We took our mid-term 2 weeks ago, and it was very much like playing the first game of the season. Going into the game, you are oscillating between confident and unsure. You think about how you've prepared, and it seems like you've practiced as hard as you can, but then again, maybe you could have practiced just a little bit more. As students, we deal with that roller coaster in different ways. I need a cushion of time between wrapping up studying and taking the exam, but some people only feel secure if they read as many pages of their notes as time allows.
My classmates seem to be a pretty grounded group, though. I've never been part of an academic setting in which students were competitive with each other, but I know many vet students experience that kind of atmosphere in their undergraduate programs. I love that no one seems to have brought that mentality with them. Everyone is supportive, and I get the sense that everyone knows how hard we all worked to get where we are, and that we want success for each other just as much as we want it for ourselves.
That being said, I knew before I finished taking the mid-term that I had not been putting 100% of my effort into studying. I was certainly doing enough to be prepared for class each day, but I really hadn't put the time into reviewing all along. The mid-term gave me a big push, and I've really been able to crank up the intensity of my studying. They've been telling us since we got here that this is professional school, that we should consider other students and faculty our colleagues, and that we should approach the whole endeavor like a job, but I hadn't given any of that much thought. I was studying last week, and actually enjoying myself, when I realized that was exactly what they meant. Our careers are not going to start in four years, after graduation. They have already started. Studying is no longer "homework." It is real work. Thinking about it that way helps me find the initiative to settle down and concentrate when I first sit down, and stamina to keep going when my focus starts to waver.