LT2

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i just recently joined SDN, and i think it's fantastic. i'm looking for your humble opinions on my situation... i did my undergraduate work at ucsb, earning a 3.18 sci, 3.18 overall in microbiology. i'm currently a masters student in the CSU system (cali state system), earning a 3.96. i'm worried after reading about master's degrees not carrying much weight with the adcoms, and i'm wondering if anyone has an idea of how to make my application a bit stronger in the scholastic realm. my advisor tells me not to worry, but i'm not convinced... i'm currently finishing my thesis so i'm still technically a graduate student (meaning i'm tethered here and the local UC doesn't offer relevant extension classes) and any classes i take are considered graduate classes so my undergrad gpa won't be raised. i have a 32 on the MCAT, standard EC's and good LOR's but i don't know if it'll be enough. any thoughts are much appreciated, and thanks in advance!
 

sunnyjohn

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Wht is your BCPM? If you post it a few of the real smart folks here will give you great advice.

Agape....
 
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oops, i forgot to translate my gpa to AMCAS terms and called it "science".... BCPM is 3.18 and overall is 3.18 :p
 

Homer101

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You are in the same situation I am in. My BCPM is 3.16 and overall is 3.36. I am starting my MPH at yale or Columbia this fall. After that I will apply for medical schools. So is this GPA okay or do I have to do something to really bump it up. The grad school advisors keep on saying its okay and as along as you have a strong grad school GPA, which for Yale doesn't exisit becuase they have a honor, high pass, pass and fail system. I don't know if these advisors are just feeding me crap or maybe I am not in as bad a shape as I think I am in.

Medical schools really don't give an exact answer they keep on saying "it depends on the applicant, we look at the entire application not just one thing". So God knows. I am sure there are so many experienced people at SDN who can help us out. Excellent questions man, I have been confused over the same thing for weeks as well.
 
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LT2

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this isn't meant in a bad way, but i'm glad there's someone else out there in the same boat... i, too, hate the "it depends on the applicant" situation. i feel like master's students are in some sort of limbo between undergraduates and post-baccs and no one really knows what to do with us. :confused: i'll keep you posted on anything i hear, and hopefully the good people of SDN will have some useful ideas.
 

Phil Anthropist

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What master's are you pursuing?

Edit: nevermind, saw your profile (MS in Microbiology)! :p

What was your courseload like (i.e., how many credits per year)?

Have you considered distance learning/correspondence courses (since you're stuck and can't take undergrad courses in your location)?

Are you applying solely MD or are you applying to DO schools as well?

Do you have publications?

Is there anything special about your "standard" ECs? (Yes, I realize this question is oxymoronic.)

There are a lot of successful people on this postbac forum that got graduate premedical certificates or special masters degrees (therefore, no contribution to the undergrad cume/bcpm). I'm not exactly sure what you mean when you describe masters students being in limbo. Some schools don't give much consideration to graduate work, but many schools look quite favorably at students who performed well in special masters programs (SMPs). Graduate degrees can carry significant weight. The traditional MS would probably be less effective than an SMP (because in an SMP you actually take med courses and you take about 30 credits in one year), but you've demonstrated a strong performance as evidenced by your GPA.

I would think that you have a shot somewhere (I don't know about those crazy UC schools though! ) .
 
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LT2

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Thanks for the vote of support! My masters program is a research based program, so the courseload wasn't really tough. That being said, however, our research units are not graded, so we don't earn our GPA solely through research. i've taken the run of the mill micro classes (medical micro, microbial genetics/physiology, molecular virology etc. and a bunch of seminars) and a couple of molecular biology classes as well. for EC's, i've done the usual volunteer work, i'm the head TA for general micro and TA for another health professions class, LOTS of research (however no publications...a touchy subject...), club officer type things, i've played classical/spanish guitar for 12 years, and i've recently started volunteering at monthly clinics down in mexico. so pretty standard. i don't know much about distance learning, so any info would be helpful.

oh, and what i meant by graduate students in limbo, i feel like sometimes we're in a class of our own as we're not undergrads, but we're not in the same types of programs as the SMPs. looking back i wish i would have gone for a SMP instead of the MS route...

thanks again for the help, it's really appreciated... :)
 

liverotcod

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Unfortunately, research masters carry considerably less weight than non-thesis masters or special masters programs. For the purposes of rough analysis, I subscribe to the (GPA * 10) + MCAT formula. Yours comes in at (3.2 * 10) + 32 = 64. This is on the low side for numbers competitiveness (you're looking for 65-67), which suggests that you will need to apply to a broad range of allopathic schools, including most of the less competitive private schools. Ohio and Pennsylvania schools have a good success rate for CA residents. I think you should pick 2 or 3 ostepathic schools, too, to improve your acceptance odds.

I really like the rest of your application. Practically everywhere I interviewed this cycle seemed VERY interested in applicants that brought different skills and extra maturity to the table. Your only risk is in being able to demonstrate that you can handle the med school academic load. Frankly, your record on this count is a little shaky, but I think you'll be OK, especially if you are able to point out a couple of really strong academic experiences in your PS, like the TAing in general micro.
 
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i have involved myself with MD and DO EC's and ultimately, i can see myself happy as an MD or DO. the only reason i lean towards MD is because of greater opportunities for research. i know my scholastic record won't be impressive to the adcoms, but i'm wondering a couple of things. i have completed all of the classes to satisfy requirements for my masters; if i take more classes (still as a graduate student, but the classes wouldn't count towards the degree) can i include them as post-bacc classes? another question: if i loaded my schedule with upper div/graduate courses in the hard sciences next semester and this summer, would sending this info to the schools (late albeit) help my case at all? or should i just hold on for dear life and pray someone sees something in my app? thanks again for the advice, these are the most useful and honest opinions i've gotten!
 

liverotcod

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Quoting from the AMCAS instruction book, 2005:
Once your undergraduate Academic Status (FR, SO, JR, SR) has advanced (e.g., FR to SO), do not assign the previous status (e.g., FR) to subsequently completed course work.
But also:
Assign Post Baccalaureate (PB) status to any undergraduate level course work you enrolled in: -After receipt of your initial BA/BS degree.
-While enrolled in a graduate program, if course work is not applied to a graduate degree.
So it would appear that any UG level work taken now would still count as undergraduate PB. I believe that one or more hard science courses taken in the summer or fall can come in very handy next winter when you're trying to get a late interview or off of a waitlist. You can update your schools with the results of the course(s) which may be enough to get them off the fence on your application. Worth doing a course or two, I would say, especially if it's not too expensive
 
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Thanks! i'll look into it! :p
 

Homer101

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I am glad some stuff regarding this entire master thing is getting cleared up. My BCPM is 3.1 overall 3.3 and I will be attending YALE for a MPH, which has both a thesis that needs to be filed along with a 3 month practical, which I will do with either WHO or Unicef. Any suggestions what else I can do? Should I take some classes just in science to boost my GPA. I have lots of ECs with red cross, work abroad and 80 hrs of volunteer work.
 

liverotcod

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Generically, an MPH is a valuable addition to your resume, but not enough so that you should do it as med school prep. Only do an MPH if you are interested in public health!

You get a bigger bang for your buck with a hard science masters of some kind or a special masters.

One the most difficult things about this process, especially as a non-traditional applicant, is figuring out when to stop. When do I have enough classes? Is my GPA good enough yet? Should I retake the MCAT one more time to try to do better? Is my personal statement ready for submission? Am I spending enough effort on these endless secondaries? Have I prepared properly for my interview next week? And so on and so on and so on, presumably all the way through med school, residency, and into practice (have I done all I can for this patient?).

At some point, you have to just submit your application and see what happens. If you don't get in your first cycle, you can figure out what went wrong and do it again, if you have the stamina. At the same time, you want to maximize your chances for your first year applying. I don't really have a good answer for what "enough" is - no one really does - but if you do enough reading here, you get the sense of what other people are doing.

Homer101, your GPA is pretty low; my comments about the MPH definitely apply to you. What's your MCAT, or if you haven't taken it, what are your practice tests looking like? Do you have an upward trend in your grades?
 

Homer101

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Well regarding the grades actually most semesters I did fine (3.4 or so) apart from one where I was really sick and ended up getting 3 Cs in upper div physiology, biochem and a Neuro class. I also have a lot of math as I was a Bio E. major at UC Berkeley. I have math all the way up to differencial equations, so have 2 Cs in Calculus III and diff eq class. Last year and half the GPA did slowly creep up after it fell in that one semester pretty badly.

I can take some science classes over the summer at the local community college to bump up my GPA to 3.4 or something. If that would work.

As far as the MCAT I haven't take it as yet. I did take some practise ones and I am in the 28-31 range at the moment.

The reason for doing the MPH is that I am very interested in the public health side of med. I personally feel it gives me a better skill set when I go to medical school, as I want to envolved with unicef or WHO once I am finished with my MD. I am more interested in medicine on a global level. So thats the reason for the MPH.