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A few questions

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Miliwen, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. Miliwen

    Miliwen Junior Member
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    Hello all!

    I just arrived at this site, so firstly, hi all! I have a few questions. But first, let me give you a bit of information on my life. Currently, I'm 23 (12/12 was my birthday :)), I have a new born daughter, and the woman of my dreams. We are living in my parents 2nd floor apartment in CT. Right now, I do not have a degree, which I kick myself in the butt everyday. But I want to goto med school. I know the first step is to get a BA/BS in a field. But this is where my questions come in.


    1.) When I goto school, would it be best to try to goto the school i want to get my med degree from? Or is it ok if I goto a local state college (CCSU) and then pray I get accepted to UConn's med school?

    2.) I plan to goto a local community college first. I have some credits at them. But this leads me upto another question. I did not do very well on my SATs. They were very scary to me 7-8 years ago. If my GPA is high enough, it should shine through my SATs for a college, correct?

    3.) Would it be wise to attempt to get a job in the health field now? Working at the local hospital or a local pharmacy? Will this help with me getting into med school?

    4.) Volunteering, I should start this now, huh? A good, solid 4-5 years at a hospital will do wonders for my application, correct?

    5.) On the topic of volunteering, I have a few questions about shadowing. I have read a few threads that say some students started to shadow from doctors that they worked with while volunteering. When should I start looking into this? 3rd or 4th year? Sooner? Later?

    I think thats all i can think of right now. This has a life long dream, I am just realizing now, that this is the time of my life I need todo it. If anyone could answer some/all of these questions, it would be greatly apreciated. I have a long jouney ahead of me, with family that is supporting me, I hope I can do it. Thank you again!

    Scott
     
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  3. Miliwen

    Miliwen Junior Member
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    Sorry, but I am hoping a bump will attract atleast one reply. Thanks :)

    -Scott
     
  4. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
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    First of all, sorry this isn't getting too many replies. Many nontrads are with families this time of year, so there are a few less of us around. Just wait - be patient - the replies will come. We're just not as busy as the pre-allo forum.

    1) I have no idea. I think lots of people come from undergrads different from their med school. If you do well in your classes, where you take them shouldn't matter much (as long as you also nail the MCAT).

    2) Be careful of community college classes. Some med schools will not accept prereqs from a community college. However, as a non-trad, you're in a different boat than normal aged students. Some schools will let you in on a 'probationary' status - that is if you do well your first semester or two you're released. Some schools won't even look at SATs from a non-trad and just admit them. Some will require you to do some community college work first. Check your local college and ask them. But remember, you're not that far from normal aged students and they may hold you to the same standard.

    3) It seems volunteer experience is what most schools want. Some also want research. So whether you choose to work or not can be good or bad. I would skip it if you don't have to work and concentrate on your volunteer work, research, and doing well in your classes.

    4) A good solid amount of time volunteering will do wonders for your application it seems.

    5) I would start shadowing sooner rather than later. You don't want it to look like you're only doing it for the application, but rather because you are truly interested.

    Now this is all just my opinion. I am pretty far away from where you're at - I was 35 when I went back to school. My college would have just admitted me anyway, but my SAT scores helped a bunch (they were pretty good from 20 years ago). I didn't work while in school, but I was taking 21 credit semesters. I had 15 years of volunteer work (all at one place as a paramedic) and 15 years of paid paramedic work. I also had 5 years of volunteer firefighter experience. I didn't do any shadowing. I had TONS of medical experience.

    Look at some of the other threads for some really good advice - there's a recent one from a paramedic looking to go to med school that has some good advice in it. Good luck, work hard.
     
  5. ihopetobeado

    ihopetobeado Junior Member
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    Okay, Scott, since you asked, here’s my advice:

    From what you’ve written, it looks like money might be an issue with your young family. I recommend starting-out with community college. It’ll save you money, it usually offers more variety of class times for you to schedule prerequisites and take on a job, and, as with most community colleges, it’ll offer you a chance to learn a health care skill while you take your premedical prerequisites. Obviously, becoming a pharmacy technician or something of that sort might add an additional year or two to your community college years, but I think the assurance knowing if your family ever needs you to take on a full-time job that you can and are able to earn a sustainable wage will more than compensate you for the additional few years. In addition, having a health care job will help to develop a network with physicians, so you won’t have to shadow a physician. They’ll already know you, and you will know them. Most importantly, though, it’ll give you a chance to really see what being a physician is really like. You might find-out that being a physician really isn’t what you thought is was going to be. You might find nursing, pharmacy, or dentistry a better fit for what you want and for what your family wants. That's okay. The goal is to find-out if you and medicine will be a good match.

    Regardless, do well in school. Don’t worry about the SATs. SATs are suppose to predict college performance. After a few years at the community college, the 4-year college you plan on transferring to shouldn’t need to see your SAT scores because you have already have two years of college to show. Major in something that you will enjoy and do well in. Some may knock community college, but as long as you do well in all your classes--including some upper-division science classes--and do well on your MCAT, there really shouldn't be a question of your ability to handle the rigor of medical school. You don’t have to be a biology major. I don’t think anyone will fault you for majoring in business administration as a back-up career if you don’t get into medical school. And yes, there has been an unwritten, antecdotal rule that because medical school admission committees are familiar with their undergraduate college, medical school admission committees will tend to favor their own undergraduate students. I really wouldn't worry about that. Just pick a 4-year school that you'll do well at.

    If you have time after all this to volunteer, then go ahead and do so. Quality and commitment count more than quantity, and it really doesn’t have to be medically-related. Since you mentioned UConn, you might want to consider getting involved with research since a good chunk of many allopathic medical school budgets are built upon the research grants they receive. Of course, there’s the MCAT which has its own forum. Good luck! :D
     
  6. .edu-MD

    .edu-MD Senior Member
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    UConn has a fairly small class size so you'll have to work really hard to get there. While you can have a preference, it's better to start thinking about the possibility that you will have to move once it comes time for med school. I don't think going there for undergrad will give you any advantage in getting into their med school. Aside from some med schools not accepting pre-reqs taken at community colleges, I'm getting the impression that some will also look at the competitiveness of the school at which you took your classes (I was actually told this by an interviewer a few weeks ago in not so many words). Is there a large tuition difference between CCSU and UConn (they're both state schools after all)? If not, I would recommend UConn for undergrad for that added advantage.

    GPA and MCAT are your most important because those are automatic cutoffs at most schools that can keep your app from getting looked at. Then add volunteer work, medical exposure, teaching, research (if you're interested, every little bit helps). But focus on quality over quantity: you want to show dedication and passion.

    Good luck!
     
  7. blee

    blee Senior Member
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    Welcome to SDN. :) Let's see...

    Some schools may work a little differently, but most do not significantly prefer students from their own institutions. A word of warning, though: pinning all of your med school hopes on exactly one school is not a smart idea. Even if you are a strong candidate, there's just no guarantee that you will be accepted by any one school.

    Can't help you there. But I would think that a great transcript from a CC would only help you get into a four-year university.

    Concentrate on your studies. If you have time for work in the health field, by all means do it....but ONLY if you really WANT to do the job. There's just no reason to do something in order to polish a resume; if you're not passionate about what you do, it will come through in your personal statement and interviews.

    Again, do it if you really want to. It can definitely help. I hadn't volunteered for over ten years and still got multiple acceptances. I did, however, shadow a physician for a while.

    Whenever you honestly have time, and whenever you see the opportunity. Treat it like volunteering.

    Best of luck. Definitely take the time to determine whether you really want to go to med school while you're at it. College is a great experience, and getting an undergrad degree will open a lot of doors for you in any field.
     
  8. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    I agree with most of the posts here...I also started undergrad "later" in life which is a blessing trust me! there are no bad grades to make up for. Now you can start from the beginning and do extremely well and not have to worry about a crappy 1.8 GPA from when you were 19. So, my advice is IF possible AND you can afford it start at a four year degree granting institution. Not saying that CC's are NOT good but there is some bias out there just fyi. Now, if you cannot afford the four year college then go to the CC for a year and THEN transfer to the four year institution. Major in something that YOU will enjoy and the grades will come. Do not worry about getting a healthcare related degree UNLESS that is what you want because adcoms at medical schools focus on excellent grades regardless of where they come from. Do not work UNLESS you must! until you see how you are doing in classes. The expectations of a non-trad going to class is going to be A's and some B's they expect more maturity and hence the ball is in your court. This is NOT the time to get sidetracked with too many things and then your grades suffer. If you see that you have plenty of time and are aceing all your classes and you need cash then sure get yourself a part-time job to support your family. AGain, I am assuming that working is an "option" for you. Volunteering can start sometime soon but you do not have to kill yourself meaning 4 hrs/week OR volunteering during your breaks will give you enough exposure in the clinical setting to know what you are getting into. Involve yourself if you can with some leadership activities this is HUGE for adcoms they do like to see this type of stuff, but again NOT at the expense of GPA. You do NOT have to work in the healthcare setting to get into medical school MOST medical students did not work in such capacities although some did. Again, do this if you want to but not thinking it will give you an edge. Good luck!
     
  9. Miliwen

    Miliwen Junior Member
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    Firstly, thanks for posting replys.

    As far as communit colleges go, CT has a very good relationship with state/community colleges. Most sciences, maths and english classes transfer from a CC to CSU or UConn. The difference in tuition is about 2-3 times larger. I believe UConn would be 15k/year for me but also, its about 45 minutes away. But CCSU is about a 10 minute walk. I think I am going to stick with CC for about a year (To get back into the swing of things) and then transfer to CCSU. But I believe I will talk to UConn first before I decide todo this.

    As far as money goes, it will be tight. I think we all knew this when we started down this path. And yet, living above my parents truely helps. Rent is dirt cheap, i have family close by to watch my daughter(Who didn't love staying at grandma and grandpa's one day a week? :)), and both my mother and father said they will support me 100% in this journey.

    As for a med-school, I am pinning all my hope on one school right now. But you are all correct, I need to start looking else where. When I do apply, I am going to apply to multiple schools. But I would prefer UConn, but reality is starting to hit me and I am looking into other schools.

    Volunteer work is something I want todo, the same with shadowing. I figure 2 hours every saturday would be a good amount of volunteer work for now. And speaking of the medical field, I do not plan to get a job in medical, just yet. I am a state reg. pharm tech, but the pay just isn't good enough for me to warrant leaving my PC tech job.

    Again, I thank you all for your replies.

    -Scott
     
  10. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    Hi Scott, sounds like you have a solid plan. I would also go the CC route it is much closer and cheaper! good luck with your endeavors and just start thinking (this is how I did my selection) about first what other states/cities "would" be an option to move to? then from there select some medical schools to look into and see if you would be a good fit (based on the medical school goals and your personal goals for the future). This is a good way to start thinking about possible places to apply to. Also, if you are really keen on your state school start making contacts now...this will serve you well for they will be able to put a face to a name. Good luck!
     
  11. UCLA2000

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    Scott, welcome to the site. Congrats on having found your soulmate and having a newborn. (damn I'm jealous).

    Here is what I'd advise you to do:

    1. Go to the absolute best college that you can get into. Med schools weigh grades from different schools differently. I would preferentially go to a school that has its own med school because it will allow you to make contacts and volunteer in the hospital etc. There are opportunities at a college associated with a hospital that you couldn't even dream of at a CC. Be picky about who you shadow/do research with. Look them up on the internet, ask med students who they are etc. You want to be with the most influential and high profile people that you can find. Don't settle for Bob MD. Ideally you want someone on the adcom.

    2. I never took the SAT's. I transferred from a CC to UCLA on the basis of my grades alone. IF you can get into a good 4 year now then do it. Some med schools look down upon CC classes, and you can run into all sorts of problems with matriculation agreements etc. at the 4 years. I ended up having to retake almost 2 years worth of CC classes because UCLA would not accept them (they unilaterally breached the matriculation agreements). It was devastating.

    3. yes, but only if the job does not eat up tons of hours that you could otherwise spend studying. You'd look just as good if you volunteered in a hospital a few hours/week.

    4. You don't need 4-5 years in a hospital. A solid 1 year will suffice. ADCOM's just want to know that you have an idea of what you're getting into. If I were you I'd look into getting trained as an EMT. At least then you will have some practical experience.

    5. Look into shadowing now. Know what you're going into. The reality of medicine is far from the dream. If you don't like it, get out.

    If you have any detailed questions or want more info, feel free to PM me.
     
  12. .edu-MD

    .edu-MD Senior Member
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    Scott, I agree with what UCLA2000 says above. Unfortunately in your case, as you may well know, UConn's med school is in Farmington while the undergrad is in Storrs. I don't know how much of a relationship the two actually have in terms of faculty/research.

    If you can, I'd suggest getting an EMT cert. Much of CT, especially in the back woods, is volunteer EMS (mostly fire based) so you can get some medical and volunteer experience in one shot. If you're with them long enough and enjoy it enough, you can also add on a leadership experience too! 3 for 1 AND it shows dedication, assuming you find you do enjoy it.
     
  13. Miliwen

    Miliwen Junior Member
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    Someting hit me today. I forgot UConn has a satelite campus about 20 minuts away from me. I could get my 2 years done there and then finish the last 2 at their main campus in Storrs. And also, UCHC is right down the street. About 10 minutes away. So I believe going to UConn for my BS will suite me better in the long run. Might cost more, but thats fine, i have the rest of my life to pay it off.

    -Scott

    edit: Amazing. I spelled Storrs are stores. Thats just amazing.
     

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