Rogue Perfectionist

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I'm going into my senior year of undergrad. Currently my GPA is pretty measly. It's going to be 3.1-3.4 overall and 2.9-3.3 science by the time I'm done. It largely depends on if I can win a few grade appeals.
I will be graduating with two degrees, one Biology BS, and one English BA as well as minor and will hopefully complete a thesis. I am allowing for a break year after graduation and will be using that year to gain as much clinical experience as I can. MCAT will also be taken this year.

I was raised not to make excuses. I know med school does not like excuses. Yet circumstances did interfere and I was wondering if these would be understood or looked down upon by medical school.

I have been getting sick a great deal since my second semester of college. Multiple cases of colitis, pneumonia, flu, you name it, I caught it and did not recover quickly. I tried not to let it stop me and kept trudging ahead rather miserably though I ended up with B's and some C's where I should've, could've, would've made A's. Whether I blame myself or illness, these are my grades, no changing them now.

The thing is I've never been so sick in my life and it became clear something was very wrong. This past year was the worst and many symptoms simply would not end for months at a time, like a never ending stomach virus. It became too much and I went part time, hardly avoiding withdrawing from school entirely. Maybe I should've, but I'm just not a quitter.

Finally, after significant testing, I was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder as well as multiple serious complications from that disorder.
It took 6 months, but this disorder is now under control and I am normal for the first time in a long time. Doctors are still working with me to see if an inflammatory disorder contributed to the poorness of my immune system.

At the moment I am rather crushed and embarrassed by my grades. I have very little time now to show what I can do when healthy.

Will med school look at these circumstances mercifully if I simply explain? Or do I have a long road ahead trying to find a way to redeem myself from this? And if the latter is more than likely true, what sorts of things can redeem me?
I know none can answer with certainty, but I just wanted to get it out and see some responses. Please have at it. If I'd make that poor an impression, I'd rather be tipped off from the forum first than a rejected application.
Thanks in advance for your time and hope you have great day.
 

mw18

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I would focus on DO schools, and consider going back and re-taking some of the science courses (especially the prereqs) that you did poorly on. If you were unaware, DO schools have grade replacement. If you are thinking MD, you likely have a very long road ahead of you. Going by this chart ( https://www.aamc.org/download/321508/data/factstablea23.pdf ) you would have to get a 36 (97th percentile) equivalent to give yourself over a 50/50 chance. And that is using the 3.2-3.39 GPA block, which may be generous.
 
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KYmedic33

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Prove to them that it is no longer an issue by retaking all F/D/C coursework to bring up your GPA. You'll also need to be involved outside of the classroom to show them that you're functional. MCAT score will also need to be high. You need to show them that you will be able to function as a medical student and a future physician.
 
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Rogue Perfectionist

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I would focus on DO schools, and consider going back and re-taking some of the science courses (especially the prereqs) that you did poorly on. If you were unaware, DO schools have grade replacement.
Thank you for responding.
I have seen this concept on multple threads and it confuses me greatly. My school is very explicit, that you are only allowed to retake D's and F's. C's cannot be redone and I have 4, all in physics and general chemistry. I only have two grades below a C, one I am both retaking and appealing, the other I am appealing only (it was Calculus II Honors. Forgive me, I don't think it's worth retaking).
Is this not the case at some schools? Can I attend them post graduation to take advantage of this? I would love to have more proof that my grades will improve with my health.
 

gyngyn

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Thank you for responding.
I have seen this concept on multple threads and it confuses me greatly. My school is very explicit, that you are only allowed to retake D's and F's. C's cannot be redone and I have 4, all in physics and general chemistry. I only have two grades below a C, one I am both retaking and appealing, the other I am appealing only (it was Calculus II Honors. Forgive me, I don't think it's worth retaking).
Is this not the case at some schools? Can I attend them post graduation to take advantage of this? I would love to have more proof that my grades will improve with my health.
You don't have to take them at your school. This method works well for DO schools, not as much for MD.
 
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Firstly; med school adcoms are humans, not vultures. If what you say is true, and you were really that ill for essentially years straight, then of course that will be taken into consideration. However, 3.1 (without a baller MCAT score) will likely get you autoscreened at most schools.

So you can either 1) Go the fresh-start route and retake some science courses you did not do so hot in. This works great for DO schools, I've heard of people having almost 2.0s originally, and upon retaking their classes they had 3.5+ and got in somewhere. or 2) You can partake in an SMP program which should greatly boost your chances at your state schools + DO. I would say that the SMP is probably the harder route, but is ultimately more rewarding.

Do not let your sickness deter you from your dreams, do not use it as an excuse, but instead find motivation in it. Maybe someday as a doctor you can help another premed kid who is in the shoes you were in. Good luck!
 

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Firstly; med school adcoms are humans, not vultures. If what you say is true, and you were really that ill for essentially years straight, then of course that will be taken into consideration. However, 3.1 (without a baller MCAT score) will likely get you autoscreened at most schools.

So you can either 1) Go the fresh-start route and retake some science courses you did not do so hot in. This works great for DO schools, I've heard of people having almost 2.0s originally, and upon retaking their classes they had 3.5+ and got in somewhere. or 2) You can partake in an SMP program which should greatly boost your chances at your state schools + DO. I would say that the SMP is probably the harder route, but is ultimately more rewarding.

Do not let your sickness deter you from your dreams, do not use it as an excuse, but instead find motivation in it. Maybe someday as a doctor you can help another premed kid who is in the shoes you were in. Good luck!
You are right.
It's not the illness that keeps someone out of medical school. It's the performance.
A sustained period of academic excellence can overcome a weak record.
 
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Thanks everyone for the responses. I will certainly look into the DO medical schools. Unfortunately there are none in my state. What's more, the nearest one in the neighboring state will cost double what it'd cost if I made it into the local MD schools so therein lies my hesitation.

2) You can partake in an SMP program which should greatly boost your chances at your state schools + DO. I would say that the SMP is probably the harder route, but is ultimately more rewarding.
I will look into this more. My original idea was to present an upward trend in grades my senior year, graduate, then take on a full time job as a medical assistant for a year to gain more valuable clinical experience. Between this and a good MCAT I hoped I could show I'm worth something. I've seen many job opportunities for medical assistants in my area requiring a degree and some experience only. Balancing this with a SMP program would be hard, although SMP might be the way to go to redeem my grades. I'll have to discuss this more with a counselor and perhaps plan to have at least two years rather than one in between undergrad and maybe being accepted to medical school.

You are right.
It's not the illness that keeps someone out of medical school. It's the performance.
A sustained period of academic excellence can overcome a weak record.
This is exactly what I have been thinking. I need an opportunity to perform well somehow. Do you think one year (2 semesters) is long enough to show sustained performance? Assuming I do well, which I really should. I was a great student who loved school before I got sick. The classes I'm going in sound really interesting and I'm healthy again. I'm finally healthy again and I am so grateful that the sickness is over. I cannot wait to get to work again without that hindrance.

Do not let your sickness deter you from your dreams, do not use it as an excuse, but instead find motivation in it. Maybe someday as a doctor you can help another premed kid who is in the shoes you were in. Good luck!
This exactly also. I don't want it to be my excuse. If I can turn this around and use it somehow, I'll be on the right track.

Thanks again for the responses!
 

gyngyn

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This is exactly what I have been thinking. I need an opportunity to perform well somehow. Do you think one year (2 semesters) is long enough to show sustained performance? Assuming I do well, which I really should. I was a great student who loved school before I got sick. The classes I'm going in sound really interesting and I'm healthy again. I'm finally healthy again and I am so grateful that the sickness is over. I cannot wait to get to work again without that hindrance.
At my school, we look for the same duration of strong performance as the length of weak performance. Your state may be more lenient.
 
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Goro

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There is a caveat to tis. The logic of "I was sick, so that why I got poor grades" doesn't mean that one would have gotten high grades if you weren't sick. I see student athletes use this logic all the time.

You need to prove it. hence the need for a long duration of sustained academic success.


Firstly; med school adcoms are humans, not vultures. If what you say is true, and you were really that ill for essentially years straight, then of course that will be taken into consideration. However, 3.1 (without a baller MCAT score) will likely get you autoscreened at most schools.

So you can either 1) Go the fresh-start route and retake some science courses you did not do so hot in. This works great for DO schools, I've heard of people having almost 2.0s originally, and upon retaking their classes they had 3.5+ and got in somewhere. or 2) You can partake in an SMP program which should greatly boost your chances at your state schools + DO. I would say that the SMP is probably the harder route, but is ultimately more rewarding.

Do not let your sickness deter you from your dreams, do not use it as an excuse, but instead find motivation in it. Maybe someday as a doctor you can help another premed kid who is in the shoes you were in. Good luck!
 
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At my school, we look for the same duration of strong performance as the length of weak performance. Your state may be more lenient.
In this case then, maybe it will be enough. Despite being sick I realize I did successfully complete two semesters with A's and some respectable B's before my disorder was made far worse by several serious infections and complications. If my senior year is strong, I'll have 4 semesters of stronger grades and 4 with compromised grades. They weren't consecutive, but at least that's not as bad as having only 2 better semesters out of 8.

There is a caveat to this. The logic of "I was sick, so that why I got poor grades" doesn't mean that one would have gotten high grades if you weren't sick. I see student athletes use this logic all the time.

You need to prove it. hence the need for a long duration of sustained academic success.
You are very right. If I say "I would have done better if only I had been well," I need to prove it. Now that y'all have explained multiple possibilities to me, I just need to decide how and do it.
 

AnatomyGrey12

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If you are planning to take the MCAT this year then I think that will be your gauge of what to do. If you kill it then go ahead and do an SMP to prove your illness was what caused your grades. If you don't kill it then maybe you would have gotten bad grades anyway and should do some retakes and go DO.
 

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I'm going to be an advocate of adcoms in that they're not vultures. They understand that things happen in everyone's life. We get sick, turn down the wrong road, have something in our life pop up causing everything to turn upside-down. What you NEED to do is show you can handle this pressure with everything going right. Several state schools will replace your poor grades with anything taken towards the end of your undergrad career. LSU will only look at the last 32 hours of your career (either science or cumulative; I can't remember which.)
 
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Rogue Perfectionist

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If you are planning to take the MCAT this year then I think that will be your gauge of what to do. If you kill it then go ahead and do an SMP to prove your illness was what caused your grades. If you don't kill it then maybe you would have gotten bad grades anyway and should do some retakes and go DO.
That actually sounds like a great way of determining which way to go from here, thank you.

I'm going to be an advocate of adcoms in that they're not vultures. They understand that things happen in everyone's life. We get sick, turn down the wrong road, have something in our life pop up causing everything to turn upside-down. What you NEED to do is show you can handle this pressure with everything going right.
Hope you're right that they're not vultures. Also you are absolutely right, I do NEED to prove myself.

Several state schools will replace your poor grades with anything taken towards the end of your undergrad career. LSU will only look at the last 32 hours of your career (either science or cumulative; I can't remember which.)
Do you know where I can verify whether it's science or cumulative? Particularly with LSU (I guess that "ya'll" I used gave away where I'm hoping to end up). I haven't heard or seen anything about replacement grades being taken. Although I have heard they have a program (not sure if it's an SMP) for students with a non-competitive science GPA. I think it involves getting sent back a year to take 30 hours of science courses, but I might be remembering this wrong. I've actually been searching for the program details all day, but I can't seem to find them. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Thanks again everyone.
 

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Do you know where I can verify whether it's science or cumulative? Particularly with LSU (I guess that "ya'll" I used gave away where I'm hoping to end up). I haven't heard or seen anything about replacement grades being taken. Although I have heard they have a program (not sure if it's an SMP) for students with a non-competitive science GPA. I think it involves getting sent back a year to take 30 hours of science courses, but I might be remembering this wrong. I've actually been searching for the program details all day, but I can't seem to find them. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Thanks again everyone.
https://www.medschool.lsuhsc.edu/admissions/Requirements.aspx

You might also want to look into Wayne State as they have a similar policy. Regardless 2 years of solid grades would definitely be looked at positively. If you can bring your grades up to a 3.4/3.3s and do well on the MCAT I think you'll be more than fine if you apply broadly.
 
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https://www.medschool.lsuhsc.edu/admissions/Requirements.aspx

You might also want to look into Wayne State as they have a similar policy. Regardless 2 years of solid grades would definitely be looked at positively. If you can bring your grades up to a 3.4/3.3s and do well on the MCAT I think you'll be more than fine if you apply broadly.
Well now I feel silly, I went to that page but completely overlooked that section (granted I searched the page for what I believed was a 30 hour program not 32). Thank you for pointing me to it. I'll definitely be looking into this and other schools.
Just for clarity, by two years of good grades do you mean the two years total of solid grades I'll have upon graduating or my senior year plus a year long SMP?

Regardless I will be consulting pre-med counselors to see if they can help me judge if I should go straight into an SMP for the 32 hour policy or not.

I think I now have a plan of action from here.
If my MCAT is low, I will finish undergrad strong and apply to mostly DO schools. I'll spend the year after graduation gaining clinical experience and retaking old classes while waiting. Hopefully get accepted. If not, try again and maybe do an SMP.
If my MCAT is high, I will finish undergrad strong and apply to mostly MD schools. I'll spend the year after graduation gaining clinical experience while waiting. If accepted, great. If not, it's SMP time and I will try again.

This has helped a great deal. Although I'm extremely grateful for my regained health, I wasn't sure how to pick up the pieces from here. Now I have battle plans A and B it seems. Thank ya'll so much for the help.
 

AnatomyGrey12

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If my MCAT is high, I will finish undergrad strong and apply to mostly MD schools.
No. You need a high MCAT just to be able to do the SMP. Your GPAs are too low for MD as is. You need the SMP to even make MD a possibility.
 
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No. You need a high MCAT just to be able to do the SMP. Your GPAs are too low for MD as is. You need the SMP to even make MD a possibility.
I guess I should have been clearer.
The overall plan is to graduate this year.
Then work locally for a year (while applying to med school *just in case*).
Upon likely rejection attempt SMP (given that I made the necessary MCAT)

In the case of a low MCAT and rejection from DO schools, I will likely apply again. In the process I will retake the MCAT, shooting for a better score better suited for both medical school and an SMP.

Regardless of MCAT performance, I did already have in mind to do a year of full time work after graduation. If you are right and I can't move forward without an SMP, that'll be done the following year after working (and of course after acheiving the necessary MCAT). I know that my chances aren't swell, but there does seem to be the possibility of my senior year grades showing an upward trend, yes? I'm not banking on that chance, but if I do well my senior year and on the MCAT, wouldn't it be worth applying during that year I work in between graduation and a possible SMP just in case? Or ought I scrap my working year plan all together?

The year of work plan is honestly just a preference on my part. The job opportunities are there and I thought it'd be good for me. Get away from academia and test my feet in the real world for a time before plunging into graduate studies. If ya'll would beg to differ I'd love to hear why. Although I think this is a benign plan, you might know of possible problems that I don't.

Thanks again.
 
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There is a caveat to tis. The logic of "I was sick, so that why I got poor grades" doesn't mean that one would have gotten high grades if you weren't sick. I see student athletes use this logic all the time.

You need to prove it. hence the need for a long duration of sustained academic success.
Agreed, there are conditions to everything, and as I said OP's sickness is not to be used as an excuse for poor performance. At least now, being healthier and still having a full year left, OP has a solid opportunity to prove both their intelligence/work ethic AND their resilience. After all, coming back from a massive slump is by no means easy.
 
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I guess I should have been clearer.
The overall plan is to graduate this year.
Then work locally for a year (while applying to med school *just in case*).
Upon likely rejection attempt SMP (given that I made the necessary MCAT)

In the case of a low MCAT and rejection from DO schools, I will likely apply again. In the process I will retake the MCAT, shooting for a better score better suited for both medical school and an SMP.

Regardless of MCAT performance, I did already have in mind to do a year of full time work after graduation. If you are right and I can't move forward without an SMP, that'll be done the following year after working (and of course after acheiving the necessary MCAT). I know that my chances aren't swell, but there does seem to be the possibility of my senior year grades showing an upward trend, yes? I'm not banking on that chance, but if I do well my senior year and on the MCAT, wouldn't it be worth applying during that year I work in between graduation and a possible SMP just in case? Or ought I scrap my working year plan all together?

The year of work plan is honestly just a preference on my part. The job opportunities are there and I thought it'd be good for me. Get away from academia and test my feet in the real world for a time before plunging into graduate studies. If ya'll would beg to differ I'd love to hear why. Although I think this is a benign plan, you might know of possible problems that I don't.

Thanks again.
IMHO, you have your agenda post-graduation backwards. It is more beneficial to get the SMP out of the way asap then it is to wait a year. Not all schools will consider you while you are enrolled in the SMP, because they want to see how well you do. If you wait a year to take the SMP (assuming you don't get in to med school), you run the risk of not getting in during your gap year, then not getting in during your SMP, and consequently applying for a third cycle. And if I'm not mistaken, after 3 application cycles things start to get very shaky for the applicant.

To further support my point, med school adcoms typically won't care that much about your work experience compared to your academic success. When they review applications, the main question they ask is "can this person sustain a rigorous curricularworkload and succeed in it" not "how did this person do working a 9-5 in a lab/as a scribe/etc". The choice is always yours, just try to keep the end-goal in mind in everything you do.
 

AnatomyGrey12

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I guess I should have been clearer.
The overall plan is to graduate this year.
Then work locally for a year (while applying to med school *just in case*).
Upon likely rejection attempt SMP (given that I made the necessary MCAT)

In the case of a low MCAT and rejection from DO schools, I will likely apply again. In the process I will retake the MCAT, shooting for a better score better suited for both medical school and an SMP.

Regardless of MCAT performance, I did already have in mind to do a year of full time work after graduation. If you are right and I can't move forward without an SMP, that'll be done the following year after working (and of course after acheiving the necessary MCAT). I know that my chances aren't swell, but there does seem to be the possibility of my senior year grades showing an upward trend, yes? I'm not banking on that chance, but if I do well my senior year and on the MCAT, wouldn't it be worth applying during that year I work in between graduation and a possible SMP just in case? Or ought I scrap my working year plan all together?

The year of work plan is honestly just a preference on my part. The job opportunities are there and I thought it'd be good for me. Get away from academia and test my feet in the real world for a time before plunging into graduate studies. If ya'll would beg to differ I'd love to hear why. Although I think this is a benign plan, you might know of possible problems that I don't.

Thanks again.
It's not the gap year. Do not apply with that low of a GPA unless you literally have a 520+. You run the risk of being a reapplicant which will put you behind the 8-ball. Applying "just in case" with a GPA below almost every schools 10th percentile is a bad strategy. Wait until you have the SMP performance to apply, whenever that is. Medical schools aren't going anywhere and applying without the best app that you can is a recipe for failure. Only apply with the best app you can.
 

RogueBanana

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+1 On everyone saying SMP.

Honestly, Go for an SMP or maybe even a MPH. Re-take your BCPM courses that you did badly in, and THEN take the MCAT with it fresh in your mind.
If you kill it in post-bacc and rock the MCAT (like 508+) I think you'll get an interview at a decent amount of programs. Then you can speak on your serious illnesses, and point to the fact you didn't drop out because of your determination to become a doctor. The best part is you'll be able to point at your stellar record in SMP to prove that you had the ability to succeed the whole time. I think that'll get you accepted at a decent amount of low/mid-tier MD institutions. If you apply DO then make sure to get some shadowing experience with a DO, they look for that on apps.
Good luck! You seem determined enough to make it!
 
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IMHO, you have your agenda post-graduation backwards. It is more beneficial to get the SMP out of the way asap then it is to wait a year. Not all schools will consider you while you are enrolled in the SMP, because they want to see how well you do. If you wait a year to take the SMP (assuming you don't get in to med school), you run the risk of not getting in during your gap year, then not getting in during your SMP, and consequently applying for a third cycle. And if I'm not mistaken, after 3 application cycles things start to get very shaky for the applicant.

To further support my point, med school adcoms typically won't care that much about your work experience compared to your academic success. When they review applications, the main question they ask is "can this person sustain a rigorous curricularworkload and succeed in it" not "how did this person do working a 9-5 in a lab/as a scribe/etc". The choice is always yours, just try to keep the end-goal in mind in everything you do.
Oh I see, that is an excellent point. You are probably very right. SMP needs to be my next step, no doubt, just as y'all said. Just needed to wrap my head around it.
I think I did overestimate how much work experience would be worth. And although it wouldn't be worthless, it's definitely not worth postponing the very necessary redemption of my academic performance.


Agreed, there are conditions to everything, and as I said OP's sickness is not to be used as an excuse for poor performance. At least now, being healthier and still having a full year left, OP has a solid opportunity to prove both their intelligence/work ethic AND their resilience. After all, coming back from a massive slump is by no means easy.
No it won't be easy, you are right. At least everyone (including me) will finally be able to see if I have what it takes.
I suppose I've now talked a great game, I've now a plan, and now I need to act on it.
At least when all is said and done, if despite all these strategies and hopes I simply don't cut it, I can say it's not because I didn't try and it's absolutely not because I got sick.

It's not the gap year. Do not apply with that low of a GPA unless you literally have a 520+. You run the risk of being a reapplicant which will put you behind the 8-ball. Applying "just in case" with a GPA below almost every schools 10th percentile is a bad strategy. Wait until you have the SMP performance to apply, whenever that is. Medical schools aren't going anywhere and applying without the best app that you can is a recipe for failure. Only apply with the best app you can.
That bad, huh? I had hoped 3.4/3.3 wasn't below the point of deal breaker.
I understand 100% not attempting an application until I truly have the best record possible for me. At the same time, I've been told stories of an upward trend being something very respectable, despite a lower than ideal GPA. I take it that even with two good semesters combined with if I truly do amazingly this year (which would be a unlikely achievement), I'm too far gone for even that chance?

It seems I still wrongly have my hopes up that a SMP won't be necessary. I'd be lying if I didn't admit being intimidated by the prospect of having to replace my work. Sorry for the bad attitude. It's just a bit of burnout from being sick. Through undergrad I worked day and night studying and practicing, but it was useless while so badly medically compromised and physically weak. For all my trying, it didn't matter. No one can look over my academic record and tell if I am fit or not for medical school. It's null. I have only the severe exhaustion of two or so years of this and nothing, good or bad, to show for it. If this doesn't stop me, because it is so very very tempting to stop now, nothing will.

Don't worry I'll get over myself. It's just a matter of what I wanted to hear VS what I need to hear.

Thanks.
 
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Woops, sorry for the pity party. I was just trying to put into words how discouraging it was studying while being so deleriously sick all that time. I did get burned out from it. I've never been burned out to really know what can get rid of that helpless feeling. I'm hopeful that my studying being productive again will do the trick.

I will definitely do an SMP.
I'm still rather torn about when to apply to medical school. I'm not entirely convinced that if I am successful this year it'd be terrible to attempt an application before the SMP would necessarily be complete, but when that point comes I should discuss it with counselors who can take a more in depth look at my situation. At LSU I have not heard repeat applicants being significantly frowned upon, but I'll certainly look into it first.

I think that'll get you accepted at a decent amount of low/mid-tier MD institutions. If you apply DO then make sure to get some shadowing experience with a DO, they look for that on apps.
Is LSU's medical schools in that range? I am hoping to go there and do the rural studies program to avoid going into so much debt. I'm certainly not pining for ivy league or something.
I will also look into the DO schools, I need to learn about DO's in general actually.

Thank y'all again.
 
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