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Are Special Masters Programs Financially Worth it?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by movemntofja, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. movemntofja

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    After reading a bunch of these posts, it seems pretty clear to me that enrolling in an SMP is the way to go for me. I graduated from Vanderbilt with a 3.0 GPA (3.44 science GPA) and got a 26 MCAT despite scoring in the low 30s on numerous practice tests. I plan on retaking the MCAT but i know i still have to improve my GPA.

    The thing is, I owe a ton of loans for my undergrad education and am having trouble stomaching the prospect of having to pay around 50k (most SMPs tuition average around 30k then with the added costs of living) just for the opportunity to improve my chances of getting into med school. I live in MA where there's only one state school which means unless I get in there or somewhere in Canada (I'm a dual citizen) I'll likely be paying back undergrad, SMP, and med school loans till I'm like 50. Any advice??

    Also, this might be a long shot, but has anyone heard of any programs similar to SMPs that are offered in Canada? Thanks!
     
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  3. rama kandra

    rama kandra Actual Psychiatrist jk
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    i would not consider the question to be about finances as much as... is it literally worth it? if you get into medical school in this round without an SMP, it is great... but if having the SMP gets you into med school, that is certainly worth it. nobody is going to give you an answer since we dont know how you will do in the SMP nor does it promise anything concrete.

    i say, if you weigh the chances of not getting in for another year, go for it. youll pay a lot of money now, but imagine if you dont get in? will another year be worth your time? will not getting into medical school make you happy? costs are important but in this game, it also makes a difference what the outcome is. goodluck.
     
  4. dr zaius

    Physician 7+ Year Member

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    If money is a problem and you are not on a strict schedule I might suggest doing a full masters program. The majority of science masters programs provide tuition, fees, as well as a stipend (anywhere from $16k/year up). If you work hard and everything in the lab goes relatively smoothly you can be out within 1.5 years (which is the case with me).

    This is not something to be taken lightly, though. It's a tough road full of contaminated flasks and assays not working. If you enjoy research and have the time, it might be a viable option. I'm actually paying some of my undergrad loans off right now :thumbup:.

    But, I think ultimately you'd want to up your undergrad GPA, so you might want to consider a postbacc program instead of any type of masters.
     
  5. rama kandra

    rama kandra Actual Psychiatrist jk
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    some SMP's are only one year so that might be more doable.
     
  6. DrJD

    DrJD Junior Member
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    30 or higher and you are right about the decision... As far as "worth it" ? Answer us this, if you did an SMP and were able to get into medical school would it be worth it? If it is to you, then look at the percentages of people getting accepted and go from there!

    Good luck!
     
  7. Mobius1985

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    Have you considered applying to DO (osteopathic) medical schools? Your stats might get you accepted as you stand, if your most recent coursework is good and you have the usual prerequisites.
     
  8. flip26

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    SMPs should be the "last resort" solution after doing everything you can, including post bacc work and going through at least one cycle and getting rejected by all schools, assuming your UG GPA is the only real problem with your app.

    SMP can't fix a low MCAT or make up for anything else deficient in your app.
     
  9. Pedsbro

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    Take it from me pal....SMPs are way worth it. First time I applied...zero interviews. After doing a one-year SMP --> 1 acceptance and 3 interviews at pretty good schools and counting. I changed nothing else...my MCAT score is from 2006 (when it was on paper---and harder;)) and I haven't done any other EC's since the first time I applied. If you feel you need to do something extra with your stats, do NOT do a post-bac and then an SMP. Do one or the other...both is a complete waste of money. Post-bac is cheaper, but it's all undergrad work and you don't get anything else out of it. At least you have a masters behind your name after doing an SMP if med school still doesn't work out. Of course it's not a guaranteed acceptance, but many SMP's allow you to take actual med classes (sometimes merged with the actual 1st year med class like mine was) and THAT is a huge advantage because it allows adcoms to directly compare your grades to med students. Obviously another 25 or 30 grand for an SMP is a big deal, but then how badly do you want to get into med school (knowing that you will eventually pay all your loans off, like every doctor does)? One thing with SMPs though...if you screw up while you're in it, you're pretty much finished, and they're not easy programs. Good luck.

    It's kind of interesting though that your science GPA is so much higher than the cumulative. SMPs and post-bacs are mostly for boosting science GPAs (pretty much all your classes are going to be in science)...
     
  10. DrJD

    DrJD Junior Member
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    All GREAT advice... I second everything above and will just quickly add that at this point I have 1 acceptance and 3 interviews as well after getting none before. (But I also improved my MCAT score by 9 points...) However with my terrible GPA and other stuff, I am pretty sure a lot of it is the SMP.

    I'd stamp them "worth it." (assuming you do well.)
     
  11. Pedsbro

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    :thumbup: nice job on the MCAT improvement! SMP = Definitely worth it
     
  12. movemntofja

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    Thanks for the great advice from you and everyone else as well, its made the go-ahead decision much easier for me haha. my cumulative gpa is way lower cause i seriously botched my first year at school and was also a different major. after i switched to a science major, it still took me a while to get my act together and i got mostly Bs and lower in my premed classes. to rectify those mediocre grades i took a bunch of upper division science classes and did well in them which improved my overall science GPA and brought my cumulative up from like a 2.6 or something. hopefully i can keep that up in the SMP!
     
  13. movemntofja

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    DrJD....considering my last MCAT score, I'd be very interested to know what you did to improve your score by 9 points, that's insane haha!!
     
  14. flip26

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    I am not so sure you got the right "take home" message here. People here are recommending the SMP for people who need them - i.e., they have exhausted their other options - and you haven't done that.

    You need to raise that MCAT before applying to an SMP. SMPs have MCAT score cutoffs (GPA cutoffs, too).

    An SMP is for applicants with low GPAs who otherwise have competitive MCATs...

    As was pointed out on this thread, you may already be a competitive applicant for DO.

    But if you do the SMP and bomb it (and this happens to a lot of people), you will lose all chance at any med school.

    Given your low post count, you are a newbie. You need to spend a lot more time researching SMPs, and you really should be looking at DO...
     
  15. movemntofja

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    Thanks for your opinion, but i've actually been researching SMPs for months now and my premed adviser was actually the first to suggest it to me last summer. as i mentioned in my original post, i plan on retaking the mcat, hopefully by this april or may at the latest. if my practice test scores havent noticeably improved by the time i need to make a security deposit on any SMP acceptances, then ill consider other options since i know my success in an SMP is virtually irrelevant if i cant improve those scores. DO school is not an option i am willing to consider at this point in time for reasons i don't really want to get into - believe me that possibility has been brought to my attention before.
     

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