medguy24

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Would taking 14 semester hours each semester for my four years be considered a light course load? I can easily finish my science major and all core classes by just taking 4 courses each semester. I don't have any need to add another course that would take me to 17 credit hours.
What do you think? Can I stay at 14 or should I go to 17?

@Goro @gyngyn @LizzyM


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kopftonmd

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I always say take as much as you can handle - not just academically, but in terms of the overall obligations in your life. If you're at an institution that doesn't charge by the course/credit hour, taking more lets you make the most of your tuition dollars and lets you learn things you might not have otherwise - who knows, you could end up liking philosophy or music theory!
 
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JustAPhD

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Personally I wouldn't think 4 courses is a light load; that was 16 credits (typically) at my undergrad.
 

Swish16

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Anything that's over full time student should be fine. I know some schools like increasing academic rigor but I say only take as much as you can handle.


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Turkishking

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Stay full time or above. Don't rush everything. Maintain competitive GPA. If you do take light course loads, that should give you more time for EC's.
 
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medguy24

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I certainly would be full time with 14 credits. I do believe I can handle taking a fifth course or 17 credits but if I don't have to take a fifth course and 14 credits is enough I would rather not- simply because it isn't required and I would rather spend my free time on my EC and hobbies.


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Pagan FutureDoc

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If you don't take summer classes 14 hours a semester usually leaves you just shy of graduating in 4 years (about 8-16 hours shy).
Averaging 15 is the norm to graduate on time however, it can be hard to get all of your classes to line up correctly.

If you can do it and excell at it I don't think this would hinder you getting into a school.
 
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medguy24

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If you don't take summer classes 14 hours a semester usually leaves you just shy of graduating in 4 years (about 8-16 hours shy).
Averaging 15 is the norm to graduate on time however, it can be hard to get all of your classes to line up correctly.

If you can do it and excell at it I don't think this would hinder you getting into a school.
I have AP credits in history and economics so I would easily graduate in 4 years by taking 14 credits a semester.


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Goro

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It really depends upon what you're taking at the time.

For example: P-Chem + Anatomy, then Physics+ Lab + Med Micro looks challenging enough.

Would taking 14 semester hours each semester for my four years be considered a light course load? I can easily finish my science major and all core classes by just taking 4 courses each semester. I don't have any need to add another course that would take me to 17 credit hours.
What do you think? Can I stay at 14 or should I go to 17?

@Goro @gyngyn @LizzyM


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LizzyM

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we really only see credits per YEAR tallied up for us, not per semester or quarter so it has to be a very obvious light year to be noticed.
 
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medguy24

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we really only see credits per YEAR tallied up for us, not per semester or quarter so it has to be a very obvious light year to be noticed.
So would taking 28-29 credits a year be considered light?


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medguy24

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It really depends upon what you're taking at the time.

For example: P-Chem + Anatomy, then Physics+ Lab + Med Micro looks challenging enough.
I guess it would look a little like.

science class-5
Core humanities class-3
Core humanities class-3
Social science elective-3
Total 14

Would I have to add another elective to bring that up to 17 credits or is it fine as is?


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Goro

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It's up to you to demonstrate that you can handle a medical school curriculum. med school will be harder than 14 credits.
or 17
 

LizzyM

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Yes, that would look light.
 
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Yes, that would look light.
IDK, I averaged about 15 credit hours a semester and will graduate on time due to AP credit. But I also have a 4.0, 96th percentile mcat and am doing a pretty tough major (cheme). You can take a light course load as long as you show your aptitude in the mcat, involve yourself in ECs and get a very high gpa. But that is just my opinion.
 

LizzyM

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IDK, I averaged about 15 credit hours a semester and will graduate on time due to AP credit. But I also have a 4.0, 96th percentile mcat and am doing a pretty tough major (cheme). You can take a light course load as long as you show your aptitude in the mcat, involve yourself in ECs and get a very high gpa. But that is just my opinion.
I said 28-29/year would look light. Averaging 15 per semester would be 30 per year. 30> 29.
 

LizzyM

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I think that is being a little pedantic... (Just a little)


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Well, then you don't understand an average load vs a light load. Critical thinking skills are important.

And keep in mind that the "average" applicant doesn't get admitted anywhere. By definition those who are admitted are above average in some way (<50% of applicants are admitted anywhere).
 
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medguy24

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I said 28-29/year would look light. Averaging 15 per semester would be 30 per year. 30> 29.
So if instead of taking a whole 3 extra credit class to push me to 17 credits, if I just take a 1 credit research or music class to get me up to 15 credits each semester which would be 30 a year would that work? Or would you recommend taking that extra 3 credit class to get to 17?


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LizzyM

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So if instead of taking a whole 3 extra credit class to push me to 17 credits, if I just take a 1 credit research or music class to get me up to 15 credits each semester which would be 30 a year would that work? Or would you recommend taking that extra 3 credit class to get to 17?


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30+ is always going to look heavier than 30. Heavy is good.
 

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30+ is always going to look heavier than 30. Heavy is good.
How does course rigor factor in? For instance, do 28 credits of upper-level engineering courses look lighter than 32 credits of easy-A filler courses?
 

LizzyM

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How does course rigor factor in? For instance, do 28 credits of upper-level engineering courses look lighter than 32 credits of easy-A filler courses?
When we look at that table of credits per year and GPA by year for BCPM, AO (all other) and TOTAL we don't see rigor, just credits. A picture begins to emerge. Now maybe we've looked at major and a bioengineering major with 28 credits might be considered as good as 32 credits for a sociology major but you are up against the bioengineering major with 32 credits/yr. And so it goes....
 
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medguy24

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When we look at that table of credits per year and GPA by year for BCPM, AO (all other) and TOTAL we don't see rigor, just credits. A picture begins to emerge. Now maybe we've looked at major and a bioengineering major with 28 credits might be considered as good as 32 credits for a sociology major but you are up against the bioengineering major with 32 credits/yr. And so it goes....
You don't initially look at the courses that were taken when you look at the yearly Credits and GPA? Just the major?


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Kevin SM

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When we look at that table of credits per year and GPA by year for BCPM, AO (all other) and TOTAL we don't see rigor, just credits. A picture begins to emerge. Now maybe we've looked at major and a bioengineering major with 28 credits might be considered as good as 32 credits for a sociology major but you are up against the bioengineering major with 32 credits/yr. And so it goes....
Is summer included in the year?

Because without summer I have 24-26 credit years, but quite honestly I did a dual major with honors in one of them as well as university honors. It's just that I walked in with so many AP credits and CC colleges (dual enrollment program in high school) that I practically had all my gen-eds complete? What would I have to do.. do a third major to be looked at as having a "rigorous" year?

&& Prereqs held me back from taking my summer classes in fall/winter
 

LizzyM

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You don't initially look at the courses that were taken when you look at the yearly Credits and GPA? Just the major?


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You should try to find someone who has submitted the AMCAS and see how AMCAS displays the information you've provided and the information they format based on the verification of your transcript. When you see what we see, you'll have a better idea of how things unfold as we scroll through the application. Keep in mind, too, that application readers report spending 20-30 minutes with the entire application including primary, secondary and LORs.

Is summer included in the year?

Because without summer I have 24-26 credit years, but quite honestly I did a dual major with honors in one of them as well as university honors. It's just that I walked in with so many AP credits and CC colleges (dual enrollment program in high school) that I practically had all my gen-eds complete? What would I have to do.. do a third major to be looked at as having a "rigorous" year?

&& Prereqs held me back from taking my summer classes in fall/winter
Is there any rule against taking additional elective courses? Could you get credit for research you might be doing anyway? If not coursework, then you should show that you were busy with other important things such as community service or employment.
 

Kevin SM

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You should try to find someone who has submitted the AMCAS and see how AMCAS displays the information you've provided and the information they format based on the verification of your transcript. When you see what we see, you'll have a better idea of how things unfold as we scroll through the application. Keep in mind, too, that application readers report spending 20-30 minutes with the entire application including primary, secondary and LORs.



Is there any rule against taking additional elective courses? Could you get credit for research you might be doing anyway? If not coursework, then you should show that you were busy with other important things such as community service or employment.
Too expensive to take additional coursework as my scholarships only cover up to 10ish credits and therefore I have to pay for the extra 3 that I take. Can't afford to pay for 15-16 instead of the 13 I currently take. Plus, I take pretty much all the courses that I do want to take hence the two majors.

And so if I had extracurriculars that clearly were time consuming and I didn't look like I was lazing around all day, it would be completely fine?
 

LizzyM

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Too expensive to take additional coursework as my scholarships only cover up to 10ish credits and therefore I have to pay for the extra 3 that I take. Can't afford to pay for 15-16 instead of the 13 I currently take. Plus, I take pretty much all the courses that I do want to take hence the two majors.

And so if I had extracurriculars that clearly were time consuming and I didn't look like I was lazing around all day, it would be completely fine?
At the very least, with a light load you should have an excellent GPA.
Having a full plate is always desirable; adcoms want to know that you can handle the workload.
 
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Kevin SM

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At the very least, with a light load you should have an excellent GPA.
Having a full plate is always desirable; adcoms want to know that you can handle the workload.
I've got a 3.9xx, does the lower course load affect my chances at top 10s? I'm surprised that course load even matters this much as long as you're past full time (12 credits) because honestly, I take the regular 2 sciences, 1 non science and the only difference is that I don't have to take a gen ed class which are often easy A's and if anything fluff for my GPA.
 

LizzyM

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I've got a 3.9xx, does the lower course load affect my chances at top 10s? I'm surprised that course load even matters this much as long as you're past full time (12 credits) because honestly, I take the regular 2 sciences, 1 non science and the only difference is that I don't have to take a gen ed class which are often easy A's and if anything fluff for my GPA.
You have to apply and you'll find out. It is almost impossible to chance someone on one small portion of what is a very big picture.
 
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I'd say just keep in mind that you are being compared against other students who are juggling leadership positions in clubs, management positions at jobs, and 16+ hour course loads with 12+ of those being difficult sciences. You can try to do the bare minimum or really try to push yourself as a student and person in general. There's only so much studying for one class you can do, so why not fill up the rest of the time with harder classes and more demanding ECs? From what I hear, it isn't easy becoming or being a doctor. So why are you limiting yourself now? Might as well get used to enjoying being busy. Sorry for the mini rant, I just hear people around me trying to make their resume look good without actually having passion and grit in medicine and in life.


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OncologistMD123

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30+ is always going to look heavier than 30. Heavy is good.
Does the year's worth of units constitute to the summers as well? So ex. Fall, spring and summer semester units will be tallied up to determine what you find rigorous? Thanks


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LizzyM

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AMCAS counts the first 30 as year 1, next 30 as year 2 and so forth if the coursework has been done piecemeal. I only look at the chart compiled by AMCAS.
 

Danny L

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edited..

So how is course strength weighted in the overall app. Also two mentioned that 14 per was fine but one said it was light.. could we get some reasoning please (don't want to be a smartass, just trying to understand this stuff)?

@Goro @LizzyM @gyngyn
 
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LizzyM

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edited..

So how is course strength weighted in the overall app. Also two mentioned that 14 per was fine but one said it was light.. could we get some reasoning please (don't want to be a smartass, just trying to understand this stuff)?

@Goro @LizzyM @gyngyn
This is a minor issue... your GPA is far more important. Your major can play a role if the reader believes that you had a harder or easier major (chem engineering vs. sociology) with the same number of credits. Frankly, when someone has to find a reason for not interviewing an otherwise good candidate, they will be very picky. And keep in mind, some schools need to turn down 85% of their applicants pre-interview!
 
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Danny L

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This is a minor issue... your GPA is far more important. Your major can play a role if the reader believes that you had a harder or easier major (chem engineering vs. sociology) with the same number of credits. Frankly, when someone has to find a reason for not interviewing an otherwise good candidate, they will be very picky. And keep in mind, some schools need to turn down 85% of their applicants pre-interview!
Ok thanks! Just to make sure if you have a strong GPA/MCAT and at least a solid rest of application (and apply early) you don't need to *really* be concerned about this (ie you'd still be an upper mid to top tier applicant)?

A quick specific question.. in general how would an app reader view a Neuroscience Major (honors research likely) with two minors in finance (financial economics and corporate strategy) in terms of difficulty.
 

LizzyM

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Ok thanks! Just to make sure if you have a strong GPA/MCAT and at least a solid rest of application (and apply early) you don't need to *really* be concerned about this (ie you'd still be an upper mid to top tier applicant)?

A quick specific question.. in general how would an app reader view a Neuroscience Major (honors research likely) with two minors in finance (financial economics and corporate strategy) in terms of difficulty.
No one ever cares about minors. Honors will get you a bit of a up-tick. Neuroscience is not more impressive than Biology or Chemistry.
 
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Danny L

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No one ever cares about minors. Honors will get you a bit of a up-tick. Neuroscience is not more impressive than Biology or Chemistry.
I assume Biology/Chem/Neuro is not considered as hard as engineering, but not as easy as sociology? And why are minors irrelevant, wouldn't a minor show that my hours consist of more upper level courses rather than having many hours of "easy" course work or is that irrelevant?

Also (sorry if you purposefully chose to ignore this) can I still consider myself a top/competitive applicant if I maintain a strong GPA/get a good MCAT and make sure the rest of my application (ECs, LOR, essays, etc) are at least solid? I'm going to be a junior so I can't really retroactively add to my schedule and I only have two more semesters that will really end up on my application, and if it really is necessary to increase credit hours I would need to do it soon for this semester..

Thanks again for the help!
 

LizzyM

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I assume Biology/Chem/Neuro is not considered as hard as engineering, but not as easy as sociology? And why are minors irrelevant, wouldn't a minor show that my hours consist of more upper level courses rather than having many hours of "easy" course work or is that irrelevant?

Also (sorry if you purposefully chose to ignore this) can I still consider myself a top/competitive applicant if I maintain a strong GPA/get a good MCAT and make sure the rest of my application (ECs, LOR, essays, etc) are at least solid? I'm going to be a junior so I can't really retroactively add to my schedule and I only have two more semesters that will really end up on my application, and if it really is necessary to increase credit hours I would need to do it soon for this semester..

Thanks again for the help!
There are more than a hundred medical schools and more than a thousand (several thousand?) adcom members. Each has a slightly different take on what a holistic review should include and what is more highly valued that everything else. While one member might like to see higher level courses involved with a minor, others might prefer to see a breadth of study. You will never please everyone. Do what you love and do it well and you will get the most out of your education which should be what you want it to be.
 

Geo16

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we really only see credits per YEAR tallied up for us, not per semester or quarter so it has to be a very obvious light year to be noticed.
If I take courses during winter and summer, then it would compensate taking only 14 credits(3 courses) per semester.
Next year, I would take
Org Chem 1 (5)
Gen Bio 1 (5)
Gen Phys 1 (4)
for Fall 17

Org Chem 2 (5)
Gen Bio 2 (5)
Gen Phys 2 (4)
for Spring 18

It would be 28. I might take 1-2 courses for Summer 17.. Possibly Anatomy and MicroBio :) Depends on their availabilty. Or take Intro to Physics/ Intro to Bio to prepare myself.
 

MareNostrummm

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How would adcoms view someone that takes 12-14 credits of science classes a quarter (no fluff) but scribes in the ED 24 hours a week (3 shifts, working weird and difficult hours)? Do they place more emphasis on the difficulty of certain jobs over others rather than just looking at total hours worked? ex: working a campus desk job vs scribing.
 

LizzyM

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How would adcoms view someone that takes 12-14 credits of science classes a quarter (no fluff) but scribes in the ED 24 hours a week (3 shifts, working weird and difficult hours)? Do they place more emphasis on the difficulty of certain jobs over others rather than just looking at total hours worked? ex: working a campus desk job vs scribing.
They might get to that level of detail and synthesis of the information but more likely they are looking at academics and deciding if you have a good GPA from a good school with a challenging course load and separately looking to see if you have experiences in research, service, clinical settings, and teamwork/leadership. Sometimes a LOR will point out that someone did well but took a light load because they had to work many hours during the school year. this is where a committee that looks over your application and interviews you can be a big help in putting the pieces of the puzzle together because the adcom does not always do that work.
 
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Just wondering, are academic credits vs. ta or research credits considered differently. Ie would it considered to be light to take 10 class credits while doing 3 research and 3 taing credits, or is it more just the credit number for the semester that matters
 

Seldon

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we really only see credits per YEAR tallied up for us, not per semester or quarter so it has to be a very obvious light year to be noticed.
Quick question: If I'm are taking a semester off to do research elsewhere, how can I indicate it, so that it doesn't look like I took 8 credits a semester?
 

LizzyM

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Quick question: If I'm are taking a semester off to do research elsewhere, how can I indicate it, so that it doesn't look like I took 8 credits a semester?
The way AMCAS counts "years" the first year is your first 30 credits (more or less), the second year is the next 30, the third year is the 30 after that and everything after 90 credits is 4th year (even if you take 7 years).
Now they are also sensible in seeing that if you take 17 credits per semester for two semesters, that is 34 units in year 1. They don't push 4 of those units to the next year. But if you take 14 units per semester for a year, that's 28 and that counts as a year. Mostly this makes sense for people who are part-time and who are taking 3-8 credits per semester and take many academic years to accumulate their first 30 credits.
 

Seldon

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The way AMCAS counts "years" the first year is your first 30 credits (more or less), the second year is the next 30, the third year is the 30 after that and everything after 90 credits is 4th year (even if you take 7 years).
Now they are also sensible in seeing that if you take 17 credits per semester for two semesters, that is 34 units in year 1. They don't push 4 of those units to the next year. But if you take 14 units per semester for a year, that's 28 and that counts as a year. Mostly this makes sense for people who are part-time and who are taking 3-8 credits per semester and take many academic years to accumulate their first 30 credits.
So it's a nonissue then. Thanks for the clarification.
 

subdermallight

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The way AMCAS counts "years" the first year is your first 30 credits (more or less), the second year is the next 30, the third year is the 30 after that and everything after 90 credits is 4th year (even if you take 7 years).
Now they are also sensible in seeing that if you take 17 credits per semester for two semesters, that is 34 units in year 1. They don't push 4 of those units to the next year. But if you take 14 units per semester for a year, that's 28 and that counts as a year. Mostly this makes sense for people who are part-time and who are taking 3-8 credits per semester and take many academic years to accumulate their first 30 credits.
I'm the part-time kind of person you describe. My first 2 years had a heavy courseload (bulk of bcmp) then last 5 was basically part time (some bcmp) with employment at a family business. GPA c&s both about 3.85 and stable throughout. I'm worried my part time trend is going to make them doubt I can handle the rigor of med school. MCAT is balanced 509, recently taken, for what that's worth. Was considering a post-bac because of this but was told would be overkill; I'd be happy at my states allopathic schools.

Would really appreciate your input if you have time, thank you LizzyM!
 

LizzyM

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I'm the part-time kind of person you describe. My first 2 years had a heavy courseload (bulk of bcmp) then last 5 was basically part time (some bcmp) with employment at a family business. GPA c&s both about 3.85 and stable throughout. I'm worried my part time trend is going to make them doubt I can handle the rigor of med school. MCAT is balanced 509, recently taken, for what that's worth. Was considering a post-bac because of this but was told would be overkill; I'd be happy at my states allopathic schools.

Would really appreciate your input if you have time, thank you LizzyM!
Have you made your application. Have you seen how your courses are displayed in terms of year 1, 2, 3 and 4? It really doesn't show up as a part-time trend from where I sit unless someone really looks at the calendar years or your dob or something like that. I hope you listed your family business job in the experience section!