Zombie Head

Apr 8, 2010
I have been planning on attending med schoo from the start, but my past was extremely tough and really ruined a lot. This may be long, but please do not dismiss me merely for that reason.

At the beginning of my very 1st semester of college, my mom died of stage 4, T-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. I was treated very poorly by my father, and he would not give me any info for fin aid. I also had 3 little brothers, and I helped raise them, basically becoming their new mom. I tried to get fin aid, but without my dad's tax info, nothing could be done (they consider you a dependent, no matter what, until the age of 23, or marriage, military, being a parent, or divorcing your family happens).

For years, it was an endless cycle of pain. I had to work full time and I still wasn't scraping by. I paid for everything alone, and my car kept breaking down. I commute to school from a different city, and my city has 0 public transportation. I had to work full time mostly to pay off school, take care of my brothers and father, and I couldn't take any time off from school or else I would have lost my health insurance and I would have been kicked out of my house. My attention was forced to be on work and school. There were times I knew I needed to drop classes because I was doing poorly, but because I owed the school money, a hold was put on my account so I could not drop, no matter what I did.

At the same time, due to the trauma of losing my mother, my immune system just crashed. I got infections for the 1st time in my life, and I also aquired PTSD. No death is pleasant, however, the events surrounding my mom's death were just horrific.

To add insult to injury, I had an impossible string of bad luck. You know the lame excuse, "The dog ate my homework?" That kind of stuff kept happening to me constantly. It got to the point that even to me, explaining myself seemed lame, although it was absolutely true. I was accused of a hit and run I was never in. I was laid off and had to get unemployment. My car needed the fuel pump replaced twice within 6 months, which cost a small fortune, and it took months to accumulate the money to fix it. Those are only some of the examples.

When I finally did get financial aid, it was no where near what I desperately needed. After 3 years, I finally convinced my dad to give me his tax info, and he only did because my younger brother was going into college (I also argued on his behalf).

My majors are biological anthropology and art history (a double major) and I have taken advanced classes, even one graduate level class. I'm extremely adept at osteology, I absolutely adore bones, and more than anything, I want to become an orthopedic surgeon. I'm almost done with th pre-reqs for med school, and now that I have achieved the age of 24, FAFSA finally considers me an independent, and I'm finally getting the financial aid I have needed for years.

I have everything a med school could want: I volunteered at the university's hospital in the CT room, I will be volunteering for the Red Cross, I'm professional rescuer certified, I have solid residency, I'm taking the MCAT in Aug, but all the practice tests I've done indicate I will get a good score, I will have all the pre-reqs and much more, I'm a double major, I have excellent writing and research skills (required for my majors), I have a great bedside manner, I'm wonderful at interviews, I have shining letters of recommendation, and I have even helped people with the knowledge I have of medicine (but I know I am not yet a doc, and I tell them they need to see one). Do not think I am audacious, but I have suggested diagnoses for individuals and myself with some unique issues, and have always been correct thus far (again, I know I am not yet a doc, and I tell them they need to see one).

I know that if I could meet with admissions, they would be charmed and pleased with me. However, even with the aforementioned pluses on my side, there is one thing that completely breaks my heart: I do not have a good cumulative GPA. In my majors, I have a 3.3. Cumulatively, I have a 2.5. What really ruined it for me was not only my past, but that during the difficult past 6 years, I attempted to take challenging pre med courses, and 1 I had to repeat 5 times, and 1 3 times, with many low GPA's in-between. My school only does grade replacement for up to 12 credit hours. I kept trying these classes thinking the next semester would be better because probs would be resolved, but they just got worse. This is what is killing my GPA, and even if I did perfectly for the next 3 semesters (of which at the end I'm supposed to graduate), I would only get up to a 2.7. I would have to take over 150 more credit hours to even get a 3.0! This knowledge crushes me because I know if not for my past, I would at least have a 3.5. I currently feel like a failure, and I blame myself. I only recently leard that I could have petetioned at the time, but this info came much too late. Even the dean states there is nothing he can do (or won't do).

I am not stupid or ignorant. Those who meet me consider me to be a 'brain'. They think I'm very intelligent. I have even helped my TA teach anatomy and physiology. Although I do not consider myself a genius, I do believe I'm pretty smart (I do not flaunt it, and I do not think I'm always right).

I have searched everywhere for help and understanding, from Google to the dean of my college, and I haven't got anywhere. I have exhausted all that I can do, and I'm at the point where I really do need help.

Although things are finally better, and I'm doing quite well, my cumulative GPA haunts me. I have struggled for 6 years, been as low as anyone can go, and I never gave up. I persevered and handled extreme stress with grace and calm. I know I can, and want, to go to med school. If I didn't think I had what it takes, I would have given up years ago. People tell me anyone else would, in fact, have given up. I have known people with excellent GPA's give up on the first try.

I know that there are individuals that will say, "Well, maybe you should do this or that instead." While I have no delusions of grandure, I know I am meant, and want to do this. The conviction is in my perseverence.

What can I do? I have sought help and info everywhere, and have come up empty handed. I'm tired of being the underdog, and I want to move on with my life. I'm already 24, and by the time I graduate, I will be going on 26. I want, and, financially and mentally, need to be accepted Fall 2011. I don't know what to do. I have heard that med school weighs heavily on GPA and MCAT, but then I also have heard they prefer how you present yourself. I have improved greatly, and I am ready, but will they be? I don't want to apply unless I know I have just as much of a chance as everyone else.

Should I go ahead and apply? Should I try to speak with admissions? Will they understand and see that they have a good, strong future doctor in their midst that can handle her own and not even flinch at the sign of extreme stress and complicated problems? I really need some useful, strong, constructive help.

If you have managed to read through my rambling, I am extremly grateful to you. I feel it was necessary to reveal all, so I get more accurate feedback. If you can help, please do, and God bless you. Any info or advice will help. Thank you, and may you get all that you want and need in life.


Go Pack
7+ Year Member
Jun 22, 2009
Medical Student
Yeah...I read all of it. Okay well if you have a strong upward trend, that will look good on your application. You need to DESTROY the MCAT. Unfortunately, medical schools have a "screening process" in which if you do not have adequate GPA or MCAT, your application will not even be glanced over. It definitely sounds like you can claim "disadvantaged status" on your application. There is a much better chance that because of your disadvantaged status that your application will be pulled for review just to see what is going on. I would suggest (if you score very well on the MCAT 35+) you should send letters to the admission committees to let them know that you really want an interview and would love to be given the opportunity (this worked for my friends father at UT Southwestern). If you do not get in this application cycle, your best bet would to try to enroll in a SMP or post-bacc program. In an SMP you can prove to medical schools that you can handle their curriculum. I'm in a situation similar to yours. If you have any more questions, just PM me.:)


10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2009
Medical Student
wow you know i read a lot of excuses for why people got the grades they got or tried to pass off as hardship but I could never imagine being in the situation you went through and trying to survive! Unfortunately, I don't know what you really can do except SMP. Good luck on the MCAT
Sep 4, 2006
Inside the tesseract
I think you should consider aiming at osteopathic med schools. Their application service only includes the most recent grade taken for a course (whereas MD averages them all in, even if your college forgave it).

Put your grades into this DO GPA calculation spreadsheet: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=450050 using only the most recent grade of your retakes. Let us know what you get.

Further you should know that there are some DO med schools that consider applications with a cGPA as low as 2.5 if you have a strong MCAT score and good science GPA (they don't include math in this number like MD schools do). More look at a 2.75, and a lot consider 3.0.