How many more DIY post bac classes should I take?

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7+ Year Member
May 21, 2014
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I just completed 6 quarters into my DIY post bac (22.8 semester hours) as a full-time working student while volunteering extensively for a hospital and university-affiliated clinic. I went from:

Major- Biological Sciences
cGPA- 3.04
BCPM GPA- 3.12
Total BCPM Units- 97 (semester)

cGPA- 3.19
BCPM GPA- 3.27
Postbac BCPM GPA- 3.89

Total BCPM Post Bac Units- 22.8 (semester)
Total BCPM Units- 119.8 (semester)

My question is, should I continue taking classes in my DIY post bac or can I stop now and if so, how many more classes should I take to be a competitive applicant (GPA-wise) for the next cycle? I'm just not sure what my limit should be and I'm only getting concerned because I need to focus on studying for my MCAT this May.

Another issue I've run into are the types of classes I should take. I've already completed courses like Cellular Biology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Organic Chem, Endocrinology, Pulmophysiology, Cardiophysiology, Pathology, Botany, Zoology, and Calculus. I'm running out of choices here, should I just choose any upper div bio course topic at this point?

Any advise is appreciated.


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15+ Year Member
Oct 31, 2006
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Excellent progress. But you won't be a competitive applicant GPA-wise. It's not mathematically possible.

The typical story when a non-URM, who is not related to a major med school donor, from California gets into a US MD school after getting a B average in 4 years of undergrad goes like this:
1. Multiple years of additional undergrad work, mostly science, at a very high GPA (which you seem to have under control)
2. Excellent MCAT
3. Compelling narrative backed up by compelling letters & ECs
4. Additional focused academic work such as an SMP or traditional masters with pubs
5. More than one med school app year, with continuing academic efforts during each
6. High likelihood of DO or Carib, moderate likelihood of expensive private MD school far away such as Drexel, low likelihood of California MD/DO

That said, I don't understand your math because the units aren't clear. What's a full time year on semester hours here? In my day 15 hours per term were the norm, so a year by semesters was 30 hours, 45 by quarter. In other words 22.8 semester hours to me is one heavy semester of work, vs. your 6 quarters.

What you should do now:
1. Right now, figure out which of your postbac professors you want to target for letters of recommendation and get going. Start stockpiling your med school recommendations, which can also be used to get into an SMP if desired. Find out what letter service such as Interfolio people use lately. You'll be continuing this process through med school, so get good at it.
2. Retake any med school prereqs in which you got less than a B. This isn't about fixing GPA, it's about removing doubt from your app and removing risk from your MCAT. Imho the relevant prereqs include biochem & stats, but not calc. (The UCs use calc as a weeder, not because the material is relevant.)
3. If you haven't yet, read everything you can from an SDN search on "low GPA". Keep doing this until you get accepted. Also review the reapplicant forum to learn about common mistakes and misconceptions.
4. Try to make friends with the idea of moving to another state, taking a full time job for a year or two before you apply, living as an independent adult, and thus establishing a domicile where you have better chances of instate acceptance which will shield you somewhat from crippling student debt. Ohio and Texas used to be the targets, not sure if this has changed.
5. Decide if you're doing an SMP, in which case you need your MCAT score before the end of 2016 to start classes Aug 2017 and apply MD June 2018. If that's not what you're going to do, then work out the timeline for whatever plan you'll be doing such as traditional grad work, going DO, going Carib, etc. Right now you are in the classic problem situation where SMP apps are coming due but you don't have an MCAT score yet, and usually that results in half-assed rushed prep and a crap score, with the obvious subsequent fear, despair, demoralization and poor results in SMP apps and then you'll have to be an MCAT retaker. Be smarter than that.
6. Plan out your MCAT study strategy so that it's your highest priority for months, and spend money on reputable rigorous prep.
7. This one will actually determine your fate: don't quit. Not that I recommend staying on the GPA redemption path, having been on it. You currently have reasons for wanting to go to med school, and these reasons will have exactly nothing to do with anything after 2 years of med school, after which it's not practical to choose another career. What I'm saying is that your desire to go to med school is almost certainly arbitrary, and other than the gnawing regret of not going to med school you can expect to have if you do something else with your life, doing something else will almost certainly have more upside than where you'll be after 10+ years of work to get to medical practice. You won't want to quit med school or residency every day, but you'll regularly want to quit. Even the happiest med students regularly want to quit. It's a quandary: med school with regret, or not med school with regret. Imagine going to job interviews 5 years from now. Those interviews could be for high-paying jobs with heavy responsibilities, reasonable hours and substantial influence on the health care of large numbers of patients. Or those interviews could be for low-paying jobs with heavy responsibilities, 80+ hour weeks, and little influence on the health care of large numbers of patients. The latter scenario is residency, which comes with the option to have the former scenario after 3+ years.

Best of luck to you.
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