SprinkleSerotonin

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Hey guys, so I'm in a pickle in terms of how exactly to go about writing my personal statement to help ADCOMs understand the truly uniquely horrible experience I had in college that severely impaired my GPA. I'll try and keep this short with just enough details to paint yall a picture of my circumstances.

Starting off college, I was doing great, got an equal mix of As and Bs with a solid 3.5 GPA with a 3.6 sGPA. Sorta low, but it's normal to struggle a lil freshman year. I've made great friends and am excited to live with them next year!

Sophomore year, first time ever living completely independently with all my friends and it's tough. Most of them struggle both financially and academically and well, long story short, they all start heavily using drugs and selling out of the house. Now I live in a trap house. I pride myself on being very adaptable, seeing the good in everyone, and I was just too immature back then to even know what to do. It was all our first times living independently, our college is a notorious party school, and back then I just didn't see it as that big of a deal. Boy, was I wrong.

Within the span of the next two years, my house gets armed robbed by three hooligans, my friends all start dropping out or getting multi-year jail sentences one by one, and I even get SWAT'd a few months later. I start doing an extraordinarily large amount of ECs (two research labs, president of a club, officer in another) as well as 18+ course units just so I can stay out of the house. My grades start slipping because I just didn't feel safe in my own home and I became an emotional wreck. In the end, I have a downwards trend in my GPA and in my last year of college, I get multiple C's and a F in a retake of Ochem. I graduated with a 3.1 cGPA and 2.88 sGPA (honestly surprising considering I had 2 F's and many C's).

It's been more than year since then and I've normalized back to my old self back at home. I've felt a lot happier than I have in years and not to mention, just a lot safer and less nervous. I've taken the MCAT and got a 521. I've taken two postbacc science courses at a reputable 4 year getting 2 A's.

I have two main questions:
1) How many classes should I take till Med Schools can see that I can handle their coursework? I've calculated that after 5 classes of straight As I'd have a 3.2 cGPA and 3.07 sGPA. After 10, I'd have 3.27, 3.21. After 21, 3.4, 3.4. Obviously the more the better, but these classes are like $1000 per pop. How many would I need before I'd just be gilding the lily?

2) What's the best way to go about writing my PS. Obviously my GPA in college is something that NEEDS to be addressed, but I really don't want to scare off ADCOMs. However, at the same time too, this is such unique circumstances that maybe the shock could help them see from my perspective. On one hand, I'm scared that the story would scare off interview invites. On the other hand, I really don't have any other way to explain the GPA and I can't just casually summarize the events without it sounding nonchalantly worrisome. "I had extreme circumstances, such as being robbed and living with wanted criminals, that lowered my GPA."

Any help from ya'll would be greatly appreciated, especially from faculty or other older folks who may've seen/been in similar situations.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read all of this, it's a doozy of a story and something I just don't really feel comfortable talking about with a real life counselor (tried once before and the dude just unapologetically dismissed me as a lost case).
 
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Nugester

2+ Year Member
Jul 4, 2017
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Hey guys, so I'm in a pickle in terms of how exactly to go about writing my personal statement to help ADCOMs understand the truly uniquely horrible experience I had in college that severely impaired my GPA. I'll try and keep this short with just enough details to paint yall a picture of my circumstances.

Starting off college, I was doing great, got an equal mix of As and Bs with a solid 3.5 GPA with a 3.6 sGPA. Sorta low, but it's normal to struggle a lil freshman year. I've made great friends and am excited to live with them next year!

Sophomore year, first time ever living completely independently with all my friends and it's tough. Most of them struggle both financially and academically and well, long story short, they all start heavily using drugs and selling out of the house. Now I live in a trap house. I pride myself on being very adaptable, seeing the good in everyone, and I was just too immature back then to even know what to do. It was all our first times living independently, our college is a notorious party school, and back then I just didn't see it as that big of a deal. Boy, was I wrong.

Within the span of the next two years, my house gets armed robbed by three hooligans, my friends all start dropping out or getting multi-year jail sentences one by one, and I even get SWAT'd a few months later. I start doing an extraordinarily large amount of ECs (two research labs, president of a club, officer in another) as well as 18+ course units just so I can stay out of the house. My grades start slipping because I just didn't feel safe in my own home and I became an emotional wreck. In the end, I have a downwards trend in my GPA and in my last year of college, I get multiple C's and a F in a retake of Ochem. I graduated with a 3.1 cGPA and 2.88 sGPA (honestly surprising considering I had 2 F's and many C's).

It's been more than year since then and I've normalized back to my old self back at home. I've felt a lot happier than I have in years and not to mention, just a lot safer and less nervous. I've taken the MCAT and got a 521. I've taken two postbacc science courses at a reputable 4 year getting 2 A's.

I have two main questions:
1) How many classes should I take till Med Schools can see that I can handle their coursework? I've calculated that after 5 classes of straight As I'd have a 3.2 cGPA and 3.07 sGPA. After 10, I'd have 3.27, 3.21. After 21, 3.4, 3.4. Obviously the more the better, but these classes are like $1000 per pop. How many would I need before I'd just be gilding the lily?

2) What's the best way to go about writing my PS. Obviously my GPA in college is something that NEEDS to be addressed, but I really don't want to scare off ADCOMs. However, at the same time too, this is such unique circumstances that maybe the shock could help them see from my perspective. On one hand, I'm scared that the story would scare off interview invites. On the other hand, I really don't have any other way to explain the GPA and I can't just casually summarize the events without it sounding nonchalantly worrisome. "I had extreme circumstances, such as being robbed and living with wanted criminals, that lowered my GPA."

Any help from ya'll would be greatly appreciated, especially from faculty or other older folks who may've seen/been in similar situations.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read all of this, it's a doozy of a story and something I just don't really feel comfortable talking about with a real life counselor (tried once before and the dude just unapologetically dismissed me as a lost case).
First off, sorry to hear what you have gone through. Now for your questions. I'd do another year of postbacc courses to maintain that upward trend. As for your PS, you don't have to talk about your grades from undergrad. Focus more on the "why medicine" and your journey towards it. On a lot of secondaries, they have a section for "anything else you want us to know?" or "explain xyz like grades". If you want to address GPAs, do it there or during your interviews.
 
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SprinkleSerotonin

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On a lot of secondaries, they have a section for "anything else you want us to know?" or "explain xyz like grades". If you want to address GPAs, do it there or during your interviews.

So would you suggest addressing it in detail in secondaries or mentioning it briefly and then expanding on it in interviews? I can see pros and cons going both ways
 
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Nugester

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So would you suggest addressing it in detail in secondaries or mentioning it briefly and then expanding on it in interviews? I can see pros and cons going both ways
Others will chime in, but for me, the PS should showcase the motivations of the applicant for medicine. A well-written and well-crafted PS should make the adcom say, "hey, I want to meet that person!". You shouldn't really write anything that will distract from that (ie GPAs). Because if you write about it, you take words/characters away from the "why medicine" part. If you apply broadly (ie holistic and schools that soft screen), you will get secondaries where you may write about your circumstances. If you do talk about it in your PS though, don't make excuses, you need to be accountable and take full responsibility and show the adcom's who you were then isn't who you are now. Good luck!
 
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Dave1980

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Don't mention your grades or living situation in your application. I would recommend saying something like "I had a hard time adjusting to the independence of college life and took on too many extracurricular activities."

I don't think it would be wise to tell them that you lived with drug users and dealers in a trap house. Some (many?) people wouldn't believe that you stayed clean while living in that situation.
 
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Cornfed101

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Don't mention your grades or living situation in your application. I would recommend saying something like "I had a hard time adjusting to the independence of college life and took on too many extracurricular activities."

I don't think it would be wise to tell them that you lived with drug users and dealers in a trap house. Some (many?) people wouldn't believe that you stayed clean while living in that situation.

I agree. Talk about difficulty adjusting, but don't mention all the specifics. It just isn't necessary and can really only hurt you.
 
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SprinkleSerotonin

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I don't think it would be wise to tell them that you lived with drug users and dealers in a trap house. Some (many?) people wouldn't believe that you stayed clean while living in that situation.

Excellent point, I was probably going about this in a detrimental way. I was just blinded by the severity of my situation's impact on me and that I just assumed ADCOMs would want to hear an explanation that would make them go, 'yeah, I can see why he had a low GPA'. My main assumption now is that ADCOMs care more about how successful of a reinvention I've had vs. the original reasons why I had a low GPA.
 
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