Winter break is a time when most students are enjoying a small reprieve from studies. It is also a time, however, when I, a seemingly lifelong student, cannot stop thinking about how scary it is that I have an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and not too much to show for it. Looking at my “things I know” list here on my blog made me sad, and slightly anxious, that there are so few things that I believe I truly know. Of course there are things that I learned during my degree program, such as what the elements on the periodic table are, and how DNA can be replicated using PCR, but what does any of that mean in the grand scheme of things?
There is no “What to Do When You Don’t Get Into the Program You Desperately Want 101”, or “Introduction to Figuring Out What the Hell You Want to Do With Your Life”. How does anyone figure this out???
Trial and error? My anxiety-ridden brain does not like that option in the slightest. I like it when things are safe and sure, when I can completely control the outcome. I hate that even if I decide what kind of program I want to be in there are still admissions tests and interviews that make my “choice” less of a choice and more of a “hey, could I maybe, perhaps, just possibly be allowed to do this?”. These scenarios that we use to select who gets to do what in academia are judging us based on a snapshot of who we are at one brief, and incredibly stressful, moment in time. Is this really the best way to decide who is suited to become medical students, law students, business students, pharmacy students, etc.?
As realistic as tests and interviews are made to be, the truth is they are exactly the opposite. When will I need to be able to draw the chemical process of lactate dehydrogenase without looking at any notes? Or have to rhyme something off in iambic pentameter without being able to look up what the hell iambic pentameter is? And when will I be asked to give advice to a hypothetical friend with whom I have no background information on or personal relationship with?
I guess I should be learning how to impress people in thirty seconds or less rather than focusing on what is taught in university classes. Is that what I was meant to get out of my undergrad? Bloody expensive lesson if you ask me.