Sonderist

2+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2014
4
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Pre-Medical
Same song and dance as everyone else: I need an evaluation of my chances and some advice on where to go from here.

Coming from a Top-10 non-Ivy undergrad:
cGPA: 3.35 --> 3.43 maximum at graduation in May
sGPA: 3.1 --> 3.2 maximum at graduation in May

LOR's:
Lab PI
Cell/Dev Bio instructor
Education instructor
???

EC's:
~200 hours of volunteering in the Surgical Waiting Room at university med center
3 semesters of research in a pediatric infectious disease lab, some publications (no first author)
4 years as a Lifeguard
President of Bioethics Society and 3 year member
Treasurer of Biology Majors Union and 3 year member

MCAT: none as of yet, planning to take it in May or thereabout

My main thing is that I really need a good picture of where I stand as an applicant. I know that without an MCAT there is a lot of supposition I'd need to make for a truly accurate picture, but I think that the MCAT is not my biggest issue at the moment. I've been trying to weigh the decision to either pursue an SMP to boost my grades (pretty abysmal I know) or try to get work experience (clinical research or healthcare consulting) under my belt to assure med schools of my maturity.

Frankly, I think that I need to take at least 2 years out of undergrad to assure both med schools and myself that I can actually handle this. I know that I want to be a physician more than anything else than I can think of doing with my life, and I truly believe that I have the right motivations and the necessary aptitude to do it.
What should I do?
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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Your priorities for this year
1) Absolutely ace all your science classes this year. Cut off whatever else you need to in order to make this happen.
2) Put as much time as you need to and effort needed to get the highest MCAT score you can.

After these two things have occurred, evaluate where you stand. 3.43/3.2 is a low GPA but it's worth comparing other top schools and see how applicants fair with those GPA. And most importantly, try and get a hold of this kind of data from your pre-med advisors(if you got to a top 10 school there's a good chance they keep track of this). For example, a high enough proportion of people with 3.2-3.4 science GPA's and 33+ MCATs from a school like WASHU get into medical school that if you can do well on the MCAT it might be worth taking a stab at an application cycle and seeing what happens. On top of that, if you do well this year you'll have a bit of an upward trend which will only help your case.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. You need to first ace this year. IF you don't then I think some kind of GPA repair is probably in order. SMP's are not a bad option; while SMP programs are brutal and very risky and hence I am often hesitant to avoid them for someone who went to a top school these can often be solid ideas. While the level of info you have to consume is absolutely brutal, you are use to top competition being at a top school which will help you. Frankly, the level of SMP students who you will be in class with is going to be lower than the level of students at top 10 schools, particularly the upper level ones where alot of the weeding is done. Do well in an SMP, and if you get a good MCAT score, I think you can be very competitive for a number of MD programs pretty quickly.

You can see where the focus of this discussion is centered around though and I think that answers your question. For medical school admission Addressing concerns about your GPA>>>>>>Gaining an Extra Job and trying to show "maturity". Both are important, but the latter doesn't matter if the GPA isn't in order. That should be your focus. Another possible option might be a DIY post-bacc at your State U which is cheaper to boost your GPA and less risky than an SMP. But your focus has to be on your stats; the GPA and the MCAT. You can always take a gap year to fill all the EC stuff. But if the stats aren't in place, nothing else matters.
 
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Sonderist

2+ Year Member
Oct 7, 2014
4
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Pre-Medical
First off thanks for that very thorough answer!

I feel very unsure about my own abilities after my undergrad career. Needless to say I fell very short of my goal academically, and now I worry that while I am smart enough to do well in science courses/SMP/med school, I lack the discipline because I hadn't truly realized what a hole I was digging for myself. With that in mind, do you think that it would be wise to do an SMP *and* take time off to work?
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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First off thanks for that very thorough answer!

I feel very unsure about my own abilities after my undergrad career. Needless to say I fell very short of my goal academically, and now I worry that while I am smart enough to do well in science courses/SMP/med school, I lack the discipline because I hadn't truly realized what a hole I was digging for myself. With that in mind, do you think that it would be wise to do an SMP *and* take time off to work?
Well that's why I said your top two priorities should be absolutely focusing on doing your best in school this year and on the MCAT. You'll get a better idea of your own abilities this year and motivation and discipline and know what you need to about yourself. Only you can answer these questions and issues but the way to realize what you are capable of and whether you have what it takes is to go all in on doing well this year and on the MCAT. If you do well this yea rand have a strong showing on the MCAT, I don't think the question is are you capable of doing well. Med schools don't admit people they don't think are capable of doing well. Your performance this next year and how your MCAT goes will tell you and med schools alot about yourself. If your issue is simply getting into medical school, bare in mind a strong showing this year and you can definitely be a competitive DO candidate at a number of schools with a solid showing on the MCAT.

Keep in mind you are comparing yourself to students in a top 10 school, your opinion of yourself would probably be alot different if you were competing with State U students with 1800 SAT scores than the ones you do with 2300 SAT scores where half were val/sal of their class.
 

md-2020

The Immaculate Catch
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Jun 29, 2015
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If you do in fact achieve a 3.43/3.2 and you crush the MCAT (515+ at least) you might be competitive for MD schools (unless you're ORM) coming from a T10 UG. Check out your school's applicant stats to verify if this is true @ your school, as I am only going off of numbers from my UG.


First things first though, a 4.0 this year is no easy task. Bear down.
 

GrapesofRath

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Yes a 4.0 is no easy task at all. Even a 3.7 when you have a 3.1 sGPA is a difficult feat.

I don't really get into a discussion about the "ORM" topic but since it was blatantly brought up
all I'll say is don't change any of your plans if you are a ORM, period.

Go through those AAMC tables, on average for each GPA/MCAT score, the proportion of Asians who were accepted that had a given group of stats is about 6-7% lower than those of whites. Actually, go through the graphs of WAMC at the top of the forum and compare for each specific GPA/MCAT. Yes, it is a disadvantage, and the merits of how it's happened can perhaps be questioned(I'm not going to get into it and I am an ORM btw) but the extent of which is largely overblown. If it makes you sleep better, subtract 6-7% from your chances if you see one of those GPA/MCAT grids from top schools your own top school to give you a rough ball park estimate. A 42% chance vs a 48% chance for example, shouldn't be changing anybody's plans.
 
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Ad2b

SDN Gold Donor
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Nov 3, 2014
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Pre-Medical
@Sonderist - Grapes has some really good advice. Listen to it. It is the same as mine (I'm a non-trad with lousy ugrad and also one of those reinventererss types 20+ years later... don't be me and wait 20 years ;) )

That may also be your course. 4.0 this year. Graduate. Get some life experience. Rethink it then.
 

Goro

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Jun 10, 2010
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The SGPA will be lethal for MD schools.

Suggest doing the SMP

Otherwise fine for most DO schools


If you do in fact achieve a 3.43/3.2 and you crush the MCAT (515+ at least) you might be competitive for MD schools (unless you're ORM) coming from a T10 UG. Check out your school's applicant stats to verify if this is true @ your school, as I am only going off of numbers from my UG.


First things first though, a 4.0 this year is no easy task. Bear down.
 
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