MCAT Prep and FT job?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Discoteca, Oct 31, 2002.

  1. Discoteca

    Discoteca Junior Member

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    I am going to re-take the MCAT in April and since I am graduated now, I am considering getting a FT lab job to pay the bills. Right now I still have my pt waitressing college job (that I hate). What experiences have people had with studying for the MCAT with a 40hour work week? Is it realistic? Should I keep the pt job for now and move home with the parents?:confused:
     
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  3. care bear

    care bear pink fuzzy user

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    Hi,
    wow isn't this addictive? i just registered but i've been reading posts for an hr now. . and back in aug. when I was prepping for the MCAT, i was reading it every other day. . .

    anyhow, i'm not sure what you should do about the MCAT; maybe it would help to know my experience: i lived with my parents and took it in August 02 right after finishing a summer session of school (may-august) in which I took both semesters of Organic Chem, one semester of Physics, and one semester of General Chem (with labs!) So, i was in class or lab from about 8 to about 4 on three days/wk, and only from 8-12 on the other 2. plus, lots of homework time.

    but, i had to study for the MCAT also during that time and did decently (praise God!), received a 34 and still have sanity.

    of course, it probably may have helped a good deal that what was taking up my time was learning the subjects that are covered on the MCAT, even if it was in a context other than "mcat review". . .

    i think it depends on the person, on your support system, on how badly you want the particular circumstances. if you really want to take in april and have no choice but to work, i say go for it. but if your parents are willing to support you a bit while you work part time and study. . .hm, might be something worth considering. hope this helps a bit!

    and good luck . :)
     
  4. ::Seabass::

    ::Seabass:: bringing burkas back!

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    Disco,

    You can definitely do it, it just depends on how badly you want it. I work full time as a civil engineer (~45 hrs a week) and took the April MCAT this past spring. I was also finishing up my last pre-med requirement by taking molecular biology and taking a prep class that met for 10 hrs a week. It takes a lot of commitmet, time structuring, and running from one thing to the next. It also unfortunately cuts into your social life a bit because there were times I found myself at the coffee shop studying on a Friday night. However, I believe the experience was very good for me because it taught me how to have a full schedule and still get things done and I feel ready for the kind of work load I will encounter in med school.
     
  5. vm26

    vm26 Member

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    I think a big factor on how much time you can devote to work/other things, is how long ago did u take your basic science courses. If they're still relatively fresh in your head, then you probably dont need to approach the mcat as a full-time courseload/job and would be able to do other things such as work. In my case, I had taken physics/inorganic almost 10 yrs back and felt that I was basically learning them over again and had to devote alot of time to that. Working would also give you some sort of balance that may actually help your score, I def felt pretty much burnt out by the time the real thing came by, good luck.
     
  6. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    You gotta do what you gotta do. That being said, if you need to work full-time to live, than that's what you gotta do. I knew that I needed a high MCAT score because I wanted to be a MSTP student, so I reduced my hours at work so that I could do alot of studying and take an MCAT prep course. I had actually saved up money to do this beforehand. The plan paid off for me, and I don't think I could've done it without a reduction in work hours.

    Just my 2 cents, I'm sure my situation is pretty different from yours.
     
  7. SouthernGirl

    SouthernGirl Senior Member

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    It is certainly possible.

    While studying for the April test, I was going to school full-time, working part-time, and doing a good bit of volunteer work. I would try to study an hour or so each night, plus a lot on the weekends.

    I was working full-time during the summer while studying for the August one, which actually meant that I had more time than I did during the school year. But basically I did the same thing - studied some at night, and a LOT on the weekends.

    If you have the motivation, go for it. I'm sure you will do fine. And once you get a great score and get accepted, all the hard work becomes completely worth it. :D
     
  8. tedstriker

    tedstriker wicked retahhded

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    I agree with everything above, but for me I couldn't have studied while working a FT job. For the duration of the summer, I reduced my hours from 40 to 24, and used all my vacation days to go hard-core for the entire month before the exam...I guess I'm not as good a multi-tasker as some of these other SDNers, but that's me.
     
  9. tBw

    tBw totally deluded

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    It's possible - and there are lots of people on here that have done it. The problem is, however, that you are not these people. What are you like? How are your time scheduling abilities, your ability to self-motivate, etc? I took the August MCAT. Prior to it I hadn't opened a physics book in 10 years, my bio was 2 years before, and I work full time. The summer before the MCAT I was also taking 18 credit hours only 50% of which was related to MCAT material. On top of that I studied for the MCAT (read "no social life"). My best friend who took it with me took the entire summer off supposedly to study. He signed up for a test prep course, and has taken all the courses much more recently than I have. I scored 10 points more than he did....but then, despite his abundance of free time, and my lack of it, I am quite certain I spent more time preparing than he did because he insists on having a certain amount of free time each week.

    All I'm trying to say is - know yourself! If you are willing and able to live scheduling every minute, then sure go for it. If you think you are someone that will cut back on study time before they would cut back on social life, don't get a FT job! I note from your original post that you said you were "re-taking". In which case you need to examine why you felt you scored less than you were able the first time. That may help you decide how much to attempt at once - you *don't* want to end up doing it a third time do you...Good luck either way. ;)
     
  10. DW

    DW Fix me some sandwiches
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    i worked 40+ hours, took 15 credit hours in my masters program, and took princeton review to study for the big ugly. I scored very well on it, but i must warn you it was a beotch. My days were jam packed and I rarely saw the light of day except on the weekends, irregular sleeping, no life, etc (hey, sounds like med school, doesn't it ;) ). You can do it, you just have to will yourself into it.

    i would say, at least for studying for the mcats, moving in with the rents might be a good idea. i wish i had tha option in retrospect.

    good luck
     
  11. manicmaven

    manicmaven all aboard the nerd train

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    I've seen people do well with 40+ hour jobs...however, I took the last month of work off before the April MCAT to really study. It may depend on how strong your science background is. I was a non-science major and needed to really focus on bio and physics.

    I will say one thing that made all the difference to me. GET ENOUGH SLEEP. I'm not kidding. I work in sleep medicine and have read loads of studies that support the idea that if you are not sleeping well, you score on almost any academic exam will go down. (William Dement -The Promise of Sleep. Awesome book)
    I think that this was the real reason that my friends were having nervous breakdowns during the last month and I was doing okay. Good luck...you can do it if you prioritize and take care of yourself.:love:
     
  12. Camden772

    Camden772 Senior Member

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    I once again find myself agreeing with boy wonder. Knowing yourself is key. Do you need a social life? Can you self-motivate? How familiar are you with the material? But as to feasibility, it is definitely feasible to study for the MCAT while working full time. Even if you haven't had the prerequisites or any science courses for eight years you can do it. For example, I had not taken any of the prequisites in over eight years and I had not taken a science class of any kind in over seven years. I was working full time in a job where my hours can vary from 50 hours in a week to 90 hours in a week. My hours are also unpredictable. A lot of it depends on what gets dumped on my lap. A partner can come in my office at 5:00 and say he needs something by 8:00 the next morning. My typical hours are probably 8:00 am to 7:00 pm, but it's not unusual for me to stay until midnight or work anywhere from 6 to 20 hours on a weekend. It really varies. Because my hours were/are so unpredictable I couldn't take a prep course (but I probably wouldn't have anyway). I started studying in January for the April exam, but because my hours at work got so crazy in February, March and April and because it had been so long since I had taken the prerequisite courses, I had to put the exam off until August. Nevertheless, I managed get a lot of studying in and a lot of practicing in before the August exam and I scored pretty well I think. I had no life for several months, but it worked out okay. Between work, volunteering and studying for the MCAT, I really didn't socialize at all during the months of February, March, June and July. You might not have to sacrifice as much of a social life, but I just thought I'd tell you my experience.
     
  13. Sweet Tea

    Sweet Tea Girl Next Door
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    I worked 30-40 hours a week, took orgo, volunteered, and took Kaplan when I was studying for the April exam. It was hard and I had no social life, but I am happy with my score. I was lucky to have a fairly flexible job (and a sympathetic PI) who would let me schedule my work time around my study schedule. I'm also the type of person who performs the best when I have a lot of things to do and I'm forced to get organized. I had to study A LOT for the MCAT b/c I hadn't had the physical science stuff in 5 years and I had done my best to block gen chem from my mind.

    It can be done, but you need to figure out what works for you and stick with your plan. Good luck!!
     
  14. applejuice1979

    applejuice1979 Patiently Waiting Member

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    IT'S A BAD IDEA!!! Especially if you are going to be doing anything that requires mental work (i.e. research) If you can maybe you should continue to work part time or look for another part time job. Those who took the MCAT while still in school full time can tell you that finding enough time for it all is difficult. Those who began working full time after school and tried to study can also tell you how difficult it is after a long day. Those who make it seem like it's no big deal are not being truthful with you. Good Luck!
     
  15. pathdr2b

    pathdr2b Banned
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    I started studying for the Apiril MCAT this past Summer mainly because I knew I would be working full-time and taking classes part-time. I'm confident I'll be prepared without having to sacrifice much of anything including my social life!

    I'm a believer that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
     
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  17. wallie

    wallie Member

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    Well, you've got lots of perspectives here, so hopefully that's a help to you.

    One thing that hasn't really been mentioned is that starting a NEW job takes a lot of energy and brain power. I worked full time and studied for the MCAT last summer and though it was tough, it worked out fine for me. But, I had been working at the job for a few years--so I had lots of flexibility, support from my co-workers and bosses, and I wasn't learning new things every day. (Makes for a boring job, but a good MCAT studying situation. :) )

    Seems like the perfect situation would be working part-time at the lab job. Any chance they'll go for that?

    Good luck!
     
  18. Discoteca

    Discoteca Junior Member

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    Everyone is right--it is about knowing myself. I know that I need deadlines and pressure to get anything done. If i move home with the parents I'll be better off financially, but I'll be living with four other people (ie distractions). In my own apartment I will be all alone. THe less time I have, generally, the more I get done. Also, the thought of waitressing, even pt is enought to put me over the edge. I've been doing all through college, and can't take it anymore.
    I don't mind giving up social life; I don't have much of one these days since graduating from college. I waitress 5 nights a week, my friends work during the day. (Which means I could study for the mcat everyday morning and afternoon until 3pm)

    As one of you pointed out, I did take it before. I only studied three weeks for it. During three months of summer before the Aug test date, I was working 20hrs/week at the hospital and doing ft 40 hrs undergrad research (at $8/hr). I spent more time trying to pay the rent than study. My research job had late hours, so it was hard to study in the evening, but a normal 7-4 job it could work. I could start studying now, in november and have 5 months to study a little piece by piece.
    I didn't give up my social life; my boyfriend was a huge distraction, but he is in another state now.
    I scored 11, 9, 9.
    I think I have decide how important my own apartment is. Is it worth working more and limiting available time to study? Can I study at my parents? I just have to solve some hard questions. also I have credit card debt that I could pay off at home.
    If I am truly honest, I am more worried about being able to stay living on my own than anything else. The thought of moving home brings me to tears. Even though it would be better for me financially and I love my family, I am having such a hard time coming to terms with it. I keep trying to think of new solutions to manage rent and MCAT simultaneously. Perhaps I have to be honest with myself and realize there isn't one. Sometime we simply have to make sacrifices for medical school, it is just that I am so tired of "making sacrifices." I want a career in medicine so much, but sometime I just wish to get a life too. . .
     
  19. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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    If you want a life, get out of medicine now. Get used to it. You will have no life for at least the next 7 years if accepted to medical school. I understand about distractions tho. Consider a coffee shop or a library. When it's really important for me to study I just hype myself on alot of caffiene and sit in the coffee shop with some headphones on.
     
  20. DAL

    DAL no thank you

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    Discoteca-

    Sorry to hear of your dilemna. Unfortunately, no one here can relate 100% to your situation so it's tough to say yes or no on moving home. I'm in a similar situation as far as work, school, and studying for the MCAT are concerned.

    If you think working to pay your rent will hinder your study time and your MCAT score, then perhaps you should live at home for a few months. You can always go study in a library to get away from distractions. On the other hand, if you can live comfortably on your own then by all means do it.

    If you really want to do better on the MCAT, then you need to make it your top priority. Worrying about money and other problems will only cloud your mind and hinder your progress towards getting a better score. Basically, if you want it go get it. If you're tired of the struggle, tap out and take it easy for a while.

    Oh yeah, 11 9 9 is not a bad score at all. Are you sure it's your MCAT that is keeping you from getting acceptances?
     
  21. Discoteca

    Discoteca Junior Member

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    Well I think I have mostly solved my dilemna thus far by chance. When I went to turn in my sixty day notice my apartment management offered me a three month lease. I am going to sign it. This way i can just focus on the MCAT in my most comfortable environment and then reassess my financial situation. Taking an extra three months won't hurt anything.
    In regards to my acceptances, I was wait-listed at my state school. Re-taking the MCAT is the simplest way (yes I really mean that) at improving my application for the second time. My GPA isn't stellar so I think I need a stronger MCAT to offset it. My state school has a policy that you can't re-apply without making a significant change in your application. I can't really do anything about my GPA besides take a few more expensive classes. I know my state school looks for tens across the sections.
    Basically I plan on a few things. I want to take maybe one more science class, re-take the MCAT, and continue to build my EC (especially since I have time now). I am volunteering at a hospice (I recommend this all) and am considering some sort of ft research job (that started this whole thread). I also plan on applying earlier and now have more of an idea of how I envision my future practice/specialty. (My interviewer came down on me hard for being rather VAGUE in my AMCAS Vision statement)
    Thanks for all the feedback
    In response to the comment about getting use to having no life, I have already come to terms, but every now and then I have a little crisis. It's like this: when you are really crazy busy with no break you really want one (like me right now), but once you have it and re-energize you realize you like things better crazy busy.
    Anyways, thanks everybody for all your opinions. I love to research things and it is so interesting how people can see and answer questions all differently.
     
  22. klp14

    klp14 Member in Flipflops

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    I switched from one FT job to another (in the same hospital) during the summer while taking a Kaplan course 3 hours/night M-R to take the Aug 02 MCAT. One the one hand starting a new job gave me the chance to keep a strict 9-5 type of schedule because I hadn't fully jumped into hardcore projects yet, but boy was I wiped out at the end of the day. My boyfriend still groans anytime someone mentions Kaplan or MCAT because he really hated me being a zombie whenever I was at home and not studying. Bottom line is you can do it but there are definite sacrifices that you have to be willing to make (and for the most part they are worth it because it's only for a few months). Good luck!
     

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