Help me clarify: Stay in Texas, do community college pre-reqs; or, post-bacc w/ linkages?

Firkin

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I have been searching and reading these forums for days, and I've found tons of valuable information on schools in Texas and on post-bacc programs, but nothing really on my main question: how to choose between the two.

My situation: Older (near 50), previously pre-med (finished almost all pre-reqs--but 20 years ago), 3.5 GPA, not yet taken MCAT. I previously lived in Texas for 13 years, and recently moved back after a few years in Chicago. I will again be a legal resident of Texas in 9 months, next July.

My considerations: since I am older, I am very concerned with minimizing two things: time and money. I will be looking at admission in 2019, due to the MCAT testing cycle and my need to at least refresh some of my pre-reqs. I want to avoid a "glide" year if at all possible, so the linkages through such programs as Bryn Mawr and Goucher are very attractive. However, Texas medical schools offer me an excellent chance of admission, plus an unbeatable cost.

Going the route of the post-bacc programs would prepare me for the MCAT and allow me to skip the glide year (assuming I am successful at linking), but both the cost of the post-bacc program and the cost of the linked medical schools would be high (some higher than others). In Texas, after speaking to admissions counselors at a few of the schools, they say that my pre-reqs from 20 years ago would technically be accepted, but that adcoms would really want to see "recent upper-division coursework" to show that I could still handle taking classes. Staying here and taking some classes at a community college would both help me to prepare for the MCAT, and help me burnish my GPA. But it's quite possible that the process would take me an additional year over the post-bacc route. Of course, I could do the post-bacc and still apply to Texas schools, but that removes what I see as one of the main benefits of the program--the linkage system. I would love to hear people's thoughts.
 

Ad2b

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Okay so let's start at the top:

Your prereqs are over 20 years old?

That might/probably puts you at a disadvantage off the bat for the MCAT. Because so much of the MCAT now is NOT about content but incorporating content with critical thinking, I'd be concerned about not having recent classes whether or not the schools themselves will accept them.

I can't speak to linkage programs as I don't personally know anyone who has completed them AND been successful.

My path was DIY and I took all the pre-reqs except for orgo II which I will never take. Period. :) I guess the only advice or guidance I really have is this:

Don't worry about your age, just yet. Focus on what are the right and best steps first, ignoring age. What puts YOU in the best possible position to be accepted? If that means something different than applying next cycle, so be it. Be the best candidate you can be irregardless of age.
 
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Firkin

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I know that those old pre-reqs put me at a disadvantage for the MCAT, so I am basically looking at taking MOST of them a second time (not the very basic general chemistry and biology stuff, but the more advanced stuff, where I am more rusty). I didn't take the MCAT on this last cycle because I knew I wasn't ready. Either way I go, I'm basically getting myself prepped for the MCAT. Texas does have Baylor, which has fewer required courses than the Texas state schools (which all have identical requirements), so it is possible that I might be able to swing that with one year of prep before the MCAT, but the rest of the schools might require more than one year, since the last thing I want to do is rush things and get less than stellar grades.
 
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Ad2b

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Some of the advanced stuff won't help with the MCAT but they might help with the application process showing your ability to get great grades in advanced classes. Those like genetics, biochem, physiology, cell bio, etc.

Depending on your gen chem knowledge and retention that is definitely one class I WOULD take again, if not just silently audit it; same with physics. The general stuff is what's on the MCAT for both physics, chem, and orgo; biology is some first year stuff but can be a lot of biochem, physiology and genetics.

Another place to get the basic knowledge for the MCAT is AKlectures.com and MIT open courseware: MIT OpenCourseWare | Free Online Course Materials

Wanted to mention as well: I've known a few matriculated students from here and reddit that have not fulfilled their pre-reqs due to either taking advanced classes that compensated for the lower ones OR nailing the MCAT. Not rushing this is also critical. I'm older than you are so well understand the age pressing issues.
 

tryptamine

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I'm grappling with a similar question now myself. My undergrad grades are considerably worse than yours, but I'm also trying to balance the potential upside of a special masters program next year with the cheaper and lower-risk route of staying home and just taking more classes while applying.

Do you have a decent map of your weak spots at this point? I found reviewing for the MCAT to be extremely helpful for building my own. My pre-reqs were 10-12 years old, but some review and practice (I used the Kaplan MCAT books) gave me the relief of knowing that I probably didn't need to re-take physics, o-chem, or biochem and was instead able to take genetics and physiology, which did a great job in helping to reconstruct scientific systems thinking and critical analysis comfort. Assuming its late to sign up for coursework for the fall semester, doing something similar might be a good use of your time in the next few months and might help to inform your overall strategy.

Also, it's worth considering taking a couple of courses in the spring just to get the hang of school again. I'm in the midst of a full course load in a DIY post bac right now, and had I not spent a little time re-acclimating to a student lifestyle on fewer credits in the spring and fall, I'd likely be scrambling a fair bit harder right now.

Good luck!
 
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Firkin

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Another place to get the basic knowledge for the MCAT is AKlectures and MIT open courseware: MIT OpenCourseWare | Free Online Course Materials
Thanks so much for those resources. I actually used AKlectures several months ago, and it pointed out for me that I did not just need to review these courses--I really needed to just take them again. I am looking at the MIT OpenCourseWare now. Because I don't actually need the credit, just to refresh/rebuild that knowledge. The two classes that I did NOT take the first time around are Physics and Statistics, so I will definitely be taking those for credit.

Do you have a decent map of your weak spots at this point? I found reviewing for the MCAT to be extremely helpful for building my own. ... Assuming its late to sign up for coursework for the fall semester, doing something similar might be a good use of your time in the next few months and might help to inform your overall strategy.
I do know where I am weakest, and it is of course in the subject I never studied--physics! An additional wrinkle in my personal situation is that I took ALL of my undergrad science classes at a school that does not give grades (The Evergreen State College), so my science GPA is nonexistent. If I make sure I do well on whatever classes I eventually take, it's possible for me to report that GPA as 4.0. The other knowledge that I need to refresh includes OCHEM and BIOCHEM.

Because I am not yet a resident of Texas, I can't enroll in any classes during the spring, at least at any of the state schools. Doing so would put my future residency status in the state at risk because the residency rules require you to live in the state for a full 12 months BEFORE applying to school. It seems there may be a way around this, but I don't want to put my residency status at risk, because it is a major bonus to be a Texas resident when applying to the Texas schools.
 

esob

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I'm not sure how TMDSAS will report your science GPA but I'm fairly sure AMCAS will report only what is on record, so if you have a 4.0 in one class and that is the only one you have weighted, it will be a 4.0. That said, it really is only a screening tool for cutoffs. So they won't put blinders on and just look and see you have a 4.0 sGPA and run with it. They will instead look at your transcripts and see that they actually have very little to evaluate you on.

I would recheck the residency rules as well. The only reason you remain a non-resident is if you are only in Texas for school. So, if you come to Tx for example as an OOS freshman, then buy a house here, get a full time job, marry someone who meets those requirements, etc, you are considered a resident when you apply for grad school, at least as far as I understand it.
 
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Firkin

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I'm not sure how TMDSAS will report your science GPA but I'm fairly sure AMCAS will report only what is on record, so if you have a 4.0 in one class and that is the only one you have weighted, it will be a 4.0. That said, it really is only a screening tool for cutoffs. So they won't put blinders on and just look and see you have a 4.0 sGPA and run with it. They will instead look at your transcripts and see that they actually have very little to evaluate you on.
They actually have plenty to evaluate, possibly too much. So it all depends on the patience of any individual committee member if they really delve into these things. My evaluations extend to approximately 14 pages of notes, and could be fairly described as glowing. Many quotes like "his exam on stoichiometry was the best in the class of 96 students", "he has an excellent grasp of protein structure and function, and he can explain them unusually well", and, "It was a pleasure to have him in this class". One school I contacted revealed to me that they have a rubric for such things, and they actually convert the narratives to a GPA, just for their internal usage. I'm not afraid to have anyone read the thing, my fear is more that they won't read it out of impatience, or they would look at an unreported GPA and dismiss the application without further investigation. My brother was in the same program, and he's currently a radiologist, so I know it's possible.
 

esob

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They actually have plenty to evaluate, possibly too much. So it all depends on the patience of any individual committee member if they really delve into these things. My evaluations extend to approximately 14 pages of notes, and could be fairly described as glowing. Many quotes like "his exam on stoichiometry was the best in the class of 96 students", "he has an excellent grasp of protein structure and function, and he can explain them unusually well", and, "It was a pleasure to have him in this class". One school I contacted revealed to me that they have a rubric for such things, and they actually convert the narratives to a GPA, just for their internal usage. I'm not afraid to have anyone read the thing, my fear is more that they won't read it out of impatience, or they would look at an unreported GPA and dismiss the application without further investigation. My brother was in the same program, and he's currently a radiologist, so I know it's possible.
So I stand corrected, I should have said "they have very little to easily evaluate you on." I personally know of someone who was in a similar situation; but they also had a Ph.D and a near perfect MCAT score, so it gave the schools a good reason to bother looking deeper. Conversely, if you have a 60th percentile MCAT score then comments won't matter much. For example, if your professor notes that you were the best physics student they ever taught, but your MCAT lands you right in the middle of the pack, it just reflects a fact that the particular professor never got exposed to the 50% of students who are more adept (at least from a standardized testing standpoint, which is what med schools care about) than you. So I guess my point is, you should work on giving them a reason to be inconvenienced by your school's lack of grading.
 
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