I was worried about getting accepted anywhere. I initially applied to Tennessee schools, then chose schools with lower average MCAT scores that were relatively close to home.

 

What advice would you give to pre-medical students?
Put the large portion of your effort into academics and extra activities for your application. You cannot redo or erase anything that happens in the four years of undergrad. You have your entire life to do things you enjoy. Don't let parties or "college life" change the rest of your life by making you have to give up your dreams. I'm not saying you can't have fun, it just doesn't have to take up every second of your time, unless you want to choose a new career path.

 

The 2014-2015 application cycle will begin in May. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
Get everything you need for the application process done as quickly as possible, then relax. Dragging out stressful processes won't make anything easier, it will just make everything last longer.

 

How did you prepare for the MCAT?
Badly. I thought that if I took every science class I was required to take for my major, I would be fine. However, I found out very quickly that the MCAT is much more about learning how to take the test than it is about knowledge. The knowledge definitely helps, but you will not be successful with a college education alone. After I figured that out, I cancelled my May MCAT, bought every Princeton Review book, and studied for the next three months until I took my test and received a 32 (11B 10P 11V).

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the MCAT?
Study all you can, but don't think you have to lock yourself in a room and do nothing else. I studied a maximum of 4 hours per day. I heard of many people saying they studied 12+ hours a day. I'm still not sure if that is possible without losing your mind. Also, don't study the day before the test and don't take a practice test right before either! At that point, studying will just make you worry about everything you still don't know rather than focusing on the fact that you've done your best to prepare and you should be pleased with that.

 

What other information do you think pre-med students should know?
I have always lived by the motto "if you have done your best, there is nothing to be ashamed of." Spend these four years putting in all your effort and you won't have to be burdened with any regrets, if your goal of becoming a doctor comes to fruition or not.

 

Rebecca Headden, Pre-Pharmacy

Name: Rebecca Headden
Major: Biology- Cell and Molecular Concentration
HSPP Plan: Pre-Pharmacy
Hometown: Lewisburg, TN
High school: Marshall County High School

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?

I was originally a Chemistry major, but after freshman year I realized I really enjoyed biology and was more interested in the biology courses, especially the upper division biology courses like Genetics and Virology.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?
I play piano and guitar. I sing a little. Love to go kayaking with my brother and play soccer and ultimate Frisbee with my friends.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?
SOAR Staff member, Student Ambassador, UTM Honors student, SGA Freshman Council- Student Affairs committee.

 

Where will you be going this fall?
Union University School of Pharmacy

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?
I don't think any one part of the application process was more difficult than any other. I think getting everything together like Ref Letters and transcripts was time consuming, but not super difficult. I guess overall, the hardest part of the process is the time it requires to apply while still being a full time student.

 

How many schools did you apply to?
Four

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?
I did a lot of cold calling to schools and talking to as many people there as possible. Not just admissions people, but also students, alumni and a couple professors. I also talked to some pharmacists I know and got their opinions.

 

What advice would you give to pre-medical students?
Make good grades and get as much pharmacy experience as you can.

 

The 2014-2015 application cycle will begin in May. What advice do you have for students who are applying?
Don't procrastinate. Take the PCAT as soon as you can and fill out your PharmCAS early. Schools use rolling admissions so the earlier you get your application and material submitted, the better off you are. Also, try to get as much experience in pharmacy as you can, even if it's just shadowing for a couple hours; if you put in extra effort, the schools will recognize it.

 

How did you prepare for the PCAT?
Bought the prep book and read through it a couple of times and took as many practice tests as I could find online

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the PCAT?
BE PREPARED! It is expensive and very important to pharmacy schools admissions councils, so take it seriously. Just because you can take it more than once, doesn't mean you should depend on that.

 

What other information do you think pre-med students should know?
Try not to stress. It's a big deal! I mean, it is your future, but you can't let it overwhelm you. Just apply yourself to every part of the application process and do as much as you can. If you do that, you won't need to stress.

 

Anna Coln, Pre-Pharmacy

Name: Anna Coln

Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

HSPP Plan: Pre-Pharmacy

Hometown: Selmer, TN

High School: McNairy Central

 

Why did you choose Biology as a major?

I choose cell and molecular because it provided the courses that I would need for pharmacy school, and I knew that it would be challenging enough to prepare me to further my education.

 

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy exercising, reading, and socializing.

 

Were you a member of any organizations at UTM? If yes, which organizations? Did you hold any important roles? If yes, what were they?

I was a member of MED and Phi Kappa Phi.

 

Where will you be going this fall?

This fall I will be attending Union University’s School of Pharmacy.

 

What was the hardest part of the application process?

The hardest part was making sure I had everything on the application that I wanted and needed the schools to know. Double check your application, and even have other people check your application to make sure it is complete.

 

How many schools did you apply to?

I applied to four schools.

 

How did you choose the schools you applied to?

All of the schools I applied to were excellent pharmacy schools. Also, they were all in areas that I am interested in living and working in.

 

What advice would you give to pre-pharmacy students?

Stay on top of your studies, because applying to pharmacy school is very competitive. Don’t avoid the harder classes because they look good on your transcripts and they will prepare you for further education.

 

The 2014-2015 application cycle for pharmacy school will begin in June. What advice do you have for students who will be applying?

Start early, stay on top of things, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 

How did you prepare for the PCAT?

I took the PCAT in July. So, I used May and June to really study and prepare for taking the PCAT.

 

What advice do you have for students who are preparing for the PCAT?

Prior to taking the PCAT it would be really helpful to get a word of the day app on your phone or something of that sort, and stay on top of expanding your vocabulary. That will be extremely helpful in the verbal ability portion of the PCAT.

 

What other information do you think pre-pharmacy students should know?

Try not to stress out too much and enjoy the process.

 

 

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