Cheap post-bacc vs. expensive post-bacc

Discussion in 'Postbaccalaureate Programs' started by Enigmatic77, Dec 25, 2012.

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  1. Enigmatic77


    Nov 14, 2012
    I received acceptance to a post-bacc program where the tuition is dirt cheap, however, they have an unfair system whereby they cannot guarantee that you will be able to sign up for science classes. I was told it will be extremely difficult to register. I am already 27 years old and would like to start ASAP. With that being said, would it be worth it to start a post-bacc program at a more expensive university such as NYU where I am guaranteed to register for the classes that I need vs. taking a gamble and waiting on the cheap post-bacc program? I think I know the answer but would like to hear from people who have experience in the post-bacc world.
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  3. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    No, if you can't get access to science coursework, no, it's not a good choice. There are other choices than those you list.

    You might want to think about what it says about you that you chose the word "unfair" to describe a situation involving a program that fully discloses true and worrisome details. Calling it unfair is intellectually lazy. It would serve you better to be curious about systemic cause and effect. I mention this because at 27 you're expected to show maturity, vs. the entitlement of younger students.

    Best of luck to you.
  4. Enigmatic77


    Nov 14, 2012
    I think you are jumping to conclusions. I was never told that it was be very difficult to register for classes until AFTER I was accepted. The program did NOT disclose this information. Moreover, the criteria they use to select who can register for classes among the post-bacc is centered on alphabetical order. That is NOT FAIR. Selecting students from a lottery system is much more fair IMO.
  5. robflanker

    robflanker 7+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    Did you ask these questions before applying? If not, then its your mistake for not asking.

    That being said, find a program where you can take science classes. That's the most important thing - not cost.
  6. chayo234

    chayo234 7+ Year Member

    Mar 13, 2010
    What's the point of taking a program when you can't take the courses you need? Also what school is this?

    It honestly sounds like a program where they don't care about the students if this information is accurate. Ask other students about the program to see how it actually goes down, just in case you got information from a bad source (not saying the source wasn't good but some administration people have no clue sometimes).
  7. Goucher2013

    Goucher2013 2+ Year Member

    Jul 21, 2012
    Remember to factor in the opportunity cost of lost wages. If you need an extra year to complete your pre-med requirements, that's over $100k in lost salary.

    The only time I would trade for extra time (or the risk thereof) is if the school has outstanding pre-med outcomes versus your other options: there's no point doing pre-med faster if your grades will be substantially worse. The administration of this particular postbac needs to be considered separately from the quality, enthusiasm and grading policy of its faculty.

    Unless the cheaper place has a reputation for offering a superior education - and therefore the prospect of better grades - I wouldn't risk it.
  8. ghostman

    ghostman 7+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2008
    I was in a similar situation when I was 27. I applied to Hunter for their postbacc, was accepted and attempted to register for Bio. My registration day was after all the undergrads, so, not surprisingly, all the spaces were full. I lost a semester that way, but I continued working so I didn't lose my salary for that semester.

    I decided that if I was serious about this, I needed to find a postbacc program that had space for me AND that I could afford. The CUNY system was out for me (I do know folks who successfully navigated the CUNY system, so it may just be my own bad luck) and I could not afford NYU or Columbia. I then found Harvard Extension's HCP program. It was as cheap as CUNY and had open enrollment for their courses. It was also respected and were night classes. I thought I'd get a job during the day, but that didn't actually pan out.

    I'm a med student now, so you can guess that it worked out. If you want any info, let me know.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  9. Kentobari


    Dec 15, 2011
    How many classes do you need? If you need them all, or most, then this might be a legitimate concern.

    On the other hand, factor this in with how much you'll need to take out in loans in medical school. The figure might not look that big anymore. You should be prepared to fork over big dollars to become a doctor, so your first priority should be to make sure you're on the road to success. Money should be something of an afterthought.

    I am 28 years old and finishing up my prereqs at Berkeley Extension, so I'm in the same boat as you. I'm also prepared to take out $50,000 for a master's program (SMP) upon completing my prereqs.

    A previous post mentioned Harvard Extension. Berkeley Extension's program is nearly identical. You should look into programs like this, having classes (and therefore classmates) separate from undergraduates is important for folks at our place in life.
  10. Enigmatic77


    Nov 14, 2012
    Congrats on med school! The school I am talking about is a CUNY school. If I were to apply to Harvard Extension and gain acceptance, do they help out of state students to find jobs because I cannot afford not to work? The program looks very intriguing.
  11. ghostman

    ghostman 7+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2008
    I don't think they have any service offering to help in-state or out-of-state students find a job. You do that on your own. They occasionally send out info on research job openings. There are a ton of hospitals and schools around looking for research assistants, but it's competitive with all the Harvard/Tufts/MIT/UMass/BostonU/Northeastern/etc. students in the area. I had no experience in the health/medical/science field, so I was not a very good candidate for any of them (I came close to a research/IT-related job, since I come from an IT background, but the schedule didn't really work out). I ended up volunteering instead.

    But realize that working + pre-med is tough. Harvard Extension has a great chem dept that makes gen chem/ochem manageable, but the courses are not easy by any means. Lots of people I know could not pull off a job and school work (doing the standard 2-year track, Gen Chem + Physics in first year). This is probably true of any pre-med postbacc program. If this is your only shot (as it was for me), I would try to devote as much time to school as possible.

    Money is important, so budget yourself carefully. Don't depend on making it as a doctor to pay off all the debt that you'll accrue. Too many college kids do that thinking they'll pay it off in the end, but things happen and you don't want to be stuck with a mountain of debt and realizing you made a mistake. There's a lot of a cost factors to consider (cost of moving, slight cost of living differences, etc.). Also, try not to lose your NY residency. If you lose that, you lose in-state tuition/preference for the 4 SUNY med schools. It's near impossible to become in-state resident for MA.
  12. Enigmatic77


    Nov 14, 2012
    Thanks for your help. I think you can relate to my experience considering we were the same age at the start of the pre-med postbacc program and we tried to navigate the CUNY post-bacc system. Ideally, I would like to take the classes at CUNY since I have in-state tuition and am living at home right now. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you manage to live in Boston and go to school two years without working? The only way I would be able to do that is if I live at home or take out loans to cover cost of living (which I don’t mind doing since I want to get started ASAP). My plan is to go to school and not work. Like you, this is my only shot. It is now or never.

    Also, how did you start your first semester (how many classes)? I want to take two classes (Chem and Bio).

    Excellent point about NY residency…If I were to live in MA for two years, would I lose my NY residency?
  13. ghostman

    ghostman 7+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2008
    I lived off my savings during this time. Some people took loans (see the Harvard Ext postbac thread for details). Since you have the option of living at home in NYC, moving to Boston+paying rent+Harvard Extension may end up being about as expensive as NYU/Columbia. You'll have to do the math to see what works out best for you. If you are currently working, SAVE UP! You'll have to get ready to give up a large chunk of your social life in postbacc, then almost all of it in med school.

    I followed the two year program at Harvard Ext. They start us off with Gen Chem and Physics (not Bio). I thought this was somewhat odd, but it made sense. For a lot of people, I think Gen Chem will be the easiest of the 4 pre-reqs and Physics/Organic Chem are the hardest. If you took Bio/Gen Chem first, you end up lumping the two hardest classes together in the second year (you'll also be studying for the MCATs). Also, Gen Chem and Physics are the two math-intensive courses (there is no math in Bio or Organic Chem), so if you can't cut it with math, it's good to know up front rather spending the money on a 2nd year of postbacc. Having said this, I'm sure plenty of people pull off Bio/Gen Chem in the first year just fine, but doing Gen Chem/Physics makes more sense to me now.

    According to SUNY, to maintain NYS residency, you must maintain at least 3 of those listed under the "Proof of Domicile" in this document:
    Therefore, you can go to school elsewhere for 2 years and still have NYS residency if you can maintain that proof.

    If you end up sticking with CUNY, but get closed out on classes, try emailing the professor of the course. Professors can grant "overtallies", but realize that this is more difficult with classes that have labs (all the pre-reqs) since there are limited lab resources compared to lecture hall seats. After I completed my postbacc requirements, I took biochem at a CUNY during my glide year. The class filled, but I emailed the professor and was allowed to take the course. I know a few med student classmates who did their postbac at CUNY (mostly Hunter), so it's do-able. Hunter has a postbacc certificate program. I believe if you are part of the program, you get slightly earlier registration dates, but still after the undergrads.

    Important Addition: Also, check now to see when you would likely take the MCATs. They are changing the MCAT format to include other subjects some time in 2015 (check to be sure), so you may need more pre-reqs than the standard Bio/Gen Chem/Orgo/Phys if you fall after the MCAT format change.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  14. Enigmatic77


    Nov 14, 2012
    That’s a good point. It would probably be just as expensive as NYU/Columbia. I did my undergrad at Columbia and would select NYU over Columbia because Columbia is notorious for having a Bio professor who curves to a C, fails people, and less than 10% of the class receives A’s. I know a woman currently at Columbia med who took Bio at Columbia post-bacc, received a B- and recommended against the post-bacc program because of the Bio class there. Plus, I’ve heard better things about the post-bacc program at NYU. Ideally, I want to take the classes at CUNY because of the price. I am already accepted into the post-bacc program but I looked at the classes I need online and they are all closed and the director of the post-bacc program told me it will be very difficult to register for classes because of budgetary cuts.

    As for Math, it is actually one of my strongest areas, I took Calculus I and III and did well but that was a long time ago. I’ve never taken Physics (not even in high school). I take it you would recommend starting off with Physics and Chemistry instead of Bio and Chemistry. I'm going to look more into this because you make some good points.

    Thanks for the link to the info regarding NYS residency.

    Great idea about emailing the professor, I’m going to do that.

    I think I will take the MCAT around spring 2015 or fall 2014. I heard about the change but haven’t looked into it yet.
  15. Bru

    Bru 5+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2011
    Just a quick point of clarification. Postbaccs in the Hunter certificate program register before the vast majority of undergrads not after. I believe priority registration was added a few years back and it is definitely nice.
  16. darkjedi

    darkjedi how did this get here I am not good with computer 7+ Year Member

    Oct 14, 2009
    I would be hesitant to pay for a full-price postbac outside of Bryn Mawr/Goucher/JHU as it would be a large risk for the value of the program. If acceptance into these programs is not possible, then go for a program that has been established for a while, such as Columbia or Harvard Extension.
  17. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    Agree with the first part.

    As far as the second part, wow. I know its OT, but honestly, I wish more nurses thought this way. I keep discussing how an attitude of analysis an problem-solving needs to be emphasized more in many of these nursing programs and institutions, as well as in the nursing, professional associations.

    The ability to problem-solve is key both in nursing and in medicine. I just mentioned this b/c it has been an issue of frustration for me in the field of nursing. Of course there are those in nursing that are great problem solvers. But I noticed a long time ago that often medicine is much better at approaching this kind of thinking. It also depends upon the individual.

    It's a good point.
  18. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009

    It is good that posts such as yours are made. People do need a heads up about this kind of thing. Personally, I 'd be really annoyed if I couldn't take the needed courses after being granted entry into a PB program.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012

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