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LOW GPA/MCAT Success Stories (Posts by Nontrads Already Accepted to Med School)

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Nasrudin, Oct 29, 2009.

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  1. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing 10+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2006
    Q's thread gave me the idea that there needs to be a time capsuled thread where low gpa nontrads can see different models of success.

    How about we play like this:

    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    2. Your financial and work situation.
    3. Your family and significant other situation.
    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    I just think that we as nontrads with financial and personal difficulties need a place to see success and find inspiration. And a place to cheer along those who are coming after us.


    Note: only MS0's, med students, residents, and attendings should post in this thread. If you are a premed who has not yet been accepted to medical school, and you would like to share your plans, please do so in the Low GPA Premed Plans to Success thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2010
    dexorbit, doctortobe26, Lua and 8 others like this.
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  3. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing 10+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2006
    Nasrudin's pawn to B-3.

    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    I'm 35. I was 29 or so when I made the move to go after it. My gpa is a 3.28. My science gpa is a 3.7 or so. At the start my gpa was probably in the 2.6 range and I had no BCPM gpa to speak of. MCAT--32.

    2. Your financial and work situation.
    I was/am working full-time with periodic spurts of working 2 jobs at 50-60 hours a week while going to school at about 3/4 time. 10-12 hours a semester. I am the money maker in my unit. Which is unfortunate for my unit given that I am a low level health care grunt and have been throughout my premed tour of duty.
    3. Your family and significant other situation. I am married. No kids yet.
    4. Your plan or your path to success. My path was born out of my particular needs. And I hope that others will provide blueprints that might suit the needs of different people who will view this thread.

    That's a key point. You must create a blueprint for success that fits you. Here's mine in rough outline:

    I needed to rebuild completely and I needed to get all of my pre-reqs done. I also needed to work full-time to keep myself and my wife afloat in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I did not have a degree, but did have a lot of credits. One serendipitous thing for me was building organically around a love for working in health care. Scheduling for inpatient facilities is ideal for working and going to school. Plus you can build your new foundation in the midst of those you seek to emulate. At first and maybe even for the first couple of years nobody takes you seriously. But then you keep scoring touchdowns and churning up yardage and then one or two mentors might take you under their wing. This is what happened to me. And it's still happening. My supervising pediatrician just gave me a huge hug and a congratulations and showered me with support for my future as a physician including teaching me a few basics of pediatric medicine before I leave. I can call her at anytime in the future for a LOR or an email to a PD or this type of thing.

    I relate this to show you the benefits of working in healthcare during your rebuilding years.

    So I did the equivalent of a 2nd bachelor's and was able to demonstrate years of academic performance that was markedly separate from my other meandering nonsensical student career in liberal arts. I arrived at the application point with not just an upward trend but a baptism and an academic revelation in hand. I am certain this and the high BCPM helped me shake of the stigma of my low overall gpa. Along with a decent MCAT.

    Lastly. A lot is misunderstood in the Alchemy of the Application process. Precisely because the premed culture does not recognize the subjective and the persuasive. As being equal players in the game. Do not. I repeat. Do not underestimate the power of your own heart and making that felt by someone considering you for a career in medicine.

    My doctor--the pediatrician--showers her kids with love. First and last. And you know what. They feel safe and open to her. And in that mix she does her doctoring. It is grossly underestimated even within medicine itself just how important that is to good patient care.

    Make them remember it even those that forgot it. Put it down on paper in your app's want you will bring in this regard.

    One more thing. Take good care of yourself and your colleagues. This is so stressful. And you and your mates will need support and friendship. Exercise and keep yourself together.

    Most of all good luck to all of you.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2009
  4. PunkmedGirl

    PunkmedGirl Freshman Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 23, 2007

    Very inspiring.:) I'm at a bit of a crossroad myself and trying to determine how I should proceed, but this is very helpful.
  5. cabinbuilder

    cabinbuilder Urgent Care Physician 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    When I started medical school: 32
    MCAT 24 (took MCAT three times)
    Undergrad GPA 2.9 with Science GPA 2.5
    1 yr Post Bacc Work 3 yrs after graduating GPA 3.8
    Chem I w/lab
    Organic I
    Physic w/lab

    Chem II w/lab
    Organic II
    Organic Lab
    Physics w/ lab

    Worked a 32 hour week as a ward clerk/cna while taking classes

    I should say that I applied 3 yrs in a row before being accepted.

    2. Your financial and work situation.
    Worked for 7 yrs as a CNA/Ward Clerk. Had about $300 to my name at time of acceptance. Doctor friends gave me the money to hold my space in medical school. Another friend helped pay for me to move. Loans paid the rest, lived on $1200/month

    3. Your family and significant other situation.
    At the time just got divorced. Was dating a man who ended up moving with me from Alaska to Penn, we now have been together 10 yrs, Married 7. Had a 2yr old and a 5 yr old at time of matriculation to med school.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.
    Had trouble the first semester of medical school - failed 4 classes. Did the second semester as a post bacc student. Started medical school again the next fall and was successful. Never failed anything after that. Passed all three levels of the boards. Wanted to be a general surgeon, was not accepted into general surgery. Scrambled into family practice - really like it and finished FP residency this past July. Now I live and work in rural Montana. Plan to get back to Alaska eventually.

    To everyone out there - If I can do it, anyone can. Keep working toward that goal and even if you don't think your application is strong enough you never know until you apply.

    I'm a DO and remember that DO schools tend to look at the overall picture, not just number crunch. You can do anything as a DO although most go into primary care.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  6. 2010houston

    2010houston Resident 7+ Year Member

    Jun 17, 2009
    Nasrudin - many, many congrats to you. I love to read your posts ;-) So glad this has been a success.
    Chimichica likes this.
  7. flip26

    flip26 2+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Has Nasrudin gotten in somewhere? Wouldn't that be the true measure of success?

    Hey, if I missed it, congrats Nasrudin.
  8. faith2


    Jul 31, 2009
    This thread is amazing. Threads like this reminds me of the reason I love SDN. Not all of us are bitter spiteful type A personality. Good luck
  9. EdLongshanks

    EdLongshanks 2+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Tulsa, OK
    It took me two months, but I just noticed this. That move certainly belongs in the "Non-traditional" forum
    Chimichica likes this.
  10. Valvool

    Valvool 5+ Year Member

    Dec 3, 2007
    1. I'm 32, 3.64cGPA, 3.01sGPA(I received an F in one of my physics courses, and since I was not a science major, it was quite a blow to my sGPA), two MCATS 29 and 30. The 29 was the second score. I only took the exam twice because my first score was obsolete.
    2. I am an HPSP student which means I receive a monthly stipend. Because I have a family, I also take out Stafford loans.
    3. I am married with four children. My husband is home with the children.
    4. I am currently a second year medstudent.
    r6barfly, FutureODBer and onefuturedr like this.
  11. faith2


    Jul 31, 2009
    I am 30-2.49 under grad, 3.96 PB, 3.92 MS MCAT 22,23,27
    I am a broke single mother with no support I work full time as a Teacher
    I am legally seperated, divorce will not be finalized until support is awarded.
    First time applying and I got in HORRAY!!I have been accepted to NOVA UCF waiting on Howard
    Rejected invites to Meharry and FSU
    motivation is for all of those including mom who said you will never be anything. Hi Mom!!!:love:I love the smell and taste of sucess. I love setting a goal and accomplishing it. I love the fact of being a High School drop out and I will still be a doctor. The reason I choose medicine is because I want to work with the underserved and I hope to join the army. You can only take it one day at a time set your long term goals and short term ones. If you have to readjust along the way do so. Do not feel bad about it. Surrond yourself with positive people not haters. You can do it the schools love a diverse qualified applicant
  12. Onward

    Onward 2+ Year Member

    Apr 4, 2009
    [decided to delete]
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2012
  13. Barfalamule

    Barfalamule Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2005
    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    29 years old and a 30M/33O. Started out with a 3.12 gpa and a 2.3 sgpa. I had a 3.35/3.37 with a 4.0 in 40 credit hours in the postbacc by the end.
    2. Your financial and work situation.
    I cashed out of the housing bubble in 2006 and blew it all on a postbacc while living with my girlfriend.
    3. Your family and significant other situation.
    I got married during the postbacc and my wife helped with the rent situation. The post-bacc and the financials probably would have been a lot more stressful without the support. I focused on school only, cranking through all the prereqs. I don't know how I would've managed with a full-time job.
    4. Your plan or your path to success.
    Eye on the prize. It is that simple and that hard. I got a couple of interviews the first time around and applied to the ACP program at Tulane when I didn't get in. They waitlisted me and I decided to take a couple advanced classes (biochem & genetics) and study again for the MCAT. It went better the second time around and got 5 interviews all over the country and 2 acceptances and one waitlist. I will digress a moment to tell you about the randomness of this process.
    I was applying to schools the second time around and remembered that a school that started with a 'W' accepted out of state students and had fairly low numbers. I looked through the list and thought, "Oh, it must be Case Western". After everything was done, I realized that I meant Wayne State and looked at the numbers at CW. Ouch. But they gave me an interview and waitlisted me. I had a shot at that school and I would've never applied there in a million years. So, always put a couple of reach schools because you never know. I am now a happy M1. Love the studying. Love the life.
  14. vc7777

    vc7777 Nontrad MD/MS Resident Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    Rocket Scientist
    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    33 y/o 2.87 Overall GPA, 3.00 Science
    2 paper format MCATs around 31/32 P/Q back in late 90s (forgive me, I don't remember off the top of my head)
    38S 2009

    2. Your financial and work situation.
    I have been a research (read: low paying) engineer for over a decade. I was laid-off the week before my MCAT this spring. I stood in the unemployment line and got treated like I was a criminal by the State of Michigan that very week...Well, now I got a letter this week (after a couple of appeals) from the State saying they want all of their unemployment money back! I guess they WERE thinking I was a criminal...Nice....Oh, and Now I have a house worth about over $60k less than what I owe on it...

    So to summarize: SNAFU

    3. Your family and significant other situation.
    Wife who is an underpaid lawyer (we are still paying off her student loans!) and 3 kids, 10 this month, 5, and 3. We had our first child at 22/23 before she went back to law school (she graduated 6th in her class!). Non-traditional is right.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    One foot in front of the other! I just keep my head down and "stay at my sewing machine". I have tried to keep a positive attitude throughout this process, despite some real disappointments and setbacks.

    Never in my wildest dreams would I have gotten such as high score on my MCAT. Nor would I have guess I would have been given 7 interviews or 3 offers. Now, I've got to figure out how to move my family and pay for all of it! :oops:

    It is a human and imperfect process. It is an honor, and not a birthright. I am grateful for what I have. One foot in front of the other...


    I think you guys have been a source of comfort and inspiration for me over these past many months! This forum is like my virtual home. Thanks to all of you! It's nice to fit in...sorta... You guys are like the oxymoronic term cardiologists use: "regularly irregular" Love it. :)

    Flash forward, Finally had court appearance that judge ruled in my favor (Take THAT "Task Force A" for accusing me!) and was not asked to pay back unemployment! Yay!

    And...literally just sold my house a couple of weeks ago, and now am in Cleveland with the fam...rough landing...but life is all good!

    MARTY: Doc, we better back up. We don't have enough road to get up to 88
    DOC BRWON: Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads!
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
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  15. EMT2ER-DOC

    EMT2ER-DOC Why so Serious????? 10+ Year Member

    Oct 16, 2003
    Philadelphia Area
    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.

    35 years old. UG GPA=2.56, Graduate GPA: 3.75, MCAT: 29

    2. Your financial and work situation.

    Currently a full time medical student, so I am not only unemployed but poor as hell. But while I was in graduate school, I worked full time and took classes at night. I was a senior Research Technician/Lab Manager for a Cancer hospital in NYC.

    We bought our house in Northern NJ before the Real Estate Boom and sold it before the bust so we made out nicely. Although the money is quickly running out. My wife works from home as a Proofreader which does not pay a whole heck of a lot.

    3. Your family and significant other situation.

    Married, 3 kids (8. 6. 3). Wife works from home as a proofreader and not making much. As a medical student with children, I learned to really make a budget and when the budget cannot support things like health insurance, you turn to assistance. Since Medicaid is based on salary, we qualified so my wife and kids got it saving us around $11,000/year. In addition, we applied for assistance with our heat and they knocked off 1/2 of our electric bill.

    It may seem as though you do not deserve it, but you do. You paid into the system while working, why not take advantage and use it for what its real intention was made for. As soon as I start residency and I get full benefits we stop the assistance.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    Well, I say this a lot. This is a marathon and not a sprint. When you get there you get there. Take it one step at a time. I decided that I wanted to apply to medical school in the winter of 2002 and applied 5 years later. It is very hard, at times you wonder if it is worth it and if you are able to even do it. Ask yourself this, will you be happier?
  16. Nanon

    Nanon An urban myth. 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2000
    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    41, 3.05 cGPA, 2.7 sGPA, 30 MCAT

    2. Your financial and work situation.
    I worked through undergrad and after as a clinical researcher.

    3. Your family and significant other situation.
    I'm married. I have 2 kids.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.
    I have a pretty unusual story for a medical school applicant - foster care, homelessness, lack of high school education, taking care of a mentally ill parent through college, etc. I applied disadvantaged and I think it helped to get my file read. I got 2 interviews, and got into both schools. Both schools have a deep commitment to under-served populations, and I was clear about my intention to work with the homeless, and continue research on the health issues of the homeless. Both schools also had extensive secondaries that gave me ample opportunity to explain myself. I didn't say, "Oh, woe is me." I made it clear that there were plenty of well-qualified applicants out there who'd had it way worse than me, but that I had other attributes that they might want to incorporate into their class.

    I didn't do a formal post-bacc, and really didn't expect to get in. I'm still in shock, and I'm almost done with my first semester. :)
  17. NerdyAndrea

    NerdyAndrea Pre-Med Student

    Feb 10, 2010
    At my school
    Everyone here on the low GPA thread who is in med school, or been acceppted, congratulations. Those of you still working at it, congratulations for your tenacity. It's really hard to be tenacious sometimes.

    I really am glad SDN is here, when I even think I might have an inkling of depair I come read the boards. Thanks everyone.

    Your stories are truly inspiring. I hope many more are posted, and I'll read all of them.

    slayyytherin and nick526xxh like this.
  18. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009

    Very nice post Nas. Looking forward to hearing of your acceptance into med. school, if you haven't been already. :)
    Ceee33333 and slayyytherin like this.
  19. nubia925


    Jan 12, 2009
    I was curious: what program was this? Where? I'd like to take care of all pre-reqs as soon as possible. Thanks
  20. digitlnoize

    digitlnoize Rock God 10+ Year Member

    Feb 21, 2007
    32yo WM. Just finished 2nd year at LECOM-Bradenton (D.O.) and loving it.

    My GPA when I returned to school as a community college sophomore was a whopping 1.5, or less...I'm not sure. I had a bunch of classes that I "dropped" without withdrawing from = a bunch of F's. In the end:

    cGPA = 3.3
    sGPA = 3.8

    MCAT = 28R (BS 10, PS 8, VR 10)

    Quit my job as assistant manager of a music store and guitar teacher to go back to school. My parents loaned me about $10k to pay off my credit cards and my car loan.

    Married. My wife is a dental hygienist. She makes around $50k/yr now, give or take. We have an 8 year old daughter. Wife's family helped us out a lot financially while we were both in undergrad at the same time.

    Plan: Finish med school while enjoying the beach. Stay in Bradenton-Sarasota, Florida forever. LECOM-B is opening some new residencies here by the time I graduate, so I'm hoping that I wind up enjoying one of those specialties...we love it here and want to stay here so bad. Leaving for residency will be heart breaking...

    Not really worried about anything. Lots of student loans to pay back, obviously, but even on an average pcp salary of $150k/yr + wife's $50k/yr, we won't have ANY trouble. Loan payments will be approximately $3k/month. We'll be taking home at least 10k/month after taxes. That leaves us 7k/month to live on. Shouldn't be an issue...and that's worst case scenario and not counting income-based repayment plans...

    Work hard. Give 110%. Med school rocks!
  21. Nasrudin

    Nasrudin Apropos of Nothing 10+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2006
    Good stuff man. I especially like your pure sense of contentment.

    PS. Say hello to sunsets over the gulf of mexico for me. (let's hope BP doesn't do them in) I can still remember taking shelter on egmont key from thunderclaps. After an overly ambitious hoby cat excursion.

    goin there to meet my 3 year old niece before med school starts. can't wait.
  22. thes_hunter

    thes_hunter 10+ Year Member

    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.

    I was 1 month away from 36 when my first year of Medical school started. I had gone back for my post-bac several years before that. I had applied 5 times and was wait-listed 4 times before being accepted. I really wanted to go to Wayne State because of the clinical opportunities.

    My GPA before my Master's was 2.98. (It rounds to 3.0 ;)) My master's at a SMP was like 3.7 or something.

    1st MCAT was a 34, the 2nd was a 28.

    2. Your financial and work situation.

    I had a degree in Fine art, but I was working as a computer hack, er I mean programmer for several years. I was making decent money, and now I have a few opinions about the Student contribution as calculated by FASFA. But that is a rant for another time. :laugh:

    3. Your family and significant other situation.

    Luckily, I was single when I started, it made my transition smoother. I am no longer single, and I think it's easier on him to jump in, and have the expectations of my business level set.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    Step 1, survive 2nd year and eek out as much studying for Step 1. :smuggrin:

    Dominate my clinicals next year.

    Really have a good hard long thought about who I want to apply to 4th year. IM? EM? Plastic surgery as some have suggested with my sculpture skills.... who knows?
  23. rafflecopter

    rafflecopter MS-0 2+ Year Member

    Oct 18, 2008
    1. Your GPA and MCAT if you have it
    3.1 Undergrad GPA. Took no sciences until post-bac. Got a 3.88 post-bac GPA and ended up with a 3.78 BCPM GPA. 36O MCAT.

    2. Your financial and work situation
    Worked throughout undergrad and some of post-bac. Had to take out loans for post-bac so was pretty far in debt by the time it came to apply to med school.

    3. Your family and significant other situation
    Bit of a tough one for me. My mom was sick for most of undergrad then really sick for post-bac. She died right before my MCAT. Was really tough, but I had a great aunt/uncle/sister support system to help me through it. Was single for beginning of post-bac and have been dating a girl for the past year. Helps to keep your SO informed about the whole process so they can understand what you're going through.

    4.Your plan or path to success
    Well, I knew my UG gpa sucked so I wanted to make every other part of my application perfect. That meant everything I did after returning to school had to be perfect. So I did well in my science classes (straight As were a must for me), studied my BUTT OFF for the MCAT until I was confident I would score above a 32, and made sure my ECs were awesome. I also knew I would need good LORs so I cultivated those relationships early. It made post-bac a really challenging year and a half for me, but it really paid off - I got accepted to med school!!!
    jessbky likes this.
  24. cabinbuilder

    cabinbuilder Urgent Care Physician 10+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    I took all my classes at University of Alaska Fairbanks. I wasn't in a program. This was after I graduated with my bachelor's. I just signed up for the classes I wanted an took them. I didn't ask anyone for permission. I just did it.
  25. ChodeNode

    ChodeNode 5+ Year Member

    Oct 25, 2010
    Thanks for sharing folks. This thread is really reassuring as I struggle through school.
  26. LifetimeDoc

    LifetimeDoc EM Resident 10+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    39yo MS4
    3.2 GPA previously, 3.9 post Bacc.
    MCAT: 33, 10 or greater each section.
    Left work to goto medical school, actually for post bacc.
    Was married 10 years, then divorced in first year. :(
    When I match into general surgery residency, I'll let you know.
  27. PH86

    PH86 2+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2010
  28. snulma1

    snulma1 7+ Year Member

    May 29, 2008
    New York, New York
    I'm finally ecstatic that I can contribute to this thread!

    1. I am 31 years old and graduated in 2001 with a GPA of just about 2.34 after taking an immature approach to school. My MCAT was taken last Fall and was a 29O.

    2. From the 2002 until when I start medical school I had been working as a critical care flight paramedic for a major medical center in MD. 3 years ago when I started my post-bac in NY I was asked to become an instructor for a biology lab at my univ. and have done so for the past 2.5 years.

    3. When I started the program/path I was a single, as of this past summer I now check the married box. My wife is incredible and has been supportive of the effort. When I moved back home with my parents at 27 to go back to school she didn't make fun of me (too much!) but was interested in my pursuit.

    4. While I knew I was intelligent enough and more then dedicated, I understood the mountain ahead of me. I enrolled in all of the pre-reqs that I hadn't taken, or had taken over 10 years earlier. I earned nothing less then a A- (both in orgo) while taking 2-3 classes a semester. I did this while working on a per-diem status in MD and teaching at the hospital, teaching 2-3 sections of bio lab, and volunteering as a mentor. Once the pre-req's were done I enrolled in extra courses (biochem, cell bio, neuro...etc) and Aced those.

    At the end my GPA probably made it over 2.75 but barely (overcoming 150 credits at a subpar GPA is not easy). But I was able to convey my dedication and hunger for medicine in my personal statement. And as of yesterday afternoon I had 1 acceptance and waiting on 3 other previous interviews. And just so people know and don't use this as an excuse: NO, I am not a minority. I am a white male raised by middle income parents. So I got no special treatment.

    For those that are starting the struggle, don't give up. Sometimes its rough and upsetting. But if you persevere, the reward is well worth it! Good luck to everyone!
  29. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009

    Quite a story snulma1. Thanks for sharing. Very encouraging--such a comeback. :thumbup:
  30. benjee

    benjee Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2003
    I believe there is more to this, not only the numbers cuz there are tons of applicants with perfect scores still not able to get in meds schools forget about Ivy league category. It has to be more than that.
  31. Doctorella

    Doctorella 2+ Year Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    I've been waiting for the last ~6-7 years to post in this thread!

    I graduated college a few years ago with a 2.6 (sGPA 2.77). Long, ugly transcript with several colleges, a bunch of failed classes for high school credit early on, a bit of an upward trend in the middle (as high as 3.5 or so), and back down to a 3.1 for senior year. Not very promising.

    I took 2 years off to work in research and absolutely loved it. It was a productive time and I ended up on 2 publications and 2 more in submission by the time I applied this year. None first author, but second on 3 of them.

    Took the MCAT, got a balanced 32 - solid, but clearly not enough to undo the GPA damage. I was a little disappointed because I had been in the 32-38 range in practice exams, so I felt I could do better.

    I then applied to SMPs and somehow managed to get into one of the Boston ones. I think the solid research track helped, and the decent MCAT too. I had read on these boards to pull the uGPA to a 3.0 but that wasn't really a possibility for me, so I threw out some applications and hoped for the best.

    Went through the SMP, got a 3.8. Not too bad, but I had heard that people with my undergrad record should do better, so I was still pretty worried.

    Retook the MCAT over the summer and got a 38 (11P didn't budge from last time, 14V, 13B). Saved a screen shot when I got my score because I literally couldn't believe it and I was afraid it wouldn't be there when I logged back in!

    I sent my primary out after the MCAT - mid-August. I know I should have applied earlier, but I spent the summer studying for it and didn't have it in me to finish my primary as well. Secondaries were finished between mid-September and mid-October.

    At the end of October, I received 2 interview invites within 48 hours. I attended the Cincinnati interview the following week. And guess what?

    This past week, I was accepted to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine! I could not possibly be more thrilled! It almost seems surreal, because it's always said on these boards that people with my GPA simply do not get into MD schools (and they're lucky if DOs give them a second look). However, I am proof positive that if you work hard, have a compelling story and show several years of dedication (and the ability to succeed academically), your undergrad GPA will not completely destroy your chances.

    I would also like to comment on the claim that most schools "pre-screen" for a 3.0:
    I applied to 5 schools that openly pre-screen. I received secondaries from 4 of them (all except UCLA). I also got an interview at one of these.
    I really don't think that most schools throw out your application if you have <3.0 - you just need a good reason for them to look closer. A high MCAT helps!

    I think that the really important thing is the ability to keep at it for several years and maintain the faith in yourself that you have what it takes. And it's also important to enjoy the years you spend working towards your goal - I sincerely loved my job in research, and I loved my SMP coursework, so I didn't feel like I was wasting time as a pre-med with no guarantees at the end of the road.
    It's not easy and it's not pretty, but if it's what you want, it can definitely be done. Good luck!
  32. n3xa

    n3xa "the anchor" 7+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Wow, congrats :)
  33. eablackwell

    eablackwell Not Fast Enough Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.

    27 (28 when I start)

    AMCAS cgpa: 3.29
    AMCAS sgpa: 3.12

    I took 2 science courses in the application summer so they are technically a bit higher, but this is what went to my schools.

    MCAT: 28Q (10 BS, 10 VR, 8 PS)

    2. Your financial and work situation.

    AP Chemistry teacher at Medical Prep High School, 3rd year teacher.

    Grew up in a family with an income of about 25k a year (until I was about a Sr. in high school). Currently doing decently finance wise, thankfully :)

    3. Your family and significant other situation.

    Married for 6 years, no kids. Planning on waiting until around 35ish for kids. I'm lucky enough to have the most awesome and supportive husband in the world. :love:

    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    Honestly, I messed up my first year of college at Duke. I had serious health and family issues, and I should have deferred a year, but I was desperate to leave for school. Things went downhill and I ended up on bed rest for about 8-9 months and had to leave school completely.

    I thought my dreams of med school were done (freshman cgpa was 2.0, and since I was an engineering student I had a lot of sciences, so sgpa 1.2). My advisers told me I obviously wasn't cut out for science and should continue with what I was good at, language and writing. So when I went back to college that's what I did. I majored in German, but wasn't happy with it.

    After graduating, I set my sights on trying for med school once again so I could at least be happy knowing I tried. 2 years of ft school, ft work, and tons of volunteering later, here I am.

    I'm so happy with my choice to buckle down and pursue this. I've spent the last 10 years saddened by the doors I've slammed on my future, and when I got my acceptance all of that just melted away.
  34. jl lin

    jl lin 7+ Year Member

    Oct 9, 2009

  35. 1fastmedic

    1fastmedic Thankful for my life

    Nov 30, 2010
    South Carolina
    35 years old; will be 36 before I start next year. Overall undergrad GPA = 3.72. Took the MCAT twice: 1st time: 22R 2nd time: 25Q

    Living paycheck to paycheck; undergrad drained my savings account, not to mention racked up thousands in loans. Regardless, it was worth it. I have been working as a full time paramedic for the past 11 years, even through undergrad.

    Married in 1999; divorced in 2001. 9 year old daughter from first marriage. Re-married in 2005; 4 year old daughter. Love being a father! My wife is a mental health therapist, and definitely my anchor. Without her I wouldn't have been able to get to this point.

    I graduated from high school in 1993 and went on to major in partying and chasing women for the next 4 years. Dropped out of college numerous times in those 4 years. My father then almost died from a heart attack, which was a wake up call. I was bewildered by his condition and wanted to remedy that feeling. I decided to go to EMT school in 1997. Fell in love with EMS. Started growing up a bit.

    Continued on through paramedic school; got a job as a full-time paramedic; began teaching paramedic classes, promoted to field training officer at work. Managed to get married, have a child, and divorce quickly :( Was able to muster out an associate degree in EMS science in 2002 with a 3.4 GPA. Re-married in 2005 to the most wonderful wife anyone could have. I revealed to her my dream of pursuing medical school. She agreed to make the sacrifice for me to do so.

    She worked full-time while I worked nights and weekends on the ambulance. My second daughter came along during my sophomore year; took a semester off from school at that time to spend time with wife and baby, and worked to catch up on bills. Could only take about 9 credit hours a semester because more would have caused my grades to fall. I had to be reasonable about this due to working full time. It took almost 5 years, but I was able to graduate with honors last December.

    My undergrad institution, UNC-Pembroke, hasn't been considered a "competitive school" by any standard. There were no pre-medical advisors at my school; in fact, many of the science professors would discourage pursuit of medicine and encouraged pursuit of research. By utilizing resources such as the internet, I was able to formulate my plan on becoming a qualified applicant. Sites such as this one really kept me on track.

    The dream has come true: I will matriculate next fall. Keep your eye on the prize, disregard the skeptics, and push through it. All of the success stories in this thread are real, and I can't wait to read the success stories to come. Good luck to all!!
  36. Isoprop

    Isoprop Fascinating, tell me more 5+ Year Member

    Oct 15, 2007
    I posted my low GPA success story in the post-bacc forum, but I guess I'll share here.

    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.

    I was 23 and a college dropout.
    GPA: 2.84
    BCPM: 2.68

    Gotten D's & F's some in upper-division biology classes. I had already quit school and was working dead-end jobs. I decided that I needed to go back to school and get my sh*t together.

    The last 3 years of undergrad schooling, my GPA has been 3.99. Now my GPAs are:
    MD GPA: 3.37
    MD BCPM: 3.23

    DO GPA: 3.43
    DO sciGPA: 3.30

    I'm 27 now. Crunching the numbers, every 4 semester credit hour class raises my GPA 0.009 :laugh:

    2. Your financial and work situation.

    At the time I started to get my sh*t together, I worked crap jobs. I delivered newspapers in the early morning hours. I worked at convenient stores. I did janitorial work. I owned a fail business. Now, as my grades improved, I work teaching and tutoring, and i'm much happier. I also had to take out more loans so I could pay tuition but I was much happier.

    3. Your family and significant other situation.

    My parents have been incredible most of the time. They left me alone at the right times and let me blow off steam at the right time. They understood when I canceled visits because of work/school. My SO has also been my rock for the past 5+ years especially since we have similar goals. I couldn't have done this without them.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    I went from a barely passing student to straight A's overnight (literally). I just one day decided to change my attitude about school. Instead of seeing my prereqs as stepping stones to get into med school, I viewed them as an opportunity to learn and grow. I stopped feeling entitled to a certain grade just because I studied hard for it. I took time to enjoy my classes and learn for the sake of learning, and the grades went up. I put in less effort and got better results.

    Once I saw my undergrad education as an opportunity rather than a chore, I stopped fighting the material and getting A's came naturally.
  37. Lil Mick

    Lil Mick 5+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2009
    The South
    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.
    I started medical school at 24. I had several low grades during my first semester of college (3.0, I believe) when I followed my pre-med advisor's advice and dropped my dream of pursuing medicine. When I came back, I obtained virtually all 4.0's, first in psychology (thought med school was a pipe dream) and then in my science degree. My graduate gpa ended up being a 4.0, and I don't remember my exact MCAT (somewhere in the mid-30s).
    2. Your financial and work situation.
    I was homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol when I tried full-time college, which left me with a spotty record and a red flag on job applications. I ended up basically begging for a job in education, as I was required to find a job or do service. Later on, I needed to pay my way and repay what I owed--worked full time and went to school full time, volunteered, and did research. I also received financial aid from my college and also from my medical school.
    3. Your family and significant other situation.
    I came back to medicine with my family's support (though I had a broken engagement around then). I lived with family most of my college experience (grandparents/parents), though I did end up on campus part for a while. I went through several deaths in the family (and close friends) during college, and this definitely took its toll on me as I tried to study and work.
    4. Your plan or your path to success.
    I wanted to give up so many times, but there were always people encouraging me to continue. I had very low self-esteem and felt very ashamed that I did not have a good (read: priveleged, not trailor park school background like mine) background for college and did not remember my pre-med classes from my freshman year. I worked in education, as well, and my students would not let me give up on my dream. They would do the best they could without giving up as long as I did the same :)
    TheSunnyDoc likes this.
  38. phltz

    phltz 5+ Year Member

    May 13, 2010
    I'm currently 31, and was just admitted to the University of Michigan!

    I got a degree in physics from MIT with a ~3.0 GPA in 2001. My last semester was the worst. After that, I worked on a biocomputation research project for several years (with a few publications), then briefly at a document-management software company, and then joined the Peace Corps, where I taught math and physics. While there, I was involved in several health related projects, and decided that I wanted to go to med school when I came back to the US.

    I was lucky enough to have a lot of support, both financially and otherwise, from my parents. I applied to and was accepted to a good, well organized postbac program. I came back from the Peace Corps in 2009 and started my postbac, paying with a mix of savings, loans, and money that my family chipped in. While in college, I'd been a bit of a flake, lacking in direction, and didn't really care about grades. In my postbac, I was focused and knew where I was going. I solidly applied myself, and managed to get a 4.0, bringing my cumulative GPA up to 3.23 (according to the official AMCAS calculation). I've always been a good test-taker, and with a fair bit of work spent studying, managed to slam dunk the MCAT with a 42R.

    I called a professor in the med school that I used to work with on my post-college biocomputation project to see if he had any advice, and he offered me a spot in his infectious diseases lab. He's been a particularly amazing mentor, advocate, and resource, and has given me lots of great advice and a phenomenal LOR.

    I applied to 10 schools and got interviews at several of the very best. Strangely, the mid-level schools have shown me a lot less interview love. I've just been accepted to the University of Michigan, and am still waiting to hear post-interview results from UPenn, Mayo, and Columbia. No rejections so far. I'll edit this part as I hear from more schools.

    As I see it, my biggest obstacle has been my poor undergrad grades. My second biggest weakness as an applicant has been meager clinical experience (I probably have less than 100 hours in a clinical setting).

    On the plus side of the ledger, my poor college grades were at least at a highly respected school with no reputation for grade inflation, and included some tough classes (one of my letters of recommendation from undergrad is from a professor in whose class I got a B, but who I believe pointed out in his letter that it was the hardest undergrad math class at the institute). Between my postbac grades (4.0) and MCAT (42R) it's clear than I'm bright, and am applying myself in a way I didn't back in college. My LORs are stellar. I have great research experience. My Peace Corps service seems to impress, and provides a wealth of good stories to talk about.

    I spent a lot of time carefully crafting my personal statement, and think that in the end it provided a good sense of who I am as a person, portrayed me as mature, thoughtful, committed to medicine, compassionate, interesting, driven, and smart. I addressed my poor college performance head on in the personal statement, and then quickly moved on to more positive ground.

    Each non-traditional student's path is his own, and so there's a limit to how much my experience can inform your own plans. The main lesson I think that my case has to offer for other students is that your cumulative GPA does not need to be all that great to give you a shot at even the top schools. I see people talking about how they'd need 5 full time semesters of straight As to bring their cumulative average to a 3.5, or whatever. This is clearly not necessary, if you have enough other things in your favor. Kids with a high GPA are a dime a dozen for adcoms. Mature, thoughtful people with a wide variety of experiences are ****in' gold. I think that you do need to prove yourself to be smart and academically capable, but it's a mistake to plan on spending years on end doing that. Spend some of the extra time you save by looking past your cumulative GPA further developing your strengths as an applicant, and I think it'll work out much better for you.

    Also, don't be afraid to aim high. I got an interview at Mayo, which I believe is the most selective school in the country, but still haven't heard anything from most of the mid-tier.

    And finally, I want to wish you all the best of luck!
  39. NuttyEngDude

    NuttyEngDude Red-Flagville 5+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2010
    Rocket Scientist
    Phltz your story is inspiring. I wish you best of luck in your future but frankly, it sounds like you don't need it :)
  40. BigBoosting

    BigBoosting 7+ Year Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    Awesome story phltz!! Feels good doesn't it??

    Just wanted to also comment on your quote above... I completely agree with it. As nontrads, we have a good step up. Meaningful work/life experience followed by proving yourself academically different/better now can definitely make up for a lacking undergrad GPA and/or MCAT. But you did work on that MCAT for sure :laugh:
  41. rachanaaa

    rachanaaa 2+ Year Member

    Dec 21, 2010
    New York, NY
    Your story is so incredibly inspiring!! I too have a pretty low GPA coming out of undergrad but it is so amazing to see that that clearly isn't all that they are looking at when selecting candidates! Congratulations, you truly truly deserve it after all of your hard work!:) One question for you, and sorry if it's an obvious answer but what did you mean by "SMP?" only because being that it helped you so much, it may be something that I need to consider for my path as well? Thank you!
  42. TriagePreMed

    TriagePreMed Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Apr 28, 2010
    Special Masters Program. There are several of them out there, but they cost an arm and a leg.

    P.S. You look hot in that photo.
  43. ScenicRoute

    ScenicRoute 2+ Year Member

    Mar 18, 2010
    I love your story! Mine is not too me hope that despite my poor grades that is killing my science GPA post bacc (direct results of a death of a parent, taking care of a mentally ill mother and brother and supporting myself and I can go on and on) that maybe some school will understand that the numbers have faces behind them and I too maybe can get into med school. At a crossroads moment right now where I was just about to throw in the towel. Thanks for sharing...
    Road_to_Medicine likes this.
  44. spideyman44

    spideyman44 5+ Year Member

    May 28, 2008
    Finally get to throw my story in here! It's been a long time coming.

    1. Your age and GPA and MCAT if you have it.

    Undergrad GPA 2.997 - degree in chemistry
    Post-Bac GPA 3.71 (all science courses)
    I think my cum is around 3.1 or 3.2
    MCAT 2005 - 17N, 2007 - 18M, 2010 - 29Q

    2. Your financial and work situation.

    Currently working for an engineering company as a chemist.

    3. Your family and significant other situation.

    Married and we have a dog. My wife is preparing to take the bar in February.

    4. Your plan or your path to success.

    I went to undergrad with the intent on graduating as an engineer. After my first year I switched to chemistry because I did not like engineering at all and decided to pursue medicine. Unfortunately, some bad grades (C's in my core pre-med classes), a terrible MCAT score, and bad advising led me to give it up and pursue a career with my chemistry degree. I still had the desire to be a doctor and took the MCAT again in 2007 receiving another terrible score. In 2008, I shadowed a family medicine doctor while trying to decide if I should give up my dream and realized that being a doctor was something I truly wanted. I contacted a family friend at a medical school who was also an academic dean and reviewed applications for incoming students about what I needed to do to gain acceptance somewhere. They told me I needed to do 3 things: retake all the required classes for medical school admission, score high on the MCAT, and write a great personal statement. In September of 2008, I started off with the first gen chem while working full-time and got a B+ which made me want to quit and just give it all up.

    I know what you're thinking, a guy with a degree in chemistry got a B+ in a chem class (well that's atleast how I felt). Thankfully, I met some other non-trad students with the same goal (one is actually applying to vet schools) and we formed a study group where we would meet up every weekend to study since we were taking the same classes. After that initial setback in my first chem class, I decided to take the next chem course and ended up with an A. From there I began taking two courses a quarter because my goal was to apply in August of 2010. I ended up with a couple of B's along the way but kept pushing along.

    In June of 2010, I took a Princeton Review course and set my MCAT date for August 19th. I wish I hadn't done this because taking a review course while working full-time was just extreme. I think if I had given myself about 4 months to study instead of 2.5 I would've scored much higher. Although I'm glad I took the course because it forced me to go to a class and be disciplined, I found I really didn't need the classes. Well maybe bio and verbal but other than that I was fine. All of the practice material was great help though.

    Although my original goal was to submit my app in late August, I decided against it because I wanted to get some health related research along with some other EC's under my belt but a manager at my job told me I should just go for it instead of waiting another. Well I submitted my app to two schools just in case my MCAT score was terrible but if it wasn't at least I would be verified by the time I did get my score. When I realized I might have a shot with a 29 I decided to apply very broadly to both MD and DO schools and got my app out by mid September. I'm fortunate enough to live in a state where there are a lot of medical schools because I ended up with 8 interviews total (declined 1) and so far have been accepted to 4 schools, waitlisted at 1, waiting to hear back from another, and still have one interview left. One of my acceptances is to my dream school which based on my stats was a far reach in my opinion. Luckily, they take everything about you into consideration and not just the numbers.

    Basically, what I'm trying to get at is that if you want it you can certainly get it. It just takes a lot of sacrifice (on both you and your significant other if you have one and also family and friends) as well as perseverance, time, and money. I'm glad I went after it and I can't wait to start class in July!
  45. toff4l

    toff4l Banned

    Mar 23, 2011
    This thread made me smile. I hope more people add to it.
  46. LifetimeDoc

    LifetimeDoc EM Resident 10+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2006
    Match into categorical general surgery program for 5 years. I'm going to be a surgeon! :)
  47. MightyMoose

    MightyMoose 2+ Year Member

    Jun 8, 2010

    Congrats, man!!! :thumbup:
  48. EdLongshanks

    EdLongshanks 2+ Year Member

    Aug 10, 2009
    Tulsa, OK
    Heal with steel, man!
  49. Gavanshir

    Gavanshir 10+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2005
    That's incredible, I'd like to know so much more about your life. Is there another more in depth thread that I can read? :)
  50. ManBroDude

    ManBroDude Half man, half bearpig 5+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    Good on you, sir!!:thumbup:
  51. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    1. Vitals
    44 year old female, California-born Scandi-mutt
    cUGPA 3.09 (over 25 years and 5 transcripts, including postbac prereqs)
    sUGPA 2.69
    SMP GPA 3.5
    MCAT 31-O (twice). July 2007 PS10/BS10/VS11. September 2010 PS8/BS12/VS11.

    2. Financial/work:
    Until 2005: software engineer making boatloads of money
    After 2005: literally went for broke trying to get into med school. By "literally" I mean literally.
    I found out in 2010 that I'm still employable as a software engineer. Handy.

    3. Family etc.
    Supportive-from-a-distance mom & sisters. Extremely supportive friends on both coasts, active/varied social life. Not married, no children. For me kids/medicine were either/or, and when I decided to go for med school at 38, I got my tubes tied. Not kidding. Not entirely opposed to marriage but completely unmotivated at this point. I seem to only date anecdotes.

    4. (lack of) plan for success
    2004: bored w/software. Using a large whiteboard in my office, I built a complicated map of my ambitions and what I might want to do. I got my savvier coworkers to contribute & hook me up with researchers/teachers/nurses. Was pretty sure I'd do midwifery. Then got encouraged to look into medicine. Realized pretty quickly that I'd love it and that it wasn't entirely impossible: never looked back.
    2005: quit my job with no actual plan other than taking prereqs & going for med school
    2005-2007: did prereqs at UWash & remodeled my house
    Summer 2007: applied to 35 MD schools (1 interview, 1 waitlist)
    Fall 2007: applied to 11 DO schools (5 interviews, 1 waitlist, 1 acceptance)
    Summer 2008: got breast cancer. D'oh. DO school deferred. Sold house (note the year). Drained 401k.
    Fall 2008: applied to SMPs to try for MD. Nothing against DO's: I hope you never find out how cancer & chemo can make you need something you really really want, to grab onto & live for. For most people that's family, I think.
    Summer 2009: finished a full year of cancer tx, started EVMS SMP. Too soon, too tired from chemo, had to drop out.
    Winter 2010: back to Seattle, worked (yay still employable).
    Summer 2010: back to Norfolk, restarted the EVMS SMP.
    May 12, 2011: registered to take the MCAT again, and the UKCAT, because I seriously doubt I'm getting into EVMS after that neuro final
    May 13, 2011: EVMS MD acceptance

    Things I did right:
    - ER volunteering early/often/ongoing
    - was/am open to finding a career I want(ed) as badly as medicine, and actively look(ed), as in "if there's anything other than medicine that you'd be happy doing, for the love of all that's holy do the other thing"
    - did an SMP. for me there are about a dozen advantages to this.
    - got a MD/PhD housemate
    - took advantage of an opportunity to rehome my big demanding dog during cancer - he's better off not going through med school with me & now he has a big family
    - got addicted to health care politics & started early/daily with NYT/WSJ/Gawande/blogs
    - sought/nurtured relationships with professors, administrators, classmates, docs/nurses. made sure to give mentors ample opportunity to talk me out of medicine.
    - never doubted I'd get in somewhere, somehow

    Things I did wrong:
    - got cancer, although it turned out fine and I learned a ton
    - private loans for prereqs. Serious unsustainable mistake.
    - kept living like I was making money, for too long
    - picked a huge anonymous public school for prereqs instead of doing Bennington et al
    - never truly addressed my academic shortcomings. Serious ongoing mistake. I probably have ADHD. Meh.
    - didn't ever study for the MCAT, despite registering/paying for prep courses/books
    - didn't seriously consider moving to Texas to work, get residency, and then do prereqs
    - spent WAY too much time on SDN, probably 90% more than reasonable

    Please don't quote this entire huge post if you reply. It makes the thread really hard to read.

    Best of luck to you.

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