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Can I get into DO?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - DO' started by HighestHand, Sep 4, 2014.

  1. HighestHand

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    Hi guys,

    I just had a couple of questions regarding my chances at a DO school. I feel like I have been having bad luck and made a lot of bad choices over my undergraduate career and have been really stressed lately about my acceptance chances. I had to work for some of my student career after my parents lost their job but two years ago my mom's business started to pick up and now we are good. I want to apply to this cycle, but I will see what you guys have to say.

    My main questions are:
    Should I retake my MCAT?
    Should I apply to this cycle? (It's very late? but the deadline is around March)
    How many LORs left do I need?

    Please look at my stats and let me know what you think.

    MCAT- 25 (8/7/10)
    I know this not a good score, but I honestly was averaging a good 29-33 (around 10-11/7-8/12-13) on the AAMC practice tests (29 on AAMC9, 31 on AAMC 10, 33 on AAMC 11). I also have not taken physics 2 yet so I only had a vague idea of it. Unfortunately for me, the physical sciences portion of the test was very physics heavy and 2 of the physics passages were actually from physics 2, that I did not take. I hit the jackpot with badluck with this one. I am taking physics 2 now so I should learn everything by December. Should I retake the MCAT in January?

    Undergraduate GPA: (I will try to highlight all the cons with my transcript)

    Cumulative GPA between all (I have courses from 3 colleges) colleges with retakes/substitutions - 3.40
    Science GPA between all colleges with retakes/submissions - 3.0757
    Biology Major:
    Science classes that I have done moderately well in:
    A- in Anatomy and Physiology (Retake)
    B in Gen Chem I (Retake)
    B in Eukaryotic Cellular Biology
    A in Molecular Genetics
    A- in Molecular Neurobiology
    B/A in Orgo II (Lecture/Lab)
    B in Biochemistry
    B+ in Therapeutic Techniques in Biotechnology
    B+ in Physics I

    GPA at first college - 2.998 (around 40 credits)
    F in Orgo
    C+ in Anatomy and physiology
    C in Chem I
    C+ in Chem II
    GPA without above 2 classes - 3.5

    GPA at second college - 3.455 (around 90 credits)
    C+/B in Orgo (Lecture/Lab) (Retake) Should I retake this again?
    B/A Orgo II (Lecture/Lab)
    B in Chem I (Retake)
    C in Cellular Biology
    A- in Anatomy and physiology (Retake)
    No credit in Anatomy and physiology II
    Credit in Statistics

    Currently attempting -
    Physics II
    Molecular Evolution

    Extra Curriculars -
    At the moment, 150 Hours of Volunteer service with permission to view gastroenterology procedures. I am still volunteering there so by the end of the semester it would reach maybe 250. Almost all the doctors allow me to view their procedures so I don't know if that counts as shadowing.
    Club Activities -
    I was the club coordinator for the Asian Student Association in my first college.
    I am the secretary for the club now at my current college that promotes leadership and helps students get on track.
    Hobbies -
    I am a martial artist and just had my first amateur kickboxing bout. I have practiced for over four years.
    I am a hobbyist chess player and has been playing since beginning high school.
    I play the guitar.

    LOR -
    1 from Physics Lab TA
    1 from hospital I am volunteering in
    1 from Calculus professor
    If I am lucky, I can get more by asking very nicely, so should I get more?

    So what do you guys think? What are my chances? What can I do to make my chances better (Retake more classes, more LORS, etc)? and Should I apply this cycle (the deadline for most DO schools is March) or should I apply earlier next cycle?

    Too long to read stats:
    cGPA - 3.40 (Can bring it up to a 3.46 by end of semester and 3.52 by graduation)
    sGPA - 3.07 (Can bring it up, but didn't calculate)
    MCAT - 25
    150 Hrs volunteer and going up.
     
    #1 HighestHand, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
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  3. meatie

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    I'm going to be blunt with you so that I can give you my honest thoughts and advice. I think you have a lot of work to do. Your GPA is by no means "terrible" for DO, but it's not good either, especially with your sGPA. I think that combined with your MCAT score and lack of extracurriculars you're a long shot.

    Retake the MCAT, look into a SMP or post-bacc program and see if they are viable for your circumstances, and start getting serious about something outside of school.

    To understand your situation better, why did you transfer so many times and what do you mean by "bad luck" throughout your undergraduate career?
     
  4. HighestHand

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    Thx for respones, I actually only transferred once. I took an orgo course at an affiliated college though so that counts as my third college.

    When I say bad luck, I mean that at my current college, it is very competitive to get into the science courses. I tried for 3 semesters to get into the physics and organic chemistry class to no avail. They do not allow over tallies and science courses are based on credits. So most sophomores were probably not going to get the classes they want. That being said, the 3-4 semester, I took organic chemistry I and II the next semester at another college that is associated with my current and that was my "third college" and the credits transferred.
    My parents also lost their job 3 years ago and I had to work for income, so I neglected studying and got an F in orgo and C+ in anatomy (both I did go on to retake).

    Also, when you say "something outside of school." Do you mean more shadowing hours, volunteering, research, etc or do you mean some kind of hobby?
     
    #3 HighestHand, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  5. JPickos9989

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    You have almost exactly identical stats to what I had when I applied last cycle, I just had a higher MCAT and higher sGPA. However, your science GPA is low and the inconsistency in the grades would probably be a red flag for most schools. A 25 isn't a bad score, but a higher one would help you out a lot more with the GPA's you have.

    I wouldn't say your chances this cycle are shot, but I wouldn't count on tons of interviews. You would need to get your app out within the next week and turn around secondaries like it's nobody's business. You would also have to apply broadly and strategically. However, I think you would be better off financially and emotionally if you waited until next cycle.

    I agree with meatie, retake the MCAT and shoot for 28+, skip the molecular evolution course and retake gen chem I instead. Get an A in both physics II and the Gen Chem retake and you will be in better shape, not great, but a lot better compared to where you are at now. I don't know if I would suggest a post-bac purely because of the expenses involved in it.

    Lastly, stop giving the "bad luck" all of the blame in your situation, you and you alone control how you respond to life and it's stresses. You can either get down about them and play the "woe is me" card or you can buckle down and view it as an opportunity to come out on top. Medical schools want these individuals, not the blame game players and individuals that struggle to take responsibility for their own lives. I don't mean to come off harshly, but you need to rethink your whole situation if you want to turn it all around.
     
  6. HighestHand

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    Thx for your reply and advice. I do realize that I shouldn't blame other things and I definitely would not say that to an interviewer if I had the chance, but I do think that it was out of my control how my parents lost their job and how my current college handles their class registrations. I will however take your advice and keep that to myself.

    By the way, do you mean Gen Chem II in which I received a C+? Should I also retake Orgo again?
     
  7. JPickos9989

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    Those are definitely out of your control, my emphasis is on how you respond to those life events. I went through a similar situation, except with a single parent, and I worked 30 hours a week for all four years of my undergrad that I received my degree from. I as well transferred between three schools and spent 6 years is undergrad. I'm not venturing to say I even remotely understand your situation, but from my personal experience, the response to the stresses makes all of the difference in whether you succeed or not.
     
  8. HighestHand

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    Definitely, really appreciate your advice as you were much more stressed than me. You also mentioned that I shouldn't apply this cycle for fear of financial problems. Would you be opt to tell me to apply for this cycle if I were to say that money is not a problem anymore? If I don't get accepted, I can still take more courses and everything before I graduate, and hopefully will have a better MCAT and more extracurriculars for the next cycle.
     
  9. meatie

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    I also had to work almost full time in school while taking on a full course load and an hour bike commute every day due to financial problems. It's difficult and my sympathies are with you HighestHand. I know how trying it can be to feel like that, but if you can triumph over that kind of adversity and have something to show for it then it makes you that much more attractive to AdComs while also preparing you for the kind of grind you'll deal with in medical school. I'm not trying to lecture you, but think of your experiences as an opportunity not as "bad luck".

    What I mean about "something out of school" is when I see your extracurriculars you listed you have only 1 thing. Are you passionate about something? Do you feel strongly about something in medicine that would push you to volunteer with a related organization. EC's can be anything. They're your way of adding flavor to your application and it's not something I can help you with. That comes from you.
     
  10. meatie

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    I would personally advise you to wait and save your money. Not because I think you're hopeless, but why go through the stress of applying possibly twice when you can strengthen your app and get it done with in one go? Applying to medical school is NOT something you want to do again if you can avoid it. It is a LOT of time, a LOT of money, and a boatload of anxiety. Focus on graduating from your school with the best damn grades you can and retaking your MCAT for a score that is 28+. While you're doing all of this start looking at something to get your fingers into whether that is volunteering, shadowing, scribing, playing ice hockey, whatever. And stick with it.
     
    JPickos9989 likes this.
  11. JPickos9989

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    I don't think applying will bring any financial issues, as long as you don't apply to like every DO school, that's a pretty hefty bill. The post-bac program would be a financial burden I wouldn't advise.

    If you apply strategically, there is a chance you could get an acceptance this cycle. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying this cycle! As long as you're still improving your application for potentially applying next cycle, you could definitely give this cycle a shot.

    I would avoid regionally biased schools (depends on what your region is), and avoid higher MCAT schools (CCOM, AZCOM, the Touro's, and Nova). You may also have better luck with the newish schools (depending on your region as well).

    I say go for it if you don't have any issue with the financial aspect. But it really is ultimately up to you, as there are arguments for and against applying this cycle. I say go with your gut instinct!

    If you have any questions or have some specific questions in regards to my background and my application feel free to PM, always willing to give any advice I can.
     
  12. HighestHand

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    I am by no means offended by your responses. In fact, I thank you for them. I am looking for honest responses and not responses that make me feel better. If they are honest and make me feel good, then that's even better.

    My drive to go to med school actually stems from my interest in the human body, how it works etc. My mother was a herbalist in her native country and would recite recipes to me. I wanted to know why these recipes worked or didn't work.

    Anyway, for extracurriculars, I am also an amateur kickboxer and have been a practitioner since the end of high school, I am a hobbyist chess player that has played since high school but it is something that I had to cut back on, and I play the guitar since high school. Did you mean stuff like that?

    Thank you for everything JPickos9989.

    As for meatie, I am only 2 classes away (next semester) from completing my GER and graduating, so I feel like if I can get in this year, I can just not look for SMP or post-bacc. If I don't, then I can take more science classes next semester or retake science classes to strengthen my GPA, then look into SMP and post-bacc.
     
  13. JPickos9989

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    Are you a URM? Just curious when you talk about your mother and her native country.

    You obviously have a unique background which adcoms will love, at least at my school they love the unique characteristics of applicants. All you need is a bit more consistency in your academic work and a good MCAT retake and you'll be fine.
     
  14. HighestHand

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    I am Chinese, I don't think I am URM.

    I also forgot to mention that I am the secretary of a club at my current college and was the club coordinator of the Asian student association in my old college.
     
    #13 HighestHand, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  15. meatie

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    That sounds perfectly fine and if it fits your lifestyle and schedule better to retake courses that you need to and attempt an application this cycle, more power to you. Thinking critically about your chances and your future plans if they don't pan out the way you'd like means you're ahead of the curve despite what SDN may have you believe. Stay motivated, be open minded, and don't be afraid to take your time. There are people that go to medical school at age 30+. I took a year off myself after undergrad because I felt so burnt out from college.

    And yes, things like guitar, chess playing, and kick boxing are definitely things you can talk about on your application. They show you are a human being and have outside interests. At the same time I think you would do very well to strengthen your clinical experience. Observing gastroenterology procedures is nice, but there is more you can do. If you have had a hard time in college because of your financial difficulties, why not reach out to similarly socio-economically disadvantaged students and see if there are organizations designed to support youth in academia? Something like that would be great because it would give a chance to explain your past history while showing that you are a caring, compassionate person (you are compassionate right?)

    Cheers.
     
  16. radkat101

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    How have your grades trended since you started at college 2?

    These types of "what are my chances" questions are pretty easy to answer if you are simply honest with yourself. Is there anything grades-wise or MCAT-wise to demonstrate to an ADCOM that you will be successful at their school? Pretty much every pre-med thinks they have what it takes to succeed in med school. The adcoms know the reality however, and want to be sure that they aren't taking a risk by accepting you. This is why you see so many DO applicants accepted in an "either/or" scenario, where they have a high GPA to offset a low mcat, or high mcat to offset a lower GPA. Unfortunately, in your situation, both of those stats need to come up. I would advise you to either boost the mcat by a few points, or be able to show a massive upward trend in your GPA. Maybe you'll get some love from LUCOM.
     
  17. hallowmann

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    This might be deviating from what most people on here have said, but: You don't have a great chance, but I think you could get in somewhere if you applied really early and broadly to the lower tier/newer schools.

    None of your stats are particularly competitive, but they aren't that far off. 25 isn't great, but you have a 10 in bio, which is nice, and the 8 in PS isn't terrible. Your 3.4/3.1 GPAs are nothing to write home about, but aren't that far below the means (both within 1 SD).

    That said, you could significantly improve your chances with a little bit of time and effort. During this academic year, you should look into retaking as many courses as you can that you got <B- in. You want to aim for ~3.3 or higher sGPA.

    You can also consider retaking the MCAT, but only do so if you are consistently doing significantly better than your target score on full length practice tests (e.g. if your target is 27/28, you should be getting ~31 consistently). For the MCAT, I recommend taking as many full lengths as you can get your hands on leading up to the exam and make sure that you take them in the same conditions as you're going to take the real thing (same time of day, quiet conditions, timed, etc.).

    You're OK, make those few improvement and you'll have a good shot.
     
    #16 hallowmann, Sep 4, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
    user3 and JPickos9989 like this.
  18. HighestHand

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    Thank you again meatie for all your kind words. I also updated my extracurricular activities such as club activities. I held an executive position at two clubs, one at each college. And I will look into your advice for some big brother programs for underprivileged kids! I like to see myself as a compassionate person, but it really is up to the person to judge. :) Cheers.

    @radkat101 the trend has steadily gone up little by little. It went from a 3.3 to a 3.4. I have been doing well, but it is the occasional C+ somewhere in the first few semesters of my second college. In the past 3 semesters, I have not gotten below a B. I would not really consider that a triumph though. And honestly, the answer to the question "what are my chances" eludes me.
    I feel like I have a chance to make it somewhere this cycle with my current stats, but I also feel that I might not get into anywhere I apply this cycle.

    @hallowmann Quite ironically, your response has given me the most hope that I'd get in this cycle. Honestly, I was really banking on a high MCAT score to reel in the prize. I was consistently scoring 30+ and then reality hit me. Also, what really caused my low GPA is the few C's I have. I have a total of 3 C range grades that really did it for me. Otherwise, I don't have anything else under a B. Considering that all 3 classes are sciences, that really dragged down my sGPA as well as my cGPA. If I retake 2 of those C's (one of the classes is no longer offered) and get at least a B+ on it, my sGPA would rise to a 3.31, if I get an A in those 2 courses, then it becomes a 3.41. I really wish I could retake that last C too. But wondering does nothing for me, I will retake them next semester because it is too late this semester to make changes to schedule. BTW when you say "You're OK" do you mean I have an OK shot at DO now? or you mean I'll BE OK?
     
  19. user3

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    I notice this issue with practice tests a lot. Why do the AAMC's have such disappointing correlation?
     
    #18 user3, Sep 5, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2014
  20. hallowmann

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    Well, I think you'll be OK either way. So here's the thing, if you can manage to do well (A's) on those retakes, and you do well on an MCAT retake (even just a 2 point improvement), I think its worth it to apply. That said, applying next cycle with a 3.4/3.4/27+ will put you right at the mean, and a broad & early app will give you lots of options.

    If you can wait, I would, if not, I think you'd get in somewhere, especially if those parts of your app were fixed by say December. Applying that late eliminates a lot of places (mainly the more competitive DO schools), but you could apply to the mid-range, lower, and new schools.

    The AAMCs are crazy old. The test has changed significantly since then, and so score correlation isn't great. That's why its best to take many more FLs, like the Kaplan ones, or really any you can get your hands on. If someone's doing consistently well on a large number of FLs from a range of sources, its likely they'll do well on the real thing.
     
  21. HighestHand

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    I definitely wouldn't be able to get anything fixed by December because it's too late to alter my schedule at the moment. The earliest I can retake is next semester. My MCAT is also on Jan 15 now so that effectively means that I won't have any significant changes in my application till at least jan. unless of course if you count my two science courses now which will raise my sGPA to a slight 3.1-3.15 and my cGPA would be 3.45 assuming I get all As. You said that you'd recommend me retaking courses first, but I cannot do that yet. If I don't get in this semester then I will definitely the on the route to fix my application.

    If I were to theoretically apply with my given stats, given those choices: applying now and applying 4 months later with a slight boost in my application status, what would you recommend?


    And regarding the MCAT thing, to be fair it was also my fault. I had trouble getting the physics II courses and I noticed that physics II was not that heavy on the practice tests (maybe 1/5 or so) and I was scoring 9-11 on it. On the real MCAT, it was unfortunate for me to be really physics II heavy (more like 1/3 the physical sciences) so I bombed it and got an 8. I am however currently taking physics II and will definitely be able to pull off 9-11. I am not quite sure why my bio was so low as I usually score 11-13 and even got a 14 once on the test. In the real MCAT, I distinctly remember much more experimental questions like having genes +/- and -/- what happens when blah blah blah. There wasn't as much of those in the practices although I recall 10 and 11 had at least one? And the floating questions are not as simple as on the practice tests either.
     
  22. Dreamstoo

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    7 VR and 3.07 sGPA bother me. Get that sGPA up to a 3.2-3.3 and maybe retake the MCAT?
     
  23. Dreamstoo

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    Agreed, the main reason why I'm deciding to void my Sept. exam and study till January and get my hands on GS FLs, Kaplan 1-5FL (which I have), and the AAMCs (I used some of them and they varied way too much for my liking... I know the content, just need more practice questions ala TBR/TPRH)
     
  24. HighestHand

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    I will definitely try to do well on the next two semesters and retake MCAT. And during that route I'll also have more clinical hours.

    However I also made up my mind to apply this semester too. Now the question is should I apply now to be earlier with the stats:
    3.4/3.07/25/150 hours + club exec positions and a bunch of "unique" hobbies.

    Or should I apply 5 months later with possible stats:
    3.45/3.12/possibly higher MCAT/ more hours.

    Is that worth it to apply 5 months later?
     
  25. hallowmann

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    The difference between 3.4/3.07 and 3.45/3.12 is minimal. If you're definitely applying this cycle, you should just do it now, but be sure to indicate that you have a retake planned, so that schools don't make their decision and potentially reject before your MCAT retake.
     
  26. HighestHand

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    I see. So what if by any chance the lower tier DO schools do happen to accept me for my stats now, would they also wait to see my new MCAT to accept me if I indicate a retake or would they just accept me?
     
  27. user3

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    honestly, you gave a huge explanation of why your physics mcat score was low, but your worst score is verbal- and that's the most important. You have a chance of getting in DO, need a LOR from a DO so you need to get some shadowing in to obtain that. Otherwise I would say improve the MCAT to raise your chances, specifically VR.
     
  30. HighestHand

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    Yep, my verbal was just sub par and I will definitely retake.

    Anyway, I went to update my AACOMAS app today and I realize that it does not show my GPA for my first college. Instead it only shows the GPA for my current college and it is:

    NSGPA - 3.66
    SGPA - 3.17
    CGPA - 3.42 (Not correct)

    These numbers are actually wrong, because my transcript says its 3.455 for the college and when I did the math myself, I also came up to 3.455. I verified many times to see that I had not made a mistake.

    Does anyone know why it doesn't show my first college's GPA? Does AACOMAS only go by your current college grades? And does anyone know what the discrepancy may be because of?

    I also have a W. Does anyone know if AACOMAS looks at W as an F or not? I assume not because it didn't lower my GPA in the application.
     
  31. hallowmann

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    If they're willing to accept you outright, they will. That said, many will wait for the retake to even interview you, let alone accept you.

    Its unlikely you could even get an acceptance before your retake anyways though. It'll take at least 1 mo to get verified. Then it'll take 2-3 wks to get a secondary, maybe a few days to send it back. Then the school will have to invite you for an interview, which could take anywhere from 2 weeks to a couple months. Then you'll interview, typically at least 1 mo after your invitation. Then you'll get a decision within 1.5 wks - months. At minimum, you're looking at 3.5 mos, but most likely longer.
     

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