Sep 6, 2017
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Hi -- so whenever I have any questions about medical or a pre-med program this site always pops up in Google search.

Here's my story: I'm 34 years old and I've worked in digital marketing for about 10 years. Marketing was never something I wanted to do but it was something I fell into when I had to drop out of college in my early 20's (student loan companies wanted their money). Fast forward to my early 30's I decided that I hated working in Marketing (and in business in general) and that I wanted to pursue my dream of being an MD. To do this, I enrolled in an adult 4-year program at a private university in NYC to complete my degree. I decided to major in Biology with an obvious track in pre-med.

I've never taken a college science course in the past nor have I ever stepped foot in a lab. But, here I am, two semesters in, and I took my first Bio class and it was less than stellar. This is a night program which is intended for students who have a traditional 9-5 job so the curriculum moves a bit faster than a traditional program as we only meet once a week. Anyway, I took my first Lab last night and as I said -- wasn't great. Admittedly, I walked in with a huge amount of anxiety and with preconceived notions of what I thought it was going to be like. Once we were asked to perform an experiment everyone got straight to work on the experiment tasks and documenting their findings. I, however, looked like a deer in a headlight. It made me question if I'm making the right decision. It didn't help that there are an odd number of students in the class and I was the lone wolf without a lab parter. Thankfully, our desks are set up in groups of 4 so I just worked with the people in front of me.

Classes are only going to get more challenging (this was BIOLOGY ONE) -- did I let to much time go by before going back to school? Am I just being illogically hard on myself?

Is there anyone here who went back to pre-med/med school late in life? Did you feel the same way? is there ANY advice you can give?? Maybe a book you read?

I got to work this morning and had to step to the restroom where I became flushed and warm -- I think I had a mini panic attack. Any help that you can provide would be so incredibly appreciated.
 

boogiecousins94

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I think the one reason you may be having trouble is that you've essentially had no science knowledge since high school, which based on your age I'm assuming was 15-20 years ago.

A lot of people who take bio in college their first semester recently took science in high school so, even though the rigor is obviously not the same and the level of detail isn't either, they have it more fresh in their mind. You are essentially taking a bio college class without any prior experience to science at all.

I've never been in your scenario so I'm not sure what exactly to do, but maybe talk to the professor and explain your situation and ask if they have different resources. Also, maybe go to a bookstore and pick up an AP biology review book. I know this is nothing compared to college bio but if you read that it'll seemingly be easier to read as its tailored for HS students and will give you at least some background
 
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gonnif

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Rule 1: Take a Breath

As an advisor who has primarily worked with older and non traditional students, I can say with confidence that you are not too old. I have assisted hundreds of students in their late 20's, 30's, 40's and even 50's got to medical school, some who have started at ground zero like you. You have been out of college for years and never in science class. You have to above all, learn to be a student. So take 1 course, 1 step, 1 skill at a time. you need to learn how to study, to take exams, to read a lab manual, and above all to seek help when you need to.

You are just starting on this path, this marathon of many years
 
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djtallahassee

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Never to old. Even us going from high school to college had scares like this (I did). Just gotta take advantage of helpful professors and office hours.

One thing I would recommend is make out a timeline and ensure you can commit. Sounds like you need a bachelors, do you just need a few credits or 4 years with a full course load? If so, taking night classes only may be difficult to achieve. You don't want to get bad grades because you were working all day and taking classes all night.

As @gonnif said, it's gonna be a marathon, be realistic with your expectations and it can be done.



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brightjd

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Rule 1: Take a Breath

As an advisor who has primarily worked with older and non traditional students, I can say with confidence that you are not too old. I have assisted hundreds of students in their late 20's, 30's, 40's and even 50's got to medical school, some who have started at ground zero like you. You have been out of college for years and never in science class. You have to above all, learn to be a student. So take 1 course, 1 step, 1 skill at a time. you need to learn how to study, to take exams, to read a lab manual, and above all to seek help when you need to.

You are just starting on this path, this marathon of many years
I have to agree you are "NOT" to old. Your situation could work to your advantage to capitalize and really grasp the science courses. Just approach each course as a "training" for the MCAT or Medical School and really focus on understanding the material. It will make studying for the MCAT and Medical school a lot easier for you as a non traditional student.

My situation is a little different. I completed undergraduate education about 8 years ago. Studying for the MCAT was challenging because I had to put it a lot of effort to re teach myself a lot of the material.

You can do this.
 
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gonnif

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Never to old. Even us going from high school to college had scares like this (I did). Just gotta take advantage of helpful professors and office hours.

One thing I would recommend is make out a timeline and ensure you can commit. Sounds like you need a bachelors, do you just need a few credits or 4 years with a full course load? If so, taking night classes only may be difficult to achieve. You don't want to get bad grades because you were working all day and taking classes all night.

As @gonnif said, it's gonna be a marathon, be realistic with your expectations and it can be done.



Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
Think OP has degree just no prereqs at all
 

MusicDOc124

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I don't think your age should really matter in this case. I have many classmates in their 30s - lower, mid, and upper 30s. I've even known people at a couple schools in their 40s. I didn't even start undergrad until I was in my mid-20s. Now I'm late 20's and will be in my 30s when I finish - and I'm a career changer like you.

Regarding the course/grades... Understand that not only have you had time off, but you're working full time (and have a family??) while also being a different field than youre used to, AND you mention this course is accelerated. How much time are you really putting into the course? The amount of time each individual needs to spend on a given course differs, but it might be that you're just not putting in enough time for what you need to understand and learn the material.

With that said, at least for me..... the basics are the most difficult for me to grasp sometimes (i.e. bio, chem, biochem), but when I take the more advanced courses or courses a little different in nature, even after struggling through some early courses, I do quite well (pathology for instance, physiology).

My .02 is that you just need to put more time in (I realize it's difficult later on when you are working and have other concerns that most students don't otherwise have).
 
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OP
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Sep 6, 2017
4
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Thank you so much for everyones support and advice!! I just want to be a doctor with every single fiber of my being and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to realize that dream. However, because I want this so badly it becomes somewhat crushing whenever I have trouble quickly capturing the material of a class. Eventually, I start developing anxiety about everything and I think it creates a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety and constant panic.
 

MusicDOc124

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Thank you so much for everyones support and advice!! I just want to be a doctor with every single fiber of my being and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to realize that dream. However, because I want this so badly it becomes somewhat crushing whenever I have trouble quickly capturing the material of a class. Eventually, I start developing anxiety about everything and I think it creates a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety and constant panic.
Becoming a doctor doesn't mean you have to understand and learn everything instantly. It's a process that is different for everyone; different in type and time. If there is anything you need to learn quickly, it's that learning is not quick. Don't be so hard on yourself. Put in the time you need for YOU to learn the material.. If you need help, utilize a tutor of sorts, or stay after class a few minutes and ask for something to be explained in a way you understand. There are also resources through youtube and similar that can help. Khan Academy is one that covers virtually everything in the sciences for undergrad.
 

Goro

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Hi -- so whenever I have any questions about medical or a pre-med program this site always pops up in Google search.

Here's my story: I'm 34 years old and I've worked in digital marketing for about 10 years. Marketing was never something I wanted to do but it was something I fell into when I had to drop out of college in my early 20's (student loan companies wanted their money). Fast forward to my early 30's I decided that I hated working in Marketing (and in business in general) and that I wanted to pursue my dream of being an MD. To do this, I enrolled in an adult 4-year program at a private university in NYC to complete my degree. I decided to major in Biology with an obvious track in pre-med.

I've never taken a college science course in the past nor have I ever stepped foot in a lab. But, here I am, two semesters in, and I took my first Bio class and it was less than stellar. This is a night program which is intended for students who have a traditional 9-5 job so the curriculum moves a bit faster than a traditional program as we only meet once a week. Anyway, I took my first Lab last night and as I said -- wasn't great. Admittedly, I walked in with a huge amount of anxiety and with preconceived notions of what I thought it was going to be like. Once we were asked to perform an experiment everyone got straight to work on the experiment tasks and documenting their findings. I, however, looked like a deer in a headlight. It made me question if I'm making the right decision. It didn't help that there are an odd number of students in the class and I was the lone wolf without a lab parter. Thankfully, our desks are set up in groups of 4 so I just worked with the people in front of me.

Classes are only going to get more challenging (this was BIOLOGY ONE) -- did I let to much time go by before going back to school? Am I just being illogically hard on myself?

Is there anyone here who went back to pre-med/med school late in life? Did you feel the same way? is there ANY advice you can give?? Maybe a book you read?

I got to work this morning and had to step to the restroom where I became flushed and warm -- I think I had a mini panic attack. Any help that you can provide would be so incredibly appreciated.
Some of my all time best students have been in their 30s and 40s. I graduated one stellar one at age 50. She's now a PGY2 in Southern CA.

Think carefully about this. A career in Medicine is not for people who are bored with thier current careers. Start by volunteering with patients.
 
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@Goro @gonnif I'm wondering if age is ever a factor in an admissions decision? I know many programs explicitly state that they do not discriminate based on age, but in your experiences is this true? For instance, if all else is equal but one applicant is 24 and one is 42, would the 24 year old ever be favored?
 
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Ad2b

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I'm wondering if age is ever a factor in an admissions decision? For instance, if all else is equal but one applicant is 24 and one is 42, would the 24 year old ever be favored?
lol - all else being equal? personality, etc? the 24 yr old gets the nod, not the 42 year old.

Think about it: why would you spend the time, energy, resources to train a 42 year old who might practice for 20 years and provide back to society when you can train a 24 year old who will practice for 40 years or more.
 

workaholic181

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Hi -- so whenever I have any questions about medical or a pre-med program this site always pops up in Google search.

Here's my story: I'm 34 years old and I've worked in digital marketing for about 10 years. Marketing was never something I wanted to do but it was something I fell into when I had to drop out of college in my early 20's (student loan companies wanted their money). Fast forward to my early 30's I decided that I hated working in Marketing (and in business in general) and that I wanted to pursue my dream of being an MD. To do this, I enrolled in an adult 4-year program at a private university in NYC to complete my degree. I decided to major in Biology with an obvious track in pre-med.

I've never taken a college science course in the past nor have I ever stepped foot in a lab. But, here I am, two semesters in, and I took my first Bio class and it was less than stellar. This is a night program which is intended for students who have a traditional 9-5 job so the curriculum moves a bit faster than a traditional program as we only meet once a week. Anyway, I took my first Lab last night and as I said -- wasn't great. Admittedly, I walked in with a huge amount of anxiety and with preconceived notions of what I thought it was going to be like. Once we were asked to perform an experiment everyone got straight to work on the experiment tasks and documenting their findings. I, however, looked like a deer in a headlight. It made me question if I'm making the right decision. It didn't help that there are an odd number of students in the class and I was the lone wolf without a lab parter. Thankfully, our desks are set up in groups of 4 so I just worked with the people in front of me.

Classes are only going to get more challenging (this was BIOLOGY ONE) -- did I let to much time go by before going back to school? Am I just being illogically hard on myself?

Is there anyone here who went back to pre-med/med school late in life? Did you feel the same way? is there ANY advice you can give?? Maybe a book you read?

I got to work this morning and had to step to the restroom where I became flushed and warm -- I think I had a mini panic attack. Any help that you can provide would be so incredibly appreciated.
There's a great Ted talk, forget the name exactly but the main ethos of it is "fake it until you make it." You haven't thought this way in a long time, if ever. It's a huge learning curve approaching the sciences. I felt similarly finishing my pre reqs with a non science UG major, and ultimately scored >90 percentile on the MCAT. It just takes a lot of time and hard work to get going.

To answer your question, you're not too old. Tons of people your age do this. It's just a question of if you want to put in the sacrifices, because they are very real at every age.
 

Goro

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@Goro @gonnif I'm wondering if age is ever a factor in an admissions decision? I know many programs explicitly state that they do not discriminate based on age, but in your experiences is this true? For instance, if all else is equal but one applicant is 24 and one is 42, would the 24 year old ever be favored?
No and no. My oldest student ever was 53. S/he's an ER doc somewhere in the Midwest now.
 

Goro

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lol - all else being equal? personality, etc? the 24 yr old gets the nod, not the 42 year old.

Think about it: why would you spend the time, energy, resources to train a 42 year old who might practice for 20 years and provide back to society when you can train a 24 year old who will practice for 40 years or more.
Because doctors live a long time and the 42 year old might be in practice at age 80. I have a clinician colleague who is a hospitalist, specializing in critical care, who's in his mid-70s.
 
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Because doctors live a long time and the 42 year old might be in practice at age 80. I have a clinician colleague who is a hospitalist, specializing in critical care, who's in his mid-70s.
You disagree with me? To me, the way this individual framed the question it almost felt like reverse age bias; the younger person will be discriminated against because of someone older... which I have a hard time believing. As someone who plans to practice into my 70's obviously being older, this kind of slaps me in the face... I never look at my age as a positive attribute (or negative, tbh; at worst, it's neutral to me).
 

LizzyM

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lol - all else being equal? personality, etc? the 24 yr old gets the nod, not the 42 year old.

Think about it: why would you spend the time, energy, resources to train a 42 year old who might practice for 20 years and provide back to society when you can train a 24 year old who will practice for 40 years or more.
I worked for someone who graduated from medical school at 43 after a successful career in bench research as a PhD. He was still caring for patients at age 70 and was on medical school faculty and still publishing until age 95. He lived to be over 100.

All else is never equal. And I've never seen us use age in judging a candidate. We do judge experiences and older students often have more of those than youngsters do.
 
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You disagree with me? To me, the way this individual framed the question it almost felt like reverse age bias; the younger person will be discriminated against because of someone older... which I have a hard time believing. As someone who plans to practice into my 70's obviously being older, this kind of slaps me in the face... I never look at my age as a positive attribute (or negative, tbh; at worst, it's neutral to me).
I assure you I was asking if the 42 year old would be discriminated against. Sorry if it was unclear. I am an older applicant and this always worries me. Thanks to those who offered encouraging replies!!
 
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You disagree with me? To me, the way this individual framed the question it almost felt like reverse age bias; the younger person will be discriminated against because of someone older... which I have a hard time believing. As someone who plans to practice into my 70's obviously being older, this kind of slaps me in the face... I never look at my age as a positive attribute (or negative, tbh; at worst, it's neutral to me).
I think you're fundamentally misunderstanding @SocialJusticeWarrior question. I don't think his intent was to say that older doctors are better than younger doctors. His questions was if older non-traditional students are at a disadvantage over younger students.

More importantly: why would you chose this thread, which is clearly about me being self-conscious about my age to say "why would you spend the time, energy, resources to train a 42 year old who might practice for 20 years and provide back to society when you can train a 24 year old who will practice for 40 years or more." What's the point exactly???
 

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You disagree with me? To me, the way this individual framed the question it almost felt like reverse age bias; the younger person will be discriminated against because of someone older... which I have a hard time believing. As someone who plans to practice into my 70's obviously being older, this kind of slaps me in the face... I never look at my age as a positive attribute (or negative, tbh; at worst, it's neutral to me).
I'm not following. What I was saying was that there will not be a bias for the 24 year old, nor against the 42 year old.

It's also not a zero-sum game. If we interview both people, and they are good candidates, both accepted.

We don't interview two people for a single seat.
 

LizzyM

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Is there anyone here who went back to pre-med/med school late in life? Did you feel the same way? is there ANY advice you can give?? Maybe a book you read?
.
Speak to the person directing the lab section. Emphasize that you haven't been in a lab setting since you graduated HS and although you are willing to work hard, you are the last person who should be left without a partner in a lab.

If you have the lab assignment in advance, read through it in advance of the class and picture the steps you'll be taking. This is not unlike working complex recipes in the kitchen. You need to picture what it is you'll be doing and the equipment you'll be using and what needs to be at your fingertips at the crucial moment. Think critically about the experiment. What do you think will happen? Why will that happen? Why? Keep asking yourself why.

Go to the professor's office hours for clarification with anything you don't understand. Get to know your professors and let them get to know you. This will help when you need letters of recommendation.

Join/form a study group that meets on weekends (since many of your classmates are employed full-time). Work through problem sets and other materials.

Be sure you are doing this for the right reasons. Have you worked in a health care setting? Have you volunteered in a health care setting? Have you been involved in volunteer efforts to provide direct services to the needy in your community? Are you interested in developments in health and medical science (e.g. that weekly section of the newspaper, reports of new findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine, etc)?
 
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CyrilFiggis

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Thank you so much for everyones support and advice!! I just want to be a doctor with every single fiber of my being and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to realize that dream. However, because I want this so badly it becomes somewhat crushing whenever I have trouble quickly capturing the material of a class. Eventually, I start developing anxiety about everything and I think it creates a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety and constant panic.
I said it in another thread. Propranolol or Sertraline. Manage your anxiety. No exam is going to be easier than now. Learn to adapt.
 
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I'm not following. What I was saying was that there will not be a bias for the 24 year old, nor against the 42 year old.It's also not a zero-sum game. If we interview both people, and they are good candidates, both accepted. We don't interview two people for a single seat.
Thank you for clarifying; I like your explanation better because I think the key for people to remember is that *I* am not competition for *your* seat. NOR is the 24 year old competition for MY seat (though, I might slightly disagree there; maybe it's my own denigration of my application due to my age that makes me feel less competitive, though stats wise? take out the age factor? still equal on many footings; provided I ever sit for that MCAT thingy... )

More importantly: why would you chose this thread, which is clearly about me being self-conscious about my age to say "why would you spend the time, energy, resources to train a 42 year old who might practice for 20 years and provide back to society when you can train a 24 year old who will practice for 40 years or more." What's the point exactly???
My point, noobie, :naughty: is that I AM the oldest on this thread as a premed and to me, the 24 year old has far more years of service to the society in which they live. (Former Dir of Finance, academic health center responsible for medical school, research, hospital, ambulatory care center, and vet school.)

To me, I was trying to ALLAY the fears of the 24 year old; if you're 42 and afraid of this path, just run. It's not for the faint of heart, or the stress of competing with people who are likely 2 decades younger who can outrun, out think, out smart the older person.

BUT if the older student has a "grinder" mentality, then the older student will always succeed no matter what the younger peers do.
 
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lol - all else being equal? personality, etc? the 24 yr old gets the nod, not the 42 year old.

Think about it: why would you spend the time, energy, resources to train a 42 year old who might practice for 20 years and provide back to society when you can train a 24 year old who will practice for 40 years or more.
Or the 24 year old desires to become a surgeon and goes on to earn enough money to retire after working in the field for 10 years. I personally know surgeons who have done this. I also know a family practitioner who is still working at the age of 75 and does so because he genuinely loves it. So in my opinion it is important to realize that nothing is ever that black and white. Sometimes older students also have more of a desire to become a doctor for reasons other than only making money, which I find to be the most admirable.
 
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Or the 24 year old desires to become a surgeon and goes on to earn enough money to retire after working in the field for 10 years. I also know a family practitioner who is still working at the age of 75 and does so because he genuinely loves it. So in my opinion it is important to realize that nothing is ever that black and white. Sometimes older students also have more of a desire to become a doctor for reasons other than only making money, which I find to be the most admirable.
Me too :) and I hope I am the latter because $$ is definitely NOT my motivator; if $$ were, I would go work for Accenture or IBM as Partner and retire at 65, rich and miserable. (Thank you, Kenny Chesney!)
 

elitehacker1337

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OP, don't sweat the lab stuff. Many people don't know what they're doing.

I, for one, never know what the hell is going on in lab because I don't care to read the protocol because I'd rather spend the time on actual lecture. Lab classes aren't too hard and there is no point in gunning to finish before anyone else unless you gotta get going somewhere like work.

If you want to improve your lab technique, I'd watch videos of the experiment prior to doing it so you have a general and read the protocol a few times.

Also, more importantly, focus on conceptual lab components like why are we doing gas chromatography instead of another type because your write up is the factor that gets graded (usually)
 
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Rhabdoviridae

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Despite what other posters may say, as a current student, I can tell you that you are pretty old to be starting. You are looking at least 3 years at minimum completing your pre-med requisites and the MCAT before you can even apply, and that is assuming you still have the learning capabilities that you did when you were younger. Your lack of a science background is also concerning especially since you have been out of school for so long. Not saying it is impossible, but you will be very out of place at your age in medical school.........It sounds like you had a good thing going on in marketing. It doesn't sound very logically to derail a financially successful career to pursue another one (and in doing so, will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next 10 years).
 

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We do judge experiences and older students often have more of those than youngsters do.

The CEO of the clinic where I'm a consultant told me as much (he's MD from pretty good school on east coast). But he also graduated many decades years ago and things have drastically changed since then.

Thank you for the boost of confidence that my "length of life" won't be a deleterious issue if my GPA + MCAT stand up to all being equal.
 

calivianya

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Just wanted to say - I was where you are and I did fine. I took gen chem in high school in the 2004-2005 school year, and placed out of it because I did well on the AP exam. So, I came into orgo 1 with zero gen chem knowledge in fall 2016, having forgotten every single last thing I learned eleven years prior. I still did well - got A- in both orgo 1 and 2. It is possible to do well even not having had a hard science class in many years. I graduated magna cum laude from my bio bachelor's in August.

I really struggled with my orgo lab because the only instruction I received regarding lab reports was that they were due at the beginning of the next class. I had never written a lab report in my life and had no idea where to start. Everyone else had just come out of gen chem and had written many lab reports before. I did *very* poorly on my first couple just because I had no idea what the expectations were or what I was supposed to do. However, I improved greatly over the semester, and I finished out the class well. Struggling at the beginning is not an automatic sign that you're not going to succeed.
 
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steve-o-matic

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Are you too old? No.
Are you being hard on yourself? Yes.

If you dislike business then you should ready yourself for the tedium that is healthcare. It is a business, an extremely regulated one filled with shrinking profits and greater risk. If you're passionate about helping people, then social services or nursing is for you. If you're passionate about science in health, then medicine is right for you.
 

ChopinLiszt

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When I started my post-bacc courses last fall (a full 15 years after my last undergrad course), I had a lot of anxiety and feelings of being slow, having cobwebs in the brain, etc.
Just work extra hard. Look for extra resources. Study the same thing over and over. Your brain will catch up and then you'll have the knowledge AND the experience/maturity -- and that will be a winning combo. Don't let impostor syndrome get you down. Make sure you want to do it for the right reasons, and if you do, just keep working hard and try not to freak out too much. ;)
 
Last edited:
Aug 16, 2017
7
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Status
Pre-Medical
Hi -- so whenever I have any questions about medical or a pre-med program this site always pops up in Google search.

Here's my story: I'm 34 years old and I've worked in digital marketing for about 10 years. Marketing was never something I wanted to do but it was something I fell into when I had to drop out of college in my early 20's (student loan companies wanted their money). Fast forward to my early 30's I decided that I hated working in Marketing (and in business in general) and that I wanted to pursue my dream of being an MD. To do this, I enrolled in an adult 4-year program at a private university in NYC to complete my degree. I decided to major in Biology with an obvious track in pre-med.

I've never taken a college science course in the past nor have I ever stepped foot in a lab. But, here I am, two semesters in, and I took my first Bio class and it was less than stellar. This is a night program which is intended for students who have a traditional 9-5 job so the curriculum moves a bit faster than a traditional program as we only meet once a week. Anyway, I took my first Lab last night and as I said -- wasn't great. Admittedly, I walked in with a huge amount of anxiety and with preconceived notions of what I thought it was going to be like. Once we were asked to perform an experiment everyone got straight to work on the experiment tasks and documenting their findings. I, however, looked like a deer in a headlight. It made me question if I'm making the right decision. It didn't help that there are an odd number of students in the class and I was the lone wolf without a lab parter. Thankfully, our desks are set up in groups of 4 so I just worked with the people in front of me.

Classes are only going to get more challenging (this was BIOLOGY ONE) -- did I let to much time go by before going back to school? Am I just being illogically hard on myself?



Is there anyone here who went back to pre-med/med school late in life? Did you feel the same way? is there ANY advice you can give?? Maybe a book you read?

I got to work this morning and had to step to the restroom where I became flushed and warm -- I think I had a mini panic attack. Any help that you can provide would be so incredibly appreciated.
Sounds like you have found your calling! Not in your situation, but I would definitely encourage you to go for it! The process will be challenging (as you no doubt have discovered), but it's entirely likely you will make the necessary adjustments as you acclimate to academic life. You might speak with your instructor to both allay your fears and gain some insight into course particulars. Also, speak with school counselor to figure out what school resources are available to you and for help with course sequence planning. You might also make some connections with other students with a mind towards study groups, support, etc...above all, don't stress, it's a major change for you, so give yourself some time to adjust but remember... you can definitely do it!
 
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