Imagine you are a full-time student at FIU, studying for many exams, taking challenging courses, being involved in multiple organizations on and off campus. How can you manage it all plus making time for social activities outside of school with friends and family? We spoke to the latest cohort of students from the Honors College and Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) Early Assurance Program, who have been guaranteed admission into HWCOM as sophomores:
1. Organizing and scheduling time is key.
There is a lot to do in your day, so try to organize everything you have to do in a manner that makes it less overwhelming. Whether it is making a to-do list or a calendar schedule of what you have to do when, having all of your responsibilities laid out in one place allows you to clear your mind and not forget everything that you have to do. Carlos Sandoval, for instance, uses an app to organize his tasks and make a schedule, starting the process on the first day of the semester.
After making the list, try to figure out what is important on any given day and prioritize that task. Juliana Cazzaniga suggests to “take advantage of what time of day you are most productive and schedule your most important tasks then. You know yourself, so if you work better in the morning, get those important tasks out of the way, but if you work better at night, wait until then to do them.”
2. Gain experience within your major, whether it be interning, shadowing, or related organizations/extracurriculars
Gaining experience in your major is a must for a successful college career that will benefit you in your future career endeavors. For example, Maria Valle is a double major in biology and chemistry, and wants to go to medical school. To prepare for that and gain the skills she needs, she shadows doctors in the community. She also is involved on campus in organizations such as STITCH (Students taking Initiative through Collaboration In Honors), PUSH (Panthers Unite in Support of Health), which she created and is president of, and the Honors College Leadership Council. Through these organizations, she develops essential skills for her career, like collaboration, leadership, and organizational skills.
Another way to gain experience is through interning and shadowing. This allows you to network with people in your field and even find a mentor who will advise you in your career path, like Samuel Nodal did while he was shadowing at a hospital. He shadowed an anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai, observing what the doctor did for a month and learning first-hand about a day at work with a professional in the field he wants to enter.
3. Conduct Research
Take advantage of research opportunities, both on campus and off campus, especially if your major calls for it. For instance, Carolina Fernandez, like Maria, is a double major in biology and chemistry and in the pre-med track. To enhance what she’s learned in the classroom, Carolina conducts research at a multitude of places. These include a 10-week summer program through the organization QBIC (Quantifying Biology in the Classroom) at the University of Minnesota studying leukemia, the Marc U*Star Program at FIU, and the Annual Biological Research Conference for Minority Students in California. These opportunities in research allowed her to expand on the knowledge she learned in the classroom in a hands-on manner.
4. Get help, use FIU’s multitude of resources.
As FIU students, we have access to a multitude of resources at our fingertips, both inside and outside the academic setting. As a former learning assistant, Alejandro Perez advises to use the academic resources FIU has to offer, such as professors’ office hours and the Writing Center. In addition to academic resources, FIU also offers outside programs to help students succeed, such as CAPS (Counseling & Psychological Services), the Wellness and Recreation Centers, and the Healthy Living Program. For convenience, most of these resources are available online as well, such as online tutoring and counseling.
5. Make time for yourself, self-care is key.
Prioritizing self-care and fun is essential for the success and wellbeing of college students. Like student Ashley Gray says, “you are in college once so make the most out of it.” She explains that her freshman year was spent studying for exams every free hour she had and not going out or taking any breaks to enjoy herself at all. Now, looking back, she wishes she would have made more time for fun and been more involved in on-campus social events.
Another aspect of self-care is taking care of mental health. Students can often feel overwhelmed with coursework and extracurricular activities and they may feel like they don’t have someone to talk to. Marthena Phan says, “make sure to communicate with someone you trust, whether it is a family member, friend, or a counselor.” For those with a busy schedule, prioritizing time to have fun and take care of yourself is equally as important as scheduling time for academics.
The Honors College and Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) Early Assurance Program is an extremely competitive program to get into, so if anyone knows how to succeed academically, it is the members of this current cohort. According to them, the keys to success are organizing your time, gaining experience, conducting research, taking advantage of resources, and making time for yourself.