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Looking for honest advice

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Dragonfall, Apr 30, 2007.

  1. Dragonfall


    Apr 30, 2007
    Hello all!

    I'm twenty-four years old, and after much thought I've decided to go after something that's been a dream of mine since I was eight: getting my MD. I have several questions, and would like advice on my situation, no matter how brutal and honest. First, some background.

    1. Undergrad disaster
    I graduated from a private liberal arts university with a BA in English three years ago. My college career was book-ended by family illness and death, and as a result my GPA is abysmal (2.70). This is not an indicator of my ability, but rather my drive and mindset. My last semester I managed straight A's just by focusing and applying myself.

    2. Lacking pre-reqs
    Since I was an English major, I only have two pre-reqs under my belt (math and biology), and neither grade is worth typing. I plan on retaking these, as well as chem, o-chem, physics, and anatomy and physiology in the next year at a CC.

    1. The CC I plan on attending is reputable and well ranked, as far as CCs go, but since making my decision I've read that some schools don't accept grades from CCs. Is it worth it, or should I shell out the money and attend a state school?
    2. I know that to have any kind of chance, no matter how small, I'll have to ace the pre-reqs and get at least a 30 on my MCAT, which I'm already studying for to take next year. Is there anything else I can do academically to distinguish myself?
    3. Should I retake courses that have nothing to do with pre-reqs (such as foreign language) and ace them to show improvement?
    4. Speaking of GPA, how will this extra coursework affect mine? Will it be averaged? Will new coursework for previously taken classes supersede the old grade? Will it be given more weight?
    5. The majority of my time since graduation has been spent taking care of my grandparents: making sure they take their medication properly, taking and charting blood-sugars, giving insulin and basically acting as an unpaid nurse. Can this help my application in anyway, or am I stretching?
    6. I'm an African American female. Will this help or hurt my chances, or will this not factor in?

    I know that I'll never be able to escape the stigma of my undergrad GPA and, at best, I only have a chance of sneaking into a second tier school. What I'd really like to know is am I deluding myself? I believe I have the drive, desire, and ability to do this, but what scares me are my actual chances. So, am I chasing a pipe dream?

    Thanks in advance for any advice, no matter how brutal,
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  3. Tiagao

    Tiagao Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 9, 2004

    Don't get bumbed out. Life happens to everyone and you just have to turn your challenges into strengths. You have obvioulsy researched some things that need to be done. figure it will take you about 2 years to finish your pre-reqs and apply. What will be vitaly important for you is to do well in your classes. Also, think about a couple of schools that you would like to attend. Contact those schools and begin working with them to get the best information that you need. Also, check out the MENTOR FORUM. There are a lot of people there with experience to help you along your road.

    Your GPA will seem like a challenge, mostly because it will be hard to raise very far since you already have enough credits for a degree. However, many schools will look more at your recent work. While performing well will not erase the past, it may haze it out a bit in the minds of some ADCOMS.

    MCAT. Give yourself some time to get some of your coursework done before getting too deep into this. The best way to prepare for this test is to be solid with the content and then tackle the exam format itself.

    Good luck with everything. :luck:
  4. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California Moderator 10+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    Shell out the money and attend a state school. School's not accepting grades from CC's is way over-stated, but university coursework for prereqs is always preferred. Given that you are fighting an uphill battle, get everything set to work in you favor. Attend the best college you can afford.
    Nah, you don't need to. Just focus on getting great grades on future coursework and prep fro the MCAT.
    Any undergrad coursework you take post-BA is listed as post-bac on your application. It is averaged in with your BA coursework for your undergrad GPA. Showing great grades more recently than before can only help, but it won't wipe away past experience.
    It sounds like a good story for your personal statement, but it won't go kicking open any doors. And I'd be careful about considering meds/diabetes management as equivalent to nursing. That might rub some people wrong.
    Many/most schools have a real desire to add to the diversity of their entering class. Coming from an under-represented minority can only help.
    Are you willing to commit several additional years of coursework and doing what it takes to get great grades? Are you comfortable with the idea of becoming a physician by any path (allopathic, osteopathic, offshore, etc.?). Whether it is a pipe dream depends largely on how long/hard you're willing to work for it.

    Best of luck!
  5. MJB

    MJB Senior Member Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    You're actually in a pretty good situation in my opinion...because you haven't taken the pre-reqs. I'd take those and nail them...and then study hard and do your best on the MCAT.

    I'd recommend a larger school for the classes, but have had to take a couple classes at CC myself. It wasn't a matter of money for me, but scheduling.

    I would recommend you look into DO as well.

    Oh, and start volunteering and shadowing.
  6. vintagemango

    vintagemango Full-time Nerd 2+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    I totally agree w/ MJB on this point. Since you haven't taken the pre-reqs in the past, you have a wonderful opportunity to make your science GPA the best it can be without the added hassle of explaining past mistakes to adcoms come application/interview time. This also holds true for your MCAT score, since you have yet to take it, try your level best to rock it the first time around--trust me, this will save you tons of stress and time!

    Though it may be a bit too early for this, another piece of advice that may be useful would be for you to start looking into potential programs of interest to see what they value as far as EC's etc. Sometimes just going to the school's website or using the search function on SDN is helpful in figuring out what you may need to do activity-wise in order to cover all of your bases for a specific MD or DO program.
    I can speak from personal experience when I say that familiarizing yourself with programs of interest early on can go a long way! I spent a ridiculous amount of time doing research thinking that all med schools require it or at least believe that it sets an applicant apart from the crowd--but at two schools that I interviewed at they actually told me that it didn't make a difference either way, and that my clinical experience (volunteering, shadowing, etc.) would be more heavily weighed. Even though it didn't hurt my application, it would have been nice to know so that I could have spent my time more wisely. :oops:

    Best of luck with everything!

  7. postbacker

    postbacker Banned Banned

    Mar 27, 2007
    Mind saying which schools said this to you? Thanks...
  8. vintagemango

    vintagemango Full-time Nerd 2+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2007
    Hmmm...let's just say both schools are located in Michigan...and neither school is ranked in the top 10 for research (I think that narrows it down nicely) :D
  9. Dragonfall


    Apr 30, 2007
    Thanks for the advice and the vote of confidence! Will check out the MENTOR FORUM and see if anyone is willing to adopt me :)
  10. Dragonfall


    Apr 30, 2007
    Thanks for answering each of my questions notdeadyet. They were the ones making me have kittens.
  11. Dragonfall


    Apr 30, 2007
    Really? I had a dread feeling this would be some kind of kiss of death, but having read that... I can see my chances improving! Volunteering and shadowing I have to do more research on. Hopefully, living down the street from a hospital will make this easier.

    THanks again!
  12. helpfuldoc2b

    helpfuldoc2b Banned Banned

    Dec 6, 2006
    6. I'm an African American female. Will this help or hurt my chances, or will this not factor in?
    :laugh: , its better than any SMP out there, consider yourself blessed!

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