Community College: does the end justify the means?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Philism, Oct 11, 2002.

  1. Philism

    Philism Member

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    First off, I'm a long time lurker so I have done a previous search for this subject only to find that none really apply to me. Second, I know how gentle you guys can be with people (not that there is anything wrong with hopeful optimism) so I ask that you be frank with me: I won't be able to speak with my advisor until monday and this is eating me alive :(

    I made a lot of mistakes in high school and eventually dropped out to receive my G.E.D.. I scored decently (top 91%) and had been looking at college anyway , and have changed a lot since my HS years. Long story short: Made mistakes, ready to rectify them and find myself. But there is a problem: if I want to transfer into a university (which is the only fighting chance I'll have to prove myself to the admissions folk), I have to fulfill Integrative Studies requirements. No big deal, right? Here is where the problem rears its ugly head: the IS requirements include req. classes for medical school. The CC (Grand Rapids Community College) is in very good standing with the universities I am considering and I wanted some honest feedback on what I should go into CC thinking.

    Currently I have heard the following options:
    1. Taking the classes and then re-taking them either in my undergraduate year or after I recieve my bach.. I have no real problems with either (Of this option, I'd prefer the latter since it'd most likely pound things I forgot into my head and put me in touch sooner with the science professors).

    2. Risk it and try applying with CC courses on my med app..

    So I turn to you, Oh Great Forum Goons, to give me your two cents :)

    I have a basic idea of how I want to tackle this (option 1), but would that send negative vibes to the ADCOMs?

    Edit: The CC is in good standing with two of the major medical schools I plan to apply to (UMich and MichStateU)
     
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  3. cabruen

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    Welcome to SDN :clap: :clap: :clap:

    Congrats on getting on the right path and going after your dreams.

    Another option that seems to be more reasonable is to take whatever classes are required IS courses at the community college at ace them. Then when you transfer to the university take advanced chemistry and biology courses as part of your degree and ace them also.

    I would not retake the classes if you got an A in them the first time.

    You got a long road ahead of you. Best of luck.
     
  4. tBw

    tBw totally deluded

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    exactly. fortunately cabruen saved me the bother of typing it ;)
     
  5. Street Philosopher

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    i know someone who was in a similar situation. long story short he didn't try hard in high school, got his act together in community college, rocked it, transfered, rocked it, took the mcat, rocked it. got into columbia and ucla and a whole mess of others. brilliant guy.

    i don't think anyone said anything about the CC courses because he just rocked everything else so there was no doubt.
     
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Enzyme Regulators, Ride!

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    I agree as well. The CC classes might even give you an opportunity to learn your fundamentals more thoroughly (smaller class size, more face time with the prof), which will better prepare you for the upper division classes like biochem and molecular biology... especially if your local CC has ties to the major 4-years. They usually plan and coordinate course offerings and content to closely match the university. This ensures you receive full transfer credit.

    Go for it! -dh
     
  7. Philism

    Philism Member

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    Thanks for replying, guys. You're really set me at ease... atleast for a little while :) I look forward to taking an active role in the community now that I'm starting college soon.

    cabruen: Thanks for suggesting that. I could probably manage an A in gen bio and chem as I am familiar with the subjects, so perhaps that would be the best course of action. I'll have to bring that up during my meeting monday.

    Again, thanks to all who have replied. I (obviously) especially liked the stories about people who got themselves into a similar situation as I. :D
     
  8. lola

    lola Bovine Member

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    i think this is excellent advice. as long as you can show your ability to do well at a 4 year school, it is fine to have some community college courses on your transcript, even prereqs. just be sure to take a fair number of other science course when you finish to be sure that med schools are confident in your abilities. good luck!
     
  9. souljah1

    souljah1 Attending

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    I'd like to bite on this one....


    I goofed around in highschool and entered college where i goofred around some more for a year and a half studying liberal arts. I dropped out and reentered in community college where I took my premed classes, as well as some other classes to satisfy my lower division prereqs to transfer to a uc. did that, transferred, took the mcat, graduated from a uc... and applied to med school.

    i would not retake premed classes at a four year university. that is silly. some schools may look at junior college (cc) courses as inferior, but most take your whole application into consideration. if you rock your mcat, and rock your classes once you transfer. etc...they will assume that you would have rocked your premed courses a t a four year university as well.

    i would just focus on getting a lot out of your courses and getting good grades at the cc-level..the rest will fall into place.

    yeah, there are plenty of people in my classs who went straight through college without taking a break, but i think the break can be really effective.

    it really deends on the person.

    peace.
     
  10. Amy B

    Amy B I miss my son so much
    Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    Hi and glad to have a long time lurker posting,

    I agree with what is said here. DO not retake courses!!!!

    Med schools usually don't mind if you have CC classes for your general classes. A lot of people do that route due to the money aspects.

    As long as you do the upper, more advanced courses (such as Organic Chemistry, Physics, Physiology)in a universitythen, then where you took your original general courses really won't matter.

    Good luck, Glad to hear your getting your life turned around. That is always looked upon favorably.

    Keep on posting:) :)
     
  11. womansurg

    womansurg it's a hard life...

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    O man, you gotta read my story - we are one and the same.

    Good luck!!
    http://www.oldpremeds.net/testinvs/index.php?act=ST&f=11&t=528

    Here's some excerpts if you're interested (to save you from having to save you from having to click over...)

    I was one sad and lonely little girl. Mom left when I was three; Dad was an out of control alcoholic. Had a pretty wild childhood with no supervision. Dropped out of school after the 9th grade. After about a decade of doing my own thing, supporting myself with various low paying jobs - bartender, sales, etc. - I went back to a Junior College. Took the high school equivilency degree (GED), transferred to a 4 year state university, majored in philosophy, and applied to med school. Accepted immediately at a progressive school where my non-traditional background intrigued rather than frightened them. Now beginning my final year as Chief Resident in General Surgery.

    Lots of great, supportive folks along the way. Lots of nay sayers too - people who told me "medical schools don't take older students/high school dropouts/non-science majors..." etc, etc.

    Love being a doctor; love being a surgeon even more.

    Chase your dreams....


    And then this, in response to a question:

    Comments like yours mean a great deal to me. I'm proud and glad to know that my story is motivational for you.

    The truth is, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many people will view such a 'comeback story' as inspirational, and indicative of how your strong underlying talents have enabled you to overcome adversity in your life.

    Other people will view you as damaged goods. In almost a fraternity/sorority type paradigm, they seek to restrict medical school enlistment to young ultra-achievers who are physically fit, attractive, and well connected. Often folks with this thinking are from affluent backgrounds, often from a long line of physicians, and have never experienced the terror and stresses of poverty, or how substance abuse can consume a family from the inside out, or how the culteral inertia behind class differences, or race, or age, or gender can vastly multiply the efforts needed to achieve personal progress.

    Seek out the people who are empathetic and supportive. Do well at your community college classes; then you will need to transfer to a four-year university to complete your bachelors and fulfill your pre-med requirments. Figure out what you enjoy and find a department which embraces you, then major in that subject. I was a philosophy major, and my small department welcomed my unusual background and supported my efforts.

    You do have to prove your stuff. You'll need consistent high grades in your pre-med subjects, and you'll be competing against the best and the brightest. My Bio 101 class had over 700 people at the start of the year. By finals week of Bio 103, the class was less than 200 people. With a few exceptions, the difference between those who drop out and those who succeed was not intelligence, but rather work ethic.

    When I applied to medical school, my personal statement read like a rags-to-riches story. In keeping with my earlier statements regarding the mindset of admission committees, I experienced a gamut of reactions. There were little no-name schools which refused to send me secondaries, while prestigious schools granted me interviews, and everything in-between.

    When I attended my first interview at the Ohio State University, my interviewers were intensely interested in knowing more about my background. They smiled at each other and exclaimed with delight when I detailed my successes. They proudly related the schools aggressive efforts at recruiting a diverse class, and profiled current students and recent graduates with wonderful stories of unexpected accomplishment.

    At the conclusion of the inteview, a dear, sweet woman who was a freshman embryology professor, reached across the table, took my hand and said with shining eyes, "welcome to the Ohio State University College of Medicine".

    It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

    Not to say that my path since that time has been without difficulty. The same blind stubborness and ambition which allowed me to plow past people seeking to pidgeon-hole me with their predjudices, also cause me to be at times inflexible and hotly opinionated - traits which conform poorly with the structured heirarchical system of surgery training, for example. But truth be told, I wouldn't be here today without those very qualities; I would have succumbed long ago to the negative influences of those seeking to preserve the status quo.

    So, get to work Kalki, and make us proud. I look foward to celebrating your successes with you.
     
  12. Philism

    Philism Member

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    souljah1 and womansurg: I honestly can say that these stories do inspire me. Especially yours, womansurg. This thread is now saved to my harddrive incase the forums are ever wiped and I'm feeling a bit blue and begin second-guessing myself :)

    Again, thanks to everyone who has replied. I'll keep everyone here briefed as to what my plans become after I meet with my advisor. I'm still young (turning 19 in Janaury) but I can relate to these stories so much that it isn't even funny :laugh:
     
  13. slindsay198

    slindsay198 Member

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    i hated high shool...almost failed. i took mostly woodshop my senior year and graduated, then took a year off. i went back to my local CC for two years and did fantastic b/c i liked what i was doing and i wasn't getting grades to bring home to mommy and daddy anymore...it was more for me. anyway, i transferred to a great undergrad and did fantastic. kept my **** together, took the mcat, and got accepted to my top choice. so yes, it can be done. just keep your head on straight, take care of your business, and don't let people try to tell you it can't be done. peace.

    Scott-MSII
    PCOM
     
  14. agent

    agent agent, RN

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    i have to take my pre-reqs at a community college.. long story.

    im that non-traditional not close to any big universities.

    ive gotten all A's so far so hopefully it wont be too much of a hinderance..
     
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  16. crazyA

    crazyA Senior Member

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    What's up Philism-

    I had a friend in college who was in a situation similar to yours...except he did fine in HS, but just decided to go to CC afterwards to stay close to family.

    Anyway, he took most of his pre-med requirements in CC, then transferred to our state school, and was really worried if the CC experience would count against him. Our pre-med advisor (who's normally ultra-critical) just told him exactly what the people here have already been telling you, that just as long as he did fine in the science classes he DID take in our school and did OK on the MCAT he would be fine...and he was. He eventually got into our state medical school.

    Also, a couple years ago, I went to the Illinois State Medical Schools Fair, where a couple of ADCOM's brought up this topic...and they said they were fine with it too. The only thing they object to is people already in 'regular' college going back to CC over the summers to knock out some pre-med requirements, because they think it shows that the person is taking the easy way out.
     
  17. gherelin

    gherelin Member

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    Hey,
    I guess a lot of us were really struck by this thread and all the fantastic responses. Just wanted to add that you actually CAN take ALL of your pre-meds at community colleges. I had an undergraduate degree in philosophy (with basically no science), took 10 years off working in human services, and then took the pre-meds requirements at night at various local community colleges--all of them--from Gen. Bio to Organic chem and Physics. I also took anatomy and physiology, surprisingly NOT a medical school requirement, at the community college where the author of one of the best A&P textbooks ever written (Marieb's) is based. (She didn't teach my class unfortunately but we of course used her text.) I felt I learned so much because the classes were small and there was lots of individual attention and lots of camaraderie between students. I love community colleges! I mostly aced the courses, did fine on MCAT (using only home study because I thought I couldn't afford a prep course--if I had to do over would put one on a credit card though!)and my refs were from the community college instructors as well as one old one from my undergraduate years and one from my boss. No one ever suggested there was any problem with my pre-requisities or refs being from community colleges or the fact that I didn't have a letter from a "pre-med committee". I only applied to 5 med schools, again due to money (would recommend applying to more though) interviewed at two, got accepted into one and graduated last year.
    Good luck and have fun at community college!!!!!
     
  18. agent

    agent agent, RN

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    I'm so glad to actually hear a response like this one.

    I work full time and take care of my family. I go to a local CC at night where im taking all of my pre-reqs. I dont have much of a choice, but I agree the small class size does really create a great environment for 1 on 1 teaching. Some of my classes the teacher to student ratio is as low as 14:1.

    I manage to get all A's through some really tough work, granted I haven't taken all of my pre-reqs yet, but im working hard and think I'll do just fine.

    Thanks again. I hope I have the same experience you did.
     
  19. DALABROKA

    DALABROKA Raider Hater

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    I'll put my 2 cents in on this topic.
    I failed the eighth grade and never went back to school. I got a job instead, and after I turned 18, I took the GED and did well. I hated school, but at the same time I had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. After meeting the woman whom is now my wife, she convinced me to return to school at the age of 24. I applied to a local university and was accepted into the school pending me taking the ACT. I took the ACT and scored a 27 and was then given a regular enrollment. To make a long story short, I have done well in college and on the MCAT while working full time and having a few kids along the way. I have not yet been accepted into medical school, but I have some interviews lined up and I am confident that I will get in soon. It has not been an easy road, but the experiences have made me stronger. As has been said before, hard work is what gets you through; along with a little luck. Anyone can do it, as long as they are devoted to the path.
    I don't think that most medical schools would care about where you took your classes, as long as you do consistently well and, as has been pointed out previously, are not trying to avoid difficult classes by opting to complete the pre-reqs at a community college. So be prepared to explain why you chose the CC route, and as long as you have a reasonable explanation, you will be fine. My university is rather small, so I have always had the luxury of reasonably small class sizes. I think that class size is important, but don't make a decision to attend a school solely with this in mind. I know that there are many good community colleges out there, but most cannot offer the same experiences or breadth that you would get at a university. I don' know if any of this makes any sense, but I hope it helps.

    DALA
     
  20. Philism

    Philism Member

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    It make plenty of sense, Dalabroka. Every story I read makes me a smile a little bit more; there certinally are the opertunities if we want them bad enough, it seems.

    good luck with your applications. :clap:
     

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