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Advice for student with several unofficial withdrawalss

FishinForPhysician

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I’d like to start off by thanking the SDN and the network of people who give proper guidance to students like myself. Long story short, I come from a lower socioeconomic background where pursuing higher education isn’t a priority for many. Starting 2012 I attended three different universities in three different cities, and though my circumstances were less fortunate than others, there’s no one else to blame but myself for making bad decisions. Due to financial reasons I dropped out of all three schools without notice and enrollment was about two years in between each school. I’m guessing I will receive unofficial withdrawals for full-time credits at those schools for every class. I have yet to contact them. However 4 years after my last enrollment I recently had a change in circumstances hence I moved to a different state and within three semesters, I have received an associate of applied science with a 3.5 GPA. I recently matriculated into a biology program at a four year university and I plan on making straight A’s. I have prior healthcare experience which I accrued during the past three semesters. Before going back to college I had my own retail store, but now I’m focusing on shadowing doctors, studying for MCAT, and pursuing research opportunities etc. After reading some forums on here, I learned that to apply to medical school we use an application called AMCAS. Will this application factor in the unofficial withdrawals from the previous colleges? If so, even if I maintain my GPA it will be brought down significantly, so I’m worried I won’t even be able to make it to the interview portion of the process due to screening. I always had the intention of finishing a pre-health track but never had guidance or financial stability to achieve it. This does not excuse me for my decisions, but should I continue to pursue my dream, or will grad schools turn me down because from what I read ADCOM does not like to hear excuses. So far I have completed most of the pre reqs required for the medical schools I want to attend. A quick rundown of my grades bio 1- C, bio 2- A, A&P 1 & 2 - B, gen chem 1 - B, statistics - A, Calculus 1- A, Physics 1-A and the rest of my degree is all A’s except a C in US history 1. Also, I don’t know if this matter but at this point in my academic career I am 27 years old. I sincerely thank you if you took the time to read my sob story and any insight is appreciated. I hope you are all safe during these times.
 

rdyotz

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Did you withdraw or just stop going to school without notice. If you withdrew, then there would not be any calcuable grades, just a W, which would be reported to schools and you would have to explain. If you just stopped going to classes, then you likely got a F in each of those classes. This would drastically lower your GPA and make things difficult (you would also have to explain).

Claiming your circumstances were less fortunate than others is making excuses, own up to your past and move forward. Everyone can argue their past is worse, it's about what you have done to improve yourself, not that you continue to blame other people / events.

Can it be overcome? Most likely. Many schools have a cutoff of a cumulative GPA of 3.0,which if your classes were graded as an F would take time to correct. Contact old schools and get transcripts to see what needs to be done (sometimes you can petition old semesters to be withdraws instead of all F, but it is school specific and case by case). Figure out issues from your past and improve and make sure you don't make those mistakes again. Dropping out 3 times will look bad. Are you going to do it in medical school when things get hard? Admissions will be asking a lot of difficult questions, so make sure you are open to speaking about the past.

Every college class you have ever taken will be included in your GPA, so make sure you have those transcripts and know where you are starting from. You need to excel in courses here on out (3.8+) to remedy part mistakes.
 
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FishinForPhysician

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Did you withdraw or just stop going to school without notice. If you withdrew, then there would not be any calcuable grades, just a W, which would be reported to schools and you would have to explain. If you just stopped going to classes, then you likely got a F in each of those classes. This would drastically lower your GPA and make things difficult (you would also have to explain).

Claiming your circumstances were less fortunate than others is making excuses, own up to your past and move forward. Everyone can argue their past is worse, it's about what you have done to improve yourself, not that you continue to blame other people / events.

Can it be overcome? Most likely. Many schools have a cutoff of a cumulative GPA of 3.0,which if your classes were graded as an F would take time to correct. Contact old schools and get transcripts to see what needs to be done (sometimes you can petition old semesters to be withdraws instead of all F, but it is school specific and case by case). Figure out issues from your past and improve and make sure you don't make those mistakes again. Dropping out 3 times will look bad. Are you going to do it in medical school when things get hard? Admissions will be asking a lot of difficult questions, so make sure you are open to speaking about the past.

Every college class you have ever taken will be included in your GPA, so make sure you have those transcripts and know where you are starting from. You need to excel in courses here on out (3.8+) to remedy part mistakes.
Unfortunately, I was not aware the grades would follow me into grad school and I do agree excuses are a waste of time and effort. I will try my best, but I’m just wondering if anyone on the forum had success with similar circumstances or am I really asking for too much. I will take the advice on contacting schools and seeing if they can amend the F to a UW or something of the sort. Thank you for the in depth response!
 
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rdyotz

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Unfortunately, I was not aware the grades would follow me into grad school and I do agree excuses are a waste of time and effort. I will try my best, but I’m just wondering if anyone on the forum had success with similar circumstances or am I really asking for too much. I will take the advice on contacting schools and seeing if they can amend the F to a UW or something of the sort. Thank you for the in depth response!

I have heard of people that have dropped out of school with multiple Fs or Ws and been successful. I have not heard of 3x dropouts. That's not to say it is impossible, but I have not seen any data of anyone trying for medical school after 3x. You could be the one data point with a 100% success, it will just take some time and lots of hard work to overcome.

If you still have access to the online student account, you could check unofficial transcripts (if available) to see if they were graded or dropped or withdrawn. Some schools automatically drop students from classes in the first few weeks if they are no-show / no work done, but not all (I have only heard about it, none of the schools I have attended did this).
 
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LizzyM

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You need to acquire the transcripts from each of those schools (you are going to need them anyway to fill out your AMCAS application). If you have three semesters of F grades you are going to need a lot of repair and outreach to your target schools with some way of getting eyeballs on your application rather than being screened out.

My other concern would be financing for medical school. I'm not asking you to answer these questions in this forum but you should know what might be on some people's minds: Did you take loans in each of those quarters? have you been paying off those loans? how much debt do you you have? Do you have a decent credit scores?
 
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candbgirl

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A suggestion, don’t just contact the schools. First get the transcripts and see what they say. If they are Ws then it’s not a horrible situation since you’ve started to turn yourself around. If they are Fs than you need to contact the registrar(?) and find out what the process is for retroactive withdrawal is and start that process. It might take awhile so start working on it now. Good luck. Oh and do let us know how this plays out.
 
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StudentDoGter

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I dropped out of my university 2 quarters in a row without notice/consultation mid-quarter and received 5 F's and a D- in total. I then had a 4 year gap until returning to the same university where I retook those classes and completed the rest of my degree (~3 yrs worth) with almost all A's. I'd say that it may be possible to recover, but you really have to perform exceptionally to compensate. How many courses did you drop out of? As for retroactively changing those potential F's to W's, it may be school dependent. I dropped out due to family/financial reasons, yet I did not qualify for that change so be prepared in case you do not either.

EDIT: you should go on your former schools' websites and get a copy of your unofficial transcript. It's usually free and you can get an idea of what your situation is before contacting the school.
 
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FishinForPhysician

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Since everyone took the time out to respond I’d like to address each reply as best as I can, thank you guys/gals.

@LizzyM yes, this past week I have reached out to the three colleges and so far one has sent me a transcript. Unfortunately, their all F’s, 5 classes of which I retook and received A’s for during my AAS. Not excited. I had actually took loans for one semester, however I paid it back, and I am in good standing with credit, financial aid, and currently with the help of some grants and scholarships offered a free ride into the biology program at my current institution. Very grateful for this fourth chance, and will definitely use it to my advantage.

@candbgirl idc how long it will be, but I will remember to come back after I graduate and apply to let you guys know what happened. After I receive all my transcripts I will reach out to the schools and see if they can work with me.

@Meowidith_Grey Although your success is inspiring and I congratulate you on it, my dilemma might be worse. I attended all three schools full time for a semester each. Thus far I will have 5 F’s for one of the institutions. I’m guessing the other two will be around the same, so estimating around 12-15 F’s. With that being said do you think their is a fighting chance to maintain a GPA that won’t be screened out? That’s assuming I get A’s in every class going forth until I graduate.

Also, one last question. Does anyone know of a school that only takes into account credits earned for your current degree? I’ve researched and seems like AMCAS wants every single credit you ever took regardless of how long ago. Thank you AGAIN.
 

rdyotz

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Since everyone took the time out to respond I’d like to address each reply as best as I can, thank you guys/gals.

@LizzyM yes, this past week I have reached out to the three colleges and so far one has sent me a transcript. Unfortunately, their all F’s, 5 classes of which I retook and received A’s for during my AAS. Not excited. I had actually took loans for one semester, however I paid it back, and I am in good standing with credit, financial aid, and currently with the help of some grants and scholarships offered a free ride into the biology program at my current institution. Very grateful for this fourth chance, and will definitely use it to my advantage.

@candbgirl idc how long it will be, but I will remember to come back after I graduate and apply to let you guys know what happened. After I receive all my transcripts I will reach out to the schools and see if they can work with me.

@Meowidith_Grey Although your success is inspiring and I congratulate you on it, my dilemma might be worse. I attended all three schools full time for a semester each. Thus far I will have 5 F’s for one of the institutions. I’m guessing the other two will be around the same, so estimating around 12-15 F’s. With that being said do you think their is a fighting chance to maintain a GPA that won’t be screened out? That’s assuming I get A’s in every class going forth until I graduate.

Also, one last question. Does anyone know of a school that only takes into account credits earned for your current degree? I’ve researched and seems like AMCAS wants every single credit you ever took regardless of how long ago. Thank you AGAIN.

All schools (except the Caribbean schools - which are not a good option) will want all grades and retakes do not override the original grade (they both count). Schools like reinvention and upward trends. Some schools will focus on most recent grades, though I am not sure if they still auto-screen at GPA of 3.0. Texas residents have the opportunity for academic forgiveness for grades 10+ years ago, but it is only for residents and only when applying to Texas schools (more restrictions to this that I am not familiar with).

You would need 135 credits of 4.0 to overcome 15 Fs. It's definitely doable, but it won't be easy. If you can get even 1 of those semesters switched to withdraws it would help (90 credits of 4.0 to bring it up to a 3.0 total). You can also craft a school list that does not auto-screen below a 3.0. Note: I did not include your AAS grades & credits. Assuming an additional 60 credits at 3.5 GPA: You would need ~104 credits of 4.0 to move up to a cGPA of 3.0 (assuming 15 Fs) and ~60 credits if only 10 Fs. If only 5 Fs, you would need 15 credits to get a cGPA of 3.0. Also, be advised that AMCAS treats A+ as 4.0 and not as 4.3 (or 4.333) like some schools do.
 
D

deleted1005514

I had a similar situation, but there was a 13 year gap between me just walking out on school and coming back. My GPA when I started over was a 0.7, and I had one transfer credit. I didn’t retake the courses I walked out on because they weren’t offered at the school I attended the second time around. I just started from scratch and did a whole bachelors degree, graduating with a 2.99 cumulative, but a 3.5 gpa if you only looked at after I returned.

I did a masters to get some more upper level courses under my belt, finished it with a 3.7, and now I’m in DO school. I did have to explain my grades in interviews, with my pre-Med committee, to financial aid when I returned, etc, but it worked out ok in the end.
 
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FishinForPhysician

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I’m still alive and here guys and hope everyone on the forums is as well. Thanks again for the replies. I am finishing up a summer chemistry 2 course. I was wondering if I posted my grades on here of my current grades, and listed the previous college grades, would anyone take the time out to tell me if I still have a chance of making it into ANY medical school? Also, in the reality that I’m not chosen for interviews and the such, are there alternatives that I would qualify for such as PA schools or am I still shooting for the stars? My last question is I’m currently enrolled for a BS in Biology but from my experiences with other people it doesn’t seem like the best degree for financial stability. Should I change my major and just minor in biology? Or will that lessen my chances even more. Some colleagues have told me to stick with the bio degree as all the science classes will raise my GPA, and as @rdyotz has mentioned getting A’a in the remaining degree plan will bring me up to a 3.0. I’m stressed out guys, I just don’t want to be a broke college graduate I’m giving up a lot for this.
 

rdyotz

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Biology does not offer many good job opportunities (pay wise) post graduation (assuming you do not get into a graduate program). You don't even need a biology minor to get into medical school. My bachelor's is in aviation management, which required an extensive postbac to get the prereqs taken care of. From AAMC data, statistically speaking, a higher percentage of people applying with non-science (often arts) degrees get in than those with applying with a science degree. I don't have the numbers on hand, but there are significantly more people applying with science degrees, so having a unique degree can help you stand out and show you have perused other interests outside of medicine.

I don't think too many people will go through your entire class list. It is best to follow AAMC / AACOMAS / TMSDAS guidelines and develop a break down of your GPA by year (here is an excel version: http://honors.usf.edu/Documents/AMCASGPA_Calculator.xls). Make sure to follow the guidelines, as the year in school you think you are in is different than what AMCAS believes (summer courses are the beginning of a school year, vs most people seeing them as the end. AAMC uses 1-35 credits for freshman year, with other demarcations for future years - look it up). You need to include every class, even if you retook it (I don't think it supports official withdraws though, so may have to leave them out as they do not count in GPA). You can make a list of officially withdrawn courses, but listing every course here is excessive. Post the breakdown of your GPA and sGPA by year so people can see how it has changed. Also post your cumulative GPA and sGPA.

Here is AMCAS year in school groupings:
High School (HS) College-level coursework taken while in high school
Freshman (FR) 0 through 35 semester hours
Sophomore (SO) 36 through 65 semester hours
Junior (JR) 66 through 95 semester hours
Senior (SR) 96+ semester hours

The nice thing is that all your F's should be in Freshman year as no credits were earned. It will also include the first 35 credits you earned, so it will look very low. But, that means your SO, JR, and SR years will be unaffected and can be very high. Strong upward trends are great. Poor initial GPA can be overcome.

I'm not sure how many credit hours you had of Fs (45ish), but they can be overcome with LOTS of hardwork. Using the GPA grid for school year, it will be obvious you are not the same kid as when you started, but you still need to get above a 3.0 cGPA and sGPA to avoid automatic rejections. Some schools have a completely holistic process and don't auto-reject.

Did you have a chance to see if schools would allow you to switch grades to withdrawn after the fact?

PA schools have lower GPA requirements, but I believe the average is still like a 3.5. Not saying it is impossible, but you have to bust your butt to get there. If it's something you really want (MD, DO, PA, NP, etc), then put in the time, effort, and money to get it -- it can be done. Do not try and find a quick route (Caribbean) as it usually does not pan out.
 
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FishinForPhysician

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@rdyotz this may be the most practical and sound advice I've received regarding my situation. I am close to finishing my junior year and I am still going to apply. I was finally able to get in touch with all three schools and they all said the same thing, sorry can't help. I called AMCAS and they said I have to report the grades no matter what. So, what I'm going to do now is change my major to something that I can use as a safety net such as business or even biomedical engineering while completing the required pre-reqs. After I finish off this semester, I will post my stats and start focusing on studying for MCAT. After endlessly reading forums and talking to peers, I've realized my chances of even making it past the screening process are LOW, but the chance is still there. If I have to do a post bacc or SMP I will do it, but I will keep updating on here. Please, keep giving advice/hope to others out there as I was losing support from my family and friends when I explain how long and costly this process might be, and in turn, started to doubt my own abilities.
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I have heard of people that have dropped out of school with multiple Fs or Ws and been successful. I have not heard of 3x dropouts. That's not to say it is impossible, but I have not seen any data of anyone trying for medical school after 3x. You could be the one data point with a 100% success, it will just take some time and lots of hard work to overcome.

If you still have access to the online student account, you could check unofficial transcripts (if available) to see if they were graded or dropped or withdrawn. Some schools automatically drop students from classes in the first few weeks if they are no-show / no work done, but not all (I have only heard about it, none of the schools I have attended did this).

I had 26 Ws and 3 Fs. 6 of my Ws, I just stopped going and they made them Ws instead of Fs thank God. I had a long history of maturity and academic success to show that it was a thing of the past, but I was still asked to explain it multiple times (even though it was like 15 years ago).
 
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