Mar 15, 2021
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Hello SDN,

I joined because I'm considering becoming a non traditional applicant and I'm sure like many of you here, my situation is so unique that I'd be reading old posts all century, if a similar situation even exists. I'm toying with this idea, I got my eyes on one particular med school and that might be the only place I apply. With this particular school, its one of those situations where you'd kick yourself if you didn't at least try. Please don't try to tell me the benefits of applying many places, I understand that, this opportunity is very unique to my circumstance which makes it possible. Maybe I will apply elsewhere though once I get going.

At the end of this story, the core question is, what specific areas should I focus my energy to help my chances? Please keep in mind, compared to most of you, I'm very old. If I get rejected, I can't lie low in my parents basement to figure out my next career move (I miss those days, please don't rush away from them). I need to keep my life together, and my career until the day I get that acceptance letter...then I'm willing to toss caution to the wind. The key is, distribution of effort for maximum reward.

So, I'm 38, I'm a biochemist, well, functionally I'm just a chemist at this point, but let's go to the beginning to how I got here.

I was a very bright grade school student, straight A's and college was fully expected to look the same way. Unfortunately life happened and a happy family life that was going to support me fell apart, I did not take enough loans because family promised to help. Mind you, my family wasn't dead, just gone, fighting amongst each other, battling their own mental illnesses (they lost for the record), and all to happy to claim me on their taxes too. I couldn't seek help. It sounds silly at 38, but at 18, I was not equipped to deal with my never imagined issues. That first year, food became more important that class. To put it in perspective, I had this saying, "Homeless people don't have microwaves." That is what I told myself when I stole the microwavable food from the needy food bins, fortunately my dorm had a microwave, but I was really that destitute. I got my feet under me by sophomore year, but taking 200 level classes without 100 level background information did not work out so well. By the time I graduated though I was pulling straight A's again...and I was an electrician. None the less my GPA is terrible, from an absolute top-tier public university.

From there I had a very successful career with noteworthy achievements at well respected companies, two Fortune-500. For good and bad, mostly good reasons I was known right up to the CEO's office. I carved some great achievements, some of them google-able, one in particular might get me in the footnotes of the next generation of history text books. That one deserves a little elaboration. In the name of scientific integrity, I offered my career as a sacrifice to protect consumer safety. I survived, but the events are very noteworthy and very public. I also did things like volunteer as a firefighter, and drove a tow truck during a recession to supplement my income.

During that career I decided to get my MBA. Not because I needed it at this point, but because even at 33, I was very self conscious about my undergrad. I took $40,000, threw it in a fire and got myself a 4.0...for no reason than I wanted to prove I could have if my life had been different. Right after that, I took my confidence, quit my job, started a consulting company, and met an incredible woman.

She was a resident doctor and I watched her do amazing things. I backed off of work to help her succeed, taking over domestic duties. I felt that every packet of energy I saved her, was a packet of energy she could give to her patients. I still feel that way, which is how I got here. We unfortunately broke up right before she left for fellowship, I was supposed to follow, but sadly never so. Internally, I needed to fill that need to help people, but I no longer had a doctor to vicariously work through, For now, I run/built an analytical lab on the fringes of healthcare (just barely considered healthcare for the purpose of vaccination). I need more, here I am.

What would my application look like?
2006 GPA: Trash, not even worth mentioning except there is progressive improvement towards A's if you follow the story. Top School.
2017 GPA#2: 4.0, except not related to science. It was financed based so lots of numbers, but that's it. High-Mid School, but very respected by the top.

MCAT: On two short practice tests, I got a 60% and 75%. No prep or studying. I recognized the material, I knew where to get the answers if I had to in under 30 seconds. A great majority of my correct answers were educated guesses where I wasn't certain. I'm not entirely comfortable with that strategy. It seems most of the exam is undergrad memorization. I do have my old text books, and I always read. I could just start going cover to cover. (save your textbooks! They may not always be up to date, but you we're intimate with them, you will be surprised how 20 years later, your fingers can still find the exact page it's looking for.)

Letters of Rec/Experiences: I believe I can excel here. One will come from a well respected researcher/professor at a med school linked university. We collaborate often and I may volunteer to help him on his latest project (its in my lane) just to say I did. Usually I'd just help him, we'll make it official this time. He will probably talk about how in the matter of a month, I taught myself to use the most complicated analytical instrument and in three months, was teaching the experts new tricks. He will attest that when it comes to scientific knowledge, I can catch myself up in the blink of an eye.

Another may come right out of a hospital from a head of pharmacy for 20+ hospitals. I've been entering a project with them to deter drug diversion. It might turn into a full time job after the consulting period, but I'd be willing to turn it into volunteer work. I'm really excited about this, I was already committed to doing it for free if the pay didn't work out.

After that, there is a long line of respected people who would be more than happy to write.

Personal Statement(s): I believe my journey and motivations are genuinely compelling. Much of it is redacted here, or "tweaked", to protect my identity. In addition, I think I have much to offer a medical school. I can relate to the younger group, I never grew up entirely, I still play contact sports, kids (undergrads) if you're still reading this, protect your back, lift with your knees, trust me, if you don't, you better buy stock in Bayer and plan on becoming friends with a pain management doc. My hiring practices generally focus on mentoring young scientists. I love taking a new grad, work with them for a few years, and toss them off to grad school to make an amazing life. I love writing letters of recommendation. We celebrate two-week notices here. I would love to be the odd one out and act as a wall to lean on. I may not remember the pre-requisite course material like they can, but I do have plenty of experience fighting and winning losing battles with nothing but determination.

Interview: I probably get job offers from 80% of my non-reach interviews, and my resume gets an interview almost 100% of the time. I got this.

All the other stuff is just basic cake.

So to recap my question. Given the summary of my relevant life. Where should I focus my energy to give myself the best chance? The particular school attests to holistic application review for all applicants. It seems everyone that files a primary, gets to file a secondary.

I can take a few classes to boost my GPA. I got that university with a med school near me. That might help with the MCAT too.

I can dive hard into the MCAT, but I'm not sure I can improve that without diving deep into undergrad material.

I can focus on even more volunteer work than I already mentioned. Mentioned is already scheduled.

I probably have time to completely devote to one of these; or split that energy equally between them. Anything more, and my career will suffer too much to recover should I not get accepted.

Thanks for making it this far and the custom tailored advice!
 
Sep 10, 2020
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A lot to unpack here. Let's start here:
one particular med school and that might be the only place I apply. With this particular school, its one of those situations where you'd kick yourself if you didn't at least try. Please don't try to tell me the benefits of applying many places, I understand that, this opportunity is very unique to my circumstance which makes it possible.
You're awfully dismissive of one of the biggest pieces of advice for applicants, which is to apply broadly to maximize your chances. It's really weird that you seem so unwilling to consider this. Almost like you'd rather be a "Doctor from School X", rather than a doctor at all. I'll still weigh in on the rest of your situation but I seriously strongly urge you to reconsider only applying to one school, if you actually want to be a doctor that is. I can't stress that enough.

I'm not an admissions committee member, but I think the biggest thing your application lacks is proving why you want to work with patients. Having a significant other that was a doctor is not a significant enough reason for pursuing medicine. You need to show in your application why you want to work with patients, and I don't think you've done that yet based on the information you provided.

I wouldn't worry too much about the GPA thing. Since undergrad is so far behind you, they probably wouldn't care much even if you were getting 4.0's in undergrad. But do you even have the prerequisite courses to apply to medical school? They can vary slightly school to school, but in general you'll need general chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, physics, and some math courses. If you haven't done these already in undergrad you'll need to take them. Even if you have done them in undergrad, you may need to retake them if you did poorly (pretty sure most if not all schools require you to have gotten above a C in each of them). You can check with the specific school you're interested in to see what their prerequisite course requirements are.

Because you can't rely on your GPA to do the talking for you, you have to crush the MCAT. You're at a bit of a disadvantage in that most students are taking the MCAT when the content is still fresh in their minds, whereas you've been out of school for quite a while. It'll be hard but not impossible obviously. You need to actually have a plan of attack for the MCAT studying though - re-reading old textbooks is wildly inefficient. Since you took practice tests already you're probably aware that there's a lot of supplemental studying material that would be good to purchase to help you study for the MCAT. Practice tests, question banks, flashcards etc. Free resources like Anki would be a good tool for learning content, which I think you'll probably need to cover a lot of ground on since you haven't seen most of the subject material in a long time.

Your extracurriculars/experiences and achievements are really good, which is one of the advantages of applying as a non-traditional applicant. You've had years since you were in college, and clearly used that time wisely and worked hard and accomplished a lot. This is going to look good on your application. Again my concern is how you're actually going to show that you know you want to work with patients. So make sure that is abundantly clear in your personal statement/story. Maybe take up more volunteering specifically with an underserved population, and spend some time shadowing/volunteering in a hospital. For a 38yr old career changer, they're going to ask why the sudden change in pursuing medical school, and so you'll have to make sure your application answers that question.

To recap:

1.) strongly reconsider only applying to one school
2.) there's not much you can do about your GPA at this point, but make sure you have all of the prerequisite courses done
3.) tailor your experiences from here on out to prove that you want to work with patients and/or underserved communities
4.) crush the MCAT

Best of luck!
 
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I can't lie low in my parents basement

very successful career with noteworthy achievements at well respected companies

mostly good reasons I was known right up to the CEO's office

one in particular might get me in the footnotes of the next generation of history text books

I taught myself to use the most complicated analytical instrument and in three months, was teaching the experts new tricks

I can catch myself up in the blink of an eye

I got this.

All the other stuff is just basic cake

Where should I focus my energy to give myself the best chance?

Humility.
 
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DocJanItor

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Hello SDN,

I joined because I'm considering becoming a non traditional applicant and I'm sure like many of you here, my situation is so unique that I'd be reading old posts all century, if a similar situation even exists. I'm toying with this idea, I got my eyes on one particular med school and that might be the only place I apply. With this particular school, its one of those situations where you'd kick yourself if you didn't at least try. Please don't try to tell me the benefits of applying many places, I understand that, this opportunity is very unique to my circumstance which makes it possible. Maybe I will apply elsewhere though once I get going.

At the end of this story, the core question is, what specific areas should I focus my energy to help my chances? Please keep in mind, compared to most of you, I'm very old. If I get rejected, I can't lie low in my parents basement to figure out my next career move (I miss those days, please don't rush away from them). I need to keep my life together, and my career until the day I get that acceptance letter...then I'm willing to toss caution to the wind. The key is, distribution of effort for maximum reward.

So, I'm 38, I'm a biochemist, well, functionally I'm just a chemist at this point, but let's go to the beginning to how I got here.

I was a very bright grade school student, straight A's and college was fully expected to look the same way. Unfortunately life happened and a happy family life that was going to support me fell apart, I did not take enough loans because family promised to help. Mind you, my family wasn't dead, just gone, fighting amongst each other, battling their own mental illnesses (they lost for the record), and all to happy to claim me on their taxes too. I couldn't seek help. It sounds silly at 38, but at 18, I was not equipped to deal with my never imagined issues. That first year, food became more important that class. To put it in perspective, I had this saying, "Homeless people don't have microwaves." That is what I told myself when I stole the microwavable food from the needy food bins, fortunately my dorm had a microwave, but I was really that destitute. I got my feet under me by sophomore year, but taking 200 level classes without 100 level background information did not work out so well. By the time I graduated though I was pulling straight A's again...and I was an electrician. None the less my GPA is terrible, from an absolute top-tier public university.

From there I had a very successful career with noteworthy achievements at well respected companies, two Fortune-500. For good and bad, mostly good reasons I was known right up to the CEO's office. I carved some great achievements, some of them google-able, one in particular might get me in the footnotes of the next generation of history text books. That one deserves a little elaboration. In the name of scientific integrity, I offered my career as a sacrifice to protect consumer safety. I survived, but the events are very noteworthy and very public. I also did things like volunteer as a firefighter, and drove a tow truck during a recession to supplement my income.

During that career I decided to get my MBA. Not because I needed it at this point, but because even at 33, I was very self conscious about my undergrad. I took $40,000, threw it in a fire and got myself a 4.0...for no reason than I wanted to prove I could have if my life had been different. Right after that, I took my confidence, quit my job, started a consulting company, and met an incredible woman.

She was a resident doctor and I watched her do amazing things. I backed off of work to help her succeed, taking over domestic duties. I felt that every packet of energy I saved her, was a packet of energy she could give to her patients. I still feel that way, which is how I got here. We unfortunately broke up right before she left for fellowship, I was supposed to follow, but sadly never so. Internally, I needed to fill that need to help people, but I no longer had a doctor to vicariously work through, For now, I run/built an analytical lab on the fringes of healthcare (just barely considered healthcare for the purpose of vaccination). I need more, here I am.

What would my application look like?
2006 GPA: Trash, not even worth mentioning except there is progressive improvement towards A's if you follow the story. Top School.
2017 GPA#2: 4.0, except not related to science. It was financed based so lots of numbers, but that's it. High-Mid School, but very respected by the top.

MCAT: On two short practice tests, I got a 60% and 75%. No prep or studying. I recognized the material, I knew where to get the answers if I had to in under 30 seconds. A great majority of my correct answers were educated guesses where I wasn't certain. I'm not entirely comfortable with that strategy. It seems most of the exam is undergrad memorization. I do have my old text books, and I always read. I could just start going cover to cover. (save your textbooks! They may not always be up to date, but you we're intimate with them, you will be surprised how 20 years later, your fingers can still find the exact page it's looking for.)

Letters of Rec/Experiences: I believe I can excel here. One will come from a well respected researcher/professor at a med school linked university. We collaborate often and I may volunteer to help him on his latest project (its in my lane) just to say I did. Usually I'd just help him, we'll make it official this time. He will probably talk about how in the matter of a month, I taught myself to use the most complicated analytical instrument and in three months, was teaching the experts new tricks. He will attest that when it comes to scientific knowledge, I can catch myself up in the blink of an eye.

Another may come right out of a hospital from a head of pharmacy for 20+ hospitals. I've been entering a project with them to deter drug diversion. It might turn into a full time job after the consulting period, but I'd be willing to turn it into volunteer work. I'm really excited about this, I was already committed to doing it for free if the pay didn't work out.

After that, there is a long line of respected people who would be more than happy to write.

Personal Statement(s): I believe my journey and motivations are genuinely compelling. Much of it is redacted here, or "tweaked", to protect my identity. In addition, I think I have much to offer a medical school. I can relate to the younger group, I never grew up entirely, I still play contact sports, kids (undergrads) if you're still reading this, protect your back, lift with your knees, trust me, if you don't, you better buy stock in Bayer and plan on becoming friends with a pain management doc. My hiring practices generally focus on mentoring young scientists. I love taking a new grad, work with them for a few years, and toss them off to grad school to make an amazing life. I love writing letters of recommendation. We celebrate two-week notices here. I would love to be the odd one out and act as a wall to lean on. I may not remember the pre-requisite course material like they can, but I do have plenty of experience fighting and winning losing battles with nothing but determination.

Interview: I probably get job offers from 80% of my non-reach interviews, and my resume gets an interview almost 100% of the time. I got this.

All the other stuff is just basic cake.

So to recap my question. Given the summary of my relevant life. Where should I focus my energy to give myself the best chance? The particular school attests to holistic application review for all applicants. It seems everyone that files a primary, gets to file a secondary.

I can take a few classes to boost my GPA. I got that university with a med school near me. That might help with the MCAT too.

I can dive hard into the MCAT, but I'm not sure I can improve that without diving deep into undergrad material.

I can focus on even more volunteer work than I already mentioned. Mentioned is already scheduled.

I probably have time to completely devote to one of these; or split that energy equally between them. Anything more, and my career will suffer too much to recover should I not get accepted.

Thanks for making it this far and the custom tailored advice!
Ok, so there's a LOT to unpack here. Before I wind myself up for typing an essay, I have a few questions.

1) Why do you want to be a doctor? You seem to have a varied and fulfilling professional life replete with accomplishments. Is this just another "notch on the belt" of education to say you can do it, or is it something related to your ex? I'm not accusing you of anything, I just didn't really get a sense of why and I'm trying to get you to think about it.

2) You definitely have confidence about your abilities. That's fine, I am like that as well. I just hide it more because people confuse confidence with arrogance. The issue is that in medical school there is an expectation of humility and many will not look kindly upon what they perceive to be unearned confidence. Would you be able to humble yourself?

3) You're approaching the tipping point of "is it worth it?" in terms of age, and I don't know about your earning potential at your current job. The issue is that medicine is difficult to do in half-measures, even as a pre-med. If your original GPA < 3.0 then you'd likely have to do an SMP to be competitive. That would require most or all of your time in order to be successful. As you said you don't want to tank your business if your medical career won't happen.

4) Unless you have some specific personal connections to that school in which case all other advice is moot, your chances of being accepted to any single school are quite small.

1615835043969.png
 
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Hey, thanks for the replies.

I'm really at a stage where I'm just trying to come up with a strategy, and as you pointed out, is it worth it? Is it even possible?

1. Common question you hit is "why one med school." As I read the rules of the forum, you should avoid identifying specific institutions. Let me go one step further in my explanation. It has nothing to do with prestige, quite the opposite.

This particular one offers a financial advantage. I don't think my life is in a position to take the risk of med school, however, this one eliminates much of the risk. I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't try. I'll probably end up applying to others once I start putting in the effort. Toe is in the water, it's just a matter of time before I dive in.

2. I did skirt over why I want to be a doctor. Apologies. I was trying to highlight my on-paper strengths and weaknesses and that really didn't seem terribly relevant to my initial question. If you don't mind, I'd like to put genuine thought to this on and think about how to express this best. It's not that the answer isn't there, I just haven't thought about what it looks like written. For now, I will leave you with how much I miss my days as a volunteer firefighter (and actually a tow truck driver too), I thrived on being the one good thing in someone's bad day. Even today, I thrive on those memories as a reminder of who I was, and could be again. There is more, no use lying, the ex, friends, regret, I wonder if there is a psychologist lurking to unpack it all. The desire is there for what I hope is all the right reasons though.

3. As far as humility. Sincere apologies. I was really trying to squeeze as much of myself into something that people would be willing to read. It did come off incredibly arrogant. I was only trying to be factual. Epic fail on my part. Thank you for lending advice despite me coming off like a jerk. I hope I'm doing better now.

Some mixed reviews on 4

A. Grades are mixed opinions. What is your opinion on this? I have my MBA to prove I can survive an academic institution after the trainwreck of undergrad. What about re-taking my weaker grades, but not the whole program? The local university would allow that to be done for a grade. Overall, we're talking C's for entry level classes, bio, chem and physics (retake some), and A's/B's for upper level (orgo, genetics, bchem). I noticed a ton of psych questions on the practice, I don't remember a thing about that. Probably a retake too.

B. The MCATs. Crush them. End of story. Could we debate this a little? I'm curious how you will shoot down my thoughts, it helps me see the other perspective and I would like to see yours. I still think cover to cover is a good start. Here is why; on one practice there was a question about fatty acids vs. phospholipids. I was lost, but then the phrase "phospholipid bilayer" popped into my head. It was what I needed to answer the question, but it was really buried deep and found by chance. I'm hoping that the undergrad rehash will bring those factoids closer to the surface so I can identify my true weaknesses. Now, I don't know what this study material specifically looks like yet, but I'm imagining it would be far more useful if I brush up on my overall knowledge first. I look forward to your further opinion on this.

The opportunity at this institution is open for a few application cycles. I'm willing to give it a go each time, improving step wise on each attempt.

Thanks again!
 

lumya

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Your undergraduate grades and your science GPA is going to matter. Read Goro's guide for reinvention for some general guidelines on which classes to re-take/what new classes you can take to boost your existing GPA. Depending on what that GPA used to be, you'll either need to bring it up to a 3.0, or take a couple semesters of high-level sciences classes to show you're capable of handling the workload.

Your MBA GPA is not going to matter. Your graduate GPA is going to be calculated separately. And there's a lot of grade inflation in graduate programs. I don't think anyone from my business graduate degree left w/ anything lower than a 3.6 and we were a top 10 program.

I don't think it's "wrong" to have a specific school you want more than any other, but most people recommend applying widely because if you get rejected from this one school, you're going to have a wait an entire year. If you're fine with that, then it's your own decision to do so.
 
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Thank You Lumya!

Great guide too. I'm going to have to pick it apart to work for me, but I think I can.

I may be able to get my science above a 3.0; I do not know about my overall. For clarification, you think the plan of the local university and taking a few high levels is a good part of a step one plan? I think my schedule could weather two.

I hate use use LOL, but LOL on the B-school. It is so true. Noted, but I hope the effort doesn't go to waste in my narrative of self improvement.

Yeah. Single school crazy. I'll add here. My best friend is a doctor too. He failed to match for several years and watching him struggle with crushing debt and no future matching income was one of the most difficult things I had to do. When my family wasn't there he was there and 20 years later still the most important person in my life. Not easy to watch and be helpless. Fortunately, he did eventually find a residency and he is a wonderful doctor, I might be biased. I've read stories that older students have a high likelihood of being discriminated against for residency. My current career path could not lift that debt if it occurred to me. For now, that one program mitigates that risk; maybe there are more programs like it for me to find, or maybe I'll just jump right into the cold water and worry about failure later.

Thanks again!
 

lumya

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Thank You Lumya!

Great guide too. I'm going to have to pick it apart to work for me, but I think I can.

I may be able to get my science above a 3.0; I do not know about my overall. For clarification, you think the plan of the local university and taking a few high levels is a good part of a step one plan? I think my schedule could weather two.

I hate use use LOL, but LOL on the B-school. It is so true. Noted, but I hope the effort doesn't go to waste in my narrative of self improvement.

Yeah. Single school crazy. I'll add here. My best friend is a doctor too. He failed to match for several years and watching him struggle with crushing debt and no future matching income was one of the most difficult things I had to do. When my family wasn't there he was there and 20 years later still the most important person in my life. Not easy to watch and be helpless. Fortunately, he did eventually find a residency and he is a wonderful doctor, I might be biased. I've read stories that older students have a high likelihood of being discriminated against for residency. My current career path could not lift that debt if it occurred to me. For now, that one program mitigates that risk; maybe there are more programs like it for me to find, or maybe I'll just jump right into the cold water and worry about failure later.

Thanks again!
If you're gunning for one school, you should probably reach out to their admissions office to see if you can take to someone about whether or not you're competitive. They can't give you a definitely yes/no answer on whether or not you'll be accepted, but they can definitely give guidance on how high of an MCAT you need, what your GPA should be. If the school says you need a 3.5 science GPA to even be considered, and they're the only school you're willing to apply to, then you may have to decide if it's worth dedicated years of your life to taking science classes to try to achieve this GPA.

I took my science courses at a local university. I worked in their medical center and they offered free tuition for employees, which I highly recommend if you're able to find something like that. I took 2-3 classes a semester and the free tuition definitely helped cut down on costs.

There are lots of options for loan assistance such as the HPSP scholarship or public service loan forgiveness. But I'm an older applicant and I have absolutely no worries about matching. Almost all US MD students match and the average age of matriculation is creeping up each year. You will most likely not be the only student in your forties when you start.
 
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I love how you think Lumya. I actually already reached out and they really hung onto that holistic approach. No limits, whole package evaluated. I've been trying to sneak some advice through the back door but alas, no luck yet.

I have two next steps in that vein.
1. Reach out (snail mail, can't find any other direct contact) to their diversity admission chair, who I assume also handles old men like me. Ask the same questions again.

2. I have two friends with ties to the med school. One is MIA since COVID. The other I am seeing next weekend because we're all finally vaccinated. Again, same questions. I'm also asking that friend if I can be his shadow. Even if COVID prevents him from participating in "Bring Your Idiot to Work Day," maybe I can help him with non-patient facing tasks.

Where I'm at might be the best position for me. My lab is slow right now. I got some really top of the line analytical instruments that academia would love to get some time on. I've been reaching out into my network seeing if anyone wants to push some overflow work in my direction. My employers are very supportive and won't have an issue with this so long as the cost to them is zero. I'm going for letters of recommendation here. One of those professors is at that med-school-university that I would take classes at. It's only a short drive away. He's already on board with this plan. He actually has the same instruments as me, so it's a convenient cross over for him.

My overall plan is improve, apply, improve, apply, improve.....

As far as the dedication goes; a brush up in any class can't hurt even if this doesn't pan out. No one ever got hurt from learning. I just personally see a positive in every outcome of trying.
 

JanetSnakehole

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I love how you think Lumya. I actually already reached out and they really hung onto that holistic approach. No limits, whole package evaluated. I've been trying to sneak some advice through the back door but alas, no luck yet.

I agree with virtually everything that’s been said by my fellow nontraditional medical students. One other thing you should be aware of is that almost all US medical schools tout their super cozy holistic admissions processes. The school you’re interested in is far from unique in this respect. But even at the most “holistic” school, applicants’ GPA/MCAT stats are still the single most important factor in admissions - even if they won’t admit to a hard cut-off. Keep in mind, too, that medical schools have no financial incentive to discourage applicants from applying.

If you are currently riding at a sub-3.0 sGPA or cGPA, it is imperative that you take and excel in upper division science courses and/or retake any prerequisite in which you got less than a C. It is extraordinarily unlikely that even the most generous MD program would admit an applicant with a sub-3.0 without some evidence of recently aced coursework. And even then it would be a very long shot without a stellar MCAT.

Osteopathic programs are often more amenable to reinvention, so I would encourage you to keep an open mind if you really want to put yourself through this gauntlet.

As a next step, I would recommend subscribing to the Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) database. You can use this to get a sense of what an accepted applicant at your target school looks like, as well as the profiles of successful applicants at all other US MD programs. It’s very worth the ~$30 or so it costs per year. The MSAR will give you the cold, hard data you need, so you don’t have to go off of wishy-washy noninformation from the “holistic” admissions office. The bottom line is: the further your GPA deviates from that of a typical accepted applicant, the more work/time/money you’re going to have to put in to become competitive.
 
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Janet,

Thanks for that MSAR tip. I was looking for that information but couldn't find it. Hope it's hiding in there.

What I read about this particular school, the holistic application may be legitimate. I found news articles singing a figurative kumbaya around a camp fire. Yeah, I don't believe it, and I don't expect any of you to believe that either. There is only one way to find out!

Side bar: I just got off the phone with a Kaplan rep (scheduled call). This holistic thing we all think is crap might not be crap. Guy seemed to know. Then again, he was trying to get my money.

Lets look at grades. Found my transcript. This is embarrassing, time to practice some of that humility. Breaking down the courses listed specifically by the school, I'm listing my highest applicable grade... what do you think? If we're talking upper level re-take and I had to pick one, Biochem? Second, close that stats gap? Third, close that population gap with an epidemiology or something? Get A's

Social Science, 1 semester - Psych D, Anthro, B-, Anthro C+
Gen Bio 2 semester - B+/C+
Gen Chem, 2 semester - C+, C+
Gen Physics, 2 semester - C+, C+
Humanities 1 semester - A

Recommeded:

Orgo - A (Orgo 2 and Lab C-, B)
Biochem - C-/C
Molecular Genetics - A-
Calc - Done in HS, Calc II (done at CC over summer) transfered as A
Stats - N/A, incorporated into bio
Population Health - N/A, unless you want to grab one of those Anthros. They both were population health based.
Language - N/A, HS Transfer
 
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Oh! Here's one I missed.

Senior seminar in Biochemistry - A-, not sure if that counts as biochemistry though.
 
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The holistic thing isn’t crap. You have to prove you will be a strong student having hard evidence of academic success. That is your GPA and MCAT. SUPER SUPER SUPER important. Then you should excel at whatever it is that you do. It doesn’t matter what you do, but you need to do it well which is the “vague” part of applying that everyone hates. If it’s an MD school, they’ll likely want to see research experience. The long list of volunteering they want us to do are to prove that we are going to to medicine for the right reasons. Admissions won’t tell you what they want because there isn’t ONE thing they are looking for. It’s really as simple as they say. Be an academic powerhouse. Be amazing at whatever you do and show you want to be a doctor for the right reasons.
 

JanetSnakehole

I’m a very rich widow with a terrible secret.
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Janet,

Thanks for that MSAR tip. I was looking for that information but couldn't find it. Hope it's hiding in there.

What I read about this particular school, the holistic application may be legitimate. I found news articles singing a figurative kumbaya around a camp fire. Yeah, I don't believe it, and I don't expect any of you to believe that either. There is only one way to find out!

Side bar: I just got off the phone with a Kaplan rep (scheduled call). This holistic thing we all think is crap might not be crap. Guy seemed to know. Then again, he was trying to get my money.

Lets look at grades. Found my transcript. This is embarrassing, time to practice some of that humility. Breaking down the courses listed specifically by the school, I'm listing my highest applicable grade... what do you think? If we're talking upper level re-take and I had to pick one, Biochem? Second, close that stats gap? Third, close that population gap with an epidemiology or something? Get A's

Social Science, 1 semester - Psych D, Anthro, B-, Anthro C+
Gen Bio 2 semester - B+/C+
Gen Chem, 2 semester - C+, C+
Gen Physics, 2 semester - C+, C+
Humanities 1 semester - A

Recommeded:

Orgo - A (Orgo 2 and Lab C-, B)
Biochem - C-/C
Molecular Genetics - A-
Calc - Done in HS, Calc II (done at CC over summer) transfered as A
Stats - N/A, incorporated into bio
Population Health - N/A, unless you want to grab one of those Anthros. They both were population health based.
Language - N/A, HS Transfer

I suppose you could retake biochem, and having a refresher certainly wouldn't hurt for the MCAT since it's such a high-yield topic. But since you passed your prerequisites the first time around, you'll probably just be better off taking lots of credits worth of 300/400-level science courses, e.g., immunology, molecular biology, anatomy, physiology, etc.

The GPA on your transcript may differ from how medical schools calculate your GPA. Google "AAMC GPA calculator" and enter the grades from your transcripts per the instructions. These calculators will give you your official science/cumulative GPA for medical school purposes. Then you can play around with the numbers and see how many credits it would take you to bring up your stats within the target range of your desired program(s).

Also, most medical schools require a year of English, so make sure you have that covered. Some schools allow you to substitute "intensive writing courses" for English composition, but the definition of "intensive writing" will vary program-to-program. The MSAR can give you the specific breakdown of what's required at your target schools.
 
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You're all so very helpful. Thank you.

Going to digest all this, use it to find more info and see what pops out.
 

Dave1980

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You're all so very helpful. Thank you.

Going to digest all this, use it to find more info and see what pops out.

Sounds like you might be targeting NYU because there is no tuition? If so just know that living in NYC for 4 years without working will set you up with a pretty nice sized debt anyways.

I think your chances atm are incredibly slim. You need to do significant shadowing to prove you know what the job entails.
 
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Hey Dave:

I take "incredibly slim" as a vote of confidence, thank you, it is quite a step above the more realistic "completely impossible"

Nope, not NYU, but you just proved everyone else on this thread correct...we're up to two schools. I think that counts as multiple. You are right about NYC and it would be true if I didn't have two places I could squat for four years that are both within a very reasonable commuting distance to NYU.
 
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