premedmember

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Now that I've read a fair number of Student Doctor Network forum posts, I feel like I'm ready to ask the crowd, "what are my chances?". Perhaps someone will have constructive feedback. My case is unusual in that I'm a non-traditional student, but I still fall into the category of needing a little (ok, a lot of) luck due to low undergrad GPA.


Summary:
Application submission: June 2009
Anticipated cumulative GPA: 3.18 (3.47 BCPM)
Anticipated postbacc GPA: 3.76 (3.87 BCPM)
Anticipated MCAT: mid 30s

Biographic Details:

Next June when I apply I will be 31 years old. I decided to try to get into medical school last October. I say "try to get in" to express some humility, but really I mean "I'm going to get in somewhere". There are schools in the Caribbean that let in practically anyone with a pulse, but that's certainly not where I want to go. I want to go to a US allopathic school. I really feel that my education will suffer otherwise and ultimately so will the care I deliver. Of course others will have a different point of view about that argument, but I just want to stay in the US.

I'll fallback to D.O. if necessary as I do have a genuine curiosity about osteopathy and some latent concerns about the allopathic philosophy (doesn't everyone?). But really it's not my first choice. I'm mostly interested in hearing feedback about my chances of getting into a US allopathic school and what I can do to improve those odds between now and next summer.

Although I gently considered medicine as a fallback career as a freshman in college, it was not a serious consideration of mine until last year (10 years later). It was always on my mind, but I didn't spend much time imagining myself doing it. I certainly did not take pursuit of med school seriously or prepare for it during undergrad. In fairness, no career was of much interest to me until last year. Nothing sparked. I was floating along, disenchanted with all the paths I saw until I looked seriously at medicine. At this point I have matured enough to want to put the effort in and I've learned enough about who I am that I can say without doubt this is for me.

I never disliked the field - I just didn't give it enough thought for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was rebellion. Who knows? My father is a doctor and my mother a nurse. Their experiences turned me off to the field early on. Deciding to become a doctor was (unfortunately for me who has to explain it) a eureka-moment, but I've been very serious about it and feel no less motivated now than a year ago. I can't imagine myself doing anything else. It makes a lot of sense given my interests and personality. All I can do now is mop up the mess I made in undergrad and try to get in somewhere.

Undergrad:
I went to a small, but good engineering school. For the first three years I studied electrical and biomedical engineering, screwed around, and did poorly. During my last year I changed to an obscure social science field where I learned methods of mathematical modeling and computer simulation. I did well academically that year, but ultimately decided it wasn't for me. I finished all my requirements except my senior thesis project and left school for 4 years to work full time. Eventually I completed that thesis requirement and received a C (totaling 8 years as an official undergrad, ugh). My B.S. is in social science, but most of my coursework is in engineering, math, and computer science. My undergrad GPA was 3.0 (3.1 BCPM)

Post-bacc:
When I apply I will have taken 35 credits since Jan '08 (7 credits are EMT class where I got a B+ unfortunately). My post-bacc GPA at Harvard Extension School will be 3.76 (3.87 BCPM). My cumulative GPA will be 3.18 (3.47 BCPM). Note: Another year of post-bacc will only raise my GPA to 3.25 (3.59 BPCM) at the most. I'd rather not wait an additional year to apply because I don't imagine it will help me all that much academically. Of course I plan to take classes during my lag year just in case, but it won't do much to bump up my cumulative. It would give me more research and EMT experience, but that's about it. I'd rather not pursue an SMP due to the cost and my late start.

Work History:
My work history consisted of a slew of varied internships and part time jobs throughout college, then 4 years as a research analyst with an investment bank, then 2 years as an information technology consultant to nonprofit organizations. I've had two definite careers prior to pursuing med school. Recently (for the last 6 months), I've been working part time as a research assistant at a surgical research lab in Boston. I will have 1 year of that work by application time.

Extracurriculars:
In undergrad I was in a lot of clubs, president of some clubs, founder of some clubs. Nothing spectacular, but probably more than the status quo. I've always played a sport. Now in post-bacc I'm president/founder of a medical-related student organization and by application time I'll probably have done something cool with the group. I have plenty of hobbies, artistic things, nothing award-winning though. Certainly plenty to talk about though.

Volunteer work: (anticipated by June 2009 application)
* 1.5 years in ER of large hospital (~150 hrs by application time).
* 1 year at well known human rights/global health nonprofit (~150 hrs by application time).
* 3 months in a surgery research lab (~100 hrs).
* 9 months clinical research (~200 hrs).
* misc. other volunteer work such as EMT, environmental cleanup, breast cancer walks, etc. (~100 hrs over the years)

Shadowing: (antipated by June 2009 application)
* Emergency medicine, surgery, anesthesia, pain medicine, internal medicine, radiology, psychiatry, osteopathy (~200 hrs)

Publications/Presentations: (anticipated by June 2009 application)
* 1 surgical research paper pending with well-respected co-authors in specialty journal
* 1 clinical research paper pending with well-respected co-authors in specialty journal
* 1 clinical research related presentation/poster

Letters of Recommendation: (anticipated)
* Ph.D. ungrad professor/advisor
* vice president from large investment bank (from previous career)
* M.D. from volunteer work
* M.D. from clinical research
* Ph.D. from lab research job
* M.D. from repeated shadowing experiences
* Ph.D. postbacc professor

MCAT:
I'm taking the MCAT in May 2009. I'm starting to study Kaplan course materials and I'll be taking a Princeton Review course Jan-April. I can't anticipate my score, but I'm generally a great standardized test taker as long as I've thoroughly prepared. At this point I realize I MUST do well on this exam. I'm guessing I'll score in the mid-30s somewhere, but I don't want to count my chickens before they've hatched. I hope to rock it and I think I have the potential to do so based on past exam experiences in these subjects.

Personal Statement:
I haven't written the real thing yet, but I've been hacking away at it over the last year. This doesn't worry me since I'm a proficient writer and have an ample supply of editors who can correct me if I go astray. However, this is going to be a difficult part of the application simply because there's a lot I could say and I'm not sure how to explain myself. It's a complicated story that I need to make into a simple and personable sales pitch. Likewise, interviews will be a challenge to prepare for, but I am likeable, articulate, and convincing so I think I can do very well if I ever get an interview.


I think that about covers it. Any thoughts about my chances at a US allopathic school? What schools would be friendly to me? Thanks for your help!
 

NTF

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Assuming all your "anticipated" stuff, I think you'll be able to get in somewhere, especially if you live in a state with some friendly instate schools. (If you live in CA, then your task is alot harder and you'll have to up the number of schools you apply to.)

Your GPA while not good, I don't think is detrimental (see my MDapps - our stats are not dissimilar). Your ECs and LORs look good. Just remember to apply BROADLY. In addition to matriculant GPA/MCAT, play close attention to interview invite numbers to IS vs. OOS applicants and total applicant #'s for the schools you apply. While there are some private schools where your numbers will play favorably at, you also have to factor in the stupendous number of applicants that private schools get.

Make sure you rock that MCAT. And APPLY EARLY. Have all your ducks in a row (transcripts, MCAT scores, LORs, etc.) so that your applications are complete by August at the latest.

GOOD LUCK! You'll do fine. I'll be rooting for you.
 
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ruraldr

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Hi premedmember,

I'd advise posting your question in the non-trad thread as I would guess you would get more folks with a similiar experience/background responding there.

I strongly suggest doing the coursework during the lag year--the more recent credits you can get as a post-bacc the more assured that admissions groups will feel that your current grades aren't a fluke (take a look at the post in the reapplicant thread re: lessons learned--it describes this phenomenon).

Also echo the early application suggestion--those with a more complex story need to be in early to ensure that folks will take a thorough look at their application.

Agree with nontradfogie that your state of residence will also matter. (there is a surprising amount of regional bias in this process--even in private schools)

If you can, get your personal statement reviewed by a pre-med advisor or current admissions person (give yourself plenty of time for drafting)--as nontrads we have more complex stories and they can take more time to express clearly and succinctly!

Good luck!
 

premedmember

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Rule number 1... NEVER anticipate your MCAT score.

Good point, but I'm sure most of us would estimate MCAT > 20 or we wouldn't be pursuing med school. I'm just estimating > 30 and saying to myself that a goal of 40 is theoretically possible for me, although extremely unlikely. Hopefully somewhere in the middle. I definitely can't just wait to make plans until after my MCAT. It will be too late by then.
 

premedmember

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Thanks for your advice! I posted in Non-Trad. I'll read some other threads there as well as in Re-Applicants...probably a good idea.
 
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