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Okay, seriously. How bad is it? Please give it to me straight.

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by jessica_says, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. jessica_says

    jessica_says New Member

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    I effed up pretty badly in college, having taken sweet eight years to complete my bachelor's in science degree, with a GPA of 2.4 to show for it. But hey, I played around with boys and learned to drink like hell, so that can keep me warm at night, NOT. Ugh, I was a tool for having been so cavalier about my education. To my credit, though, I screwed up at a name-brand college, which really only makes me feel worse. I have not taken the MCAT yet, planning to do that in January 2007.

    So I signed up for some basic science classes-- Orgo I, II, Human Physiology I, II at my local community college this semester. Am I just wasting my time, taking it at the community college? Even if I do well, I don't want someone looking at my transcript, and thinking, "Oh, she couldn't hack it at XXX, she thinks she's hot stuff now that she's doing well at a COMMUNITY college." Classes don't start until August 21, so I still have time to cancel my registration.

    Honestly, I've been depressed and witless about this. Can someone share any relevant advice? My goal is to get into the SMP at Gtown or Master's in Medical Science at BU, but am I kidding myself about this? I'm not sure I would qualify for a post-bac program, since I've already taken all the science prereqs, as my loud C's and D's on my transcript will attest. Am I just delusional in thinking I still have a glimmer of a chance? Please give it to me straight.
     
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  3. League54

    7+ Year Member

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    It's ALL gonna come down to your MCAT score.....30+ is mandatory
     
  4. MedSchoolFool

    MedSchoolFool Shake Zula
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    My advice is to not take your classes at a community college. Since you messed up at a more prestigious university, then you need to enroll in an equally, or better, or at least respectable 4 year school to start over again. You need to prove that you have changed and that you can make high grades at a competitive university. It's too bad you can't do a post bacc...although I'm not completely sure that you couldn't.

    But here is the bottom line....you are in for a long road. Not like 10 years long or anything...but longer than just taking the MCAT in January and applying for 2008 med classes. You should think about taking all the pre-reqs over again. This will take about a year and a half, realistically. You also should consider taking several other college courses (balance sciences with nonsciences) until your cumulative GPA is above at least a 3.0. While you are taking these undergraduate classes you need to endear yourself to your professors and seek really solid letters of recommendation from at least 3 of them....5 is better. Try to enroll in a school that has a pre-med committee and do everything you can to impress the hell out of them. I would basically say that you should really think about completing a whole new undergraduate degree. This could take 2 to 3 years, considering that you could transfer many of your old classes. However, it will serve as proof to an admission committee that you are serious about turning your academics around so that you can have a shot at pursuing medicine. Also, make sure that you have a lot of hours of medically related extra curriculars under your belt. Hold off on the MCAT until you know that you know that you know you will be able to knock it out of the park! The worst thing you could do at this point is to chance making a mediocre MCAT score that will stick with you for the rest of your life. You really need to aim for about a 33, 34, or 35. That is totally doable if you are patient and build your science skills up. Believe me, you only want to take the MCAT once. It isn't fun.

    I say all of this from experience. I knew by 2002 that I wanted to be a doctor. At that time I only needed 2 classes to graduate from college. Instead of taking the easier road, I ended up taking another 120 hours worth of courses and I just graduated in May 2006. I delayed taking my shot at med school for 4 years because I knew what I had to do to be competitive. Believe me, I was very much in the same situation as you are right now. I still don't have the greatest record, but I'm light years ahead of where I was when I first started. I really hope you will pull through and get into med school, but take your time to make sure you have everything you need in place to get there.
     
  5. efex101

    efex101 attending
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    Agree completely with the above post. Take your *time* and do it slowly, be diligent and get A's from now on. Take the classes at a four year college and ROCK the MCAT. Do not give up but do realize that it will take some "damage" control regarding your GPA hence taking time to do well in your courses and even adding more than the required pre-reqs will help.
     
  6. sandros1

    sandros1 Spinner
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    AWESOME response MSF! This is why SDN can be so helpful.

    It does takes time. Be willing to give your post bac work a minimum of 6 semesters. That's what it has taken me with a 2.7+. Since your GPA is quite low, it will take longer perhaps. A 3.0 is not 100% critical, but without it you sure do dim your chances. The above post about the 30+ is accurate as well. I have been in post bac classes retaking every single pre-req and I'm at almost 60 credit hours. MSF noted it took 120 extra hours. It might be that long a road.

    However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. So far, I've gotten 3 screening secondaries. LOR's in these more recent classes will help secure the potential interview (MSF I did get 5 from my recent work, you are correct there as well). If possible, sign up for classes at a state school as a minimum(I did at Utah). There's much more help with other pre-med students (those that aren't gunners) and the pre-med advisor. BUT, there is a reason it is so hard to get into med school, and it takes those of us that played lots in undergrad a bit more time to get there. Have at it and keep everyone updated. Success stories are what have helped me on those days when I look at my old transcript and want to light it on fire. Cheers!
     
  7. AT12

    AT12 Member
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    I agree with the other posters. Unfortunately, you would be wasting both time and money taking the MCAT in January. Your low GPA indicates that you really don't have a solid understanding of the basic sciences. My suggestion would be to get a job at a university in your area (not a community college). Most universities allow their employees to take classes for free. Unless your parents are going to pay for you to take additional courses, don't put yourself in more debt right now. Take a few more additional courses for free, get good grades and go for there. Definitely think about re-taking all the basic science courses. Good luck.....it may seem like a long road, but it will go fast.
     
  8. jessica_says

    jessica_says New Member

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    Hey, thanks everyone, for the really helpful advice. You guys are great.

    I'm willing to put in the time, the money, and the hard work, but I'm not sure where to start. If I want to do a second bachelors, does this mean I have to take my SATs at 26? I'd imagine it would take about about 4 years worth of coursework to get the undergrad GPA up to the 3.0 bar.... I honestly don't know what decent college would admit me, with my awful undergrad record.
     
  9. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    Obviously sacrifices must be made. Your first goal would be to get your GPA up to a 2.7 or higher since that would allow you to apply to some official post-bacc programs. To avoid the whole community college thing for reasons stated by others in this thread, you may have to take classes in some non-degree earning program.

    Some schools allow you to take classes through their "university extension", or an "open campus". Some examples are the University of California Extensions, and I think Harvard has an extension system too. On the flipside, this route may be more expensive than a second bachelors degree, and you are not eligible for financial aid. However it does avoid the whole having some GPA to be allowed to take classes. I went this route since I had a 2.65 GPA and got my GPA up to a 2.7. I couldn't stand the cost anymore so applied to our a PhD program to give me more time and free schooling to boost my GPA to a 3.0. However I must say that most grad programs usually wont allow anyone with <3.0 in, especially here at the University of California, but rarely make exceptions, like in my case due. Pretty much, my more recent performance (e.g., post-bacc) made them feel better about my academic abilities. Anyway, this leads me to the next alternative, grad school. Although I wouldn't advise you to do this if an official post-bacc program or SMP was available to you, it is a potential route.

    The reason being, a standard masters or PhD program mainly consists of graduate courses which do not add to your undergrad GPA, and undergrad GPA is weighted more in the eyes of the admissions committee. On the flipside, you can take undergrad classes, assuming the program allows it, which DOES add to your undergrad GPA. Anyway, to digress from this grad school thing, you can also look into the local state schools for a way to take classes without register into a degree program. That may be cheaper than the other "brand-name" university's, and there really isn't any bias towards a state university compared to a community college.

    Yea, I don't envy you with that 2.4, since its taken me like 2.5 years now to get to a 2.77..lol. It would've gone faster but the time and cost for post-bacc prevented me from going full-time all the time, and more recently I had to focus on the grad/med-school level courses for my PhD. But if time isn't an issue, then who cares, we'll all get there;). Good luck!
     
  10. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    You don't have to submit SAT's for 2nd degree. At least I didn't. They will require previous transcripts though.

    Where to start?

    1. Start at the basics. Retake your prereqs especially if you didn't do well.
    2. Retake classes that you got a C or lower in. You don't have to do all of them but I did some of my intro classes and since I'm applying DO, these grades are "replaced" with the most recent course work. Allopathic institutions will average grades so retaking will help you at least.

    3. Retake some upper level science classes that you didn't do well in either.

    4. At that point, if you want to apply to post-baccs you're GPA will hopefully be improved.

    I was in the same boat. I graduated with a 2.4 GPA. I took classes at 3 different places: community college, a regional college, and a national university. The biased against CC's are out there but they can be valued (and cheap resource). Check yours out. I will have most of my prereqs from a CC. But I'm taking upper level classes at a regional college too.

    I'm also enrolling in a masters program where I will take classes with medical students.

    I agree with the "take your time" mentality. I tried to rush it the last year. It didn't work for me. I had many personal changes as well as academic changes and ended up with mostly C's. It sucked. But my head is in the game now and I'm going for the gold.

    Also, any sort of "fluff" classes to boost your gpa is good too. (While taking your sciences). Such as I retook political science and will be taking sociology to replace C's while taking science classes. Things like that. :)

    :luck:
     
  11. trustwomen

    trustwomen Senior Member
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    I suspect that finishing a first bachelor's would pretty much ensure admission to a second bachelor's, no? It did for me (when I saw the first post, I thought "wow, did I sleep-post on SDN and lose all memory of doing so?")

    If you do a second degree and do it well (say, in a different science department, or even in humanities but take your science prereqs on the side), you should be OK. I know of at least two people (me and OldManDave) who did second degrees with previously awful GPAs and got into medical school. Long haul (three and a half years, in my case).... Totally worth it.

    Good luck!
     
  12. MJB

    MJB Senior Member
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    Keep in mind that DO schools replace your old grades with the new one (assuming you can replace with A's, this is a good thing).
     
  13. remo

    remo Senior Member
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    Just to put out all the options.....if you want to do primary care like family practice or internal medicine you can probably just take the MCAT and go the carribean route. There are 2-3 decent schools there that will take you and get you a US residency. You can find all the pros and cons of doing this on other parts of this web site. This is just an option if you don't want to put in another 2-3 years of undergrad to have a shot at a US school.
     
  14. chrisjohn

    chrisjohn Senior Member
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    Take all pre-med requirements, get A's.

    MCAT >30.

    Come up with some POSTIVE story to explain your eight year craptastic UG career.

    Eight years? Wow, that's a logn time.

    You'll be good to hook. Sounds simple doesn't it? It is.
     
  15. jessica_says

    jessica_says New Member

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    Hey guys, thanks again for all your feedback. They've been really helpful.

    I signed up for 15 credits of undergrad science at my local state university for this semester. I figure, if I can't hack this, then maybe I really am kidding myself about med school. So this will be a good trial run for me.

    I also spoke to some people at different postbac programs, and it seems like I still have some chance if I do well this semester(except for Harvard Extension, where the person on the phone literally laughed at me), so I guess I don't have to off myself just yet. :) The people at Penn and Drexel were especially encouraging, so if anyone else with a 2.4 is looking for a way, those are two options. They both did stress that the coursework should be done at a 4 year university.

    Thanks, everyone.
     
  16. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student
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    Everyone gave good advice.

    The only thing I'd add is to ask yourself what caused your "craptastic 8 years"? I mean, four years should be ample time to finish a bachelors degree program. Were you having personal issues? Working too much? Too much freedom? Academic troubles?

    Make sure whatever was bothering you the first time out doesn't bother you this time around. If you don't show improvement in your second try, you will only be digging yourself into a bigger hole with every bad grade you get.

    Good luck.
     
  17. ttac

    ttac Trust me, it's still fun.
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    Similar story...
    Terrible grades, name brand college. Almost failed out. Graduated with 2.5 gpa... took postbac classes for 2-3 years while doing research... GPA there about 3.8 with 8 classes). MCAT 37R. applied once. denied. Applied twice. denied. applied three times. got in to 2 places (hence TTAC (third time's a charm)).

    Spent a semester on the admissions committee in med school. Saw alot of cases like my own... many did not get in. The problem is convincing the adcom members that you have truly changed... why should they take a chance on you if they have other people who got the 3.7's etc etc... You have to bring something else to the table like life experiences, research, or something unique.

    Anyway, I'm now an ER resident at a pretty darn good program in NY and loving it. Even the SICU (oh the blasphemy)

    best of luck,
    ttac

    http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=115
     
  18. UMP

    UMP Recovered Under-Achiever
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    so I went from getting my BS at a top-class school to doing my informal post-bacc at a third tier public university... will that be looked down upon since it'll look like I couldn't hack it in a competitive environment?
     
  19. yanon

    yanon Junior Member
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    I have been through the same route. I put in two years of hard work and I got accepted this year.

    Here are what you should do:

    1) retake some of the pre-req. courses plus some advanced science courses such as virology, embryology, molecular biology, and biochemistry 2nd semester. The reason that you shouldn't retake all of the pre-req is that you're no better than the average med school applicants if you just do well in low level courses which you already have second exposures. What you really want to prove to the med school admission committee is that you are a changed person. In order to proof that you really have changed, you must go a step beyond the typical med school applicants. You must demonstrate your commitment and intellectual capacity by taking advanced courses.

    2) score high on MCAT (33+).

    3) get some research experiences (genetics, biochem, cell biology, molecular biology).

    4) do lots hospital volunteer work
     
  20. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    Research does not have to be in a specific area such as the ones stated above to make one "look good" for med school. I don't even think it has to be in a science. In fact a non-science research experience may make one look unique (in a good way).
     
  21. MaryWrathers

    MaryWrathers Guest
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    Do you have to get A's in all of the prereqs? What about a couple of B's? Am I doomed if I got a B?
     
  22. MaryWrathers

    MaryWrathers Guest
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    Can we get more responses from posters on the topic of

    "Does research in other fields count?"
     
  23. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student
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    I asked about research at three different schools and all of them said 'research is not looked upon as good or bad'. They were all more concerned with having clinical experience (i.e volunteering in hospitals, patient contact). I was baffled by that. However, it stands to reason that med schools would want to accept people who will make good clinicians, not necessarily good scientists.
     
  24. RxnMan

    RxnMan Who, me? A doctor?
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    To my knowledge, the reasons why schools want you to do research because it shows that you can view a problem objectively, use resources to find relevant information, form a hypothesis, test said hypothesis in a structured way, and critically evaluate and interpret the results. This thought process can be applied to both basic and clinical research, as well as when you are confronted with a disease/condition you've never seen (part of being a life-long-learner).

    That's it. It's nice if the subject of the research is medically-related, but it doesn't have to be.
     
  25. doctorcoffee

    doctorcoffee Junior Member

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    How important is the shadowing? I've never heard of it in my life until I came to this forum. And how do you get someone to shadow, just call up a hospital and ask to be allowed to follow someone?
     
  26. doctorcoffee

    doctorcoffee Junior Member

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    Sorry to be be posting again, but I have a quick question.

    I'm planning to take this semester Cell Bio, Biochem, Genetics, Physiology, and Immunology this semester. I'm taking a full 15 credit load, because I want to simulate the med school experience, albeit with upper level undergrad science classes. I'm also planning to take the Jan. 2007 MCAT, so I'll be studying for that as well, probably about 3 hours a day until Jan 27th. Am I nuts for attempting all this in one semester? Is this a suicide wish? I know Immunology and biochem are notoriously hard, but what about the others? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    Coffee love to anyone who answers. :)
     
  27. remo

    remo Senior Member
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    I got a unreal LOR from the doctor I shadowed. Plus I will probably be on one of his papers. Don't be afraid to just pick up the phone and start cold calling. I just left messages at the answering service regarding "student shadowing" and eventually got a call back. Start with the top guys like the section chiefs and work your way down to the residents. The top guys sometimes love having people follow them around. My guy was a Medical Director and I was in everywhere because I was hanging with the boss.
     
  28. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    Ok I'm not as good at loading myself up with sciences as some of the people on sdn but your course load sounds insane to me. Cell bio and Genetics are the weed-out bio major classes at my school. We're supposed to take those before we take any of the other upper-level bio classes. Biochem is also a bear at my school. (The teacher is notorious for giving pop quizzes, and doing so two days in a row in a week - ie. she'd tell them to memorize the amino acids one day and quiz them on them the next two). Physiology is just going to be time-consuming because it's a lot of memorization (unless you have a photographic memory). Immunology at my school is an easy A tho. We basically just have to memorize our study guides for the exams to get an A. But all of that in addition to MCAT prep just sounds like way way too much. The problem with comparing ugrad classes to med school is that in ugrad they don't really help you as much as they could typically. In med school (so I've heard anyway) everything you need is in the lecture notes. If you memorize those you're golden. In ugrad they are still all about being able to think critically, and they don't always give you all the information you need to perform well. You typically have to do more than just memorize minutae.

    Personally I would have chosen cell bio, immuno, and biochem in one semester (with a fluff class of some sort), and then done genetics, physio, and other stuff. I have to work tho too so that makes a difference.
     
  29. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    Yes you are crazy. Only take 3 or 4. Especially if you want to study for the MCAT. I'm planning for 15 hrs a week MCAT studying and I'm only taking 4 classes. BUT they are ochem/chem, medical micro (which is notoriously IMPOSSIBLE), and meteorology. For me that is 17 credits and that is STILL a load. Plus I volunteer at two places as well as I work doing research a couple hours a week.

    Please reconsider your schedule. Imitating a med school schedule isn't want they want to see. They want to see you take a couple science classes together and do well in them. Your current schedule is crash and burn.
     
  30. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Can't agree enough. Look around SDN long enough and you'll read hundreds and hundreds of teary accounts of students who have ruined GPAs and not properly mastered materials because they overloaded their schedules.

    I have yet to read an account of a student who suffered bad things by only taking 3 or 4 classes.
     
  31. doctorcoffee

    doctorcoffee Junior Member

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    Gracias, all.

    I was trying to redeem myself because I had a "good time" in college like jessica_says, so this is an informal postbac of sorts... I guess I went overboard. I'll just be taking Biochem, Cell Bio, and Physiology, mainly because I think those classes will help me do well on the MCAT.

    This board is AWE-some. :cool:
     
  32. UMP

    UMP Recovered Under-Achiever
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    if you're doing damage control grab an extra easy non-science class... something you might be interested in. Psychology, poli sci, history, whatever :thumbup:

    those three sciences will help with the MCAT big time...
     
  33. Brickhouse

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    My question as a prospective student interviewer is "what changed"? What makes you suddenly dedicated to this path that you lacked earlier?
     
  34. scpod

    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    Don't count on just memorizing in every med school, Skaterbabe. Here's a sample question from the second day of Anatomy class:

    A 45-year-old construction worker presents to the emergency room with a metal shard protruding from his neck. Radiographic analysis reveals that the shard fractured the posterior arch of the atlas (C1) on the right side. The metal shard is surgically removed. On follow up examination, paralysis to the posterior scalp on the right side was noted, all other observations were unremarkable. From this information, which of the following soft tissues were also most likely damaged by the shard?

    a) The right vertebral artery
    b) The right greater occipital nerve
    c) The right great auricular nerve
    d) The ligamentum nuchae
    e) The posterior atlantooccipital membrane

    We have to know the name, origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply and action of every muscle, but none of the questions on our exams will simply ask that information. They're generally all second and third order questions. Not only is the information thrown at you (drinking from a fire hydrant is the generally acceptable analogy), but you have to be able to do some thinking as well. The idea should NOT be to memorize the answers in order to do well on the exam (if that was even possible), rather to learn the material so that you can actually use it in practice.
     
  35. relentless11

    relentless11 Going broke and loving it
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    Its all about the PBLs man...gotta love PBL-based learning.
     
  36. Skaterbabe74

    Skaterbabe74 Senior Member
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    No I know that scpod. I just meant that if you have the memorization part down in med school you're likely to be able to reason through the questions for the exam and do well. In my ugrad experience (so far anyway) we often weren't given all the information needed to make the leaps from the 1st order questions to the thrid-order questions so it makes studying for the exams much more difficult. Also I would think that there are less questions where a professor purposely tries to trick you in med school than there is in ugrad or make the exams purposely 40x harder than anything you've seen in the course materials which happens all the time at my ugrad.

    I'm actually not much of a memorizer myself. I "can" do it, just don't like to and don't learn as well from just memorizing anyway so even the "rote" memorization portions of my ugrad classes like A&P lab and the general reactions and naming rules for Organic were more about digging my way through the cadavers and doing problems a couple times than writing notecards.
     
  37. dr4ku

    dr4ku Member
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    Get to know. And i mean get to know some excellent, superb, big name rec's. And make sure you have a super heavy hitter @ the school/med center you are most interested in!!!!!

    My grades sucked in undergrad. Took pre-req's at CC - well respected. My MCAT was ave the first time, denied. Went out and got to know some req's and spent time. Took MCAT again. Ave. threw in my new req's....Accepted!

    Then. Above all else. Pray.
     
  38. doctorcoffee

    doctorcoffee Junior Member

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    G-d dannit.

    I can't get into any of those blasted classes I wanted, because they all have some bs prereqs, and I took them years ago at my undergrad upstate. My plan is to just to keep showing up to class like a persistent bastard and hope the profs just have pity on me.... anyone else try this?
     
  39. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    If you have proof you already took the classes you should be able to enroll in the classes.
     
  40. mommy2three

    mommy2three PGY-1
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    i effed up very badly almost 11 yrs ago as well and i am STILL paying for those mistakes in teh application process as it has lowered my cum undergrad gpa.
    yes you can get past it but in the game of numbers it will be an uphill battle (as someone told me)
     
  41. MaryWrathers

    MaryWrathers Guest
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    If I score a 31+ on the MCAT, would taking 2 classes per semester be okay?

    Thank you.
     
  42. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member
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    I also f'ed up my u/g gpa, and when I spoke to a med school admcom advissor he told me they were looking for straight A's from me. It didn't matter if I did 1, 2 or however many classes together as long as I got A's. He was also refering to graduate level classes not U/G. For 2 reasons: One u/g classes are not as difficult and by taking grad classes at a prestigeous university (and keeping 4.0) I can show that I can withstand tougher classes. The other reason is that I would need A LOT of u/g credits to raise my gpa near to an acceptable number. So was told to leave the u/g alone and show consistency in my grad studies.

    While getting my A's I also made nice impressions on my professroes, which get me great LOR. Now if I could only get the right MCAT score :oops:
     
  43. doctorcoffee

    doctorcoffee Junior Member

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    That's been my suspicion all along. I think it would take forever and a half to raise a subpar GPA(I'm talking 2.5 and below people, NOT a 3.8, etc) and at that rate, you're only proving that you have your act together the 2nd time around.... which isn't all that impressive, if you consider that you're virtually retaking the classes. Far better IMO to scrap undergrad altogether and take some hard as mothaflippa classes to wow the adcoms.

    One thing is clear, though. The A's are absolutely mandatory. If you can't get A's in classes after a crappy undergrad, you might as well plan on doing something else.

    I am among those with a crappy Ugrad GPA, and my goal is to get into a postbac program by next summer. The one thing I can do, I was told unanimously by everyone I spoke to from BU to Gtown, is to get a kick-ass MCAT score. Normally, they recommend people study 3 months for the MCAT, but people like me should play it safe and plan on 6 months of solid study. Also, they recommended excellent grades in hard science classes.

    In case you're wondering if the stellar MCAT score is attainable, I am a former college screwup who learned zip in undergrad, less in HS, but have been studying on my own for the MCAT. It's slow as helll, but I've been scoring solid 30s on my practice MCATs. Trust me, if I can pull that off, ANYONE can, as long as they're willing to bust their butt some. By the time Jan 2007 rolls around, I should be hitting past 35+. I know of others who have done this (crappy college GPA, off-the-charts MCAT) who have gotten into MD schools somewhere. It can be done. PM me if you need more details.
     

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