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Baltimorean

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Hey all, I'm currently applying this cycle. I have two rejections post-interview, a bunch more post-secondary, and am still waiting on five schools but the outlook isn't great this late into the game, especially getting rejected from 2 of the 3 in-state schools, and having heard no word from the third (I'm not a MD state resident despite what my username suggests).

I am a biomedical engineering major with a GPA of 3.3 and a BCPM of 3.1, with a MCAT breakdown 10P 11V 10B S. I have spent 100+ hours volunteering at a free clinic in Baltimore, another ~50 hours spent volunteering for an organization promoting inner-city health awareness, 3 years of research (1 yr on bench, 2 yrs clinical, with a publication and a poster, but not a first or second author), ~50 hours in a community service organization. I shadowed physicians for an entire year in high school, and also had the opportunity to shadow doctors for a summer during my undergraduate years. I applied relatively early, getting verified in early August, completing my secondaries by mid-September. My LORs are good as far as I know; I've asked my pre-professional advisor about them and she said they were great.

What I wanted to know is, what is the best way for me to improve my application for a reapplication in the 2008-2009 cycle? I have been considering post-bac work, SMP's, retaking the MCAT (I had been getting 13's studying on my own while holding a full-time job, so doing better is a given if I take a prep course), getting a research position and publishing as first author, or just looking for a job in the biomedical industries (pharmaceuticals, perhaps). Extracurrics such as volunteering in a clinical setting is a given, of course. Given my GPA/science GPA, I'm considering doing post-bac work. I'm not sure how much I can raise my GPA with that, though. Seems like at best, I can raise my overall GPA to a 3.4-3.45, and sciences to a 3.3.

Basically, the deal with my science GPA is: I've gotten mostly B's in my prerequisites, with some A/A-'s sprinked throughout. The main concern I think is with my Organic Chemistry grade. I took Organic Chem I during the summer after my freshman year, and I got a C-. (though I got a B in Organic Chem II the same summer, inexplicable I know) That hurts my AMCAS GPA a lot, but the fact that I retook the next semester and got a C+ hurts it even more. This was during a pretty rough and confusing time in my life, and I've discussed it briefly in my PS and talked a bit about it in my interviews, but I think its a big issue here.. probably the biggest issue I can think of. So that's why I was leaning towards post-bac work, doing some work to increase my science GPA. What would you guys advise? I don't know if it is advisable to be re-retaking Organic Chem I, but I imagine it would help if I took some higher-level science classes such as Cell Biology and Biochem to raise my sciences GPA. Basically, my grades start out at 3.3 freshman year, dips to 3.0 sophomore year, back to 3.3 junior year, and then 3.7 senior year. It took time for me to get my act together, along with dealing with the upper-level engineering courses, but I feel confident about my ability to pull in at least a 3.7 in a post-bac program at a school like UPenn. As long as its not predominantly engineering..

The plan is to meet with my preprofessional advisor, but as she was the one who gave me advice for this application cycle, I am not sure how far I can take her advice. After the application cycle is over, and if I don't get an acceptance/interview anywhere, the plan is to contact the admissions offices of some of the schools I was really targeting and to ask what I can do about my application. But I'm trying to formulate a backup plan right now, and so any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

dwinifredr

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Hey...I'm sort of in your position (actually worse off...seeing as I've had no interviews!) From what I've heard, medical schools interview only if they think you can handle the rigor. Seeing as you have a very respectable GPA for a BME major, I'd also assume this is the case. Far be it from me to offer any advice, but something you might want to consider improving upon is your interviewing skills. Also, I think an SMP would be a bad idea...you have shown that you can handle a heavy science course load. Maybe retaking the orgo course in addition to some others? Continuing to get clinical exposure would of course be ideal. Juuuust my 2 cents : )
 

Abobo

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Taking classes at your local university would be just as good as taking a postbac. It costs less and you'll end up improving your gpa just like in a post bac.
 
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MrTee

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What I would do in your shoes is to take some post bacc classes at a local university to show you can pull some A's with a decent course load, then raise your mcat by a few points. Then you should be set. There's no need for a formal program unless you want to cough up some big bucks for no real additional benefit. Also, note that it would probably take less time to study and raise the mcat a few points versus getting A's in 6-8 classes, provided you're a good test taker. Of course, doing both is the best plan...but if your time is limited, I'd take fewer classes and nail the mcat.
 

Funky

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taking a prep course does not necessarily mean you'll be doing better. If you are confident that you can do better because you are nailing those aamc practice exams, by all means go for it. Also like it was mentioned, you can definitely be helped out by a post bacc program.
 

RollWave11

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Do an SMP (1-year). With a GPA thats already low you need to start fresh to show you really can be successful in the classroom. To correct an undergrad you'd need to take a LOT of classes.
 

Mazowszanka315

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I think a post-bac programs are great and SMP are fantastic ideas. I know that both work...from what I have heard is that in some instances post-bacs work better than SMP. I think you should also look into if certain programs are feeder programs for specific med schools...like UPenn post-bac is great for Thomas Jefferson Med school. :)

I think your MCAT is great and next time apply really really early.

Like others have said how about DO schools? or even if you want to venture to a international medical school?
 

Nasrudin

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wow. looks like you've gotten the full spectrum of advice going different directions. I'll likely be in a similar gpa range so your case interests me. From the fishing around that I've done here and elsewhere. The options open to you vary in terms of their cost, sacrifice, and likely payout.

The SMP represents the full frontal assault with high casualties involving your bank account. An all in proposition. You can't do anything else except study. The finances of such a proposition are intimidating to me, because in my case that would mean convincing some bank to finance me while I'm not working for a year.

I'm using that as a very last option.

If you have a lot of credits like I do the gpa will take along time to move. I'm not at all sure what exactly grades in pre-reqs mean to adcoms. But I think it means less in your case due to your rigorous course of study. Maybe consult with the adcom sticky thread in the pre-allo forum for fine-tuning your plan.
If your MCAT's are looking stronger maybe go for it. I've heard of people improving that drastically so maybe that'd be something worth your while. They say there's no exact way for calculating an applicants stats and yet the adcom members on sdn have specifically said otherwise. So maybe the MCAT could compensate in your case.

If you have funding resources and your ready to take the plunge maybe go for the smp. If your ok taking a another year of tweaking this and that and taking your chances do that. It seems like the low gpa folks are always going to be more at the mercy of the random nature of the process. That's the draw of the smp's I guess.
 
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