adran49

2+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2015
35
5
As the title suggests I had one really rough year during undergrad and I am curious how it would be seen by adcoms within the context of my entire undergrad career. So here's the story.

I am a first-generation college student who didn't apply to any colleges out of high school and went to a community college. I had no idea what I wanted to do so I took some basic college courses to feel it out. After 1 year of CC I had a 3.27 GPA.

I transferred to an out of state state school for computer science. I totally bombed this whole year. The first semester I failed computer programming 1 and calc 1. I ended the first semester with a 1.08 GPA then I switched my major and finished my second semester with about a 3.1 GPA (but one 4 credit class is listed as incomplete). Overall, my GPA there was a 2.1. There are no excuses for why I did so bad, I was young, immature, I had no idea what I wanted to do and school was never important to me. Straight up- I blew it, totally my fault.

Then overnight, my whole attitude towards school changed. I transferred to a 3rd school, started a psych degree and finished the 2.5 years I was there with a 3.9 GPA, years of research in many labs, 2 pubs, tons of volunteering, leadership roles, academic awards, and so on. Even though I know AMCAS doesn't do grade replacement I retook Calc 1 and got an A and took Calc 2 and got a B+. I took half of the prereqs with Bio1+2- A, Chem 1-A-, Chem 2-B+.

Now I am enrolled in a formal post-bacc to finish my prereqs.

My overall GPA will be somewhere between 3.4-3.5, and my sGPA somewhere between 3.5-3.6.

With all that being said, I know that adcoms appreciate upward trends, but I was curious if they'll even linger on my bad year or see me as the student I ended up being. Would I be seen as someone with a 3.4 GPA or someone who ended up with a 3.9 for 2.5 years? I just want to understand how adcoms view people who went from awful to good overnight.
 

NotASerialKiller

2+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2015
1,457
6,866
Status
Medical Student
With all that being said, I know that adcoms appreciate upward trends, but I was curious if they'll even linger on my bad year or see me as the student I ended up being.
I think you answered the second part of that sentence with the first part of that sentence. You can't have an upward trend without initially low marks. Your cGPA is still your cGPA and that should affect where you apply, but you very obviously found recent academic success and put in the work to do so.
 

md-2020

The Immaculate Catch
2+ Year Member
Jun 29, 2015
2,298
3,007
Status
Medical Student
With all that being said, I know that adcoms appreciate upward trends, but I was curious if they'll even linger on my bad year or see me as the student I ended up being. Would I be seen as someone with a 3.4 GPA or someone who ended up with a 3.9 for 2.5 years? I just want to understand how adcoms view people who went from awful to good overnight.
Obviously 3.0-->4.0 < 4.0 start to finish. Upward trends are "making the best of a bad situation," so to speak. Many people start of college a bit low, and then bounce back, so this is a common occurrence.

You will be better off than a regular 3.4 student but not as well off as a consistent 3.9 student.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NotASerialKiller

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
3,803
Status
Non-Student
Bottom line a 3.45/3.55 type GPA with the kind of upward trend you are talking about can be a competitive GPA.

By itself your GPA won't eliminate you from just about any school, particularly with that upward trend. Your focus however should be schools where your GPA is above the 10th percentile(or lower tiers where it might be a tad bit below) although without an MCAT score this isn't a meaningful discussion.
 

gonnif

Only 389 Days Until Next Presidential Election
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jul 26, 2009
20,510
31,280
The Big Bad Apple
Status
Non-Student
All this is entirely a speculative point that you cant take any action on that haven't already done. Unless you are considering not applying to medical school, then you have to move forward with the grades and background you have. Doing well on the MCAT is a much better use of the your time and energy then worrying about the unalterable past
 
  • Like
Reactions: Goro
OP
A

adran49

2+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2015
35
5
I want to thank everyone for contributing to this discussion. I'm sorry if my post seemed as if I was wondering about my competitiveness but I am mainly trying to get a feel for what an admission officer would think when evaluating such a trend. I guess at the end of the day, they will have essays and LOR's that will shed light on the bad year, as well as MCATs and EC's to evaluate the my abilities and experiences. It is good to know that my GPA can still be competitive though :). Thank you!
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,719
79,102
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
There are a good number of med schools that reward reinvention, and place more emphasis on the last years of your schooling, even UCSF, Columbia, Duke, and Case.





As the title suggests I had one really rough year during undergrad and I am curious how it would be seen by adcoms within the context of my entire undergrad career. So here's the story.

I am a first-generation college student who didn't apply to any colleges out of high school and went to a community college. I had no idea what I wanted to do so I took some basic college courses to feel it out. After 1 year of CC I had a 3.27 GPA.

I transferred to an out of state state school for computer science. I totally bombed this whole year. The first semester I failed computer programming 1 and calc 1. I ended the first semester with a 1.08 GPA then I switched my major and finished my second semester with about a 3.1 GPA (but one 4 credit class is listed as incomplete). Overall, my GPA there was a 2.1. There are no excuses for why I did so bad, I was young, immature, I had no idea what I wanted to do and school was never important to me. Straight up- I blew it, totally my fault.

Then overnight, my whole attitude towards school changed. I transferred to a 3rd school, started a psych degree and finished the 2.5 years I was there with a 3.9 GPA, years of research in many labs, 2 pubs, tons of volunteering, leadership roles, academic awards, and so on. Even though I know AMCAS doesn't do grade replacement I retook Calc 1 and got an A and took Calc 2 and got a B+. I took half of the prereqs with Bio1+2- A, Chem 1-A-, Chem 2-B+.

Now I am enrolled in a formal post-bacc to finish my prereqs.

My overall GPA will be somewhere between 3.4-3.5, and my sGPA somewhere between 3.5-3.6.

With all that being said, I know that adcoms appreciate upward trends, but I was curious if they'll even linger on my bad year or see me as the student I ended up being. Would I be seen as someone with a 3.4 GPA or someone who ended up with a 3.9 for 2.5 years? I just want to understand how adcoms view people who went from awful to good overnight.
 

neurotroph

7+ Year Member
Aug 1, 2011
699
696
Status
MD/PhD Student
I'm no expert, but I think the fact that you're first-gen provides some reasonable justification for your grades. It's by no means a get out of jail free card, but it adds some context. A strong MCAT score will give adcoms more confidence that you are capable of succeeding and that your grades aren't due to a lack of ability, so make sure to do well. This is somewhat based on personal experience.
 
OP
A

adran49

2+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2015
35
5
There are a good number of med schools that reward reinvention, and place more emphasis on the last years of your schooling, even UCSF, Columbia, Duke, and Case.
I have read on here before that some schools reward reinvention but I had no idea schools of that caliber do as well. Given a good MCAT score, those are still worth applying to even if my GPA is <10% percentile?

I'm no expert, but I think the fact that you're first-gen provides some reasonable justification for your grades. It's by no means a get out of jail free card, but it adds some context. A strong MCAT score will give adcoms more confidence that you are capable of succeeding and that your grades aren't due to a lack of ability, so make sure to do well. This is somewhat based on personal experience.
I never want to explain away my initial blunders in college with excuses as I have owned up to it and it is entirely my fault for not taking my education seriously but being a first gen college student will be what I talk about when addressing this issue. My parents never pushed academics on me, never expected me to go to college. I actually turned down D-1 football scholarships due to too many injuries in high school and that was my only way of getting into college, hence me starting out in community college. My dads a carpenter and my mom stayed at home, neither thought I would be an intellectual of any sort. That doesn't make up for lackluster GPA but it certainly is a better point of reference for an adcom.
 
  • Like
Reactions: neurotroph

Stagg737

5+ Year Member
Jul 2, 2013
7,470
9,473
Decapod 10
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I have read on here before that some schools reward reinvention but I had no idea schools of that caliber do as well. Given a good MCAT score, those are still worth applying to even if my GPA is <10% percentile?
I'd say it will depend very heavily on your MCAT. If you can hit the new equivalent of a 35+, I would think you would at least have an outside chance if you can reasonably explain why you initially failed and why you are a stronger, more mature individual now. It's not something that I would get my hopes up on, but it seems like a pretty good motivator to try and grow to your full potential.
 

gonnif

Only 389 Days Until Next Presidential Election
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jul 26, 2009
20,510
31,280
The Big Bad Apple
Status
Non-Student
I have read on here before that some schools reward reinvention but I had no idea schools of that caliber do as well. Given a good MCAT score, those are still worth applying to even if my GPA is <10% percentile?
A few thoughts:

1) I have had lots of nontrad students who had sufficient "grade baggage" early in school then performed well later on and/or in PostBacc and SMP go to many top schools
2) Students often get caught up in a single number without looking at their overall application. If you have a later significant upward grade trend, looking at schools that seem above your GPA are certainly worthwhile. Your postbacc and last two years of college are likely more representative of your quality of work and that is level of schools you should be looking at. Do a rough estimate of your GPA just with the last 2 years and postbacc as guide.
3) This is the kind of concise, coherent, and compelling statement on the subject that clearly says something like "my last 2 years of 3.7 work and postbacc of 3.8 are much representative of my mature academic abilities "
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Goro
OP
A

adran49

2+ Year Member
Feb 26, 2015
35
5
I'd say it will depend very heavily on your MCAT. If you can hit the new equivalent of a 35+, I would think you would at least have an outside chance if you can reasonably explain why you initially failed and why you are a stronger, more mature individual now. It's not something that I would get my hopes up on, but it seems like a pretty good motivator to try and grow to your full potential.
A few thoughts:

1) I have had lots of nontrad students who had sufficient "grade baggage" early in school then performed well later on and/or in PostBacc and SMP go to many top schools
2) Students often get caught up in a single number without looking at their overall application. If you have a later significant upward grade trend, looking at schools that seem above your GPA are certainly worthwhile. Your postbacc and last two years of college are likely more representative of your quality of work and that is level of schools you should be looking at. Do a rough estimate of your GPA just with the last 2 years and postbacc as guide.
3) This is the kind of concise, coherent, and compelling statement on the subject. that clearly state something like "my last 2 years of 3.7 work and postbacc of 3.8 are much representative of my mature academic abilities "
Wow, this is really wonderful news to me. I actually started this process thinking that my one year had totally destroyed my chance of going to medical school. I was going to push my luck anyways but now that I know that it is still very possible even with my subpar GPA (given that the rest of my app is good) I feel much better about my chances. I know that I still have to finish my postbacc and take the MCAT but I feel more confident now as I continue on. Thank you for the clarification and giving me some hope :D.
 

gonnif

Only 389 Days Until Next Presidential Election
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Jul 26, 2009
20,510
31,280
The Big Bad Apple
Status
Non-Student
Wow, this is really wonderful news to me. I actually started this process thinking that my one year had totally destroyed my chance of going to medical school. I was going to push my luck anyways but now that I know that it is still very possible even with my subpar GPA (given that the rest of my app is good) I feel much better about my chances. I know that I still have to finish my postbacc and take the MCAT but I feel more confident now as I continue on. Thank you for the clarification and giving me some hope :D.
I dislike "what are my chances" questions because almost everyone's chances boil down to this:

If you dont apply, your chances are zero, nada, zilch
If you do work hard, have an upward grade trend, do well in your postbacc, get a solid MCAT score, write a great application and secondary, get outstanding letters of recommendation, impress them at an interview, you migh, (I said might), get.

Anything more than that is really just blowing smoke
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stagg737