Nov 25, 2013
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Would Med Schools rather see a lower GPA with a ton of volunteer, clinical, and shadowing hours? or a high GPA with no outside experience?

Also, I am a sophomore in my program. My first couple years of college were rather intense and I have a crappy GPA to show for it. I'm talking >2.5. The last year I have maintained a 3.5+. But my cumulative isn't the best, and I will not be able to get it up to a 3.5+. Will my cumulative GPA keep me from getting accepted into Med School? Is it even worth it to apply?
 

Lya

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It depends on schools. In general, lots of cookie-cutter volunteer, clinical, and shadowing hours will not compensate for low GPA. Even with unique extracurriculars, some schools would rather see a higher GPA if your MCAT score is not high.

You may apply after your senior year, so that you have 3 years to make up for bad grades during your freshman year. I think it is worthwhile to apply. Find the balance among your academics and extracurriculars, and study hard for your MCAT.
 

NeuroNYC

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A strong MCAT can make up for weak (but not too weak) grades. Also, you can always do grade replacement and go DO.
 

VictorAlpha

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Obviously you want to do well on everything. But I would think that clinical experience would give you a comparative advantage. Think about it this way...they will see tons of people with awesome scores and grades but a great EC resume will not be shown by everyone. So if you build an insane EC resume with clinical volunteering, clinical employment and research (and for a significant amount of time); I would tend to think that would go a long way. That being said you can't completely trade one for the other.

I may be a little biased because that must have been how it worked for me (so yeah...n=1). Every applicant/application is different so exactly how much different things would be weighted by different schools in different situations would be pretty hard to tease out exactly.
 

Pacna

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rain4venus

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Obviously you want to do well on everything. But I would think that clinical experience would give you a comparative advantage. Think about it this way...they will see tons of people with awesome scores and grades but a great EC resume will not be shown by everyone. So if you build an insane EC resume with clinical volunteering, clinical employment and research (and for a significant amount of time); I would tend to think that would go a long way. That being said you can't completely trade one for the other.

I may be a little biased because that must have been how it worked for me (so yeah...n=1). Every applicant/application is different so exactly how much different things would be weighted by different schools in different situations would be pretty hard to tease out exactly.
You also had a master's program in which you performed very well (it sounds like from your story) after being rejected initially with your mediocre GPA. Do you think your ECs would have been sufficient to eventually get you in even without the additional academic experience?
I'm not trying to be snarky or anything, I'm just wondering why you think your EC resume had a greater influence on your acceptance than your post-bacc academic performance. Was this topic addressed in your interviews?

The problem as I see it is that a ton of applicants have strong ECs AND strong scores, so you can't really be complacent about either one (as you said here, you can't trade one for the other) and a lot of people mistakenly think they have outstanding ECs when they're actually fairly average (or at least SDN average, which is probably above average, but not enough to make up for poor grades)

OP - two things:
1. I am confused about how you're a sophomore but you've already had a couple crappy years and one good year of college. In theory a freshman year of 2.5 could be brought up over 3.6 by maintaining a 4.0 the next 3 years, but of course that's easier said than done and it requires a lot of time and energy and dedication to raising your grades. A few 3.5 semesters isn't a big deal, but remember that a 3.5 means having as many Bs as As, and on average, you want more As than Bs, especially to balance out a weak first year (or couple years). Keep in mind that if you're starting with a 2.5, even a hundred 3.5 semesters won't raise your GPA to 3.5. That's just how averages work. (That would be a 3.48, for those like me who are curious)

2. A lot of pre-meds don't even really think about this while they're still in undergrad, but it actually is possible to graduate and not go straight into med school. If you can't maintain a high enough GPA in undergrad while participating in many hours every week of volunteering, leadership activities, and MCAT studying, you can take off a year or two to get your application in order. MANY people do this successfully, and some schools even prefer applicants with some real world experience. (I actually would recommend reading VictorAlpha's story which is in his signature above)
I would think it would be much easier (not to mention less expensive) to get your grades right the first time around, while you're still in undergrad, and use any "gap years" (years between graduating and attending med school) to enhance your clinical and/or research experience and study hard for the MCAT. But that's totally just my opinion.
 

mvenus929

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You will not get into medical school if you have no ECs. Period. You may get in if you have a relatively low GPA and some unique ECs.

I second taking at least one gap year. You'll have the benefit of additional time to take classes to raise your GPA, but will also have time away from classes to do stuff.
 

music2doc

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Would Med Schools rather see a lower GPA with a ton of volunteer, clinical, and shadowing hours? or a high GPA with no outside experience?

Also, I am a sophomore in my program. My first couple years of college were rather intense and I have a crappy GPA to show for it. I'm talking >2.5. The last year I have maintained a 3.5+. But my cumulative isn't the best, and I will not be able to get it up to a 3.5+. Will my cumulative GPA keep me from getting accepted into Med School? Is it even worth it to apply?
They want both. Most applicants have a 3.5+ AND lots of extracurricular accomplishments. If you cannot do that, then I would assess what it is you have to offer that would make you special. Why would we want you as our doctor? I don't say that to be cruel or sarcastic; I am simply suggesting you ask yourself that question. Each school has a large pool of people to pull from and you need a "hook," so to speak. Without something to make the person reading your application pause and decide to advocate for your application, it will go in the <3.5 GPA/mediocre MCAT pile, which will probably result in either a late interview --> waitlist status or a straight rejection, depending upon how competitive the school is and whether it is in-state mostly (in-state and a relatively humble program might net you a courtesy interview despite the otherwise mediocre application). If your hook attracts the eye of the person reading your app, on the other hand, they just might advocate for you. It's also noteworthy that every application reviewer takes a different approach (as does every school), so no one can really tell you how an individual program approaches things. There are certainly guidelines but from what I hear, they are often relatively broad in their approach.
 

VictorAlpha

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Oct 15, 2011
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You also had a master's program in which you performed very well (it sounds like from your story) after being rejected initially with your mediocre GPA. Do you think your ECs would have been sufficient to eventually get you in even without the additional academic experience?
I'm not trying to be snarky or anything, I'm just wondering why you think your EC resume had a greater influence on your acceptance than your post-bacc academic performance. Was this topic addressed in your interviews?

The problem as I see it is that a ton of applicants have strong ECs AND strong scores, so you can't really be complacent about either one (as you said here, you can't trade one for the other) and a lot of people mistakenly think they have outstanding ECs when they're actually fairly average (or at least SDN average, which is probably above average, but not enough to make up for poor grades)
I talked more about my ECs than anything about my grad school grades. I don't even know if that came up other than to say what my research was on. It's tough to say because the ADCOM probably needs to at least believe you can do the academic work. Faculty have mentioned to me that it was their belief that the ECs were the biggest part of what put me over the top. Overall, I mean it's too tough to say exactly what is worth what, just throw everything you can at the effort...it'll work out.