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Is it worth it?

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jsungholee

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My uGPA is a 2.408. Of the pre-reqs for med school, I have only taken first semester bio, anatomy & physiology, two semesters of intro chem. With my abysmal grades, I just gave up on med school and took no more pre-reqs after sophomore year. However, I have an ultimate feeling of regret of not at least attempting to try. With strong encouragement from parents and grandparents,I am going to post-bacc at a university and am taking physics 1, orgo 1, and genetics. In the spring, physics 2, orgo 2, microbio. Then in the summer, taking biochem and retaking anat. Then spend a whole semester studying for the MCATs and then taking the mcats in the spring. Then applying for a SMT. Then hopefully med school.

One thing I have learned from my undergraduate years is to study. I did not study at all until the final semester of my senior year. The final semester, all I did was wake up, go to class, eat, study, and exercise. So, I know that I can do the whole routine of studying all day. But, as the start of the fall semester nears, I am doubting again if this all is worth it.

One major problem I have is the amount of debt I will accumlate. I have graduated with no debt because financial aid has paid for my full undergraduate years. In order to take post-bacc classes, I am having to pay grad school fees and am not able to be covered by financial aid. My chances of getting into med school is already greatly decreased because of my uGPA and also because I lack any volunteering, shadowing, or any extracurricular activities. The only thing that I am banking on is that I'll be making straight As in the rest of the pre-reqs and doing well in the SMT to get me into med school.

Another big problem I have is the time commitment. Although I know I can study all day, it was defiantly not the greatest time of my life. There was literally no time for anything else. I am sure that many of you know what this feels like. My question is, is it all worth it. My thought process is that my prime years (22-30) are going to be spent behind books literally everyday. I know that the money is great when it is all finished but is it all worth it?

These two are the greatest problems, I am facing right now and was wondering if any of you guys went through the same things.

P.S. My new science GPA (assuming with getting all A's on the suggested courses) would be a 3.3.
 

lovesfall

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I went through some of this. My uGPA wasn't low as yours, but I'd taken virtually NO prerequisites. I suppose if you can get family support, it may be worth it to take some time and focus exclusively on your studies. I didn't have any family support, and certainly no financial support, and so I ended up finding a job that would provide tuition assistance and took my prereqs slowly so as not to have to take on any more debt. You're lucky that you don't have any undergrad debt -- I graduated about 60k in the hole and the big surprise to me was that my parents weren't actually planning to help out with it. (That would have been nice to know when I was signing stuff and they were saying that they would take care of it! But... live and learn.)

The plus side of taking longer and visiting the "scenic route" is that you have the chance to increase your exposure to medicine and beef up your application in other areas if you can land a job in a relevant field. The down side is that it does take longer and your pre-med salary will probably just be a fraction of your post-med salary. You also have to figure out where you are in terms of life goals and what the timing of those things needs to be.

At any rate, I don't think it's impossible and I don't think that taking on new debt is your only option. I also don't think that full time post-bacc, or that job/post-bacc mean that you give up your whole life. I work between 40 and 60 hours a week most weeks and have class and volunteer work on top of that, and in my opinion I still have a pretty decent social life. I don't watch TV and I don't get a chance to read as much as I'd like (at least, read things that aren't textbooks!), but I've found that when you're busy and crunched for time you make time for the things that are REALLY meaningful. You can still see your friends and you can still do what you need to do. I have to exercise so I try to get notes on audio so I can listen while I run, even if I have to audio record them myself. You just might have to be willing to flex on some of your fluff time, and be creative with how you study.

You can do it though, and if it's what you're passionate then you should push yourself to make it through. I tired to quit once and it's what made me realize how committed I was. You can work hard for a few years and get your ducks in a row, or you can spend the rest of your life regretting your decisions.
 

jsungholee

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I am sorry about your parents not helping with your financial woes :(. I should consider myself fortunate that I my parents will help as much as they can.

Could you elaborate about what you say when you say "scenic route" and increasing your exposure to medicine. Do you mean that you are shadowing/volunteering in hospitals? You said pre-med salary, is there a job in which I can take up with just a bachelor degree?

I am hoping that eventually that I will find some kind of balance. I am just really fearful that I won't get in and will just put myself in an inescapable debt because the job I get won't cover it. Sigh... I guess this post is more of a vent but I am for sure going to continue on this path. I wish to have no regrets.

Thanks for listening and giving me your story, it was very encouraging. :)
 

lovesfall

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Could you elaborate about what you say when you say "scenic route" and increasing your exposure to medicine. Do you mean that you are shadowing/volunteering in hospitals? You said pre-med salary, is there a job in which I can take up with just a bachelor degree?

Absolutely! I don't know what your bachelors is in, but I managed to land a job in a hospital with a BA. I've never volunteered in a hospital (though I've volunteered in other medical areas after getting a job in a hospital) and I connected with all my shadowing experiences through my job itself. If you can get your foot in the door somewhere - ANYWHERE - as a clerk, medical assistant, research assistant, etc., and if you're motivated and proactive, a lot of times you will find opportunities to move up and into the areas that you really want to be (and discover where those areas are if you don't already know). A lot of academic medical centers also either give you discounted tuition or free classes up to a certain cap if you are a regular employee, which can be a huge help. When I say "scenic route" I mean taking more time to get the prereqs done and doing it in conjunction with getting more healthcare-related employment experience. If you have time to do it, I would definitely recommend it. There's nothing like working in the field to give you a sense of whether you'll like it on a daily basis or not, and the opportunities to expand your knowledge outside of formal classes are pretty much endless in a medical environment. The important thing is to figure out a pace and a balance that you enjoy, because you'll be working at it for a while. If doing the school stuff exclusively is going to stress you out, make you worry about finances and make you feel like you have no life, maybe cultivating an actual career alongside getting the academics in will help give you a better sense of balance and more achievements and experiences to talk about when you get to your med school interviews down the road. In my case, I started focusing on my career because I wasn't sure that I'd ever make it to med school and I wanted a good backup plan. If I don't get in this year, oh well, I'm still on track with my career, will be in better shape financially next year than I am right now, and since I'll be finishing up my MS soon, I'll have even more time to do things I enjoy and get myself ready for next year's cycle.

Bottom line is that there is no one right or wrong way to do it. The road to med school doesn't have to be paved with gigantic post-bac loans.
 
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jsungholee

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Ahh, I have never thought about that. I graduated with a BS in Psychology so that is encouraging to hear. I've looked up some open job employments in a nearby hospital but most of the positions are nursing related that require certification. I will keep looking at possible openings as that sounds like a very good back up to have just in case my road to med school does not work.
 
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