Oct 24, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
Hey Everyone! I would greatly appreciate any advice on my premed situation and suggestions on completing a post bacc.

Here's my background: I graduated from WPI in May with a Bio/Biotech degree, 3.0 cGPA, 2.75 sGPA. There are couple reasons my GPA looks this way: financial stress paying for school, spending the first two years in ROTC (on avg 40 hours a week, tried to get a scholarship to help with the financial burden, though was eventually medically disqualified), and purposefully failing classes thinking it was helping my GPA because fails "don't count" at WPI. My senior year I got a 3.56 and a 3.95 in the final semesters (with more advanced classes) and am looking to continue this trend. I am applying to a few formal post baccs, but am leaning towards taking a years worth of classes at UNH and choosing my own schedule since it is considerably cheaper. I'm currently studying for the MCAT and I hope to start next fall.

Here are my extra curriculars, just to add context: volunteer EMT (2 years, almost Advanced EMT), teaching assistant in EMT class (1 year), Chief of WPI EMS (1 year), clinical research assistant at UMass for my senior project (though seriously impacted by COVID, only got to shadow in the ER one shift), and currently working as a medical lab tech, primarily testing COVID samples and working in microbiology.

One of my biggest points of confusion for designing my own post bacc is how to satisfy my prereqs. WPI uses a quarter system, so I took gen chem 1 and 2 (with lab) in one semester. Classes there are recorded in terms of "units", with a typical class worth 1/3 unit. 1/3 unit = 3 credits. I did the same thing for physics. So what confuses me is how these will eventually count towards med school, since they do not meet the one year requirement most seem to have. I would prefer not to retake these and would rather demonstrate I can do well in a higher level chem/physics course to make up for the difference.

Also, if anyone has any general advice on post baccs from their own experience, I would love suggestions in terms of what classes you thought were helpful or if there was anything you wish you knew going in.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this (it got a little long-winded!) and offering advice!
 
Feb 25, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
If I may be frank:

No one wants a sob story as to why your grades are not up to par, especially for the reasons you gave. Why? Because many people have been in tough(er) situations and still overcame. If an admissions committee asks, have something better than "school is expensive and it stressed me out." School is expensive for most people whose parents aren't footing the bill. The BIG caveat to this is if you were sending money home, supporting a family, etc. If that was the case then completely ignore what I said above because that would be a very compelling reason. And ROTC is not 40 hours a week on average.

At the risk of sounding like a cranky baby-boomer (because I am not cranky or a baby boomer lol), show some ownership for your shortcomings. No admissions director, in my opinion, is going to respect "school was expensive and it stressed me out, leading to poor grades" as an answer. Again, welcome to 21st century America where most college-educated people you know under the age of 35 have/have had significant education related debt.

They will respect, "These are the factors that led to my less than stellar performance...But, at the end of the day, I did not perform to the level I was expected to in order to get where I want to be. This is what I have done to fix it...This is what I will continue to do to fix it...This is what I learned...This is how I believe it will make me a better physician in the future..."

I say these things because I have been in the position before where it is easy to blame something/someone other than myself. It took me years of growing up and living life to understand that taking responsibility for one's failures is actually an impressive and difficult thing to do. This sort of ownership will set you apart from your peers, of that much I am sure.

Now with the tough love out of the way:

It is a difficult position because you don't have the grades to get into one of the formal (and very expensive) post-bacc programs that all but guarantee you get into medical school. But it can still be done and I have many friends who did so. You can A.) finish the pre-reqs at a regular university while working part-time in a medically related field or B.) Finish the pre-reqs while working on a Master's degree in a hard science field that looks good. I'm not sure what the quartile systems means for your chem/physics pre-reqs, but if it has been more than 5 years since you last took those classes, many programs will let you take them again.

It can't (or can, I don't know) hurt to cold call schools and ask about your situation. It takes a lot of courage to do that and many admissions directors may even respect the audacity.

It is a long road, but don't give up on a dream. Many have overcome some pretty tough situations and you MOST CERTAINLY can too. Check out the PreMed Years Podcast by Dr. Ryan Gray where he brings guests onto the show who have worked from the bottom up to get to medical school.

TL,DR: School is expensive for most people so that is a poor excuse unless you're supporting a family or some other extreme case. Finish your pre-reqs part time at a local college or in a formal program if you can swing it. Maybe do some cold calls. Don't give up. Listen to Dr. Gray's premed podcast.
 
Oct 24, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
Thank you for the advice, I will definitely check that out. I reread what I wrote, and it certainly does not reflect the responsibility I take, or the situation I am in. Financial stress is a bad way of saying I am from an economically disadvantaged family. That considered, I did still make the choice to attend a private school I couldn't really afford. I personally put too much time into ROTC by taking on additional extracurriculars and responsibilities within the organization. By prioritizing that, I compromised my grades, and that is entirely on me. I certainly don't plan on going into any interviews looking for a pity party, everyone has struggles and mine aren't more special. I want to highlight my improvements and accomplishments. I'm already on the road to correcting this and I got serious about it my senior year with the grades and extracurriculars. I do wish there had been a greater emphasis in your response on my main questions and points of concern, I'm not going anywhere until I can determine a solid post bacc schedule. I know it's a difficult situation to be in, that's why I'm here. I'm learning. I am confident in my life experiences that have lead me to choose this path, and giving up is not something I would consider.
 

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