post-bacc coursework confusion!

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by sunflower79, Aug 29, 2001.

  1. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    Hi everyone, I am utterly confused about doing post-bacc coursework. Any comments would be appreciated. I will post the same thread in pre-allopathic so feel free to respond to just one.

    Basically, I am looking desperately to improve my 3.2 gpa. This year I intend to take post-bacc courses "a la carte" and am contemplating the merits of a MS or MPH (more on that later). Now, I am not at all intending to do a formal post-bacc program because my upper division science classes were fine except for a bad semester in which I got one D, and a C+ in physics II. Actually what is dragging me down more is my non-science classes. But in general, I am somewhat confused right now about the benefits of post-bacc work to improve my academic record. How much does it really help anyway? Even if I get a year's worth of A's my cumulative gpa would only go up by a tenth or so.

    Then there's the question of doing graduate work. Some schools say if you want to improve your undergrad gpa then take undergrad courses; others say graduate work is fine if not better. I just want to do what will make my academic record look the best, so for now I'm trying to walk the balance and take classes at both levels. Have you heard anything about this? What's your reasoned opinion?

    If any of you have taken courses like this "a la carte", you must have gone through similar questions as I did. How did you decide to take the particular classes you chose?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. mdhopeful

    mdhopeful Senior Member

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    hi kareniw. frome experience i can say that a numeric reversal in a low science gpa where you have taken lots of hours of science courses is very difficult. i am an applicant this year with a lower undergrad gpa than yours who did an MPH, plus some post-bacc courses. you grad courses will not count in your cum undergrad GPA. if you do the grad route then for admissions it will be a question of whether they are willing to focus on your grad work and more recent courses. if you do the grad route, be sure you take some tougher science courses and get letters from those profs to say that you are capable of med school science work.

    it's a matter of personal preference as there is no sure fire way to get admitted. if i were you, i would focus less on the numbers and take courses that you are interested in, and decide where you might want to fit in the landscape of medicine. regardless, you will need to do well in your courses and on the MCAT, but a 3.2 gpa will not get you rejected from any schools solely on that basis.

    good luck and feel free to post more questions. i have more to say, but can better answer specifics.
     
  4. spacecadet

    spacecadet Senior Member

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    Hi Karen,

    I was in a similar situation. My undergrad GPA was a 3.4, but my science is a bit lower. That's because I got C's in my first-year calculus and physics classes (and a D in physics I). I had a little trouble with the freshman "weedout" classes when I was 18.

    I took my post-bacc classes "ala carte". That's what worked for me because I don't want to quit my job until I start medical school. So, I've been taking one or two classes a semester at night. I haven't re-taken any classes so far - I've only been fulfilling my premed requirements (bio, organic, etc.). This semester, I am retaking physicsI because the Texas schools will not accept a D. What a joke that is since I have a master's in engineering!

    I wouldn't worry about bringing up your total GPA, but rather showing that you are now a good student now who can handle difficult coursework. Personally I wouldn't retake a bunch of courses that aren't going to help you. Instead take things that will help you finish your requirements and be useful to you in medical school (such as A&P, biochem, etc). If your GPA shows a general upward trend, that should make you look good. A 3.2 isn't that low. It also depends on what your undergrad major is.

    Finally, if I were you, I would focus on really acing the MCAT. It will really help you, because even schools who cut based on GPA/MCAT will average the two together (at least that's how I understand it). So if you get upper 30's on the MCAT, that will more than balance your GPA. What I did was take the whole spring semester off (no classes - still worked full-time) to study for the MCAT, and I took the Kaplan class. I did really well, and I think it will help me. Of course, I'm applying for the 1st time right now so I don't know what the result will be.

    I don't know when you're planning to apply, but remember that medical schools want you to finish any graduate degree that you start before you enter medical school.

    Good luck! I hope this helps.
     
  5. racergirl

    racergirl Senior Member

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    I hear ya, Kareniw!

    I dropped out of school without a degree in 1993, and my GPA was around a 2.8. I came back to school in 1998, and now have three years of As (and one A-) to show for it. However, since I was only a few credits away from a degree when I left in '93, my GPA today is STILL LESS than 3.2! There's really nothing I can do about it. I've taken most of my sciences since 1998, so my science GPA is higher, and I did pretty well on the MCAT. I'm hoping that adcoms will notice my turn-around, and be willing to look past my "mis-spent youth". (though come to think of it I still have some youth left and take every opportunity to mis-spend it, but that's another story...)

    My point is that even if your GPA doesn't go up that much with a year of A's, You'll still have that year of A's! Hopefully that upward trend will count for something! At least that's what I keep telling myself...
     
  6. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    I'm glad we can commiserate racergirl :)

    Sounds like what we should do is call the med school adcoms themselves.. Have you done so and what have you heard?

    I personally am hoping for the UCs so I called them. Most of them were terribly unfriendly -- UCSD refuses to answer any questions about any sort of "advising". But UCSF did say that they look mainly at the last year gpa over the previous years of school. So that's good news for us!

    Let's post whatever we hear from them shall we?
     
  7. sunflower79

    sunflower79 Plays well with knives

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    Thanks for the encouragement spacecadet... certainly that's what I felt I must have been during certain times in college :p

    Yes I just retook the mcat, and I feel great about it! (hopefully I didn't just jinx that) Let's keep our fingers crossed shall we? :)
     
  8. racergirl

    racergirl Senior Member

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    Hey Kareniw,

    Well, I talked to the dean of admissions at my state school a while ago. The big thing is to make sure you do well enough on the MCAT to make the initial "numbers cut" that many schools have (at least USUALLY have...when amcas isn't a mess). She also said to make damn good and sure you do really well in classes once you're back in school. If you make the numbers cut, your application will be looked at closely, and any strong "upward trend" in academic performance is looked on favorably. So the take home message is: Do well in school, and ROCK THE MCAT to get over the numbers hump!

    I took the MCAT in April. I felt pretty ambivalent about it, but I ended up doing well. That's great that you feel good about your performance! I've got my fingers crossed for you!

    One final note. I DON'T live in Cali! What I've just told you may not apply there--I don't think anyone really understands what their deal is, but the fact is they have tons of qualified applicants for very few seats. I'm applying this year and I'm a bit confused as to whether you are or not, but when you do apply, be sure to include some non-Cali schools.
     

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