MSHopefulIV

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Long story short...my fiance wants to go to Med School. He has a poor undergrad gpa (2.75 in economics), but is pulling a 4.0 in the few pre-med classes he's taken thus far. He also was accepted into a Master's program for Economics last year and took one course (got an A), but put that on hold to pursue medicine. Slightly non-traditional student as he is 26 years old and discovered his passion for the industry after becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep with GlaxoSmithKline.

As long as he keeps pulling these great grades and does well on MCAT, what are his chances of getting into Med school SOMEWHERE....ANYWHERE!!!?
 

DrMidlife

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Long story short...my fiance wants to go to Med School. He has a poor undergrad gpa (2.75 in economics), but is pulling a 4.0 in the few pre-med classes he's taken thus far. He also was accepted into a Master's program for Economics last year and took one course (got an A), but put that on hold to pursue medicine. Slightly non-traditional student as he is 26 years old and discovered his passion for the industry after becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep with GlaxoSmithKline.

As long as he keeps pulling these great grades and does well on MCAT, what are his chances of getting into Med school SOMEWHERE....ANYWHERE!!!?

It's all about cumulative undergrad GPA. So he needs to keep taking undergrad classes until his cumulative overall and science GPAs are where he wants them (I suggest a minimum of 3.4 for MD schools, minimum of 3.1 for DO). Or he can look at last-ditch-hail-mary medical masters programs: see the postbac forum for details on SMPs.
 

MSHopefulIV

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That makes sense. What about grade trends/personal reasons for substandard undergrad gpa/work experience/etc? Any of that matter at all?

As his future spouse, I want to know what WE are getting into here...it sounds like he may almost have to get another entire bachelor's before ready and able to apply...am I off on this?
 
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DrMidlife

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That makes sense. What about grade trends/personal reasons for substandard undergrad gpa/work experience/etc? Any of that matter at all?

That starts to matter when you get to eyeballs. You have to pass computerized autoscreen cutoffs to get to eyeballs. And anything you list as a reason for past poor performance raises questions about future poor performance.

As his future spouse, I want to know what WE are getting into here...it sounds like he may almost have to get another entire bachelor's before ready and able to apply...am I off on this?

He's not set up to succeed with a 2.75, and yes, he has a long way to go to apply as a competitive candidate. You're being wise to question the process. But I strongly encourage you to let him figure the rest of this out for himself. Make him get his own damn SDN alias.

Meanwhile, it's trivial to sign up to be a premed "future spouse," and that gets resolved when he does or does not get admitted to med school. In your shoes I'd be more interested in what you're signing up for as a future spouse of a med student and resident. That's 8-10 years of major suckage, imho.

Folks are going to disagree with me on this, so wait for more posters to pipe up before you think too hard about it.
 

MSHopefulIV

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Well, that's what I was getting at - we just upgraded our house and would have to downgrade again. Not only that, but having a family as planned would have to be put on hold as well...
I want to be supportive of him, but I'm just not sure if all the sacrifice would be worth it. I don't have the passion for medicine personally, so (not to sound too vein), but the only benefit I could see down the road is financially driven.
sigh...I know he is ready for all this...just not sure if I am.
 

ChairmanMao

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Well, that's what I was getting at - we just upgraded our house and would have to downgrade again. Not only that, but having a family as planned would have to be put on hold as well...
I want to be supportive of him, but I'm just not sure if all the sacrifice would be worth it. I don't have the passion for medicine personally, so (not to sound too vein), but the only benefit I could see down the road is financially driven.
sigh...I know he is ready for all this...just not sure if I am.


I agree with DrMidlife on pretty much everything. It doesn't matter how long ago he graduated or how he's doing in his current classes. What matters the most is his cumulative GPA and his science (biology, physics, chemistry, math) GPA. Many non-traditional premeds have applied to medical school with subpar GPAs (i.e. those well below 3.2 or 3.3) and found out the hard way that they're just not competitive gradewise for medical school. At the current rate, even if he gets 4.0 in all his classes, he's, going to take as many course credits as he did while in undergrad in order to get above a 3.4 cumulative GPA ((GPA 2.75 + GPA 4.0)/2 = 3.425).

So you see it's going to be a very long road, and at the end of that, as DrMidlife has said, is going to be 8-10 years of medical school and residency training before he becomes a full-fledged doctor. In order to do that though, he has to get admitted to medical school, and that's going to be very hard to do with a GPA of 2.75. As for your personal interest, you can have a family while he's in medical school (many people have started one while they were in medical school or residency), you can also have a house, although you will likely be working and paying for it while he's taking classes. If what you're really interested in is money and having a family immediately, you can always try to find a boyfriend or a fiance who's already out of school and done with residency and is pulling in six figure salaries.
 

student1799

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It doesn't matter how long ago he graduated or how he's doing in his current classes. What matters the most is his cumulative GPA and his science (biology, physics, chemistry, math) GPA. Many non-traditional premeds have applied to medical school with subpar GPAs (i.e. those well below 3.2 or 3.3) and found out the hard way that they're just not competitive gradewise for medical school. At the current rate, even if he gets 4.0 in all his classes, he's, going to take as many course credits as he did while in undergrad in order to get above a 3.4 cumulative GPA ((GPA 2.75 + GPA 4.0)/2 = 3.425).

I take a slightly different view. (For the OP's information, I'm 45 and in the middle of applying to med school right now, complete with 25-year-old GPA baggage.) Yes, overall GPA is very important, but the OP's fiance (let's call him the OPF) might be a bit better off than ChairmanMao suggests. However, it will require a lot of sacrifice by both the OPF and the OP to pull it off.

The OPF's previous major was econ, which may mean that he didn't have a science GPA--known as the BCPM--back in college. This is good, because his current performance in the med school prereqs WILL be his BCPM, meaning that he will have at least one good-looking statistic for his med school apps. While it won't totally overcome the effect of a low uGPA, it can go a long way, especially if he's able to maintain a near-4.0 BCPM. (That's hardly a given, though, so I wouldn't necessarily factor 4.0 into the calculations.)

If the OPF has a "normal" amount of undergrad credits at his 2.75 GPA, it should take him about two years of full-time study to finish the prereqs and get his uGPA to 3.0. Here is a website with a good GPA calculator to help him figure it out exactly: http://www.back2college.com/raisegpa.htm

But just clearing the 3.0 hurdle and getting a good BCPM won't be enough. He'll have to rack up a lot of high-quality clinical volunteer time as well, and get strong LORs from this and his premed classes. This suggests that the plan would only work if the OPF was willing to quit his job and go to school full-time--which is where the sacrifice comes in. I can't speak to the OP's and OPF's financial situation, so I have no idea whether that would be feasible or not.

If we assume for the moment that it is, and the OPF does well in his premed classes and volunteer work, I think he would have a fighting chance to get into med school. Only the couple can decide whether they are willing to commit to this effort together.
 

ILikeFood

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Long story short...my fiance wants to go to Med School. He has a poor undergrad gpa (2.75 in economics), but is pulling a 4.0 in the few pre-med classes he's taken thus far. He also was accepted into a Master's program for Economics last year and took one course (got an A), but put that on hold to pursue medicine. Slightly non-traditional student as he is 26 years old and discovered his passion for the industry after becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep with GlaxoSmithKline.

As long as he keeps pulling these great grades and does well on MCAT, what are his chances of getting into Med school SOMEWHERE....ANYWHERE!!!?

Your fiance sounds like me. I graduated with a ~2.75 in economics three and a half years ago. I worked for awhile, was given an opportunity to work from home and go to school, but decided to quit and spend a year and half taking an extremely heavy science courseload to bring up my gpa. I'm applying to DO schools right now and have my first interview next Tuesday. I'm single, and even then I can only describe my time repairing my gpa as one of the most mentally taxing periods of my life. Not only did I spend a great deal of time in the library, or elsewhere, buried in books, but also wondering if I had the intellectual capabilities to make it through.

One of my good friends/study buddies is married with a house and quit her $80,000/yr job to go back to school. The only thing I can tell you is if your fiance goes this route, and is absolutely serious about it, it is you who will have to be the morally and maybe financially supportive one. You'll see less of him, and he may end up spending more time in study groups than with you. There will always be a shortage of money and the financial payoff is way, way in the future. Anyways, hope you can handle it.
 

ILikeFood

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Btw, to give you an idea of the financial and academic investment required, I have ~110 semester units of crap grades and ~70 semester units of awesome grades. I am one semester away from a second bachelor's degree and ~$30,000 more in debt than when I started. This includes school and living expenses.

I also volunteered for one year @ a hospital. It took ~4 hrs/week of my time.
 

gman33

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With that low of a gpa, I'd forget about MD schools and focus on DO.
To bring up the UG GPA, he can retake some of his old classes and they will only count the new grades. It may seem pointless to retake an econ class while studying to get into med school, but it's all part of the game.
Retaking a few F's or D's, will boost the gpa much quicker than taking new classes.

As for the long-term payoff, there probably will be no financial gain. $200-300k in debt, 10 years+ with no real income, etc. Even if the future salary is slightly higher (?), the loss over the next 10 years will not be offset.
 

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To the OP and OPF:

Academics: Make sure all credit is undergrad credit. Make sure the grades are stellar. Not all schools pre-screen, do the research and find out which ones do.
If you REALLY want this, and you live in CA, move out of state.

Finance: Unless you were basically working for $50G/yr, you will not see a great deal of financial benefit, especially considering the sacrificed time and lack of predictability/control over your life for the next 10+ yrs.

Life: 1) premed is not an excuse to not have kids, nor is a downsized household. Infants take up very little space if you are smart enough to not get all the stuff marketed for them. Childcare is only going to get more expensive. Personally, I'm glad I did the kid thing first, now I mind less that I'm leaving my son to study (mostly because he doesn't mind much, especially if DH lets him eat mac and cheese for dinner). Students have much more flexible schedules than residents. But of course all of this is a personal choice.

Can I quietly tag on a suggestion to the OPF to seriously consider what we call "midlevel" fields? I don't know what the motivation for MD is, but PAs do a lot of cool stuff, and start earning much sooner. I think all non-trads, especially those w/ families and GPA issues, ought to give PA school and the career a good hard look before jumping into MD world. I would have done it myself, if I thought I could do it for more than 10 years and be happy.
 

NOLAgirl

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First post here...is it me or does anyone else (non-trad or not) get completely discouraged after reading all of these posts? I consider myself a non-trad...25, nurse, sub-par undergrad GPA and wanting to go to med school so badly I could burst...and am completely inspired to get into this race and come out successful UNTIL I log onto SDN for advice, etc. I log off feeling like nothing is possible and my dreams will be squashed. I am trying to get into a good postbacc, but now feel like this will be a waste of time and $$. While I appreciate honesty in people's posts, does anyone else feel like there are too many nay-sayers?? :(
 

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And P.S.
Does anyone know of a list or a link of the schools that do or don't prescreen GPAs and MCAT scores with a computer...couldn't find one with a broad search.
 
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ILikeFood

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Nolagirl, there are two options:

1. Go for it
2. Don't go for it

Have some mental fortitude. And forget about a formal postbacc. Find the cheapest four year university and take classes piecemeal.
 

PunkmedGirl

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Nolagirl, there are two options:

1. Go for it
2. Don't go for it

Have some mental fortitude. And forget about a formal postbacc. Find the cheapest four year university and take classes piecemeal.



Nolagirl, I second Food's post.
 

ChairmanMao

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First post here...is it me or does anyone else (non-trad or not) get completely discouraged after reading all of these posts? I consider myself a non-trad...25, nurse, sub-par undergrad GPA and wanting to go to med school so badly I could burst...and am completely inspired to get into this race and come out successful UNTIL I log onto SDN for advice, etc. I log off feeling like nothing is possible and my dreams will be squashed. I am trying to get into a good postbacc, but now feel like this will be a waste of time and $$. While I appreciate honesty in people's posts, does anyone else feel like there are too many nay-sayers?? :(

How bad is your sub-par GPA?

I know it doesn't look promising, but the fact is that the average GPA and MCAT score of those who get admitted in recent years has been around 3.6-3.7 and 31 MCAT. There are simply too many people (50,000) applying for too few spots (20,000) that the admissions committee can afford to turn down overwise qualified applicants year after year.

The only reason it sounds discouraging is because so many of us has been through the process and understand the sacrifices needed to simply be eligible to apply. The fact is, anyone can apply to medical school, but to have a realistic shot at being accepted is a whole other ballgame.

Many, probably thousands, have spend years of their lives and tens of thousands of dollars on premed classes and MCAT preparation, only to be consistently rejected year after year because of a low undergrad GPA or MCAT score. Sometimes, it's better to simply pick a different career or go through a different route (DO, Carribbean, PA) than to spend years trying to salvage a subpar GPA.

As a nurse, you will have many of the same responsibilities and experiences as doctors. You can also avoid the decade long training and residency requirements to practice medicine. If you really want to work as a healthcare profession or the healthcare field, it's a good fit and you won't have to endure all the ungodly work hours and sleep deprivation that most physicians have to go through. In other words, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. You pick what career path you want go down, and no one can prevent you from applying to medical school. That being said, I think as a nurse, you have the ideal qualities needed in a physicians, however, you have to be able to convince the adcoms that they should pick you over someone who has the similar drive and a much higher GPA and MCAT score.
 

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To the OP - your fiancee needs to think about the "opportunity cost" (good econ word, there) of doing this medical school thing, vs. doing something else. He could do a health care focused MBA, become a PA, etc., all of which would take maybe 3 years. Or he can go for it with med school, which it sounds like will take him at least another 2 years (bare minimum, probably more) to get in an get ready for, then 4 years in school (last/4th year is easy but the other 3 are hard hard hard) and then minimum of 3 years of residency. Being a doctor IS cool, but so are other things in life. He has to figure out what he values.

I think to get in to a US MD school will be quite hard...assuming he makes a 3.8 or 4.0 from now on in his science courses, he might be able to do it, but only if he also gets his overall GPA higher...like well above 3.0 I would think. He would definitely have a shot at a DO school and could get in to a Caribbean school if he does well from now on, and does decent on the MCAT exam. I am not really in favor of Caribbean unless he has no other choice (i.e. gets rejected from all the US schools). It really doesn't matter much whether you are DO vs. MD any more...they used to not like each other and then the MD's would try to say we are smarter and the DO's would try to say they are special and different and nicer, etc. but now the training is pretty similar in this day and age. DO schools tend to emphasize commitment to a health care career and life experience more in their applicants, whereas MD schools usually have higher GPA and MCAT score cutoffs.

Does anyone think a formal postbac would help this applicant? I think some of them would be a waste of money, but if he gets in the right one (i.e. Georgetown or maybe a few others) they might be able to help him get a back-door interview despite the overall GPA being kind of low. I still think the 2.75 is way, way too low though...would need to definitely be over the 3.0 threshold I think before any school would think of taking him.
 

NOLAgirl

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Thanks for the responses. My "sub-par GPA" is a 3.1 and not even sure what my science GPA is...prob 2.8 or 2.9. I was thinking if I did a formal postbacc and retook some of the science classes, ( I was thinking of Columbia's b/c I am in NYC) it would raise my science GPA. It is so costly, but if I get in somehere afterwards, I think it will be worth the money. The question is even if I get straight A's and a good MCAT score, do I have a good shot of matriculating? I know Columbia's prgram sets up their students with research programs and volunteer expereince etc, so that will help me, but I don't know if my total GPA will ever be good enough. Just trying to decide if its worth the battle...I just don't want to start something that I have no chance of finishing.
 

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I don't understand all the discouraging comments. One thing I have learned after hanging around SDN for a while is that you can get into med school even with a low GPA - and that's MD. Sure, you'd have to get over 3.0, but once you do that, you can really work hard to make up the low GPA with a high MCAT. On top of that, some schools, like UWash, place a strong emphasis on upward trend, counting your GPA by weighing it per year: Freshman X1, Sophemore X2, Junior X3...

Just make sure you do well on your MCAT and apply to around 40 schools. I have seen Caucasian applicants get into MD schools with GPAs around 3.1 while having an average MCAT. Even some with BCPM below 3.0. And not a single school has been willing to admit that it even screens applicants by 3.0, much less 3.4. Is it going to be tough? Yes. But it is not as impossible as people make it sound here. Finally, you always have the postbacc and SMP options. I am in a similar situation, except that I am transferring to a four years school this year, and one premed adviser told me that I may not even need to do a postbacc if I do well enough during my next two years. And this guy used to be an adcom at Stanford med school for many years.

It is not a good sign that it is you who is inquiring about your fiance. If he doesn't have the motivation to do this himself, then it is questionable if he'll make it. It is also not a good sign when a premed just gives up every time someone on a forum says that it can't be done. Becoming a doctor is a challenge and if you give up at a simple comment, how can you make it through the more tougher parts? I was completely lambasted when I came to this forum, but I never wavered. I have been trying to read anything and everything over the past months and have realized that the picture is not as gloomy as some make it to be. For some, the glass is half full. For others, it is half empty.

Finally, when you talk to a lot of students, sometimes you wonder how did these people even get into med school. I am talking about simple comprehension and aptitude. Assuming that med schools are good at picking the right people, it is even more encouraging. You may not have the numbers, but you can be smarter than a lot of people with perfect grades. That's life.
 
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NOLAgirl

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Thanks excelsior. Lots of good points. And I don't want to be a pre-med who gets discouraged by other people's negativity...which is why I probably won't feel the need to be on this website once I get started back in school unless its for specific study purposes. Call me naive, but I think anything can be done if someone works hard enough and is ridiculously persistant. There's only so much that can be gained from statistics.
 

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It's all about cumulative undergrad GPA. So he needs to keep taking undergrad classes until his cumulative overall and science GPAs are where he wants them (I suggest a minimum of 3.4 for MD schools, minimum of 3.1 for DO). Or he can look at last-ditch-hail-mary medical masters programs: see the postbac forum for details on SMPs.

The 3.4 minimum is a bold statement to make. This guy has at least 120 hours of undergraduate course work and is looking at a 2.7 GPA. If he took 12 hours/semester for 2 years with a 4.0 GPA, he still wouldn't have a 3.4 GPA. However, if he had a 4.0 GPA for those post-bacc classes (including pre-requisites) I bet you he would get some serious looks from admissions members.

I didn't have an undergraduate GPA of a 3.4 and I defiantly don't agree with such a bold statement. Some people take non-traditional routes to medical school and it works out for them in the end.

Hard work, dedication, and a renewed passion for school can get you to your goal of medical school. If someone is willing to work hard enough to improve his/her grades, EC's, and MCAT score, anything is possible in the end...It just requires persistence.

Best of luck. Tell him that it's not going to be an easy road. But, if he's serious about getting in, he's going to have to take ~2 years of relevant coursework (~4.0GPA) and above a 30 on the MCAT.
 

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First post here...is it me or does anyone else (non-trad or not) get completely discouraged after reading all of these posts? I consider myself a non-trad...25, nurse, sub-par undergrad GPA and wanting to go to med school so badly I could burst...and am completely inspired to get into this race and come out successful UNTIL I log onto SDN for advice, etc. I log off feeling like nothing is possible and my dreams will be squashed. I am trying to get into a good postbacc, but now feel like this will be a waste of time and $$. While I appreciate honesty in people's posts, does anyone else feel like there are too many nay-sayers?? :(
I'll have to agree with Excelsius on this one...the ONLY reason I've even been able to give medical school a run despite my HORRENDOUS 2.61 overall GPA in my previous undergrad is because of SDN. I ran into SDN during my 1st year of nursing school about 2 yrs ago and have been looking into medical school and researching the crapola out of it for the past year plus. Less than a month ago, I've decided to go for it and this would have never been possible without SDN. My overall is now 3.12 after a 4.00 throughout my nursing program and other classes so looks like we're in the same boat! :eek:

I'm doing a non-formal post-bac at a local 4 yr, going for a 2nd bachelors in biology. It's not going to cost that much compared to an SMP and if I can do well on the MCAT, I truly believe based on what I've read and others have said that I'll have shot somewhere for applying in 2010. And if I've got a shot, I think you've got a shot for sure since it seems as though we're similar in being a current nurse with previous low undegrad GPAs.

You can check out my details in my post on the non-trad forum...maybe it'll help you?! :rolleyes:
 

student1799

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Thanks excelsior. Lots of good points. And I don't want to be a pre-med who gets discouraged by other people's negativity...which is why I probably won't feel the need to be on this website once I get started back in school unless its for specific study purposes. Call me naive, but I think anything can be done if someone works hard enough and is ridiculously persistant. There's only so much that can be gained from statistics.

I agree with your fighting spirit, but you do have to realize what you're up against. Most med schools are quite rigid in their admissions practices, and in many situations, you can be the smartest, most dedicated person in the world and still get cast aside because of some imperfection in your numbers. Therefore, it's very wise to be well-informed about the bare minimum you need to pass schools' numerical screens and get your application read by a human, because if you can't get to that stage, it's over.

Take me as an example. I'm applying this year, with a good BCPM from a well-known postbacc (Columbia, in fact), but a much lower uGPA because of stuff that happened 25 years ago. In between college and postbacc, I had a successful career and got an MBA with high grades. During postbacc, I racked up a large amount (>500 hours) of high-quality volunteer experience and got glowing LORs, including one from an MD I worked for. Based on all of this, I thought I would have a reasonable shot at getting into med school where I live (NYC). But when I took the MCAT, I did terribly on the PS section (7) because I got very nervous and ran out of time. Even though my total score was 31, because I did really well on the other 2 sections, I knew that 7 would probably kill my chances at a lot of schools, especially in NYC--and I was right.

I've gotten 2 interviews so far (SUNY Upstate and UVM), and I'm really grateful for them, but both are hundreds of miles from where I live. Meanwhile, I just got rejected by SUNY Downstate without even an interview, and I strongly suspect that the MCAT score is to blame. (My stats are above average for students they admit, and I wrote a really strong secondary essay about how I want to stay in New York and spend my medical career working with underserved patients, which fits in really well with their mission. So I don't think I was a "bad fit" for the school.)

The moral of this story is that the numbers CAN do you in sometimes, even if everything about your application is compelling. You have to be realistic about that. However, I would also add that some people here are setting the "minimum GPA" bar a little high. While I think it would be suidical to apply to med school with a sub-3.0 GPA (even something like a 2.98, because that won't pass a screen), if your BCPM, MCAT, clinical experience and LORs are strong, I think you can get away with a uGPA that's well short of 3.4. But you really do have to shine in those other areas to make up for the perceived GPA deficiency.

P.S. I noticed in one of your posts that you're thinking about Columbia. PM me--I'd like to give you a more realistic view of the place.
 
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First of all any talk of a screen that auto-rejects someone with a certain GPA is folklore. This is not true, nor will it ever be true.

The very fact that there are those rare cases where people with a special circumstance (i.e. a handicap minority) get it with a low GPA is proof of this.

Some people on SDN can be very harsh and discouraging to others. Let's think about why that might be the case. OK, so no one is saying that med school is easy to get into. We all know its hard as hell to be viable. However, some people around here try to bring others down for no other reason that to try to make the process less competitive for themselves. If they can talk you out of applying then they think they have a better shot.

I don't want the process to be any more completive than it already is either. But I think that people's dreams should be nurtured and that we shouldn't try and tell people its impossible. (rent The Pursuit of Happyness if you need some inspiration).

The bottom line is, if you are passionate about being a MD or a PA, but you feel like the odds are against you because of your low GPA, or MCAT, or whatever -- give it hell! -- you just might beat the odds.
 
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student1799

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First of all any talk of a screen that auto-rejects someone with a certain GPA is folklore. This is not true, nor will it ever be true.

Actually, it is. I'm basing that on posts by applicants who called admissions offices and were actually TOLD that the school screens for certain GPA and/or MCAT levels. I'm not saying that ALL schools do this, but many do (whether they openly admit to it or not). This is especially common at state schools, which often have higher cutoffs for OOS applicants. Examples: Jefferson has told 2 different people that they reject anyone with a less than a 9 (!) in any MCAT section. Mayo uses what we call the "LizzyM" score (10*GPA + MCAT); you need 60-62 to get an interview. Chicago won't take anyone with less than a 7 on an MCAT section. Iowa requires 10 per section for OOS. OHSU requires 3.6/36 for OOS. And there are a bunch of schools which prescreen before sending out secondaries, although they don't advertise their cutoff points: Kansas, Toledo, Illinois, Indiana, VCU, EVMS, UW, Vandy, Wake Forest, WVU, Hawaii, Wayne State, Louisville, Alabama, Loyola ...

One way to get an indication of whether a school screens is to search the MDapps database. Use "advanced search" and look for people at that school who got interviews with the GPA and/or MCAT score you have; the results can be very informative. While MDapps obviously doesn't show every application to a given school, the database is so large now now (about 11,000 profiles) that it's actually a decent-sized sample for spotting trends.

In my case, I searched on SUNY Downstate (one of my state schools) and couldn't find a SINGLE CASE of a non-URM with a 7 in PS getting an interview, although plenty of people with my TOTAL MCAT score and GPA did get interviewed and admitted. So when I was recently rejected there without an interview, despite a very strong application and the fact that they interview 1/3 of in-state applicants, that led me to strongly suspect that the MCAT score was the culprit.

As you can see in my previous post, I'm not saying anyone with low stats should give up without even trying: I'm one of those people myself, and I've managed to get 2 interviews so far. But forewarned is forearmed: if you can take one more class and get your 2.98 GPA to 3.0, that could save you a lot of grief.
 
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BoaBoaImDerek

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Actually, it is. I'm basing that on posts by applicants who called admissions offices and were actually TOLD that the school screens for certain GPA and/or MCAT levels. I'm not saying that ALL schools do this, but many do (whether they openly admit to it or not). This is especially common at state schools, which often have higher cutoffs for OOS applicants. Examples: Jefferson has told 2 different people that they reject anyone with a less than a 9 (!) in any MCAT section. Mayo uses what we call the "LizzyM" score (10*GPA + MCAT); you need 60-62 to get an interview. Chicago won't take anyone with less than a 7 on an MCAT section. Iowa requires 10 per section for OOS. OHSU requires 3.6/36 for OOS. And there are a bunch of schools which prescreen before sending out secondaries, although they don't advertise their cutoff points: Kansas, Toledo, Illinois, Indiana, VCU, EVMS, UW, Vandy, Wake Forest, WVU, Hawaii, Wayne State, Louisville, Alabama, Loyola ...

One way to get an indication of whether a school screens is to search the MDapps database. Use "advanced search" and look for people at that school who got interviews with the GPA and/or MCAT score you have; the results can be very informative. While MDapps obviously doesn't show every application to a given school, the database is so large now now (about 11,000 profiles) that it's actually a decent-sized sample for spotting trends.

In my case, I searched on SUNY Downstate (one of my state schools) and couldn't find a SINGLE CASE of a non-URM with a 7 in PS getting an interview, although plenty of people with my TOTAL MCAT score and GPA did get interviewed and admitted. So when I was recently rejected there without an interview, despite a very strong application and the fact that they interview 1/3 of in-state applicants, that led me to strongly suspect that the MCAT score was the culprit.

As you can see in my previous post, I'm not saying anyone with low stats should give up without even trying: I'm one of those people myself, and I've managed to get 2 interviews so far. But forewarned is forearmed: if you can take one more class and get your 2.98 GPA to 3.0, that could save you a lot of grief.

Fair enough, but again, think about it. The more people admin can weed out the less work they have to do.

I question anything that I have not heard from someone higher up than someone who answers phones in an office. I know several people who are big wigs for some med schools in Colorado and Texas and I have been told that those screens are mythology.
 
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MrTee

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The 3.4 minimum is a bold statement to make. This guy has at least 120 hours of undergraduate course work and is looking at a 2.7 GPA. If he took 12 hours/semester for 2 years with a 4.0 GPA, he still wouldn't have a 3.4 GPA. However, if he had a 4.0 GPA for those post-bacc classes (including pre-requisites) I bet you he would get some serious looks from admissions members.

I didn't have an undergraduate GPA of a 3.4 and I defiantly don't agree with such a bold statement. Some people take non-traditional routes to medical school and it works out for them in the end.

Hard work, dedication, and a renewed passion for school can get you to your goal of medical school. If someone is willing to work hard enough to improve his/her grades, EC's, and MCAT score, anything is possible in the end...It just requires persistence.

Best of luck. Tell him that it's not going to be an easy road. But, if he's serious about getting in, he's going to have to take ~2 years of relevant coursework (~4.0GPA) and above a 30 on the MCAT.

Agree w/ the above. I was miles away from a 3.4 cumulative several years ago when I applied to med school, but I was able to secure a few good acceptances. However, I did have an mcat >35 and a decent number of postbacc and graduate A's, as well as a graduate degree.

I imagine that people with GPA in the low 3 range after a 4 yr degree are at the cusp of reasonably making it into an MD program in the US, and that is with very good mcat/life experiences. Otherwise, DO would be the best choice, unless you want to spend as many years on postbacc courses as medical school. As Dragonfly alluded to, another avenue to consider is PA/NP, which would be substantially less time invested, although that may not be for everyone.
 

MrTee

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Fair enough, but again, think about it. The more people admin can weed out the less work they have to do.

I question anything that I have not heard from someone higher up than someone who answers phones in an office. I know several people who are big wigs for some med schools in Denver and Texas and I have been told that those screens are mythology.

Screening probably takes place at some places and not at others. It would be difficult to make generalizations about all programs. Regardless, the bottom line is that with certain "red flags" in an application (mcat section below 8, gpa below 3, prior convictions), there has to be something else in the application that is truly outstanding to warrant interviewing/accepting an applicant, especially when there are so many others applying without these issues.
 

BoaBoaImDerek

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Screening probably takes place at some places and not at others. It would be difficult to make generalizations about all programs. Regardless, the bottom line is that with certain "red flags" in an application (mcat section below 8, gpa below 3, prior convictions), there has to be something else in the application that is truly outstanding to warrant interviewing/accepting an applicant, especially when there are so many others applying without these issues.

I'm sure there are some things that basically kick you out of the race, especially criminal charges or something extreme like that.

However we are talking about GPA not criminal charges or anything else. That being said, for GPA specifically, some people around here act as though someone is sitting in an office at these schools, has someone's name and GPA, and tosses the app. directly into the shredder if the GPA is not high enough. That is simply not true.

As I said earlier, let us imagine someone is applying to medschool with a 2.7 cumulative GPA. But this person is a Native American with no arms or legs. Are you telling that they are not going to give this person more examination that just his GPA. I know this is extreme, but if there are schools that are throwing apps in the trash without any examiniation, then they are breaking school policy and are being very lazy.
 

student1799

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. That being said, for GPA specifically, some people around here act as though someone is sitting in an office at these schools, has someone's name and GPA, and tosses the app. directly into the shredder if the GPA is not high enough. That is simply not true.

I don't think anyone here (me included) is suggesting that schools LITERALLY throw out or shred applications. (School policies vary on this point, but I believe that most schools retain ALL applications for a period of several years at least, after which they do get shredded.) Rather, when we say that a school screens, we mean that applicants who fall below given GPA/MCAT levels are virtually always rejected, with very little (if any) consideration of other factors in their application. Students who are members of disadvantaged/special groups (URMs, the disabled, veterans) are probably not subject to such screens, although GPA and MCAT are still very important for them as well.

I have direct evidence on this point from one school. Last month I sent letters of interest to all my schools; in one case, I found out the name of the head of the adcom and sent my email to him. He responded personally to my message, and gave me the following description of the admissions process at his school: "All files are given a "primary" screen by a sub-group of the Admissions Committee, who will put them in the “reject” or “possible interview” category with a rating based on all aspects of your application. Last year there were about 2500 in the second category and 700 were interviewed."

Note that he says sub-group of the adcom; this means that if your app fails to make the cut (which would certainly happen if your GPA and/or MCAT was low enough), you get rejected without the rest of the adcom ever seeing your application. This sub-group probably consists of only 2-3 people who spend a very short time reading each application; even they may not read the whole thing if the numbers are far enough below what the school is looking for. (On this point, think of the many stories about schools like Georgetown which are notorious for rejecting applicants within days of getting their secondaries. Do you actually think they've read them first?)

While this is only one school, I think the process described is typical of many places. VCU, for one, is explicit about the fact that your application gets a priority score which determines your chances of being interviewed, although they don't tell you your actual score.

So applicants must be prepared for the fact that many schools have a de facto numerical screen that could eliminate them from consideration VERY early in the process if their numbers are deemed unacceptable, no matter how strong the rest of their application may be.
 

PhDthenMD

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It's all about cumulative undergrad GPA. So he needs to keep taking undergrad classes until his cumulative overall and science GPAs are where he wants them (I suggest a minimum of 3.4 for MD schools, minimum of 3.1 for DO). Or he can look at last-ditch-hail-mary medical masters programs: see the postbac forum for details on SMPs.

Ok, I am just curious about how exactly graduate course work is handled. Is it factored into non-science GPA? Is it looked at at all? For that matter, would a graduate BioStats class be able to count in science GPA for example? (Its clearly germane to medical science.)

Also, I heard that science GPA is sometimes further refined to include only the basic required science/ math courses. Does that generally have more weight than all science combined?

One other thing I wonder: is psychology considered a science by these people? =\

Anyone with input on these issues would be greatly appreciated.
 

ChairmanMao

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Ok, I am just curious about how exactly graduate course work is handled. Is it factored into non-science GPA? Is it looked at at all? For that matter, would a graduate BioStats class be able to count in science GPA for example? (Its clearly germane to medical science.)

Also, I heard that science GPA is sometimes further refined to include only the basic required science/ math courses. Does that generally have more weight than all science combined?

One other thing I wonder: is psychology considered a science by these people? =\

Anyone with input on these issues would be greatly appreciated.

I think graduate and undergrad GPAs are calculated separately. So if you did undergrad and graduate school, you'll get two overall GPA and science GPA for both your undergrad (uGPA/undergrad sci GPA) and graduate works (gGPA/ grad sci GPA).

I think biostat is counted as a science GPA. Check out this link for AACOMAS that lists which courses are counted as science/other science/non-science GPA: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/archive/index.php/t-355538.html

I've heard various debates about how schools weigh science GPAs. I think the other science GPA that you referred to is the BPCM GPA, which counts only math, physics, biology, chemistry (the pre-requisite courses) - it doesn't include psychology, biostats, or english. In general, schools seem to place equal emphasis on both. I've heard of engineering students getting in with a low (3.2) overall GPA and a high (3.6) BPCM GPA and I've also heard of liberal arts students getting rejected with high overall GPA (3.7) but low BPCM and science GPA (3.0). Usually, it's best if you have both high overall and science/BPCM GPA, but most medical schools are a bit more lenient with regards to the science GPA.
 

student1799

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Ok, I am just curious about how exactly graduate course work is handled. Is it factored into non-science GPA? Is it looked at at all?

There is only one school I know of which counts graduate courses in your overall GPA: OHSU. They have a minimum 3.6 GPA for OOS students, but this includes graduate work. So if you would make that cut with your grad classes included, it might be worth applying there. (The converse, of course, is that if you did well in undergrad but messed up in grad school, it will hurt you.)
 

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Reading over the responses thus far, and being in a similar position to your fiance, I would make the following points:

1. I disagree with those who say that he needs to spend the next x-years bringing up his uGPA to 3.0 in order to have a reasonable chance, though I have seen that number mentioned quite frequently. He does need to show dramatic improvement in his courses; a post-bacc program, formal or informal, is obviously necessary. That should take about two years. If he's making outstanding grades in the post-bacc, then he should go ahead, take the MCATs, and take a shot. If he doesn't score very well on the MCATs, then he's not likely to be admitted into an allopathic program, in my humble opinion.

The reasons are simple. Why should the adcom take a risk on a applicant X who shows a recent two-year improvement, after four years of shaky undergrad work, over applicant Y, who shows steady, high-quality work throughout 4 years of undergrad, where both have an identical MCAT score, and where the the rest of the application is a qualitative wash i.e. the respective strengths and weaknesses balance out?

His undergrad is not all that long ago, which makes the post-bacc grades, and MCATs, all the more vital.

So. Does he tend to score well on standardized tests?

And, even if he gets an outstanding MCAT score, and even if he does outstanding in the post-bacc, there's substantial risk that he still might get rejected everywhere.

But I don't see that spending 4 years repairing a uGPA to bring it to 3.0 (still below the mean) is really worth the time. The only case for that has been stated above: that many schools use numerical cutoffs of some sort, and anything below a 3.0 will get cut. But, my understanding is that few schools use it as a hard cutoff. I think uGPAs under 3.0 have a qualitative impact on the person conducting the initial review; they make it easier to rank the application lower. And that's why it'll be important to have a strong numerical balancing factors: a superb post-bacc GPA, which is stated separately on the app, and a superb MCAT score.

If the post-bacc + MCATs are superb, and entrance is denied, then he can consider further uGPA repair or an SMP.

2. You cannot rely on MDApps as a source for applicant characteristics. Despite the large sample size, the people who choose to post their characteristics are self-selecting, so you will get a strong (how strong is a matter of speculation) bias in the direction of the higher quality applications. I bet if we took the average GPA and average MCAT score of the people on MDApps, we'd get a substantially higher average on both measures than the overall average. And that's just one problem with using it as a representative sample.

3. He may not get in. It's not a catastrophic outcome for him, or you.

4. He will need to apply to a very broad range of schools. He's going to be a borderline candidate, even in the best-case scenario. So we're talking a LOT of applications, and a substantial possibility of having to move somewhere far away.

If he hasn't done this already, he should be talking to as many people as possible. Emailing adcoms and asking questions. Emailing post-bacc programs with questions. Emailing pre-med advisors at his undergraduate institution with questions.

And then, of course, he needs to share everything he finds with the people on this forum. :)
 

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The other obstacle is his history as a drug rep. Generous people in academic medicine mostly see these people as the nicely suited face of everything that's wrong with our medical system. Not as generous people see drug reps as minions of Satan. His admissions essay is going to have to be about his perspective on the system, relationships between industry and doctors, ethics, etc. On interview day, he's going to have to be very up to date on all the latest research on how gifts influence doctors, etc. In private practice, docs welcome reps bearing samples and Panera for the office... but in academia it's very different. At my medical center, we're not even allowed to bring so much as a Post-It with a drug logo onto hospital grounds.
 
N

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There are folks who overcome very low uGPAs and get into DO school. It is virtually impossible to overcome more than 100 hours of uGPA below 3.0 and make yourself competitive for allopathic medical school. Bottom line: DO is an excellent option if your uGPA is below 3.0 in todays competitive atmosphere. It's not impossible but its a steep climb and you have some serious damage control (virtually a second degree at high GPA) to do this.

Graduate school is weighted by most allopathic medical schools like an extracurricular provided the grades are excellent. Excellent performance in graduate school mean above 3.7 GPA. This is especially true of the SMP programs that serve as application enhancers for medical school application. You can do these but you have to perform well without excuses.

Today's climate of competitiveness is only going to increase with the poor economy and the fact that healthcare has been somewhat recession-proof. This is not to say that going several hundred thousand dollars in debt is going to be quick or easy to get out of once you finish residency and start to practice.

I graduated from medical school in 2002 and have many more advantages in terms of less debt load than the folks coming out in 2009. The average debt load when I graduated was under $100K. Even now, it's much higher and by the time folks who are now applying finish, it's going to be quite high.

It's not getting better, it's getting worse. While many schools are increasing slots to accomodate a perceived shortage of physicians, the cost of each of those slots has increased substantially at both state schools and private schools. Add to this, the cost of post bacc work (to raise that poor uGPA) and you have a huge amount of debt that accrues interest while you are in residency (minimum 3 years).

It does make sense to look at the whole picture. That means debt load, family sacrifice and personal sacrifice. If you have a SO or SO and children, it isn't just you living below the poverty line while you pursue "your dream". There are tough times for many people and even tougher if you are trying to do this with a family to provide for.
 

BTC

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People in here really don't know what they are talking about.

Me:

CA Resident
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3.82 Post Bac GPA (took 8 core plus calc, statistics, biochem, genetics, molecular bio, and physiology over two years - including summer)
3.24 CUMULATIVE GPA
34 MCAT
8 Interviews - including one top 5 school
1 ACCEPTANCE

There is defintiley other thing you can do to improve your chances beyond improving you GPA. Show growth, leadership, and commitment to your passions through your experiences.
 

Passion4Sci

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People in here really don't know what they are talking about.

Me:

CA Resident
2.96 Ugrad GPA - English Lit / Philosophy
3.82 Post Bac GPA (took 8 core plus calc, statistics, biochem, genetics, molecular bio, and physiology over two years - including summer)
3.24 CUMULATIVE GPA
34 MCAT
8 Interviews - including one top 5 school
1 ACCEPTANCE

There is defintiley other thing you can do to improve your chances beyond improving you GPA. Show growth, leadership, and commitment to your passions through your experiences.

Hey BTC, a couple questions;

Where did you do your post-bacc? I've currently got apps in at both USF and UCD, do you know anything about their programs aside from what the website/advisers talk about?

Also, was your acceptance at an MD or DO school?

Thanks =D
 
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