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5th year Undergrad vs. Masters Program

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APudi

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Hey everyone,

To get it out of the way, here are my current stats
cGPA: 3.30 sGPA:3.07 MCAT: 31

I've done a lot of searching on this topic on my own, but I feel that my case is specific enough to warrant its own post. I am currently a 4th year Psychology major and was (originally) planning on graduating this year. I wish to go to MD school, specifically one of my state schools. I was originally planning on attending an SMP organized by said state school to shore up my low GPA, as this is usually what SDN (and others) prescribe low GPA applicants to go for. However, a few days ago during my contact with the SMP director, they told me that they were removing the medical school courses from the program, and exchanging them for graduate courses. I asked if this would change the competitiveness of the program's graduates, and they of course said no.

I was obviously freaked out by this, so I started looking at other options. Upon further review of my grades/credits, I noticed that since I have solely taken the premed pre-reqs in terms of science courses, I can potentially increase my sGPA up to a 3.5 (I re-calculated this multiple times), if I were to take an intensive fifth year, including this summer, and the next summer. This would allow me to finish with a Biology B.S., and a Minor in Medical Sciences.

Now, I know that you're probably thinking that there is unlikely for me to fare well in science courses if I've already done poorly. But my low sGPA/cGPA is almost solely due to me failing two science courses my freshmen year because of a breakdown due to outside issues. Since then, my sGPA has hovered at around a 3.6/3.7. I am also planning on re-taking the MCAT, and have been studying quite hard for it.

This leads me to my question: fifth year of undergrad, or a master's program? A fifth year of undergrad would leave me with a 3.45-3.5 cGPA/sGPA. But said master's program would give me more relevant experience, and probably add to my LoR's if I were to get them from medical school professors.
 

P0ke

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Hey everyone,

To get it out of the way, here are my current stats
cGPA: 3.30 sGPA:3.07 MCAT: 31

I've done a lot of searching on this topic on my own, but I feel that my case is specific enough to warrant its own post. I am currently a 4th year Psychology major and was (originally) planning on graduating this year. I wish to go to MD school, specifically one of my state schools. I was originally planning on attending an SMP organized by said state school to shore up my low GPA, as this is usually what SDN (and others) prescribe low GPA applicants to go for. However, a few days ago during my contact with the SMP director, they told me that they were removing the medical school courses from the program, and exchanging them for graduate courses. I asked if this would change the competitiveness of the program's graduates, and they of course said no.

I was obviously freaked out by this, so I started looking at other options. Upon further review of my grades/credits, I noticed that since I have solely taken the premed pre-reqs in terms of science courses, I can potentially increase my sGPA up to a 3.5 (I re-calculated this multiple times), if I were to take an intensive fifth year, including this summer, and the next summer. This would allow me to finish with a Biology B.S., and a Minor in Medical Sciences.

Now, I know that you're probably thinking that there is unlikely for me to fare well in science courses if I've already done poorly. But my low sGPA/cGPA is almost solely due to me failing two science courses my freshmen year because of a breakdown due to outside issues. Since then, my sGPA has hovered at around a 3.6/3.7. I am also planning on re-taking the MCAT, and have been studying quite hard for it.

This leads me to my question: fifth year of undergrad, or a master's program? A fifth year of undergrad would leave me with a 3.45-3.5 cGPA/sGPA. But said master's program would give me more relevant experience, and probably add to my LoR's if I were to get them from medical school professors.
5th year of undergrad. An SMP is for people who already have an unsalvageable science GPA (have a ton of credits already). They are also much harder and higher risk. Doing well in undergrad courses is infinitely easier than doing well in an SMP.
 

mellie0

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I'd also say an extra year of undergrad. You already know the institution, and it's more likely you'll do well there because you already know the environment and you don't need to get used to a new place. You can also strengthen the relationships you have with previous mentors who could serve for LOR's.
 

Cookiess

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I would do a 5th year of undergrad. If you do well during your 5th year, you'll finish with a strong upward trend in your overall and science GPA. A 3.5 science GPA with an upward trend can help compensate for your rough freshman year. SMPs are generally expensive (will probably be more expensive than undergraduate tuition) and tougher (since graduate or medical school level classes will be tougher than undergrad level classes).
 

gonnif

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Getting the BS in Bio and minor in HS is irrelevant; it is the GPA that matters. The second summer courses will be too late likely to included in the AMCAS GPA so take that into account. Even so, doing the 5th year is fine. Personally I would do it post graduation as a postbacc and continue it thru your glide year along with MCAT prep for a possible reapplication as a you are a weaker candidate. Keep up the improving work until you get the letter of acceptance in your hand
 
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GrapesofRath

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I agree with what's been said here. I'll just add while I agree with most of what @gonnif said I personally wouldnt do PB work during the glide year. If with your grade trend and a 3.5ish overall you still cant get in, more PB work is pretty unlikely to make any real difference. If that scenario were to arise an SMP would likely be the move to make in that case. More PB likely isnt worth the money itll cost in that scenario. Now if you choose to want to wait another year to apply to do more PB work before applying, that's separate.

Couple quick things I'll add
a) Yes do calculate your GPA under the assumption those later summer courses wont make it in time.
b) it's a good idea to check if there is any difference in tuition as being a post-bacc at your school vs a 5th year(at some schools there is).
c) Unless the MCAT is expiring Ill also add Im kind of "meh" on the idea of a retaking here. You could easily argue the retake has a better chance of hurting than helping and the 31 isnt the issue here.
d) Also worth asking what's your state of residence: 3.5/31 is alot more competitive in MI, LA, KY etc than in say CA or MD. For the latter, the likelihood an SMP might have to be done on top of PB work is higher.
 

gonnif

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The only reason I like PB over 5th year is the appearance on the GPA grid and more "eye-catching". I meant it as informal PB. Also, with the weakness in the applicant, he/she may need more than 1 year and could be reapplicant. my 1.5 cents
 

raiderette

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During this 5th year, you could also retake courses you failed in order to raise your GPA for DO schools. I am assuming that you will apply to both with your GPA and MCAT.
 

APudi

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I agree with what's been said here. I'll just add while I agree with most of what @gonnif said I personally wouldnt do PB work during the glide year. If with your grade trend and a 3.5ish overall you still cant get in, more PB work is pretty unlikely to make any real difference. If that scenario were to arise an SMP would likely be the move to make in that case. More PB likely isnt worth the money itll cost in that scenario. Now if you choose to want to wait another year to apply to do more PB work before applying, that's separate.

Couple quick things I'll add
a) Yes do calculate your GPA under the assumption those later summer courses wont make it in time.
b) it's a good idea to check if there is any difference in tuition as being a post-bacc at your school vs a 5th year(at some schools there is).
c) Unless the MCAT is expiring Ill also add Im kind of "meh" on the idea of a retaking here. You could easily argue the retake has a better chance of hurting than helping and the 31 isnt the issue here.
d) Also worth asking what's your state of residence: 3.5/31 is alot more competitive in MI, LA, KY etc than in say CA or MD. For the latter, the likelihood an SMP might have to be done on top of PB work is higher.


It's MidWest, so not as competitive as NY or CA. My current plan is to do the extra year of undergrad, then do an SMP/Master's during the application process.

During this 5th year, you could also retake courses you failed in order to raise your GPA for DO schools. I am assuming that you will apply to both with your GPA and MCAT.

My GPA currently for DO school is a 3.55 cGPA and around the same for sGPA, which makes me less worried about that. I also would only consider DO school if my grades were to drop any amount during the 5th year of undergrad, as I want to go MD for the purposes of having more options available for residency application.
 

APudi

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And the purpose of that is?

I'd like to learn the material before I go off to medical school, and I (my parents) have the funds to do so. If I were too worried about bombing during the SMP, I would probably just opt for a Masters program in Physiology thats sponsored by one of the medical schools in my state. I would also consider doing research/scribe work, if I feel like my EC's are lacking at that point.
 
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