For anyone considering Mayo’s Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program, let me tell you a few things I know to be true. When I first toured the clinical laboratories at Mayo, I was frequently told the same three statements by everyone I met. I figured it had to be a rehearsed line to sell me on attending. However, I soon discovered that each of those three statements holds true.
“Be prepared to spend 6 to 8 hours on homework and studying.”
This was probably the "scariest" phrase for me to hear. I was one of those kids who never had to study in high school, yet got all A’s. When I went to college, I struggled because I had never learned how to study. Now that the information was more in-depth, it was a skill I desperately needed. I spent the four years of my undergrad figuring out which study methods worked best for me and slowly brought up my GPA from the not-so-great grades I earned my freshman year. The MLS program is intense. A lot of information gets thrown at you, and you’re expected to retain it. The courses are fast-paced; some nights, it took me three hours just to finish a single assignment.
While I will admit to spending a good portion of my night studying and going through lessons, the information is actually interesting, which makes it almost completely painless. If you want to earn the grade, you need to put in that time and effort. The six to eight hours of studying is a recommendation that I found I needed to succeed.
“Your classmates will become your family.”
There are 24 of us separated into 6 different lab benches with 4 students at each bench. Your "bench mates" become the people on whom you rely for completing labs effectively. They help you work on your teamwork skills, and they are there to help you succeed. Currently, my bench mates and I constantly quiz each other before exams and during our daily breaks. Most mornings, we arrive early and discuss the material from last night’s learning modules. I’ve found that we all study in different ways, and we tend to focus more on different areas. When we come together to share our knowledge, it really helps on those exams. Oftentimes, one of the members at my bench will remind me of something the morning before an exam and, sure enough, I will get that question correct because of him/her. I assume I always look funny when taking exams, as I often smile when I get to a question and recall my bench mate explaining the answer to me moments prior to the exam.
While the program is intense and we do a fair share of studying, we also find time to have fun and hang out. So far, we have gotten together as large groups for dinner dates, at the summer "Thursdays on First" events, for a guacamole night, and for an ice cream social.
“Everyone here wants you to succeed.”
There’s something special about Mayo in that every person here is more than happy to help you. When I first came to tour the laboratories before applying, I had gotten lost downtown. Thankfully, several employees stopped to ask if I needed help, and then they personally led me in the right direction. After about six different helpers at each corner, I finally found where I was supposed to be.
That same helpfulness is found within each and every person I have met so far while completing the MLS program. From my instructors to the welcoming front desk workers, they never hesitate to ask if they can help me in any way. One of my favorite things about the MLS program is how the instructors are almost like proud parents. You can see in their eyes how excited they get when you ask in-depth questions or want to know more about a certain test or microbe. They also love taking pictures of us doing random labs—almost the same way a proud parent takes pictures of his or her child at a sporting or musical event. If you don’t believe me, follow the program on Facebook to see all the hands-on learning we do each week.