BlackRockDoc

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dfdaI received my BS and BA from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA (http://evergreen.edu). For the unfamiliar, Evergreen has narrative evaluations (both of student by faculty, and student self-evaluation) in lieu of a GPA on the transcript. With an application process like AMCAS/AACOMAS, this can get a bit hairy and discouraging.

My 'transcript' is in reality a 35 page single-spaced dossier, detailing all my accomplishments and shortcomings in ways that a simple letter grade would have never touched.

I was accepted to NSUCOM and ATSU-SOMA this year during my first round of applications, and will be part of the NSUCOM Class of 2012. If any present or future applicants have questions about how adcoms view or handle narrative evaluations, I'm glad to offer my assistance. Keep hope alive!
 

nu2004

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nice, congrats.

did your interviewers say anything about your evaluations? i'm sure they couldn't give too much away, but i wonder how they evaluated you against other students. do you think they gave more weight to your MCAT, PS, and LORs? just curious. again, congrats, this sounds like it was a feat.
 
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BlackRockDoc

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I had a portfolio review as part of my interview day at ATSU-SOMA, and they said that I was a... unique applicant. Between my dossier/transcript, my PS story, and my experience/extracurriculars (Burning Man and relief work in Ecuador and after Katrina), I was apparently an outlier.

I'm not sure that they gave more or less weight to my MCAT/PS/LORs, but even the heft of the application caused it to stand out. In an selection process where one is more likely to get lost in the noise than get actively dismissed, I was happy to stand out for (mostly) good reasons. My MCAT score was solid (31R), so I was glad to have that as an asset rather than a liability.

Both interviews at NSUCOM and ATSU-SOMA remarked about the meaty and detailed nature of the transcript, and at least one interviewer in each group was familiar with narrative evals. I believe that in each interview, at least one positive and negative detail was referred to from an evaluation, and I had an opportunity to remark upon / defend / refute it. I imagine something similar would happen with letter grades/GPAs.

At least two schools (AZCOM and Touro-CA) didn't send me secondary apps due to my transcript and GPA. The only GPA calculated in my AACOMAS was from my first year of college at 17 years old, which didn't go all that well. I wrote AZCOM a letter explaining my transcript and Evergreen's process, and they sent me a secondary the next day.

WesternU/COMP was concerned about a lack of physics credits on my transcript, but I was able to point them to appropriate coursework in my transcript (astronomy, physics, and biomedical imaging/biophysics lab research) to satisfy the requirement.
 

notdeadyet

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I had a narrative eval transcript as well (from UC Santa Cruz back in the day before grades were an option too). I had several adcoms tell me that if it weren't for grades in my postbac, I probably would not have passed their initial screen.
 

nu2004

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ha, brave. i didn't put Burning Man on my list of extracurriculars ;)

i was trying to decide between two med schools, one that starts in July and one that starts in September. it was tough, but i chose the school that starts in July. so no BM this year...

edit: d'oh, just noticed that your handle is "BlackRockDoc"
 
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I actually finished my personal statement and filed my AACOMAS from BRC this past year. That might be a first even for that event!

I've been part of the Black Rock City Emergency Services Department for the past four years, as both a 911 dispatcher and as an EMT. It's a great place to learn medicine, and my fellow volunteers are hilarious. Our department chief also wrote me one of my LORs, so I wasn't afraid to put most of my freaky stuff up front in my app.

I'll miss it there.
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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It is definitely possible to get into med school with no UG grades, but it will make your life more difficult. Like the OP, I also went to a LAC (New College of Florida) with no grades, credit hours, or GPA. My transcript was basically just a list of courses I had taken--the school doesn't really even recognize designations like "freshman" or "sophomore," so I had to arbitrarily divide the courses up based on approximately when I took them. Since there were no credits awarded, I just left those boxes blank on AMCAS, and I put "pass" as my grade for every class. I also made copies of all my pre-req narrative evals and sent them to all of my schools along with a page-long essay that I wrote to explain how the NC curriculum worked. (NC doesn't even send copies of evals with the official transcript, so if I didn't send them myself, the med schools would have no way of getting them.)

did your interviewers say anything about your evaluations? i'm sure they couldn't give too much away, but i wonder how they evaluated you against other students. do you think they gave more weight to your MCAT, PS, and LORs? just curious. again, congrats, this sounds like it was a feat.
No interviewers ever mentioned my college evals to me, though they did ask me about why I chose such an unusual college sometimes. I have no idea how interviewers or med schools evaluated me, to be honest. I was such an extreme candidate that the med schools either really loved me, or else they just rejected me.

My advice to people with unusual academic backgrounds would be to apply broadly and don't have preconceived notions about med schools based on hearsay. You can't possibly know which schools will be open to an applicant like you before you try applying. The school that I had picked out on paper as my top choice before I applied was the first one to reject me pre-secondary, and the school that I almost cancelled the interview for wound up being the one that offered me the most scholarship money and just impressing the heck out of me at my interview day.
 

Nevadanteater

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Damn! We should have a SDN burner reunion this year...

::Says the guy who might not even be going this year::
 

nu2004

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I was such an extreme candidate that the med schools either really loved me, or else they just rejected me.
I can't imagine how an admissions committee could NOT have been intrigued with an app like yours. Heck, I would have invited you for an interview out of sheer curiosity.

Sounds like it worked out though, congrats.

Damn! We should have a SDN burner reunion this year...

::Says the guy who might not even be going this year::
yep, i won't be there. classes start (ugh) July 10.


















just kidding i'm really psyched.
 

drimpossible

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I actually am in a similar boat as the first poster. My UG institution had evaluations instead of grades, therefore people look at me like I'm crazy when I hand them my phonebook of a transcript. Thankfully, my school's transcripts with a well written cover letter that explains how to interpret the transcript, etc.

I took a few classes for grades as an UG, so as it stands now I think I'm going to be sending three different transcripts for my med school apps! I have my undergrad transcript of mostly evals (plus a few graded courses), my current community college transcript, and my future Rutgers post-bacc transcript.

Think they'll be able to tell I'm a non-traditional applicant? ;)
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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I can't imagine how an admissions committee could NOT have been intrigued with an app like yours. Heck, I would have invited you for an interview out of sheer curiosity.
Maybe they saw the sheer size of my dossier and ran screaming from the room. Really, who could blame them? :p

Best of luck with school. :)
 

nu2004

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Maybe they saw the sheer size of my dossier and ran screaming from the room. Really, who could blame them? :p

Best of luck with school. :)
that's actually a pretty funny mental picture. an older, staid, gray-haired physician glancing at your file and leaping from his chair, screaming bloody murder as he sprints out of the committee room... :D
 

nebratu

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Bumping this because it's related to my question. My undergrad institution had grades and Narrative Evals (I have both for almost all of my classes). My post-bacc was at another school with letter grades only. AMCAS rejected my undergrad transcripts as incomplete because I submitted it w/o evals, so I just re-requested them. I already submitted my AACOMAS app with my transcripts that are grades only. I guess my question is, should I resend my transcripts with the narrative evals to AACOMAS, or is it too late since its already been verified?
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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Bumping this because it's related to my question. My undergrad institution had grades and Narrative Evals (I have both for almost all of my classes). My post-bacc was at another school with letter grades only. AMCAS rejected my undergrad transcripts as incomplete because I submitted it w/o evals, so I just re-requested them. I already submitted my AACOMAS app with my transcripts that are grades only. I guess my question is, should I resend my transcripts with the narrative evals to AACOMAS, or is it too late since its already been verified?
Does your school give official copies of the evals? If so, you have to request them from your registrar and have them sent directly to AMCAS. If not, you should tell AMCAS that there are no official copies. My college does not ever give official copies of student evals, so I did not have to submit any of my evals to AMCAS in order to be verified.

As for AACOMAS, my advice is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. ;)
 

nebratu

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Does your school give official copies of the evals? If so, you have to request them from your registrar and have them sent directly to AMCAS. If not, you should tell AMCAS that there are no official copies. My college does not ever give official copies of student evals, so I did not have to submit any of my evals to AMCAS in order to be verified.
Unfortunately, yes, there is an official copy with evals. I checked the AMCAS instructions, and it indicates I should've requested those (so that one is on me I guess). So even though almost all my classes have grades, I need to resubmit with the narrative evals.

hehe, missed your last line, I'm liking it.