Algophiliac

Someday...
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Due to certain problems in my life, my GPA will be low upon graduation. Low meaning in the 2.7-2.9 range.

I would prefer not to have to take out further loans to fund taking additional courses after graduating, and should mention that my major is in biology, unfortunately.

What are my best options? I would like to come away with something useful after engaging in any post-graduation jobs/classes/etc., rather than just additional debt and wasted time.

I haven't taken the MCAT, but will do my best to score 30+, of course. When should I take it? I don't want to take it more than 2 years in advance, so please consider that.

Options:
-SMP--I don't know if this will help my GPA or give med schools a better view of my ability to handle med school courses, but I don't want to end up with a useless degree. I don't like this option at all.

-Sciences grad school/MS--I like this option, but it won't affect my undergrad GPA. Is this a problem? I would like the degree I ended up with, and would love to work in that field if med school is never possible, so I like that "back-up." Do I even have a CHANCE at getting into a MS program??

-Job--Just a job? Work in the field, try to gain more research experience? Pay back school loans? Volunteer more, shadow more, etc. more?

-Job w/ part-time college classes--I can't really afford this, and it would take YEARS to raise my GPA to a decent level. Also, taking part-time classes would be less rigorous--does it prove I can keep up a great GPA in med school, as well?

-Try to get into PhD--Should I even bother? I figure my GPA is way too low, but I wouldn't mind ending up with a PhD, THEN if I don't want to only be a PhD, continue into an MD degree. It sucks to lose the debt-free option of MD/PhD, but what can you do? Do I want to be a PhD without an MD? No. Do I want to be an MD without any research work? Also no. Just to clarify, so you can understand my interests here. Much longer than an MS and would be a huge commitment, so please consider that, as well.

-Something else? I'm sure there's something someone did I can't think of!

Thank you, everyone. I love medicine, and will do my best to find a way to achieve an MD. While I wouldn't mind a DO, an MD would be my goal, and I am very willing to put off getting a degree for a few years to achieve it.

Additionally: I understand I need to prove that my low GPA in undergrad will NOT be a recurring phenomenon. Are there any relatively "unknown" ways to show this? I understand the taking classes aspect, but any other ways to demonstrate this would be nice to know.
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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Sorry if it's buried up there, but my degree is in Biology, so I can't use the degree change route.
 
Nov 29, 2011
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Try and find a tech job at a hospital, so you can start paying back loans. Volunteer and all that jazz while working. Retake MCAT if needed. Reapply. That's my plan if i dont get in first try.
 

Shalashaska

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Mar 20, 2012
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Second bachelor's while working part/full time is a good option for you. That's what I'm going to be doing soon. A good idea would be to peruse the non-trad/post-bacc forums for a few hours to see what other people have done. Feel free to send me a message anytime if you need help discussing options.
 
Jan 17, 2011
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Why are you opposed to going the DO route? Are you interested in a competitive specialty?

Assuming that you have 130 units complete, you would need an additional 130 units of 'A's to bring your cGPA up to 3.4 from 2.8 (I averaged). This doesn't seem realistic.

Now, assuming that ALL of your grades were 'B-', you would need to retake only 65 units in order to obtain a 3.4 via grade-replacement. However, if you received multiple grades lower than 'B-', then the number of retakes required to reach 3.4 will be significantly less. Let's experiment..... For this scenario, let's assume that you have ten 'C's on your record - if you retake those 10 specific classes + a few others, you'll find that you only need to retake 50 units in order to obtain a 3.4 cGPA. Successfully retaking 60 units in this scenario would put you at a 3.5, which would be very competitive for DO.

So, I think you should seriously consider the DO idea; otherwise, frankly, I think you'll have to do an SMP to have a shot at MD......or spend 4-5+ years in college taking classes....... or apply to the islands. If I were in your shoes I'd retake about 30 units to obtain >3.0, then apply broadly to DO programs (and SMP programs like LECOM's as backup).
 
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Hemorrage

Ambrose
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Sep 4, 2011
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Why are you opposed to going the DO route? Are you interested in a competitive specialty?

Assuming that you have 130 units complete, you would need an additional 130 units of 'A's to bring your cGPA up to 3.4 from 2.8 (I averaged). This doesn't seem realistic.

Now, assuming that ALL of your grades were 'B-', you would need to retake only 65 units in order to obtain a 3.4 via grade-replacement. However, if you received multiple grades lower than 'B-', then the number of retakes required to reach 3.4 will be significantly less. Let's experiment..... For this scenario, let's assume that you have ten 'C's on your record - if you retake those 10 specific classes + a few others, you'll find that you only need to retake 50 units in order to obtain a 3.4 cGPA. Successfully retaking 60 units in this scenario would put you at a 3.5, which would be competitive for DO.

So, I think you should seriously consider the DO idea; otherwise, frankly, I think you'll have to do an SMP to have a shot at MD......or spend 4-5+ years in college taking classes....... or apply to the islands. If I were in your shoes I'd retake about 30 units to obtain >3.0, then apply broadly to DO programs (and SMP programs like LECOM's as backup).
i completely agree with this. Its simply not practical or economically wise to go back to school and get a 2nd Bachelors. You will spend the next 4-5 years of your life fulfilling more requirements, bs, etc that you already had to jump through. Someone in your position should not be opposed to the D.O route. Theres absolutely nothing wrong with being a D.O, and if its your ego your worried about, please do us all a favor and don't enter medicine at all- there are plenty of physicians like that already.

If your goal is to practice medicine, make a good living, and maximize your lifelong income then you should retake your lowest grades (taking advantage of D.O grade replacement policy) and apply to D.O schools. If you do this (might take a 1-1.5 years), you can enter osteopathic medical school within the next 2 years, 4 years after that you will be a physician.
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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It's not at all about ego--I couldn't care less about prestige. I am worried about the impacts this would have on programs overseas, as well as on any competitive specialties. If it is my main or only option, I would be overjoyed to be able to take it at all--it's still a medical degree, and I can still treat patients.

However, my grades are mainly all Cs and B-, so it wouldn't save me any time at all to do a grade replacement. Do DO programs allow for lower GPA margins? Also, some DO schools do not do grade replacements currently, and I've asked.

Also, I should mention that unless I get a very different Biology degree (need to increase science GPA, and the other sciences are not my strong suit), I might end up running into classes I've already taken. That's an issue if schools don't take grade replacements.
 
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Hemorrage

Ambrose
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It's not at all about ego--I couldn't care less about prestige. I am worried about the impacts this would have on programs overseas, as well as on any competitive specialties. If it is my main or only option, I would be overjoyed to be able to take it at all--it's still a medical degree, and I can still treat patients.

However, my grades are mainly all Cs and B-, so it wouldn't save me any time at all to do a grade replacement. Do DO programs allow for lower GPA margins? Also, some DO schools do not do grade replacements currently, and I've asked.

Also, I should mention that unless I get a very different Biology degree (need to increase science GPA, and the other sciences are not my strong suit), I might end up running into classes I've already taken. That's an issue if schools don't take grade replacements.
Even if most of your grades are Cs and B's, if you "retake" your pre-reqs for medical school and the classes that AACOMAS considers to be part of your "science" GPA. Your science GPA would be 3.5+ even if your cumulative is around 3.0. -and yes, historically and realistically, D.O schools are more forgiving about grades and do have a lower GPA "requirement" than MD schools. This isn't to say that they take anyone.. most people need around a 3.2-3.3+ to be competitive, but their average last year was 3.47.

Also in terms of some schools not using grade replacement, i don't think its up to the school to decide that, when you apply through AACOMAS they automatically should do that for you. So if you got a C in orgo, get an A the 2nd time around, they will utilize the A over the C while M.D schools would just average it together

Finally its important to mention the "weight" the MCAT carries. Many schools are more lenient towards someone who has a lower gpa but higher mcat rather than vice versa. So if you "kill" the MCAT and get a 32+ you should have no problem getting into any of the D.O schools, why? Their average MCAT's are anywhere from 25-28. If you need help preparing for it, check out SN2ED's mcat guide- its legendary (i'll be using it next year :))
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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My degree was a Biology degree, and my science GPA will be on the lower end of 2.7, lower than my entire GPA. I will have to retake all of the science classes that counted toward my science GPA, and this would take no less than 2-3 years, depending on what GPA I need.

Will this really look better than an MS degree? I ask, because at the end of an MS degree, I can find a better job and will have more research experience. At the end of a second BS or a simple post-bacc, I will have no fall-back plan!

Thank you! When should I prepare for it? It is very expensive, so I would like to make sure I don't take it too early in case of expiration in 2-3 years for any schools. I will study as much as possible for the MCAT, and actually do have a study plan in place, with lots of tips from SDN.
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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I'll go ahead and do that, thank you.

However, I'd still like some answers on possible non-BS/post-bacc routes, if anyone has any ideas. Do I stand a chance at an MS acceptance for a biology profession? A PhD acceptance? Both are still options I'm considering, and would like to find an honest reply somewhere.

The reason I hesitate on the post-bacc is because no one is paying my way here, and a lab tech makes a low salary if you factor in paying back debts, paying tuition for the post-bacc, and living expenses! I won't be getting federal aid, either. :/
 

notbobtrustme

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Many MD schools auto-screen at 3.0. Keep that in mind.
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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I know, thank you! It might make sense to take classes to raise my GPA to a 3.0.

If anyone has any idea on my previous questions, please answer--I'm getting very nervous about future plans.
 
May 3, 2012
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I know, thank you! It might make sense to take classes to raise my GPA to a 3.0.

If anyone has any idea on my previous questions, please answer--I'm getting very nervous about future plans.
Algophiliac, I'm in the same boat as you, sort of. I graduated with a 3.2 in May 2011, though my science GPA is a lot lower, like 3.07 (non-science is 3.37). For DO schools, retakes are replaced, and for MD schools, retakes are averaged (which I assume you knew).

I knew I couldn't get into medical school like this, so I have devised a plan to become competitive again with a goal of entering Fall 2014.

1. I have enrolled in a local public university (for cheap tuition) and matriculated as if in a second bachelor's program (my first in bio, this one in chemistry). I did this because taking classes as a NON-MATRICULATED student is much more expensive you'll find - you are not eligible for any financial aid if you aren't in a degree program. If you don't need any financial assistance, skip this step and just enroll at a local 4 year university and pay by credit.

2. I am not likely to finish this degree, though it is possible. Contrary to what many people on here are saying, it does not take 4-5 years to get a second degree because they transfer in all your previous credits. You only need to meet their residency requirement (which is 30 credits at my school) to get the second degree. Enroll in classes you need to retake, as well as other courses: upper level science to pad your science GPA, and upper level non-science to pad your non-science GPA. If both are equal, focus on getting non-science AT LEAST to 3.0, then focus on science GPA because: A. it's easier to move since most people have less science classes. B. It's more important for admissions. Retake retake any class you made a low grade in, especially pre-reqs.

3. Work out how long you will need to raise your GPA and feel comfortable, then work out goal matriculation date/application date/ MCAT date, etc. working backwards. For me, for example:

I need to retake Orgo and physics. Redoing those while adding other science courses (like cell bio) will raise my DO science GPA to around a 3.6, and MD slightly lower due to averaging. I can do this in one year (Fall 2012 and Spring 2013), thus my target to start is Fall 2014. I will take the MCAT and apply Spring 2013.

Honestly, this is the best, cheapest way to become competitive again. I think formal post-bacc's are too expensive and graduate programs don't raise your undergrad GPA. You can PM me if you want to talk more!
 

235788

God Complex
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Dec 5, 2008
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I think there is a misconception of what a SMP is....


To GET IN a smp, you need stats that would get you into a DO school (3.4-3.5; 28+ --- one guy I know in my program has a 3.0/36)

If you can't get into a DO school you will NOT get in to a SMP program.

There are post-bachs that will take you, but only SMPs have linkage with a medical school (meaning x% of the students directly matriculate to the MD program), thus they are actually much more competitive now than they ever have been. I bet 1/3 of the people in my SMP, did it because they didn't want to go DO (or they were only accepted DO when may rolled around). So these are a majority of the people you are competing with for entry (Christ I have a 3.7/29 and there are a nice handful of others like me or greater). The admissions game is crazy these days.

So even if OP hits 3.0 GPA, he will need probably like a 34 MCAT to get accepted to a SMP (or DO)
 
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OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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Sep 4, 2008
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1. I have enrolled in a local public university (for cheap tuition) and matriculated as if in a second bachelor's program (my first in bio, this one in chemistry). I did this because taking classes as a NON-MATRICULATED student is much more expensive you'll find - you are not eligible for any financial aid if you aren't in a degree program. If you don't need any financial assistance, skip this step and just enroll at a local 4 year university and pay by credit.
My issues with this plan are mainly financial, so thank you for your explanation. Even if I qualify for federal loans, I do NOT want to take out further loans and receive an undergraduate degree that will net me the same income as my previous degree. Since I'm not particularly stellar at chemistry or physics, another biology degree is inevitable and would not raise my income.

My expected income for a tech job is 24000-30000, and that's for a full time job. The college doesn't offer evening classes in the subjects I need to retake, and that's an issue. I can't afford to take a year or longer sabbatical from working.

I will do the calculations, but I don't anticipate needing less than 1.5-2 years, considering the fact that my grades are mainly B-s and Cs.

Financially, it makes more sense to get an MS. I'd get more research experience, different/higher knowledge, and a higher paying job, as well as more options as to which jobs I can do. If I don't make it into medical school after my first try, what will I do with two BS degrees? With an MS, I can at least find a job with more interesting work than that of a lab tech!

So even if OP hits 3.0 GPA, he will need probably like a 34 MCAT to get accepted to a SMP (or DO)
Thank you for letting me know. This is frustrating, but I have to ask why you chose to do an SMP versus taking a graduate degree in the biological sciences. I understand that for some reason medical schools don't consider graduate GPA equal to undergraduate GPA, but how useful is an SMP degree outside of medicine?
 

ckdgusdl88

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Dec 22, 2010
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Undergraduate GPA matters less and less if more time has passed since graduation.
I wouldn't get a second bachelor's just to raise GPA - it is not like your first bachelor's actually disappear from the record.
Scoring very high on the MCAT should be your primary goal. Maybe take a job and score very high on the MCAT?

Frankly speaking, a DO school might be a more realistic option. DOs are disadvantaged in getting into competitive specialties, but by no means getting into an MD school guarantees you a spot in Derm. In clinical practice, DOs and MDs operate similarly - the distinction is political and historical.
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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Undergraduate GPA matters less and less if more time has passed since graduation.
I wouldn't get a second bachelor's just to raise GPA - it is not like your first bachelor's actually disappear from the record.
Scoring very high on the MCAT should be your primary goal. Maybe take a job and score very high on the MCAT?

Frankly speaking, a DO school might be a more realistic option. DOs are disadvantaged in getting into competitive specialties, but by no means getting into an MD school guarantees you a spot in Derm. In clinical practice, DOs and MDs operate similarly - the distinction is political and historical.
I will do my best to score as well as possible on the MCAT, thank you.

I do wonder if trying to get a Master's degree would help? Realistically, I don't want to be stuck in a tech job while repeatedly reapplying, and the possibilities with a Master's degree are much better and more interesting.

Is DO still a realistic option with a high MCAT/low GPA? Low, as in below 3.0 GPA?
 

GetThePointe77

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Apr 28, 2011
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You seem really stuck on the idea of a Masters Degree. I'm sorry noone has been straightforward with you here, and has just been presenting other options, but the graduate level GPA will simply not make up for the undergraduate GPA. Masters are notorious for being inflated, and the level of work is not the same as what is expected from you for medical school. SMPs are great because you are literally taking the same classes as the medical students, so you are proving that you can physically handle the exact same work. Im sure many people have gotten Masters degrees and then gotten into medical school, but it probably will not make up for your shortcomings in GPA, the way it might for someone who needs more ECs and research. Also, what is your idea of what kind of jobs you could get with a Masters, unfortunately the way the economy is there are not a lot of jobs for my friends who are coming out with Masters in biology at the moment...
GOOD LUCK! you seem really determined to become a physician and I'm sure you can if you continue on this path
 
OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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You seem really stuck on the idea of a Masters Degree. I'm sorry noone has been straightforward with you here, and has just been presenting other options, but the graduate level GPA will simply not make up for the undergraduate GPA. Masters are notorious for being inflated, and the level of work is not the same as what is expected from you for medical school.
I understand this, but am looking at this from a back-up plan perspective, should it take me numerous tries to get into medical school. Paying back 2x the student loans of a BS degree with the salary of a BS degree is difficult, if not impossible. And the compounding interest over time would be abysmal, when the further years of education are incorporated. MS degrees would be more employable than BS degrees--I can't imagine finding a decent job with a BS degree in the current market.

I should also add, I'm also very interested in pursuing research (transitional, clinical, etc.) with an MD degree, and maybe a MS would help with that. I definitely won't qualify for a PhD right now, and it's probably not the shortest or most intelligent path to a degree, if I ultimately want an MD, as well!

SMPs are great because you are literally taking the same classes as the medical students, so you are proving that you can physically handle the exact same work.
Yes, but how much value would this degree have after graduation if it doesn't lead to an acceptance in the first try? They're very expensive, and I know not everyone gets in after an SMP.

Thank you. I've read through enough reapplicant/nontrad posts to understand deciding to do medicine now would be the most difficult thing I've ever done. And it's probably a good thing--there's no better way to prove dedication.
 
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OP
Algophiliac

Algophiliac

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I just wanted to bump this, in case anyone would be able to offer more ideas. My career services office was not very helpful, unfortunately. They told me I should consider a career in research...
 

Poisson

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Feb 6, 2012
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Let me try to address this post the best I can. Take the Second bachelors idea and through it out. You have a bio degree, this is the top major for med school, and typically second major folks are those with history majors with a 2.5, then do a bio major and get a 3.7...this works and is commendable.

Get an MS, or SMP masters, this will look better down the line. Do a thesis (if you think you can), this will also impress admissions if you have combined those efforts with a med school curriculum. The research and pubs will hold more weight down the line.

Consider DO, you would be a fool if you didn't because lots of folks get in that don't come close to MD stats. DO is growing, you can do any specialty from it, and even potential ACGME fellowships after AOA residencies, plus you could get the allo residency from the get go.

If you really don't like the philosophy of DO, then pursue the goal that will make you happy. DO is something you have to carry your whole life. Really, the philosophy is not much different, and would you rather have a great shot with a DO, or hardly any shot with a carribean MD. Take your medicine, concentrate for DO I'd say, but really US MD is still there if you do some stuff like an Olympian from here on out academically and clinically.
 
Oct 30, 2012
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Algophilialic what did you decide to do. Im having the same issues but I applied and was accepted to a SMP. I don't know if I should do it though.