redwings54

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Hello, so here is my quandary. I have searched all the forums and have asked questions before, but I haven’t gotten much concrete advice other than to keep plugging. I graduated from a top Liberal Arts college with a chem. degree and minor in philosophy. I was an RA, chem. TA, research assistant for two years with a publication, volunteer at an elementary school and captained our rugby team. I had fun in college but because of a lot of personal stuff I went through and the fact that I wasn’t comfortable with myself, my GPA suffered at the expense of me trying to find out who I am. My GPA is 3.05 with a science GPA of 2.79 I won a prestigious fellowship upon graduation studying holistic medicine so I have tons of experience in that field plus shadowing of both DOs and MDs. I took the MCAT twice, 25 first time and 24 second. Second time I was working full time, had 6 people pass away in my life in 10 months and found out my dad had cancer 2 weeks before the test. Needless to say, I should have been more prepared, but I wasn’t. Currently, I am pretty sure I am getting a job working as a phlebotomist and lab assistant at our local hospital, and I am working on two publications on medical anthropology from my fellowship. In the meantime, I am substitute teaching.

So that is the background, here are my questions for the future. I know I need to either do a postbac or a Masters to become more acceptable academically, but I don’t have the money or mental stability to take off time and just complete a year or two of school. My CC has a bunch of classes that my undergrad didn’t have, with schedules that I can fit around work, but the classes would be from a CC and might not mean as much as I took them at Harvard Extension or BU. I am from NH, about 1.5 hours from Boston so commuting down there would be very tough to work as well. I also took my MCATs after sophomore and junior year respectfully so they might be not eligible if I don’t apply soon.

So here are my two main problems: Low GPA and low MCAT.

Other problems: no colleges near me to do a Masters at and still work, and CC would look bad and might not raise my GPA enough

So please help. I love medicine and love the thought of helping other people. I have worked my whole life with the goal of being a doctor, MD or DO now because I love their philosophy. Thank you in advance for your support and encouragement. Keep smiling.
 

Phil Anthropist

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Sorry to hear about your difficult times as an undergrad. It sounds like you have some unique experiences.

Just some thoughts...

The average MCAT for MD matriculants in the US is around 29-30. I believe 25 is the average for osteopathic schools, but hits upper-20s in some. So I don't know if you intend to retake or not [since you're mentioning expiration of the MCAT (many schools only look at MCATs taken within three years)], but if you don't, your chances are better at DO schools. I wouldn't discourage you from applying to US MD schools, but if you apply you'll need to shoot for a much higher MCAT to still be in the game. DO schools are more receptive to non-trads and more willing to look past numbers.

With DO schools, if you have any retakes, only your most recent courses will count--this can definitely work to your advantage if you're trying to increase your undergrad GPA.

If community college courses are the only classes you can realistically take, it's better than nothing. But some admissions committees do not look at community college coursework favorably. If you do take some cc courses, make sure you get only As. But at some point I think you need to take some upper-division courses at a 4-yr school.

Also did you ever consider correspondence courses? I don't know what it's like out in New Hampshire, but you might want to see if you can find some schools that have reasonably priced distance learning/correspondence courses. It would avoid a 3-hr commute to and from Boston and would also solve the problem of taking courses at community colleges. Some things to consider if you decide to take distance learning/correspondence courses: (1) the course counts as credits at the institution offering it (you'd be surprised) and the same name appears on the transcript (e.g., shows up as "Human Anatomy" instead of "Human Anatomy Correspondence Course." It's not necessarily bad to have correspondence courses, but it'll save you the headache of explaining to these schools that you had to take correspondence courses), (2) you receive a grade, (3) you are able to take the exams at a reasonable area, (4) you can realistically complete the course by the time you desire.

I'm not sure how it goes on the DO application, but for the MD application graduate GPA (if you did a master's) won't go on your undergrad bcpm or cumulative GPAs. So your 3.05/2.79 undergrad GPAs would remain unchanged, but you would have a separate section on the MD application for your grad gpa. So it might look something like this 3.05 cumulative undergrad, 2.79 bcpm undergrad, 4.0 grad. On the other hand, if you did a postbac of undergrad classes, your cumulative and bcpm undergrad GPAs could change. This could work to your advantage. Some DO schools have minimum GPA requirements for science (check the AACOM Information Book--you can see it on the website or download it off the website free. Let me know if you need the link). I think your GPA now passes most of those minimums for secondary applications, but it wouldn't hurt to give it a little makeover.

I've heard horror stories of people doing traditional masters programs in hard sciences, doing reasonably well (~3.5), and not getting in. If you're going to do a master's, your best bet is an intense 1-year program (like the special master's program at Boston U). And you mentioned that you can't just take off a year and didn't have a lot of money to spend...For these reasons, it would probably be best to consider the undergrad postbac route as opposed to a masters in my opinion.

Good luck!
 
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redwings54

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Phil, thanks a lot. I am looking at either taking classes at my local CC or trying for a MPH online from possibly UMASS or a MHS online from Nova Southeastern. With the CC, I can take up to 13 classes, two would be repeats to get ride of C+'s, and could boost my GPA up to 3.32 and a science of 3.2something. The cost would be great too because my new job will pay up to 2 grand for education. The MHS at Nova seems great, a Child Development Specialist program since I want to be a pediatrician, and it costs around $10,000. The UMass course is only like $5000 and can be completed in 2 years. Seems like I wont be able to apply until summer of 2006 anyway because I will need a years of grades to get me up there. Have you heard about your Masters programs? Also, what did you get on the MCAT if you dont mind my asking? THanks for the advice.
 
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redwings54

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sunnyjohn said:
MPH online?? 5k???
More info....Please

agape

Sorry I messed up, its $400 per credit for a total of 36 credits. So the total cost would be $14400 instead of the $4800. Nova Southeastern does have an online MHS program though that costs around $10000 which is pretty good.
 

Phil Anthropist

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redwings54--

I'm still in the process of gathering my LORs, transcripts, etc. (My school is on a trimester system so my timeline is a little strange). I'm only considering a few programs. I spoke with the director of one of the programs and she basically said I shouldn't have a problem. I'm taking the MCAT in August. I did pretty well with the SAT back in the day, so I'm not too worried about getting a decent score on the GRE (which I can use in place of the MCAT for the time being).

Edit: About MPH programs, you might want to check to see that these online programs are CEPH accredited. Some people don't care too much about CEPH accreditation, but for some jobs and fellowships (e.g., CDC positions and Preventive Medicine, respectively) CEPH accreditation is important.

I'm not familiar with Nova's MHS program.
 

medanthgirl

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we are like 95% twins redwings! i was a double major at UNC in chemistry and anthropology, 3.1 cumulative gpa, 2.8 science gpa. was president of my chemistry fraternity, very active in sports, volunteering, ta'ed and ra'ed in chemistry etc, but maybe spread myself to thin to get really good, competitive grades unfortunately. however, i did so well on the anthropology side i got a full fellowship for an asian studies/international health master's program and had a great time. since then i've been working in radiology research and teaching anthropology at a community college, but i absolutely still want to go to medical school and become a doctor. i will be taking the mcat this august and have started studying, because i work full time and then some, so i need to compete with those people who spend their whole summer doing nothing but mcat study. i guess i don't have much advice for you, but just wanted to let you know you had a friend and kindred spirit.

my plan is to continue taking a course a semester for the next 1.5 years, replacing my bad physics and biochem grades, then applying to a post-bacc program like rfu or drexel, and then hopefully applying to med school itself! i might not work out for me, but i don't want to wonder in ten years what if (i am 26 now)

good luck! :luck:
 

Phil Anthropist

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medanthgirl said:
i need to compete with those people who spend their whole summer doing nothing but mcat study.
SAY IT AIN'T SO MEDANTHGIRL!!! :laugh:

That's pretty much what I'm expecting to do all summer, in addition to some volunteering. So I guess we're competing! :smuggrin: ;)

In all seriousness, good luck. I'm sure you'll do well! :luck:
 

medanthgirl

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Phil Anthropist said:
SAY IT AIN'T SO MEDANTHGIRL!!! :laugh:

That's pretty much what I'm expecting to do all summer, in addition to some volunteering. So I guess we're competing! :smuggrin: ;)

In all seriousness, good luck. I'm sure you'll do well! :luck:

IT'S ON!! :D yup, i know your type, studying from 9-5 everyday during the summer, eating dinner, and then studying more! well here i am in march with on chp 5 in EK bio and gen chem, so hahaha! :laugh: of course i'll prob. have to read EK 3x for your 1x, but it's all good! :D