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GPA and EC Question

CorgiLoaf

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Like you said, similar things are happening to a lot of other people as well; it's not just you. Adcoms will be understanding in future years about EC gaps during this time period. There are a ton of factors in life that are completely out of your control but you need to focus on the ones you CAN control. Also, there is a reason the MCAT is called the "great equalizer." You can't control the C curve, but you can control how well you do in future classes and the MCAT.

You should use your downtime right now to learn a new hobby or a new language.
 
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Hi all. This might be a very general question that has been asked many times, but I couldn't find a thread in recent that had the answers so here I am.

In regards to GPA, does going to a hard school give any leniency? I'm a second year at the University of Chicago and for some reason, my Professor has decided to curve our intro to biochemistry class to a C. I don't really understand why this happening given our circumstances; he justifies it by saying that "everyone is cheating and you have all the resources in the world," but I don't even have friends in the class so I can't take advantage of anything. Additionally, I really am not doing well in regards to COVID-19 and have little or no time to study due to familial obligations and having to take care of people on top of the fact that my entire family works in healthcare which just adds a metric ton of stress. I have a 3.88 GPA right now but based on my scores right now it's going to drop to a 3.76, even lower possibly. I know this isn't objectively bad by any means, but it's just so difficult for me to justify getting these grades and it's extremely demotivating and depressing as a whole.

Further, all of my volunteering, tutoring, and nonprofit (one I run) hours that I would have worked have all dissipated. Luckily, my research has gone remote, which still gives me the chance to do that, but I am losing out on hundreds of clinical and non-clinical hours and also losing out on massive leaps in my non-profit which would have been the staple of my application.

I'm kind of in limbo right now. I was in such a good spot going into my third year, but as with a lot of other people, things have just evaporated in front of my eyes and things just keep getting worse. I'm still deadset on medical school, but this is all just so demotivating, especially these things with grades that are completely out of my control.

If anyone has any advice, or anything, please..
Very sorry to hear about this, but you're not the only one dealing with COVID, so you can't expect any slack there.

You ask a nuanced question. As UC routinely sends students to med schools, those admissions deans know your school.

But that's where the line ends. I, as an Adcom member, don't know what your school is like. There are name schools that are grade inflating. We all expect you to do well, whether you go to Kutztown State or Yale. At my school, if we have a candidate who who has a lower GPA but goes to a wel known school, someone on the Adcom invariably says "yeah, but s/he went to U of X; that's a good school". We ponder that for maybe a second or two, and then move on.

Additionally, I really am not doing well in regards to COVID-19 and have little or no time to study due to familial obligations and having to take care of people on top of the fact that my entire family works in healthcare which just adds a metric ton of stress.

This is your responsibility to know how to manage your time, to learn adequate coping skills and to not bite off more than you can chew. As a medical student, you won't have the luxury of running home every time there's an emergency.

Going from a 3.88 to a 3.76 is not a drop in GPA. It IS, however a sign of perfectionism, which Adcoms try to screen out.

Suggest visiting your school's counseling center, or student services, or talking to your doctor for help with the stress. This is NOT giving medical advice.
 
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Thank you for your advice. However, I am a bit confused by what you mean here—could you clarify this?

Further, is there no way to convey my situation on future medical applications? I'm fully aware that my experience with COVID-19 is drastically different than most of my upper-class peers (not to sound crude, but I don't know how else to phrase this). I also think it is difficult for me to convey my situation, which may have come off as more orderly than it really is. It really isn't a situation of me biting off more than I can chew, but rather me being stuffed with more than I can chew with no means of reducing it. I considered taking this quarter P/F, but this would punish me heavily in the long run given that most medical schools are not keen on having students take 3 pre-requisite courses for a P, and my pre-medical advisors suggested that taking it for quality grades (even if they were to be bad) would be better.
What precisely about your situation is bad, grade wise. You don't need a 4.0 GPA to get into med school. The median is ~3.78 nation wide, with the 25th % ile being 3.61. What you have is NOT a downward trend. It's normal semester to semester variation and med schools see your year by year GPAs on app forms, not semester by semester.

Even if you failed the course, that's still not lethal.

The fact that your professor is grading on a hard curve is irrelevant. Med schools won't care. This is one course out of four years and some 60ish courses that you'll be taking.
 
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KnightDoc

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I'm not exactly sure how to answer this (how my grades are necessarily bad). I would attribute it simply to the way I have always been in education and with my goals, which is always aiming for the top. It's difficult for me to justify such a dramatic (relatively) GPA drop that seemingly brings me out of the range of top medical schools when it seems like I can't do anything about it. Obviously, this is toxic thinking and I'm extremely grateful to even have a chance get into any medical school, but there's always that lingering thought in the back of my head that keeps comparing me to others. I started college with a pretty terrible quarter by GPA standards and managed to drag it up to a 3.94, which had me elated since "I was finally at the median for these top schools." However, having my GPA dragged down recently by things that I attribute to events out of my control have really taken a toll on my mind and my perceived chances to "get into a top school." Especially with all these EC's and volunteering being cancelled I jut having trouble seeing a new path to get to where I would have gotten before.

I definitely recognize these flaws but it's just so difficult for me to re-wire my thinking given that I've been thinking like this for the past 15 years of my life. Of course, many of these things that I think are really out of my control are definitely somewhat in my hands, and its probably just a mindset thing, but it just been so difficult to deal with this avalanche.
While this attitude comes naturally to you, and might be what drives you to excel, what @Goro is trying to tell you is that adcoms view it differently. They see it as a neurotic perfectionism that they view negatively, since it evidences an inability to deal with tiny setbacks, which could be fatal in med school, which will probably be more difficult academically than anything you will have encountered up to that point. Freaking out over a single grade in UG that might lower a 4-year GPA by a full 0.016 (assuming a 4 credit class goes from an A to C, costing you 8 points out of 480 when taking 120 credits) is a huge red flag to the adcoms, regardless of how pissed off you are over the unfairness of the situation.
 
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KnightDoc

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I understand. However, I think you misunderstood me in that I am not exactly fretting over that one class, but rather the entire situation. I have essentially 4 courses in turmoil at the moment, very likely 8 because I will have to stay home next quarter regardless of whether my university goes online or offline because I have to take care of my family and my entire city is still protesting the lockdown. I'm currently sitting at around 3 C's and am failing my humanities because I have not submitted an essay (repairable, but I'm not getting a good grade). I only mentioned the biochemistry class due to the professor's actions. All my classes are in the ****s right now. And regardless of whether I seem like a perfectionist or neurotic, the fact of the matter is that if things continue at this rate my GPA will simply not be competitive for the schools I'm hoping to aim for. Sorry for not making that clear. I've gotten plenty of B+ and A- and I really don't mind at all. But this is surely different - if I am viewed poorly by admissions for being pissed off at this, then I really have fundamental misunderstandings about medical admissions.
Yes, now that you have provided more details, you have an entirely different problem.

Your OP was bitching about how the one class was going to drop your GPA by 0.12 points early in your UG career. Now it appears that your entire Spring semester is in the toilet. Totally different problem.

Adcoms aren't going to view you poorly for being pissed off, and your concern now goes way beyond being neurotic about one class not being an A. On the other hand, you are clearly going to need some help from your academic resource center on how to cope and get back on track, because you are going to be competing with 50,000+ other applicants who are dealing with all kinds of distractions right now, some worse than yours, some not so much. The key to success in this endeavor is showing how you overcame adversity as opposed to having adcoms lowering the bar to compensate for it (which generally just doesn't happen). If you have a P/F option this semester, it might be worth considering for all of your classes, even if it's viewed negatively by some schools. Your situation is exactly what that option was made for.
 
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GreenDuck12

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OP, I pulled out some quotes from your prior posts in this thread.

I have a 3.88 GPA right now but based on my scores right now it's going to drop to a 3.76, even lower possibly.
This is a solid GPA for the end of your second year in the midst of a pandemic.

it's just so difficult for me to justify getting these grades and it's extremely demotivating and depressing as a whole
I suggest you start viewing grades differently. Less as a reflection of your intrinsic value and more as a learning opportunity. In this case, you need to learn some strategies to do better with distance learning in the fall, time management, and reaching out for help when needed. Especially if this continues in the fall.

Further, is there no way to convey my situation on future medical applications? I'm fully aware that my experience with COVID-19 is drastically different than most of my upper-class peers (not to sound crude, but I don't know how else to phrase this)
You could address this in a weaknesses section, potentially, but this is typically reserved for very serious things that arise. Many folks who use this space run the risk of describing challenges that are relatively minor (not that they feel minor for the folks dealing with them) and come across as whiney). Do you really feel that your situation is unique and rises to the level of needing to be addressed?

At school, I didn't have to deal with this and was dedicating a lot of downtime to my nonprofit helping kids in Hyde Park but now that has been replaced with me helping my own siblings

I would attribute it simply to the way I have always been in education and with my goals, which is always aiming for the top
Perhaps some introspection on this point. Would you go to medical school if you didn't go to a top 5, 10, 20, or 50 program? Do you want to be a doctor to serve others or as a sign of status/success? I don't ask this question to be judgmental and there is nothing wrong with answering that the status matters a great deal. But, if you're measuring stick for success is getting into the very top tier programs, then you're putting yourself in a tough position because there are such a finite number of seats at top ranked programs and the competition is fierce.

It's difficult for me to justify such a dramatic (relatively) GPA drop that seemingly brings me out of the range of top medical schools when it seems like I can't do anything about it
You won't know if you're competitive for top tier programs until you take the MCAT and have your application put together. A 3.76 at the end of your second year is fine.

However, having my GPA dragged down recently by things that I attribute to events out of my control have really taken a toll on my mind and my perceived chances to "get into a top school."
Life happens. It's not fair, it's not just, it just is. What you need to figure out is how to roll with the punches, adapt, and keep moving forward towards your goals.

But this is surely different - if I am viewed poorly by admissions for being pissed off at this, then I really have fundamental misunderstandings about medical admissions.
If you write admissions essay or go to an interview complaining about how COVID lowered your GPA, then yes, you will be viewed poorly. Hands down. If the worst outcome you encounter during this pandemic is a lower GPA, count yourself as being fortunate. 34 million unemployed as of now. 80k+ lives lost in the official tally, though this number is likely soft.

Two final thoughts:
1. One semester, outside of having academic integrity violations, will not make or break your application to any medical school. You have time to refocus, adapt, and raise your GPA before you apply to medical schools.
2. You are in a challenging situation and it is your responsibility to navigate it. However, you are not alone. There are many resources at UC that you can reach out to to help you navigate your challenges and improve. There are also counselors and MH providers who can help you should you feel that taking that additional step is helpful. Don't forget that you're not in this alone.

Good luck to you.
 
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