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Can I explain this in my PS?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by MedSchoolApp12, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. MedSchoolApp12

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    Hey guys, I had a 3.8 GPA before last semester.
    Then my brother became sick with a recurrent disease at the beginning of the semester.
    I basically had to commute back home from college everyday because my mom had to take care of my brother and so I had to help out at my dad's business. School took a backseat and so I ended up with C's and B's, couple of them in upper division bio courses.
    My question is, won't this look weird in the application? I had 3.8s in 1st and 2nd years and then I end up with 3.4-3.5 in my 3rd year.
    Should I and can I explain this situation in the personal statement? Will adcoms just view this as a sort of excuse for my poor grades in the 3rd year?
    Thanks all.
     
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  3. 202781

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    First of all the dip in your GPA is not significant (people get into medical school with 3.4-3.5.

    Obviously always try to do your best

    The last thing that I want to say is that while it is terrible what happened to your bro, it will make for a killer personal statement and you will absolutely be able to explain it. You are GOLDEN
     
  4. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Tecnicall you can write whatever you want in your personal statement. IMO you should not focus on any "negative" aspect of your application. I put that in quotes b/c a 3.5 isnt really a negative thing, but its worse than what you were used to. There will certainly be time to mention your situation either in secondaries or during the interview, but I dont think the personal statement is the place to do it...you could be talking about so many other things that make you stand out as a star applicant. Unless your expereince with your brother and his disease impacted your choice for medicine, i wouldnt bring it up. Its just my two cents, but i would try to focus on everything positive about yourself in the personal statement. A 3.4-3.5 is nothing to be ashamed of, even if you didnt have outside circumstances. I dont think its going to raise any red flags, which is why i think you should wait to talk about it.

    i fail to see how that would be a killer personal statement. You agreed yourself the dip is not significant, so why explain it? Unless, like i said above, it had some impact on his decision to pursue medicine then he can talk about it in that light. But simply bringing it up to point out an insignificant dip in GPA is not a good use of PS space IMO. You 5300 or so characters to convince the reader why you are interesting, why you are awesome, and why you want to go into medicine. I dont see how that fits in with the OPs situation. It can be explained later (and probably will never even come up)
     
  5. fireflygirl

    fireflygirl The Ultimate Blindian
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    :thumbup: I agree. I think this is pretty sound advice. Don't use the PS as a place to talk about the drop unless you can incorporate it in such a way that it de-emphasizes the actual drop in the GPA and instead, focuses the reader's attention on why how this experience has shaped your decision to become a physician. But only talk about the issue with our brother if, as Ryserr21 said, it fits this profile - don't put it in there for the sake of explaining the GPA difference. You'll have time in interviews or secondaries to talk about this if you need to. Use the PS to explain to adcoms why you are a good fit for medicine and what unique characteristics you bring to the table.
     
  6. MedSchoolApp12

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    Okay, perhaps I should not explain this in my PS. I was just worried I might get screened out in the primaries?
     
  7. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    If you get screened out for a GPA drop of 3.8 to 3.5 FOR ONE SEMESTER I will personally pay for ALL OF YOUR APPLICATION EXPENSES. In other words, its not going to happen. Whats your overall GPA? Probably around 3.7ish or something? Thats still great. An overall GPA of 3.5 is still competitive, in your case you are only talking about one semester. You will be fine. The highest GPA I received for a semester was a 4.0 and the lowest was like a 3.3 or something. That 3.3 was only one semester, it just happened to be a sh*tty one. My overall GPA was still high, and guess what......no one ever asked about it.
     
  8. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    I think that you will need to explain, perhaps in interviews, (if you can't weave it into your PS or an appropriate secondary question), what your priorities are and whether your family is supportive of your goals. A family that drags a college student home on a daily basis to "help out" might be a nightmare to deal with as you move on to medical school. Here are the questions that you might expect: How will you balance their demands on your time with your academic demands going forward? You've already shown that, under pressure from home, your gpa tanks (what is your gpa for that semester alone, not averaging in your previous academic performance?). Did you see these grades coming and raise an alarm to your family? If so, what was their response? Did you keep your performance on quizes and labs a secret from them with the hope that you could dig yourself out of the hole? Did you do well up until the final exams and then fall off a cliff academically? Is your family aware of how you did academically that semester? What has been their response?

    AMCAS displays academic information in a grid with 7 columns: academic year/BCPM gpa/BCPM credits/AO(all other) gpa/AO credits/Total gpa/Total credits

    There is one row for academic years 1 through 4, an additional line above that for college level classes taken while in HS if applicable, a total undergrad, and, if applicable a post-bac line, a grand total for undergraduate classes, and, a graduate school line.

    If you can salvage the second half of the 2008-2009 academic year the drop in gpa won't be so glaring. Still, when a adcom member runs a finger down your list of classes taken, the disaster will be obvious and will raise a question. Sometimes, a sympathetic academic advisor will address the situtation in a LOR stating that they were aware of the family emergency and certain that the performance during that time period is not indicative of your aptitude for upper level work.

    My major concern would be how your family will deal with emergencies in the future; you may struggle as a medical student if they continue to expect you to be available on a daily basis to help out.
     
  9. MedSchoolApp12

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    Thanks. I'm glad to know, gives me some hope.
     
  10. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Lizzy woud you really cassify a drop from 3.8 to 3.5 a "disaster?" I mean we arent talking about a differen in total GPA, we are talking about one semeser. Thats the difference between one or two classes maybe getting a B+ instead of an A- or something. You would really classify that as a GPA tank? That seems a little extreme. His overall GPA is still gonna be in the 3.7+ range.
     
  11. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    The OP is pulling the wool over your eyes. The gpa is 3.5 total based on 4 semesters of 3.8 and one semester of Bs and Cs. Now, in my book, Bs and Cs end up being <3.0 for that semester. Looking at the grades by year, I'd see something like A, A, A-, A, A,B+, A, A, A, A- etc and then B, B-, C+, C, B-.... or something like that. That's what I'd call tanking....
     
  12. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    We are reading his OP differently. To me it seems like he is saying he had one semester of 3.4-3.5, and his GPA for the semesters before that was 3.8. If that is the case, then it won't affect his overall GPA that much at all. We had a conversation via PM and from what he said it also leads me to believe that my original impression is correct. Maybe the OP can clear it up with another post, b/c if what you are sayiing is in fact what happened, then its definitely a different situation.
     
  13. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    I think that it is more like a 3.18 at best for the semester just completed. That's going to be an obvious crash from the previous semesters.

    Best case scenario: he has an advisor or a faculty member with whom he was open about his struggles and his family situation. That person can explain the situation in a LOR and put an excellent spin on it. It sometimes seems more credible when it comes from a faculty member than when it is included in the PS.
     
  14. BlueElmo

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    I think Ryserr is correct.
    He had 3.7+ before this past semester and he had a bad semester of 3.5 which still means, if he does well through the end of his undergrad, he will still end up with 3.7+ when he applies.
    I think, if his MCAT score is decent, that is more than enough to get him into a good medical school.
    OP, don't worry so much. Just focus on getting 4.0s through the rest of the college, and keep that overall GPA 3.7+
    You are very competitive if that occurs.
     
  15. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    Well, even a semester of 3.18 won't kill the OP. I had a semester GPA of 3.01 which received no comment whatsoever from any of my schools and I got some fantastic interviews at very competitive schools. (My overall GPA for the school year with the 3.01 was a 3.56 which is not amazing by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it probably offset the horrible semester). I ended up with a 3.7 overall GPA in my undergrad. One bad semester isn't so bad, but two bad semesters is pushing it, I think.

    Honestly, I get the feeling that ADCOMs just kind of look at the big picture of your grades; I don't think they're out to scrutinize the minutiae unless you got a couple of C-or-lower grades or if you have very few grades because you took very few classes.
     
  16. NAVYLABTECH08

    NAVYLABTECH08 DA DOCTOR IS HERE
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    You get no empathy from me friend. I took my entire junior year upper science classes while I was an alternative to get deployed with a marine force to Iraq. Finally, 3 weeks before my mcat, I was made a primary and got deployed. Try sitting for your mcat with the thought that you may die in the next few months and all of this pre-med stuff may have been for nothing. I'm sorry your brother was ill, but you weren't. Unless you had to physically drop out of school to care for him, that story earns you 0 points in my book. It just looks like a very bright student who got burned out and was looking for an excuse to lose focus. My advice, don't bring that stuff up in the PS and let adcom find it. Your GPA is still good and you just need to retake the classes you got C's in. If you make your PS centered around this, it could hurt you. Chances are, they may not pay much attention to it if you do well in the make-up classes & since your GPA is still good.
     
  17. 236116

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    It is frowned upon (if not against school regs) to retake C and above classes. Try again.
     
  18. NAVYLABTECH08

    NAVYLABTECH08 DA DOCTOR IS HERE
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    I disagree. What if a school accepts him/her and something else comes up and the student places medical school on the backseats. Schools don't want to hear this stuff. If asked about the dip in grades during an interview, then tell the story. The PS is not the place to air insignifigant laundry, trust me!
     
  19. halekulani

    halekulani Member
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    you'll have plenty of room in the secondaries to explain grade discrepancies. make the PS about yourself.
     
  20. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    Ummm wow, you're kind of a dick. You're opinion on the OPs situation is fair enough, but to tell him that his brother getting sick doesn't compare to you getting deployed is kind of ridiculous. You joined the marines knowing you could get deployed, you started the premed track knowing you could deployed and then... you got deployed. Shocker, considering we've been at war for years now. If you weren't up to it, you shouldn't have joined. The OP didn't know his brother was going to get sick and he and his mom probably did the best they could with what they had. He's asking how to rectify what happened, he's not asking for your empathy, and I doubt he cares about your personal situation. Why is it that people always feel the need to outdo each other on these boards and can't just answer a question?
     
  21. 236116

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    QFT.

    :thumbup: Diosa.
     
  22. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Youve got an icebox where your heart used to be.
     
  23. GoSpursGo

    GoSpursGo Allons-y!
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    Agreed that I don't think that adcoms look too far into the minutiae; that said, I think the OP may have some trouble. I read the OP's statement like LizzyM does, that he had a 3.8 heading into Jr year but made a bunch of B's and C's to end up with a 3.4-3.5 at the end of the year for his overall GPA. If it's one bad semester, then the situation is still certainly salvagable, but it must have been really bad to cause a .3-.4 point drop off of just one semester.

    Honestly, better than talking about your situation in your PS would be to simply get better grades next semester to show that semester was a complete aberration. It might even make sense to plan to take a year off from school before applying so that you can report your senior year grades as well and show an upward trend of 1.5 years rather than just one semester (not necessarily requisite off of one bad semester, but an idea).

    Finally, :thumbup: diosa. It does feel sometimes that people get into a ridiculous pissing contest over who had to overcome more, when 99% of the time it's not relevant to the conversation or what the person was asking.
     
  24. MedSchoolApp12

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    hey guys thanks for the kind replies and helpful comments.
    I should have explained more clearly, I had close to 3.8 coming in this year, and if I end up doing well this second semester, my GPA for this academic year could potentially be 3.5-3.6 range. That might put me at about 3.7 overall GPA by the end of my 3rd year.
    I was just worried about this past semester and how that might appear to adcoms.
    And NAVY, sorry if my situation sounds like some sort of an excuse to you, but it really is not.
    So I guess the consensus is not bring this up unless adcoms specifically ask me about it.
     
  25. pianola

    pianola MS2
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    edit: NVM.

    I think you're probably ok with a 3.7, OP. That's what I had. With one bad semester.
     
  26. GoSpursGo

    GoSpursGo Allons-y!
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    Ah, OK. I don't think you've got much to worry about then; one rough semester isn't going to sink you, as long as you wing up with around a 3.7. Just make sure you actually DO rebound!
     
  27. halekulani

    halekulani Member
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    :laugh:


    :thumbdown:
     
  28. BlueElmo

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    Seriously, you are an *******. And to think that people like these become MDs in America... what is the healthcare system coming to in this nation?
     
  29. NAVYLABTECH08

    NAVYLABTECH08 DA DOCTOR IS HERE
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    I am sorry if my comments come off as cold. I just am trying to get my point across. 1 bad semester won't tank a application unless the OP gets like 5 Fs or something. You people need to grow up an dface reality. I knew that I joined the military and I knew I could get deployed. Did I bring all of that stuff up in my PS as a excuse for not having a 4.0 GPA & a 40 MCAT. NO! This OP still has a great chance to get into med school and should not stressed a 3.5 or 3.8 GPA. Thats my opinion! I'm not a dick, I am a realist who answered the question that the OP asked based on my experience.
     

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