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From a 4.0 Student: Why GPA shouldn't matter

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Decicco, 11.18.07.

  1. Decicco

    Decicco

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    I am a 4.0 student, yet I recognize that including GPA in the medical school application process is detrimental to both the breadth and depth of your undergraduate education.

    I reluctantly play the GPA game so that I can get into medical school. I take fewer credits each semester. I take the easier teachers. I study towards the test and not to truly understand the material. I'd love to take more Italian classes until I'm fluent, but won't because I might not get A's. I'd also love to take classes from some of the world-renowned professors that my institution has, but won't because their classes are difficult. Perhaps I am just an idealist, but I believe that undergraduates should be encouraged to take classes with the best teachers (which are not necessarily the easiest or the hardest), and take classes that are of most interest to them, irregardless of ease. For those of us trying to get into medical school, the system creates huge incentives for us not to pursue these ideals. Anything below a B and you have alot of explaining to do. Likewise with a GPA below a 3.5. I even find myself thinking of this when I write my english papers: "How can I approach this topic in a way that will get me an 'A'," rather than, "How can I approach this topic in a way that will most accurately reflect my beliefs."

    For adcomms not to include the difficulty of your classes or the number of your credit hours each semester in their analysis of your application makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Wait, yes it does: medical schools are whores to the medical school ranking lists, and they want to beef up there average GPAs at the cost of the quality of the undergraduate experience. But, I suppose you could say that I am just a whore to the medical school admissions commitee by taking light courseloads and choosing easier professors, and thats fine--I want to get into medical school and I follow the incentives that are created for me.

    Thats it, now discuss.:thumbup:

    EDIT: I'm not saying that GPA should not matter at all, just that it should be a much smaller part of your application. Getting F's or having alot of W's should disqualify you if you don't have valid excuses.
  2. jackson123

    jackson123

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    I'm have a 4.0, but don't approach things like you do. Get a life!:thumbdown:
  3. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy

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    I agree and disagree with you. If people take the Easy way out, that defeats the purpose. But, I believe that the ideal case would be for ADCOMs to consider not only the GPA but the difficulty of the courseloads you take as well.

    I guess this is the reason why most schools weigh more heavily on the MCAT anyways.
  4. Decicco

    Decicco

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    Good for you, seriously. But, do you not agree that people are strongly encouraged to act like I do if their goal is medical school?
  5. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus

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    Um...okay. What makes you think adcoms don't do this? I think adcoms would eventually look at your entire application and take these things into account, not just your cumulative GPA. You enter all your classes into the AMCAS and it is available for them to view.
  6. gary yoghurt

    gary yoghurt

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    4.0 my ass. 'A lot' is two words.

    I sort of agree with you, but more of me disagrees with you. Medical schools aren't looking for people who strive to pursue diverse interests and lead interesting lives. Doctors provide a service, and they just want objective evidence that you are best equipped to provide such a service. How else can one do that than look to GPA?

    In other words, if you want to be a doctor, you've just pointed out one of many sacrifices you're going to have to make. Hopefully you'll get a hot wife out of it (the only reason why medicine is competitive).
  7. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus

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    Actually, it seems to me that medical school like students that pursue diverse interests, have interesting lives, are committed to service, and also do very well in school.
  8. Decicco

    Decicco

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    Because I've called and asked them. They don't care about the # of credits each semester, and the don't care about your major/course selection outside of their required or recommended courses.
  9. jr doctor in sd

    jr doctor in sd

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    I strongly agree OP...I took a class this past summer with supposedly the hardest science prof. at my university but I could NOT wait to take the class because it was so interesting n supposedly his lectures were amazing. I honestly feel like I did more work for his class than 3 classes combined - and I came out with a solid B...not the best grade but i learned SO much and i loved it - too bad itll just be shown as B on the transcript n nothing more :(
  10. Aynsl156

    Aynsl156

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    I think adcoms actually take into account the difficulty of classes you undertake. I've had two interviewers at two different institutions comment favorably on my broad class choices, so it definitely provides good interview fodder. Hey, you're the one who has to live with your education in the end. I think it's more worth your money to explore a little in undergrad and not worry so much about GPA.
  11. gotmeds?

    gotmeds?

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    I admire your honesty, but I think you've really hurt yourself with your approach. That's why the MCAT is also given so much weight in med school admissions. Sure, you could take 4 years of a low courseload with easy classes, but at some point you'll have to take a standardized test to show that you've really learned the material.
  12. gary yoghurt

    gary yoghurt

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    People explicitly try to craft their resume to pursue such interest and diversity, but the reality is that medical schools aren't looking for a pursuit of genuine interest, they're looking for the stereotypical nonsense that every premed is disturbingly familiar with.

    OR, they're looking for something SPECIFIC. It's all a calculus on their part. The ADCOM isn't your mother - they don't give a **** about you. No rest for the weary.
  13. jr doctor in sd

    jr doctor in sd

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    I dont know if you're responding to just my post or everyone's - but IF it is to mine it wasnt the class only that was difficult (though it is) - the other class thats offered like 3 Qs later has a MUCH easier teacher - but the guy that taught me was supposedly one of our best faculty here and extremely tough (out of maybe 50 teachers i've read about on ratemyprofessor - he's been lowest rated in terms of ease haha) - and the ratings were right...but it's kind of hard to determine what to think - was it worth it lowering my gpa a little (and it couldve been a B- even n hurt me more) or should i have taken it later n gotten an A- easy - but learn alot less n have not as good an experience?
  14. JackDanielMD

    JackDanielMD

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    You know what....I was recently hanging out with one of the girls I've been dating and I heard this little gem. "You know....there's good looking, then there's good looking for a doctor" I'm just saying!
  15. BIGNE

    BIGNE

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    amen
  16. Decicco

    Decicco

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    Yes, the material of four courses. So the incentive is to learn those well while taking easy classes and as few of them as possible. Where I go to school, the 4 MCAT-covered classes each have only one teacher, so picking an easy Organic Chemistry teacher, for example, is not an option.
  17. gary yoghurt

    gary yoghurt

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    It was a moment of truth. Take it to heart.
  18. Bartelby

    Bartelby

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    Your GPA and MCAT combined give the best picture available to admissions committees of your ability to succeed in medical school. How else can they assess it? Should they start looking more at how many leadership positions, volunteering positions, or research experiences you have had? Those are all important, but ultimately they have to choose the people who can handle the material, which by the way they do a pretty good job with.

    As for looking at the credit load, I agree with you. I took an average of about nineteen credits a semester just because I had so many interests and I wanted to learn from so many different fields, and it would have been
    much easier to maintain great grades by taking twelve to fifteen. If I were going to do it again, I would probably do so and sit in on nonessential classes that just interested me (either that or work harder).

    Ultimately, it sounds like you weaseled yourself into a good GPA. If med schools looked for something else you probably would have weaseled yourself into the top of the curve on that. I don't fault you for this-- you are just playing the game to win. But I don't think schools changing focus away from GPA would make much sense.
  19. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus

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    There are certainly the number hungry among the schools, but I think you are taking that generalization too far. True, schools are looking for a good fit and numbers are part of that picture, but I'd have to disagree with you that numbers are all that matter and/or you have to be a clone. Good MCAT/GPA are certainly highly beneficial, but not sufficient for medical school admission. That's why they look at ECs, examine your LORs, and have the interview, among other things.
  20. Decicco

    Decicco

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    Instead of GPA and MCAT, it should just be MCAT.
    As far as your GPA goes, there should just be a few checkboxes that say things like "Graduated without any Fs", etc
  21. Aynsl156

    Aynsl156

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    Sorry, I didn't even see your post when I hit the quick-reply. I can sympathize with wanting to take easier classes just to get a good GPA, but I think it's sometimes worthwhile to balance out the fluff with something challenging, maybe just because I'm a glutton for punishment? But I definitely would have been right there with you taking that class with the harder professor. Shut up, I'm not being smug, just unnecessarily idealistic. Which, you know, will be beaten out of us eventually.
  22. OMFB

    OMFB sweet moves.

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    This is an area that I have really mixed feelings on. I'm a double major in biology and chemistry with concentrations in pharmacology, molecular and cell bio, and biochemistry. I did it because I enjoy it. Did it hurt my GPA? Of course. I took a TON of the hardest science classes that my school has to offer. I am really proud of the GPA that I came out of there with, but I often feel that it's not readily apparent on a brief glance at my AMCAS app.

    Shrug. I knew when I chose my majors exactly what it meant for my GPA and medical school. I did it anyways, because I refused to sacrifice something that I enjoyed just to give myself perfect numbers. Sometimes I regret it when I'm having my crazy premed moments and I decide to crap bricks about pretty much anything.

    I guess in the end it depends more on what matters for you. I just didnt want to regret number-whoring sometime in the future and wish that I followed my interests.
  23. OMFB

    OMFB sweet moves.

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    also, i disagree with this. i think gpa is also a useful indicator of how hard a student is willing to work. medicine isnt an easy path, and there are plenty of people with sweet mcat scores who probably just want to cruise through life. i wouldnt want a doctor who wasnt willing to put in the hours.

    that said, i dont think numbers are everything. just useful in situations like massive numbers of med school apps.
  24. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy

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    Just mcat? If this where the case someone with a 30 MCAT with a 2.9 GPA would be accepted over someone with a 29 MCAT and a 3.9 GPA. Ridiculous IMO
  25. BIGNE

    BIGNE

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    agreed, even though a 30 MCAT might prove you can pass your boards, a 2.9 GPA proves that you cant pass the Medical School classes.In conjunction, a 2.9 gpa proves that an individule cant handle undergrad coursework, whats going to happen to that person when they go to med school and the course load increases a billion fold.
  26. etf

    etf Moderator Emeritus

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    i would...as long as s/he is talented, and does a damn good job at what they are paid to do - doctoring. i could care less about the breadth of their education.
  27. Decicco

    Decicco

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    I think that this would be fine if one was an engineering major and the other was a basketweaving major, or if the 3.9 took 12 credits each semester while the 2.9 took 19.
  28. BIGNE

    BIGNE

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    haha basketweaving. :laugh: I actually got a B+ in basket weaving, I kid you not.
  29. fisko82

    fisko82

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    For the record, a light credit load does not necessarily mean an easy work load. Forr example, my senior year I took 4 classes (biochemistry, pharmacology, microbiology, and physiology) which were 3 credits each, totaling 12 credits for the semester, a light credit load to some. However, I worked my ass off that semester moreso than others to 4.0 each class. On the flip side, I\'ve had semesters where I\'ve taken 16-19 credits and its been cake. Thus, I think the classes you take are a better indicator for scholastic difficulty than course/credit load. Just my .02
  30. etf

    etf Moderator Emeritus

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    why would it matter what the major was? a 2.9 suggests that that person doesn't have a decent mastery of whatever subject matter they are supposedly studying.
  31. etf

    etf Moderator Emeritus

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    from what i understand, your ultimate interest is to practice medicine. most of us are the same. i'm not saying that it's the only thing you want to do in life or the only thing that will make you happy, just that you've probably gone through school and everything with this ultimate goal in mind. anyway, your "number-whoring" will pay off.
  32. Aesculapius

    Aesculapius Junior Member

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    Most situations fall well between the two extremes here.

    I think it is a poor idea to ignore GPA. Yes, some people are going to game the system by taking easy classes. You know what? Their loss. They are probably paying a lot of money- up to 45 something thousand dollars for that privilege. If they want to waste what is most likely their single opportunity to be broadly educated in the things that are interested to them, that is their choice.

    I also want to add that if you are actually, explicitly avoiding courses that you want to take because they are genuinely interesting and important to you, like becoming fluent in Italian, then I think the problem here is not with the way medical schools do their evaluations, but with you. Show some resolve. Put some work in. Have some guts.
  33. Decicco

    Decicco

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    Because it is more difficult to achieve mastery in some things than in others
  34. gotmeds?

    gotmeds?

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    I could name about a dozen other classes that would be useful for the MCAT.
  35. decafplease

    decafplease Medical Student

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    I don't know which school you called, but I've spoken to the deans (not the chick who answers the phone) from several schools (including a top ten) and they've all told me that a 4.0 from someone who takes 2 courses a semester isn't the same as a high GPA from someone who's pulling 15 units and a job. Context is incredibly important. How else would a 3.3 student with a 27 MCAT get in?

    Also, you might want to get some more interesting ECs... looks like you only want to get in med school, which, as I've been told, is NOT what they are looking for in applicants.
  36. mvenus929

    mvenus929

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    That hasn't been entirely true in my experience. My first interview, I had one of my interviewers ask me about a specific class that I took, because it sounded interesting.

    I agree... I took 17 credits my second semester, and I'm taking 13 now... I'm working at least twice as hard this semester as I did then... it's all about what courses you take during that time, and what else you have to do.
  37. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more

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    I think what Decicco is referring to is full-time status. A student who barely qualifies for full-time status with a 4.0 looks better than a person with lower stats but graduates in 1-2 years early.
  38. Arjunsi

    Arjunsi

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    I think admission committees value undergraduate grades only as a measurement of the applicant's dedication. To be a competitive applicant you have to outperform everyone else while juggling all the standard premed hardships. Its a marathon designed to test your resolve. Dedication is often the most important attribute in a college student's success, and medical school is probably no different.
  39. skyeblue0610

    skyeblue0610 Texas MD

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    I disagree with that. GPA inflation my ass. I think it should weigh more and the difficulty of class load.

    So people can have a very sucky GPA then just study a little and ace the MCAT.....well "great" for them.....they do well on standardized test.

    So people can take a very rigorious course load and come out with all A's but choke on a TIMED/stressful standardized test.
  40. metalgearHMN

    metalgearHMN

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    If it was just the MCAT you'd be in big trouble :)
  41. brianmartin

    brianmartin

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    This kind of attitude may serve you temporarily, but then what is the point of undergrad? 4 years just for 3 sheets of paper with a list of letters?

    I may be an outlier, but I never considered anything like "difficulty of professor" or "difficulty of class selection" when getting my major or doing science prereqs. I simply did what I was interested in (poli sci major), took all the classes I needed to take from whatever professor was available, and still pulled a good GPA. So your claim that one must "sacrifice ideals" to get good grades is questionable. In every class I took I strove to understand the material as best I could, and this is precisely the reason I GOT the good grades (not the other way around).

    If I thought this way, I'd never get any work done. The only way I can perform well is if I'm fully invested. For the english example...the true goal IS to develop the ability to clearly communicate one's ideas. It is far better to get a B and have developed those abilities, than to get an A and not have. Of course in the real world, we shouldn't need to make such a ridiculous choice - most teachers will give A's to people who are making genuine effort and learning.

    Unlikely. GPA is not a concrete marker. Thousands of accepted students got below a 3.5. And, a few top tier schools have average GPA of 3.7 or 3.8, so what? It's still just an average, not a minimum. I think if you were to go to those schools, you might find a certain kind of student or "vibe" in the med school class that is a bit different than others...and maybe those med schools have found out that having a high average GPA gives a unique "flair" to the class...not that they are smarter, but maybe there is some certain aspect to the class that is desired when everyone has a high gpa/mcat. Who knows really?

    All I'm saying is, top tier med schools would NOT put together classes with a high average GPA if all they got was a group of mindless automatons who labored their way through undergrad without genuine interest. I think it's quite the opposite. I'm fairly sure that in those high gpa classes, you'll find more people with greater passion/interest in knowledge and learning in general.

    Once again I don't get it. I've never "chosen an easier professor" and I did just fine. I've had great professors, and very bad ones, just like everyone else. Don't think of yourself as a slave to the system. Just don't think about it. Do your best and learn as much as you can, and don't let the prescribed requirements crush your curiosity/passion/interest/whatever.
  42. mountainhare

    mountainhare Member

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    I haven't had a chance to read the whole thread, but it seems to me that you bring up some good points (i.e., med school admissions encourages grade-grubbing, which discourages students from making the most out of their college experience), but the conclusion you jump to (i.e., that GPA shouldn't count at all) is way too extreme. Why not just weigh breadth of curriculum, difficulty of courseload, degree of commitment to excelling in one's chosen field, etc., in addition to looking at GPA? (And isn't this what many, if not necessarily all, adcoms do already?) You've also got to remember that there are basically three kinds of pre-meds: pre-meds who take only easy classes and do well in them, pre-meds who take hard classes and do poorly in them, and pre-meds who take hard classes and do well in them. There are quite possibly enough of the third kind of pre-med to fill all the med school seats in the country.

    Edit: OK, just read the edit in your first post. If all you're proposing is that adcoms look at poor GPAs in the context of how difficult the applicant's courseload is, then I agree with you; however, I think a lot of adcoms do this already (though I guess it's possible that there exist a few exceptions to prove the rule). I still stand by the last two sentences of my post, though. Also, all this stuff is relative. I mean, hypothetically, there could exist a student who only feels intellectually stimulated if he simultaneously takes twenty graduate-level courses that are way above his head, none of which he has any of the prerequisites for, and all of which he gets F's in; the med school application process definitely discriminates against students like these. However, I must say I don't feel too sorry for students like these, either.
  43. WinterLights

    WinterLights

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    To the OP: if you didnt have a 4.0, how would you get into medical school? Your MCAT is very mediocre, so you might want to think about what it is that you are saying.

    Some people work the system to get the perfect GPA, others actually take difficult classes and excel in them.
  44. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more

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    someone up there mentioned that gpa is a measure of your dedication. this is absolutely true. it's easy to fluke on the mcat. it's hard to fluke a good/bad gpa.

    [btw i know fluke is not a verb.]
  45. brianmartin

    brianmartin

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    Actually since you used it as one, it IS a verb, by definition.
  46. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more

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    fluke you! :smuggrin:
  47. This is why I believe your MCAT performance, when correlated with your GPA (and types of classes taken) can tell you a wealth of information.
  48. DemetriMartin

    DemetriMartin

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    To the OP:

    You can't assume that everyone with a 4.0 takes few credits/easier teachers/easier classes. And you also can't assume that people with a 3.0 or 3.5 takes a lot of credits/harder teachers/harder classes.

    I have a 4.0 (well, 3.98...) and I've been averaging about 17 credits per semester (I'm currently a senior applying to med schools).

    You need to realize that it is actually a difficult task to get a 4.0, and you shouldn't just brush it off as saying "the only reason why I have a 4.0 is because I've been taking easy classes"...


    Another thing I hate is when people say "The only reason why you got a 4.0 is because you're taking an easy major"... In reality, no matter what major you are, everyone basically takes the same classes during the first 2 years...
  49. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser

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    I agree with this 100% (even though my GPA blows).

    As much as it sucks to hear, the system works decently well. GPA gives a long-term report on academic results and the MCAT is the great equalizer - but only 1 day's worth of results. If it were just one or the other, people would get screwed. Although, if a vote came up to only count MCAT scores, I would be tempted . . .

    And everyone can be shocked that people play the game. I have bad news for you, you'll be playing games for a long time in this process and unless you're really bright you have to play along.
  50. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser

    Joined:
    11.28.05
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    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    3.98 != 4.0 :D (I kid)

    See, this is a great example of where differences come into play. At my undergrad school, no one takes the same classes the first 2 years unless you're in the same major - and even then only the first 2 or 3 classes in your major are the same.

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