walrus

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I'm hoping someone can help me with my problem:

I was really sick during college for an entire year. I won't go into my illness, but it severely messed up my GPA (3.0). The rest of my college career was outstanding and my MCATs, extracurrics, recs, are terrific.

My question is this:
1) am I screwed for admission to med school?

2) Is there anything I can do (other than explaining my illness in the AMCAS application) to bring my situation to light to the admissions committees? Should I call every school and explain it to them, or will they take the time to read about it in my application?

Any help is certainly appreciated.
 

CaNEM

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3.0 was the GPA for the year that you were sick, or 3.0 is your GPA now?
 
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walrus

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My science and overall GPA's are around 3.0 cumulative, and my GPA for the year I was sick was....let's just say horrible. But my GPA for the other years was about 3.8.

So, what do you guys think? Do I have a shot? Will the adcomms overlook my poor performancy because it was due to my illness?
 

CaNEM

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I agree that if you performed poorly in any required pre-med courses (science, english, or math) then you should retake them. Are you applying DO also?
 
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walrus

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The thing is that the courses I messed up in were in my major (bio), but I took all the other premed requirements and aced them all (A's in chem, orgo, physics, english, math). So, basically, I messed up in several courses in my major, but the premed requirements were essentially flawless. Also, other advanced courses in my major were flawless as well.

How could I possibly go back and retake premed requirements when I've already aced them all? What should I do? Do you think adcomms will excuse it as is?

many thanks!
 

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What year was this? Have you since shown that it was actually your illness and not your inability to handle upper division coursework that was the problem? Your work AFTER the illness is much more important than your work before.
 
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walrus

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Thanks you for all your replies. this is what happened....
My freshman year, I had about a 3.9 GPA taking some basic premed requirements and the usual non science stuff. Then, I got sick for all of sophomore year and had a very low GPA. The science courses I messed up in were in my major, but weren't premed reuirements. Then, after I came back to school, junior year, I got a 3.8 GPA, getting A's in orgo, physics, math and just about everything else. I also took more upper level science courses and aced them all.

So, do you think adcomms will just overlook my one bad year if I came back and resumed top grades once I got back?

thanks for your help.
 
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walrus

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Thanks you for all your replies. this is what happened....
My freshman year, I had about a 3.9 GPA taking some basic premed requirements and the usual non science stuff. Then, I got sick for all of sophomore year and had a very low GPA. The science courses I messed up in were in my major, but weren't premed reuirements. Then, after I came back to school, junior year, I got a 3.8 GPA, getting A's in orgo, physics, math and just about everything else. I also took more upper level science courses and aced them all.

So, do you think adcomms will just overlook my one bad year if I came back and resumed top grades once I got back?

thanks for your help.
 

coolwaters

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I definitely do not think you need to retake any courses - you're obviously very intelligent and can handle the coursework. Explain your sophmore year illness as a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement. Yes, all med schools will read this. Also, on many of the secondaries, there is a space where they allow you to tell them any additional information you'd like to share. You can futher elaborate at this point. Also, you should talk with your premed advisor and see if they can put a brief, but informative paragraph in the committee letter regarding your illness. Medical schools aren't studpid - if you're a strong candidate that would make an excellent doctor, then it's not in their interest to write you off that quickly. Most will give you a chance. Lastly, the one obstacle you may encounter is for those few schools that screen secondaries based on numbers - Stanford is the one that's coming to mind right now. If there's a school you're really set on, they call their admissions dept. and ask them straight out how you should approach the process considering your situation. Good luck, although I don't think you'll need it. One last thing, use your illness to your benefit. When someone has been through an extended illness you gain a perspective that most premeds lack. Write about this - another way to make the events connect, while setting you apart from the others. Good luck!
 

Bikini Princess

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you might wait until your senior year to apply, that may make sense, since your gpa will be higher. Also, have you taken the MCATs yet? if you were 'sick' your sophomore year you may want to brush up first before taking it. fyi - brutal honesty, but it seems like some schools will require a really good explanation in order for them to interview you. good luck! :)
 
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walrus

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You guys give great advice!!!

I will definitely write an explanation about my illness. I only hope it will get read. At some places that I fear play the numbers game before they read your application, I will also call the admissions office to ask what advice they have.

You guys have been very supportive. I really, really appreciate it. I will certainly keep you all informed as to my progress and I'm sure I'll have more questions for you all before this whole thing is through.

Thanks!!
 

racergirl

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Just chiming in here, but if you handle this right your experience could actually be an incredible strength! Address your illness in the personal statement. Talk about how it made you realize what it was like to be a patient...the fear and uncertainty and all that. Talk about how this experience will help you empathize with future patients, and make you a better doctor. Your one bad year is so isolated that it will be obvious to adcomms that it was due to your illness, and will have no bearing on your future performance.

My only concern is that you might slip under the radar screen of some schools that do initial numbers screens. How good was your MCAT? If it was mid-to- upper 30's that might help, because many schools use a formula that includes both GPA and MCAT in the screen. But as someone else said, if there's a school (or schools) you're particularly interested in, it's a great idea to contact them NOW and ask about your situation. Try to find the email or phone number of the admissions dean or director. It won't hurt, and who knows, they may flag your app for a closer look just because you called!

But anyway to answer your original question: You are far from screwed!

Good luck! Oh and just to make you feel better, I have a Ugrad overall GPA of 3.06 (with a good MCAT) and I start med school tomorrow!
 
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walrus

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Racergirl, where are you going to med school?? Your GPA and my GPA are so similar. I'm just wondering if I'm overlooking a certain med school to apply to! Again, thanks for your kind advice!
 
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