If you were me, would you apply this June or wait a year?

Crake

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I think I'm a fairly unimpressive middle of the road candidate. (3.5 undergrad GPA but 2.9 post-bacc BCMP). I haven't taken the MCAT yet, but I'm in year 6 of being an undergraduate (graduated in 04 w/degree in history and polisci, started postbacc at infamous university in NYC, did mediocre, applied to state school to do second bachelor's in microbio, threre now since sept.)

I'll have finished my pre-reqs by this May but I don't know if I'm ready to apply. I work while going to school (as a shipping clerk in a warehouse, nothing medicine related) and I have trouble keeping up with classes let alone have time studying for the MCAT. I think I'll do well this semester and get my BCMP to a 3.1 or so but that's about it, since I only have 3 classes. I could stay in school for another year and complete my second bachelors, hopefully raising my BCMP but my family is starting to get really annoyed with my living at home and racking up debt (now about 35k worth) and they want me to either apply or give up and do something else. I'm a young nontrad (24 this dec.) so my application doesn't benefit from any career/life experiences. I have about 70hrs of shadowing in the ER, a year of research in a surgery lab w/ a resident, and a month of volunteering in central america on a medical mission, but that's really all my postbacc extracurriculars. I worry that I will only have one LOR from a science professor (although no trouble from other professors in humanities), and that's a big concern too. I feel trapped by my family and the fact that they don't understand how competitive it is to get into MS. They think it's ridiculous that I'm taking so long and are starting to get really upset because they cosigned my loans and I started so poorly on the postbacc track, so they want me to give up and start paying back the loans.

I really want to be a doctor; I feel like it's all that I'll be happy doing. I'm frustrated because my grades don't parallel my desire or my effort. I feel like I've made a series of bad decisions in choosing classes and playing the game strategically (i.e. taking my first physics course with a reputed monster of a professor, knowing physics was my weak-point, and then pulling a C) And now I'm stuck. I spend all of the money I make at work just getting back and forth from school (100 mile commute every day=adds up quickly), I go directly from school to work (where I basically move heavy boxes around all day) and then get home dog-tired to try and open my organic chem text and plug away for a few hours. I get up at 5 am to get to school on time, go in for that organic quiz, and inevitably walk out with a C. This class in particular is just breaking me and I really think I'll get a C for the semester.

I'm aiming for a 33 on the MCAT, which sounds ridiculous considering my grades but is, in my opinion, totally obtainable since I feel like I know much of the material cold (which makes my mediocre grades in physics and gchem all the more frustrating).

My question is, should I try to apply this April? Would you do it in my position? Does anyone think an applicant with a 33 MCAT, 3.5 Cum, 3.1 BCMP and some middle of the road extracurriculars would have a shot at an allopathic program? (my top choice is NYMC)
 

efex101

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I think that you "know" the answer and are just looking for validation. Your GPA is not good and what makes it worse (sorry but need to be honest) is that your post-bacc GPA is low at 2.9 right? so you need to put your $$$ where your desire is and start doing better. Adcoms want PROOF that you can make it through a medical school curriculum and although desire is great that is just not enough. You need solid grades to demonstrate that you will make it through the classes in medical school. So take a year more and you need to get A's period. I am sorry to hear about your family issues but you need to hone in and do well regardless of what they think.
 

czyja

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efex101 said:
I think that you "know" the answer ...So take a year more and you need to get A's period. I am sorry to hear about your family issues but you need to hone in and do well regardless of what they think.
Efex101 hit the nail on the head. Figure out a way to get some A's and some solid medical experience. Perhaps get the A's 1st then take a year and do Americore or other stipendiary volunteer work. You are young - use the time you have to your advantage. Don't let your family get in the way - they will still love you when all is said and done.
 

MollyMalone

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Hey there,

I concur with efex and czyja in thinking that you need to take the extra year. First off, having only one science LOR is really going to limit you (most places I applied wanted two, and some wouldn't count my research PI as one of the two). Secondly, you need to prove that you can hack a semester or two of tough science coursework and get A's. Having mediocre grades in physics, gen chem, and now organic (3 of the big 4 prereqs!) is going to be a big red flag -- you need to offset it somehow. Thirdly, there are many people who feel they know the material cold who don't perform up to their expectations on the MCAT. If you really do know the material that well, then what is stopping you from getting good grades in the classes, and how is the MCAT going to be different? I'm not saying that you're not going to score well, but I think you need to examine your assumptions and take a practice test or two to see if those assumptions match reality.

Lastly, I think you need to reassess your overall plan. If you really want this, then you've got to go for it with both barrels blazing. If the job is interfering with your school performance, quit it. If the commute is too expensive, transfer. If the family is giving you static, stand up for yourself.

Sorry if that's harsh and perhaps not what you wanted to hear. I wish you the best of luck. :luck:
 

Jonathan13180

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efex101 said:
I think that you "know" the answer and are just looking for validation. Your GPA is not good and what makes it worse (sorry but need to be honest) is that your post-bacc GPA is low at 2.9 right? so you need to put your $$$ where your desire is and start doing better. Adcoms want PROOF that you can make it through a medical school curriculum and although desire is great that is just not enough. You need solid grades to demonstrate that you will make it through the classes in medical school. So take a year more and you need to get A's period. I am sorry to hear about your family issues but you need to hone in and do well regardless of what they think.
I couldnt agree more. Youre mcat will be what it is...you need to focus on your GPA...An ADCOM will look very heavily on a student who decides to enter a post-bacc program, and who does not show academic maturity. A 3.1 UG GPA and a 2.9 post-bacc GPA wont cut it. goodluck
 
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Crake

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Thanks for all the advice. I know it's better to take the full year and add on more classes to raise my GPA. I know that. But convincing my family that this is a rational proposition has been. . . difficult. I honestly don't think any poor grades are the result of lacking "maturity." The truth is that I was an excellent undergraduate student (that was a 3.53, not a 3.1 UGPA), graduated with honors, 3 honor societies, honors program, great (non-medical) extracurriculars, etc. etc. As a post-bacc I struggled with my first semester physics course, getting a C, although I made a B second semester. I got a B- for both sems of gchem though, which isn't very good at all. So there's no disasters on my transcript (i.e. F's or D's) and I now have over 150 credit hours, so my cumulative gpa is pretty close to a 3.5 (e.g. hasn't changed much). I worry about orgo still, although I recently cut back some work hours to study more for my weekly quizzes; perhaps I can make a B. Bio and microbio I will get As in though, which should help. Next semester I think I will take some upper-level electives (as I hear these are easier to make A's in because the ruthless premed curve is gone). Putting applying off for a year is probably a good thing, so I agree with everyone there. Thanks again for the input. :)
 

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All and all your record is not bad. Sometimes you can go up against teachers or entire departments for that matter, who seem to enjoy laying the pre-med pack to waste. Or, perhaps, your liberal arts training hasn't given you the necessary skill set to succeed in science and your just getting the hang of it...it takes some practice. What the other posters are saying to you is that science grades are an important measure of 'will this kid be able to hold up under the onslaught of constant science uptake in med school year 1 and 2.'

A solid MCAT would go along way in your current position. But better science grades would help. you're still in better shape than some of us...so don't blow it. As for your family relations....that's always difficult. But having sort negotiated through some situations with my wife i can only say that you you've got to block everything out and go to the hole strong when your into your school work. it's kind of like you can't can't explain it--why you've got to put in the time, and rack up the debt--so don't worry if they don't understand. you love them...they love you, what else can you do. Because to be sure you better bust it to get those grades. good luck!--ben.
 

QofQuimica

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Crake,

Unfortunately, I agree with the other posters that you are better off taking another year (or even two) to try to repair your GPA and do well on the MCAT. One other option you might consider is to go to grad school for an MS or MPH. If you work as a TA, you'll probably be able to get your tuition and stipend paid, and you'll have some extra research and teaching experience to add to your app. But this route will probably take two extra years, not just one, and you absolutely, positively MUST get straight As (or as close to it as you can) in your grad program to compensate for the low post bac GPA.

We've been discussing this issue of non-trad academics a lot in this forum recently. The consensus is that med schools DO expect non-trads to be on par academically with trad applicants. If you can do this, your life experiences may give you an advantage over kids coming straight out of college in terms of ECs. But, having all kinds of cool life experience has to be in addition to, NOT in place of, a strong science academic record and a good MCAT score.

You are 24 years old and not a child any more. If medicine is what you want to do, then you must be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to accomplish your goal. I've been going on interviews these past few months, and I can tell you that applicants with 3.5+ GPAs and 30+ MCATs are a dime a dozen. Every year, there are literally HUNDREDS of kids coming out of college with those kinds of numbers (or better) who are applying to med school. You will have to find some way to convince the adcoms to pick you over them. I can tell you from my own experience that acing the MCAT and getting accepted to med school is *much* harder than you can possibly imagine right now. So quit your job, take out loans, whatever you have to do, but raise those grades, and prepare yourself to smoke the MCAT. Best of :luck: to you.

-Q
 

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Hi Crake,
I've read a lot of good advice on this thread, but there are many other options available to you that were not mentioned. One option is to apply to International medical schools, such as those in the Caribbean. From what I've read, there are about 3 or so schools (like SGU, AUC, or Ross) that have excellent records for placing grads in U.S. residencies. They are more expensive, and they are quite a ways away, but if one's heart is set on the "M.D." designator, then this may be a viable option for people who have less than the ideal credentials. There are also the D.O. schools. They have a history of looking past the numbers for the whole person. D.O.'s (and International Medical Graduates) practice in literally all specialties that M.D.'s practice in (some more or less so than others). An anesthesiologist from a Carib. school, or one with a D.O. degree makes just as much money as his/her US MD counterpart. Yet another option is the field of Podiatry, which deals with the foot and ankle. The DPM degree requires 4 years plus a residency. The benefits of podiatry are an ever-expanding patient base (the elderly, the diabetic, the obese, the athletic), fewer after-hours emergencies and shifts "on call," higher likelihood of working in a small office setting, excellent pay, and early knowledge of what your job will be when you're finished. Plus, the oldest U.S. podiatry school is in NYC (NYCPM). From the numbers given so far, you would be competitive in any of these programs. I hope you do get a 33 on the MCAT, but we just don't know until we take it. I've known some very talented science students score in the mid-20's. In this day and age, exceptional intellectual talent, verbal ability, and obsessive preparation are all required for a truly compelling MCAT score. Off-shore, osteopathic, and podiatric schools all look beyond this much too heavily emphasized number. The underlying message to all of this is that all of these aforementioned routes are tried and true pathways to being an autonomous medical professional, making a living at improving the health and well-being of others. If money is a consideration (which it is for most of us to some extent) then know that they all present great opportunities for being wealthy. As for prestige, question your need for this rich man's gold. Prestige and the quest for it are not necessarily flawed endeavors; it just may bring out the best in some, but it definitely brings out the worst in some others. Being an M.D. is prestigious in our society, but it has a price that only a selected few are willing to pay. By attaining what you have in the humanities as well as in science, you've already revealed yourself as a winner. Many people your age are leading slothful, narcissistic lives, yet you are truly ambitious. I'm sure that your academic and philanthropic dedication will yield valuable dividends, whatever form they may take. Your parents will soon see it. Good luck.
Bill
 

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I say go for it. If you don't get in on try one just make sure to do some file improving and you'll have more of a chance the second time around than you would the first time around with the same statistics.
 

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I've got to say Q's advice is superb as always. I have to say after reading my Ross U. packet that even getting into Carribean schools is getting more and more competitive. The reason these schools focus on these indicators such as GPA, MCAT, LOR's, and EC's is just as Q said. There's tons of people applying and very few spots. This is basically like supply and demand. The supply of applicants is far exceeding the slots available. These numbers standardize the applicant. Then when you get into your interview and personal statement, that's where you can shine. But you can't get past the numbers. They're their and we all have to deal with them. I second everybody's opinion of waiting to apply. Sure the worst the schools can tell you is no. However, you indicated you're already deep in debt. Applying to schools will drive you deeper in debt. I saw a stat the other day that applying to schools could cost one up to $3000 in fees, flights, hotels, etc. Why go down deeper just for a school to tell you no. If you take the time to do this right and get that GPA up and actually nail the material, you'll only increase your chances of being accepted. Good luck.
 
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Crake

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Having been a longtime lurker, sometimes poster, I do value Q's advice and weigh it fairly heavily. That said, I can't see an MS in the cards for me, unless it's completely paid for which seems unlikely--it's been my experience that stipend-supported TA positions go to PhD students, not MS students, as the graduate school is a cash-cow for the university. An MPH would be nice, but my state school doesn't offer an MPH; the only school in RI offering one is Brown at 40k/year for 2+ years, so unless I was willing to move and take on even more debt, it seems like a MS or MPH might be very difficult.

But here's a question that I know has been discussed ad nausium in other forums, but I would still like some feedback from the non-trads: which do you think is better (strictly medschool admission-wise), an MS in a science (probably microbio in my case) or an SMP (a la Georgetown SMP or BU)?
 

sunnyjohn

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IMHO, the SMP would be the way to go,

By doing the SMP, you are tailoring your study to fit a specific goal- med school.

Of course, if you cannot move to enroll in one of the traditional SMP's, find a progam that will show off your academic prowess.

That being said, make sure that whatever route you choose you knock it out of the park!

You can do it. If you study hard it is possible. The older we get the more focused some of us become on our goals.
:thumbup: :luck:
 

QofQuimica

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Crake said:
But here's a question that I know has been discussed ad nausium in other forums, but I would still like some feedback from the non-trads: which do you think is better (strictly medschool admission-wise), an MS in a science (probably microbio in my case) or an SMP (a la Georgetown SMP or BU)?
An SMP seems reasonable to me; what really matters is that you have some way to raise your GPA, and you raise it. BTW, are you named after Crake from "Oryx and Crake?" That is one weird book. :) Chickyknobs. :D
 

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If your family is dragging you down have you considered moving out on your own? Yes it would be more expensive but if you moved closer to school you would save on all that gas money/commuter time. If your school is a state one, it should be manageable to get away with working less than full time while you are taking classes (unless you have kids/mortgage/etc), if not, then take out loans so you have time to study. $35,000 in loans may seem like alot now but if you kill your chances with really poor grades that $35,000 will seem like the biggest waste of money ever down the road.
 
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Crake

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got the nickname back in college from something else; I have read Atwood's book though. (great book for those of you out there looking for something thought provoking)
 

Lebesgue

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I think you should go for it.

Just apply everywhere and don't leave out DO programs as options. If you have a degree and post bac work, there is not much you'll do in a semester or two to change the past. As for a second bachelors, I also think it's a waste of time in terms of med school. It's not going to make you stronger unless it applies in some way to medical school or your pursuit of medicine.

As far as your family goes, don't worry about them, pursue your goals. With regards to the MCAT, a 33 will go much farther than a few extra GPA points on your transcript. I would recommend getting the next semester out of the way, getting the 2.9 to a 3.1 (yes, anything with a 2 in front of it does not instill awe), and then exerting all my efforts into taking the Apr or Aug MCAT and blowing the doors off it. Your GPA is what it is. The MCAT is a separate category of assessment, so do as well as possible, and put all your eggs in that basket. I'm not sure how many other ways I can say it. :)

Also, you should get energized; from your message you sound downtrodden, and you need to get excited about pursuing med school. "Here's my package, not much I can do about it, but I wan't to pursue medicine more than anything else in life", is the message you want to send.

Good luck. :)
 

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Please don't let family pressure to "just get a job" ruin your 20's like I did..

I got out of school with Student Loans and was tired of being a broke college student (parents didn't help with school much, and I played football at a private schoo)...so I got out and just went into the workforce as soon as I could. Biggest mistake I ever made...I should have just figured out a way to stay in school after graduation and found something that I really WANTED to do...Now, I'm staring 30 in the face and having to head back to school to get to where I want to be, but now I have a mortgage and a wife to worry about, so my choices are limited.

Do what it takes to do what you want NOW..don't put life off...