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First generation medical school student.

Elopez216

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Is it hard to get into medical school if you’re a first generation college student ?? No one in my family has graduated high school. But my goal is to get into medical school, but i find the journey a bit intimidating. Haven’t finished my undergrad degree yet.
 

TeamMLRS

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Yes it is hard, harder than people that come from educated families for sure. But not impossible. Here's the big reasons why.

As a first gen, you most likely don't have a network of college graduates to advise you on how to succeed. Biggest thing I would have liked to hear is put more emphasis on signing up for the right classes. Look on rate my prof before you ever sign up. If you can't get the teacher that will give you the best chance of getting an A, seriously consider waiting to take the course. A lot of people will tell you to take the teacher that teaches you the most. Wrong. Take the teacher that will help you keep a high GPA. Adcoms look at numbers first, then extras. You can learn the material on your own when you're future isn't on the line.

Two, network. That means talking to professors. Yes it's awkward and can feel like you're being manipulative. But they're the ones who can get you opportunities to do research and other interesting ECs. Plus they could take an interest in you and actually provide a worthwhile relationship. As well as professors, make friends with high achievers. They're the ones that you want to study with, not the fun ones who will just waste time.

Three, this is a personal preference but take your time. You don't have to apply at 22. If you want to go do something interesting, now's the best time to do it even if it means applying a few years later. That's what will make your essays stand out.

Four, don't over commit. Your family won't understand. They'll tell you to work or you're lazy, and all the other kids are just entitled gen Zers. Ignore their advice, they have never been to college and don't know what it takes. If you have the ability, don't work unless it helps your app. That gives you time to do things that will help your future. Plus you'll be happier so you will do better

Tldr: take the easy A's, network, don't rush, and realize you're the one in college and not them.

Good luck!
 
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ruledaworlds

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It's hard for us because we have no idea what we're doing from here on out--at the start of undergraduate, applying to medical school, and everything beyond. There's no parental guidance. Almost everything I know about applications is through SDN and Reddit. Is it harder? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.
 
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DarkKnight835

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My parents had to drop out of the third grade to help out their families in their farm (they came from a war-torn country). They are illiterate in English despite our family having been immigrated to America for about 10 years now.
Yes, it is hard, and I had to navigate through the entire educational journey myself (ESL school, high school, and college.) But I didn't let that stop me from being proactive in trying to seek for help. Always asking those who know more than I do and try to learn as much as I can from them, whether that be from upperclassmen, professors, or even on online forums.
As the result, I got accepted to med school straight out of undergrad without gap years while being a first generation immigrant and first generation college student. It is 100% doable.
 
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readmypostsMD

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Is it hard to get into medical school if you’re a first generation college student ?? No one in my family has graduated high school. But my goal is to get into medical school, but i find the journey a bit intimidating. Haven’t finished my undergrad degree yet.

to be objective, don’t schools favor applicants like this? Is the difficulty these student encounter compensated by more favorable views by adcoms?
 

rosegoldkitten

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Hi hello, first gen who was accepted this cycle. I absolutely agree that the difficulty is in knowing what to do and how to go about doing it. My parents never went to college, my mom even dropped out after 6th grade to work in her home country too so I also had to basically navigate the entire education system myself, though with their support.

Making it to undergrad is an achievement in and of itself, and you made it this far!! I had a lot of friends in college who were premed before I considered med school and I leaned on them a LOT to understand the process. Friends are much more easily accessible than professors as you start learning about what you need to do. I wasn't on SDN in college, but it's also a huge help, as long as you can weed through the neurotic gunners on here. There are so many resources online.

I'm definitely not an expert AT ALL, but my messages are open if you have any questions or want to bounce off ideas. You can absolutely do it if you want to!!
 
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KnightDoc

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to be objective, don’t schools favor applicants like this? Is the difficulty these student encounter compensated by more favorable views by adcoms?
I honestly don't think it really compensates. Yes, once they make it to the end, they clearly receive some extra consideration with respect to expected GPA/MCAT in order to try to level the playing field, but, it is SO much more difficult for them to get to that point that no one who understood what first generation folks have to go through would trade places with them!!!
 
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Osteosaur

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Your biggest barrier is probably going to come from not having a 'doctor' in the family. I was not a first generation college student, but not having a physician in the family I found a hard time getting fixed up with people to shadow or research opportunities. A lot of my fellow students, who may have had an uncle that was a doctor, could get those positions a lot more easily. Even when I was working in research there was always "oh the kid of some doctor's cousin wants to help out" and so on. The nepotism is there.

But don't let it discourage you.

Use SDN and definitely see what alumni connections your school can offer. Get in good with your premed advisor and try to find connections to shadow, use your science professors to arrange research, etc.

When you volunteer in a clinical setting, similarly, try to be sociable. Don't get in people's faces, of course. But say if you've been scribing and are planning on applying DO but need a letter? Maybe the MD you work with knows a DO and can vouch for you.
 
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deophob

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It is so refreshing to read responses about this topic as I can relate to many of them as a first gen student. I've always had the feeling of not having the right resources and connections.

As a first gen student, I get discouraged by the adcom members on here who expect a near-perfect upbringing... a lot of their expectations are simply out of touch with the realities of growing up in a first gen household.

An overwhelming majority of the students accepted to my local med school are graduates of one of several fancy private prep schools in my community. I can only assume that their solid background (most if not all of them having parents who graduated from college guiding them on how to navigate higher ed; or simply had the right resources to assist them - given their ties) at least partially contributed to their success.
 
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Moko

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to be objective, don’t schools favor applicants like this? Is the difficulty these student encounter compensated by more favorable views by adcoms?
The OP's socioeconomic status will be categorized as 'EO-1', which offers significant context to their application. EO-1 students are presumed to have started college from behind through no fault of their own. This designation partially helps to 'even the playing field', but probably not enough to account for the additional challenges and hurdles faced by students in this category.
 
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NITRAS

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Both my parents and my maternal grandfather are college grads. My father has told me that the college guidance he got was basically a friend telling him that jobs in the oil industry paid well and that it never occurred to him to think about something like medical school. He came from a small Oklahoma town and was the smartest kid in school.

My wife's parents are both pilots without higher education. My wife and my in-laws are exceptionally intelligent people, but I think she would have had a different plan if her parents had advanced degrees. (I feel like would have gone into accounting rather than become an RD).

I was always expected to go to college, and I had pretty good advice through it. I knew several physicians (two of my HS friends dads were docs). I probably didn't have the best advice for getting into medical school and going through it. The intricacies of residency and rankings and how to get noticed in a good way were things I struggled with. Part of that is my personality, but I didn't get good help either.

So, yes, it is harder. You need the big picture mapped out in detail. Good luck on your journey.
 
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Prince_Avocado

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Hey!

I am the first one in my family to graduate college and I'm starting medical school in a few weeks! Both of my parents aren't educated, so the journey was definitely harder for me when compared to my peers whose parents are educated because I didn't really have any guidance. My dad dropped out of secondary school in his home country and became a sailor in his teenage years. He then immigrated to America and started working. My mom had me in her teenage years and became a housewife. So I basically never had anyone to turn to when it came to academic advice.

In college, I had to rely on my professors for almost everything. This included everything from what classes I should take to what I needed to do to improve my resume. Without them I would have definitely been lost. One of the best advice they gave me was to take my time! During my two gap years, I studied for my MCAT casually and worked a bunch of different jobs, which allowed me to become a lot more mature socially and mentally. I also had a lot of amazing experiences like performing with famous musicians and being a martial-arts instructor. I didn't have the best GPA (3.39) or MCAT (501), but these experiences definitely helped me get into medical school.

It's definitely possible to get into medical school as a first generation college student! Take your time, work hard, and try to enjoy the process!
 
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Elopez216

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Hey!

I am the first one in my family to graduate college and I'm starting medical school in a few weeks! Both of my parents aren't educated, so the journey was definitely harder for me when compared to my peers whose parents are educated because I didn't really have any guidance. My dad dropped out of secondary school in his home country and became a sailor in his teenage years. He then immigrated to America and started working. My mom had me in her teenage years and became a housewife. So I basically never had anyone to turn to when it came to academic advice.

In college, I had to rely on my professors for almost everything. This included everything from what classes I should take to what I needed to do to improve my resume. Without them I would have definitely been lost. One of the best advice they gave me was to take my time! During my two gap years, I studied for my MCAT casually and worked a bunch of different jobs, which allowed me to become a lot more mature socially and mentally. I also had a lot of amazing experiences like performing with famous musicians and being a martial-arts instructor. I didn't have the best GPA (3.39) or MCAT (501), but these experiences definitely helped me get into medical school.

It's definitely possible to get into medical school as a first generation college student! Take your time, work hard, and try to enjoy the process!
Omg we have a similar background! My dad also dropped out in middle school in his country , then he came to America to work. My mother also became a housewife when I was born. I’m the youngest of 3. My brother dropped out in 9th grade because he hated school. My sister actually learned English, graduated high school with honors and valedictorian, started college but dropped out after her first semester to get married. She hasn’t been back since. Somehow I do feel the pressure of them wanting me to do good and be successful. But I know it’ll definitely be a harder road than for others. Thank you so much !
 
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Eye-eye

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Yes it's hard. Use SDN religiously.
But take SDN with a grain of salt, too. There tends to be a mentality on here that if you don't score 100th percentile on the MCAT and discover the cure for cancer, you won't get into med school, and while it's difficult, SDN can at times overestimate the difficulty of things. Good for preparing yourself, bad for your anxiety or if it's making you feel like just giving up.
 
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StudentDoGter

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As so many others have said, it’s definitely hard in the sense that you may not have family members to help guide you, but it’s definitely possible to succeed. You have to advocate for yourself and push yourself to do well in classes and find job/volunteer opportunities. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help! SDN has been the most helpful resource for me during the actual application process. Be sure to utilize your school’s advising resources during undergrad, and participate in clubs if possible to gain good volunteering experience. You can do it!
 
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OSU-COMbound

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It IS harder in some ways, but admissions committees actually take that into account when doing a holistic review of your application. There is a place on the application where you tell them you are a first generation college student. I am a first gen college graduate who got into medical school this cycle. You got some good advice above. Here's what I wish someone had told me when I was younger (I went back to college after receiving my bachelors because I needed to complete more prerequisites):

Concentrate on your GPA. This means DO NOT TRY TO WORK A JOB WHILE YOU ARE IN COLLEGE. Instead, dedicate yourself to your study. Use loans/grants/scholarships to support you. Give yourself the luxury of TIME to study and do a good job. You will have no problem paying the loans back after med school (and there are indeed many options that allow you to simply...NOT pay them back--legally. You will have to pay some portion of the loans back, but you may be able to get a large portion of the loans forgiven).

LOOK at the prerequisites for all of the colleges to which you wish to apply, and make sure you take ALL of the necessary classes before you graduate. It becomes MUCH harder to pay for college after you have a bachelors degree (you no longer qualify for federal student loans, for instance). If you haven't been able to take all the classes you need by the end of senior year...just don't accept your diploma. Nothing says you HAVE to graduate as soon as you possibly can. Take a 5th year and finish those classes.

Find a sympathetic and knowledgeable mentor who can guide you through all the intricate things you need to know and do on your path to medical school (the person assigned to you by your college may or may not know what they are talking about, so compare anything they tell you to the things you discover by doing your own research).

Go to office hours of your professors and make yourself known to them. Many first gen students think office hours are for students who are struggling. That's not true. Going to office hours and asking for clarification or elaboration will help to bring you to the attention of your professors and will help them remember your name and feel a connection to you. This will help you when it comes time to ask for a letter of recommendation. A professor will write you a much better letter if they remember you and feel good about how hard you worked. I literally had a professor tell me that she would write me a better letter than students who were technically *better* students (higher grades on exams), because she would rather have me as her doctor than some of the kids who were cocky, and who just breezed into class, didn't participate much, but then did very well on exams. Professors are human. Get to know them. To be clear, I'm not saying you need to be in their office three times per week. But enough to allow you to make a connection with them.

Good luck! It's hard, but there are many people who have done it. You can do it too.
 
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OSU-COMbound

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Coming back to say: *maybe* you can do it. But you need to take a very hard look. I noticed on another thread that your community college GPA is around 2.5, and you are looking to transfer to a university. Sorry, but the hard fact is that your GPA presents a major obstacle. It will be hard to overcome that, and I'm not sure how much you will even be able to bring that up in the time you have left. Which makes it vitally important that you get straight As from here on out. That will at least show improvement, which can be factored in. But some schools have (an unpublicized) GPA hard cutoff, so for those schools your application may be rejected before it even gets reviewed. Are you by chance in Texas? If so, look into academic fresh start. Otherwise, you need to be serious about bringing up that GPA, or look into other career options. It's a hard thing to face, but you have to be realistic and unflinching when you evaluate your chances.
 
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Eye-eye

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Coming back to say: *maybe* you can do it. But you need to take a very hard look. I noticed on another thread that your community college GPA is around 2.5, and you are looking to transfer to a university. Sorry, but the hard fact is that your GPA presents a major obstacle. It will be hard to overcome that, and I'm not sure how much you will even be able to bring that up in the time you have left. Which makes it vitally important that you get straight As from here on out. That will at least show improvement, which can be factored in. But some schools have (an unpublicized) GPA hard cutoff, so for those schools your application may be rejected before it even gets reviewed. Are you by chance in Texas? If so, look into academic fresh start. Otherwise, you need to be serious about bringing up that GPA, or look into other career options. It's a hard thing to face, but you have to be realistic and unflinching when you evaluate your chances.
Second that. A 2.5 would, I assume, mean an automatic "no" from most places. And if you can't get on track to start getting A's and B's in most classes, it would probably be extremely tough to make it through med school even if you did get in. Try to identify additional issues that can be addressed and hit it head on. It may be very difficult, but if you can turn it around, it may still be reasonable for you.
 

definitely_chondria

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I noticed on another thread that your community college GPA is around 2.5, and you are looking to transfer to a university. Sorry, but the hard fact is that your GPA presents a major obstacle.

Though your community college GPA is very low, don't underestimate the power of an upward trend. Try to maintain a 3.3+ GPA for the rest of your college experience (3.5+ is better). This is going to take a lot of work but you really need to do this if you want to have a good shot at getting into medical school. Then, you could consider doing a SMP/postbacc program to improve your GPA even more and really get that core pre-med coursework down. Don't forget that AMCAS reports GPAs by year as well as the cumulative total, so adcoms will be able to see your yearly increase in GPA.

I don't think you should look into other career options at this point just because of your GPA. Context is everything. Adcoms are really starting to come around to the importance of SES/first-gen status/etc. and how that can result in some really turbulent initial years before you get the hang of everything. Also acknowledge that you probably won't be shooting for top tier programs (unless you have a super compelling life story we don't know about!). If you manage to increase your GPA and do all the other pre-med stuff, you could still have a good shot at mid/low tier programs and your local state schools. Reaching out on SDN was a great first step on your journey, and it goes to show how resourceful you already are.
 

OSU-COMbound

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Try to maintain a 3.3+ GPA for the rest of your college experience (3.5+ is better).

Even with a 4.0 average, OP will only be able to bring the overal GPA up to 3.25 (assuming 60 credits at 2.5 from community college and 60 credits at university at 4.0). Many colleges will filter out a 3.25 before even reviewing the application, so they will never even see the upward trend. Those schools DON'T look at scores by year--they simply toss the application before beginning initial review. Some schools publish their cutoff GPA, but most don't. The key would be to evaluate colleges carefully and see which colleges accept students with slightly lower GPAs (this can be found on the MSAR). Additionally, that GPA is ONLY if OP maintains a 4.0...which will be more difficult to do at uni than at community college, in most cases.

A 3.3 GPA for the remainder of OP's college career would lead to a GPA of 2.92, far below what is necessary for consideration at most schools. It is never too early to evaluate whether you are on the right path.
 
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aayz345

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Is it hard to get into medical school if you’re a first generation college student ?? No one in my family has graduated high school. But my goal is to get into medical school, but i find the journey a bit intimidating. Haven’t finished my undergrad degree yet.

I went through something similar, albeit a lot more mild. I was the first in my entire family to get a bachelors degree and neither of my parents finished high school. Sure, I did have to go through extra hurdles that most of my peers didn’t since most of them came from high income households with both parents being college graduates. The journey may be intimidating at times, but use these hurdles as motivation. These extra challenges will strengthen your character and provide you with an experience that your other peers can never attain. Also, use this as motivation to want to help out others in the future that may be in your shoes. This all helped me a lot and I hope it helps you. Good luck!
 

BeLikeH2O

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Is it hard to get into medical school if you’re a first generation college student ?? No one in my family has graduated high school. But my goal is to get into medical school, but i find the journey a bit intimidating. Haven’t finished my undergrad degree yet.
Frankly, it is easier for you to get in because you have a good story, especially if you are a URM. However, the journey was difficult for you to get to a position to be qualified for medical school. Hence, you are acceptable to med schools if your stats are low and you have the advantage in that regard.
 

OfMiceAndWomen

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Frankly, it is easier for you to get in because you have a good story, especially if you are a URM. However, the journey was difficult for you to get to a position to be qualified for medical school. Hence, you are acceptable to med schools if your stats are low and you have the advantage in that regard.

I wouldn't say it's necessarily easier. The main point of a 'holistic' review process is that your accomplishments are contextualized. Impressiveness is not just based on accomplishments by themselves, but also based on how much you've done with what you're given.

Someone told me this regarding the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, though I think it's also apt for med school. There are generally two different types of strong applicants: 1) those who come from a difficult background (low SES, first-gen, experiences relating to URM, etc.) and have overcome a lot to get to where they are, and 2) those who have a privileged background and have utilized their resources well to get to their accomplishments. Both types are seen to be as equally strong.
 
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