Dear Pre-Health Undergraduate Student….

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Based on the feedback that I received for my last couple of posts, I decided to address another education-related topic. Let’s continue to go back in time from pursuing advanced education and training to surviving the undergraduate life.

Since mid-Spring semester is already here, some high school students are eagerly submitting their college applications and anticipating their acceptance letters. Dear [future] pre-health undergraduate student, little are you aware of the many difficulties that lie ahead.


As you can probably deduce, this article will pertain to pre-health students, whose undergraduate education is merely the initial step towards the pursuit of their healthcare careers. Since high school was a piece of cake, college should also be a stroll – right? Unfortunately, success in high school does not always equate to immediate and ongoing triumph in college. This post, however, will attempt to touch on some of the struggles that a pre-health student might encounter; and I hope that the pertinent readers will find the article useful towards their long and arduous journey.

To the Workaholic….

So, as a high school student, I worked around thirty hours per week. Since I excelled in high school with a full-time job, I decided to continue working similar hours, which occasionally turned into overtime. Although I was able to pull off the above stunt during my freshman year, trying to balance school and work as a college sophomore was a different story.

Unfortunately, I fell into the trap of scheduling class and study time around my work schedule. As a result, my overtime hours increased; but I had less time to study for challenging science classes, such as organic chemistry.

To the Dutiful Child….

As many undergraduate students can relate, college can be a challenging time. In addition to realizing that independence can be a double-edge sword, family drama can add more weight onto one’s shoulders.

In my case, my godmother passed away from cancer; my godmother was also my aunt. Then, a few months later, my dad was laid off from his job during a time when money was very much needed for a house that my parents recently purchased.


Therefore, I increased my monthly financial contribution to my mom to lessen some of her burden; and as you can deduce, I started to lose sight of school and entered the vicious cycle of more work hours and less study time.

To the Dedicated Volunteer....

In addition to unsuccessfully balancing work, school, and family, I added organization participation and volunteering experience to my agenda. Since I was very involved in high school, I wanted to continue doing so in college; but compared to high school, there are so many more organizations at the university. So, let’s join everything; nothing can possibly go wrong! Famous last words....

[My] Two Cents to You....

I presented a difficult balancing act to you; but successfully addressing all of the above is actually possible. Although everyone is different, the following steps or outline helped me; and I hope that considering or implementing some of the following suggestions will also assist you. Best wishes towards obtaining amazing grades, which will undoubtedly help you excel in the application process of your healthcare professional schools!

  • Schedule work around school

    • I scheduled most of my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

      • Afterwards, I went to straight to work.

    • As for Mondays and Wednesdays, on the other hand, I only scheduled one class.

      • Then, I studied all day on those two days.

    • As for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, I also worked; but I would only work the morning shift on Sundays – in case I needed to study for Monday exams.

    • As you can see, I was still able to work thirty to forty hours per week; but I rarely picked up any over-time hours after I decided “school first.”

      • I will only pick up over-time hours during school breaks, such as winter or summer breaks.

  • Reasonably help your family

    • Since I was still working full-time hours, I was still able to financially help my family.

      • However, I placed a limit on my monthly contribution. I tried to not exceed the limit; and by doing so, I did not fall into the trap of overworking and limiting study time.

  • Place a cap on organization participation

    • Instead of joining every club in sight, I attended the first meetings of organizations that piqued my interest.

    • Afterwards, I decided on only a couple of organizations that truly captured my attention.

Coming up next....

I am almost halfway through the Smartly Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) program! I bet that some of you are probably expecting an update. So, stay tuned for the next post!


Ross Phan is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin - College of Pharmacy. She is also the Off Script Consults founder with years of experience as a board certified independent pharmacist, who strives to improve the quality of life and financial outcomes of patients and their caring providers through the delivery of enhanced pharmacy services, such as interpreting genetics testing results and assisting providers in achieving star ratings that aim to improve patient outcomes.

Ross currently resides in the beautiful state of Colorado with her husband and two dogs. When she is not personalizing medication regimens, Ross enjoys reading and writing.  She also loves to paint, hike, rock-climb, and travel.

Find out more about Ross by scheduling an appointment via phone or connecting with her through social media (LinkedInFacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest) and website.