GPA easy vs hard classes

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Just curious, how do you determine if one student's course load is heavier than the other?

In short, you don't. It requires a basic (read: not extensive) knowledge of undergrad curriculum and a feel for what a 'normal' trajectory at a given school is. There just aren't that many paths that undergrads can take. It isn't about comparing two applicants side by side. It is about putting a GPA into context. Did you take your science requirements and take take light and easy loads the rest of your undergrad or did you do something productive with your time? It is just another small part of the application. It isn't the end all be all, but it is most definitely a part of the selection process.

I want to emphasize, I am not diminishing doing as well as is physically possible in undergrad. Taking a killer schedule and not doing well is an app killer. But, every faculty adcom that I have asked, (never mind the logic behind it) has stated that overall set of courses that you take matters. I have met a lot of pre-meds who think that there is a lot of luck involved in the application process and that the system is "stupid". This is simply not true. Adcoms tend to be comprised of very intelligent people sorting a huge data set. Yes, there is some luck involved and yes, there is some raw number crunching. But you are seriously insulting the intelligence of medical school faculty if you don't think they can see through fluffy applications. The people that try to 'play the game' and don't get in are the ones that start claiming that they were unlucky.

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mimelim, let me begin by saying that I am absolutely in no way trying to start a boxing match with you. You have infinitely more medical school and medical school admissions than myself. All I have is what I've gathered through the process. I do, however, think context is hugely important in this case.

A good GPA + a real course load trumps a great GPA + fluff course load, any day of the week. My data sources are Wash U and HMS faculty adcoms who are old friends as well as my personal experience developing recruitment strategies for a medical school adcom.

"Good" versus "Great" is enormously subjective. Harvard and WashU have a 3.72 and a 3.69 cGPA cutoff, respectively (based on MSAR 10th percentile). That's a bare minimum an A- average, and even above the average matriculant. Now, within this range, how far apart are you "Good" and "Great" GPAs? They're within three tenths of a GPA point! Obviously schedule is going to be really important, but to even get put through the 'test' here requires that you at least have a 3.7 GPA in the first place. Evidently, they're extremely skewed in their holistic approach, and not applicable to the vast majority of schools.

But to say that people who take real classes instead of fluff in undergrad are at a disadvantage is simply wrong. I would love to see any type of data to indicate otherwise.

Depends, do the 'real classes' inhibit their performance in school? If they do, I would argue that 'real classes' absolutely do work disadvantageously towards an applicant. However, if the performance is not hindered (GPA does not fluctuate) then I would argue it does not. This is dependent on the individual's ability. I would also argue that taking a more difficult schedule, as a general consensus, does impact GPA negatively, but varies by individual. The amount of change is highly dependent on said person's intellect, time management, passion, and course load (credit-wise, lab-wise, and professor-wise).

All I know is that when I see an application with good grades, but all fluff, I lose interest in the applicant. 4.0 is meaningless without context.

I'm sure you do, but I argue that this applicant is still in better standing than the people that haven't even reached your screen. This applicant still has a shot. You may have lost interest, but who is to say another reviewer is intrigued by a certain number of extracurriculars? If the applicant has a competitive MCAT for the school, I highly doubt a 'fluffy' course load would remove them from contention for an interview, even at the top schools.

In short, you don't. It requires a basic (read: not extensive) knowledge of undergrad curriculum and a feel for what a 'normal' trajectory at a given school is. There just aren't that many paths that undergrads can take. It isn't about comparing two applicants side by side. It is about putting a GPA into context.

The problem with this, even beyond the course work, is that you have no idea what individual professors, circumstances, or even context of the classes themselves by just looking at an application. You get a course number, a course title, and a grade. Who or what is to say that this particular student didn't get a professor each semester in which only 5% of the class gets As in his course that is deemed extremely difficult (PChem, for example), whereas another student at the same institution took the same course with another professor that gives out As to 50% of the class? This difference absolutely happens even within institutions, even those deemed 'grade inflating' or 'grade deflating'. This murks up GPAs significantly. That would be why I argue a GPA is much more of a screen than anything.

Did you take your science requirements and take take light and easy loads the rest of your undergrad or did you do something productive with your time? It is just another small part of the application. It isn't the end all be all, but it is most definitely a part of the selection process.

Absolutely, and I do not think anyone logically argues that this is not the case. We all know that AdComs are very intelligible and try to do the right thing. The only suggestion is that having a higher GPA will not hurt you, but having a lower GPA absolutely will.

I want to emphasize, I am not diminishing doing as well as is physically possible in undergrad. Taking a killer schedule and not doing well is an app killer. But, every faculty adcom that I have asked, (never mind the logic behind it) has stated that overall set of courses that you take matters. I have met a lot of pre-meds who think that there is a lot of luck involved in the application process and that the system is "stupid". This is simply not true. Adcoms tend to be comprised of very intelligent people sorting a huge data set. Yes, there is some luck involved and yes, there is some raw number crunching. But you are seriously insulting the intelligence of medical school faculty if you don't think they can see through fluffy applications. The people that try to 'play the game' and don't get in are the ones that start claiming that they were unlucky.

I absolutely agree with this. The only thing that we're trying to weigh out in this thread is the thresholds and the significance of each scenario. I tried to quantify it earlier, but that quantification is still a complete ballpark and not reliable by any means, and I don't suggest it is. We all understand that the AdComs are absolutely within their means, intelligible, and trying to pick the best applicants to fill their medical school's seats. However, there are limitations within a process in which schools are receiving between 4,000 and 15,000 applications a cycle. For some schools, this may require thresholds as high as a 3.72 cGPA (Harvard) and a 34 MCAT (WashU). It is only at these points that things are likely to be viewed holistically to the point at where curriculum is critiqued at this point of logic. It's simply the capability to do so is only on a small scale. If you want to increase your chances of getting into school, you need to push yourself to be within these thresholds. If you can't reach them, then you have nearly zero chance, but if you can, you at least have a shot.

I wouldn't identify medical school admissions as 'luck of the draw' in any way. They absolutely identify your application in the best and most reasonable ways possible. But in order to be considered, you do have to 'play the game,' whether you do it consciously or not. This explains the majority of applicants having cookie cutter work and activities, they are simply expected.

Sometimes these 'cookie cutter' applicants are very motivated towards medicine and have done well, and they simply don't get past screens. At this point, yes, it can be a 'crap shoot,' though I wouldn't consider it random. This is where the statement 'There are more qualified medical school applicants than there are medical school seats' comes into play. It's a sad truth, and some people may get shorted. There is absolutely no shame in increasing your chances the best you can.


Edit: I apologize for the length of this post, I just wanted to be thorough. I think this topic is a concern of many students and is an important one to address in an appropriate manner.
 
The MCAT is already weighted more heavily than GPA. This is very evident in the graphs of MCAT/GPA and acceptance.

This depends on which part of the graph you are looking at. This statement is challenged by the person who actually plotted the graph:
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Which is better: a LizzyM score composed of a high GPA/low MCAT or the same LizzyM score created from a low GPA/high MCAT?



The available data suggests that your chances are slightly higher if your GPA contributes more to your LizzyM score.
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If you look at the %s of acceptance based on the numbers 3.5/36 and 3.9/28, you'll see that there is virtually no difference (72% to 67%). Although I don't know the percentile differences between a 3.5 and a 3.9, I do know that the difference between a 36 and a 28 on the MCAT is HUGE (~30%). So, if MCAT really did count that much, how are the acceptance chances so similar? (I know I know...there are probably confounding variables)

Although LizzyM scores are not 100% representative of your chances, I think if you want to compare chances of applicants evenly, it would be better to take two people who have the same LizzyM scores with different level of contributions from GPA/MCAT.

While I do agree that there needs to be some equalizer for the differences in between undergraduate universities (and course load), giving priority to MCAT over GPA does seem a bit unfair. GPA represents 4 years of college work while an MCAT is a snapshot. If someone had a great day with a bit of luck and did much better on their MCAT than their practice exams, is it fair to count that score more than someone else' consistent efforts for years?

Don't get me wrong...I personally do not like the way the system is set up. I went to a difficult college and ended up with a mediocre GPA (~3.5). I then went down the street to a different university for post-bacc and found it significantly easier, averaging a 4.0 for 20 credits. Now, if I had went to that post-bacc university from the start I might have had a 4.0 undergrad GPA because it's easier....but medical schools won't give two ****s that I went to a harder university and got a 3.5. So, I am all for MCATs counting in the admissions process more. But again, is it really fair to do so?
 
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This depends on which part of the graph you are looking at. This statement is challenged by the person who actually plotted the graph:
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Which is better: a LizzyM score composed of a high GPA/low MCAT or the same LizzyM score created from a low GPA/high MCAT?



The available data suggests that your chances are slightly higher if your GPA contributes more to your LizzyM score.
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If you look at the %s of acceptance based on the numbers 3.5/36 and 3.9/28, you'll see that there is virtually no difference (72% to 67%). Although I don't know the percentile differences between a 3.5 and a 3.9, I do know that the difference between a 36 and a 28 on the MCAT is HUGE (~30%). So, if MCAT really did count that much, how are the acceptance chances so similar? (I know I know...there are probably confounding variables).

I realize that there is an innumerable quantity of confounding variables regarding this subject and the statistics themselves. I would only consider applicants between a 3.6-3.9 and a 30-33 if you were going to do any comparison (this is within range of typical accepted students and I'll do so later). However, I think it is far easier to get a 3.9-4.0 GPA than it is to receive say a 35-36 on the MCAT, simply based on undergraduate universities, grade inflation, etc. For this reason, I would put it fully within logic of the people considering admissions to favor the MCAT over GPA as a representative of their academic capability in general. Everyone takes a percentile-based MCAT in a similar testing situation. This is far more standard and reliable. Considering people can frequently milk a GPA to above a 3.5, this doesn't prove much. Whereas I would wager few can milk an MCAT to above 30.

Although LizzyM scores are not 100% representative of your chances, I think if you want to compare chances of applicants evenly, it would be better to take two people who have the same LizzyM scores with different level of contributions from GPA/MCAT.

Inherently in the equation itself, the LizzyM score already weighs GPA and MCAT on a certain level in comparison to the other. Given that chools have acknowledged this calculation, I will continue. Also, GPA can not be 'percentiled' because that is not the nature of the value. However, I'll shotgun a comparison (do not take any of this for fact).

For this comparison, I will keep the GPA range to 3.6-3.9 (avg 3.67) and the MCAT range to 30-33 (avg 31.1). All stats will be approximated using the 2009-2011 average Caucasian applicant.

3.6 cGPA, 33 MCAT, 69 LizzyM, 74% estimated 'chance' of admission
3.89 cGPA, 30 MCAT, 69 LizzyM, 81% estimated 'chance' of admission
3.75 cGPA, 31.5 MCAT, 69 LizzyM, 80% 'chance' of admission

This data, for the 'average' person, indicates that GPA is more important in raw admissions percent chance than the MCAT under the condition that you reach the 3.6 cGPA and 30 MCAT threshold.

I can cite numerous reasons why this may be true, the most notable in my mind is that this includes all schools (including DO and Caribbean, IIRC). This also includes state schools, which often tend to look upon GPA more favorably than MCAT, whereas private 'upper tier' schools often hike up their threshold for MCAT scores to 'weed out' the enormous applicant pool. This is, what I would assume, because GPAs can be inflated, whereas the MCAT is less misrepresented, standardized, and percentile based. This is just one of many variables from the data set. Who is even to know what the standard of deviation of such data is, as it could very well be +/- 10% 'chance' of acceptance.

If someone had a great day with a bit of luck and did much better on their MCAT than their practice exams, is it fair to count that score more than someone else' consistent efforts for years?

Depends, what is to quantify the effort put in? I know people who have worked their asses off and only received a 3.0, but I also know people that smoked weed and drank more than they studied and attended class, but pulled off a 4.0. This is without regard to the 'prestige' of the institutions they attended. I think the MCAT better standardizes and 'sorts' these applicants, even with the fact it is only a snapshot, simply because it quantifies intelligence based on a standardized metric. Of course it is not always reliable, but it is more often so than GPA can be.

So, I am all for MCATs counting in the admissions process more. But again, is it really fair to do so?

I would say, until everything is perfectly standardized, yes. However, GPA in its current state as a 'threshold' number in the majority of school's screens, is a number you must keep track of. Hence the neurotic premed memes.
 
A couple of points to I want to make:

a) While higher is obviously always better, for the MCAT the marginal benefit in admissions of each additional point declines sharply once you get above around a 35. For example, going from a 25 to a 30 will boost your chances of admission way more than going from a 35 to a 40. Why? Because the difference between a 35 and 40 is around 5-7 questions (and thus depend largely on luck), while from a 25 to 30 will be around 15-20 questions. On the other hand, a higher GPA will always raise your chances of admissions by about the same amount, all the way up to the 4.0 (ie going from 3.6 to 3.7 helps about as much as going from 3.9 to 4.0). This is because of the trend towards grade inflation among most institutions today makes GPAs already high.

b) For the the reasons mentioned in a), the LizzyM score really overestimates the competitiveness of applicants with a low GPA and high MCAT (it works fine for everyone else though). Someone with a 3.8/33 has a much higher chance of getting in than some one with a 2.9/42. Personally, I think the formula should be changed so that above a 35, each additional point on the MCAT only gives you 0.5 a LizzyM point since this is how must med schools (expect maybe LizzyM's med school) look at things.

c) While the person who took easy classes and got a high GPA will certainly have better chances than some one who took a challenging courseload and got a low GPA assuming MCAT scores are the same, the latter assumption is a VERY big assumption. Generally, people taking easy classes to inflate their GPA will not be very prepared for the MCAT. In easy classes you just memorize facts an regurgitate it on a exam in a predictable manner only to forget the information the next day, while in more challenging classes you have to critically think about a given problem and approach ones you've never seen explicitly before. The MCAT, as we all know, is a much more like the latter. In other words, people who take the easiest courseloads to inflate the GPAs are usually the ones who do poorly on the MCAT because they won't have the necessary rigor or skills to be prepared for it. And as already mentioned, a high GPA/lower MCAT will hurt your chances more than a lower GPA/high MCAT.

d) Med school admissions have become so competitive that if you want to go anywhere better than your mid or lower tier state school, you need BOTH a high GPA and a rigorous courseload. State schools may only want to see a high GPA and don't care how you go it, but higher tier schools will easily see through someone who took fluff classes to get a high GPA. So based on that, I'd recommend taking the most challenging courseload where you feel you can get a high GPA with a bit of a challenge, but not overwhelming yourself. And unless they're from a lower tier state school, med school adcoms will know the difference between a rigorous courseload and a joke one, and likewise between a rigorous undergrad institution and an easy state school. A good example would be Princeton, which a few years ago implemented a grade deflation policy because they thought the value of an A was diminishing. Surely enough, their average graduating GPAs dropped, but the percentage of their undergrads getting into med school still remains constant at around 90% (versus the national average of around 42-44%). Why? Because med school adcoms are smart enough to know which schools are more rigorous than others, and will to at least some degree, compensate for it (as long as you have a 3.6+ GPA. A really low GPA from any school won't do you any good either).

e) Taking upper levels may actually help your GPA more than going for the intro classes. If your undergrad school works anything like mine, the intro sciences here are weedout in nature and you won't learn information that is as meaningful, while the upper levels curve generously and you learn much more in a small class environment. Thus, higher grade + learning more + looking better on your transcript = win, win, win situation. Thus, my approach is to dodge as many intro classes as you can and go straight for the upper levels.
And for this reason, I've always been telling incoming freshmen at my undergrad for the past 2 years who have AP chem and bio credit to use it and replace it with upper level classes in the same subject area rather than forfeiting it and retaking the intros, even though our Pre-Health advising office tells them to do the latter and often recommends freshmen not even double up in lab sciences at the same time. This advice might work for a small percentage of incoming freshmen who never had bio, chem, or physics at all in high school, but for the vast majority, they are essentially turning a stellar science student into a mediocre one.

f) You're not in college just to get a degree, a number on your transcript, or use it as a stepping stone for med school. You're also in it to learn to your full potential and explore your intellectual curiosities.
 
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collegestud2013, couldn't have said it better myself.

What I would most like to emphasize is that challenging your potential is the goal. Make sure you push yourself intellectually. However, do not overestimate the importance of difficult courses or a difficult institution in your application. Your cGPA will overall be most important alongside your MCAT regardless of everything else. Pushing yourself to both learn to your capacity and maintain high numbers across the board is what you want to convey to admissions.

Do this in whatever way matches you best, not others.

I only make this warning because I went to school with one of those 'ultimate one-upper' types. I went for one grade, he'd go for a better one. I went for a double major and a minor, he went for a triple major, and made it known. I was gauging my own ability, he was trying to 'beat' me. Unfortunately, this student ended up crashing and burning on a triple lab + writing intensive coursework semester. And by crash and burn, I mean basically tanked his GPA beyond repair. The foolish part of this is that multiple majors do not impress admissions, and in fact (likely due to GPA strain on multiple major students) actually decrease admissions chances. [Citation Googleable but I'm not on my computer] He basically disqualified himself from admissions by chasing a poorly executed goal.

Make sure you understand your reasonable limits!
 
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The only thing I've ever personally heard an adcom say about being forgiving about a student taking "harder" classes was someone in an engineering program. Lets be honest guys. If you are a bio major and you want to become a physician. Biology should be second nature to everyone at this point. In terms of the sciences Bio is definitely the easiest of majors. The only outrageously difficult classes in the degree at my institution are : Biochem (because its taught by someone who also teaches at the nearby medical school, and he just so happens to teach his college students and his medical students the same bio chem >_< ), The biochem lab because professor K***** is a god damn genius nazi, and the Advanced Physiology Lab again because K***** is a crazy. Other than those combined 5 credits the entire major is a cake walk.
 
The only thing I've ever personally heard an adcom say about being forgiving about a student taking "harder" classes was someone in an engineering program. Lets be honest guys. If you are a bio major and you want to become a physician. Biology should be second nature to everyone at this point. In terms of the sciences Bio is definitely the easiest of majors. The only outrageously difficult classes in the degree at my institution are : Biochem (because its taught by someone who also teaches at the nearby medical school, and he just so happens to teach his college students and his medical students the same bio chem >_< ), The biochem lab because professor K***** is a god damn genius nazi, and the Advanced Physiology Lab again because K***** is a crazy. Other than those combined 5 credits the entire major is a cake walk.

Must vary from school to school. Bio is considered one of the harder majors in my school. Although it really depends on course electives. People who opt for harder classes go through hell (imagine learning all of Janeway's immuno textbook in 9 weeks in addition to research and volunteering-that was brutal) and people who opt for the easy classes (random classes where study guides are given out before exams that are exact replicas of the exams themselves...usually memorize and regurgitate).

There isn't really a relationship between coursework and mcat preparation. Everyone takes the basic chem, ochem, physics, bio. But all that put together is only 1 years worth of courses (if your school is on the quarter system...i don't know how the semester system works). After that point, everyone is on equal footing for the mcat. Then people go into two routes, take the hard classes or take bs classes (all easy classes in my school are total bs...I would know....I sat in on one of them). Either way, my point is that these elective classes, whether easy or hard, don't really help on the mcat. They're way too in depth and specialized or way too bogus to show up on the mcat.
 
The only thing I've ever personally heard an adcom say about being forgiving about a student taking "harder" classes was someone in an engineering program.

Jeez, I hope I get that forgiving attitude as well, considering the courses I've taken.

f) You're not in college just to get a degree, a number on your transcript, or use it as a stepping stone for med school. You're also in it to learn to your full potential and explore your intellectual curiosities.

I agree with everything you said in your post, but you and I both know this isn't exactly true. Compare the education in undergrad and graduate. When will you use those chemistries again? I don't even use that **** anymore. And I have to deal with structures sometimes. Like amiodarone and iodine. I don't remember half of organic chem and as for inorganic chem, if you think that matters, you're gonna have a bad time.
 
. I don't remember half of organic chem and as for inorganic chem, if you think that matters, you're gonna have a bad time.

Wait, you're telling me my extensive knowledge of pH curves isn't going to help me?uck****!
 
In all seriousness the last time I applied any of that concept was the Bohr's curve, where sometimes blood is kept a bit acidodic so oxygen is more available.

THAT'S IT.
 
lol, no. A bad GPA will kill you, but this is simply not true. A good GPA + a real course load trumps a great GPA + fluff course load, any day of the week. My data sources are Wash U and HMS faculty adcoms who are old friends as well as my personal experience developing recruitment strategies for a medical school adcom.

There is ZERO question on anyone's mind that MCAT and grades are filters. The data shows that people with better scores and grades have better admission rates. But, how do you explain the heterogeneity of grades and scores in medical school classes? School's have averages of 3.7, 3.8 have students with 4.0s as well as 3.4s. You can not tank your GPA. Nobody is saying that. But to say that people who take real classes instead of fluff in undergrad are at a disadvantage is simply wrong. I would love to see any type of data to indicate otherwise.

All I know is that when I see an application with good grades, but all fluff, I lose interest in the applicant. 4.0 is meaningless without context.
The reason for the GPA disparity isn't class/school difficulty. Sure, that may be part of it, but it's a minor part. What is likely the much more common reason is that the person may have had a low GPA but a stellar application in every other respect. It's the same reason why you see large ranges for MCAT scores; there are programs with averages of 36 that still have some guy who managed to get in with a 28 for example.

If you want proof of what I'm saying, just look at AAMC's statistics for GPA + MCAT vs. Acceptance Rates. As GPA goes down, the average MCAT score for people who got accepted goes up. At the extreme end of the scale you see people with only 40+ MCAT scores getting in. At the opposite end of the scale (3.9+ GPAs) you see people getting in with MCAT scores in the mid or even low 20s. And this is not even taking into account ECs.

Another thing to consider about why course difficulty likely doesn't make much of a difference in admissions decisions: Medical schools accept non-science majors all the time. It's kind of hard to knock one applicant for taking easy science courses but then not bat an eye when you accept a sociology major. And then you also have the opposite case: As hard as a bio major might be, what about the guy applying with a degree in aerospace engineering? How do you compare course difficulty for that? This also ignores differences between colleges and classes; for example, at my first college the "natural science aspects of psychology" course was braindead easy. At my second college though, it was the hardest course in the entire psychology department despite being classified as a 100 level class. There's no way an adcom is going to be aware of that kind of stuff.
 
I think the system is bull****. For many reasons, but primarily because it rewards people who take easy classes and party their way through college and punishes people who love learning and take hard classes and as a result don't have any time to go out and have fun.

*I speak from personal experience
 
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I think the system is bull****. For many reasons, but primarily because it rewards people who take easy classes and party their way through college and punishes people who love learning and take hard classes and as a result don't have any time to go out and have fun.

*I speak from personal experience

And the people who love learning are suddenly afraid to take risks for fear of not getting an A :(
 
If you're a pre-med and it's a BCPM, then yep, you are.

Relevant

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I disagree that getting a B is "not" mastering material. The highest you can get in some classes is a B. Some professors refuse to give out A's unless students discover a new protein that can become a drug target or something similar. I once got 99's and 100's in every single assignment/test in a class, well above the average, and still didn't end up with an A. When I asked the prof, his reply was that he doesn't give out A's. So did I master the material in the class? Definitely. But does the grade reflect it? No.

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I think I would have gone to the Dean in this situation. At least at my school(UW Mad) that prof would have gotten his ***** drilled for pulling that. There is a grading scale for a reason. Profs, regardless of the prestige they hold, cannot throw out the grading rule book and do whatever they want. Seriously, dean involvement with 99s/100s on your tests would have equaled an A and an enjoyable confrontation.
 
I think I would have gone to the Dean in this situation. At least at my school(UW Mad) that prof would have gotten his ***** drilled for pulling that. There is a grading scale for a reason. Profs, regardless of the prestige they hold, cannot throw out the grading rule book and do whatever they want. Seriously, dean involvement with 99s/100s on your tests would have equaled an A and an enjoyable confrontation.

Exactly what I was saying.

There's no way this is 'legal'.
 
This has also happened to me before multiple times. I tried to complain to the dean once but basically almost got my butt kicked and was told grades are strictly up to the professor and no other person, including the dean, can change that. Was super frustrating, I tried to contact the prof to explain to him that I had received full marks on everything and should get an A. He told me appealing a grade like I was was a disgrace to the whole university while prides itself on rigor and also told me to never contact him again.

If OP went to a similar school (just looking at OP's other stats...top 5 school where people pride themselves on being difficult...sounds a lot like uchicago to me...just saying), it's really hard to get much done about the situation. These profs have a lot of power-they have research labs that are powerhouses and the school administration and advising simply says they can't do anything about it. It sucks. I've even heard of profs screwing kids over because they didn't like the students even if they did really well. This kind of stuff messes up people's gpas and as a result brilliant people don't make it past the screening for med schools.

Edit: If OP did actually go to Uchicago, I don't blame him/her for being anxious about GPAs. The school has a large split in which most premeds take the easy way out and end up with 3.8 gpas and some premeds take ridiculously hard courses and end up with 3.3-3.5 gpas. Premed advising at uchicago is terrible. They make students feel very dumb from the first day of freshman year and encourage a mentality of failure. My friend was told repeatedly she should look into a DO because she wasn't good enough and her gpa (which was a 3.6 FIRST semester of freshman year) wasn't good enough for an MD. Now she's at a top 10 med school.
 
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I think the system is bull****. For many reasons, but primarily because it rewards people who take easy classes and party their way through college and punishes people who love learning and take hard classes and as a result don't have any time to go out and have fun.

*I speak from personal experience
After initial screening (MCAT and GPA), it is precisely the applicant who "had fun"/lived life who has the advantage: something to talk about in the rest of the application. There are thousands of high scoring students who are not invited to interview because they had so little to say in their application. Much of what has been characterized as "fit" is the right blend of dull and entertaining students whose scores in the aggregate reach desired goals. Ideally they would all be entertaining and high scoring but there aren't enough of those to fill an entire class. After admission, these characteristics are learned from student to student such that the final product is a more blended student body. It's like making wine using a blend of varietals to achieve a result whose sum is greater than each of the components.
 
Is more weight placed on Overall GPA or BCPM?
 
After initial screening (MCAT and GPA), it is precisely the applicant who "had fun"/lived life who has the advantage: something to talk about in the rest of the application. There are thousands of high scoring students who are not invited to interview because they had so little to say in their application. Much of what has been characterized as "fit" is the right blend of dull and entertaining students whose scores in the aggregate reach desired goals. Ideally they would all be entertaining and high scoring but there aren't enough of those to fill an entire class. After admission, these characteristics are learned from student to student such that the final product is a more blended student body. It's like making wine using a blend of varietals to achieve a result whose sum is greater than each of the components.

While I do agree with you, I think it's inappropriate to say someone won't have much to talk about because they didn't have fun. I do see the type of person you are talking about (all work and an inability to play or interact with human beings), but I don't think it applies broadly.

I think premed advising plays a large role in keeping students balanced, and when the advising is bad, it's hard to know what to do. I would say that I had little to no fun in college because of the classes I took, the number of hours I worked in lab, and how much time my ec's took up. I missed all of the senior year events, didn't get to see my friends for the last 2 years, and didn't see my family for more than 2 weeks all through college. However, I have a lot to talk about and have a really fun personality. I do wish my premed advising didn't make it sound like we were all never going to get into medical school because I would have "lived" more (aka go out to eat, party, explore, etc) and had more fun in college (I mean, I'm never going to get those years back). My whole senior year, I went out one friday night and felt so incredibly guilty about it. It's a really complicated situation. In med school, I definitely plan on doing what feels right to me. Luckily, med students in the same year take the same classes, so it's much easier and advising doesn't play such a large role in the classes you take or the mentality you have (or so I hear). Staying sane is my top priority in life now. :laugh:
 
While I do agree with you, I think it's inappropriate to say someone won't have much to talk about because they didn't have fun. I do see the type of person you are talking about (all work and an inability to play or interact with human beings), but I don't think it applies broadly.

I think premed advising plays a large role in keeping students balanced, and when the advising is bad, it's hard to know what to do. I would say that I had little to no fun in college because of the classes I took, the number of hours I worked in lab, and how much time my ec's took up. I missed all of the senior year events, didn't get to see my friends for the last 2 years, and didn't see my family for more than 2 weeks all through college. However, I have a lot to talk about and have a really fun personality. I do wish my premed advising didn't make it sound like we were all never going to get into medical school because I would have "lived" more (aka go out to eat, party, explore, etc) and had more fun in college (I mean, I'm never going to get those years back). My whole senior year, I went out one friday night and felt so incredibly guilty about it. It's a really complicated situation. In med school, I definitely plan on doing what feels right to me. Luckily, med students in the same year take the same classes, so it's much easier and advising doesn't play such a large role in the classes you take or the mentality you have (or so I hear). Staying sane is my top priority in life now. :laugh:
If you have good scores and something to talk about you will be fine and your choices will pay off. You do sound a little bitter, though.
 
If you have good scores and something to talk about you will be fine and your choices will pay off. You do sound a little bitter, though.

I'm very bitter! :laugh: I wish I had more fun for sure! Top regret in college. But I just accepted that it didn't work out the way I want. I was just trying to explain where some students come from. A lot of people I know from college have the same view on this. I think we all just collectively decided to put it in the past and find out how to move on from that point.

Anyway, my point was, premed advising plays a key role in guiding students through the process and keeping them balanced. Selectively bad (or generally bad) advising = unbalanced students.
 
I'm very bitter! :laugh: I wish I had more fun for sure! Top regret in college. But I just accepted that it didn't work out the way I want. I was just trying to explain where some students come from. A lot of people I know from college have the same view on this. I think we all just collectively decided to put it in the past and find out how to move on from that point.

Anyway, my point was, premed advising plays a key role in guiding students through the process and keeping them balanced. Selectively bad (or generally bad) advising = unbalanced students.
Sorry, dear moothecow. Pre-med advising has been dismal since time immemorial. There is inherently a conflict between the UG's and med schools. The colleges have to fill the seats in those awful classes that nobody would take but for the belief that they will help get them into med school. Med schools just want students who will distinguish themselves in service to society and the only way they have to judge this is by how they have distinguished themselves by the time they apply. Martyrdom on the altar of "hard classes" is particularly sad to me.
 
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