post bac vs. own classes

Discussion in 'Postbaccalaureate Programs' started by baron.thompson, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. baron.thompson

    baron.thompson New Member

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    hey guys, i was wondering: is there a difference in taking classes on your own vs. going post bac? I know I won't be able to apply to post bac programs right now for next fall, but I would like to still take classes next fall and maybe apply for the spring. Can I still take classes at my local university (CSUN) and use them toward my postbac program next spring?
     
  2. sendwich

    sendwich you rock!
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    as far as classes, it doesnt really matter where you decide to take them. that's what i'm going to do (a DIY postbac=do it yourself postback). I just matters that you do well in them. some reasons why people decide to take it through a formal program is so that they can get the advantages of a committe-type letter and good advising.

    hope this helps!
     
  3. Febrifuge

    Febrifuge Grizzled Old Newcomer
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    Yes indeed. I could take classes at night in between hospital shifts, and go to school part-time. The reason I'm choosing to spend WAYYY too much money on a fancy structured postbac, rather than continuing to live my office-cubicle life (where the bills are paid and the first round's on me!), include:

    * Structure. A postbac means I'll have an advisor, a class schedule, and a plan to complete the thing within 18 months.

    * Resources and support. I'm not naturally great at studying, and haven't had a science class since 9th grade. A postbac means I'll have tutors, faculty hours, MCAT prep, and a corner of a library that can be my "office" for 8 or 10 hours a day, if I need it.

    * Legitimacy and esteem. My transcript reveals years of doing pretty well, considering all the other crap going on in my life at the time. It doesn't show a 110% full-time course load, and it doesn't show academic brilliance. The quality of my work is extremely varied, if grades are the only measure used.

    I'm clearly capable of brilliance, if you look at the details, but med school admissions committees need us to make it easier for them to spot the good candidates. For me, the postbac is a machine for turning the 2004 version of me (good intentions, talent, potential) into the 2006 version of me (all the above, plus proven track record). I happen to think it's a better machine than one I could build for myself. Your mileage may vary.

    Good luck to all of us, DIY or 'official.'
     
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  4. Jonathan13180

    Jonathan13180 Senior Member
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    I have to agree with what others have said. Choosing Post-bacc classes over regular classes gives you the advantage of being a "known commodity" when applying to schools, as well as receiving the letter of rec. In addition, the program is structured towards students like yourself; just taking regular classes will not add to your GPA, and simply show you can do well in classes. Depending on where you do a post-bacc, medical schools know the reputation of particular schools, which also helps. Im at penn now, and i have talked to a former admissions member who told me what i have just mentioned above. PM me if you have questions.
     
  5. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    Just to give the other side of the story, I didn't do a formal post-bac (I just took classes), and did really well this admissions cycle. It's all about what courses you took, how well you did in them, and how you did on the MCATs. I also really didn't like the pre-med advisors where I am, so avoiding them was a plus.

    Oddly enough, when I interviewed, people perceived me as "another post-bac from school X", i.e. they didn't even notice that I hadn't been in the formal program (although I explained that when it came up). No one cared. The big thing that was a pain was that I didn't have a committee letter. I want to emphasize, though, that this was a pain (= inconvenience) and not a disadvantage. Basically, it meant I had to get everything together myself. No one cared I didn't have the committee letter.

    Anka
     
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  6. N1DERL&

    N1DERL& HP4!!!!
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    Could someone explain a committee letter. Is this different than a letter of rec?
     
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  7. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    Your letters of rec are the 'real thing', i.e. they're from professors who know you through research and academic coursework. Your committee letter is something from the premed committee at your school, and may be a compilation of your letters of rec or place you among the premed graduates from your school.
     
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  8. N1DERL&

    N1DERL& HP4!!!!
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    Thank you for clearing that up. When you apply to med school, you need like 3 letters of rec right? Does the committee letter count as 1 toward applying or 3 (because it was compiled from 3 letters of rec)
     
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  9. Jonathan13180

    Jonathan13180 Senior Member
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    I dont think there is a certain number of letters you need when applying. Yes, most people have at least three, but i know people who have had 5. Personally, i think three is sufficient. As for the committee letter, most of them are a compilation of letters from profs; however, the letter is more of a coverletter based on the recs they receive. For instance, at Upenn, the committee compiles all your letters of rec, then writes an overall coverletter based on those, and your application. Make sense?
     
  10. Anka

    Anka Senior Member
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    I don't think the committee letter counts toward your three, but the way it usually works is that your committee letter will 'substitute' for your letters of rec (either it will quote sections from your letters of rec, or will 'cover' them). So, your premed committee would in that case decide how many you need and of what type -- think three to five (not including your committee letter, mostly science but at least one humanities). If you go without a committee letter, you'll need three to five, depending on the schools you apply to, and some of the schools are quite specific as to what letters they want (mostly, you'll get people who want two science and one humanities, others who won't count research letters as letters unless someone has taught you a class). Mt. Sinai 'requires' a letter from your organic prof, your gen chem prof, your intro bio prof, etc. But I didn't give them those (I just sent my standard letter packet) and got in. If you're forgoing a committee letter, keep common sense about you about what you're willing/not willing to do to get into a particular med school.


    Best,
    Anka
     
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  11. N1DERL&

    N1DERL& HP4!!!!
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    ha ha... I still don't get it. When you apply, which letters of rec do you send in?
     
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  12. Jonathan13180

    Jonathan13180 Senior Member
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    Send in all of them. Ultimately, if you have a committee letter, lets say from undergrad, then itll be a package deal, wherein the committee will 'package' everything together. On the other hand, if you forgo the letter, just send in the LOR's directly to AMCAS, howver, like stated before, certain schools will ask why you dont have a committee letter.
    I know at penn, the committee letter works the same way, you give them your LOR's, and theyll take care of it for you. make sense?
     
  13. N1DERL&

    N1DERL& HP4!!!!
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    Yup! Thanks for all your patience! I finally got it!
     
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  14. blankguy

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    I talked to a premed dean last week and he made it sound like committee letter is preferred over getting the recommendation letters sent individually(3 of them). Is this misleading? I've talked to people who have done it on their own and it didn't seem like it mattered.
     
  15. Jonathan13180

    Jonathan13180 Senior Member
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    I think if doing a post-bacc, it makes sense to get the committee letter, its one reason people do the program, and certain post-baccs carry good reputations...unless you are talking about undergraduate letters, in which case, i know some schools specifically ask whether you are handing in ( sending, i guess) a committee letter from your undergrad, and if not, then explain why.
     
  16. karlak

    karlak New Member

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    I did my own pre-bac program because at the time there were very few structured post-bac programs (other than Goucher.) I was able to get a committee letter, though... because the University I attended had me meet with the pre-med faculty board regardless.

    In general, I think that the pre-bac programs are better--as you're all in it together, so to speak.
     
  17. blankguy

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    The premed dean also suggested that I collect the letters at the institution that I'm taking the courses and have them sent to my alma mater so that the premed committee can make a committee letter after I get interviewed by them. What would the point of this be if I didn't take the courses at my alma mater??
     
  18. Jonathan13180

    Jonathan13180 Senior Member
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    Im not completely sure what you are asking by the last sentence, but from what i do follow, i think it makes sense to have your post-bacc professors send their LOR's to your undergrad committee so that they can see the level of maturity you have attained; in other words, your undergrad recs (if you have them) will talk about your progression from UG to present, whereas your post-bacc profs will write about you present day, which taken together, will make you a complete applicant. Further, your UG committee will want to see that you have made progres in your post-bacc, and receiving letters of rec will do that. I hope im following this correctly.
     
  19. blankguy

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    Sorry, what I meant was that the premed dean suggested that there was a way to get committee letter without going through the formal postbacc program. I would have to submit the recommendations, resume, etc... and have an interview with the committee, but it sounded pointless if I didn't take any courses at Brandeis because no faculty member would know me. So is it pointless to do this without taking any courses? My hunch is that it is pointless.
     

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