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Back Up Plans

JRWPREMED

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  1. Pre-Medical
    Would you choose a major that offers a great back-up plan, even if it meant possibly sacrificing your GPA?

    Let's say you go into undergrad as University Studies - Undeclared. You are interested in Biology and an engineering discipline. You prefer engineering over biology, but medicine is your ultimate goal. Do you major in engineering because it is obviously the better choice as far as employment and salary or do you go with the less rigorous biology in hopes of attaining a high GPA for med school?

    I'm just wondering what you all think about this. What would you do?
     

    joescollegiate

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    Jul 11, 2010
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    1. Pre-Medical
      I faced a similar challenge except the easier major definitely had more job opportunities after 4 years of schooling, I chose the harder major because I was more interested in it. If I could go back in time I would make the same decision.
       
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      mapandterritory

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      Jun 1, 2012
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        Well, my traditional family already pressured me into nursing, although I learned to have more of a backbone since then. Since I don't have that many classes left, I decided to just finish the program. I'll be able to go back to school while I work, possibly into math/engineering. I finished the free OCW lectures on multivariable calculus, so all I really have to do is take the credits for them. Things like computer science can also be self-taught.

        As for engineering, that does not necessarily mean a low GPA. Several of my engineering friends have maintained a GPA over 3.7-3.8. That's not really what you're asking though. Would I choose a major that wouldn't be as useful to me if I didn't get into med school? I would look over the requirements for different majors and try to see if I was up to it, and also take my preferences/pre-reqs into consideration. Some engineering fields are more pursued by pre-med students than others (e.g., BME and ChemE). Overall I think I would choose the field I was most interested in, if I was in your situation now.
         

        JRWPREMED

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          Thanks for all the posts guys. I've got to declare a major very soon, and I don't know what to do. I tried to make this as hypothetical as possible, but you all saw right through it. :p

          I've taken courses towards both since the curriculum is pretty much the same for first year at my school.

          If it helps at all, I'm deciding between Electrical Engineering and Biology. I know that EE has numerous job opportunities and the salary is great for a Bachelor's degree, but I attend a Top 10 engineering school. The GPAs for EE majors at my school are typically sub-3.0. On the pre-med advising website, the stats show that 6 EE majors applied to medical school last year, 0 were accepted. =/ Biology had a decent acceptance rate.
           

          Jaqen Hghar

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          Jun 4, 2012
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          Braavos
          1. Pre-Medical
            Thanks for all the posts guys. I've got to declare a major very soon, and I don't know what to do. I tried to make this as hypothetical as possible, but you all saw right through it. :p

            I've taken courses towards both since the curriculum is pretty much the same for first year at my school.

            If it helps at all, I'm deciding between Electrical Engineering and Biology. I know that EE has numerous job opportunities and the salary is great for a Bachelor's degree, but I attend a Top 10 engineering school. The GPAs for EE majors at my school are typically sub-3.0. On the pre-med advising website, the stats show that 6 EE majors applied to medical school last year, 0 were accepted. =/ Biology had a decent acceptance rate.

            Without more specific information on these applicants, you can't draw a conclusion from that. So, don't let that be a reason to not major in EE. Do what you are interested in, whether that be EE, Bio, or some other major, and your academic performance will reflect in your interest.
             

            Captain Fantastic

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              I am an engineer-to-physician guy.

              1) Like it or not, AMCAS calculates GPA the same way for everyone. Your GPA will be compared to the other applicants.

              Maybe someone on the ADCOM will say, "But he was an engineer, and that's a difficult major and is less prone to grade inflation. I say we give him the benefit on this one." Yeah, maybe. But at the end of the day your 3.5 is still a 3.5 and the A&S applicant with a 3.8 still has a 3.8 and you're counting on someone caring enough to notice the difference (and you're also counting on someone not being offended that their biochem degree was "easy" in comparison). Also, a lower GPA runs the risk of not making the first cut (where they are more likely to just look at raw numbers).

              2) Getting a great GPA is really easy: work your butt off. It's a lot easier to study when you actual enjoy the material you're studying. It might be easier to do well in engineering if that's what you like simply because you will put in the time, where as doing a major just for the GPA will lead to a lot of time spent on SDN instead of studying.

              Also, How many applicants for how many slots? Getting into medical school is a challenge, even for the extremely well qualified. What happens if after you've shadowed and volunteered in the hospital you realize you don't like the work? What do you do with your 3/4 finished "pre-med science" degree then? It's smart to have a back-up plan, and having a financially secure plan is even smarter.

              Now....Engineering is good work. It exercises the mind and allows for some creativity. Usually 8-5, no weekends, holidays off kinda work. You'll miss less soccer games as an engineer. I know because I did it for 8 years before going to medical school. Being rejected probably would have been the better thing for me financially, as I would own my house at this point and not be saddled with loads of medical school debt, but medicine is also a good job. In about 12 more years, when I hit the break-even on the opportunity costs of leaving engineering, I'll be feeling really great about it. Let's also be clear....medicine is a job. They pay you because they can't find anyone qualified to do it for free. They pay you more because you have specialized knowledge and skill, but mostly they pay you more because work more and accept more liability risk.
               

              theseeker4

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              Apr 20, 2011
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                Thanks for all the posts guys. I've got to declare a major very soon, and I don't know what to do. I tried to make this as hypothetical as possible, but you all saw right through it. :p

                I've taken courses towards both since the curriculum is pretty much the same for first year at my school.

                If it helps at all, I'm deciding between Electrical Engineering and Biology. I know that EE has numerous job opportunities and the salary is great for a Bachelor's degree, but I attend a Top 10 engineering school. The GPAs for EE majors at my school are typically sub-3.0. On the pre-med advising website, the stats show that 6 EE majors applied to medical school last year, 0 were accepted. =/ Biology had a decent acceptance rate.
                Major in the subject you enjoy AND have the best chance at a high GPA. If that is Art History, major in Art History. If you would enjoy engineering but worry it will tank your GPA, well either decide now to be an engineer instead of a doctor or don't major in engineering. Maybe you will pull through without a problem, but if you were that confident that you will, you wouldn't be posting this thread.

                It would be much better to have to return to get a second degree in engineering as a backup after not ultimately going to med school than it would be to HAVE to accept your backup career because your GPA destroyed your chances at your first choice career....
                 

                OCDOCDOCD

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                  Definitely pick a major that offers a good back-up career, assuming you'd actually be interested in that career. Business, engineering, and computer science are all great choices. Unfortunately, finding a job with a business or engineering degree can be difficult if you didn't have an internship in college, and between all the volunteering, research, and hard classes you'll be taking as a pre-med it's doubtful you'll be able to do an engineering or business internship as well.

                  As for your concern about 0 out of 6 EE majors getting into a med program, that's probably due to the issue with boosting your pre-med application while boosting your EE resume that I pointed out above. It could also be due to the fact that EE is one of the hardest majors out there and thus of two applicants with equal intelligence you would expect the bio major to have a higher GPA than the EE major. I've heard that in engineering circles having a 3.5 GPA is considered excellent; meanwhile in bio circles having a 3.5 GPA makes you a borderline applicant. It also doesn't help that AMCAS doesn't consider engineering classes to be science classes for some inexplicable reason, so if an engineer does badly in orgo for example their BCPM GPA is effectively shot.
                   

                  TheMightySmiter

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                    I have a lot of friends who were engineering majors in college. The honest truth is that if you do not have any applicable engineering experience (like research or an internship), it is not as easy to get a job as most people on SDN make it sound like. In other words, if you've majored in engineering but spent all your free time on med-school-related activities, it will be harder for you to find a job in engineering if med school doesn't work out. My best friend from high school graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and wound up with a biotech consulting job making about 30k per year, and she had several years of research experience in that specific area. She's been working there for a year and a half, and just now was able to find a job with a decent salary. My brother was an EE--he only got a decent job out of college because he'd interned at the same company for several summers during college. This was before the recession, too. Engineering doesn't have the job security that it once did, and it's still a lot of work to find a good-paying job with an engineering degree. Pretty much your best bet is to work for an oil/natural gas company in the middle of nowhere: Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, at sea.

                    My advice is to only major in engineering if you are not 100% sure about med school. If you know you want to be a physician, why not focus your energy in college on getting into med school so you don't have to worry about a backup career?
                     

                    jjesque

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                    Jun 14, 2012
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                    1. Pre-Medical
                      Too often, I feel that "backup plans" are designed exactly so that you fall back on them. At my school, the engineering students generally had poor GPAs and poor ECs (due to their being in class 40 hours/week). Neither of these things will get you into medical school. If you aren't interested in engineering except as a backup, then your time and energy is much better spent in another program that is more interesting to you and where you will have ample opportunity to do well both in and out of class.
                       

                      majahops

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                        In my opinion, if medicine is in fact "your ultimate goal," you do what you believe is most likely to get you into medicine... and this is really a simple decision if you reason it out as follows:

                        If you are fairly sure that you'll get a good enough GPA for med school doing biology, but have serious doubts as to whether you'll be able to get a good enough GPA if you do engineering, then do biology.

                        On the other hand, if you are going to get a <3.0 or >3.6 whether you do biology or engineering, then do engineering.

                        It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.

                        Would you choose a major that offers a great back-up plan, even if it meant possibly sacrificing your GPA?

                        Let's say you go into undergrad as University Studies - Undeclared. You are interested in Biology and an engineering discipline. You prefer engineering over biology, but medicine is your ultimate goal. Do you major in engineering because it is obviously the better choice as far as employment and salary or do you go with the less rigorous biology in hopes of attaining a high GPA for med school?

                        I'm just wondering what you all think about this. What would you do?
                         

                        Tummytroubles

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                        Nov 14, 2011
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                          Keep in mind, the vast majority of pre-meds don't get into medical school (or even end up applying). If you're taking out loans or do not have family members who can support you after school. Go for the useful major!!! Do you realize what the job market is like for new grads? Those loan payments kick in sooner than you think.
                           

                          OCDOCDOCD

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                            Keep in mind, the vast majority of pre-meds don't get into medical school (or even end up applying). If you're taking out loans or do not have family members who can support you after school. Go for the useful major!!! Do you realize what the job market is like for new grads? Those loan payments kick in sooner than you think.
                            Yeah, those loans are killer. I went to a $40k/year top 20 school, had a dad who paid most of my way through, and I still came out with $40k in loan debt and ~$450 monthly payments. The only reason I can even afford to live on my own right now is because I have something like $15k in savings that I'm using to do minimum payments every month, and the only reason I'm not terribly worried about that right now is because my dad has assured me he'll pay off my loans in the near future.

                            God help you if you have more than $20k in debt, aren't in a position like mine, and don't have a job that pays at least $40k/year.
                             

                            JRWPREMED

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                              Thanks for all of the advice guys.

                              I especially want to thank theseeker4. That was probably the best piece of advice I've ever received from anyone.

                              I decided to go with Biology. If for some reason medicine doesn't workout, my school offers a M.S. in Biomedical Engineering that is open to all engineering and life/physical science majors.
                               
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