Bradley Colarusso, Behavioral Neuroscience, Pre-Med, Chemistry Minor, COS ’21
Hello hello hello! My name is Bradley Colarusso, and I’m a fourth year and (sadly) graduating senior majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry on a pre-med track. What does all of that mean? I just really like science and couldn’t decide on one area to focus in. During my first three years at Northeastern, I have done everything from studying abroad in South Africa to researching Alzheimer’s Disease on campus to an immunooncology co-op and a clinical ophthalmology co-op to a volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic and so much more. Instead of boring you with my entire Northeastern journey (which could take days to read), I’ll focus on one of the more important aspects of my journey as of late: being pre-med!
As I round out my time at Northeastern, I am beginning to enter the process of applying to medical school. This year, I have various deadlines lined up from requesting letters of recommendation to writing my personal statement to deciding where I even would like to go to medical school. This process began long ago but has come to fruition and really kicked off with my MCAT!
For anyone out there who is not already familiar, the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is a facet of a medical school application that serves as a judgement of your critical thinking abilities with regards to the basic sciences. It’s pretty much the same idea as the SAT for when you apply to undergraduate universities—but longer, more extensive, and definitely requires more time to study for. For context, I began loosely studying and gathering materials and notes together in early February 2020 and I took the exam the first week of August 2020 (so about six months of studying). But, full disclosure, I did not begin my fully dedicated studying until May since I wanted to finish the spring semester first.
The MCAT consists of four sections covering a wide range of topics including biology, biochemistry, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, sociology, psychology, and general critical analysis and reasoning abilities. Though the test was long and required endurance, the most difficult part of the process for me was summoning the motivation to study while taking classes or while on co-op. Not having the ability to dedicate all of my time to studying was a hard feat and there were definitely days I wish I could do anything but study at the end of a long day. But alas, I always tried to keep the end goal in sight and know that taking this test meant I was starting the journey that I had waited years to begin: the path to becoming a physician.
As I crammed and reviewed for months, spending every Saturday for the two months leading up to my exam taking seven-hour practice exams, wondering if my efforts were truly going to pay off, I became increasingly worried about exam day but also increasingly ready to get it over with. I knew where my weak spots were and also what I was strong in. I did what I could to improve on my weak areas but remembered the things I knew I could rely on and hopefully carry me through the exam.
Come exam day, I woke up bright and early and was at my testing center by 5:30AM, nervous but ready to tackle the exam. Looking back on the actual exam now, it was all a blur of questions and passages and content. But I will always remember the moment of pure joy and accomplishment of walking out of the testing center knowing I had overcome one of the biggest obstacles I had ever had to face. No matter the score, I was proud of what I had achieved in six months and what I proved to myself and my abilities. If you are a potential pre-med reading this, don’t be dissuaded by my words! Though the MCAT is a difficult process, it is absolutely manageable and is the first step toward an incredible career as a healthcare professional. So, I encourage you to do your research and see if the journey to becoming a doctor is the path for you!