Non-trad looking for some advice

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.


Full Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 29, 2008
Reaction score
Hi folks! I've been lurking on this site for about a year now and have found lots of great information. But now I need some help of my own.

To sum up my past, I started my undergrad in 97 @ Univ of MD. Baltimore. My first 2 years were nightmares (drug dealing roommate, GI bleed, and loss of housing) so my GPA suffered. Then my last 3 years of school were graded on a 7 pt grade scale (100-93=A, 92-85=B...etc). So needless to say my A-B work became B-C work. So when I finished my BS in Emergency Health Services, I had a 2.5 GPA. Alot of this was due to immaturity and lack of self confidence (I never felt like I was ever smart enough).

After graduating, I got a job as a critical care paramedic at a major medical center in Baltimore. I worked for 5 years transporting some extremely sick and unstable patients by ambulance and helicopter. After a conversation with my medical director, I finally realized that I was smart enough to go to medical school. So I took a flight job back home in NY and started school.

Here is my current situation. I just finished my 2nd semester of Bio and chem with associated labs and have a GPA of 3.81. I know I can get some good letters of recomendation and I have decent EC's. But I know that with my poor previous GPA, schools will not look favorably at me.

I don't really know where to look, or what to look for, in order to decide where I should apply? Should I apply only in NY? Should I apply in MD since im alumni? I haven't ruled out schools like SGU, ROSS, or AUC. And I know DO's look more favorably on upward trends. So I really am not sure as to what to do.

Any help is greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!


Members don't see this ad.
First, congrats on the GPA turnaround. That should be looked upon favorably. Assuming your 3.81 is not for a Master's degree, then those grades will be lumped with your old GPA. You will also need to take a reasonable amount of credits at a 3.81 clip for admissions committees to believe that it's not a fluke and that this level of success can be sustained. Even if this is the case, your GPA as adcomms see it will still be somewhat low.

From there, you didn't mention an MCAT so I would focus energies on really nailing that. Take the organizational skills and your modern-day maturity and lay out a really solid study plan for yourself and stick with it. Hold yourself accountable to acclimating that material and I can't see why you can't score above a 30 (for that matter, shoot for a 39).

Last, apply broadly - including the schools you mentioned. Definitely grab a copy of the MSAR. Sure it's 30ish bucks (at least as far as I can remember) but it's very detailed in what kind of school you should apply to. Also, with respect to non-trads, I think most schools are aware of the +'s/-'s of non-trad applicants, so don't let that guide your decisions. Apply broadly and smartly to schools you would be ok with going to (don't, for example, apply to WUSTL which has an avg GPA of 3.8, off the top of my head). Or, apply but be realistic about your chances. Best of luck. There are plenty of good stories in this forum to help energize you here.
Thanks for the advice as well as for the congrats! Its sad that a lack of self confidence can affect someone sooo much.

So far I have about 16 credits down so far, and have Orgo and physics, plus labs next year, by the end I should have about 36 credits, and during my lag year, will probably take Cell Bio or bio chem. Do you think that will be enough to show a true turnaround?

As for the MCAT's, I plan on taking them either in the winter after I finish Orgo I and physics II. So im hoping I won't have to relearn as much as if I waited to take them mid-spring. Plus i've been asked to TA for the bio class, so that will help keep bio fresh for me.

What is the MSAR? I'm guessing its a med school guide, but i've never heard of it before.

Thanks again for the help.
Members don't see this ad :)
So far I have about 16 credits down so far, and have Orgo and physics, plus labs next year, by the end I should have about 36 credits, and during my lag year, will probably take Cell Bio or bio chem. Do you think that will be enough to show a true turnaround?

I honestly don't know what the adcomms need to see for a "true turnaround". I can tell you what I did, I had a sub 3.0 gpa in ~150 credits. I just completed ~70 credits all in hard sciences with ~3.9. As to the effectiveness of my plan, I do not yet know. I will be applying this cycle. I think kicking ass in the standard pre-med classes, then going ahead and kicking ass on the MCAT and upper level sciences should be strong proof of a turn around, I don't really know a stronger way to show it. Anyhow congrats on your progress so far, keep it up, and destroy the MCAT. You probably want to get your overall GPA (old bad grades + new good grades) above a 3.0 to have a shot. Good luck to you.
I have a low GPA experience myself. Went in a very roundabout way of solving it, got near 4.0 in my Master's (although as I learned, this did NOT help my undergrad GPA as calculated by AMCAS). I still thought it would be impressive to others - it turns out, it was far less impressive than I expected. BUT, I did get into a solid medical school and during my interview with the dean of admissions he made a noteworthy comment which y'all might appreciate.

"We're not recruiting the you from years ago, we're recruiting the you from 2008".

So take that for what it's worth and kick some arse on those MCATs.
Thanks for the info guys! It all is great! Good luck to all!