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Medical How Do I Address Rough Undergrad (Inconsistent) Performance in Personal Statement?

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TheBoneDoctah

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Hi there,

In need of some expert advice as I find myself mulling harder than ever here...
I am trying to figure out how to approach my UG performance in the written portion of my application. I had the beginnings of an upward trend minus 1 non-science class (which i failed) and then straight A's in my last two semesters with a heavy course load. The gist of it is presented below:

Background: I'm a non-trad, finished in 2017. uGPA (c/s): 3.30/3.295; Picked up my performance at end of junior year (3.7), then senior fall had all A's but failed one non-science class, senior spring: 4.0 (17 credits), took an extra semester took bring my GPA up before graduating: 3.95 (All A's, one A-, 21 credits in total).

Total stats rn: GPA (c/s): 3.30/3.295 ; MCAT: 518
(all else is solid, good recs, left a basic research job at Harvard after a year there to spend all my energy on the MCAT so I don't have much to show for the last 3 months of 2019, now have a job that is non-medical to keep the lights on during the pandemic; no recent clinical I was aiming for during this time bc of COVID but I have over 1000 hours as a scribe from 2017-2018)

I am currently finishing up sending out apps to 9 SMPs (and 1 regular master's) after being on the fence about whether I should spend time taking DIY post-bac classes. I'm pretty removed from undergrad so I am ready to shoot my shot and much more confident in my ability to succeed now.

I'm left with 2 questions:
1. I would like to submit medical school applications for the first time this cycle. It's late in the game for SMPs but I think I may be competitive for them so basically I'm thinking of only submitting apps this cycle to the associated medical school of the SMP, USUHS, and my state school (long shot). Anyway, other than harming my wallet, is there any reason I should have to think that applying before an SMP will harm me? Would it be better to wait entirely? I recognize this would depend on the SMP... EVMS is high on my list and it think I would have a chance for this cycle while enrolled in their SMP.

2. Regardless of (1), the question remains: how should I approach writing about academic shortcomings given the record I described? I'm not confident that having a strong final 2 of 9 semesters is enough to convince any adcom I've overcome any issues. Early on I had some serious difficulty with time management: blemishes include having to retake an honors seminar and O-Chem 2 (F->A, F->B), getting a few C's (1 in calc2, 2 in bio), 1 D+ in a psych course. I lost a close friend of mine to suicide in my worst (sophomore fall) semester and while that really messed me up, I'm not interested in writing about it (no excuse). I'm left wondering if there is any strategic way to discuss these issues frankly to support my application (to both SMPs and med programs). The PS is for talking about why you want to go into medicine and I feel the version of mine does that well in isolation. But paired with my transcript I feel very conflicted about not including some type of explanation. I don't want to make my PS all about the path to figuring out how to be successful in college because I would waste the characters not answering the prompt. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Currently finishing up SMP apps to: Georgetown, EVMS, USF, UCin, Loyola MAMs, NYMC, RFU/CMS, JHU, JHU MHS (not an SMP), BUSOM, Tufts, and Mt. Sinai (MSBS)... MCW? Any thoughts on this list would also be useful but is definitely not required!

Long post but thanks so much for listening!
I am going to leave the details of your questions 1 and 2 to other experts on here as they could answer your question better than I can, but I am just wondering what your thoughts were on applying to DO schools? You would be in good shape for any DO school and you wouldn't have to complete an SMP and spend more money/time (as you are a non-trad and am sure you are getting to the medical school game later than average, I was too). If you are a firm no on DO, then yes the SMP would be a good idea to try and get your GPA up and show that you can handle yourself in medical school courses. Another thing you gotta think about is if you apply MD and don't get in, that's yet ANOTHER year you aren't working towards your medical degree. Although your MCAT is good, your GPA (even with SMP) is rather low for MD.

You are right in thinking that one year of good grades won't overcome the other seven semesters, but the best you could do is tie all this into your personal statement to explain your situation and complete the SMP (if applying only MD).
 

TheBoneDoctah

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This is a good point. I am open to going DO. I want to do everything in my power to make MD happen before that though. I used to be extremely anxious about getting older and falling "behind" my peers to the point that I almost wrote off medical school completely to do a PhD. As I've started to get over that fear (and now that I have paid off my UG loans), I realize that a couple years of extra time in my 20s is more likely not going to be the end of the world. Right now, it is frustrating to be halted in my dreams. But I believe this will pass too and medicine will not be going anywhere. I hope to have as long a career in medicine as my body and brain will allow. I want to first try to get to a place to start that career that will leave me with the most options. The feeling of compromising my goals is one I'm familiar with, and I don't want to experience this when it comes time for me to match (esp. given that if things go optimally, I will be in the first class to apply to residency with a P/F Step 1... Coupled with the merged match, it's hard to predict what this will do to DO students, but it's hard to imagine it will be beneficial).

This year's match for DOs went really, really well. But I understand your reservations.
 
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