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I know you get all these threads about needing help...and here's mine. I hate to burden you all with this stuff but I just need some advice.

I applied to medical school this past year. Looks like I'm not getting in. The reason is because I cheated on two exams the fall of my sophomore year when my family situation went crazy and I had to take care of it all. My parents were going to divorce and were physically hurting each other. So I leave school to drive home every once in a while to take care of things and talk sense into them. And I got caught cheating and had 2 F's for those courses; took the next year (my junior year) off to recoup and went to a public university to take/retake courses and transfer them back.

Oh and I have a 3.4 GPA at a prestigious private university, 32Q on the MCAT (taken twice), very involved in the community and extracurriculars, no research, some volunteering, two different shadowing jobs. Oh needless to mention, since my family's episode I've paid for my tuition by working at a consulting job during the school year. As an example, this past year I made $13000 as a full time student working a full time job. I applied early (July August for primaries) and have gotten no interviews. I'm interested more in MD/MPH but probably the one where you do public health in the middle of med school.

So what do you think I should do? I know my job is to convince the admissions committees that this is and was a single isolated incident that occurred during a bad time. I just don't know what to do. I really want to go to medical school and want to reapply. I just don't know exactly how to go about it.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
 

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yourmom25 said:
I know you get all these threads about needing help...and here's mine. I hate to burden you all with this stuff but I just need some advice.

I applied to medical school this past year. Looks like I'm not getting in. The reason is because I cheated on two exams the fall of my sophomore year when my family situation went crazy and I had to take care of it all. My parents were going to divorce and were physically hurting each other. So I leave school to drive home every once in a while to take care of things and talk sense into them. And I got caught cheating and had 2 F's for those courses; took the next year (my junior year) off to recoup and went to a public university to take/retake courses and transfer them back.

Oh and I have a 3.4 GPA at a prestigious private university, 32Q on the MCAT (taken twice), very involved in the community and extracurriculars, no research, some volunteering, two different shadowing jobs. Oh needless to mention, since my family's episode I've paid for my tuition by working at a consulting job during the school year. As an example, this past year I made $13000 as a full time student working a full time job. I applied early (July August for primaries) and have gotten no interviews. I'm interested more in MD/MPH but probably the one where you do public health in the middle of med school.

So what do you think I should do? I know my job is to convince the admissions committees that this is and was a single isolated incident that occurred during a bad time. I just don't know what to do. I really want to go to medical school and want to reapply. I just don't know exactly how to go about it.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
Did you explain the situation in your Personal Statement or elsewhere in your application? Did you take the exams in the same day or something, otherwise why would you try to cheat again after you got caught the first time?
 

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As a future reference, when home life is going crazy, administrators and teachers are as a rule fairly sympathetic and will give you a continuance. When I had a dip in my grades during second year med school the dean actually sat me down and asked me if there was anything going on at home or my personal life and if there was anything they could do to help. Doing poorly because you have things going on makes me sympathetic. Cheating because things are going on does not.
 
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well i know that when things are going bad, i can talk about it. i'm a stubborn person but i've learned from this experience. i don't see it as a flaw; i see it more as a lesson that i'll carry with me for life.

also i explained it in my PS which gave it a negative tone. i know now that the second time around, i won't explain it in my PS and save it for the little box at the end of the application. just looking for some advice and experiences (if applicable).
 

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Just my unqualified opinion....

If you've cheated and got caught the last thing you should do is rationalize your decisions with some kind of moral relativism. There is perhaps no more important aspect of taking care of someone else than the trust they put in you to do so. I'm not being judgemental...I could put my trust in somebody who said they made bad decision under stress and regret it, and have learned more about themselves in the process--the importance of integrity for example. Your application while not uber-competitive is within acceptable range. Maybe look toward filling out some other aspects of your application--do some soul searching. Best of Luck--Ben.
 

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benelswick said:
Just my unqualified opinion....

If you've cheated and got caught the last thing you should do is rationalize your decisions with some kind of moral relativism. There is perhaps no more important aspect of taking care of someone else than the trust they put in you to do so. I'm not being judgemental...I could put my trust in somebody who said they made bad decision under stress and regret it, and have learned more about themselves in the process--the importance of integrity for example. Your application while not uber-competitive is within acceptable range. Maybe look toward filling out some other aspects of your application--do some soul searching. Best of Luck--Ben.
I agree. If it needs to be discussed, you should take 2 or 3 sentences to briefly state that you had this problem, that this was in your past, and list the specific steps you have taken to make amends or which demonstrate that you are beyond this. This should be done without making excuses or blaming others.

A couple other points.

1. Make sure you take care of the easy things. For example, get your transcripts to AMCAS before June, apply to AMCAS on June 1st, submit your secondaries within a couple days of receiving them, apply to a large number of schools (probably 20 or more).

2. Get some feedback on your application from your premed advisor or from a couple schools that interviewed you but did not accept you.
 
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Ok. Thank you to all of you for your responses. I am trying to fill out the other areas of my application with a research job in public health or the basic sciences this next year. I've also started volunteering in a Vietnamese clinic locally and have been having some great experiences there.

I will definitely get some feedback on my application. However, I have one question: should I mention my transgression in my PS? Because I don't want to have to bring it up and not fully explain it in the PS because that would lead to confusion. Or should I mention that my fall semester that year was stressful and I made a bad decision and have grown from it. I'm just confused as to what I should put where.

Also what do y'all think of this list of places, I'll apply to: UTSouthwestern, UTHouston, UTSA, UTMB, TAMU, TTHSC, Boston Univ, Loyola Chicago, Baylor, Stanford and Washu (my reaches). That's all I can think of now. Any other suggestions on non-top tier schools are welcome.

Finally, how much of a chance do you think I'll have if I proceed like this? Thanks for your feedback.
 

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yourmom25 said:
However, I have one question: should I mention my transgression in my PS? Because I don't want to have to bring it up and not fully explain it in the PS because that would lead to confusion. Or should I mention that my fall semester that year was stressful and I made a bad decision and have grown from it. I'm just confused as to what I should put where.
Does the cheating need to be mentioned specifically? If not, I might say the following. This assumes you've had a solid GPA since that semester. It also assumes you're currently helping others who have similar problems. (I assume you're not doing this now, but I think it would go a long way if you would find a volunteer position like this.) I does not try to explain "why" or give a lot of detail. I would avoid this as much as possible, IMHO.

"I had one bad semester during the fall of my sophmore year, right around the time my parents were divorcing. Since then, my GPA has been X.XX. In addition, I am currently a volunteer at the such-and-such-counseling-center to help other students whose parents are going through similar problems."
 

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benelswick said:
Just my unqualified opinion....

If you've cheated and got caught the last thing you should do is rationalize your decisions with some kind of moral relativism. There is perhaps no more important aspect of taking care of someone else than the trust they put in you to do so. I'm not being judgemental...I could put my trust in somebody who said they made bad decision under stress and regret it, and have learned more about themselves in the process--the importance of integrity for example. Your application while not uber-competitive is within acceptable range. Maybe look toward filling out some other aspects of your application--do some soul searching. Best of Luck--Ben.
Along these same lines, I would think that cheating is something more easilly explained away as a youthful indiscretion. Med schools are going to be more uncomfortable with cheating of recent vintage, as there is little track record to show you have learned from your mistakes and are now a better person. Perhaps you want to put aside the med school process for a couple of years, and then apply as an older and wiser candidate. Not what you wanted to hear, I know...
 
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Thanks again for your replies. I greatly appreciate the combined wisdom we all share on this board.

Yes, that's not necessarily what I want to hear. And I've heard it from others. How would being out of school for x years necessarily show that I've grown from my mistakes? In the past two years since my transgression I've taken on responsibilities. I've been president of clubs, worked 20-30 hours a week while going to pay for my education (made $12000 average the past two years), and I've still shadowed doctors and have had time to do recreational things like dance and work on cars etc. I've taken on these duties to test myself, to make sure when the pressure is on that I'm ready for the challenge and that I will never even come close to being tempted to do this again.

I feel that waiting a few years will do nothing to change because I'll have been working and there aren't opportunities to cheat as it would be in school. Also my grades haven't been stellar because of the difficulty of both my school and the courses I'm taking, but I've gotten 4.3GPA in the summer (working 45 hours a week for consulting, which includes travel), 3.3GPA in the fall and now I'm thinking I have a good shot at 3.8+ in this spring semester.

Again, thanks for your replies and opinions. I hope from this I can have a strong application to apply for medical school this year.
 

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I agree with Law2Doc, I don't quite think that enough time has passed for most schools to overlook this incident. How did you get caught cheating on 2 exams? Was it reported as separate incidents? If so, then you’re definitely in a bind, and maybe the only way to get around this is to take some time off and come back later to play the “maturation card.”

However, if this was not two separate incidents then why not go for the MPH in the meantime? This will give you a chance to improve your GPA, make you a more competitive applicant, as well as let some time pass since the cheating. You can apply to medical school right after the MPH and should roughly graduate Med school within the same time frame as you had originally planned going the MD/MPH route.
 

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yourmom25 said:
How would being out of school for x years necessarily show that I've grown from my mistakes? I feel that waiting a few years will do nothing to change because I'll have been working and there aren't opportunities to cheat as it would be in school.
You are right; being out of school for x years does NOT necessarily show that you've grown from your mistakes, that's your job to show. But time does change your outlook on things, and you will mature with time. I, personally, am a completely different person today at 28 then I was ONLY 3 years ago at 25 - when I didn't want anything to do with school. To answer your question you will have a much easier time convincing adcoms that you have learned and grown from your mistakes, and that you are a different person today, then you were yesterday - with time.
 

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go and meet with the dean at the medical schools you are looking at personally to talk about your application. It will get you some much needed face time and may help you.
 
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The exams both occurred in a two week span of each other and yes were reported as two different incidents and so were carried out as two different cases. I know it looks grim right now...

Do y'all think I stand a chance at the schools I listed above (Baylor, the UT system, Loyola Chicago, Boston Univ, etc)?
 

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ntmed said:
Does the cheating need to be mentioned specifically? If not, I might say the following. This assumes you've had a solid GPA since that semester. It also assumes you're currently helping others who have similar problems. (I assume you're not doing this now, but I think it would go a long way if you would find a volunteer position like this.) I does not try to explain "why" or give a lot of detail. I would avoid this as much as possible, IMHO.

"I had one bad semester during the fall of my sophmore year, right around the time my parents were divorcing. Since then, my GPA has been X.XX. In addition, I am currently a volunteer at the such-and-such-counseling-center to help other students whose parents are going through similar problems."
Even if they don't ask upfront the reasons for your performance sophomore year, I would tell them about your cheating and show that it was something in the past, and that you've learned from your mistakes. But there really isn't much you can do since you DID cheat twice. Acknowledging your mistake and asking them to overlook it is all you can do. I imagine it'll be extremely difficult for you to get into because of the cheating; there are thousands of other applicants who earned higher GPAs and balanced extracurriculars without having to cheat, regardless of family problems. I'm not judging you...just stating a fact. Good luck.
 
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Well, whether or not y'all believe it, my grades haven't been a result of cheating. I earned all my grades the old-fashioned way. My grades in both those courses became F's and I had to retake them.

Also since that fall, I've balanced school, girlfriend, 20-30 hr a week job as a self-employed student, paying bills and being totally independent, presidency of clubs, and participated in numerous other ones. I also indulged in my hobbies and was able to juggle the continuing but waning family problems with all that in the past two years. I believe this while not cheating ever again is a testament to my growth.

I cheated twice but to clarify it's not like I did it, got caught, then did it again. And I disagree with the idea that I need to bring it up front. This gives my PS a negative tone and from then on the adcoms only see me in a negative light. I firmly believe that having a positive PS that sells myself to the adcoms then filling in extenuating circumstances in the proper area will give myself a better chance. I tried what y'all are suggesting this year and it didn't go well at all.

I know I'm not being judged. This serves as good practice for interviews and preparation of my application. Again, any suggestions and comments are welcome.
 

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I personally wouldn't call schools where I'm planning to apply and say, "How do you feel about reformed cheaters?" I'd call other schools regarding their stance. Call Tufts, Drexel, TCOM, Johns Hopkins, etc.

I don't have to tell you this, but life is about choices. It was a very unfortunate, stressful, unimaginable situation that you and your family experienced. I don't know what I would have done in that situation. You'll definitely have to explain why you chose the easy way out, but (to me) your personal statement is not the place for it. It's something you should save for the interview. I think you realize that now.

Your stats seem fine for Texas schools...assuming you're a resident. The whole cheating thing makes it complicated. Did you interview anywhere this year?
 

2tall

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Another thing...cheating affects your credibility and character. I'd think you'd need some strong LORs that would reflect/define who you really are. Science professors are necessary and relevant...but community leaders, church leaders, people who know you personally would seem more important. You need something to distract from your past indiscretion. Maybe 2 LORs from science profs...4 from others.

Tone/content of your personal statement. You should have 3 things that you want adcoms to gleam from your PS. I'd think something along the lines of...overcoming weaknesses...decision making...integrity.

Keep the faith.
 

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I wonder if adcoms aren't frightened by your explanation of what happened. In their minds, med school and especially residencies are going to be a lot more stressful than any undergraduate situation. Could you perhaps describe the cheating situation and absolutely mention the family situation, but de-emphasize it a bit... perhaps spend more time on the awful, gut-wrenching guilt that you felt?
Also, if there has been any increase in your religious activity since that time, this'd be a good time to mention that... I put volunteer activity through church on my application, and it seemed like all my interviewers liked that I attend services regularly.
 

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t33sg1rl said:
I wonder if adcoms aren't frightened by your explanation of what happened. In their minds, med school and especially residencies are going to be a lot more stressful than any undergraduate situation. Could you perhaps describe the cheating situation and absolutely mention the family situation, but de-emphasize it a bit... perhaps spend more time on the awful, gut-wrenching guilt that you felt?
Also, if there has been any increase in your religious activity since that time, this'd be a good time to mention that... I put volunteer activity through church on my application, and it seemed like all my interviewers liked that I attend services regularly.

I agree... if troubled time and stress is the reason you cheated, and that's your justification, then perhaps med school is not such a good idea... I would not say all those thing you keep repeating over and over to compensate for your cheating (e.g. making 12 G's, president of some club, independence)... These people on the adcom are smart and they can smell BS very easily. If you want to prove that you've grown up, then don't try to compensate your mistake so much.. in the institutional action, just say that you were young and stupid and you've made mistakes... but you've changed and maintained good academic standing, which is also reflected on your MCAT score.

I'm not trying to make light of your background or the struggle you faced... but don't use it to justify your lack of integrity... use it to emphasize your ability to over come difficulties rather than as an excuse.. good luck
 
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i understand what y'all are saying. what i've said isn't to compensate for my mistake; it's more to show that i've overcome it and under similar amounts of pressure, i don't resort to cheating like i did. but i think your observation is good. i've never thought about it this way.

so now my PS pretty much looks like
- intro (same that i used last year),
- my experience with a doctor i shadowed and what he taught me about being a true doctor
- one specific memory and how it remains and impacts me to this day
- my work experiences to pay for my tuition and my experience in a clinic that i volunteer at

how does that sound to you?

and to answer 2tall's question: yes i am a TX resident
 

2tall

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More importantly...what does your PS say about you? What is a true doctor and why do you want to be one? Why does that memory still impact you? What does working to pay for your tuition say about you? What insight did you gain from your clinic experience?

It sounds fine. Keep in mind what I've already said. It's a question of your character and integrity. As an applicant, you have ultimate control deciding what to present to schools and how to present it. Take advantage of it!