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Bombed GPA, excellent research and work experience

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by ebrown1985, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. ebrown1985

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    So I wanted to bounce my story off you guys.

    I graduated last year with a 2.77 GPA, likely due to a combination of poor time management with working full time to pay for school. I have excellent work experience, as I've worked for 5 years as a pharmacy technician, 1.5 years as a phlebotomist/lab aide at a hospital. At both of these experiences I was able to work one on one with pharmacists who taught me the different mechanisms of many drug classes, and pathologists/lab techs, who showed me the ins and outs of diagnosis based on common laboratory tests, and through histological assessment.

    The last two years of college I spent doing undergraduate research in two different labs. At the moment I am a research technologist in a lab (dealing with medical genomics) I joined in my senior year of undergrad, and have had two accepted first-author publications in reputable peer-reviewed journals, one of which has gained considerable media attention. I have other publications in the works as we speak.

    I will be taking the new MCAT in January 2016 (will register in October when 2016 dates are open) and I have been studying for it very diligently.

    I'm looking into a number of post-bacc programs, including the MMS at Drexel, and a post-bacc at Temple University or PCOM.

    I understand that it will be very difficult to take attention away from my undergraduate GPA, however I am dedicated to trying my hardest to do just that. Is there anything that I am missing that might strengthen my chances?
     
    #1 ebrown1985, Jul 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  2. bengirlxD

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    Retake those classes you did poorly in is my best advice
     
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  3. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    With a 2.77 you should neither be taking the MCAT yet nor looking at programs hosted at med schools yet. Too soon.

    It remains to be seen if you can produce the multi-year mostly-science mostly-undergrad very strong academic performance that med schools require. And if/when you do produce that multi-year mostly-science mostly-undergrad very strong academic performance, you at best neutralize the damage of a 2.77. So make up your mind quickly if you're willing to invest the multiple years of work and character development that you need to invest to go after med school, vs. the infinite other possibilities that might not completely obliterate your 20's and put you a half million in debt.

    Med school is school. You don't get into it without proving you're good at school.

    4 years of 2.77 can't be fixed in a one year program. 2.77 says you don't know the content well enough to take a career-determining hours-long exam on that content. You should almost certainly repeat the med school prereqs. Those retakes won't forgive the prior grades for MD schools, but DO schools forgive. But any med school worth going to is going to be selective and that's a good thing. Don't get excited about a program or a med school that will take you before you've beaten the normal premeds at their own game. Getting in is no gift if you're not ready for the work.

    The first thing you do is take one class, something mid-level in math or science, and get an A, regardless of anything that happens in your life during that class, regardless of how pointless or boring you think it is, regardless of how good or poor the quality of instruction is. If you can't get one A in one class, then you have no business going after med school. Med school is school.

    And after getting that one permission-granting A, then consider getting an on-campus part time job that gets you a break on tuition and some registration priority, and do a 2nd bachelors in a hard science, as close to full time as you can.

    After you have multiple years of mostly-science mostly-undergrad almost-entirely-A's, then you can start thinking about a program hosted at a med school, and you can start prepping for the MCAT, and you can start working on your narrative that highlights your non-GPA achievements. Save your pennies.

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  4. ebrown1985

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    The pompous attitude some premed/med students get at times is very sad. The lack of credit these same individuals tend to give to research experience is equally sad.

    When I say research experience, I don't mean washing dishes in a lab for a semester, like many premeds pass off as research experience on their CVs. There is a lot of weight to having first-author scientific publications. This is not merely a "non-GPA achievement". Very few applicants have their names listed under the acknowledgements in a journal article, let alone listed as the first author on three publications dealing in the realm of medical genetics, and middle author on other research articles. Now, I'm not one for sugar-coating things, but frankly speaking, suggesting that someone complete a second bachelors degree for a B- GPA is irresponsible advice, which would achieve no more than wasted time and money.

    Even with a low GPA, I completed an undergraduate thesis-- which is usually reserved for honors students at my university. Now I would gladly welcome advice to retake key courses from which poor grades were earned, which I am doing. I didn't come here to ask someone to sugarcoat things for me, however, I also didn't come here to be given irresponsible advice.

    I hope people reading this thread can understand that a sub 3.0 GPA does not mean someone has never received an A in science courses, like has been suggested. There are A's on my transcript, most in science courses-- some even in graduate level science courses. At the same time, I have a 2 D's and 2 F's, combined with some C's which yielded a sub 3.0 GPA in my case.

    It is very narrow-minded to suggest that someone cannot handle scientific coursework when only considering GPA.
     
  5. 22031 Alum

    22031 Alum At the baby factory.
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    1) you should be proud of your research accomplishments, but you may be a bit TOO proud.

    2) a full-on second bachelors may be extreme, but the number of retakes you will have to do may be close to that. It's not irresponsible to say so.

    As pointed out above, all the research experience in the world does very little to demonstrate that you are capable of handling medical school. We're talking getting a 3-inch binder of dense info that you will have to retain in detail- and then realizing that you are holding the syllabus for a single exam, not the entire semester. When it comes to your ability to succeed at that, your coursework grades are far more telling than your research. Med schools have their choice of applicants who managed to do research (more than you snidely dismiss as "washing dishes") and succeed in the classroom.
     
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  6. bengirlxD

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    I hate to break it to you but GPA holds a lot of weight when it comes to medical school admissions. Like you have said that you have gotten high marks in your science related courses but you did fail some other courses. Those failed courses shows a lack of initiative to be a well rounded person in not just the sciences. Medical school is not filled with students doing research left and right. It is filled with students who are dedicated to first doing the best that they can in the classes they are in and excelling in them. And if they can handle their course load, they then can use the time that they have left to contribute to the scientific community through research. Yes your research is exceptional, but that GPA shows that you did not allocate your time effectively among the things that you are doing. I know some post bacs that have 7 first author publications and their GPA is top notch and even they are hesitant to say that they will be good enough to get to the top schools. They knew how to schedule their time to reserve for studying and when to do research. It can be hard to admit that you have made a mistake but you have to understand that your chances have significantly slimmed. I encourage you to retake the F's that you received and even the D's.
     
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  7. edgerock24

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    With all due respect, your research experience means squat when it comes to medical school admissions when you have such a low GPA. You'll likely be screened out by the majority of schools.
    DrMidLife gave you solid advice. If you cannot get your GPA up a little bit, then you won't get into medical school. It's that simple.

    I suggest you retake some courses until your GPA's are 3.2+ according to the AACOMAS grade replacement policy. THEN take the MCAT. Score 501+ and you'll be in good shape to apply.
     
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  8. DrMidlife

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    Discussion #1: what is the value of legitimate research experience?

    Discussion #2: by what criteria do medical schools choose students?

    These overlap at most 10%.

    Discussion #1 is something you're having with yourself in this thread.

    Discussion #2 is almost everything ever discussed in this SDN forum.
     
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  9. Entadus

    Entadus Happy on 5-HT
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    If you are so interested in research, why not pursue a research degree?

    If you are interested in medicine you had best start listening to the sage advice you are receiving. Frankly, I am shocked you would ask for advice and then proceed to jump down the throats of the people who take time out of their day to give honest feedback. They are just trying to help by telling you what you need to hear (and not what you want to hear).
     
  10. Goro

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    Please restrain your ignorance of med school requirements.

    We get that you're a good lab worker, but you're apparently not interested in hearing that if admitted right now, you would fail out of medical school by the end of semester one.

    You have yet to demonstrate that you can survive a medical school curriculum.

    Having a low sGPA has nothing to do with your lab skills or research talents. But your lab skills and research talents have nothing to do with your ability to be a good medical student, or be a good doctor.

    Retake all F/D/C science coursework, then aim for DO schools.

    If you're boning for an MD, then acing a post-bac/SMP is required not a few A's here and there, but 3.6 or better. Then ace MCAT (> 33 on the old scale). There are MD schools that reward reinvention. They don't reward people who only listen to what they want to hear. You came here for realistic advice and you got it, not hugs and kisses.


     
  11. DrMidlife

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    Probably a good time to drag this old thing out.

    How to change med school admissions:
    1. Get into med school.
    2. Get through med school and residency.
    3. Work in academic medicine for about a decade. (You might have some influence over your host med school now.)
    4. Collect data and test interventions at your host med school. Publish them.
    5. Take a position of responsibility at the AAMC or maybe the AMA. Pretty much stop practicing medicine.
    6. Still playing? Argue with your colleagues, who want to do the opposite of what you want, for the rest of your career.
     
  12. gyngyn

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    I see dozens of PhD's with impeccable research chops become medical school re-applicants every year with gpa's better than 2.8.
    I recommend that you re-read what has been suggested in this thread for excellent ideas on reconstructing your application for medicine.
     
    #12 gyngyn, Aug 6, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
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  13. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor
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    My only quibble is that this is a bit of an underestimate. Maybe I'm just slow, but it took me 20 years of continuous effort to change admissions at my institution. Even curriculum improvement took almost that long...
     
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  14. Goro

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    Jeeze, out curricular improvement is at a glacial pace!


     
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  15. DeterminedIrony

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    Ditto to what everyone here has said. I am not an adcom but grades are the biggest indicator of a student's ability to succeed especially with the strenuous load in med school. Just redo your courses and prove that you can do it then apply. Better to take the long road there and ensure you arrive. With your determination I am sure you can do it
     
    #15 DeterminedIrony, Aug 7, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
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  16. NoTownPreMed

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    It doesn't really take an adcom to know how important grades are for admissions. You can have excellent EC work and clinical experience, but it wouldn't mean a thing if your GPA is well below the average. Schools want students who are responsible, which also mean doing well academically. The OP should put his/her emotions to the side and take heed to all of the advices given.
     
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