I need to speed up my post bad and improve chances. Advice needed.

Jul 11, 2013
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Hi,

First a little backstory. I did a soft undergraduate in economics at a state school. had about a 3.2 GPA. really did not try to take any hard courses at all. actually tried to avoid them. I only took 2 science courses. Weather, and astronomy.

I now work IT Full time (40 + Hours per week) at a major hospital. I want to be an MD.

in the fall, I started taking Chem 1 and physics 1 at Harvard extension school. I had to withdraw from chem after the deadline. (received a W) I anticipate an A- in chem. Hopefully not a B+....

Anyways, I did not do any ECs in college, and I am not currently doing any (unless you count work)

At the current rate it will take me 3+ years to even finish all my pre-requisites and take the MCAT. Does anyone have any ideas how to speed up? And what else I can do to enhance my chances of getting in? It is not feasible to take more than 1 Harvard Extension School class while working full time. I have heard northeastern is much easier, but it is MUCH more expensive. I don't know if summer school/ etc could improve my speed. What else can I do to increase the speed at which I finish prerequisites? and what other things can I do to improve my chances of getting in?

Thanks,
 
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BamaNicole

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To be honest, I wouldn't speed anything up if you want to improve your chances. You need to be able to do very well in your classes and it will take time to prepare for the MCAT. Just focus on what you can do to ensure you can do well.

For example, doing well may mean taking two classes a term since you're working full time. It may be slow but you will be much better off if you have less debt (due to you working and not taking out much loans). Also, do what is the most cost effective. If northeastern is more expensive, does it really make sense to pay more money or put yourself in more debt just to get done faster?
 
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Thank you Nichole, to clarify, I am taking one class per term (one in fall, one in spring). Will adcoms look down on such a slow pace?
 
Aug 8, 2013
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Thank you Nichole, to clarify, I am taking one class per term (one in fall, one in spring). Will adcoms look down on such a slow pace?
No, adcoms are totally understanding of the demands of full time work. Do what you need to to the best of your ability...admission to medical school is a long long marathon. Unfortunately, I don't have any groundbreaking advice.

You have two options, go the slow and steady route as you are and get things done in the three plus years you predict, or make some radical sacrifices.

For example, especially if you are female, it is relatively simple to get a job in food service. Plenty of openings if you aren't picky and Boston always is in tourist season...personal experience :) The work is hard and frustrating, but you will have more time to take classes. My roommate, in Boston, currently does this. She works double shifts both weekends and another shift during the week. With tips, she earns more than I do at my lab tech job, and her weekdays are free. The good thing with food service is that you can schedule shifts with your coworkers in such a way that you can work around any class schedule and switch things up when necessary. You can also make good, though not easy, money working part time in food service...just find a place that serves alcohol.

You can give up your freedom and live with parents or other family, if it is an option, to save money. Then you can work part time or not at all.

You can choose to severely downgrade your living situation to reduce spending and take out educational loans to take NE classes.

You can take a couple more pre reqs and then take out a loan to enroll in school full time to finish your requirements. Bunker community college in Boston is pretty cheap and offers online courses too.

You have options...they aren't necessarily attractive or simple, but these are the sacrifices you have to make if you want to speed up a process that takes years to complete. If you want to keep your IT job, you are pretty stuck. If you give up this position, then you have more options available. It all comes down to your priorities ;)
 
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Jun 21, 2012
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Thank you Nichole, to clarify, I am taking one class per term (one in fall, one in spring). Will adcoms look down on such a slow pace?
No, adcoms are totally understanding of the demands of full time work. Do what you need to to the best of your ability...admission to medical school is a long long marathon. Unfortunately, I don't have any groundbreaking advice.
Kyamh, I actually disagree. This is not someone who proved his academic capacity in undergrad by doing some equally difficult field like engineering. While adcoms, particularly for DO, are sympathetic to older applicants (and especially those with a spouse or kids) with a successful career doing pre-reqs slowly, I think it is ill advised for someone who has such a low GPA after an easy college courseload and who is not quite down the type of steady career path that demonstrates something exceptional about his ability to manage stress/workload.

I think the OP is someone who should strongly consider having at least 1-2 semesters of a full rigorous courseload (and good grades) to evidence that he can not only handle difficult material, but that he can handle it in the volume at which it is served in medical school. There are definitely people who can/do get into med school having slowly picked away at their pre-requisites, but my impression is that it is far from ideal. If there's no obvious reason (kids to feed, military obligations, major illness, etc.) in your application as to why you couldn't have taken this opportunity to show your full strength, I think it does hurt one's competitiveness.
 
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Apr 23, 2013
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When you say it's 'not feasible' to take two Harvard Extension courses at the same time, that's not exactly true. You mean you've decided it's not feasible for you. Many people do take more than one at once, even when working full time. I did and I know other people who did too. It's not pleasant especially if both of them are lab classes, but people do do it. I agree with others who have said that with your background you need to prove you can handle difficult coursework.

So my suggestions are:

1. Take two classes at once and do summer classes at Northeastern if you can afford it (Northeastern offers summer night classes, Harvard Extension does not). If you want a committee letter from Harvard Extension (very helpful), you will need to make sure you still have enough credits from them if you start taking classes elsewhere.

2. If you can't manage 1), go down to part-time work and take multiple classes.

It is true that Northeastern's classes are both much easier and much more expensive than Harvard Extension. You might think you're doing yourself a favor on grades, but you'll be doing yourself a massive disservice on the MCAT and overall preparation for med school. Harvard Extension's basic science courses are excellent preparation for the MCAT. Northeastern's will not be; I cannot emphasize enough the difference in academic rigor between these two programs.

UMass Boston is another possible option but I don't know what their evening availability is; might be registration problems there. From what I heard their class difficulty level is on par with Northeastern, not Harvard Extension.

If there are any Northeastern partisans here I will say that my experience and the experience of people I know was exclusively with their evening extension school and may or may not apply to their normal undergrad program.
 

sb247

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community college classes at night/weekend.....small classes mean you get to know the profs and are more likely to get a real letter of recommendation. There is no trick to speeding it up, if two classes freaked you out enough to make you drop one, don't take two classes at a time
 
OP
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Jul 11, 2013
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When you say it's 'not feasible' to take two Harvard Extension courses at the same time, that's not exactly true. You mean you've decided it's not feasible for you. Many people do take more than one at once, even when working full time. I did and I know other people who did too. It's not pleasant especially if both of them are lab classes, but people do do it. I agree with others who have said that with your background you need to prove you can handle difficult coursework.

So my suggestions are:

1. Take two classes at once and do summer classes at Northeastern if you can afford it (Northeastern offers summer night classes, Harvard Extension does not). If you want a committee letter from Harvard Extension (very helpful), you will need to make sure you still have enough credits from them if you start taking classes elsewhere.

2. If you can't manage 1), go down to part-time work and take multiple classes.

It is true that Northeastern's classes are both much easier and much more expensive than Harvard Extension. You might think you're doing yourself a favor on grades, but you'll be doing yourself a massive disservice on the MCAT and overall preparation for med school. Harvard Extension's basic science courses are excellent preparation for the MCAT. Northeastern's will not be; I cannot emphasize enough the difference in academic rigor between these two programs.

UMass Boston is another possible option but I don't know what their evening availability is; might be registration problems there. From what I heard their class difficulty level is on par with Northeastern, not Harvard Extension.

If there are any Northeastern partisans here I will say that my experience and the experience of people I know was exclusively with their evening extension school and may or may not apply to their normal undergrad program.

Thanks for the responses everyone. This is what I figured that taking such a light course load made me less competitive. When I say "not feasible". I was working my ass off at physics and chem, and received a 70 on my first chem exam. That is when I dropped physics. (I was definately
Not going to do well on the upcoming physics exam. From then on I got As in chem) I was also commuting about ~3 hours per day, so that didn't help. If I'm going to take 2 classes, I will need to move to Cambridge. I need to maintain a full time job so that I have money and health insurance.

So I have signed up for chem 1 B next semester. I don't thinkni can really sign up for a second class. What 2 extension classes should I take concurrently next semester if I move closer to school/work?
 

MDOnlyWillDo

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I was also working FT trying to take the pre-reqs one class at a time, but I was told by my state school that I wasn't proving I could handle the intense work load of medical school. Therefore I started taking two classes (which was a FT credit load) while still working FT (among a bunch of other things). It was very busy, but it is possible. Also, these were night CC classes, which the adcom didn't care about, just that there were too few credits.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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Thanks for the responses everyone. This is what I figured that taking such a light course load made me less competitive. When I say "not feasible". I was working my ass off at physics and chem, and received a 70 on my first chem exam. That is when I dropped physics. (I was definately
Not going to do well on the upcoming physics exam. From then on I got As in chem) I was also commuting about ~3 hours per day, so that didn't help. If I'm going to take 2 classes, I will need to move to Cambridge. I need to maintain a full time job so that I have money and health insurance.

So I have signed up for chem 1 B next semester. I don't thinkni can really sign up for a second class. What 2 extension classes should I take concurrently next semester if I move closer to school/work?
Ok yes, it is pretty clear that reducing your commute is necessary if you want to do this post-bacc properly. Moving is one of the simplest things you can do to make your plans viable.

Honestly I don't really know what you could do THIS spring semester to pair with chem. You don't have intro bio or a bio background of any kind so you can't take a bio elective. A good choice might be english, intro psych, intro socio, or calc if you don't have those from your undergrad. English and calc are both requirements at many schools. Psych and socio aren't explicit requirements but may become so given the new MCAT.

You need to sit down with your undergrad transcripts, start looking through med school requirements, and really start thinking about what you need to take and what the options are. On the plus side Boston is one of the best cities to do a DIY post-bacc in; there are a lot of options.
 

DokterMom

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You've characterized your path thus far as always seeking and taking the easiest way out. That's not going to get you where you want to go... You need to prove that you can successfully handle the pressure cooker that is medical school. This is going to mean some major life changes -- Definitely lose the commute, possibly the professional-class job in favor of flex-time and cash earnings. Get a roommate or two or three.

Then take an academic course load that is steep enough to refute the "he took the easy way" challenge and prove that you can do it. If you can't, better to know now.
 
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You've characterized your path thus far as always seeking and taking the easiest way out. That's not going to get you where you want to go... You need to prove that you can successfully handle the pressure cooker that is medical school. This is going to mean some major life changes -- Definitely lose the commute, possibly the professional-class job in favor of flex-time and cash earnings. Get a roommate or two or three.

Then take an academic course load that is steep enough to refute the "he took the easy way" challenge and prove that you can do it. If you can't, better to know now.
Thank you for the reality check.
 
OP
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Jul 11, 2013
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Alright, so what courses can I take concurrently in the fall? It seems to me that its a choice between orgo and Bio, or orgo and physics. All while working full time. For what its worth I found physics quite difficult. the teaching style did not jive with me at all.
 

candbgirl

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You always seem to have an excuse. If physics was too hard then take it alone. People here have given you great advice but they can't make decisions for you. Med school is very hard and you have to take numerous classes at the same time. You cannot do med school one class at a time and there will be all different types of teachers that you will have to adjust to their teaching style. Why do you want to be a doctor?
 
OP
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Jul 11, 2013
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You always seem to have an excuse. If physics was too hard then take it alone. People here have given you great advice but they can't make decisions for you. Med school is very hard and you have to take numerous classes at the same time. You cannot do med school one class at a time and there will be all different types of teachers that you will have to adjust to their teaching style. Why do you want to be a doctor?
What? I am asking whether people found it better to take Orgo and physics or Orgo and Bio concurrently? And saying that I had trouble with physics with the hopes that that would inform them?
 
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solitarius

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I think you're in a spot where you have to prove to others as well as yourself that you have what it takes to succeed in medical school. Unfortunately, this is a high risk position.

If you go all in, do you quit your job? The worst thing is to try to do both, since your academic ability is unknown/precarious? What if things don't work out? This is a possibility you probably have planned for (if not, it needs to be). Everyone on here is automatically conditioned to tell people to go all in w/o weighing the downside risks , especially pronounced for riskier folks.

btw, for premed sequence, it's only important to take gen chem before orgo. Pairing physics with orgo or bio is w/e you prefer.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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What? I am asking whether people found it better to take Orgo and physics or Orgo and Bio concurrently? And saying that I had trouble with physics with the hopes that that would inform them?
While you posted a valid question, she's not wrong about the ongoing theme of your posts. It really seems like getting into medical school is going to be more work than you have ever done in your life. Either you're willing to do that or you're not. The pre-reqs aren't just checkboxes to get through; ideally they should prepare you for medical school and you should use your time in them to develop study skills you will need later. It is your job to seek out the path to success. It's not impressive to say that the physics 'teaching style' didn't jive with you. Rueckner isn't the best lecturer, but I've seen many worse. There are literally a dozen physics sections, as well as many hours of helproom time available. Did you try and find a TA whose teaching style you liked? Did you go to helproom and work with other people in the class? Or did you just show up at lecture and expect that to be enough?

In terms of Harvard Extension--generally people pair bio and orgo. The schedules of the classes will probably be more aligned than bio and physics. But don't think that it will be easier. Orgo and physics are not easy classes and probably a tossup in terms of time commitment required to do well without prior science background.
 
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BurberryDoc

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It is one thing if you are looking for a more manageable course-load on a semester by semester basis, but when you talk abotu soft-undergrad major with such a low GPA, enrolling in anything less than a fulltime schedule for at least 2-3 semesters will not convince admissions committees that you have what it takes to succeed in a heavy science workload over the long term. I had a slightly higher GPA than you, in an advanced life science, and I had to leave my full-time job in order to get the work done. Certainly, there is more than 1 way to skin a cat, but some are more efficient than others.

By the way, it took 17 months between quitting the job and getting accepted to medical school, to turn my weak application into an irrefutable one. Moral of the story: even if you werent looking to speed things up, you need to go all in if you want to realistically bounce back from where your application currently stands.
 
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Jul 11, 2013
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While you posted a valid question, she's not wrong about the ongoing theme of your posts. It really seems like getting into medical school is going to be more work than you have ever done in your life. Either you're willing to do that or you're not. The pre-reqs aren't just checkboxes to get through; ideally they should prepare you for medical school and you should use your time in them to develop study skills you will need later. It is your job to seek out the path to success. It's not impressive to say that the physics 'teaching style' didn't jive with you. Rueckner isn't the best lecturer, but I've seen many worse. There are literally a dozen physics sections, as well as many hours of helproom time available. Did you try and find a TA whose teaching style you liked? Did you go to helproom and work with other people in the class? Or did you just show up at lecture and expect that to be enough?

In terms of Harvard Extension--generally people pair bio and orgo. The schedules of the classes will probably be more aligned than bio and physics. But don't think that it will be easier. Orgo and physics are not easy classes and probably a tossup in terms of time commitment required to do well without prior science background.
Ok, maybe I should have said the subject was hard for me in comparison to chemistry? Sorry for saying that I found the teaching difficult. I'm not blaming anyone or anything. and certainly not asking anyone to "make a decision for me." personally, quitting work is off the table for me because I feel that the possibility of failure is tangible and I need a backup.

It was my understanding that HES considers two lab classes a "full time load" so I didn't know how looked down upon it would be to to take one lab class at a time with a full time job. I am going to move closer and next year it seems like the wise choice is Orgo and Bio.

For this upcoming semester, someone suggested the possibility of taking sociology or psyche alongside Chem B. I feel next semester will be a little smoother for me now that I understand how to study for science. "Introduction to Psychology" would fit into my schedule and does not appear to have a lab. I feel this will be manageable with my work, and other commitments.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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Ok, maybe I should have said the subject was hard for me in comparison to chemistry? Sorry for saying that I found the teaching difficult. I'm not blaming anyone or anything. and certainly not asking anyone to "make a decision for me." personally, quitting work is off the table for me because I feel that the possibility of failure is tangible and I need a backup.

It was my understanding that HES considers two lab classes a "full time load" so I didn't know how looked down upon it would be to to take one lab class at a time with a full time job. I am going to move closer and next year it seems like the wise choice is Orgo and Bio.

For this upcoming semester, someone suggested the possibility of taking sociology or psyche alongside Chem B. I feel next semester will be a little smoother for me now that I understand how to study for science. "Introduction to Psychology" would fit into my schedule and does not appear to have a lab. I feel this will be manageable with my work, and other commitments.
Full time enrollment at Harvard Extension is 14 credits, not 8. http://www.extension.harvard.edu/registration/registration-guidelines/enrollment-policies

You may have gotten confused over the fact that if you are working full time 8 is the max credits recommended (each lab class is 4). I certainly would never suggest to anyone that they take more than two lab classes while working full time.
 
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