Gap Year - Take Additional Classes or Increase EC’s?

Jun 20, 2012
44
16
Status
Pre-Medical
I have applied this cycle to approximately 30 MD schools with a 3.53 GPA and 35 MCAT. I have strong research ECs, but average clinical volunteer hours and very minimal non-clinical, ”underserved” volunteer hours. I am working this gap year to increase my weaker ECs by continuing with my clinical volunteer activity 2 times per week, and have recently started as a volunteer with the underserved 2 times per week. I also am self-supporting, so I need to be able to work approx. 30 hours per week to pay my bills.

I was just accepted by my undergrad institution as a post-bac student to take a maximum of 2 upper level science classes per semester. I am questioning the worth of taking additional coursework at the possible expense of bettering my ECs. If I take additional classes, I will likely need to cut back on either some of my volunteer activities, or my paid employment, which I am not sure I can afford to do. On top of it, two classes is not likely to boost my GPA much at all, and of course I run the risk of lowering it if I don’t get As in the classes.

My question is this: should I take a couple extra classes, or just really focus on my volunteering? If I am not successful this cycle, I will probably look into a formal SMP, and if that's the case, then I feel like it will be more important that my ECs are as good as possible, since the SMP will address the GPA.
 

aldol16

2+ Year Member
Nov 1, 2015
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If you take those courses, you wouldn't have a final grade anyway until mid-December or January - when many schools will have given away most of their interview spots already and rolling admissions schools have given away many seats. So it's hard for me to see how those courses would benefit you for this cycle (though others might have better insight into this).
 
OP
1
Jun 20, 2012
44
16
Status
Pre-Medical
Yes, most likely I wouldn't have those grades until early January.
 
OP
1
Jun 20, 2012
44
16
Status
Pre-Medical
I have a very short window in which I can enroll in postbac classes, so hoping I can get a few more folks to weigh in on my situation.

Thank you!!
 

MareNostrummm

D.O. Class of 2022
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Oct 17, 2015
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I don't see the point in taking 2 classes after you have already submitted your application, your GPA won't even increase. Focusing on EC's would be much more worthwhile for the experience,
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
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I have applied this cycle to approximately 30 MD schools with a 3.53 GPA and 35 MCAT. I have strong research ECs, but average clinical volunteer hours and very minimal non-clinical, ”underserved” volunteer hours. I am working this gap year to increase my weaker ECs by continuing with my clinical volunteer activity 2 times per week, and have recently started as a volunteer with the underserved 2 times per week. I also am self-supporting, so I need to be able to work approx. 30 hours per week to pay my bills.

I was just accepted by my undergrad institution as a post-bac student to take a maximum of 2 upper level science classes per semester. I am questioning the worth of taking additional coursework at the possible expense of bettering my ECs. If I take additional classes, I will likely need to cut back on either some of my volunteer activities, or my paid employment, which I am not sure I can afford to do. On top of it, two classes is not likely to boost my GPA much at all, and of course I run the risk of lowering it if I don’t get As in the classes.

My question is this: should I take a couple extra classes, or just really focus on my volunteering? If I am not successful this cycle, I will probably look into a formal SMP, and if that's the case, then I feel like it will be more important that my ECs are as good as possible, since the SMP will address the GPA.
You've omitted information critical to answering your basic question. What is your overall BCPM GPA and what are your year by year BCPM GPAs? What upper-level Bio and Biochem have you taken and what were those grades?

What do you consider "average" for clinical hours?

How old is your MCAT score?

If you have a WAMC thread with this information, please give a link.
 
OP
1
Jun 20, 2012
44
16
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks for chiming in @Catalystik My sGPA and cGPA are the same, 3.53. My freshman GPA was my highest, followed by Jr., Sr., and lowest was Soph, so no trend there. My MCAT is from August 2014, pretty much expired after this cycle. I have around 300 hours clinical, but less than 20 non clinical community based. My upper level BCPM classes were mostly A-, with a couple B+.
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
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Your chances of an acceptance this season are decent, but if it doesn't happen what is the next part of your plan? What else will you wish you had done this year to improve your application to better position yourself for another application cycle?

The most likely answer would be "to have added additional undergrad science coursework with A grades," which BTW, could still be helpful this cycle at schools that allow update letters. And if you got accepted somewhere, having taken upper-level med school-like classes would give you a leg up on MS-1 coursework and decrease some of the academic stress.

As your clinical hours are already well above average, you might safely halve those hours of involvement if you need more wiggle room.

You do not need an SMP.
 
OP
1
Jun 20, 2012
44
16
Status
Pre-Medical
I guess my concern is that with the limit of only 2 classes per term, I am uncertain if the addition of only 4 upper level science classes and a substantial increase in non clinical volunteer work is enough of an improvement if I am a reapplicant? I read often here on SDN that a reapplicant needs to show "substantial" improvement over their previous app. And even if I do get As, will they carry less weight because I was only taking 2 classes each term and not a full coarse load? I know it won't up my GPA all that much.

As for this cycle, I have not indicated on any of my secondaries that I've submitted any plans to take additional coursework, but I suppose that doesn't preclude me from sending update letters if I do take the courses?

I am probably overthinking this, but if I do end up being a reapplicant I want it to be my best and last application cycle!
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
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1) I guess my concern is that with the limit of only 2 classes per term, I am uncertain if the addition of only 4 upper level science classes and a substantial increase in non clinical volunteer work is enough of an improvement if I am a reapplicant? I read often here on SDN that a reapplicant needs to show "substantial" improvement over their previous app. And even if I do get As, will they carry less weight because I was only taking 2 classes each term and not a full coarse load? I know it won't up my GPA all that much.

2) As for this cycle, I have not indicated on any of my secondaries that I've submitted any plans to take additional coursework, but I suppose that doesn't preclude me from sending update letters if I do take the courses?
1) The impact of As in postbac courses is far greater than the change in your GPA. a) The GPA of postbac work appears on its own line on the AMCAS application (below that for senior year, though it is included in the undergrad GPA calculations), and a 3.7-4.0 would stand out. b) You would demonstrate a steep upward trend in med school-like classes.

Also note: leniency is given to those who work enough to support themselves, in terms of EC expectations. Did you also work during college, and if so, what was the range of hours per week?

2) Correct, where they are allowed.