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Could Use Some Input, Please?

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Scattered1984

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I guess I should give you guys a little background information. I am a first generation college student that graduated in 2006 with a degree in psychology with a minor in biology. Upon graduation, I had all the medical school pre-reqs, but acknowledged the fact that I was nowhere near competitve (2.98GPA, 22MCAT, & a Science GPA better left unsaid.) There's not much I can really say about the GPA without sounding like a whiner.

However, I can say this. I did not spend my time partying (...Looking back now, I wish I could say that...). I did not have too many horrifically terrible events that affected my life. Simply put, undergrad was the first time that I was challeged academically and had to find out that my high school preparation was sub-par the hard way. I worked my behind off and I admit it hurt not to see any improvement despite giving it my all.

After moping and wondering aimlessly for about two years, I decided to take my head out of my behind and do something. That something was to apply to PA school for Fall 2010. To raise my GPA, I retook general chemistry and added micro and genetics to my transcripts. I also took a job as a nursing assistant to readily gain that direct patient contact experience and have done shadowing with a PA and DO.

The end result was one interview (...With Duke though...yay...I couldn't have sucked that bad...) and eight rejections with the advice of an admissions committee member to take some more biological sciences. As a result, I took a five week biochemistry course and came out with an A- bringing my science GPA up to a 3.18.

This brings me to the present. I'm 26 and I probably now count as a nontraditional student. I do plan on reapplying to some PA schools. But for some reason that biochemistry course lit a spark in me. The detail, the intensity, and the pressure has brought back some of the confidence and fight I had lost. For 2012, I plan on putting in some med school applications along side those PA applications.

Now this is where the confusion comes in. I have no freaking clue where to go from here. Retaking the MCAT is a no brainer. However, my science GPA may be some cause for concern. The easiest answer would be to take more science classes. The problem now is that there is very little left for me to take unless I go up to graduate level. I don't know if getting a master's degree in something else is really worth it.

In short, I'm walking around in circles and could really use someone to bounce ideas off because time surely isn't waiting on me.
 

DancingThruLife

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I guess I should give you guys a little background information. I am a first generation college student that graduated in 2006 with a degree in psychology with a minor in biology. Upon graduation, I had all the medical school pre-reqs, but acknowledged the fact that I was nowhere near competitve (2.98GPA, 22MCAT, & a Science GPA better left unsaid.) There's not much I can really say about the GPA without sounding like a whiner.

However, I can say this. I did not spend my time partying (...Looking back now, I wish I could say that...). I did not have too many horrifically terrible events that affected my life. Simply put, undergrad was the first time that I was challeged academically and had to find out that my high school preparation was sub-par the hard way. I worked my behind off and I admit it hurt not to see any improvement despite giving it my all.

After moping and wondering aimlessly for about two years, I decided to take my head out of my behind and do something. That something was to apply to PA school for Fall 2010. To raise my GPA, I retook general chemistry and added micro and genetics to my transcripts. I also took a job as a nursing assistant to readily gain that direct patient contact experience and have done shadowing with a PA and DO.

The end result was one interview (...With Duke though...yay...I couldn't have sucked that bad...) and eight rejections with the advice of an admissions committee member to take some more biological sciences. As a result, I took a five week biochemistry course and came out with an A- bringing my science GPA up to a 3.18.

This brings me to the present. I'm 26 and I probably now count as a nontraditional student. I do plan on reapplying to some PA schools. But for some reason that biochemistry course lit a spark in me. The detail, the intensity, and the pressure has brought back some of the confidence and fight I had lost. For 2012, I plan on putting in some med school applications along side those PA applications.

Now this is where the confusion comes in. I have no freaking clue where to go from here. Retaking the MCAT is a no brainer. However, my science GPA may be some cause for concern. The easiest answer would be to take more science classes. The problem now is that there is very little left for me to take unless I go up to graduate level. I don't know if getting a master's degree in something else is really worth it.

In short, I'm walking around in circles and could really use someone to bounce ideas off because time surely isn't waiting on me.

Congratulations on your work so far!

My first question: Are you applying to PA programs only because you think you cannot get into MD programs? I am not sure how the PA application process works, but I think you need to zero in on your motivations for either career. MD applications are very expensive and you want to make sure that it's what you want to do before you waste money where you shouldn't (same goes for PA applications, I presume).

Honestly, I think that it would benefit you to reach out to a diversity office at a local medical school and ask them to go over your application with you (grades, essay, extracurriculars, MCAT). I know of a few medical schools who are more than willing to do this to offer students tailored advice, something a little more detailed than just "take more science courses." That being said, I am going to give you the advice that was given to me by an admissions committee member from a top 20 school.

Get above a 3.0 as much as you can. The 3.0 is essentially a cutoff for many schools, so that gets your foot in the door for an application reading. There are other courses that count towards the science GPA that you may not have taken yet. Statistics, Anatomy, Physiology, Immunology are some of the ones that come to me now. Have you looked into these? Taking a few of these would boost up your GPA. Upward trend is the name of the game, in your case, so a more sustained performance won't forgive your past grades, but it'll give your readers something to think about. The only graduate programs that would help in your case are SMP's for remedial science work. A master's in public health, for example, will not help your GPA. Even if you get a 4.0, it'll be counted as a nice EC.

Your MCAT will have to demonstrate that you have ability in the sciences. Take practice exams and do NOT take the test until you are scoring in the low-mid 30's. We can all pray, but the test is not going to miraculously become easier on testing day. Make sure you are ready.

Make sure you get GLOWING letters of recommendation. These have to be from professors that know you well. Ideally, they will be able to write about your and put you in their "top students" category. You need to show them you care about the material by asking questions, visiting their office hours, and interacting well with your classmates.

Those are my $0.02. Anybody else want to chime in? I know people are going to come through here and rip my post a new one by saying that your GPA is incompatible with medical school and that you need to have at least a 4.7/4.0 in order to be considered. :rolleyes: You might not end up being the strongest applicant at a top 5 institution (even then, I have some stories), but if you present the BEST application that you can, you have a shot.

Seriously, contact a diversity recruitment office at a med. school near you and ask them for candid, personal advice about your application. I think it will help a lot and give you peace of mind. Good luck!
 
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