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community college transfer - Ivy League/top tier-type level med school possible?

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UCDavispremed92

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Hello, my profile and questions are generalizable and I hope may help other premed students at a similar point in their undergraduate careers.

I am a effectively a junior (in 5th of 6 total years of undergrad) at UC Davis. I was a community college transfer from the Peralta Community College system (Berkeley City, Laney, Merritt, Alameda) and achieved a 4.0 there, taking only gen chem among my prereqs. Got a 3.87 my first year at Davis. Things are going alright despite a speedbump with a B+ in ochem last quarter.


PROS (resume):

- Feb-Oct 2013: EMT in ER (paid, employee, not shadowing)
- Some brief work at events (dance clubs - drunk/MDMA folks) as an EMT
- 2014: Certifications and familiarity in medical genomics - at my CC
- Aug-Sep 2015: Clinical internship in Durban, South Africa - emphasis on HIV and systematic deficiencies in healthcare system - took place both in urban hospitals and rural clinics
- May 2015 - present: Lab work on cryo-EM micrographs of HIV's external membrane protein (which is the part that binds to t-cells and undergoes membrane fusion) to render 3D images that are being used for... shouldn't say
- Currently trying to join one of the student run clinics. Admissions of previous clinics I have applied to (Berkeley Free Clinic, others) seem to be more contingent on how sensitive and dark-of-skin you are as opposed to your credentials. Should be able to get into one this or next quarter as Davis has quite a few

CONS:

- transfer
- 6 years in college
- political science major - trying to get some volunteer work in healthcare policy in Sacramento - doing so is not easy. Would very much like advice in this area
- Took gen chem at cc
- A bit on the old side - will graduate undergrad on roughly 25th birthday, subsequently taking year off for MCAT/research

Where am I deficient folks? community service? - if so what type specifically to the least degree screams "padding" and suggests genuine passion?

My plan is to take a year off and do research while studying for the MCAT after I graduate in june 2017 - thoughts? This may be long enough to get published

I'm setting my sights high so please be critical
 

GreenDuck12

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First off, nice resume, good work getting here with your grades and experiences.

Things that I would like to see that would make you more competitive:
- community service working with underserved populations (medical clinic, hospice, etc). You can avoid the "padding" issue by committing to one or two for a prolonged period of time. You have a lot of breadth of experiences but not a lot of depth. Focus on three extracurriculars and make them your focus for a period of one year or more. Avoid short term "one and done" experiences like voluntourism and one off events. These do smell of resume padding.
- A thesis project, if you are studying poli sci, find a way to do research on health policy (again, I would focus on underserved populations). Also, bear in mind that all top tier medical schools are research power houses, if you can do a thesis in biology/biochemistry, it wouldn't be a bad idea
- Gain more experience in a science oriented research. Get involved in publications/giving presentations on the research your lab is doing.
 
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UCDavispremed92

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The thesis idea is great. That has occurred to me, but I really think I'm going to put that one into motion now, thanks a lot.
 

tnedoots

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The only true "con" in your cons list is taking gchem at a CC. And even then, if you took the rest of your pre-reqs at UC Davis, it's not really a con.
Unless there's something life-fulfilling that you want to accomplish in a gap year, I don't know why you'd take one. Research isn't necessary, and I sometimes question the necessity of volunteering. I know quite a few people in med school who didn't volunteer. However, they had robust applications in other areas, just like you do.
And you don't need that much time for the MCAT, 6 weeks is probably more than sufficient, especially if you understood the subjects when you took them initially.

If you are dead-set on going to an Ivy league school, just apply to those that you want to go to. You may or may not get an interview and you may or may not get an acceptance. If you don't get an acceptance, ask them what you can do to improve your application for next year. Then do that.
 

futuremdforme

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A good school is within your reach but there's a lot more work to do. More hard classes to get A's in, the MCAT, clinical volunteering, some research... you know all of this and sound very capable but it's just impossible to tell at this stage whether you'll be competitive for those top schools.
 

UCDavispremed92

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6 weeks' prep for the MCAT? Perhaps I am just risk averse (my whole approach and maybe even my app speak to that) but research during the gap year allows me to take a year to do the preparation necessary for an upper 30s MCAT while giving it the appearance that it is about research. It may also allow me to get published as I will have more time to invest in the lab.

Research is not something I see myself doing (but who knows) as a physician but I stumbled onto this lab and the work we are doing I believe is very deeply significant and I would like to see it play out. I don't believe in fate, but my stumbling upon this lab makes me give it a second thought.

Also, while I would like to get into the most competitive med school possible, I don't see myself doing what may amount to a "trial run" of applications at only top schools and then accepting the possibility of waiting an extra year. This is why I would like to make my app objectively competitive for those sorts of schools right off, no doubling back.

I will apply to state schools as well - at the end of the day I'm a pragmatist. Another advantage of the year off is I see myself as having more time for application writing so as to "cast a wide net."

And just a tip for any premed students, one that I will be keeping in mind when looking at out-of-state public schools:
I had heard something from a podiatrist (injured my foot recently) about the fact that if you apply to a med school in Texas and are accepted and buy a condo immediately, by the second year you will be able to pay resident tuition, which is in the teens!
 
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