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bunnyjaeger

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Hello! I'm not new to these threads but I'm an upperclassman undergraduate now and things just keep going wrong...

For background, I'm an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.
Double major in Molecular Cell Biology and Practice of Art

My current cumulative GPA is 3.1
My sGPA is much lower...
My calculated AMCAS GPA is 2.92 and my calculated BCPM GPA is 2.5

I'm in a sorority very involved with St. Jude Children's Hospital for two years now
I've had two jobs, one as a lab assistant, another currently working night shift at a campus library.
I currently am a volunteer lab researcher at UCSF and plan on sticking around the lab for a while.

I have some weirdly extenuating circumstances however...

My first semester I had no idea I wanted to go into medical school and tanked my grades (Almost all C's with a C- in general chemistry. I can't retake this at my university because a C- is a passing grade and only D+ or below are available for retakes).

I stepped up my game my second semester sophomore year and things were looking up.

Then Fall of my Sophomore year I got really sick...

Not cancer sick but unexpectedly sick in a very unforgiving way. I caught influenza right before one of my midterms and despite ending up in a hospital overnight due to how bad it got, the professor was quite unforgiving and I received an F in physics that semester.

Unfortunately things didn't end there. I ended up receiving chronic back pain from the coughing from that flu. It was so bad I needed an escort to get to classes all semester without collapsing from back pain. Second semester Sophomore year was better, but not by much unfortunately due to the number of doctor appointments and physical therapy trips I was making. A C in math and a B in biology. I retook that failed physics course this last summer and despite focusing solely on it for the entire summer and giving it my all, I still only got a B.

I'm now in my first semester of Junior year and while things are looking brighter than before, they're not amazing. I had to take on a second job and quit my old one due to my back and financial trouble came on. I'm now finally out of physical therapy after 10 months and back on my feet but after this semester I only have 3 science classes left to take and I honestly can't possibly see how I could ace any of them without dying in the process.

I'm looking for some advice on what I should do in terms of getting into medical school starting now. I know D.O. is still a possibility if I do post-bacc and retake all the courses I did abysmal in, but I truly had my heart set on M.D.... Please help.
 
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HomeSkool

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I'm sorry to hear you went through all that. It sounds truly awful, and I commend you for your resilience and dedication.

Your best bet, I think, is to delay medical school while you improve your academic record. You may consider being a part-time student for the remainder of your undergrad experience if that would help you balance all of your academic, personal, and financial goals and obligations. A post-bacc sounds like a good plan, or you may consider pursuing a master's degree. Certainly it would help to retake some of your coursework, for the GPA bump as well as the improved mastery of important material.

As for MD vs DO, I encourage you to be open to both. There's nothing wrong with pursuing a DO, and some of the brightest and best physicians I know -- including my best friend and my brother-in-law -- are DOs. Resiliency is not only persevering in the face of adversity, but also adapting both goals and strategies when unforeseen obstacles arise.
 
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bunnyjaeger

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I'm sorry to hear you went through all that. It sounds truly awful, and I commend you for your resilience and dedication.

Your best bet, I think, is to delay medical school while you improve your academic record. You may consider being a part-time student for the remainder of your undergrad experience if that would help you balance all of your academic, personal, and financial goals and obligations. A post-bacc sounds like a good plan, or you may consider pursuing a master's degree. Certainly it would help to retake some of your coursework, for the GPA bump as well as the improved mastery of important material.

As for MD vs DO, I encourage you to be open to both. There's nothing wrong with pursuing a DO, and some of the brightest and best physicians I know -- including my best friend and my brother-in-law -- are DOs. Resiliency is not only persevering in the face of adversity, but also adapting both goals and strategies when unforeseen obstacles arise.
Thank you so much for your response! I definitely agree with everything you've said. I think I'm just really confused about what post bacc program I should approach and how I should plan on retaking the low grades. Should I retake them from a CC or look at my university's extension for a post bacc program? Are there programs that would be better for me than others? I've looked around at post-bacc programs and I'm just not sure what would help with my circumstances... Any advice would be very very welcome!
 

Goro

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Hello! I'm not new to these threads but I'm an upperclassman undergraduate now and things just keep going wrong...

For background, I'm an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley.
Double major in Molecular Cell Biology and Practice of Art

My current cumulative GPA is 3.1
My sGPA is much lower...
My calculated AMCAS GPA is 2.92 and my calculated BCPM GPA is 2.5

I'm in a sorority very involved with St. Jude Children's Hospital for two years now
I've had two jobs, one as a lab assistant, another currently working night shift at a campus library.
I currently am a volunteer lab researcher at UCSF and plan on sticking around the lab for a while.

I have some weirdly extenuating circumstances however...

My first semester I had no idea I wanted to go into medical school and tanked my grades (Almost all C's with a C- in general chemistry. I can't retake this at my university because a C- is a passing grade and only D+ or below are available for retakes).

I stepped up my game my second semester sophomore year and things were looking up.

Then Fall of my Sophomore year I got really sick...

Not cancer sick but unexpectedly sick in a very unforgiving way. I caught influenza right before one of my midterms and despite ending up in a hospital overnight due to how bad it got, the professor was quite unforgiving and I received an F in physics that semester.

Unfortunately things didn't end there. I ended up receiving chronic back pain from the coughing from that flu. It was so bad I needed an escort to get to classes all semester without collapsing from back pain. Second semester Sophomore year was better, but not by much unfortunately due to the number of doctor appointments and physical therapy trips I was making. A C in math and a B in biology. I retook that failed physics course this last summer and despite focusing solely on it for the entire summer and giving it my all, I still only got a B.

I'm now in my first semester of Junior year and while things are looking brighter than before, they're not amazing. I had to take on a second job and quit my old one due to my back and financial trouble came on. I'm now finally out of physical therapy after 10 months and back on my feet but after this semester I only have 3 science classes left to take and I honestly can't possibly see how I could ace any of them without dying in the process.

I'm looking for some advice on what I should do in terms of getting into medical school starting now. I know D.O. is still a possibility if I do post-bacc and retake all the courses I did abysmal in, but I truly had my heart set on M.D.... Please help.
I know that at some schools, you can get a retroactive W for a class. I suggest looking into this, especially since a medical issue was involved.

And read this:
 
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bunnyjaeger

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I know that at some schools, you can get a retroactive W for a class. I suggest looking into this, especially since a medical issue was involved.

And read this:
Thank you so much for the link! Incredibly helpful! I did look up the process for retroactive withdrawal from a class. Unfortunately my university only administers entire semester retroactive withdrawal and not single class. Would you suggest DIY post-bacc's to be done through a local CC or through a UC?
 

Goro

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Thank you so much for the link! Incredibly helpful! I did look up the process for retroactive withdrawal from a class. Unfortunately my university only administers entire semester retroactive withdrawal and not single class. Would you suggest DIY post-bacc's to be done through a local CC or through a UC?
If $ an issue, the CC is OK. But the more rigorous UC will be more convincing.
 
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HomeSkool

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If $ an issue, the CC is OK. But the more rigorous UC will be more convincing.
My thoughts exactly. You're going to a renowned university. Retaking courses there rather than a CC should be option 1, 2, and 3.

Unfortunately my university only administers entire semester retroactive withdrawal and not single class.
If I were you, I'd still petition the university to make an exception based on your severe health issues. The worst they can say is no.
 
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xochitl

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I did my DIY post-bacc at UC Berkeley Extension and found the professors to be very helpful because they know 1/2 of the class is trying to get into medical school so they are nice about taking tests at different times or helping you out with office hours. But it isn't easy of course i have seen a few people drop classes after the first exam or just get C's if they stuck it out. My friend took all his pre-reqs there and is now applying. Its a great environment too as most of the students went to Yale, Harvard, multiple UCs and I was actually the only California state student in my classes. Also its not TOO expensive I think like $850 per class. Also one thing that made me commit to this program is that you're taking classes alongside the students enrolled in UCSF's formal post-bacc program. You can also apply to UCSF's post-bacc because it comes with all the bells and whistles (advisor, letter of rec etc) but i did DIY and got letters from professors who I got to know and used SDN as my advisor.
 
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@bunnyjaeger Take a semester off and resolve your priorities. You have too much going on for someone who is still recovering.

"Dying in the process" and "not cancer sick" just make me think that you are still stuck in this mindset where you can power through your own weaknesses. The awareness of the B in physics without any hindrances seems to register, but also not register.

You aren't in a subpar position because of the illness alone, there are a number of other factors that lend itself to this line of thought. Note, that I'm not typing that the illness was a non-factor, rather I think that the illness exacerbated the symptoms and is masking the underlying learning issue you showed when you got a C- in Chemistry.

And although we could pretend that being a premed provides a motivational bias in terms of how much additional work you put in, no one in the Berkeley system would take a course with the intention of just barely passing. I think that you are still going to make some serious mistakes this semester because you don't acknowledge the possibility that you could still fall even farther. Failure is part of the learning process, but at this point it may cost you the one thing you supposedly want to do.

All that aside, Berkeley has a notorious reputation for being grade deflationary which means students should double down on their classes. However, the fact that you are tackling a double major in cell biology and art which are unrelated, work long hours, and did non-profit work during your first two years is like forcing Sisyphus to push a rock up a mountain except he chooses it to be a ninety degree surface in the center of a volcano.

As this is a turning point, not a death knell I would seriously suggest you give yourself time to actually recover.
 
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bunnyjaeger

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I did my DIY post-bacc at UC Berkeley Extension and found the professors to be very helpful because they know 1/2 of the class is trying to get into medical school so they are nice about taking tests at different times or helping you out with office hours. But it isn't easy of course i have seen a few people drop classes after the first exam or just get C's if they stuck it out. My friend took all his pre-reqs there and is now applying. Its a great environment too as most of the students went to Yale, Harvard, multiple UCs and I was actually the only California state student in my classes. Also its not TOO expensive I think like $850 per class. Also one thing that made me commit to this program is that you're taking classes alongside the students enrolled in UCSF's formal post-bacc program. You can also apply to UCSF's post-bacc because it comes with all the bells and whistles (advisor, letter of rec etc) but i did DIY and got letters from professors who I got to know and used SDN as my advisor.

Thanks so much for all of your help! I don't believe I fulfill the requirements of UCSF's post-bacc program since I am not from an underserved community, although a structured post-bacc sounds much more my speed than a DIY post-bacc... I simply don't think I will maintain my studiousness if I am not in a structured "bells and whistles" situation. I'm also incredibly nervous that if I get caught up in working full time while doing DIY I may not do as well as I would like.

I have good news for an Update. Last semester, the semester I was in when I posted this in the first place, I managed to get exclusively B grades in biochem and anatomy and A's in the rest of my classes. I also am recovered from the back issues. It's chronic meaning I shouldn't carry a more than 50 pounds by myself, but with regular exercise I have found my back to be in the best shape it has been in a long time! Things are looking up if only a little bit. I'm starting to also question if a post-bacc program or going for a master's would be more beneficial for me. If anyone has any thoughts I would love to hear it! I now have a 3.17 GPA and 2.85 sGPA. I'm very nervous for the future... But I am hopeful and I think things will turn around.

And @Pina Colada while I truly appreciate your concern and your realistic perspective, taking a semester off simply isn't an option for me. And of course I'm aware I'm not in some distinctly adverse situation (although the chronic back problems is quite unique for someone my age), I understood with Physics that despite giving my 100%, I have limits to what I am capable of achieving. But I just know I'll be a doctor one of these days. It might just take a little more time...And that's okay. I'm very young and I have lots time to spend growing and learning. I want to be the best doctor I can be because that's what patients deserve and I'll do everything I can to be just that.
 

xochitl

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Thanks so much for all of your help! I don't believe I fulfill the requirements of UCSF's post-bacc program since I am not from an underserved community, although a structured post-bacc sounds much more my speed than a DIY post-bacc... I simply don't think I will maintain my studiousness if I am not in a structured "bells and whistles" situation. I'm also incredibly nervous that if I get caught up in working full time while doing DIY I may not do as well as I would like.

I have good news for an Update. Last semester, the semester I was in when I posted this in the first place, I managed to get exclusively B grades in biochem and anatomy and A's in the rest of my classes. I also am recovered from the back issues. It's chronic meaning I shouldn't carry a more than 50 pounds by myself, but with regular exercise I have found my back to be in the best shape it has been in a long time! Things are looking up if only a little bit. I'm starting to also question if a post-bacc program or going for a master's would be more beneficial for me. If anyone has any thoughts I would love to hear it! I now have a 3.17 GPA and 2.85 sGPA. I'm very nervous for the future... But I am hopeful and I think things will turn around.

And @Pina Colada while I truly appreciate your concern and your realistic perspective, taking a semester off simply isn't an option for me. And of course I'm aware I'm not in some distinctly adverse situation (although the chronic back problems is quite unique for someone my age), I understood with Physics that despite giving my 100%, I have limits to what I am capable of achieving. But I just know I'll be a doctor one of these days. It might just take a little more time...And that's okay. I'm very young and I have lots time to spend growing and learning. I want to be the best doctor I can be because that's what patients deserve and I'll do everything I can to be just that.

Happy to hear about your back getting better!! definitely dont want your body acting up during the long days/nights of studying, so just keep trying to get healthier. I would suggest that you do a post-bacc because of your science gpa. you want to get it to at least a 3.0 and only undergraduate classes (like those found in a post-bacc) can help increase your gpa. A masters seems like a better route for some because it makes them feel safe because in case med school falls through then they can fall back on their masters and in all honesty a post-bacc does nothing for you outside of applying to med school. it sucks but you kind of have to take the leap of faith. Also UC Berk extension has a formal post-bacc if you wanted to look into that. sorry im sure this post was all over the place but im kinda tired lol. GOOD LUCK!!
 
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