Let's be real, being a pre-med is difficult — medical schools will only admit the best and brightest of us. We slog through four years of college, balancing 1,000 hours of volunteer work with doctor shadowing, scrambling for labs that have cutting-edge research in hopes of getting published in "Nature," and most importantly, keeping our grades in tip-top shape by carefully reading the course syllabi, hunting for the grade distribution graphs, and of course, attempting to beat the curve to get that A at the end of the long tunnel.
Many pre-med students don't get 4.0s, like me, and many pre-med students, like me, tend to crib about even a single A-, as it immediately kills any chance of us ever getting a 4.0 for the rest of our undergraduate career. But we all need a reality check, a grade is just a number. Given the rampant and sometimes outrageous rise in grade inflation over the past few decades, as well as the increasing toughness of medical school admissions, it is not surprising to hear many students complain of a 3.7 GPA. Considering that you need a 3.7-3.8 just to be in the middle 50% of matriculates, it is necessary to beat the curve by all means. However, this does NOT mean that it is absolutely necessary to get a 4.0 just to have a chance.
Most of us are not perfect and we often make mistakes. We might be so used to getting straight A's in high school, but college is one of the first times when we all make mistakes, and that's okay! College is a place where you can explore interests and passions while you're still young. And with exploring interests comes mistakes. It's better to make mistakes now, instead of later in life. Medical school admissions officers are human, too, and most of them weren't perfect when they were in your shoes. So as long as your GPA is still high enough, you don't need to create stress by thinking of ways to get that 4.0.
Of course, a 4.0 is still something you should aim for, but approach it with a growth mindset, such that you can allow yourself to sometimes make mistakes. Life is always full of setbacks, but approaching them with the right attitude will teach you more than crawling back into your shell and beating yourself up for an A-.
It's much, much easier to maintain a 3.7-3.9 than it is to maintain a 4.0, considering that a 4.0 requires that you have literally all A's on your transcript, which is just nuts. A single A- and you're done. Thinking about that will honestly stress anyone out, myself included. But when I got my first A-, I took it and said to myself, "You know what? There really isn't too much of a difference between a 3.9 and a 4.0. Just get back up and keep going, because setbacks always have something to teach us." I recommend you adopt that attitude if you are stressing about keeping your 4.0. Let's be real, a 4.0 really isn't worth the extra stress.