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Masters Program Worth It?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by JogoBonito, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. JogoBonito

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    So I am about to enter my senior year of undergraduate at a top university and am in the process of planning my next few years. I had a messy start as an undergraduate and didn't do so well the during the first few semesters. That being said, whats done is done and I can live with my past. What I am concerned is with what to do next. I have had a strong upward trend since the end of my sophomore year and hope to keep this trend until I graduate that being said if my senior year goes as well as my junior year I will graduate with around a 3.45 cGPA and a slightly lower sGPA

    My Dilemma is that I recently scored very well on my MCATs (40; BS 14, PS 14, VR 12, Q) and although I am very happy with this outcome it kind of throws me off.

    I had originally planned to apply immediately after graduation but my advisor has suggested that I take a 1 year Masters Program: in I believe some type of biomedical science, offered at my school specifically designed to strengthen medical school applicant's : first year medical school classes, etc, advising etc. Now I have read on the forums that masters programs are generally not worth the time and money and good grades in them doesn't help my undergraduate GPA that much. Is this true? Would it be foolish to do this program and strengthen my GPA so that I can be competitive for some top schools? If I do this masters program and perform well I theoretically I can apply a year late but with somewhere around a ~ 3.6 cGPA instead of a 3.45 and similar sGPA. Will this masters program strengthen me as an applicant?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated. Life sure does throw you a lot of curveballs!
     
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  3. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Your major matters. So does the load taken each year, the school(s) where the courses were taken, and other things you had going on (jobs, volunteerism, reserach, other activities). It also matters if your lowest grade was a B-, C+, C, or lower than C. Did you flunk anything?

    You test well but do you goof off the rest of the time? It would be interesting to read your LORs and see if you impressed your instructors as a hard worker.

    I wouldn't expect you to answer these questions in this forum but those are the sorts of things I'd be asking if your application were on my desk.

    I tend to think that SMPs (the ones with med school classes) are a waste of money: they don't repair your undergrad gpa, and they have no value in the marketplace (if you don't get into med school you have no marketable skill to take away from the SMP. I'd stay away from that unless you are unsuccessful in the coming cycle.
     
  4. Staradmiral

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    Why wouldn't you apply now? if they say no, then go ahead do the masters and apply again. There is no harm in applying now.
     
  5. JogoBonito

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    thanks for the input. Its definitely helpful to hear people's impression on these programs. I have been working quite hard to "mend" my GPA back to a competitive level, but there doesn't seem to be enough time left in undergrad, which is why I am tempted to take this masters program. I have, of course supplemented poor grades in specific science courses with stellar grades in similar upper level science courses to try to show that I am capable in handling both the material and coursework. I understand that these cannot erase the bad grades but I had hoped that they would at least buffer them to an extent. With that been said I have been quite successful with a challenging course load and I had hoped that this upward trend, plus good EC , LOR and a good MCAT score could sway admission at competitive schools to (not completely ignore) but at least be able to look past my first few semesters. I've always tried to find reasons on why I didn't do well instead of excuses, and I had hoped that the admission board would see the bad grades in the same light: something that I had learned from rather than something that I am just trying to cover up. In the end I just thought the masters program would certainly strengthen the notion that I am a capable student and help me bypass some of the numerical barriers that seems to exist in the application process. Not many kids with 3.4 get into top schools.

    With all that being said, is there other things that I should be doing to strengthen my application if masters program is not the way to go? I am all ears.

    mhm, that is a good point. For the sake of money and time though would you suggest just applying to few schools? Just to see what happens? I would hate to go through the application process twice
     
    #4 JogoBonito, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  6. Donald Juan

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    https://www.aamc.org/download/157958/data/table25-w-mcatgpa-grid-white-0810.pdf.pdf

    with 3.45 gpa and 40 mcat you have a 83% chance of getting accepted. That's the same as someone with a 3.6-3.79 GPA and a 33-35 mcat. I realize that this table is not considering EC's and everything else, but I still think it shows that you already have a competitive mcat/gpa combo. Just apply and spend the year off doing whatever makes you happy.
     
  7. Medicine4Bruhs

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    If you do not get into medical school straight out of college with your current GPA and MCAT, you are doing something very wrong.
     
  8. JogoBonito

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    I guess I should re-phrase my question to whether taking the masters and improving my GPA will make me a better candidate for more competitive schools. I agree that If I apply broadly and nail my interviews I can hopefully be able to be accepted to a few places. But I want to go to school in an urban environment and some of the schools that have caught my eye are really competitive in terms of admission, especially with regards to average GPA.
     
    #7 JogoBonito, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  9. BarcaBest23

    BarcaBest23 Member
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    40 should get you over the hump even for some of the competitive schools in my opinion.

    a 3.45 is not great but not terrible either... it is slightly below the avg. matriculating gpa but hey like I said that MCAT score does wonders, assuming your ECs are up to par... go ahead and apply.. good lck
     
  10. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    The SMP will not make you more attractive to the upper tier schools in urban areas.
     
  11. JogoBonito

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    so there are no ways to improve your GPA after school in ways that matter? I m just curious, although I think I am now just going to focus on my ECs and apply. And to be completely honest prior to advice here I was almost completely sold to the masters program. Why do people take these programs? I am just curious if it isn't viewed that well by the admission board, do students take it for experience?
     
    #10 JogoBonito, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  12. bucks2010

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    you are missing the big picture here -- you have an excellent shot at being a physician 5-6 years from now. why keep worrying about making yourself more attractive to a very select group a schools? chances are there is very little you can do in the next 1-2 years to make yourself that much more competitive to the select group of schools you are targeting, and if you wait much longer than that you will start having to worry about your MCAT score expiring.

    I almost took 2 gap years in hopes of making my app more competitive as well. I decided to apply this year and let me tell you, it's only July but I'm already ready for the app season to be over and medical school to (hopefully) begin. if you take more time off you are going to be increasingly miserable when you realize that in the time you took just to make yourself more competitive for the top 20 schools, you could have been that much closer to getting your MD at a not-so-competitive-but-still-great place. do not put your life on hold hoping you'll be one of the very few people to get seats at the top 20 schools. apply soon, and start over with a clean slate in med school.
     
  13. bucks2010

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    only way to improve your undergraduate GPA is to take post-bac undergrad-level classes. however, since you already have 90 hrs you're going to get seriously diminishing returns trying to bring your GPA up significantly.

    if you graduate with a 3.45 at 120 credit hours, it would take you...

    12 hrs of 4.0 work to get you to 3.5
    45 hrs of 4.0 work to get you to 3.6
    101 hrs of 4.0 work to get you to 3.7 (natl avg for matriculants?)

    now think about those numbers in terms of the opportunity cost (attending salary) it will take for you to make yourself just a little more competitive for the top schools.

    http://www.back2college.com/raisegpa.htm
     
  14. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    People take those programs because they taken the MCAT twice and scored 26 and 30 and have the same gpa you have. They don't see much hope in retaking the MCAT (something you need not worry about) and the SMP is a last ditch effort to show they have what it takes to succeed in medical school.
     
  15. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    SMPs are generally not designed to get applicants into top schools, they are designed to get applicants with above average MCATs and terrible GPAs into any medical school anywhere. I'm not sure there's any reason to think that one of these programs will get you what you want.

    There also isn't really much value in a top medical school vs. an average medical school. The course of your career is primarily dictated by the type and, to a much lesser extent, quality of the residency you attend. The match, however, is based primarily on either factors that are school neutral (research, step 1) or actually give you a slight advantage if you're a big fish in a small pond (honors, AOA). Unlike college, or other professional schools, you could make an argument that the best medical school is not the highest ranked but rather the cheapest, since debt arguably closes more doors (Peds, FM, Path) than a high ranking opens (nothing I can think of).

    I don't think there's any good reason to pay an extra year of tuition and set your career back a year just on the improbable chance that you will get accepted to a higher ranked school. Apply now, apply broadly (20+ schools with only a few top 'reach' schools), and apply to your cheap in state schools. If you need something to do with your year off consider a one year degree that will actually help you with the match and with your career like an MMA or an MPH. Or just work and relax.

    Finally I KNOW there are schools in Urban areas that aren't in the Ivy league. There are two just in New Orleans.
     
  16. JogoBonito

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    thanks for the input and to clarify when I said schools in urban areas i didn't mean ivy league schools or top 20 schools. I think I should make it clear that I want to be in an "urban environment" because of the people, lifestyle and my personality, not necessarily because of the schools in the city. With that being said what would be my reach schools? Obviously the top 20 schools are always a reach and I will probably apply to maybe 1 of them. Would schools like USC, Tufts, and NYU be reach schools too? Or could I file these under more of a "competitive" category
     
    #15 JogoBonito, Jul 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2011
  17. rigel

    rigel "nontraditional"
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    So I did a master's. part of it was waiting for my wife to finish nursing school in the area, and a lot of it was that i had been told that after 4 years post-UG, one school said they werent sure that my upward trend meant a whole lot, so that i should take a year of challenging science coursework. and, well, i had already done all my prereqs.

    anyway, it seems a little silly to me to hold back and not apply broadly just because of money. cart before horse and all that. more likely if you do the masters you will be limited more by the amount of time you can devote to your applications (due to grad school kicking your a**, in a good way)-- that's what happened with me.
     

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