Nov 23, 2010
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Hi Everyone. I posted this in the no trad forum too but it was suggested I also get advice here.

Here's my quick story (I'm leaving out all the WHY I've decided i want to go into medicine, which im happy to answer later).

I'm 26 (27 in March), graduated in 2007 from Oberlin College (a well respected liberal arts college - which i dont say to sound snooty but just b/c that seems to matter for apps) with a GPA of 3.7, some academic awards, and lots of extracurriculars / volunteering (non-medical).

No science background - almost no science classes. I have a bio/lab (intro) on my list and 4 credits of physics (though they were for non-physics majors - relativity and quantum mechanics and one solid course on the physics of energy and energy production). Obviously I have a full liberal arts background. I don't know if any of my sciences count, I'm assuming not.


Here's what I'm trying to figure out: the best and fastest way of getting myself from zero to med school. I just came to the full decision to embark on this course recently, which is know is not optimally timed for PB programs. One oddity I have is that I am already pre-booked this summer from June through August and I can't shift this. I have to be in southern New Hampshire - now I will have time to take some classes but they would need to be flexible (online or a local college with a schedule i could figure out ahead of time). For the rest of my time I would like to be in the Bay Area of California.

From what I've read post-bac programs are preferred over community college (and I can afford to do this, though i certainly dont want to spend it unless its necessary). I want the best chance of getting into a US medical school, though. Are PBs also preferred over a piecemeal approach from 4-year unis? Such as doing my classes myself through UC Berkeley extension and other local schools?

I have the advantage of being very financially secure. So I can afford to embark on this process and I probably won't need to take out loans. It also means that I would like do this as aggressively as possible while also making sure i allow myself time to transition back into school and get fantastic grades (the desire for an aggressive approach comes from a desire to get to med school asap and also - I really want to start! I'm very excited about the decision I've made and I want to start classes and learning right away).

What sort of schedule can I expect at that point? Can I do the post-bac from Jan '11 to december '11? I will not need to work while I do the post-bac so I can be aggressive about it (recognizing also that I've never done a full science load before so it will be a big transition for me).

When one does a post-bac do they apply to schools during the program? And then send in Mcat scores?

For post-bacs do I need to have the GRE's done? I don't. I read something on the UC Berkeley site that seemed to indicate they just looked at essays/letters and your GPA.

Thanks all.
 

Isoprop

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The absolute fastest way? A unstructured post-bacc at a local state college (I'm not sure what's available in NorCal). Possibly through a UC extension. Avoid CCs.

Spring 2011:
Chemistry I
Biology I
Calculus I

Fall 2011:
Chemistry II
Biology II
Statistics

Spring 2012:
Organic Chem I
Physics I

Summer 2013:
Organic Chem II
Physics II
Apply for medical school

Fall 2013:
Take MCAT

Since your GPA is so high, I would advise you to apply to formal linkage programs for entering Fall 2011. That would be the "safest" and probably take the same amount of time (or 1 year longer at most).
 

DrMidlife

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Isoprop, do you realize you're telling the guy to apply to med school in the summer prior to a fall MCAT, which would be, um, bad?
Summer 2013:
Organic Chem II
Physics II
Apply for medical school

Fall 2013:
Take MCAT
By the way, taking the MCAT before ochem II is survivable, but taking the MCAT before physics II is not.

Med school apps open June 1-ish. An app that's complete in August, imho, is late; complete in October, imho, is a waste of time and money.

Generally, though, ad hoc coursework through a 4yr school is definitely the way to go. Try UC Berkeley extension.

Best of luck to you.
 

robflanker

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Isoprop, do you realize you're telling the guy to apply to med school in the summer prior to a fall MCAT, which would be, um, bad?

By the way, taking the MCAT before ochem II is survivable, but taking the MCAT before physics II is not.

Med school apps open June 1-ish. An app that's complete in August, imho, is late; complete in October, imho, is a waste of time and money.
As Midlife said, Isoprop you are very wrong on this.

Most schools dont accept MCATs after Sept 1st, some Sept 15th and then you'll get a splattering earlier and later.

Therefore, a Sept/Oct MCAT isnt going to be acceptable for the application process.
 

Isoprop

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I was illustrating the absolute fastest way, not the best way. As I said, a formal post-bacc linkage program would probably be the best chance. Next would be an unstructured post-bacc.
 

DrMidlife

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Technically correct.

Isoprop's schedule is the fastest way to a complete US MD app, unless you can get a competitive MCAT score before taking the prereqs. (Theoretically possible; ill-advised.)

Whether such an app would get you into med school...of that I'd have low-to-no confidence. Best case: you don't screw anything up, you make enough of an impression to get faculty recommendations, you make time for extra curriculars and clinical exposure, you apply broadly (forget the UCs), you get a killer MCAT score, and if you get interviews, you'd be interviewing for the waitlist. Realistically.

All but about 5 US MD schools will take a "September MCAT" as the latest for a same-year app. Whether that means September is the test date, or the score availability (test date plus 6 weeks), I don't know and wouldn't try to find out. (I do not recommend a late MCAT.)

As for submitting AMCAS without an MCAT score, this would theoretically put you "in line" but more likely put you "on hold". The benefit of doing AMCAS ahead of a planned-very-late MCAT would be having everything-but-the-MCAT done "early". There's a lot of work in getting AMCAS done and getting letters done. (I do not recommend a late AMCAS.)

My advice for NewGuy: Forget about applying to med school as fast as possible. Pick a school or a program where you're set up to succeed. You're used to Oberlin. Take a look at Mills and Scripps (and Bryn Mawr and Goucher). See if you're more excited about being part of that kind of structure, and those results, than you are about speed. Take a look at UC Berkeley Extension (and Harvard Extension), review the student comments in this forum, and see what you think. The premed coursework is going to be substantially more difficult and time-consuming than any coursework you've seen before...and then med school triples the load. You need to get A's in crazy hard classes - where is this most likely to happen for you?

Set yourself up to succeed. Start clinical volunteering now. By which I mean: now. Apply to some programs for Fall 2011 just in case. And pick one:
1. start a premed program Fall 2011 and apply June 2012 at the earliest
2. start a premed program later than Fall 2011 and apply June 2013 at the earliest

Best of luck to you.
 
OP
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Nov 23, 2010
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I don't think I want to move out of the Bay Area for my post-bac, so I imagine I'll try for Mills, which seems to be the best post-bac in my area. I can apply in Feb. for their Fall 2011 program. I'll see if I can take some classes this spring through UC Berkeley Extension to lighten the load.
 

common man

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protect your current cgpa with your life. if you screw up your science classes (calculated by themselves as sgpa), that can hurt your chances. that will mean more courses, years, and $$$ to make up. better option is to just do it right the first time. take fewer courses if you have to but do them right. what you don't want to do is try to rush this, take a big swing with semesters loaded with all science classes and labs -- and then have a big miss with a "bad semester". what you were trying to hurry up has now instead cost you more courses you didn't want to take (and didn't need to take), years, and $$$. did i just repeat this? yes. i can't stress it enough. trust me, i know. :(

if you have not taken much science classes at all - how do you know you're going to be comfortable taking as many of them at the same time? there are pre-meds in the pre allo forum who carefully engineer their schedules to optimize risk / reward etc. a lot of pre-meds are not comfortable taking 4-5 science classes a semester. i'm just trying to give you the other side. of course this is done all the time with motivated post baccs i guess. just look for a safety net.

by the way, pay careful attention to the school's pre med requirements as they can be very particular from school to school.
 

Lefty Doodle

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A few other things to take into consideration:
1) The fastest way is not necessarily even possible--you would need to identify, apply to, and enroll in a school that will actually offer bio I or chem I in the spring and then that would have spots for you. I agree that starting in the fall is probably best, but always even then keep in mind that scheduling might not make it possible for you to take everything at once. It would be a great thing to take at least one semester of chem in the summer. My sister's undergrad only required Chem I in order to get into orgo although if you take them at different institutions do that at your own risk--at my institution, chem I and chem II were equally important for orgo.
2) Apply to formal post-bacs and state schools/Berkeley Ext, etc. I originally thought a formal post-bac was what I needed to do, what was best for me, I wanted to be with people my own age, etc. But then I started crunching numbers, looking at time lines, and decided to go the state school route. I also didn't love the post-bacs when I visited for interviews. Talk to people who know you who have at least some knowledge on the topic. No one I knew who had been to med school and knew me recommended I do a formal post-bac. Everyone's advice was to do it as cheaply as possible ;-). But they knew I could handle the logistics of it, etc. To give you an idea, the post-bacs I was considering averaged around $30k a year for tuition--my entire 12 months here is $4500 and that is for 10, not 8, science courses. $1500 a semester baby! And I love the undergrads, they are so cute and still believe in humanity!!

But anyway look at a lot of options and you will find one that fits. I thought post-bacc was the way to go and applied to state schools for the heck of it. But my attitude toward everything evolved and it wouldn't have been able to if I hadn't kept all of my options open.

Also while this "is a marathon not a race" to quote the people in the non-trad forum, I think it is completely doable in a year. And I think in a way it is better for the MCAT because the details you learned for class are still there where you put them for finals ;-) (I've only done a diagnostic so far, but drawing on info I had just learned was an important part!--I was weaker in like chemistry which I had in the summer and never looked at again). But that depends on the person too and how intuitive the MCAT is for you. I suggest you take a practice MCAT once you've finished orgo I, physics I and bio I and see where you stand-you might be surprised!
 
Apr 18, 2009
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The typical formal post-bac schedule is to take Chemistry over the summer and the rest of the classes during the following academic year. So for you, you would be taking Chem in summer '11, and Bio, Physics, and Orgo from Fall '11 to Spring '12, taking the MCAT and applying to med school in June '12 for admission in 2013. Notice that this gets you into med school at exactly the same time as starting classes in Spring '11, and doesn't require you to take anything out of sequence. If you really want to get going with coursework this spring, I'd suggest taking calculus and/or an english course if you have not done so already, since some med schools require these, but there isn't much of a point in taking Chem until the summer. If you start in Fall '11, like DrMidlife suggests, there is no way you will be able to submit a timely application in 2012.

Since you already have a strong GPA and finances are not a big concern, I'd suggest that you look into formal post-bac programs starting this coming summer, and use the time between now and then to start gaining experience in healthcare and really make sure that this is what you want.
 
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OP
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Nov 23, 2010
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

Unfortunately, my 2011 summer is not really an option - I may be able to take one class or an online Calculus, but I'm working in NH for the summer months.

I talked to Jo at the mills program about what would be the best courses to get started with. UC Berkeley was the only place I could apply for this late, and they didn't have a lecture-based Calc course on offer through their extension program. I ended up enrolling in CHem 1 / Lab and Bio 1 / Lab. The hope is that in the summer when I'm in NH i'll be able to take Chem 2/lab. THat way my barrier for Orgo is out of the way and I can do Bio 2, Physics 1/2 and any extras I might need in Fall/Spring 2011/2012.

Jo also mentioned that most med schools these days don't have a problem with online courses for non-science pre-req's like Calculous. Do others have this same feeling?
 

DrMidlife

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Calculus is:
- math
Math is:
- the "M" in BCPM
BCPM is:
- the list of categories counted as science by AMCAS (bio, chem, physics, math)

Calculus is not:
- required by all med schools

The only problem I personally would predict with taking calculus online is this:
- calculus is hard
I have a math degree so I think I'm allowed to say so.

From a non-science background, I would *not* choose calculus for online study, because it might give you the most difficulty of the classes on your list. If you have reason to believe you're already set up to succeed in calculus, then do whatever you like.

Best of luck.
 

robflanker

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I personally have a hard time with online classes as there is no way to know whom is taking them and the credibility of them.

Thus, if I were on an adcom and I see lots of Cs and then I see As online - call me cynical, but i'd just think you paid your friend to do it or cheated your butt off
 
OP
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Nov 23, 2010
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Ya I definitely hear you about the difficulty. I do not have any pre-existing expectation of my success in calculus. I think I'll wait and do it correctly.

If I apply formally to UCB's postbac I can probably do it there. Or maybe do it this summer depending on the time-load.

so many scheduling details to figure out!