DocKW

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I'm applying to some SMPs/Certificate programs for the fall, and will also be submitting my AMCAS application this summer.

My question is, for someone with a less-than-stellar GPA, how should one express that their previous academic record doesn't reflect their abilities. . .without sounding as if they are whining and making excuses? This is the last thing I would want my app to sound like! :eek:

I have legitimate reasons for my GPA not being a 4.0, but even though I want to let the adcoms know why, I fear that I might sound like I want pity, which isn't the case. I am applying to SMPs/Certificate programs to prove myself.

Should an 'explanation' be incorporated into the personal statement, along with stating my intentions to participate in a SMP or certificate program? Or should it be placed in the part of the application where it asks 'is there anything else you would like the adcom to know?'

Any suggestions from those who applied with a low gpa and got accepted? Thanks!
 

imrep1972

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DocKW said:
I thought someone would have responded to this by now...

I can't give you much specific advice right now, since I have not been accepted (and apparently my essay did not adress - specifically enough - my own deficiencies). However, I can tell you that if you are going to do a post-bac/SMP, you will have an advisor who will be able to give you much better and more specific advice than anyone on this board.

You also might have more success addressing this question to the MD board, since there are many more people who have been accepted who lurk there.

Good luck.
 

Law2Doc

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DocKW said:
Perhaps no one is responding because we are confused. So are you saying you have low grades and so will be attending a SMP, but yet you still want to apply to med school (AMCAS) now (this summer) without having improved that GPA yet? What exactly is the point of the SMP if that's the case? (It is meaningless to the med schools if they are going to need to decide whether to interview you before they even see one semester's grades). If you are doing the SMP in any event, why would you not wait and get some GPA improvement before applying, to better your chances? I think you are trying to rush a process in a way that doesn't really help you. Most people with lower GPAs would tend to take the SMP (or alternatively a postbac), get A's, and THEN apply to med school. Sure, you'll lose a year (the "glide" year), but at least you will have an improved chance of acceptance.
 

liverotcod

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As always, show and don't tell. As Law2Doc points out, you're doing the SMP to demonstrate that your true academic ability. Your MCAT should also demonstrate that.

Explanations and claims are of no help if not backed up by demonstrated performance, which will speak for itself. After you have the results of your SMP, you can say: in the old times, I had problems and these bad grades were the result. Now I have resolved the problems, and am proud of the academic accomplishments I have made ever since.
 
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DocKW

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Law2Doc said:
Perhaps no one is responding because we are confused. So are you saying you have low grades and so will be attending a SMP, but yet you still want to apply to med school (AMCAS) now (this summer) without having improved that GPA yet? What exactly is the point of the SMP if that's the case? (It is meaningless to the med schools if they are going to need to decide whether to interview you before they even see one semester's grades). If you are doing the SMP in any event, why would you not wait and get some GPA improvement before applying, to better your chances? I think you are trying to rush a process in a way that doesn't really help you. Most people with lower GPAs would tend to take the SMP (or alternatively a postbac), get A's, and THEN apply to med school. Sure, you'll lose a year (the "glide" year), but at least you will have an improved chance of acceptance.
By the time I apply, I would have completed 6 post-bac courses while working full-time (so far I've made A's in 4 of them. . .still taking 2 this semester). The SMPs I am applying to are for those who will be applying the same year (i.e. Georgetown). I'm taking the April MCAT, and I think a decent MCAT score + SMP + my job experience would give me a chance somewhere. I hope that clarifies things.
 

liverotcod

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DocKW said:
I hope that clarifies things.
Yes, that's better! ;)
I think a decent MCAT score + SMP + my job experience would give me a chance somewhere.
Probably. Just how low is your GPA? Is there an upward trend in your UG grades? Good job on your post-bacc courses; keep getting As, of course :)

If you interested in the standard "what are my chances" analysis, give us as much detail as you're comfortable giving. The more detail, the better the analysis.
 
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DocKW

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liverotcod said:
Yes, that's better! ;)

Probably. Just how low is your GPA? Is there an upward trend in your UG grades? Good job on your post-bacc courses; keep getting As, of course :)

If you interested in the standard "what are my chances" analysis, give us as much detail as you're comfortable giving. The more detail, the better the analysis.
ummm. . .don't want to turn this into another "what are my chances" thread :)

Liverotcod and Law2Doc, your answers in the re-applicants thread "Explanation" was what I was looking for. Just like Liverotcod stated, my past grades aren't who I am, and I want the adcoms to know this. . .so, hopefully I can show them through my performance thus far and in a SMP.

So. . .the consensus is that one shouldn't spend too much time expounding on their weak areas in the ps?
 

LT2

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writing my personal statement included two sentences explaining why my grades fell. i've been told by many that you don't want to dwell... explain it and then turn their focus to the more positive aspects of your application so they aren't left feeling like they've just read a big apology.
:)
 

Cheerfulgrrl

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LT2 said:
writing my personal statement included two sentences explaining why my grades fell. i've been told by many that you don't want to dwell... explain it and then turn their focus to the more positive aspects of your application so they aren't left feeling like they've just read a big apology.
:)
Yes, I was in a sim. situation and agree with LT2 - I have been accepted to 4 schools - and I had to explain a bit, but it is very important to not take up too much space in your app with the explanation. You may consider using the disadvantaged space on the AMCAS if there was something, such as the illnesses in your family, that affected your education. Keep it short and to the point. Also, is there a professor or advisor or TA or someone! from your undergrad who knew your situation? If they write a letter of recommendation for you, their explanation of your situation will carry great weight. You can't tell them what to write, but they will probably ask you to send them more information for them to write a letter. At that point you can mention the strengths/weaknesses in your application, and describe your concerns. Finally, will you be able to get some sort of preprofessional advising letter/committee letter? If so, you can describe the chain of events to the preprof advisor, indeed they may even ask you for an autobiography, and hope that they will also address it in their letter.

And as other posters have noted, explanations work best when backed up by solid later grades and scores.

Good luck!