Lately, a lot of people have been asking me which medical schools I plan to apply to next year. I work with a lot of nurses, dentists, dental assistants and doctors so they are pretty familiar with the options in California.
That question generates a lot of anxiety for me, which is partly why I have been putting off doing research. A lot of pre-meds I've met in the past have always had a dream school that they can declare with certainty, "I want to go THERE!" I haven't really read up on schools, or cared enough from things I've heard, to have a strong desire to go to a particular institution. I can say where I would like to live while I attend school, which is important, but I shouldn't pick schools purely based on location.
I'm planning to apply to about 12-15 schools because it seems like a reasonable number and was a number that was generally recommended by pre-med counselors. I was also informed, a loooong time ago, that I should apply to "safety schools," "reasonable schools" and "reach schools." That also seems reasonable to me...I should apply to schools that I feel slightly more confident about getting into, schools where my chances may or may not go well, and schools that seem - on paper - far beyond my reach but maybe, just maybe I can hope.
It's a daunting task. How high do I reach without asking for the impossible? What would be "safe" for me without "settling"? Is this "reasonable school" actually a "reach school" for my abilities? And sometimes, on a really bad day, I wonder, "Do I even want to do this?!"
I think there will always be uncertainty and self-doubt, and the only way to get around it (according to the Nike slogan) is to JUST DO IT. And who knows, maybe I'll look back at myself one day and think my internal debate was downright silly.