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Harvard Extension Quandry

BobLJ99

Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Dec 4, 2004
125
0
  1. Medical Student
    I am 24 years old and will be attaining a master's degree in social work this May. I have decided to pursue a career in medicine, but have not taken any of the required core science classes, thus deciding to apply to postbac programs. I have applied to Harvard Extension and Bryn Mawr.

    I have had some extenuating circumstances along the way. My mother passed away during the early years of my undergraduate career, which incomparably affected my ability to do well. This was a tremendous loss especially since my father passed away when I was younger . I spent a great deal of time grieving, but was able to have a strong finish my last three semesters. Although I accomplished this, my overall GPA was a marginal 2.8 with my BCPM GPA being a 2.37. The science classes I took were Astronomy, Meteorology, Environmental Chemistry, and the Realm of Physics; none of these classes were associated with labs.

    Since then, I have done exceptionally well in my master’s program. I have been attending this program full-time for two years and have a cumulative GPA of a 3.97. In addition I have accumulated over 940 hours of field experience in health care: last year working in a dialysis center and this year doing medical social work in a hospital. I have also conducted research regarding quality of life among dialysis patients, which I am currently preparing a manuscript for publication. Last semester, I engaged in independent study with an MD/Social Worker.

    I have done a great deal to offset my poor undergrad performance and believe I must enroll in a formal postbac program and do well to be even more convincing to prospective medical schools. I am awaiting word from Bryn Mawr, but called Harvard Extension today to make sure they received my application materials. The gentleman I spoke with said they had and I should be expecting a response letter. When I asked him if he could divulge that information contained in the letter over the phone, he told me that it was a warning letter along with my check (application fee). He said the school was warning me of the competitiveness of medical schools and that I was at a disadvantage due to my marginal undergrad grades. The school was also asking me to reconsider my decision to enter the program and pursue medicine. I was dumbfounded as he apprised me of this info with such flat affect. When I reminded him I had done a great deal to offset my past and wanted to continue to do so in a formal postbac program, I could hear the crickets chirping. He then told me I could send my check back and they would admit me to the program. After further interrogating, he told me that I would receive program sponsorship barring I do extremely well with a 30+ MCAT. Has anyone else dealt with anything similar? Also, is there not such a thing as overcoming adversity? This guy was talking like every medical student had to fit this prototypical mold and any deviations were unacceptable.
     

    sidewalkman

    Full Member
    15+ Year Member
    Jun 11, 2004
    520
    0
      This seems to be Harvard Extension's policy, as I've heard similar stories. The program is telling you that people with a GPA under 3.0 have it rough (true), and they're asking you to reconsider and giving you your money back (how nice). Further, they said that they will accept you if send your money back (sweet!). What's the problem? Would you rather they cash your check and reject you for not meeting a hard GPA requirement?

      I'm not trying to be cold, but it's a fact that lots of people will give you a hard time for your low GPA no matter what your story is. Many of these people will be professional advisors. These people are idiots. The sooner you use that for motivation to succeed, the better. My GPA's in your range, and have seen and heard it all.

      I suggest you do two things. There are various Under 3.0 Club pages; read those for motivation. Also, go to mdapplicants.com and search for all applicants under 3.0 who got an acceptance anywhere. You will soon find that many people have succeeded whose numbers weren't pristine. Good luck.
       

      endodoc

      Endocrinologist (MD, PhD)
      10+ Year Member
      7+ Year Member
      Aug 6, 2004
      268
      1
        BobLJ99 said:
        I am 24 years old and will be attaining a master's degree in social work this May. I have decided to pursue a career in medicine, but have not taken any of the required core science classes, thus deciding to apply to postbac programs. I have applied to Harvard Extension and Bryn Mawr.

        I have had some extenuating circumstances along the way. My mother passed away during the early years of my undergraduate career, which incomparably affected my ability to do well. This was a tremendous loss especially since my father passed away when I was younger . I spent a great deal of time grieving, but was able to have a strong finish my last three semesters. Although I accomplished this, my overall GPA was a marginal 2.8 with my BCPM GPA being a 2.37. The science classes I took were Astronomy, Meteorology, Environmental Chemistry, and the Realm of Physics; none of these classes were associated with labs.


        Since then, I have done exceptionally well in my master’s program. I have been attending this program full-time for two years and have a cumulative GPA of a 3.97. In addition I have accumulated over 940 hours of field experience in health care: last year working in a dialysis center and this year doing medical social work in a hospital. I have also conducted research regarding quality of life among dialysis patients, which I am currently preparing a manuscript for publication. Last semester, I engaged in independent study with an MD/Social Worker.

        I have done a great deal to offset my poor undergrad performance and believe I must enroll in a formal postbac program and do well to be even more convincing to prospective medical schools. I am awaiting word from Bryn Mawr, but called Harvard Extension today to make sure they received my application materials. The gentleman I spoke with said they had and I should be expecting a response letter. When I asked him if he could divulge that information contained in the letter over the phone, he told me that it was a warning letter along with my check (application fee). He said the school was warning me of the competitiveness of medical schools and that I was at a disadvantage due to my marginal undergrad grades. The school was also asking me to reconsider my decision to enter the program and pursue medicine. I was dumbfounded as he apprised me of this info with such flat affect. When I reminded him I had done a great deal to offset my past and wanted to continue to do so in a formal postbac program, I could hear the crickets chirping. He then told me I could send my check back and they would admit me to the program. After further interrogating, he told me that I would receive program sponsorship barring I do extremely well with a 30+ MCAT. Has anyone else dealt with anything similar? Also, is there not such a thing as overcoming adversity? This guy was talking like every medical student had to fit this prototypical mold and any deviations were unacceptable.


        Not to be be cold to your needs, but you need to think about to things. First, your talking to Harvard, secound, you are going aginist "kids" who did undergrad well, and didnt just skim but. Medical school dosnt want to hear anyones sad stories, because we all have them, just some of in their eyes do not let them bring down grades. Even though you did well in your masters; that is great. One thing I can tell you med school will look at. They will see how your grades were affected under pressure. Please dont take this the wrong way, but I am trying to save you from getting beat up by program dir.
        If you feel you can do it and prove them wrong go for it, only you know what you can do. You just need to prove to others.
         
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        Quentin Quinn

        Doctor of Love
        10+ Year Member
        5+ Year Member
        Nov 29, 2004
        69
        0
        MN - hell hath frozen over
          sidewalkman said:
          This seems to be Harvard Extension's policy, as I've heard similar stories. The program is telling you that people with a GPA under 3.0 have it rough (true), and they're asking you to reconsider and giving you your money back (how nice). Further, they said that they will accept you if send your money back (sweet!). What's the problem? Would you rather they cash your check and reject you for not meeting a hard GPA requirement?

          I'm not trying to be cold, but it's a fact that lots of people will give you a hard time for your low GPA no matter what your story is. Many of these people will be professional advisors. These people are idiots. The sooner you use that for motivation to succeed, the better. My GPA's in your range, and have seen and heard it all.

          I suggest you do two things. There are various Under 3.0 Club pages; read those for motivation. Also, go to mdapplicants.com and search for all applicants under 3.0 who got an acceptance anywhere. You will soon find that many people have succeeded whose numbers weren't pristine. Good luck.

          I concur... from seeing a few prior threads re: Harvard extension, this seems to be their unofficial "policy" toward those with low GPAs. The main advisor (Owen Fixsen?) initially tries a little tough love to see just how committed you are, but they will let you in and he actually is very supportive once you begin studies. Supposedly he is a really wonderful advisor. In reality, he is being honest with you since you will likely need to excel (i.e. 3.7+ type GPA) in the program to get into an allopathic school. The MSW, while a nice achievement, will be given little weight unless you perform well at Harvard.
           

          Law2Doc

          5K+ Member
          Moderator Emeritus
          10+ Year Member
          Dec 20, 2004
          30,880
          10,058
          1. Attending Physician
            Quentin Quinn said:
            I concur... from seeing a few prior threads re: Harvard extension, this seems to be their unofficial "policy" toward those with low GPAs. The main advisor (Owen Fixsen?) initially tries a little tough love to see just how committed you are, but they will let you in and he actually is very supportive once you begin studies. Supposedly he is a really wonderful advisor. In reality, he is being honest with you since you will likely need to excel (i.e. 3.7+ type GPA) in the program to get into an allopathic school. The MSW, while a nice achievement, will be given little weight unless you perform well at Harvard.

            The names are Bill Fixsen and Owen Peterson. The Extension school likes to give "borderline" candidates a chance to talk to them and let them know that you have really thought this through before making you commit your money and time. Unlike Bryn Mawr, which tends only to accept people they think they can help get into med school, the Extension school will basically accept some number of candidates with significant odds against them, with the requirement that they get a B or above in every class and at 30 or above on the MCAT or no sponsorship letter. Due to the sponsorship hurdle and high attrition, the Extension school's record on students getting into med school is still fairly high. The fact that you got this "warning" letter means that, in Fixsen/Peterson's opinion (and based on their very short application form), even if you do well in their postbacc program and MCATs it still might be a crapshoot hail mary to get into med school. But they aren't going to stop you if you want to try.
             
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