Low gpas. . .

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by sunflower79, Oct 30, 2001.

  1. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    Hi everyone,

    I have talked to former pre-meds who say they no longer pursue medicine because their grades aren't good enough. Now, I didn't venture to ask what their gpa's were, but mine is a 3.2 with a *sucky* senior year due to personal issues. Now I'm taking courses post-bac and trying to redeem myself, and I did well on the MCAT (36S), but I would like to get a sense of what is realistic at this point. I'm also a CA resident; assuming that I get all A's for a year, do I still have a shot at the UCs, or even a tier 1 or 2 school? --btw, how is that even defined? where is the cutoff between tier 1/2 or 2/3?

    Just want a sense of what schools I should look at and where I should stop wasting my time.

    Congrats on everyone's interviews and acceptances! Good luck!
     
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  3. jdub

    jdub Senior Member

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    wow, a 36 on your mcat, that is really cool.

    i would apply to any school you want, i'd be willing to bet even harvard or the like would give you shot at an interview based off your your mcat, i wouldn't only apply to the big schools, but if you want to, i think you definitely have a shot.

    i'm sure plenty of schools will take a look at you even with your gpa where it is, which isn't that bad.

    how are your ec's? research?

    i'd apply to 15 to 20 schools and make sure there is a good range with respect to the competiveness of the schools. msar will give you a good base with which to compare yourself.

    best of luck.
     
  4. none

    none 1K Member

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    As always...your GPA means nothing without school(s) attached. Are we talking UCLA, Stanford, UCB, CSU Stanislaus, or Fresno City College?
     
  5. Jalby

    Jalby I fight crime at day when Batman are sleeping.

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    I have very similar stats to you, except I have a tiny bit better GPA and MCAt. If your applying next year, you should be fine as long as you have enough EC's. You can probably get into a top 20 school. But I disagree with the person who said Harvard will interview you b/c of the MCAT alone. I had this MCAT two years ago and didn't get a single interview. If you do fine this next year, you should be fine.
     
  6. jargon124

    jargon124 Senior Member

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    Jalbrekt,

    A 36 MCAT and no interviews? What went wrong? :confused:
     
  7. Epi

    Epi Fuzzy Tiger

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    What schools were you applying to?
     
  8. Jalby

    Jalby I fight crime at day when Batman are sleeping.

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    I had a 37, and I applied to about 25 schools from a wide range. I think it was because my pers state wasn't very good, I didn't have much volunteering and only 6 months research. I also only had good grades (~3.7) from mid sophomore year on. But I thaught I would get in somewhere. So my overall GPA when I applied was a 3.17. :( Hopefully I'll do better this time. :)
     
  9. TwoSteveSquared

    TwoSteveSquared Senior Member

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    If you geat over a 3.7 your last year before applying in hard classes (they definitely will look), then it proves you've got what it takes. Just work hard, mention your "personal issues" in either personal statement or interview, and enjoy getting into medical school. No worries, at this point, the ball's in still in your court.
     
  10. gooloogooloo

    gooloogooloo Senior Member

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    there are people saying by having an impressive MCAT alone can secure you a above-average medical schools. But there are also people who got none interview solely because of the low GPA (w/ an amazing 37 MCAT.) Can someone help to clarify things a little bit for me? If I have an impressive MCAT, how good my GPA at least need to be in order to have a shot? (any school)

    And about research. I thought most of applicants don't have research experience at all. Med schools ask for MCAT, GPA, Volunteer Work, but not necessarily research exp though! How can someone be rejected because of the lack of research exp.??

    Thanks
     
  11. dyang

    dyang Member

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    I just don't get this!
    MCAT score is the result of a standard test while gpa is the result of individual school tests.

    Which test has more chances to be either deflated or inflated? The answer is quite obvious.

    Why schools tend to emphasize gpa over MCAT score? I just read on another thread about lowest MCAT. A guy with 16 MCAT got accepted by a med school, as he had 3.92 gpa and a good story to explain his 16.

    I am very confused. :(
     
  12. jdub

    jdub Senior Member

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    gooloogooloo,

    some of the bigger name schools just place a greater emphasis on research. if you can get a hold of a johns hopkins' secondary packet you will understand what i'm talking about.

    also, you do have to remember that this board has a bias sample that seems to over-represent the upper percentile of the applicant pool.

    as far as what gpa is good enough, that really depends and there is no absolute answer.

    some schools are a lot more rigid on their gpa cut off's than other schools. the average gpa for matriculated students at most schools is between a 3.45 and a 3.65. so, one is probably going to have a hard time getting in to a lot of schools if their gpa is considerable below the schools mean.

    BUT, many schools will consider a trend in a students gpa, maybe it is low but they have been improving it each year. they will consider ec's, the vibe they get from the personal statement, and of course the mcat, which can go a long way to make up for not so good gpa.

    it definitely is not an exact science and there are always plenty of acceptions, so the best thing to do is just go for it.

    best of luck
     
  13. gooloogooloo

    gooloogooloo Senior Member

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    jdub,

    The thing is, I know many outstanding pre-med friends who didn't know all these. I know many people who have good MCAT and GPA and shooting for top schools, but none of them ever thought about getting a research position job. Some of them did get some summer internship, but they are relatively insignificant compared to years of research you guys have. Why don't they know these?
     
  14. Joon Lee

    Joon Lee Junior Member

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    Dear kareniw,

    Take care. I make no overtures at NOT answering your question and dawdling away this post. Instead, here's my take on the situation. I would say that almost all medical schools in the country are under the gun to get the best bang for their buck. Therefore, they look at your GPA. The MCAT is a verifier of a quality GPA, in order to sift out those people who are able to excel in environments lacking competition, but would not be able to pass muster in the morass of preclincal coursework of medical school. NOW, your GPA sounds a little weak. However, they use those two little items in the start to effectively get a gauge at your professional life as a student. If you think that they don't really look at your personal statement, Post-secondary experiences and recommendations, you would be sorely mistaken. They DO. They are using all of these criteria together. Therefore, if you are the qualified candidate you purport to be, then you would a rather ideal candidates for those schools that dedicate themselves to "rescuing" the likes of you, who experienced difficulty all around. HOWEVER, your grades will hold you back far more often than they will be ignored. Because medical school and the residency following are horrible endurance tests for individuals, they must be able to qualify their matriculants prior to their starting their education. That means that they look for behavioral patterns. So, the truth is not clear-cut and absolute. There are a few schools (like those asses at Washington (MO) and NYU) who have judged that they would like to cull their medical students via a computer program that only accepts certain MCAT scores and certain GPAs. I'd hate to be running this school in ten years when the doctors trained using this system are produced and leave surgery to play golf while leaving their unattended residents in charge. Obviously, you would probably like to avoid these schools, if your application is lacking in certain parts. However, you are a wonderful candidate to the likes of places like Boston University and the Medical College of Wisconsin that devote themselves to the ideals of sifting through an inordinate number of applications to truly, qualitatively understand each and every applicant. This means that they place a tremendous value on recommendations and personal statement, as well as looking at grade progression throughout undergrad, and grades in post-bacc/graduate programs.

    Take heart, and though this is a rather long reply, please make sure to stick to it. Our country can ALWAYS use a physician devoted to more than tee time at country clubs, or cool things to see in the ER. Service in combination with enthusiasm for the field will combine to produce the best of physicians...and schools care about this (with the exceptions of ass-schools like those mentioned above).
     
  15. gooloogooloo

    gooloogooloo Senior Member

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    Joon Lee,

    Wow, who are you? You know so much and so well about these things! They should make you a senior member!
     
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  17. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! As always you are all a great bunch and I wish there was room for all of us at med school. In response of some of you...

    none- I went to Berkeley :p, but am now going to a CSU. I do realize that will make some difference, but how much?

    Jalbrekt- did you seek out comments from adcoms about how to improve your application? Did you opt for post-bac to improve the gpa, or did you decide that wasn't worth it?

    gooloogooloo and dyang- I echo your sentiments about what gpa is "good enough". Much to my (and many others') frustration, this is not an exact science, and besides the adcoms have NO incentives for giving us insight on this process. I just pray that I can minimize the gpa damage in the least time needed!

    Joon Lee- I appreciate your practical yet kind words of wisdom. (Who cares if posts are long.) I do realize adcoms may well question my academic stamina, and I admit to my chagrin that I have not been as disciplined as some. But since this spring I have trying to make a turnaround: I worked hard for the MCAT, which hopefully shows, and now I am juggling a 20 hr work week (clinical research :) ), 11 units, and some volunteering gigs (which make it all worthwhile! :) ). What's your take on how much I would need to do -- and how long it would take -- to minimize the damage done to my gpa?

    Lastly, I just want to vent about kuthastha's (sp?) not getting a secondary from UCSF despite the same mcat score as me and other accomplishments to boot (see Rejected from UCSF today ). I realize his situation is unique (as are each person's), but I just hope that his case is not an indication that a (not even that) low gpa can scar one for life. :rolleyes:

    Take care everyone :)
     
  18. rondo

    rondo Member

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    hi kareniw,

    just wanted to commiserate with you. my undergrad gpa is also a 3.2 and i understand, it's discouraging. i am a graduate student and my gpa is considerably higher. i was told by adcomm people that it is the "big picture" that matters (although i think some schools are better equipped with more resources to scrutinize applications than others) so continuing your education in a post-bacc program was a great idea!

    anyway, my point, i think, is to remember that averages are just averages. there is always a range, always exceptions. with my crappy gpa and some good mcat scores, i have been offered an interview at duke's md/phd program. see, there's always hope!

    take it easy.
     
  19. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    Wow rondo, thanks for that! Congrats and good luck on the interview!

    Rondo, would you mind telling me more about your "pre-med profile"? e.g. what grad program, EC's, etc. I'm guessing you've published already since md/phd programs are big on that.

    Are you also applying to regular MD programs? if so which ones?

    And please keep me posted on the news you hear from med schools!
     
  20. rondo

    rondo Member

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    uh, right, my profile...

    well, i guess my undergraduate EC's are the same as most: some research, some hospital volunteering, student government, music. after college i worked in industry for a bit and now i am a graduate student in mechanical engineering and organic chemistry (go figure). i have published once.

    i am applying to regular md programs like uc irvine, uc davis, bu, tufts, einstein, nymc. not that these schools don't have good research programs, i just tried to apply to ones that were "better" than or comparable to the one i am in currently.

    by the way, i am also from california but sorely missing it these days...
     
  21. lilycat

    Moderator Emeritus

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    Ok, first keep in mind that this is not a hard and fast science, just my general observations.

    For the most part, observing friends and acquaintances who have been accepted over the last 3-4 years, it seems much more common to be accepted with a high GPA and lowish MCAT, than the other way around. Acceptances happen in both scenarios, but there just seems to be a slight bias in favor of the high GPA and lower MCAT. A lot of schools recognize that students do not excel at standardized testing for various reasons, and thus if the "academic stamina" that Joon Lee talked about is reflected positively in a high GPA, schools will tend to look upon this situation favorably.

    I don't think there's any magic number that you can shoot for GPA-wise. Do as well as you can this year, and then apply to a wide range of schools. It's probably worth your time and money to apply to all of the UC's because you just never know which school you might "click" with. Same is true for a few "top tier" schools, ie those that typically are in the "top 25," and then I would recommend applying to lots of schools that are in the 25-50 range, or are unranked. To an extent, med school admissions are a crapshoot. so don't take things too personally. Do the best you can now, and hopefully it will work out for you.
     
  22. none

    none 1K Member

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    Why do you apply to any schools regular MD programs? Don't they all move you to the regular MD pile if you get rejected from the MD/PhD and you don't tell them to drop you?
     
  23. rondo

    rondo Member

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    um, i applied to regular md programs because was interested in the medical school, but not necessarily going to grad school at those places. i am a graduate student right now and the potential for grad students in technical fields to be unhappy is very high.
    so... i tried to put some thought into the graduate school part of my md/phd choices.
     
  24. cardiosurg

    cardiosurg Senior Member

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    I was always told that there are 4 peices to the puzzle. If you fit 3 out of the 4, then you have a shot:
    1)gpa 2)MCAT 3)research 4)extracurricular activities and experience.
    I had a similar situation to that of yours. I was in a bad relationship for 4 years (2 of them I was married) that made my grades really suffer. However, I did research in VREs, great experience in the hospital (assisting and watching ortho, vascular, general surgeries and helping anesthesia),volunteer (they have me down as a nurse) at the Good Samaritan Medical Clinic, and have done well on pracitce MCATs (here is hoping to do well on the real thing next year-better start studying).
    I am planning to get a degree in Chemistry and Med Tech.
    I talked to several people (doctors and admissions people) and they told me to just "kick butt" until graduation and I should have no problem (grad in May 2004).
    I am planning on applying while I am in the Med Tech program in 2003.
    Here is something else to consider: I knew one guy who always aced Organic tests, Micro, etc.; yet, a few months later he would not remember half of it. He had a 3.8 gpa. I knew another guy who had the 3.4 gpa who did not always ace the exams, but would remember stuff the next year. Guess What? The high gpa guy did not even have the minimum MCAT score that med schools are looking for. The other guy was above that. One of the doctors that I worked for used to sit on the admissions committe for one of the schools. He said the MCAT weeds out those who memorized their way through everything (and did not trully learn it and took the easy profs) and those who will probably not do well on boards.
    I hope that helps! Good Luck!
     
  25. mongoose

    mongoose Banned
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    I've got you all beat in the low gpa race. I have a 2.71, mostly due to a horrific gpa during the time I was working towards a business degree. Anyway, I have worked long and hard at bringing it up. I now have a 3.65 science gpa, my gpa at my new school is roughly 3.5 overall and a 30 MCAT. Decent extracurrics, volunteer, etc. I now have my third interview scheduled (this one's at Louisville, one of my top choices). My other two interviews were at ETSU and Meharry. Got waitlisted at ETSU (I think they actually call it "in the hold pile") and was palced in the "acceptance range" at Meharry. I am still pretty confident about my chances of getting in though. Seems I have had decent luck so far. Bottom Line: A low gpa is NOT the end-all, be-all in med school admissions.
     
  26. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. :) Wow Mongoose, thanks for sharing your acceptance -- that's pretty amazing! Your courage and perseverance is actually what amazes me. Way to go!
     
  27. CoffeeCat

    CoffeeCat SDN Angel

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    Sorry for reviving a dead thread...but I had a question - what do people consider the "low gpa" range...I could also use some low gpa acceptance (or interview) stories! Any takers?
     
  28. racergirl

    racergirl Senior Member

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    My GPA is 3.06, sci GPA 3.57, MCAT 37-39Q.

    Two acceptances so far this cycle, first time applying.

    Work hard! It can be done!
     
  29. CoffeeCat

    CoffeeCat SDN Angel

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    Congrats racergirl! You're an inspiration.
     
  30. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I don't know about the low range but according to the <a href="http://www.aamc.org/data/facts/famg62001a.htm" target="_blank">AAMC</a> and assuming a normal distribution of GPAs, two-thirds of all those accepted to AAMC schools last year had a GPA within the range of 3.31 to 3.89. Ninety-five percent had a GPA between 3.02 and 4.00. This leaves five percent with a GPA less than 3.02.

    However, this calculations assumes a normal distribution of GPA with mean 3.60 and standard deviation 0.29. The distribution is probably not normal but skewed. There are probably more accepted applicants with GPA above 3.60 than below (that is my assumption).
     
  31. Hopkins2010

    Hopkins2010 Banned
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