Advice on what to do after undergrad

hopefulshay

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Jun 17, 2020
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Hello all!
I am new to this forum and seeking some help.
I am a white, female, aged out of foster care young adult. I was placed in foster care at age 14. I have a dream to become a physician (whether the path be DO or MD). I was homeless my entire life, and I will be the first in my family to graduate college.
I will be graduating from a state university. I am a double major in both health sciences and in sociology.

Heres where it gets tricky- my institutional GPA is 3.69 with a science GPA of 3.39. ( I am entering my last year and still have to take physics 2/lab and biochem, I am also awaiting grades from the current semester which includes orgo 2/lab and bio 2 lecture.)

My overall GPA is 3.5. It is that horrible because in high school I did dual enrollment and got two D's (one in a biology course and one in intermediate algebra), due to moving foster homes, mental health issues, etc. When I factor these two grades into my science gpa I barely have a 3.1. I was unable to retake these courses for grade forgiveness. All math classes since then have been A's and biology has been B or higher. Will this affect my application negatively?

Because of the GPA issues, I was thinking of entering a masters program in medical science to boost my GPA. I have LOR's, shadowing, PCE, HCE, research, and volunteering.

I am taking a gap year because I did not feel ready to take the MCAT yet and would like to study more.

For my gap year, would it be wise to enter a masters program in medical sciences? If not, could I enter a masters program of a psychology/sociology and would it affect my application negatively?

Thank you so much in advance for replying. I have no one to talk this through with and I could really use the help. Please no negative comments.
 

penpenclown

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drgoldenboy

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Your GPA isn't THAT bad. If I were you, I would avoid going to a masters program because of the debt you would incur - most people who need a masters need major GPA repair, and thus they have little option but to take on massive debt.

Instead, I think the better option would be to take 1-2 years and do upper level science courses at your local state university. This will save you 60k or so. Make sure you get a 4.0, or very close to it when you take these courses. Look at Goro's guide to reinvention. You could work part-time (I recommend not going full-time, based on my experience) while you did this too to support yourself, which would also be good for your application because it should be clinically related.

Make sure you kill this senior year as well. If you do well this year, and you've done well the two years prior (but not freshman year it sounds like), and then you do well NEXT year as well - that's 4 straight years of doing well. I think you'd be competitive.

Then, you've got to factor in doing well on the MCAT. That is going to be a make or break. If you get a 513+, you will be good to go. This could take 2-4 months of intense studying. I am talking 30-40 hours per week of studying. You need to go hard on this part.

Don't try to cram everything in. I recommend taking your time for this process, especially since it sounds like you have a background which puts you at a disadvantage (and you are probably still in your early 20's). You want to show you can continue to do well and persevere. The best way to do that is be strategic, and that includes not piling everything on.

One other thing - and take this piece of advice with a grain of salt because your ability to do so depends on many factors: I wish I had known how much your state residency affects your admissions chances. If you take your time, as I am suggesting to you (about 2 years post-grad to get everything together), that is enough time to establish residency in a new state. If you live in a state that is not friendly to pre-meds (like CA, where I am from) this is a good idea to move elsewhere (like Ohio). You will be more competitive for more MD programs, and you will get in-state tuition for med school. Good way to go.
 
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hopefulshay

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Jun 17, 2020
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Your GPA isn't THAT bad. If I were you, I would avoid going to a masters program because of the debt you would incur - most people who need a masters need major GPA repair, and thus they have little option but to take on massive debt.

Instead, I think the better option would be to take 1-2 years and do upper level science courses at your local state university. This will save you 60k or so. Make sure you get a 4.0, or very close to it when you take these courses. Look at Goro's guide to reinvention. You could work part-time (I recommend not going full-time, based on my experience) while you did this too to support yourself, which would also be good for your application because it should be clinically related.

Make sure you kill this senior year as well. If you do well this year, and you've done well the two years prior (but not freshman year it sounds like), and then you do well NEXT year as well - that's 4 straight years of doing well. I think you'd be competitive.

Then, you've got to factor in doing well on the MCAT. That is going to be a make or break. If you get a 513+, you will be good to go. This could take 2-4 months of intense studying. I am talking 30-40 hours per week of studying. You need to go hard on this part.

Don't try to cram everything in. I recommend taking your time for this process, especially since it sounds like you have a background which puts you at a disadvantage (and you are probably still in your early 20's). You want to show you can continue to do well and persevere. The best way to do that is be strategic, and that includes not piling everything on.

One other thing - and take this piece of advice with a grain of salt because your ability to do so depends on many factors: I wish I had known how much your state residency affects your admissions chances. If you take your time, as I am suggesting to you (about 2 years post-grad to get everything together), that is enough time to establish residency in a new state. If you live in a state that is not friendly to pre-meds (like CA, where I am from) this is a good idea to move elsewhere (like Ohio). You will be more competitive for more MD programs, and you will get in-state tuition for med school. Good way to go.

I actually have a tuition waiver so my masters would be completely free. Would that change your mind about recommending the masters? I wasn’t sure if my GPA was high enough that I could go into a masters program related to like mental health and then go into med school I want to take advantage of the free education the state is givingme. I’m located in FL.
 

GreenDuck12

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A 3.5 GPA is not horrible.
My overall GPA is 3.5. It is that horrible because in high school I did dual enrollment and got two D's (one in a biology course and one in intermediate algebra), due to moving foster homes, mental health issues, etc. When I factor these two grades into my science gpa I barely have a 3.1. I was unable to retake these courses for grade forgiveness. All math classes since then have been A's and biology has been B or higher. Will this affect my application negatively?

A positive trend, which it sounds like you have, will impact how your 3.5 GPA is perceived. A 3.5 GPA with steady performance is one thing. A 3.5 GPA with a downward trend is worrisome and will be viewed less negatively. A 3.5 GPA with an upward trend, especially with dual enrollment at a young age, would viewed more favorably. The good news is that you are in a relatively favorable state for medical admissions. Some additional classes to raise your sGPA may be warranted based on what MD programs in FL are matriculating. Get a copy of MSAR to research more fully.

I am taking a gap year because I did not feel ready to take the MCAT yet and would like to study more.

I'm not sure a masters program is going to lead to more time to study for the MCAT. As the poster above mentioned, it is best to focus solely on the mcat when preparing for the exam. The median MCAT is a 511, which is roughly the 84th percentile.

I actually have a tuition waiver so my masters would be completely free. Would that change your mind about recommending the masters? I wasn’t sure if my GPA was high enough that I could go into a masters program related to like mental health and then go into med school I want to take advantage of the free education the state is givingme. I’m located in FL.

If you want to pursue a masters degree because you want the degree/knowledge/skillset, go for it. However, a high graduate GPA will not offset your undergraduate GPA since that would be comparing apples to oranges. Keep in mind that typically masters degrees are offered to develop a skillset for a particular career track, as would be the case here. IMO, unless you plan to use your mental health degree, beyond what you would gain as an MD, I would look at a different program. An MPH with a focus on mental health could be interesting if you have a desire to pursue public health advocacy/research/policy as an MD. You mentioned that the degree would be free, but that isn't exactly true. It will cost you time in which you could be practicing as a physician.

I think you need to spend some time hammering down on what your goals are and what you would like your timeline to be.
 
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Damson

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Hi! You made a good choice to reach out for advice. Here's what I think you should do
- If you feel good and ready, mental health stable, do the below
- Your cumulative and science GPA is above 3.0. That's good, it means your application won't be screened out. But like you said, it's on the lower end. First, take the MCAT and reach a good score. 500+ for DO, 509+ for MD
- Next, do a SMP. You'll have to apply right now. Google "special masters program" - they are different from normal masters program in that you take science courses with medical students. They are high-risk high-reward; if you do well, you'll likely be interviewed. If you don't do well, that might be the end of the road for you.

Non-SMP masters programs will not help your application as much.

Achieving a high score on the MCAT will open doors to good SMPs with good linkages with medical schools,
 

hopefulshay

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Jun 17, 2020
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Hi! You made a good choice to reach out for advice. Here's what I think you should do
- If you feel good and ready, mental health stable, do the below
- Your cumulative and science GPA is above 3.0. That's good, it means your application won't be screened out. But like you said, it's on the lower end. First, take the MCAT and reach a good score. 500+ for DO, 509+ for MD
- Next, do a SMP. You'll have to apply right now. Google "special masters program" - they are different from normal masters program in that you take science courses with medical students. They are high-risk high-reward; if you do well, you'll likely be interviewed. If you don't do well, that might be the end of the road for you.

Non-SMP masters programs will not help your application as much.

Achieving a high score on the MCAT will open doors to good SMPs with good linkages with medical schools,
Do you know of any in Florida? Thank you so much for the advice.
 

hopefulshay

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medicineisforme

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I don't think that I can really add to what you've been told already aside from not having the adequate knowledge to help you out in terms of that. But I just wanted to say kudos to you for your hard work, and making it through what it sounds to be tremendous struggles. Keep going, you can do this. I've been told several times before the people who really want to go to medical school end up getting in (not saying this is the case for you but in general it may require a different path, adjustments, and more but if you really want it you'll make it in)!
 
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drgoldenboy

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I second the poster who suggests and SMP if it is free. Otherwise, I do not suggest it, unless you don't mind the debt. I personally think the SMP's are a little bit of a scam. If you do well in coursework at a state university and get a good MCAT score then you are fine.
 
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@drgoldenboy good point. which leads me to

@Goro for the OP and my own clarification, generally when should an application pursue post-bacc versus SMPs?
Post-bacc program: for career switchers needing the pre-reqs
SMP: for proving you can handle med school and opening a back door into one
DIY post-bac: for proving you can handle med school, but at a much cheaper cost. The caveat is that you don't get the guidance that an SMP will offer, nor the connections.
 
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hopefulshay

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Post-bacc program: for career switchers needing the pre-reqs
SMP: for proving you can handle med school and opening a back door into one
DIY post-bac: for proving you can handle med school, but at a much cheaper cost. The caveat is that you don't get the guidance that an SMP will offer, nor the connections.
Thank you for the clarification!!
 

hopefulshay

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Jun 17, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
I don't think that I can really add to what you've been told already aside from not having the adequate knowledge to help you out in terms of that. But I just wanted to say kudos to you for your hard work, and making it through what it sounds to be tremendous struggles. Keep going, you can do this. I've been told several times before the people who really want to go to medical school end up getting in (not saying this is the case for you but in general it may require a different path, adjustments, and more but if you really want it you'll make it in)!
Thank you so much! It is a struggle everyday, but I have known this is what I've wanted for many years. I am almost done with undergrad thus I am getting scared and have even gotten to points where I felt like giving up altogether. I am going to try an SMP and hopefully continue on with my medical career.
 
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