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How are my chances affected?

Discussion in 'What Are My Chances?' started by toby13, Mar 13, 2012.

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  1. toby13

    toby13

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    Hi there,

    My post doesn't really have much to do with scores and my chances, although I've included the scores just for your reference.

    MCAT: 31R
    cGPA: 3.54


    I am going to be a non-traditional applicant this upcoming cycle (2012-2013) in the sense that I graduated May 2011, leaving me with 2 years gap before starting medical school (hopefully). In those 2 years I continued doing volunteer work in palliative medicine/hospice work and have experienced working in two different immunology/leukemia labs. The main predicament I am in right now is that I am starting to get very interested in pursuing clinical research instead of basic science bench research. I've only been at my new lab for 5 months (the previous lab I was in for 6 months, but the lab relocated so I decided to find a new position instead of move across the state), so I am a little worried that application committees will question my decision to leave my newer job.

    My honest reasons for leaving are as follows:
    I want to pursue clinical research because I haven't been fully exposed to it yet. It will allow me to get more exposure to patients, doctors, and nurses, and I will learn new things that I am curious about.
    There have been some instability issues with my current lab in terms of organization and general lab issues that my role has been changing from mainly research-oriented to more administrative oriented. Basically, the job has become less of a stressful learning experience and more just a stressful and unrewarding experience.

    So, given my description, do you guys have any suggestions or opinions about my situation? Do you think admissions committees will look at my application and see my 5-month lab position as a red flag because of the short time I wanted to spend there? Or do you think my reasoning for leaving is substantial enough for adcoms to be okay with?

    I plan on getting a letter of rec still from my current PI, but I don't absolutely require it since I have 6 other people already writing very strong letters for me. For the majority of schools, will I need him to write me a letter?

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  2. 235788

    235788 God Complex

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    I think your two obvious application blemishes are the sGPA and the cali resident. Unfortunately you will have to pray for an OOS acceptance (but not absolute, there can be a chance).

    The 5-months of research wont be a killer. You just need to explain it if it comes up during an interview.

    Unfortunately, you have the possibility to getting screened due to your science GPA. So if I were you I'd apply to 30 schools (at least).

    If you don't get in, would you consider a SMP? You seem like a great candidate for that.
  3. toby13

    toby13

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    Thanks for the response. I'm applying to 30 schools, and 75% of them are mid to low tier schools, mainly OOS schools as well. My low sGPA is actually due to 3 poor grades I received throughout 3 consecutive semesters because of a recurring ankle ligament injury that stopped me from being able to attend class regularly. I was able to retake one of the 3 classes and get an A in it when I retook it senior year. I definitely would consider a SMP if I didn't get in, but I also might consider a PhD program (I am thinking of applying to some this upcoming cycle as well just in case I don't get into any MD programs).
  4. JohnnyRomanes

    JohnnyRomanes wussup doge

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    Cali residents have it hard. 3.3 sGPA needs to be improved. Apply DO to if you like their philosophy.
  5. 235788

    235788 God Complex

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    Just remember a Ph.D is 4-6 years.

    If you want to become a Dr. I'd highly recommend a SMP over a Ph.D program. I know a handful a Cali residents in the SMP at my institution who had similar/lower stats as you. Its always an option - but expensive for OOS. Your MCAT will expire after 3 years also. Just some things to think about.
  6. toby13

    toby13

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    Could you give me some pros/cons about a SMP? Is it any masters of my choosing or is it specific for entry into med schools after? I'm new to the student doctor terminology and actually haven't heard much about SMPs. Any advice/help would be appreciated.
  7. 235788

    235788 God Complex

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    Not a problem, I'm actually a current SMP student so i'll tell you from my experience.

    SMP = Special masters program, its basically a gap year program that is often used to funnel students into a particular med school. An easy way to think of it is like this: The med school is giving you an opportunity to try-out for the medical school, they let you take some classes with the medical school with the current M1's, If you do well you make the team (accepted to that med school).

    The pro's (IMO)
    - You're past GPA is no longer a big deal. You have a clean slate.
    - You get to conduct clinical research and get to know the teaching staff at the particular school. Can be used for residency App.
    - Some will give you the opportunity to not retake the courses you took through the SMP (1st year is much easier and you can spend your free time doing research/tutoring/mission trip whatever you want)
    - All of my interviewers really enjoyed learning about it and liked to hear about it.
    - My SMP accepts basically the top 70% of its students. Others have different criteria for selection.

    The Cons
    - If you are a poor student and cant handle the workload it will hurt you badly.
    - They are expensive for OOS students. (Nearly the same cost as OOS med school tuition)
    - If you don't get in anywhere its a useless degree.

    Its different for each SMP. But I've been very happy with mine. I felt like it was a much better and productive way to spend a year than work as a lab tech or something.

    A lot of people say only people with poor stats attend SMPs, but myself and probably the top 30% of my class have 3.7's and higher and solid MCATs. The bottom 30% is probably pretty low though.

    I did a SMP because I had little debt from UG, got instate tuition, and really wanted to stay in an academic setting that would greatly increase my odds of getting in.

    I think for you, the greatest con would be the cost.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  8. toby13

    toby13

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    I definitely want to look into SMPs more. Do you have a few in mind that you think would be a good fit for me? Also, is there a way to start this coming fall or would I have to wait until 2013?
  9. toby13

    toby13

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    What about taking 2 upper level science courses during this summer while I apply this cycle?

    I had a trend in my sGPA throughout college...very high 1st year. small decrease 2nd year. huge decrease 3rd year (due to ligament tears in my ankle). high 4th year. My thoughts are that if I take a few classes from now through the application cycle and submit my good grades, they will see that the decrease in my GPA during my 3rd year of UG was due to an injury.

    any thoughts on that instead of doing SMP? one of the main reasons I would prefer not to do an SMP is because I want to start medical school next year and not have to wait another year or two extra.
  10. TheWeeIceMan

    TheWeeIceMan And like that... *poof*... he's gone.

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    I think it depends on a couple factors. 1. When would these classes end? For most people applying early is crucial to success. If you are waiting on summer grades, your app will be delayed because your summer class grades need to be verified with the rest of your transcripts. 2. How much will your sGPA move with the two classes (assuming A's)? I graduated with a sGPA a little lower than yours and decided on taking some classes because I knew that with every A, my gpa would move significantly. Though, to be fair, even if your sGPA won't move much, establishing an upward trend can't hurt.

    I'm by no means an expert here, but I'm in a similar situation and these are some of the things I've considered.
  11. toby13

    toby13

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    The classes begin early June and end early August. I planned on submitting my primary by June 10, but I really wasn't sure if I would be able to just give schools updates once I receive my final grades for the summer courses. From what you're mentioning, it seems that no school will look at my app until all grades are in, including those which are currently being taken. Is that true?

    The only reason I am considering taking these courses is to show upward trend. It really won't improve overall sGPA because that was lowered substantially after 3rd year of UG. Looking at individual sGPA by year, it's obvious there was a blip at the end of my 2nd year and all of my 3rd year (all due to a recurring injury). My senior year shows a huge increase in sGPA, but I wanted to support that increase further by taking additional classes.
  12. toby13

    toby13

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    I guess the other question I have is if schools will hold my application until my grades are in, what about taking online courses? I can take them at my own pace and can go at a pace that will allow me to finish in time. I understand online courses can't be used for prereqs, but what about for upper div sciences courses that are mainly to show upward trend?
  13. TheWeeIceMan

    TheWeeIceMan And like that... *poof*... he's gone.

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    Well, I'm also applying this cycle, so take this advice with a grain of salt. I believe that if you want the grades included in your overall sgpa, you must wait for them to be verified with the rest of your grades. However, you could still apply before those grades come out, and once you get them, you could notify schools via update letters. This way you could still apply at the earliest date.
  14. toby13

    toby13

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    I've got a question about my school list. Again, here are my stats:
    MCAT: 31R
    cGPA: 3.52
    Here's my list:

    .1. ..Albany Medical College .
    .2. ..Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    .
    .3. ..Boston University School of Medicine
    .
    .4. ..Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University
    .
    .5. ..Cooper Medical School of Rowan University
    .
    .6. ..Drexel University College of Medicine
    .
    .7. ..George Washington University School of Medicine
    .
    .8. ..Georgetown University School of Medicine
    .
    .9. ..Hofstra North Shore
    .
    .10. ..Jefferson Medical College
    .
    .11. ..Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
    .
    .12. ..Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
    .
    .13. ..Mount Sinai School of Medicine
    .
    .14. ..New York Medical College
    .
    .15. ..NYU School of Medicine
    .
    16. Rush Medical College
    .17. ..SUNY Downstate
    .
    .18. ..SUNY Upsate
    .
    .19. ..Temple University School of Medicine
    .
    .20. ..The Commonwealth College
    .
    .21. ..The School of Medicine at Stony Brook
    .
    .22. ..Tufts University School of Medicine
    .
    .23. ..UC Davis
    .
    .24. ..UC Irvine
    .
    .25. ..UCSF
    .
    .26. ..University of Colorado
    .
    .27. ..University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – NJ Medical School
    .
    .28. ..University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
    .
    .29. ..University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
    .
    .30. ..Virginia Commonwealth
    .
    .31. ..Virginia Tech School of Medicine
    .

    Does it look reasonable and broad enough? I have saved enough money over my year off to pay for all these apps, so money isn't an issue. I just need advice on what schools to get rid of and maybe some to add that I haven't considered.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012

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