August 2019 | Issue 43
That pivotal first year

​Transitioning from a pre-university school to university can be both exhilarating and frightening. We asked five students from the Class of 2023 what the most difficult part of transitioning was and how they overcame it. For these students, walking into the unknown world of university brings on high expectations from family and peers, and the impending stress of making it through in one piece.

Priya.jpgBalamurugan Vishnu Priya 

The study method and level of independence required in learning are very different in junior college (JC) and university. Moreover, the content is never ending as there is always something new to learn in every textbook or online resource. It also takes a while to find a suitable method of learning as it is no longer about passing exams but about applying the knowledge in the future.

My seniors helped me a lot, especially those from my House family. They gave us loads of advice on how we
can study and what apps may come in handy for us. They were very willing to answer our questions and helped us close the gap between JC and medical school. As the batch is small, we are very close knit; everyone helps each other in times of need and shares resources they found that might help us understand some of the difficult and essential content.

Ho Wei-En.jpg Ho Wei-En
One of the biggest differences between JC and medical school is the increased flexibility in time
management. Learning is very self-directed, and it is important to find the self-motivation and initiative to manage your academic life. Juggling school work with Co-Curricular Activities and social life can get rather challenging, and personally, this was quite overwhelming in the first semester, often leading to many late nights. However, embracing this flexibility is a unique experience, and will be an enjoyable aspect of university life.

Overcoming these obstacles involves prioritising what is really important. Medical school is a great avenue to identify areas of interests and have many new experiences. I used the time to explore opportunities such
as Overseas Community Involvement Projects, floorball, as well as committing more time to family and friends.

Jacqueline_i.pngJacquline Yang Chu Ruo 

One of the biggest difficulties in transitioning from JC to medical school was the change in expectations of me, to higher standards of professionalism, ethics and self-discipline. I didn’t feel like I was competent enough, and it was slightly daunting that the next 10 years are pretty much set in stone.

I overcame this anxiety with the help of our professors and tutors. Having my friends grow alongside me made it easier, as I felt that I wasn’t alone on this journey. I learnt to slow down and stop thinking of life and school as a race to the finish line.

Lee Jun Jie.jpg Lee Jun Jie

The way our lessons are structured is considerably different to JC. In JC, we were usually ‘spoon-fed’ with the information we needed to know from the lectures provided. In medical school, it is more important to read broadly and from different sources to obtain a better understanding of the material. Unlike JC, we are given the freedom to decide when and how much time we needed to cover the material. This makes it really important to have self-discipline when it comes to managing the time we are given.

I had to try out different styles of learning in the earlier half of the year and find out what works best for me in this new environment. The support system in LKCMedicine has also really helped me through this tough phase of transition. Other than my Team-Based Learning team, House tutors and House seniors also gave solid advice on any problems.

Christoph.jpgChristoph Chong Sheng

To me, the most difficult part of the transition to medical school wasn’t the new faces, the unfamiliar pedagogy or the workload. It was continuing to live a balanced life in spite of all this. In the first month, we were bombarded with a wealth of information and opportunities, asked to sign up for committees and events, which many will go for due to novelty and hype. Something is bound to give.

Know your plan for medical school. Personally, I believe that the pre-clinical years should be as diverse as possible to widen your horizons. With this in mind, I signed up for events that would immerse me in multiple experiences without letting them dominate my schedule. Refrain from signing up for anything in the first two weeks of school; note down how to sign up and only commit after you know your big plan. Think out of the box. Don’t restrict yourself to the current set of opportunities, but rather be the one
forging new ground and setting new trends.