Sep 1, 2014
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Generally, I'm wondering if there are many schools that ignore very old undergraduate GPAs because my first degree hurts me pretty badly. Please see my explanation below. If you can name any specific schools that don't care about my decade-old GPA, I would greatly appreciate it.


A little more details about my stats:

Overall averages:
cGPA: 3.4
sGPA: 3.7

2001-2005: Business degree with some computer science coursework at the top state school in my home state:
cGPA: 3.2
sGPA: 3.2 (only 6 BCPM courses in those 4 years)

2011-2014: (Incomplete) major in Biology at a "lesser" state school:
cGPA: 3.9 (all BCPM courses; 20 courses if you don't count labs separately, 30 if you do)
sGPA: 3.9
I don't have plans to complete this degree because everyone has advised that it would not help me, and I've had a greater interest in putting effort into research (see below) after I completed my MD pre-reqs.

MCAT: (31) 11/11/9 first attempt, then (31) 11/10/10 second attempt, and waiting for my third result but not feeling like I did any better.

So, depending on how a school might look at my GPA, my "LizzyM" score is either 65 or 70. Obviously that's a pretty big difference. As I see it, that puts me somewhere between average and the lower end of top tier schools. I know my MCAT isn't really competitive for a lot of top tier schools. I'm not interested in them in particular except for the fact that they generally have more resources for research opportunities, and I'd like to continue with research while working on my MD, or possibly take a year off between second and third year. Also, my fiancee wants to apply to many top tier schools for her own reasons (very justifiable), and if she did better than she thinks on her MCAT last month, she'll be very competitive. Needless to say, we applied to all the same schools (mostly reaches). However, after her MCAT we started looking for more realistic options outside of the state schools we already applied to.

Anyway, my early grades were not a reflection of my potential. In high school, I completed an IB diploma with a handful of AP courses (high scores on all my exams), which gave me 30 hours of college credit and a 100% tuition scholarship. With all my general education requirements out of the way thanks to IB and AP, and with a naive 18-year-old worldview, I hardly strayed from business and computer science classes. I had too much fun in college, but I never got in trouble. I just didn't really try. I know that sounds bad, and yes, I worded a brief explanation in my personal statement as positively as I could without lying. After college, I worked for 6 years mostly applying computer skills to website development (programming, database design) then a couple business related jobs that involved crunching numbers (very unfulfilling work).

After a few years of complete boredom, I returned to school in my home town's state school (not as prestigious or well known or as big as my first; we don't have a football team). I knew that I had much more interest in science than business or computers, but I wasn't sure about med school until after shadowing physicians, which I loved. Since my return to school, I completed about 70 hours of all BCPM classes (two B's in labs, one B+ in a lecture, all A's otherwise).

My coursework includes numerous upper levels and some directed studies working in labs: genetics, general chemistry, analytical chemistry, and molecular biology (over 3,000 hours total). For two of those projects I presented posters at a few regional conferences, one national conference, and one international conference in Europe. No publications though. Two small projects were not intended to lead to publication (internal teaching use only). One project was to secure additional data needed for resubmitting a grant proposal. My most involved project is an extremely time consuming genetic screen that implemented a previously untested method, and it took nearly 2 years just to confirm the novel mutation we created. We only started the work on that gene, which should lead to a paper eventually, earlier this year. On my application I described the type of lab work I did, what I learned from it, and how I benefited from attending research conferences.

I have also been a TA in both chemistry and biology teaching labs (about 500 hours total), and I've done some private tutoring for the past couple years (about 200 hours).

At less than 100 hours each, my shadowing and volunteer work isn't good compared to most applicants. Part of the reason for that weakness is poor advice from my school's advisors, and surprisingly, every doctor I shadowed said that I was welcome back any time, but they suggested I see a variety of specialists rather than watch them do the same thing every day. No, I didn't specifically address this anywhere in my application.

Does anyone have other general advice for a not-so-typical applicant? I still have time for some secondaries from schools who are waiting for my most recent MCAT before they send me their application. Then there are some of the not quite reach schools my fiancee and I added this week, so we're waiting for those secondaries, too: Drexel, Temple, Hawaii, Alabama (Birmingham), and Louisville. One of my research professors has a connection with Louisville.


Thanks in advance!
 
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Sep 1, 2014
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The GPAs in my post are what AMCAS calculated. [Edit: In other words, the 3.4 / 3.7 are on the "bottom line" of my AMCAS for cGPA / sGPA. My post-bacc 3.9 is obvious on the application, of course. I got the 3.2 / 3.2 numbers by removing my 3.9 post-bacc from the AMCAS numbers.]

Reach schools (my fiancee's picks; I know they are more-than-reach schools):
Stanford
Harvard
NYU
Columbia
Cornell
Brown
Northwestern
Case Western
Vanderbilt
Emory

State schools:
UF
USF
FAU
Miami

Targets:
Drexel
Temple
Indiana
Alabama (Birmingham)
Louisville
 

gyngyn

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I count 8 schools where you have a decent chance at an interview. I'm quite sure that none of the schools on your reach list need your donation, though keeping one or two is ok (maybe Brown and Emory).
 
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Thank you for your advice, gyngyn.

Concerning the low GPA from my first degree, is it appropriate for me to call each school and ask if they are likely to consider it? When I talked to one, I received a very curt, generic response of, "we review your entire application." That, and other similar answers gave me the sense that I was wasting their time with a few simple questions that I have not seen addressed specifically on med school websites.

Advisors at my school always assured me that my recent sciences grades are very likely to completely overshadow my grades in business classes from 10+ years ago. However, I was a little surprised by one response from an SDN member, who I think is an admissions committee member: "We ignore [very old grades]." He explained further that recent post-bacc work is more indicative of future performance in med school. Do you know if that attitude is common or rare? I've tried searching for the answer, but I don't seem to have the right search terms...or it's a very uncommon question here.
 

gyngyn

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Thank you for your advice, gyngyn.

Concerning the low GPA from my first degree, is it appropriate for me to call each school and ask if they are likely to consider it? When I talked to one, I received a very curt, generic response of, "we review your entire application." That, and other similar answers gave me the sense that I was wasting their time with a few simple questions that I have not seen addressed specifically on med school websites.

Advisors at my school always assured me that my recent sciences grades are very likely to completely overshadow my grades in business classes from 10+ years ago. However, I was a little surprised by one response from an SDN member, who I think is an admissions committee member: "We ignore [very old grades]." He explained further that recent post-bacc work is more indicative of future performance in med school. Do you know if that attitude is common or rare? I've tried searching for the answer, but I don't seem to have the right search terms...or it's a very uncommon question here.
Screeners are going to see your Cgpa including the old scores. Luckily it isn't that bad. When anyone looks more closely they will notice trend.
I do not think calling individual schools will yield fruit.
 

Faha

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You could apply to your other state schools, Florida International, Florida State and Central Florida, where your stats would receive consideration for an interview. Since you would want to be in the same general area as your fiance it would be a good idea to apply to more schools in the metropolitan areas where you are applying such as Jefferson, Einstein, New York Medical College, Hofstra, Loyola and Rosalind Franklin.
 
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I think you have a good shot at MD. your sGPA is good, your cGPA really isn't bad and adcoms will see your upward trend. your MCAT is average for MD matriculants. Your volunteer/shadowing hours sound average (though maybe not average on SDN) but your research is definitely above average and will likely impress adcoms. I also agree that you do not need to finish the second bachelors. as long as you have your pre-reqs, completing the 2nd bacc program really does not matter
 
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Thank you both for the encouraging words! I have been looking at more schools in the cities where my fiancee could get accepted--almost all that Faha mentioned.

I'm also considering DO schools in those cities as fallbacks, although I have not done research on any of them yet. Also, a friend said that most require a letter of recommendation from a DO, and I have not shadowed one.

As for the other Florida schools, only FIU is on the table due to location. Orlando and Tallahassee are too far from the others, and she has specific reasons for not applying to those two.
 

Goro

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There are schools that reward reinvention, but your reach schools won't be any of them. The MCAT score is the problem, not the super new GPAs. OOS public schools favor the home team, so one has to be > avg for them.

My list:


UF
USF
FAU
All other FL schools, including the two DO schools.
Rush
NYMC
Penn state
Creighton
Albany
Rosy Franklin
Drexel
Temple
Loma Linda (but read their list of don'ts)
MCW
St. Louis U
Jefferson
Creighton
Tulane
GWU
Georgetown
Tufts
Wake Forest
EVMS
VCU
All new MD programs except Va Tech and Hofstra
 
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All new MD programs except Va Tech and Hofstra
Thank you, Goro. I was already considering some of your suggestions, particularly those near NYC because my fiancee may be competitive at the reach schools, so I want to increase our odds to end up in the same city or region.

Hofstra is on my list to look at closer. Why did you say to avoid Hofstra?
 

Goro

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I take that back...you're competitive for Hofstra.

Thank you, Goro. I was already considering some of your suggestions, particularly those near NYC because my fiancee may be competitive at the reach schools, so I want to increase our odds to end up in the same city or region.

Hofstra is on my list to look at closer. Why did you say to avoid Hofstra?
 
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Got my 3rd MCAT score: 33 this time! So, I added a couple points, which is much better than losing a couple. All things considered though, is that negligible in the eyes of most committee members?
 
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