10+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2009
I'm currently a junior in college, and am just getting more and more stressed the closer I get to the time to apply to schools. I think my grades are the weakest part of my app: I spent my freshman year at a school that wasn't a good fit for me (got GPA of 4.0 and 3.7). Then transferred to a much harder school and got GPAs of 2.52 and 3.71. So I think my cumulative GPA is about a 3.3 or 3.4 at this point, with a science GPA around the same. I'm going to take the MCAT in April, and think I will do pretty well, because when I took a practice one, I got a 30 and hadn't taken physics or orgo. I have four summers of research experience at NIH, and am hired for this coming summer as well. In terms of clinical experience, I have volunteered at a local hospital for a summer, am planning on continuing this summer, and am leaving for the Dominican Republic on Tuesday to work in a local clinic for two weeks assisting an obstetrician. I have a lot of leadership experience with my extracurriculars.

I could just be overly optimistic, but I think my only weak point is my GPA. I am planning on applying this summer, for admission in fall of 2010. I'm really stressed though because I'm a Maryland resident, and University of Maryland med school has a really high average GPA of accepted students. As hard as I look, I can't really find any med schools with GPAs lower than around 3.6. I really really REALLY want to go to medical school, and really want an MD, not a DO. Is there any hope for me? Should I consider a post-bac year to bring up my grades? If I don't get in, I really want to do Peace Corps and then reapply, but should I do something about my grades instead?


10+ Year Member
Apr 4, 2007
You are correct that your GPA is not very competitive right now, and redeeming it should be your priority. Unless you get a great MCAT score (and please complete all the prerequisites before taking the test), I'd suggest you hold back from applying at least until you complete all four years of undergrad. By that time, if you get a GPA of 4.0 for the next three semesters, you could potentially bring your GPA up to 3.56. With an MCAT score of 32+, you might get admitted somewhere. If you did an additional post-bac year or delayed graduation until you'd completed a fifth year, getting a 4.0, your GPA could be 3.65 which is the mean GPA of those admitted.

Your research sounds great. That you have leadership experience is expected. But I'd say a second weak area is your spotty volunteer clinical experience. You'll certainly have at least the average of 150 hours time-wise, but acquiring your experience in lumps of time is less desirable that getting it at a slow, steady pace of 3-4 hours/week. The experience you've already acquired will be fine on your application, and your time in the DR will provide great fodder for your Personal Statement and supplemental essays, but I'd suggest you consider some type of a regular, weekly gig close to your school, if possible. When you meet doctors, ask them if you can shadow them at the hospital or office to get a bird's-eye view of what an American doctor does, as some adcomms really like to see that on your application too. It sounds like you might be shadowing (and assisting) the OBGYN when you're in the DR. If you can't stay with a doc all the time, let them know you'd appreciate being called in to see anything "interesting".
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