grad school: ucla vs cal state?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by sendwich, May 24, 2002.

  1. sendwich

    sendwich you rock!

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    6
    I will be graduating in the fall (december). i think i need to take some grad-school level courses to show further my upward trend and so i was wondering which is better:

    1. taking grad school level courses at ucla?
    OR
    2. take classes at a cal state near my home (save $$)

    is one more difficult to do well than the other? thanks
     
  2. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. Lavndrrose

    Lavndrrose Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Messages:
    802
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't know how grad level courses at UCLA are, but I know that adcoms have acknowledged the fact that grades in grad courses are inflated.
     
  4. sendwich

    sendwich you rock!

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    6
    so would it be advisable to take more undergrad science classes?

    also, i'm considering the special science program at upenn or indiana (are there more out there?). i think the application process is exhausted now.

    would it sound crazy to move over there and take some classes (expecting to get in next year?) i am planning on taking the spcial science program eventually.
     
  5. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    0
    Being a grad student, I can say from experience that grade inflation is definitely no "fact". I'm sure it does occur at certain schools, just as I am sure that at some schools it doesn't occur. I've taken a great many graduate level classes, and believe me, there is a curve just like you saw in undergrad, and yes, people fail all the time. People tend to have better grades in graduate school because if you don't carry at least a 3.0 you get booted out of the program, this is not "grade inflation".

    Graduate school is much more difficult than undergrad classes. The pace is quicker, there is a huge increase in volume of material, the exams are far more challenging. Plus, you are competing against a far more motivated population of students than you were as an undergrad. Most people in graduate school want to be there, as opposed to undergrad, where half the students are there only because mommy and daddy insist.

    Adcoms know this, and they will most definitely look favorably on any science credits taken at the graduate level. It is a great way to show that you can handle course work in a more advanced setting. Do your self a favor, and look more closely into it. In fact, go to one of the schools you are interested in taking classes at and talk to one of the heads of the department you are interested in. Usually, they will be more than happy to chat with you, and give you some good advice on how these classes will look to an adcom.
     
  6. Lavndrrose

    Lavndrrose Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Messages:
    802
    Likes Received:
    0
    People had tried to debate this fact with me before. Too bad the search function is not working. Maybe you should ask those who's been told to go back and take more undergraduate courses even though they have a grad degree.
    Anyways, although there is a curve, the mean in grad courses is a B, whereas the mean in undergraduate courses is a C. That's why it's harder to get anything lower than a B in grad courses.

    gh, I suggest you take upper level undergraduate courses if you want to improve your gpa. Sandflea can explain this to you so much better than I can. The undergraduate courses that you take now will also be calculated in your BCPM gpa, whereas your graduate courses wouldn't.

    About special science programs, I think MCP also has one.
     
  7. lola

    lola Bovine Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2002
    Messages:
    3,848
    Likes Received:
    3
    i would definitely have to disagree with mr. z's post. while this may be true at his graduate school, this was not the case at mine -- harvard, by the way. when i first got there i was thinking "geesh, i'll be lucky if i can scrape by with B's". after a few short months i learned that grades were WAY inflated there. it was still difficult to get an A, but not hard at all to get a B in most classes. 1/2 the people in a lot of classes got A's or A-'s.
    is there any way you can take a few extra undergrad ucla classes? grad school grades won't be calculated into your bcpm gpa.
     
  8. Lavndrrose

    Lavndrrose Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Messages:
    802
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's a good idea lola. gh, check with UCLA's extension office, They might let you take undergraduate courses. Although they will be MORE expensive than a Cal State.
     
  9. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    0
    How hard is it to get a B in undergrad???
    You can sleepwalk through a whole semester and come out with a 3.0.

    And no, the mean in a grad course is not a B, it is the average of what the class got. How your school chooses to interpret that is up to them. As i said above, not all schools inflate. I've attended two different university's for grad school and have not seen inflation.

    Harvard is notorious for grade inflation in ALL their schools. You see, their grads MUST do well, or it will reflect poorly on the mighty H and they might not get as much in alumni money as they could. What does the fact that you went to harvard have to do with anything in this discussion? why would you add that, by the way.

    An A in a hard core graduate class, is far better than an A in another undergrad. Just go talk to the schools, they will give you the straight scoop, and then you can decide.
     
  10. psyche

    psyche Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Whether grad school is harder than undergrad is not the issue here. In the eyes of med school admission committees, nothing beats A's in undergraduate science classes. Those are the classes they ask you to take. So take them. People with Ph.D's routinely get rejected from medical school, so don't think going that route is going to impress anyone.

    I spent more money than I care to remember taking bio/chem classes at an expensive private school and didn't get in. I then too upper level bio classes at Cal State LA and got in. The professors are good, it's cheap and the classes are small. Go there instead of UCLA.
     
  11. Lavndrrose

    Lavndrrose Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Messages:
    802
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mr. Z, grad grade inflation might not occur at ALL schools but it does occur. Why would someone want to risk the possibility of adcoms thinking they took the easy way out? I'm not saying that this is the case for you though...I don't know your school or background. I'm just mainly repeating what I've been told. Anyways, the general recommendation to students wanting to raise their gpa or enhance their application is to take more undergraduate science courses.
     
  12. Mr.D

    Mr.D insipidus maximus

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    As someone mentioned earlier, you can take undergrad classes at UCLA extension rather than undergrad courses at CSULA. Of course, the classes would be harder and a tad more expensive, but I think it's well worth the time if you can do it. Whatever path you decide to take make sure you earn the best grades you possibly can. Good luck.
     
  13. Green912

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2001
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I'm a Grad student and have posted about this topic in the past, but in short I absolutly agree with Mr. Z. I have yet to experience the golden "inflation".
     
  14. Vin Scully

    Vin Scully Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2002
    Messages:
    96
    Likes Received:
    0
    So, I just finished off grad school at UCLA. My experience...the grad school classes were much easier. Mostly it's because nobody, including the prof, cares about grades in grad school. For almost all of us, learning the material is important but the grade is not. The hardest class I took here was an upper division undergrad science course that I took to boost my science class background. So, my recommendation is the undergrad class.
     
  15. sandflea

    sandflea Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    791
    Likes Received:
    1
    grad school grade inflation or how easy grad school is versus undergrad is really not the real issue here. what matters most is that taking grad school courses--either by going for a grad degree or just taking random courses--does *nothing* to counteract a low undergrad GPA. this is because your undergrad GPA (which includes any undergrad-level courses that you may take even after you actually earn your bachelors) is listed entirely separate from your grad degree on your AMCAS application. and the fact is, the major screening decisions that adcoms make is based on your *undergrad* GPA, completely regardless of how much you may have accomplished as a grad student. i know it makes no sense, but this is something i've learned firsthand. i agree with psyche that if your undergrad science GPA is the big hole in your application, taking *undergrad*-level science courses and doing well is the only way to cancel it out. so, gh, if you want to continue to demonstrate an upward trend in your grades, you would be way better off by continuing to take undergrad courses. you can either postpone your graduation to take more classes or graduate and simply keep registering for courses. every undergrad course you take will be listed in subsequent academic terms, so adcoms will be able to see how your grades improve over time, PLUS all of these courses will average into the magic undergrad GPA. it's the best way to go because it's the only approach that will work to fix a low undergrad GPA. otherwise, regardless of how well you do in grad school, that low undergrad GPA will follow you around the entire application process.
     
  16. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  17. Mr.D

    Mr.D insipidus maximus

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Messages:
    259
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Medical Student
    sandflea is correct - if you want to fix your undergrad GPA continue to take undergrad courses because your graduate GPA will not help to boost up your undergraduate GPA.
     
  18. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    0
    Okay, so obviously people are split on this issue. But, I would like to add something.
    When you guys talk about "fixing the ugpa" you should put an asterik next to it. The reason for this is that adcoms are not stupid, they know what your grades were during the time period that you were in undergraduate. You are not going to be fooling the adcoms by increasing your undergrad gpa by taking more and more undergrad courses. They will see that, for example, during the first 120 credits (or whatever it takes to graduate) your gpa was a 3.0, or whatever it was. They will also see that you had to take 60 more credits just to budge it up to 3.3 or 3.5, or whatever.

    If your gpa is that bad it is going to take many, many credits to increase it, even a little bit. This is going take a long time and is not the best investment for you as far as time or money is concerned. For starters, adcoms don't like to be appeased, they like to see candidates who have a genuine interest in medicine/science and are actively involved in the area. Advancing into graduate work will show that you have more interests in life other than trying to conform to the application, and demonstrates that you are passionate enough about science/medicine to get involved at more indepth level. Regardless, of what was argued about above, graduate work is considered "advanced work", I know this because I have spoken to many faculty about it, and they are impressed with good grades in graduate school, with or without inflation. Furthermore, if you do go back and take more undergrad courses and still don't get in, then where are you? You are back at square one. The worst cases scenario with taking grad courses, if you don't get in, is that you are now advancing towards a master's degree, which med schools do like. You won't lose the time nor the money that you would if you continue to take undergrad classes and then fail to gain acceptance.

    And this discussion does not even begin to touch on the intellectual gains that you will make in grad school. Learning to be active in the cutting edge of science not only conceptually, but also experimentally, will go a long way towards making you a smarter and better doctor (those of you anti my message, please note, i am not saying it is necessary to being a good doctor). So really, the choice is a matter of how you think your time will be best spent, i.e.. grinding away at an already deficient ugrad performance, or advancing your academic career into the graduate arena. Please do not worry about the inflation/non inflation debate, it is a non issue because maybe some adcoms will factor it in, maybe some won't, it all depends, all med schools are different. But, getting A's in graduate school is never, ever taken lightly.
     
  19. sandflea

    sandflea Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    791
    Likes Received:
    1
    mr. z, i agree with you wholeheartedly about the intellectual advantage and career advancement you get from pursuing an advanced degree, and it is this same reasoning that led me to pursue a masters to boost my app instead of the more-direct method of taking more undergrad classes. i completely agree that if you don't get into med school, you walk away with nothing if you've only taken undergrad courses, but a masters gives you something tangible.

    but purely from the objective standpoint of med school admissions, initial screening decisions are made based on your undergrad GPA, and if it's low, you can never completely escape it, regardless of what you've accomplished as a graduate student. it's one of the quirks of getting into med school. i pulled a 4.0 in grad school while working full-time, putting in a lot of volunteer time, etc, etc, but still was screened out pre-interview by the majority of the schools i applied to--i contacted a few to ask why, and was told that despite what i've done in grad school, 'my undergrad GPA was too low.' it makes no sense, i know. adcoms are aware that you may need to take a whole lot of additional undergrad courses to make a dent in a low GPA, but this is still what is often advised as a way to improve your app, so there is no issue of 'fooling' any adcom. med schools certainly do like achievement at a graduate level--there is no arguing this--but there is also no getting around the fact that they still chiefly use undergrad stats to make initial decisions. if your undergrad GPA is enough to make initial cuts (soft or hard cuts, depending on the school), it is at THAT point that a school will be able to take note of what you may have accomplished post-undergrad, but the sad fact is that graduate work doesn't get the same scrutiny as undergrad work at the initial stages of the application process.

    it's a gamble either way, and i realized this when i opted for pursuing a masters. if you go for a masters, you get highly valuable advanced coursework and experience in a health-related field, but it won't cancel out a low undergrad GPA. if you go for a post-bacc program or just taking random undergrad courses, it will more directly improve your GPA and will pay dividends in the application process, but in the event that you DON'T get accepted, you walk away with nothing. it's a choice you make, just like anything else in life.
     

Share This Page