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post-bacc vs. 'do-it-yourself'/non-formal programs?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by SeekingGuidance, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. SeekingGuidance

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    I'm a 'career-changer' who recently graduated from an Ivy w/ a 3.7+ GPA in poli-sci, and am now looking to complete the pre-med science reqs (although I have already taken 1Y Chem).

    1) I was wondering: Do Med schools noticeably favor applicants from formal post-bacc programs over those who take the classes on their own? That is, GPA/MCAT being equal, would applicants who took classes from high quality, 4-year Universities (eg., Michigan) tend to lose out to those from post-bacc simply because of a program's prestige/explicitly pre-professional nature/agreements with medschools/etc.

    When I see that programs like Goucher or Harvard are boasting 85-90% med school acceptance rates, it seems like there must be some additional 'edge' (in addition to advising/linkage) they possess.

    2) For the post-bacc route, which programs are considered especially good (good trackrecord of placement, high-quality classes, good advising/research opps, etc.)?

    3) Finally (for both post-bacc and informal), how much do med schools weigh GPA based on either the rigorousness of the institution? Does, say, a 3.6 at an Ivy beat a 3.8 at a mediocre school, or is it more similar to law school?

    Thanks for all the help!
     
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  3. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    If you have great stats, interesting ECs, strong LORs, and no interview problems, it's hard to argue that there's a benefit in a big name postbac over a DIY. It totally depends on the phase of the moon and which set of eyeballs are looking at your app.

    The structured programs get to brag about acceptances because they are very selective in who they take. Folks don't get in without already having done a bunch of volunteering and having a high GPA in hand. I personally don't get too excited about their linkages, because your hands are tied in which schools are linked. Your public state school is almost certainly the best deal.

    Pick whatever program is going to keep your GPA high and prep you well for the MCAT. So if you would thrive at Bennington, that's enough reason to go there. See the postbac forum for more info on specific programs.

    There is definitely some bias for schools adcoms have heard of, and I've heard of tiering systems for tiebreakers, but I personally think that worrying about this is a mistake. Do a postbac at a school that sets you up to succeed, where you're comfortable, where you'll be able to collect good letters because professors get to know you, where you have ample volunteering opportunities, and where you don't blow your savings before you even get to your app year.

    Your numbers are your fate: keep that GPA up over 3.7, kill the MCAT, and then you don't have to sweat the details.

    Best of luck to you.
     
  4. nontrdgsbuiucmd

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    writing as a candidate who has navigated it through, as a reapplicant who learned a lot + spoke w/lots of adcomms about how to strengthen the app. (hint - 8+ section scores and plentiful clinical experience open many doors) I went to a top 40 public undergrad, 3.7ish GPA, and a 4 yr accredited "do it yourself" postbac w/3.9 GPA.

    I'd suggest you change focus a bit beyond these questions. Your questions are straightforward, but the answer will depend largely on what you're willing to pay and who reviews your app.

    Procedure -- typically schools do an academic screen, and only look at candidates who meet the threshold, say 3.6 gpa + 27 mcat, with no section score below 8. For the schools that do this, I've not spoken with any adcomm (among the 15-20 that I spoke with personally) that has different thresholds for different undergrads. This makes sense, there are thousands of 4 yr accredited colleges out there & it'd be tough to adjust for them all, considering each school will have tougher and easier departments as well.

    Provided an applicant makes this cut, a person or people would review the application. I've found schools look for VERY different things; in my experience, aspects that some schools value, others do not. If your app was read by a senior adcomm with an affinity for Michigan (say their son went there), they may well look at Michigan more favorably than some similarly ranked other school. Other adcomms from other schools may not notice this at all, or may look at a 3.7 from Michigan less favorably than a 3.9 from a lesser known, smaller school.

    Regarding the "how much you're willing to pay" component - Say you've got 3.73 gpa including high grades on postbacc work, and 30+ mcat. good extracurriculars, good LORs, good personal statement, apply around July, good list of schools to apply to. You WILL get interviews. Would you get more if you'd gone to a better postbacc program? Maybe. Would you get more interviews if you applied more broadly to med programs? Definitely.

    Rhetorical question - is it worth 30K TO YOU to relocate in order to attend a top post-bacc program? For me, it was not. These programs are far more valuable to those with lower than average GPAs or other areas to repair; you do not have this issue. Also depends on the do it yourself option; I had a decent school in my metro area that was very inexpensive for instate students.

    As an applicant's competitiveness is graded along a continuum; rather than focusing on what would make your app "better", I'd suggest focusing on where you get the most bang for your buck.

    Primary areas would be the following given your high GPA. All are recommended!

    -MCAT - higher is better, evenly weighted is very important (8+ per section should be OK for many schools)
    - Clinical experience - varied and extensive
    - Shadowing - some schools require this, others don't care at all
    - GPA for post bacc courses - all or mostly As are typical (which is tough!)
    - Non-clinical volunteer experience
    - Strong LORs
    - Well worded AMCAS primary, listing ECs very clearly, highlighting volunteer and leadership skills.
    -Some research experience - this is not required for some schools but helpful for others.
     
  5. flip26

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    Other advantages to a formal post bacc:

    1) preferential class sign ups...in a DIY, you may be at the bottom of the heap when it comes to signing up for classes, and these pre-reqs are in high demand...this can be a huge factor when it comes to scheduling classes..

    2) a committee or director's letter...in a DIY, even at a school with a pre-med committee, it may be harder to get a letter as a post bacc student...

    3) special class and lab sections, separate and apart from the grade grubbing general population pre-meds...

    4) most formal programs facilitate the volunteering and shadowing process...

    5) most formal programs seem to offer some sort of home grown MCAT prep, or they include the cost of a Kaplan course in your fee...

    I did a formal post bacc with no regrets...it was the right choice for me.
     
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  6. njbmd

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    Formal post bacc programs are great for people who would like to have everything programmed out for them but they are very expensive. They also have admission requirements which mean that you have to meet deadlines (something that you need to get used to in terms of application to medical school). The formal post bacc programs with linkage are great in that if you meet (or exceed) their requirements for performance, you will enter medical school.

    Medicine is not like law in that the sense that there are great differences between schools. The LCME (Liaison Committee for Medical Education) makes sure that every accredited medical school in this country meets very strict criteria to retain that accreditation. While there are differences in how a curriculum is presented to students, there is little difference in what is taught. In short, there is very little difference between schools besides atmosphere and location. You choose a medical school based on where you can thrive as long as it's in this country and accredited.

    That being said, plenty of people manage to get into medical school by taking informal post bacc coursework and performing well. That coursework needs to be of sufficient depth and breadth that you will have a strong knowledge base for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). You can go to the MCAT site, download the topic list for the MCAT and compare these topics with topics covered in any course at any school in this country.

    There is no discrimination by schools in terms of formal versus informal post bacc work as long as your performance is excellent. There are some well-known formal programs (Hopkins, UVa) that are very selective in terms of admissions and I would argue that those students with a strong informal post-bacc performance would have not have difficulty getting into medical school. With the extras that these very selective post bacc programs confer, they become extremely competitive.

    Again, the major advantage of a formal program is advising and coaching in terms of things like extracurriculars, LORs, filling out the AMCAS and MCAT prep. These are things that you can do on your own (or through your university's pre-med advising system). Most people who enter medical school do manage to accomplish these things by making themselves very informed about the process and with proper preparation and timing. In short, they didn't need tons of formal advising outside of their pre-med counseling at their college.
     
  7. SeekingGuidance

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    Are there other options for enrolling in pre-req science classes from State schools and other universities that either A) have no post-bacc pre-med programs--formal or informal--such as U of Michigan, or B) have a post-bacc program *not* targeted to career changers (UCDavis, etc.)?

    From reading these forums, I had thought 'DIY at State school' meant one could simply go to their local State school's Ugrad admissions office and...I'm not sure what--be able to pick and choose undergrad classes a la carte (similar to CC). For example, can I either:

    1) Conditionally enroll in an undergrad program for 1-2 years, and take only pre-med classes?

    2) Enroll to take these same classes through a generalized 'Continuing Education' program?

    Do many (or any) schools allow this in Michigan or perhaps California?

    Thanks again!
     
  8. flip26

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    No quick and easy answers for your questions. You will have to research individual schools - it will vary school to school.

    For non-matriculating students, the "continuing ed" office is the most likely place to start...
     
  9. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion
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    Schools have various categories for postbacs, such as "non-matriculated" or "non-degree-seeking" or "5th year" etc. The support you get (financial, advising, registration, etc) is likely to depend on how you are categorized.

    The school's enthusiasm for you is inversely proportional to its degree of crowdedness. If there are hordes of undergrads competing against each other to get into first semester biology, the school will not enthusiastically register you for first semester biology, for instance.

    I wouldn't start with the admissions office. I'd definitely avoid any premed advising service until you find out if it is any good or not - but look for the premed advising webpage to find out what classes constitute the premed curriculum. To find out how to DIY, I'd start with the chem, physics or bio department advisers: look for their web pages and any instructions for nonmatrics or returning students or transfers. At my (huge, heavily NIH-funded, penitentiary-like, chaotic and generally unfriendly) state school, the chem advisers turned out to be the superstars.

    Here's what I did, in case it's useful for comparison. The chem advisers sent me to the Continuing Education office, to get the forms required to be a non-matriculated student, which I brought to the first day of class for professor signatures. I got into one class, no problem, this way, but another class had a waiting list, and nonmatrics go to the end of the line. The goal for me was to get university admission as a non-degree-seeking 5th year postbac, which made me eligible for online registration (awesome) and advising (useless). Getting admitted was VERY competitive since the school is VERY over-enrolled, so I waited until I got an A as a non-matric, got a letter from that professor, and then applied for admission. It took 4 months to get admitted, so I did another quarter as a non-matric. After I was admitted, I was set for getting prereqs done. But I still wasn't eligible for financial aid, since I wasn't pursuing a degree. So I applied for a 2nd bachelors in microbiology, which I didn't finish, but I was able to get subsidized federal loans. I wouldn't recommend signing up for a 2nd bachelors unless you're going to finish it - you can theoretically get private loans if you need them, and refinance them at better rates once you start med school.

    Meanwhile, think hard about where you want to do this. California is the worst state for public med school admissions, statistically, but there are certainly plenty of great schools there if you can keep your stats very high and if you have a fair amount of humility. Michigan has just the one huge great school and a bunch of also-rans, and UMich doesn't show great instate preference, but the odds for you at UMich are still better than any of the UCs. Start thinking about how much this is all going to cost, and use Texas as the baseline for financial comparison (Texas kicks holy ass, financially).

    Best of luck to you.
     
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  10. Orthodoc40

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    njbmd covered it all.

    Programs that boast stats (if they can back them up) usually do so by only accepting the people they feel will most likely be accepted into med school before they accept them into the program. A great example is Tufts University. They are the most highly regarded formal post bacc program in the Boston area - and boast crazy stats. But they will weed applicants out simply (for example) for having very low SAT scores - which could be over 15 years old and now irrelevant - they don't care. They only want to take people they feel are a strong investment and will continue to make them look good. Get it? They are also a full time program, with day time classes and lab - so you can't work at the same time, and they are insanely expensive.

    If you sit in on their premed classes, and sit in on the Harvard Extension program's premed classes, and sit in on the same premed classes at Northeastern University's evening program, or sit in on premed classes at Mass Bay Community College, you will not find a significant difference in quality of education or material. (Yes, I did this for all of these schools.) You will find a difference in class size, price, and scheduling. You will find some difference in the type of premed counseling you have available. But none of these will make or break your application. Doing well in these classes - wherever you take them - is what matters. Just go for the simplest, least stressful set up you can find. At first I was very worried about these things but looking back, I laugh at myself for worrying about it.

    What I know about schools in the Boston area are that you can enroll in individual classes at Tufts as a "Graduate Special Student" (I think they call it) - and pay over $2,200 per credit to take these classes (again, during the day with all the other 100's of full time premeds). Boston University's night program is also available - and even more expensive. You can enroll in individual classes at Northeastern University and not be in any formal program, but get advising from the premed advisor for the Continuing Ed. school at any point along the way. You can take individual classes at UMass Boston or Mass Bay (classes are offered night and day) and I don't know what the advising is set up like right now. And for Harvard's Extension program, you can enroll for individual classes (with all the 100's of other not full time premeds and high school students) without being in the formal program, which are at night (although some labs can be during the day, I think) then at some point you apply to the formal program and you get advising at that point but the classwork doesn't change or anything. So all in all - most schools seem to offer some method of just signing up for classes. You have to do a little detective work sometimes to find out how, and they can be at times that don't allow full time employment or what have you - so you have to check the schools you have interest in.

    Also, check if your employer offers some reimbursement for classes at any particular school near you. That is a great way to save money while doing this.
     
    #9 Orthodoc40, Jan 6, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  11. Orthodoc40

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    "Also rans"???!!! I'm not sure I would call any US med school an 'also ran'.
    But I agree with the rest of this!!!
     
  12. paveen

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    Try Eastern Michigan, its just down the road from U of M so if you want to live in Ann Arbor you can. From personal experience I can tell you they are very friendly accommodating to non-traditional and second undergrad degree students. Also the price structure is nice, 100-200 level classes cost less than 300-400. Plus they have enough masters degree programs in a lot of different fields you can get good amount of upper level courses and they are typically offered in the evening.
     
  13. student1799

    student1799 "Señora” to you, hombre
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    Agreed. Another variation on this theme is to be a little more liberal in admission standards, but to foster significant attrition during the program itself. This is how it was at Columbia, where I went. They advertise a 94% success rate in getting into med school, but that doesn't count the people who drop out before they ever reach the point of applying.

    That pricing is INSANE. (And I thought Columbia was bad at $1200 per credit!) Do people actually pay those rates, or do they just use the pricing as a way of discouraging people from taking premed classes a la carte?
     
  14. Orthodoc40

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    Honestly, that price may be wrong since I'm going on memory here, but whatever it was, it was whatever any credit costs at Tufts University. Right now, a course/credit there for part time grad students is priced at $3,660. There are not many people lining up to do a la carte there. :laugh:
     
  15. 129113

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    hi seekingguidance! i thought i would put in my two cents on this one since this is a question that i really considered long and hard. i went to an ivy and graduated in 2003 with a 3.8 GPA. i also studied poli sci. after working in public health policy for several years, i decided i wanted to switch gears and go into medicine. i took almost no science classes in undergrad.

    when i told my undergrad advising office that i wanted to do a post-bacc, they immediately suggested the programs at bryn mawr, johns hopkins, and georgetown. after looking at the price tags i said NO WAY am i going to spend that kind of money on a post-bacc after already spending a huge wad of cash on private undergrad! so i decided to go it my own way...with the caveat that i went to an undergrad that continued to provide me EXTENSIVE support and advising (and a committee letter) throughout my post-bacc process.

    i decided to stay in the area where i was already living and do a post-bacc in the CSU (california state university) system. it was cheap (~$2000 a semester) and the classes varied widely in quality (from fabulous to utterly horrible). i did extremely well in post-bacc and also pretty well on the MCAT (i worked extremely hard to do well in both), and i applied this cycle (actually i'm still waiting to hear back from a few schools!). i was invited to 12 interviews, went on 10, and so far have 3 acceptances, all of which are to top 25 programs.

    for me, doing an informal post-bacc turned out to be totally fine. however, i went into the informal post-bacc with a very good relationship with the pre-med advisor from my undergrad. so, in answer to your question, no, i do not think med schools noticeably favor applicants from formal post-bacc programs over those who take the classes on their own...especially if your undergrad is already from an ivy!!!
     
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  16. atomi

    atomi Member
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    Post-baccs are money-makers for the schools. If you enroll at one of these things, always remember that you are being exploited due to the racket medical admissions has become.

    You don't need to pay $30,000 to take the classes to get into medical school and you shouldn't need anyone to tell you that.

    If your GPA is already good (>3.8), you should consider taking the requirements at the cheapest school you can find (i.e., the community college). I took bio at the community college taught by a high school teacher and managed a perfect score on the BS section of the MCAT. The material on the MCAT is elementary and can be learned at any post-secondary center of education. Only difference is the price tag.

    If you're loaded with cash, have bad grades, are fresh out of college with zero science coursework, then this would be the only situation where a formal post-bacc would probably be a good idea (not that you couldn't do it informally, just that your life would be easier). But ironically you may find it hard to get into a formal postbacc!

    Best luck.
     
    #15 atomi, Jan 23, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
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  17. Doctopus

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    Do you all find that "the curve" is better at state schools vs. the pricey liberal arts schools housing post-bac programs? Coming in with an undergrad GPA of 3.33, getting straight As in my science coursework is my first priority.

    I was about to sign on the dotted line for American University's postbaccalaureate program, but to be sure, upon auditing some classes last week, I was dismayed to find a way more motivated student body than I anticipated! While I am highly motivated myself this time around, I really can't risk a B+ given the GPA I'm currently working with!

    Alternatively, I could take classes at the University of the District of Columbia. There I would be going up against a bit of a lower caliber student--think future morticians. It is so counterintuitive that I would go to a lesser program to achieve a higher grade, but that's what I'm hearing from many people on these forums. (Another option, in case there are locals here, is the University of Maryland's Science in the Evening Program.)

    Cost is not a huge issue for me. I'm a long-time lurker, leaving my job at at a think tank so that I don't have that "coulda/woulda/shoulda" moment 10 years from now. With a 3.33 UG GPA it will be an uphill climb, but I have some interesting ECs (published multiple op-eds on health policy in high-profile places), a strong family tradition (both parents, entire family=doctors), have had great volunteer experiences (50+ hours, won awards for work at Howard University Hospital's Emergency Department), I'm young (24), smart (high standardized test scores in the past...am currently testing in the mid-to-upper 20s on practice MCATs without coursework), and have the strong financial support of my folks.

    My current thinking is to take a summer course at American University and see how that goes. If I get a B+, maybe I'll give UDC a ring.

    Would love to hear the thoughts of those further along though.
     
  18. flip26

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    I think you have it backwards, at least with regards to Bryn Mawr and Goucher...this is "friend of a friend" anecdotes, but I have heard it is easy to make As at these programs.

    OTOH, I attended a formal post bacc at a State U, and the competition for grades was fierce.

    Why not just do a "post bacc" at a CC, make As, and save money?
     
  19. Doctopus

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    I'm under the impression that community college coursework is a no-no.

    That being said, the sort of students who attend UDC are of a similar sort. Indeed, UDC just opened up a community college within the confines of its main campus (which is still a university), if that makes any sense at all.

    Because it's so hard to determine what sort of grades one will get in any of these programs, my current plan of having multiple options and contingency plans seems the way to go. (AU for the summer, go from there...) In the end, I'll probably keep it simple and stick with AU, but good to have options. Locally, the Georgetown SMP program is another possibility a year from now.

    And on a final unrelated point, I think Goucher/Bryn Mawr are better regraded and probably better structured than the AU postbac, though I do not speak from experience.
     
  20. flip26

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    The only "no no" is making anything but As, especially with your poor UG GPA.

    Do more research on these schools. Check the websites like pickaprof and ratemyprofessor where you can look up the actual grading for specific profs and classes - do you want to go somewhere where 10 percent of the students make A, or 50 percent?
     
  21. Wanderingw

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    Your (relatively high) GPA going in is a big plus, it's really important to ensure it goes even higher from your postbaccs, wherever they are!

    I attended a 'formal' post-bacc (Harvard Extension), and ultimately got into three med schools (two in CA) on my first attempt, so I clearly have no regrets. That being said, I would ultimately say that their 'edge' is that it forces students to a schedule/program with like minded people, and especially in the full-time postbacc programs (Goucher, etc), there's lots of support staff who are paid to help you in any way possible to get into med school. It looks really bad for them to claim they will get you into med school, take $30k of your money, then give you nothing in return, so there's a large degree of self-interest there.

    In my (limited) firsthand and secondhand experience, a postbacc's name/reputation in and of itself doesn't matter much. I have friends from Harvard Extension who received neither interviews nor acceptances this cycle, and ones who did the community college route that got into UCSF. I'm sure having a name and a trusted reputation matters some, but ultimately it's still your personal portfolio that will make or break your chances.

    I don't know enough about each program to say. I'm sure they all have (mostly) high quality classes; at Harvard Extension, we followed the same curriculum (and in many cases had the same instructors) as the undergrads.

    (Again, from my very limited knowledge) The school at which you received that GPA matters, but less than you think. From what I know, the 3.8 mediocre still can beat the 3.6 Ivy, since at the end of the day, each school is probably looking premeds from your Ivy who got a 3.8+, so you'll be compared to them as well. I say this as someone who went to an Ivy-tier reputation school, but had a < 3.6 GPA.
     
  22. likeyou

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    If your GPA is already good (>3.8), you should consider taking the requirements at the cheapest school you can find (i.e., the community college). I took bio at the community college taught by a high school teacher and managed a perfect score on the BS section of the MCAT. The material on the MCAT is elementary and can be learned at any post-secondary center of education. Only difference is the price tag.



    i first went to a cc and got my associates of science degree, as for the science courses i only took one bio and one chem class, (with a grade of C for both) , then i took about 2 yrs off then transfered to a 4 year state university and got a BS in psyc (minor in phil) my gpa was 3.2 when i graduated,

    Now, i've been accepted to a formal post bacc program at a private universtiy, but the thing is it's kinda expensive, as you've pointed out,,,,,i would really like to takes these courses at a CC because it's 1/6 of the cost of the formal post bacc, would you reccommend this? Do medical, optometry, and/or dental schools accept this type of path? I understand that my grades and the mcat has to be impecible regardless to get into a good medical, dental, or optometry school, thanks for your time
     
  23. drimpossible

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    Many med schools seem to want to see that you've completed your pre-reqs at a 4 year university, so take them at a CC at your own risk. That leaves your closest in-state public university as your best bet from a cost standpoint. I did one semester at an expensive private post-bacc program. I transferred soon afterward to my local state school which was 25% of the other program's cost, where I completed the rest of my pre-reqs. It was a wise decision. My friends who completed the program have 75K in debt before even starting medical school.

    RE: Grades, you don't need a 4.0 to get into medical school. Obviously you can't get all C's, but I have a few B's in my post-bacc and have gotten a handful of interview invites so far.
     
  24. HenriMatisse

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    I'm going the "Do it yourself" route and haven't had any trouble yet. I'm taking classes at 2 different universities at once without any problems. My mother takes on speech path grad students from my alma mater and gets 4 free credits for every student she takes on, which we have managed to finnagle into 4 free credits for me.
     
  25. montessori2md

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    I enrolled at a state university as a BA transfer student, even though I already had a BA, which allowed me to have senior status (good scheduling priority), and to pay low(ish) tuition. They could care less that I never bothered to graduate again, and neither did any of the schools interviewing me. I think the post-baccs are a rip-off unless you are loaded or they guarantee a spot in a med school if you perform. I can't speak to CC classes from personal experience, but if your local UG state system guarantees acceptance of your CC credit, I don't see why that isn't acceptable. If it's www.onlinescienceuniversity.com, or you want a top-tier school, well, that's something else.

    The other thing that was great about the BA enrollment thing was I had access to the university's health professions advisor, who ran the form letter process for AMCAS for premeds. That was invaluable at my school b/c they walked you through to make sure everything you needed for the app was perfect.
     
  26. samuraiR

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    Well, I havent been accepted yet so take this with a grain of salt. I did my post-bacc classes at a community college, cost and night classes were the biggest considerations for me so CC classes were best.

    I currently have 4 interviews so far (2 MD and 2 DOs). It is possible, check back wtih me when I get an acceptance lol.

    Good luck!:thumbup:
     
  27. RNtoMDplease

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    Hello! This is my first post and I'd like to say what a great resource SDN is :) I see the most recent post was September of 2010, but I'll give my question a whirl...

    Background: I am 26 y/o, have been an RN for 2 years. I have 2 bachelor's degrees, business and nursing. I was such a lazy undergrad my first time around, dropped Chem, barely passed Bio (C's) . After getting my butt in gear, my GPA after nursing school was ~3.6 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from an Accelerated BSN program in 2009. I have always wanted pursue my ultimate passion of being a doctor but had little faith in my abilities, until recently. So, I ran my idea of pursuing medical school to my family and to my surprise they support me! I thought they'd roll their eyes and sigh because I want to go back to school. :) (In a nutshell!).

    Sooo...I have decided I want to do a D.I.Y. post-bacc route at the State University about 1hr away from here for $$ sake (Part time). A few questions on my mind if you have any insight:

    Questions:
    1) Should I enroll as a degree seeking student (i.e. biology) so I can get priority for the classes I need, as opposed to non-degree seeking, and then just stop once I have taken the classes I need/taken MCAT etc. Would the school care if it looked like it was my third bachelor's haha ?


    2)Should I re-take Biology and lab?

    3) MATH! ::shudders:: I took a Business Calculus course around 2004! Should I retake this for credit or get a review book? (Trig/Algebra earlier than that, which I've read is crucial for physics and chem)

    I realize these are a combination of questions from other topics, but none really completely answered my questions clearly. Any input is appreciated. Thanks for all the great advice and inspirational stories from non-trads :D:thumbup:
     
  28. samuraiR

    7+ Year Member

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    I know this is an old thread but I posted on it a while ago.

    Just wanted to throw this out there for those considering community college classes (n=1).

    All sciences at CC after graduation while working full time. Had taken math before with B's and C's at my 4 year (Calc 1-3 and Stat). All science LOR from CC professors.

    3.6cGPA 33 MCAT

    2 DO interviews
    8 MD interviews

    3 acceptances.

    It's possible, so don't let people discourage you from trying. If CC's are your only option, then take it there but make sure you get an A! I had to take my classes at a CC because my state school was too far/too expensive.
     
  29. lsu hopeful

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    This has been said before many times, but I wanted to re-emphasize that checking with the admissions faculty of a good number of schools you think you'll be applying to is a top priority before starting courses at a CC. I could name 6 schools right now that say CC courses are not accepted for science pre-reqs, but they are for everything else, while I could also name 6 schools that say no CC courses are accepted at all. Many are different and some sites don't list this information. All you have to do is call and ask. If you're worried about them thinking badly of you for asking, please discard the hubris in thinking that they'll remember you in several years. :laugh:
     
  30. ryan_sankar

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    If you elect to do a DIY post bacc, are those courses included to your post bacc gpa?
     
  31. optimistic3

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    yes
     
  32. BlkStars21

    BlkStars21 ........
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    I've been told by adcoms not to retake courses. AACOMAS used to have a policy where grades from classes you retook were used to replace old grades but that policy ended over the summer I believe. I've been told by adcoms to just take upper level biological science coursework. So the fact that you're taking Biology courses is fine and I personally wouldn't worry too much about taking Chem/Physics courses, I think it would be better to just do well in the Biology courses than to take Chem/Physics courses and ruin your GPA. I would call up the adcoms of the schools you are interested in to get their opinion as well.

    Also, if you don't mind me asking, which schools did you interview at? And what is your MCAT score, you could PM me if you prefer.
     
  33. murfettie

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    Hmm.. it depends. I went to a NYC med school. We thought highly of the Hunter program, when it is more a DIY thing. Columbia was fine too about a billion times more expensive. We had some Bryn Mawr people too, and I just did generic state university classes. But don't do CC!! Do state university.
     
  34. murfettie

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    Don't do it!
     
  35. DBC03

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    How non-traditional are you? A few schools I tried to apply at this year wouldn't even let me apply because my physics credits were too old and I needed some additional chemistry. So I'm taking PChem and an upper level physics class. I scored in the 99th percentile on the MCAT and have worked in engineering for 11 years, but apparently that doesn't count for physics (this is why some schools are moving to competencies I imagine). Most people will tell you not to take the chance. I really, REALLY enjoy my classes right now and I know that it will help me if I have to become a reapplicant because it will open up a few more options for me. But I think you have to consider how well you can understand the material and how difficult the university is. I came from an extremely difficult engineering program, so the classes I'm taking are kind of like a cakewalk compared to what I went through in undergrad. But I would reconsider if I knew the classes would be significantly harder. You can certainly ask around about specific classes and pick those that are somewhat easier, but still considered upper level. I just picked the classes that specific schools recommended for non-trads and those with AP credit. Feel free to PM if you have specific questions.
     
  36. tryptamine

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    Hey DBC03!

    I'm hijacking a little here, but your post caught my attention and concern. I've been following your story some on here and am in a roughly similar situation to yours (though my initial GPA damage was done by apathy, not Princeton, admittedly). All of my prereqs were completed over 10 years ago now, and a considerable number of them are 12+ year old AP credit. My post bacc is all upper div bio, but I'm not very far in making my school list as I'm still getting a sense of where my post bacc grades are going to end up. Would you mind sharing which schools wouldn't let you apply? How would you recommend avoiding being surprised by something like this? Was the information about this available in the MSAR or on the schools' websites, or would this have had to have been ascertained through a phone call to the admissions department?
     
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  37. DBC03

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    No problem! I feel your pain - Mine was at least partially due to apathy only because, from one non-trad to another, I wasn't really gunning for med school. I just wasn't expecting to have THAT low of a GPA, right? So the two schools that immediately come to mind are UNC and Cornell. UNC requires that you have completed something like 30 credit hours in the prerequisite science classes they require within the past five years. And they have to be completed PRIOR TO APPLICATION. Admittedly, THAT Was the killer. It was that I couldn't send my application in while completing some classes. And they required everything from physics on. Other schools, such as Johns Hopkins, request one recent upper level class to be required recently, but only require it in some subjects and don't require X number of credit hours. UNC also wouldn't accept the fact that I'm an engineer and have been actively using physics for eleven years in place of the physics requirement. Cornell is a little more lax in that they require certain classes within the past ten years, and you can finish those classes by January 30 of the year you are applying. But Cornell adds two writing intensive classes to their requirements, so that was what kept me from applying. I had just taken one writing intensive class over the summer and an additional class seemed like an incredible waste of $700 and my time this semester. If the time frame extended over the year, I might have been able to make it work. So those are the two most stringent requirements I have run into. Nearly every other school I have researched either has moved to competencies, or they don't have an expiration on prerequisite classes.

    The only schools i'm intimately familiar with are the schools where I could apply - public schools in Florida, Virginia, California, and Colorado, and many many private schools. I'm unfamiliar with most others. When I first went back for my post-bac, my advisor recommended that I contact a few of the most stringent schools I could find and ask them about what I would need to take. Many top 20 schools are moving to competencies, so it's actually more difficult to find a stringent school than you'd think. I looked up Johns Hopkins and contacted their admissions department (Which still has requirements), and I looked up a few other places - Duke, Emory, Mayo, University of Florida. As I continued my research, I became comfortable with the idea that having at least two upper level Biology classes, four upper level chemistry (school are remarkably relaxed on chemistry requirements - every school I have contacted is willing to take AP Chemistry as long as I took four upper level chemistry classes and they don't seem to get too picky about them), two physics classes, two math classes, and two english or intensive writing classes, I would successfully fulfill most requirements. And then I knew that most schools allowed students to fulfill classes before matriculation, so I figured I could get any extra classes in after application. I Think that's why UNC and Cornell threw me off. One additional requirement that is difficult for some engineers and scientists to fulfill is the humanities requirements at some schools. I minored in architecture and took a TON of humanities classes, so that was very easy for me to fulfill. But I know some students had to take Emory and a few other schools off their lists.

    As far as figuring what you have to take, here's what I did (take this with a grain of salt, but I do think it's the best way to apply): I used a throw-away school for my initial application, and sent my primary in within the first week of June. I ended up moving that month, so I didn't work on any applications. But once I started adding schools, I very carefully reviewed each school's website and the MSAR for their requirements before adding them and paying my $39. I highly recommend this because I have heard of too many students who added a ton of schools to their lists and then decided not to complete the secondary applications. That's a waste of money and time. So if you are unsure, I recommend getting a list of schools you may be interested in, and visit every single school's website. You'll find a lot have moved to competencies, and you won't have to worry about fulfilling specific classes. But take note of what each school requires and see if you match up.

    If you are unsure, and you are a post-bac student who has been out of school for four or more years, here are the classes you should probably take if you want to fulfill EVERY school's requirements:

    2 semester of Biology - General Bio if you don't have AP credit (I have found that most schools will take Cell Bio and Genetics as well as Physiology, Immunology, Microbiology, Developmental Bio, etc. I'd put Cell Bio first on the list and supplement. I took AP Bio, so I skipped General Biology.)

    4 semesters of Chemistry + AP Chem - 2 of Organic and 2 of Biochem + AP chemistry will suffice for every school I have contacted. No AP Chem? Take 5 Semesters total - 2 semesters of Gen Chem, 2 Semesters of Organic, and 1 Semester of Biochem

    2 semesters of General Physics - I took mine with calculus, but I highly recommend against this. Take just regular pre-med physics. I am NOW taking Application of Physics to Medicine and Biology because my physics credits are too old for the two schools mentioned above.

    Here are classes that are required at some schools as well, but they don't seem to expire:

    2 semester of college level Math - Take a Stats class and something else - maybe Calc 1. I have yet to see a school that wants these to be recent, so don't retake unless you have no college math

    2 semesters of English or intensive writing classes (varies by school - your best bet is to take two classes in your english or literature department to be safe)

    18+ Credits Humanities - these don't expire, so just make sure you've taken a total of 18 credits

    Here are the classes that are being added to some schools' lists:

    1 semester Psychology - I've only seen that Rosy Franklin will be requiring this for next year's applicants.
    1 semester Sociology - See above on Psych

    I hope that helps! I was geographically limited in the application process by places where my husband could easily transfer, so I don't know about many schools up north. I do know about Chicago and NYC schools, but not, say, Michigan or Ohio, etc.
     
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  38. tryptamine

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    Wow-- thank you so much for your thoughtful reply! This is extraordinarily helpful and should probably be linked somewhere more visible as a general resource for the forum. Fortunately, as a B.S. in chem (2 years of calc, 2 years of physics), with a minor in English lit, it sounds like I have a lot of my bases covered, but I'm going to try to tighten up my school list a bit and be super diligent now in picking my post bacc classes for next semester. I'd kind of vaguely wondered if I might run into bumps of this nature, but larger hurdles such as the MCAT and acing some coursework had kept me off of it until now.

    Thanks again, and wishing you success in your application cycle!
     
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  39. DBC03

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    No problem! I just realized that I believe UNC just requires a few upper level classes to be up to date. So if you have a ton of chemistry classes, you would likely only have to take two more. It sounds like you should have your bases covered! I'll update this if i think of any other requirements or run into any! I would prioritize the MCAT over everything else as well - nearly every school (except the two I mentioned) lets you take classes up through June of the year you matriculate.
     
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  40. tryptamine

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    Great to hear! Got my MCAT score back last week, and it marks the first strong part of my otherwise beleaguered application. I'm focused full time now on making adjustments to the rest of it. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!
     
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