My chances (cumu. 3.18/3.47 BCPM, post-bacc 3.76/3.87 BCPM, MCAT in mid 30s)

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premedmember

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Note: I posted this on Pre-Allopathic as well.

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!
 
N

njbmd



Your "rathers" do not actually matter much in this process. That uGPA of 3.1 something is going to kill you at most (likely all) allopathic schools in this country. You are going to face a tough fight for osteopathic medical school. In today's climate of medical school admissions, you are not very close no matter what your MCAT score.

Your best shot is to take the MCAT and look into SMPs (most SMPs want an MCAT score) that are for application enhancement. The caveat is that you have to do extremely well or you will virtually lose any chance of getting into medical school at all. These programs are competitive and expensive but with a strong performance, you can get yourself into position to enter an allopathic medical school.

Extracurriculars, LORs, PS and MCAT score do NOT offset a poor uGPA. You likely have many hours at those lower grades so that it will take a substantial amount of postbacc to inch you into something competitive for medical school.

Don't think for one second that osteopathic school is going to be a "chip shot" for you either. Osteopathic medical schools are becoming quite selective in what they look for in an applicant but in general, if you have retaken some of your older and less competitive coursework, osteopathic medical schools will substitute the older grade with the newer grade and thus you will have a higher uGPA than under the allopathic system.

Good luck as you have quite a way to go if you are mentally "stuck" on attending an allopathic school.
 

chewsnuffles

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I don't entirely agree with the post above, but it does outline the major concerns.

Get an MCAT of 35 or more, and get your GPA up to 3.2 if there is any way possible (3.18 is still O.K. though)

Then apply broadly. Oh, and I think you would have a VERY SOLID chance of getting into a DO school if you shadow a DO, so that is one possibility to improve your "fallback".

I'm in a similar posistion as you, but I'll tell you two things:
1. If you don't mind military, USUHS is slightly more forgiving on GPA discrepancies in the past if you have proven you have researched and have interest in military medicine (that would get you your MD). Go check out your local army/navy/airforce hospital
2. If you find a DO school you really like and feel like you could prep well for the boards at, that would probably make you feel far less concerned about MD vs. DO since you'll be so excited for the med school instead of the title (at least it did for me)
 
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kiyomander

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It's so hard to say how much your undergraduate GPA will hurt you. I was in a similar situation. I had a 3.1 u-GPA with a 4.0 in post-bacc. My overall GPA was still low enough to miss automated screening cutoffs at several schools, but my 35 on the MCAT definitely got me second looks. I can't overstate how hard that stupid test is. I knew I needed to do well to make up for my dismal GPA and literally drove myself nutty studying. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to prepare for it, because for folks like us, it seems to matter more. Hopefully the upward trend in your grades and anticipated impressive MCAT score will be enough to get some interviews. There, you'll just have to wow them with your poise and maturity :p. Also be prepared to apply to a broad range of schools. I think you've got a fair shot, but I may be biased :cool: Good luck!
 

bipolardoc

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Your "rathers" do not actually matter much in this process. That uGPA of 3.1 something is going to kill you at most (likely all) allopathic schools in this country. You are going to face a tough fight for osteopathic medical school. In today's climate of medical school admissions, you are not very close no matter what your MCAT score.

Your best shot is to take the MCAT and look into SMPs (most SMPs want an MCAT score) that are for application enhancement. The caveat is that you have to do extremely well or you will virtually lose any chance of getting into medical school at all. These programs are competitive and expensive but with a strong performance, you can get yourself into position to enter an allopathic medical school.

Extracurriculars, LORs, PS and MCAT score do NOT offset a poor uGPA. You likely have many hours at those lower grades so that it will take a substantial amount of postbacc to inch you into something competitive for medical school.

Don't think for one second that osteopathic school is going to be a "chip shot" for you either. Osteopathic medical schools are becoming quite selective in what they look for in an applicant but in general, if you have retaken some of your older and less competitive coursework, osteopathic medical schools will substitute the older grade with the newer grade and thus you will have a higher uGPA than under the allopathic system.

Good luck as you have quite a way to go if you are mentally "stuck" on attending an allopathic school.

Dont listen to this poster, he gives the most pesimistic and negative responses to those with lower stats trying to get in med school, he has a long trend if you follow his other responses.

In my opinion you do got a chance at both MD and DO schools, ask those on here that did it and look at mdapplicants and look how many people with your stats got into med school. You wont find out until you apply ,apply broadly and see how it goes. Update us once you do get into the MD school of your choice :thumbup:
 

premedmember

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Thanks to everyone who replied so far. I'll definitely consider everything you suggested. Regarding njbmd's reply, I appreciate her realistic assessment and after reading her blog it's obvious she is thoughtful and has substantial experience with trends in the admissions process.

Regardless of my low probability of admission into a US allopathic school, I'm going to continue to make it my central goal. I'll make contingency plans, but hope for the best. In the future I'll post here to let you know how it goes.

Everyone, thanks again for your equally important impartial analysis and reasons for optimism.
 

dragonfly99

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I think you have the type of application that it's hard to assess because it's atypical (assuming that you DO end up with the high MCAT score). Generally the applicants with the higher GPA's are the same ones who have the higher MCAT scores, and vice versa. There are still a lot of "what if's" in your theoretical application. For one thing, you don't really have/know what your cumulative undergraduate GPA is going to be, and you definitely don't know what your MCAT score is going to be. I do think njb's assessment is a bit too negative, but she is correct in that your low undergraduate GPA is going to harm your application significantly, no matter how you do on the MCAT. If you don't do well on the MCAT (I'd say well for you is mid 30's) then I think you are hosed for most allopathic schools. Thirty would be the absolute minimum.

Take all this advice with a grain of salt as the vast majority of folks on here are not on a medical school admissions committee (I am not, and I know most others are not either).

Here is my advice:
1) I think your basic plan for academics is sound. You are correct in realizing that you need to focus on the MCAT. I agree w/taking Princeton Review's MCAT prep class. I did (years ago now) and I think it helped me a great deal. I agree with taking postbac courses, as you have been doing (and doing well in them). I am sure that some adcoms in the northeast are familiar with the Harvard extension school and will know what a 3.8 GPA from there means - I personally do not know if that is just a good GPA or a through-the-roof one for that particular program.
2) If you do not want osteopathic schools right now, then don't apply to them straight off. They don't want students who don't want to be osteopathic docs, and will likely pick up on the fact that they are the "fall back" plan for you. I do think that your GPA would definitely be competitive for some DO programs, assuming a decent MCAT score (high 20's would probably be OK, and perhaps lower).
3) Caribbean schools would take you right now, but I agree with you that this should be a last resort. Try at least 2x in the US before you do that.
4) Do not worry about your personal statement right now. I wouldn't even bother writing one until you have taken the MCAT and done well. You are correct in thinking that you need to explain a bit about your past academic problems and what led you to apply to med school, but really this is not something to worry about now. I seriously would spend zero time on it at this point.
5) Your volunteer activities, etc. sound fine. Just take care that you don't seem unfocused. Spending more time doing less different things/activities might be more helpful than a few hours in more different places.
6) The research publications would be nice but are not necessary. Also, theoretical/submitted research papers or posters don't really count for much. Once they are published they will help you application, and even if not yet published they can be something interesting to talk about @your interviews, but you have to get to the interview first.
7) Your LOR's sound more than adequate, though I don't think the one from an investment banker would help much. It would be fine as an additional letter (i.e. 4th letter) in addition to ones from MD's (or PhD's who taught you).
8) Be careful that you do not come across as arrogant or unfocused in either your application or your interviews. I have no doubt that you are a smart person, etc. but so are a lot of the other people applying to med school, and many of the folks who will interview you. You have to realize that you will need to apply to a lot of medical schools (I would do 30) and that certain schools will be extremely unlikely to review your application (UC San Francisco, Washington U, etc.) because they have so many other applicants with 3.8+ GPA and mid 30's MCAT scores.
9) Be sure that medicine is what you want before you go down this path. I don't have to tell you of the problems, etc. with modern medicine because your parents are involved with health care. Just be sure you aren't doing this due to family pressures, or only out of some desperate feeling that you have to "do something" with your life.
 

dragonfly99

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Apply to all of your state-sponsored medical schools.
Investigate whether neighboring states' medical schools take out of state applicants. I know that U of Vermont used to take 1/2 out of state students, but that was several years ago.

Apply to private schools that have a lot of out of state students, have higher acceptance rates and/or lower average GPA's +/- lower average MCAT scores. You should be able to find this out by reading the MSAR (medical school admissions report).

I would seriously only worry about all this after you take your MCAT next April.
 

BTC

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Here's some hope:

Me:
3.25 cGPA
3.75 sGPA
3.85 Post-bac GPA
MCAT: 35

6 allopathic interviews so far. I did some rounding for anonymity.
 

NTF

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Lol @ the mid 30s guess. Scoring in the top 8% isn't as easy as some might make it sound.

But seriously, it's a long path for most of us.

MCAT Score: PS 10, VR 10, BS 11, Q
Undergraduate BCPM GPA: 3.20
Undergraduate Overall GPA: 3.30

MS in Cell and Molecular Biology
Graduate GPA 3.9

Accepted EDP to my state school.

Congrats on MCG!
 
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