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Nontraditional Starting the Process

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by PSUlion, Apr 22, 2012.

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  1. PSUlion

    PSUlion

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    Hi everyone. I have been lurking on these forums for a while and finally decided to register and post up. Not sure if this would be better suited here or another part of the forum. If it is out of place please feel free to move it mods.

    I guess a little background is in order. I graduated from Penn State University in 2011 with a bachelors in Life Sciences and a minor in Psychology. I chose this section because I figured taking a few years off would put me in the nontraditional grouping. My overall GPA was 3.12 due to a rather abysmal freshman year, but steadily improved to the point where I was deans list for the last 5 semesters of undergrad.

    During this time I did many extra curricular's such as shadowing at the cancer drug development center at Hershey Medical Center, running with a volunteer fire co, working with the THON charity, participating in my fraternity, and about 3 years working in the biotechnology lab for one of my program advisers. Most of my work at the lab was focused on biofuels and plant genetics. I am currently looking for another volunteer/internship/healthcare job until I apply to medical school. I also worked all throughout college to support myself. It was not in a medical/science field, but I wasn't sure if that mattered.

    Since graduation I had to take some time away from post grad to help my family since my step father developed cancer. He had to have a colonostomy, removing much of his digestive tract, and I have been helping my mother take care of him and the house during the past year. I am looking to take the next year to start the studying/testing/application process for the 2013 school year.

    I have been looking at the study programs that have been listed on this site and am waiting on my tax return to order the materials. I was wondering if anyone could help me out on what date I should be shooting for to take my first (and hopefully only) test to be in good shape for the 2013 year. I am sure I have more questions, but I can not think of them a the moment since it is rather late so any additional advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2012
  2. dmf2682

    dmf2682

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    I'm sorry about your stepfather.

    I would say that you probably want to work on the gpa before you worry about the mcat too much. It's probably your biggest concern right now. MD is probably out of range without major rework, ie second bachelors degree. You're probably OK for do with retakes but focus on those before your exam.
  3. Wolverines83

    Wolverines83 ASA Member

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    So the GPA is low. No way around that. Does it include all the med school pre-reqs? If it does and you absolutely murdered them, you might be able to convince adcoms as long as you crush the MCAT and follow up with a strong interview. If you already took the prereqs and got B/C/whatever in most of them, then start looking DO and retake the courses to utilize the grade replacement. Unless your heart is set on MD with absolutely no consideration for DO, I wouldn't spend another 3 years of full time work getting that GPA up when a solid year can boost it significantly with grade replacement. After some GPA work you can worry about the MCAT.

    It really helps on MCAT studying if you have a good, solid, A student grasp on those subjects beforehand...I can't imagine how hard it would be to actually learn them all during the review process. You don't want to mess that MCAT up because your GPA (which, in the name of transparency, is about what mine was) is already a flag. Don't give them any other flags.

    I haven't really looked at your EC activities honestly because outside of extenuating circumstances (ie, a hardship story so good hollywood would make a movie) it's really the numbers that will get you to the interview.

    So again, taken all prereqs? Were those grades straight A's? If so, go ahead w/ the MCAT. If not...GPA repair, then MCAT.
  4. DrHoffy

    DrHoffy Member

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    Hi sorry to hear about your family issues.

    I would sit down and actually calculate out your gpa (science versus non science) for both the MD and DO app services. As an above poster stated the DO calculates on the last time you took a course. the MD will average (or at least that is how they did it when I went through this). This will give you a better idea of what your "stats" are.

    I would also contact your school advisor to review your application and give some pointers. Some of them are great and will really help you and others are not as in loop -but it is a good place to start. You can also try www.oldpremeds.com and come to the conference in June. That is actually where I started many years ago!

    It sounds like the first year of college is what is bringing you down-admission people will see the trend- but the question is were the bad grades in the core courses. How can you fix those?

    I would also consider taking a course for the MCAT. For me, the course provided the test taking stratgy and the practice of sitting for an extended test as much as the content.

    Anyways, I hope that helps. Just remember this is a marathon not a sprint...and if this is what you want to do you can do it!
  5. PSUlion

    PSUlion

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    I know my GPA is a serious downer when it comes to my applications. The bad grades were not in core courses. It was freshman year and I wasn't really ready for the responsibility of college. All of my science classes were A's or B's. There might have been a C in there somewhere. I dont have my transcript on hand at the moment to give my science grades because PSU charges you every time you request it :mad:

    I do believe that I have a good grasp on all of the topics that the MCATs cover. Orgo was probably my weakest subject, but I can remedy that by hitting the books again. I saw the chart on here and realized that even if I get a perfect score being a white male my chances are around ~35% max. I really have two options for the next year as far as GPA building goes. I could finish my psychology degree (about halfway done with the minor I have) or I could do the masters program for Biotech that my adviser is going to (hopefully) have next year. Which would be better as far as the application process?

    Marciah- I have seen classes to study for the MCATs, but couldn't really tell which one was the better choice. Which one did you take? Also, thanks for the link. I'm only 25, but I figure taking time off would put me in the nontraditional section.

    WolverineED- I saw that you mentioned grade replacement. Is there any way to do this outside of your college, or is it up to your college if they replace a grade when you retake the course? Unfortunately PSU never changes a grade when you retake it. Example: Took trig my freshman year as a brush up before I took calc. I had taken calc in HS so I knew a bunch of shortcuts. I used the shortcuts in the class and the professor told me I was wrong even though I had the exact same answer as him. I ended up with a D in that course. His failing rate for intro classes was a ~65% over all his classes and he was terminated at the end of semester. I retook the class the next semester and got just shy of a 100%. PSU would not change the grade.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  6. PSUlion

    PSUlion

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    Well after contacting some people at the university it turns our my advisers graduate program will not be available until next year. The deadline for the med center has passed as well. That one was February 1st which to me seems very early for the Fall courses. It looks like they only start graduate programs during the fall semester as well.

    The good news is after reviewing the requirements for the Psychology degree I am much closer that I previously thought. If I continue with that I can knock it out in well under a year. Becoming a full time student would allow me to take some science classes to bolster both my science and overall GPA as well. During this time I could also start reviewing for the MCATs. If I were to want to apply 'on time' for the 2013 year, when should I look to have the test taken by?
  7. cabinbuilder

    cabinbuilder

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    The grade repalcement they are talking about is on the medical school application process and how they calculate your GPA.

    It doesn't have to do with your school at all.

    On the MD application, class retakes for a low grade are averaged into the total GPA

    On the DO application, class retake grades are replaced in the GPA calculation
  8. Wolverines83

    Wolverines83 ASA Member

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    The DO application service will only consider your most recent grade as long as the courses are damn near identical (ie, retaking Chem I...taking biochem wouldn't replace chem I). Your school has no say in the matter either way, it's the application that does it.

    And actually, you could take the classes at a school other than PSU (as a Michigan fan I highly recommend this :D)and still take advantage of grade replacement BUT be sure they're the same course. Get a look at the syllabus and make damn sure it's the same course.

    Example:
    C in Chem I = 2.0
    Retake it and get an A = 4.0
    MD App = 3.0 Chem I grade (the two are averaged)
    DO App = 4.0 Chem I grade (your A completely replaces your C)

    As you can see, it'll increase your GPA in less time and with less money, a big advantage. Give it a look.
  9. gonnif

    gonnif Director, OldPreMeds.org Lifetime Donor

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    Rule 10: Beware of FUD -- Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt!

    The only chances that are accurate are as follows

    If you dont apply, your chances are nada, zilch, zero, nothing

    If you do retake some classes, work for a good MCAT, write a great application, have a smashing interview, you might (I said might) get in.

    Getting stressed by what has passed, whether fair or not, and what may happen in the future, just detracts time, energy and motivation of focusing on what you can do!
  10. PSUlion

    PSUlion

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    Haha that's the way I live my life. I would never not try, but I would like to make sure my chances are as high as possible for when I do try. Thanks for all of the info on grade replacement. I had no Idea it worked like that. I only need about 20 credits for my Psych major, so that leaves a lot of time for retakes/extra science classes to make my GPA look much better.
  11. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus

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    Read up on the definition of science classes for AMCAS, I don't think psychology classes count as science for AMCAS, so be wary of that. In general, biology/chemistry/physics/math are all counted towards your science GPA.
  12. gonnif

    gonnif Director, OldPreMeds.org Lifetime Donor

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    Not in general, in very specific as from 2012 AMCAS instructions (although they seemed to have forgotten Organic Chemistry)

    Biology (BIOL)
    Anatomy
    Biology
    Biophysics
    Biotechnology
    Botany
    Cell Biology
    Ecology
    Entomology
    Genetics
    Histology
    Immunology
    Microbiology
    Molecular Biology
    Neuroscience
    Physiology

    Chemistry (CHEM)
    Biochemistry
    Chemistry
    Physical Chemistry
    Thermodynamics

    Mathematics (MATH)
    Applied
    Mathematics
    Mathematics
    Statistics

    Physics (PHYS)
    Astronomy
    Physics

    Attached Files:

  13. sstespri

    sstespri

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    This thread was very helpful seeing as I'll be entering a post-bacc program next year. I will start taking a few pre-reqs this fall while my M.S. classes are dwindling away and I'll have more time to do so. Thanks for all the good information!
  14. PSUlion

    PSUlion

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    Yes I didnt mean that Psych is the only major that I have. I received my Life Sciences degree in spring of 2011. I have all of the prerequisite classes for any med school that I have looked at. I wanted to finish my Psych degree because I am very close to it. If I am going to go back to school for a year, in addition to building my gpa/fortifying my science grades (with additional science classes) I would like to leave with my Psych minor tuned into a bachelors degree.
  15. TyrionL

    TyrionL

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    this thread is really helpful thus far.

    my question is that what if classes that i got bad grades in are not sciences classes??

    should i bother retaking them to get better grades? or would retaking only the important pre-req classes like orgo or physic is enough to show them that I am trying the best to get into medical school??

    thank you!!
    ps woohooo popped my snd cherry :love:
  16. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus

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    The biggest goal is to get your GPA to an acceptable point. If you need significant class rehab (eg below 3.0) then you might have to re-take non-pre-req classes as well or simply opt for a SMP. Some MD schools will weigh your SMP GPA as heavily or more than you uGPA. Many SMPs have guaranteed interviews with the host medical school provided you meet some minimum requirements (eg 3.6 SMP GPA, 30 MCAT).

    Retakes also depend on your goals. MD schools don't do grade replacements, but your retakes will count towards your GPA. DO schools do full grade replacements, which lets you turns C/D/Fs into As/Bs, greatly enhancing your GPA.

    Ideally, you want to be at the matriculant average (3.6ish for MD, 3.4ish for DO). Schools usually auto-screen applicants at 3.0 for MD, not sure about DO.

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