sunnyjohn

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Okay,

I have spent the last 3 hours searching the forums for advice and frankly I'm confused. :confused: My head is about to explode. Someone help.

1. Which is better, 2nd bachelor's or post-bac?

2. Theoretically if you haven't graduated (finished req's but never applied for or got degree) can't you just take undegrad classes and improve your GPA?

3. How can a post-bac improve you undergrad GPA? These are classes after graduation, right? (I read the AMCAS brochure on how to fill out the application and I noticed that you are required to list post-bac courses separately)

4. Does anyone recommend I take classes of the AMCAS course classification list in the Bio, Chem, Math and Physics list just to improve my BCPM GPA?

5. I spotted a bunch of Biotechnology classes at a cc on Saturdays. Since Biotech classes are on that course classification list in the Biology group, should I take these just to improve my BCPM gpa? They are cheap, they won't take up much of my time, I like working in the lab. (Yeah yeah I know community college, most adcom's pooh-pooh them, but I am trying to bump up a really bad GPA. CC would only be a first step.)

4. What is applied Mathematics?

5. What other "easy" science class do you guys recommend? (Aside from Astronomy, which I know counts as physics)

6. Am I shooting myself in the foot and possibly looking at grade inflation?

Yes I know many adcoms won't look at those cc grades, but I am desperate. I would of course take classes at a university as soon as I could get a few things in order (READ, Money).

I think I have become obsessed with the idea of improving my BCPM...


Agape. :p
 

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sunnyjohn said:
1. Which is better, 2nd bachelor's or post-bac?
I think either is a reasonable choice.

An informal postbac may give you more freedom. Examples would be Harvard Extension, U Chicago's Graduate Student-At-Large program, and I'm pretty sure Northwestern has something similar too.

A formal postbac enrichment program typically consists of a bunch of upper division bio courses. However, some (perhaps most) of these are quite expensive.

Some schools give non-degree seeking students last priority for registration (personal experience :p ). One advantage of the 2nd bachelor's (I'm assuming you'd do it in something science related) is that you would be a degree-seeking student with a bunch of credit hours (especially since you already have a bachelor's) so you may have first dibs on classes. This would make it easier to make the schedule you'd like. I don't know how long you're stretching out your postbac plan, but if it's more than a year, a second bachelor's could also give you a lot of summer research opportunities. There's a lot of summer undergraduate research programs that require that you're in a bachelor's science program. These programs can have stipends of about $4,000 or $3,000 + housing/room and board accomodations. Even if I wanted to, I would be ineligible for these programs, but someone pursuing a second bachelor's (and doing postbac studies for more than a year) would have these opportunities. If you're in the Chicagoland area, I'm pretty sure you could find some of these summer research opportunities there. I know Loyola has an Immunology undergraduate research program.
sunnyjohn said:
2. Theoretically if you haven't graduated (finished req's but never applied for or got degree) can't you just take undegrad classes and improve your GPA?
Regardless if you've graduated or not, you can take undergrad classes to improve your GPA.
sunnyjohn said:
3. How can a post-bac improve you undergrad GPA? These are classes after graduation, right? (I read the AMCAS brochure on how to fill out the application and I noticed that you are required to list post-bac courses separately)
Yes, the postbac grades include all undergrad coursework after your first bachelor's degree. The postbac section of AMCAS counts toward your undergrad cumulative and BCPM GPAs. AMCAS includes Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Postbac, and Graduate sections. All of these, except for Graduate, will contribute to your undergrad GPA.
sunnyjohn said:
4. Does anyone recommend I take classes of the AMCAS course classification list in the Bio, Chem, Math and Physics list just to improve my BCPM GPA?
Well don't take courses just to improve your bcpm. I would take courses that allow you to improve your bcpm and will help you in your pursuit to be a physician.

I wouldn't just go down AMCAS' list and see what AMCAS recommends. For example, AMCAS places Kinesiology outside of the BCPM, but my current school offers Kinesiology through the biology department. If I took the course (which requires physics and several biology prerequisites), I could reasonably classify it under my bcpm. My relative that graduated from Notre Dame took upper division bio courses like AIDS that counted toward his bcpm. Depending on the school you might even be able to find something interesting like DNA Recombination or Tumor Biology.

I think the best idea and most helpful way to prepare for med school would be to take upper division bio courses relevant to the basic sciences (physiology, anatomy, neuroscience, embryology, genetics, immunology, microbiology, etc.).
sunnyjohn said:
5. I spotted a bunch of Biotechnology classes at a cc on Saturdays. Since Biotech classes are on that course classification list in the Biology group, should I take these just to improve my BCPM gpa? They are cheap, they won't take up much of my time, I like working in the lab. (Yeah yeah I know community college, most adcom's pooh-pooh them, but I am trying to bump up a really bad GPA. CC would only be a first step.)
If you're pretty sure that the courses will go on your BCPM, I don't see how it would hurt as long as it's a first step. It might even add some uniqueness to your application. But make sure you do well--you should not accept less than an A if you're taking CC courses.
sunnyjohn said:
4. What is applied Mathematics?
According to some old stuff I saved from way back in the day...

Applied Mathematics emphasizes a career working (often in a team) with engineers, physicists, or programmers on problems to improve quality, design, productivity, or to decrease costs.
sunnyjohn said:
5. What other "easy" science class do you guys recommend? (Aside from Astronomy, which I know counts as physics)
I always thought math was pretty easy, but I haven't taken too many of those in college. What's easy is going to depend on your strengths, but I'd say look into psych departments and see if any courses with "neuro" or "bio" in the titles are fairly science oriented. In my experience, psych courses are cake.

You self-designate your bcpm courses on AMCAS. You could even take courses outside traditional deptartments (bio/chem/phys/math) to increase your BCPM provided these courses contain considerable bio/chem/physics/math. For example, you could include something like Neuroscience of the Brain/Brain and Behavior/Sensation and Perception in a psychology department or Epidemiology/Biostatistics from a public health department.
sunnyjohn said:
6. Am I shooting myself in the foot and possibly looking at grade inflation?

Yes I know many adcoms won't look at those cc grades, but I am desperate. I would of course take classes at a university as soon as I could get a few things in order (READ, Money).

I think I have become obsessed with the idea of improving my BCPM...

Agape. :p
If your transcript is obviously just a bunch of grade padding courses, that could be bad. If economic factors make it hard to take courses elsewhere, I don't think any adcom would fault you for taking cc classes. But I think you risk making your transcript look like simple grade inflation if you do not pursue further postbac studies at a 4-year school after taking the CC courses. I have a friend in New York (career changer) who was specifically told by some of the New York med schools to not take prereqs at a community college. And if she did, they would expect to see her take more advanced biology courses after. So like you said, adcoms will tend to frown on CC coursework if you do not pursue premedical coursework at a 4-yr school later.

You mentioned you were in South Bend. If I remember correctly, I'm quite certain Indiana University has a branch in South Bend. Honestly, I don't know much about it and in my many trips to South Bend I still have no idea where the IU campus is! But if you're an IN resident trying to avoid the price tags of Notre Dame and Northwestern, IU should be able to provide you with a good, low-cost education and would allow you to avoid the potential community college problem. You might want to look into that.

Good luck
 
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sunnyjohn

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Thanks Phil_A.

I just moved to IN a few months ago so I won't be considered a resident for awhile. IN is really wierd when it comes to proving instate stuff. I mantain a residence in another state (TX) that further complicates the situation. So I pay taxes in 2 states. Since I work as a travelling surgical technolgist, I CAN move every 16-20 weeks. :D

IN is my home base now though. I may have to spend some time in TX this summer, so that's why I asked.

I sent for information from IU Southbend last week and I do intend to go that way unless I can dig up the money for Notre Dame. I may have to spend some time at my home in TX this summer. I attend cc there before, so I have a good idea of what to expect, that's why I asked.

Southbend is in the Eastern time zone and my town (which is only 25-30 min away) is in the Central time zone! So everytime I go to class (25 min away) I lose an hour.... 9 am class is 8 am class.... Go figure... :p

Another question, how do you feel about online classes? I mean even though they don't often show up on your transcripts as "online" you have to disclose that, right? Are they automatically just thrown out in the gpa equation?

Agape....
 

imrep1972

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sunnyjohn said:
Thanks Phil_A.

I just moved to IN a few months ago so I won't be considered a resident for awhile. IN is really wierd when it comes to proving instate stuff. I mantain a residence in another state (TX) that further complicates the situation. So I pay taxes in 2 states. Since I work as a travelling surgical technolgist, I CAN move every 16-20 weeks. :D

IN is my home base now though. I may have to spend some time in TX this summer, so that's why I asked.

I sent for information from IU Southbend last week and I do intend to go that way unless I can dig up the money for Notre Dame. I may have to spend some time at my home in TX this summer. I attend cc there before, so I have a good idea of what to expect, that's why I asked.

Southbend is in the Eastern time zone and my town (which is only 25-30 min away) is in the Central time zone! So everytime I go to class (25 min away) I lose an hour.... 9 am class is 8 am class.... Go figure... :p

Another question, how do you feel about online classes? I mean even though they don't often show up on your transcripts as "online" you have to disclose that, right? Are they automatically just thrown out in the gpa equation?

Agape....
SJ, I took an online course as part of my post-bac work (scientific writing course) and I did not have to disclose anything, nor did it show on my transcript that it was an online course. It was simply calculated into my GPA just like any other course I took.

To add to some of what Phil said, you can take the courses at the CC if you want. However, I would be very cautious about this. You have to think about how this is going to appear from an ADCOM perspective. You go to a four-year school, get a degree and bad grades, and then you go to a CC and get good ones? So what? In theory, anyone can do that. It doesn't demonstrate that much about how you have grown or changed, or how you are able to handle a med-school course load. That is what they are going to be looking at on your transcript. Are you the same guy who scored a 2.0 (or whatever) and if you have changed, are you able to handle the firehose that is med school information?

Another thing to be concerned about is what courses you take. You mentioned looking for "easy" classes to help your GPA (understandable). Be very careful, because, again, the ADCOM is going to look at your transcript, and if they see a preponderance of "basketweaving for bio-majors" they are not going to be impressed. Also, they are going to know that, generally, an upper division psych class is going to be relatively easier than an upperdivsion Recombinant DNA lab or somesuch. Think about what would impress you if you were scanning your app. Its not just about the numbers.

I can also state that my cume, before my post-bac was a 2.85. After a full year of full time courses I managed to raise my GPA all the way up to a 2.95 (I had a 3.93 in my post-bac work). So, if your GPA is *real* low, you may be wasting your time trying to raise it.

I would recommend, if that is the case, looking into Master's Programs. Basically, you will write off your undergrad GPA, but you will have an advanced degree, with a separate set of grades to demonstrate everything I wrote about earlier. There are several one-year masters programs designed specifically for students who did poorly the first time around and want to beef up their resume for an application to med school. Georgetown, BU (or BC? I always get those confused), Rossalind Franklin and Drexel immediately spring to mind.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck to you. I decided to return to school about 2.5 years ago, and I have not regretted it for a moment.
 

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imrep1972 said:
SJ, I took an online course as part of my post-bac work (scientific writing course) and I did not have to disclose anything, nor did it show on my transcript that it was an online course. It was simply calculated into my GPA just like any other course I took.

To add to some of what Phil said, you can take the courses at the CC if you want. However, I would be very cautious about this. You have to think about how this is going to appear from an ADCOM perspective. You go to a four-year school, get a degree and bad grades, and then you go to a CC and get good ones? So what? In theory, anyone can do that. It doesn't demonstrate that much about how you have grown or changed, or how you are able to handle a med-school course load. That is what they are going to be looking at on your transcript. Are you the same guy who scored a 2.0 (or whatever) and if you have changed, are you able to handle the firehose that is med school information?

Another thing to be concerned about is what courses you take. You mentioned looking for "easy" classes to help your GPA (understandable). Be very careful, because, again, the ADCOM is going to look at your transcript, and if they see a preponderance of "basketweaving for bio-majors" they are not going to be impressed. Also, they are going to know that, generally, an upper division psych class is going to be relatively easier than an upperdivsion Recombinant DNA lab or somesuch. Think about what would impress you if you were scanning your app. Its not just about the numbers.
All very good points. :thumbup:
imrep1972 said:
I can also state that my cume, before my post-bac was a 2.85. After a full year of full time courses I managed to raise my GPA all the way up to a 2.95 (I had a 3.93 in my post-bac work). So, if your GPA is *real* low, you may be wasting your time trying to raise it.
I don't know how low the OP's GPA is, but if one is going to try and pad grades a little it might be a good idea to make a spreadsheet on Excel to see how much you can raise it. If it's really low, yes, it's pretty futile. When I plugged my numbers in for this year's informal postbac, I figured I could raise my bcpm by about 0.4 and my cumulative GPA by about 0.1. I think these increases should be just enough to pass me through most screens. Going into my postbac work, I wanted to know exactly how much I could improve my GPA. The more credits you have, the harder it is to pull it up. I'm shooting for a one-year masters this year--I'm through with anymore undergrad AMCAS GPA repairment after this Spring.
imrep1972 said:
I would recommend, if that is the case, looking into Master's Programs. Basically, you will write off your undergrad GPA, but you will have an advanced degree, with a separate set of grades to demonstrate everything I wrote about earlier. There are several one-year masters programs designed specifically for students who did poorly the first time around and want to beef up their resume for an application to med school. Georgetown, BU (or BC? I always get those confused), Rossalind Franklin and Drexel immediately spring to mind.
Those are pretty much the best known and most effective. There are a lot more though. I'm making a list of pre-professional certificate and master's programs (1-2 years) that I'll try to get around posting in about a month. Boston University has the MA in Medical Sciences. Boston College is Notre Dame's big bad Catholic school football rival! :D Well ND is trying to keep the longtime rivalry going, but they're doing so darn crappy it's not much of a rivalry at the moment. :laugh:
 
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sunnyjohn

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Phil_A, imrep

Thanks for the advice. I have lots to think about.

So when do you guys think you will be ready to apply? Are you trying for addmision in '06? '07? '08? :scared:

Have you guys worked out some kind of master plan you are following to improve your chances? (Informal post-bac classes, then formal master's post-bac or MPH, then admission?)

I noticed that one of you gained admission to G-town SMP. Congrats....

Agape.
 

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Phil Anthropist said:
I'm shooting for a one-year masters this year--I'm through with anymore undergrad AMCAS GPA repairment after this Spring.
Phil - where are you applying? Have you heard anything back yet?
 

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sunnyjohn said:
Phil_A, imrep

Thanks for the advice. I have lots to think about.

So when do you guys think you will be ready to apply? Are you trying for addmision in '06? '07? '08? :scared:

Have you guys worked out some kind of master plan you are following to improve your chances? (Informal post-bac classes, then formal master's post-bac or MPH, then admission?)

I noticed that one of you gained admission to G-town SMP. Congrats....

Agape.
SJ, I actually was applying this year. Unfortunately, I have entered the fourth dimension of Hell that is being placed on pre-interview hold. Apparently my creds are good enough that no one wants to reject me, but they are bad enough that NO ONE has given me an interview.

It is still possible that I *could* get an interview and maybe an acceptance this year (in which case I would drop the SMP like a hot potato) but realistically, I know it is over. So, I will attend Georgetown this coming year, finish in '06 and I am applying again this next cycle (to start med school in '06). According to the G-town website, roughly 50% of their students are able to complete the program and get accepted to a med school the same year.

There really was no master plan for me. And that's a shame. I probably cost myself a year or two by not having one. It is good that you are spending this time now looking for information and asking questions. I did not even know this site existed until a couple months ago. I would have avoided the whole-post bac route in the first place if I knew then what I know now.

There is definitely a lot to think about. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions. I think it was Phil who said this elsewhere, and I would like to echo - I did not have a lot of help at first, and I want to make sure that as far as it relies on me, no one else will have that problem. I have been given a lot of good advice since, and I want to make sure I pass it on.
 

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imrep1972 said:
Phil - where are you applying? Have you heard anything back yet?
I will definitely apply to BU and UMDNJ. I like the fact that these programs either start or give you the option of starting in September. This is a key issue for me because I intend to take the August MCAT and I don't want to get burned out before class even begins. This is the main reason I ruled out RFU.

The other two I would consider are SMPs, but I don't like the start dates. And I keep hearing from all of these G-town peeps that many students in the program concentrate all their efforts on their studies (and sometimes are even told to do so). If I was satisfied with my academic and extracurricular achievements by this point, Georgetown or RFU would probably be ideal...but I'm not. I'd like to spend the following year proving my abilities in a pre-professional masters, but I'd like to have the time for other volunteering/clinical opportunities as well. For my goals, I'm willing to take a chance and excel in a less well known (but solid) program that allows more time for these opportunities.

I haven't applied yet (I intend to very soon), but chances are I'll end up at UMDNJ.
 

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sunnyjohn said:
So when do you guys think you will be ready to apply? Are you trying for addmision in '06? '07? '08? :scared:
The first time I would file AMCAS is Summer '06--this is the earliest I'm considering. Summer '07 would be the latest time I'd consider filing AMCAS for the first time.
sunnyjohn said:
Have you guys worked out some kind of master plan you are following to improve your chances? (Informal post-bac classes, then formal master's post-bac or MPH, then admission?)
It's in the works, but I feel that I have direction. I planned to take Fall 2004-Spring 2005 to regroup, but I'm in the process of informal postbac studies instead. I intend to do a one-year hard science masters from Fall 2005-2006. I'm considering a few MPH programs prior to med school (after the hard science master's). However, if I was accepted to med school and performed well, I'd have better MPH options. For example, I know some former med students (physicians now) that did Harvard's (and I think Hopkins') MPH in one year, between their clinical years. So I think it's best to pursue the MPH at a later time.

Usually it makes more sense to go for an intense hard science master's / certificate program (e.g., Drexel, VCU) than an MPH if you still need to try to make up for a poor undergrad science performance. The MPH is not a free ticket to med school. The most science-heavy concentrations tend to be Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and some chem-heavy occupational/environmental health programs. None of these concentrations simulates the first year of med school the way the pre-professional certificates/masters do. An MPH would be great if you think you can integrate it into medical practice or because you are genuinely considering a career in public health. I would guess that many adcoms love applicants with MPH degrees. But if an applicant still has a questionable science record it would probably make the most sense to deal with that issue first.