Continuum

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Oct 10, 2014
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Hello everyone. I have a question for those of you who've gone the route of repairing your GPA. Some background info: I'm currently a senior in college. I have not taken the GRE or MCAT yet. I'm sorry I don't have the exact values for you, but I anticipate my cGPA ~2.7 and sGPA ~3.0. I know that I'm definitely in the red-flag zone for virtually every MD and DO program, so I desperately need to repair my GPA. I've read about the DO school advantage of grade forgiveness, except for Texas, and how MD programs take into account the entire (in my case, dirty) picture. I have no stigma of MD being "superior" in any way and I'd happily attend any DO program that'd accept me, I just want to be a physician and help people. So, what route should I take upon completing my BS Biology degree? Would it be more beneficial for my DO application to take post-bach courses and improve my undergrad GPA, or should I apply to SMP programs? Should I retake prereq courses that I received a B in? I have a C in genetics, B in chemistry II, and a B in organic chemistry I. I know that genetics would be an excellent course to retake, but would it be beneficial to retake prereq courses with a B to try and get an A? Also, I have several courses that I have a C in from my dabbling in international relations. These don't affect my sGPA but definitely bring down my cGPA, so should I worry about these or just focus on improving my sGPA in post-bach work?

Another thing, and I know this is putting the horse before the carriage, but I have a question regarding my personal statement. I don't have a good excuse for my poor undergraduate performance. I also don't like the idea of passing the buck onto something else, it was the consequence of me being a slacker instead of studying. Are there points for integrity and taking responsibility for your own actions in your personal statement, or is the route of fabricating some excuse more accepted? I ask because, when talking to my sister (she's a radiologist) she suggested that I be.. less than honest about my previous academic underperformance. I appreciate any and all feedback, thanks.
 

karling

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Aug 6, 2014
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Honestly, I wouldn't dwell on it much in your PS. Mention it, take responsibility for it (don't make up fake excuses), talk about how you learned from it, and why you're a better student and person now because of your mistakes. That could be just one paragraph of your PS. Most of it should be "Why medicine?" and "Who are you?" and you don't want the who are you section to be dominated by how you were a bad student.

Some secondaries have an essay question where they ask you to explain any obstacles you've overcome or failures you've had. You could expand on it there. DO schools do seem to be quite understanding that some people just mature later than others. Not everyone is ready to be disciplined hard workers when we're 18 or 20. Sometimes it takes longer. It sure did for me.

Maybe others have a different opinion, but I think you should retake some courses to get A's rather than go into an SMP. Because of the DO grade replacement policy a DIY postbac, or even a formal postbac, could bring up your GPAs significantly without one. Get your cGPA (and sGPA) above 3.0 and you reach the minimum cutoff for many schools. Get it above 3.25 and you're above the cutoff for every DO school. Two or three years of killing it in your classes while shadowing and volunteering (and a good MCAT score) will put you in good shape to get into an osteopathic school.
 
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Continuum

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Thanks for your reply karling! I'm glad you said that about the PS. I would hope DO schools have a similar value in integrity and taking responsibility for my poor choices, rather than coming up with some fabricated backstory that looks good on paper. You're correct, not everyone goes into college with the right mindset and work ethic, and I was definitely one of those people.

How do DO schools look at W's on transcripts? There were quite a few courses that I withdrew from to avoid failing. Many of those courses I took again and passed, but there are still a few unresolved ones from my previous major exploring. I originally majored in international relations before I decided on biology. Many of the courses that hinder my cGPA fall under this category (history, philosophy, foreign language). So just to reiterate, would you recommend retaking these classes as well, or focus primarily on the classes immediately pertinent to the DO application (sGPA)? I understand it'd be best to retake all classes with poor marks to better my application, I just don't want to spend any more time than necessary as a post-bach undergrad if you know what I mean.
 

karling

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Aug 6, 2014
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Your cGPA is low. That can be changed pretty easily by retaking any courses where you received a C (or less). Depending on how many of those there are, and if you can devote yourself to school full time while still paying the bills, will determine how long that will take. Science courses are most important, obviously, but it might not be such a bad idea to take, say, 2 science courses and 2 history / IR / language courses every semester. I know there are GPA calculators out there. You can pull up your transcript, punch in all the data into the GPA calculator, and then start changing some of those bad grades to A's. That will give you an idea of how many semesters it will take, and which classes you should focus on retaking to boost your GPA the most.

W's look bad, but I've read stories on here of people who had >7 W's and still got accepted. I have a few myself. If you go to school full time for 2 or 3 years, don't put another W on your transcript, and get a 3.5+ post-bac GPA, you'll have shown growth and maturity. Maybe you couldn't handle that course load in the past, but that was due to lack of discipline, not lack of ability.
 

diesel2101

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Aug 29, 2014
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To calculate your GPA, use the AACOMAS GPA calculator floating around this site somewhere.

Here's the scoop... Don't do an SMP if you're willing to go the DO route; it's a waste of money given the possibility of grade forgiveness. Retake the science classes you did poorly in because they will also raise your cGPA if you get an A (and you should ONLY be getting A's in post-bacc work). As for the W's, they shouldn't matter too much as long as it's not an obscene amount of W's (2-3 should be OK). For the PS, I would highly suggest not talking about your past academic struggles. Who would want their first impression to be, "hey, look at me, look at the poor grades on my transcript!"? You'll have time for that in some of the secondaries, but don't dwell on it. In fact, don't even bring it up unless it's asked of you.
I was in your shoes when I graduated in '13, and after a DIY post-bacc and a solid MCAT score, I already have one acceptance.
 
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Rule #1 for PS: People don't like to read excuses.

Your PS should be a positive statement about you and what you want. Save your explanations for the interview, if asked.
 
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Continuum

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Solid advice everyone, thank you. It's incredibly reassuring to hear people that have been in my shoes and were still able to actualize their dreams given the effort and determination. I figure my chances of getting into a MD program are sullied unless I do a SMP, and even then it'd be slim with my undergrad GPA. I'm fine with that so long as I can still pursue my goal via DO school. A DIY post-bach program to rebuild my undergrad GPA is certainly less costly than a SMP, so thank you for confirming.

I downloaded an AACOMAS GPA calculator from another thread. While not entirely accurate (I need to obtain an official transcript from my old university to confirm my grades on several classes), I was pleasantly surprised: cGPA 3.237, sGPA 3.393. I remember the grades for my sGPA classes, but there are several non-science classes that I'm a little fuzzy on. Though not completely accurate, the grade replacement policy painted an entirely different picture from what I had imagined my GPA would look like.
 

DaddyBex28

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Jul 10, 2014
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I agree with @costales in regards to the personal statement. Excuses are lack-luster. The personal statement is already short enough to make yourself shine. I wouldn't waste space on anything "negative".

I, too, did not have the best grades...I had a few Ws, and some D/C grades. I retook some classes during my undergrad, but I was more successful in those that I retook in a DIY post-bac.

While it wasn't a fun time. I took the last two years outside of undergrad to work full-time, complete those classes and volunteer to build my app.

I believe in you @Continuum! If you focus on yourself and your future as a doctor right now, you can do it.
 
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crazy87

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Post bac to get those grades up! I echo what others have posted on here. Do a couple/few years of classes, relevant work if possible, volunteer, etc to strengthen your app. Good luck.
 
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yanks26dmb

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Nov 7, 2008
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Wondering what you guys think for my situation...

I'm a non-trad and I've done an informal post-bacc to complete pre-reqs and replace poor grades. I applied this year with solid gpa's. For what it's worth, I've got a 30 MCAT.


If I DON'T get accepted this year, I'm going to reapply next year. Anyone think I should apply for an SMP such as the ones found at Rosy Franklin, AZCOM, Tulane, etc....? I don't see how re-taking classes and bumping my GPA's another point or two is going to make much of a difference....would love opinions though.
 
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osteohack10

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May 19, 2014
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Hello everyone. I have a question for those of you who've gone the route of repairing your GPA. Some background info: I'm currently a senior in college. I have not taken the GRE or MCAT yet. I'm sorry I don't have the exact values for you, but I anticipate my cGPA ~2.7 and sGPA ~3.0. I know that I'm definitely in the red-flag zone for virtually every MD and DO program, so I desperately need to repair my GPA. I've read about the DO school advantage of grade forgiveness, except for Texas, and how MD programs take into account the entire (in my case, dirty) picture. I have no stigma of MD being "superior" in any way and I'd happily attend any DO program that'd accept me, I just want to be a physician and help people. So, what route should I take upon completing my BS Biology degree? Would it be more beneficial for my DO application to take post-bach courses and improve my undergrad GPA, or should I apply to SMP programs? Should I retake prereq courses that I received a B in? I have a C in genetics, B in chemistry II, and a B in organic chemistry I. I know that genetics would be an excellent course to retake, but would it be beneficial to retake prereq courses with a B to try and get an A? Also, I have several courses that I have a C in from my dabbling in international relations. These don't affect my sGPA but definitely bring down my cGPA, so should I worry about these or just focus on improving my sGPA in post-bach work?

Another thing, and I know this is putting the horse before the carriage, but I have a question regarding my personal statement. I don't have a good excuse for my poor undergraduate performance. I also don't like the idea of passing the buck onto something else, it was the consequence of me being a slacker instead of studying. Are there points for integrity and taking responsibility for your own actions in your personal statement, or is the route of fabricating some excuse more accepted? I ask because, when talking to my sister (she's a radiologist) she suggested that I be.. less than honest about my previous academic underperformance. I appreciate any and all feedback, thanks.
Regarding your personal statement, I was in the same boat. Messed around my first 2 years of college, joined a fraternity - the classic 'don't give a crap I'm in college' attitude. I owned up to it in my personal statement, just admitted I was immature and unprepared. Go on to use examples to prove that you have grown and matured and are ready to handle medical school. I did this and now have 3 acceptances. Dont sweat it. Just be honest.
 
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DaddyBex28

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Honestly, I don't think a SMP or more post-bac classes would be worth the money and time, @yanks26dmb.

Your science and cumulative GPA are totally fine. If you are getting to the point where you have scheduled interviews, then it's not the gpas or the community college classes keeping you back.

How did you feel the interviews went? Did you prepare enough? Did your answers sound rehearsed or genuine? Have you sought interview advice from other pre-med forums or advisors?

What about the other factors on your app? Are you well-rounded? shadowing? volunteering (clinical/nonclinical)? hobbies? unique life experiences? strong letters of rec?

If I went off your stats alone, you should be golden...but we cannot forget that these other factors play a role as well. May not be as significant, but could be the tipping point between an acceptance or a wait list spot.
 

yanks26dmb

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Nov 7, 2008
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Honestly, I don't think a SMP or more post-bac classes would be worth the money and time, @yanks26dmb.

Your science and cumulative GPA are totally fine. If you are getting to the point where you have scheduled interviews, then it's not the gpas or the community college classes keeping you back.

How did you feel the interviews went? Did you prepare enough? Did your answers sound rehearsed or genuine? Have you sought interview advice from other pre-med forums or advisors?

What about the other factors on your app? Are you well-rounded? shadowing? volunteering (clinical/nonclinical)? hobbies? unique life experiences? strong letters of rec?

If I went off your stats alone, you should be golden...but we cannot forget that these other factors play a role as well. May not be as significant, but could be the tipping point between an acceptance or a wait list spot.
Thanks for your response, I appreciate your input.

As I mentioned, I'm a non-trad, and I do believe my interview skills are solid...I've sat on both sides of the table numerous times before. I felt my interviews went amazing (and let me tell you, I'm a pessimist, I find fault in almost anything I do).

I really have no idea how my letters of rec are. I know my physician letters are solid, but since we cannot see our letters, I don't know how we can really tell how solid they are. Sure my professors liked me, but being a non-trad, I took them for one class, and then moved on. It's not like undergrad where I can form an extended relationship with my professors by taking multiple classes with them, engaging in their research, etc.

Part of me feels my weak spot is the fact I took most of my pre-reqs at CC and an SMP like the ones mentioned above would show I could handle a medical school curriculum.
 
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DaddyBex28

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After reading your response... I think you sound like an impressive candidate and I'm baffled you haven't had an acceptance yet.

Patience is a virtue? Maybe the third interview will be the ticket?

Sure, if you want to do a SMP, then go for it! I'm just not entirely convinced that will really push your app over the edge and guarantee you an acceptance.

Best of luck on the upcoming interview!
 
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Continuum

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Oct 10, 2014
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Thank you for all the words of advice and encouragement everyone!

I had an interesting conversation with the professor in charge of the premedical committee at my university. He said if my grades aren't up to par for allopathic programs then they aren't for osteopathic either, despite the grade forgiveness policy. He also said the best way to amend for past mistakes is generally a SMP because the courses taken should be on par with med school curriculum. Have any of you ever received similar advice? I'd prefer the route of a DIY post-bach program because it's much less expensive, but whatever it takes. How much weight would you say a ~4.0gpa SMP would have in comparison to 24 hours of DIY post-bach work (~4.0)?
 

hallowmann

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Hello everyone. I have a question for those of you who've gone the route of repairing your GPA. Some background info: I'm currently a senior in college. I have not taken the GRE or MCAT yet. I'm sorry I don't have the exact values for you, but I anticipate my cGPA ~2.7 and sGPA ~3.0. I know that I'm definitely in the red-flag zone for virtually every MD and DO program, so I desperately need to repair my GPA. I've read about the DO school advantage of grade forgiveness, except for Texas, and how MD programs take into account the entire (in my case, dirty) picture. I have no stigma of MD being "superior" in any way and I'd happily attend any DO program that'd accept me, I just want to be a physician and help people. So, what route should I take upon completing my BS Biology degree? Would it be more beneficial for my DO application to take post-bach courses and improve my undergrad GPA, or should I apply to SMP programs? Should I retake prereq courses that I received a B in? I have a C in genetics, B in chemistry II, and a B in organic chemistry I. I know that genetics would be an excellent course to retake, but would it be beneficial to retake prereq courses with a B to try and get an A? Also, I have several courses that I have a C in from my dabbling in international relations. These don't affect my sGPA but definitely bring down my cGPA, so should I worry about these or just focus on improving my sGPA in post-bach work?

Another thing, and I know this is putting the horse before the carriage, but I have a question regarding my personal statement. I don't have a good excuse for my poor undergraduate performance. I also don't like the idea of passing the buck onto something else, it was the consequence of me being a slacker instead of studying. Are there points for integrity and taking responsibility for your own actions in your personal statement, or is the route of fabricating some excuse more accepted? I ask because, when talking to my sister (she's a radiologist) she suggested that I be.. less than honest about my previous academic underperformance. I appreciate any and all feedback, thanks.
Short answer: Post-bac. Don't mention the bad grades in the PS. Have an answer (i.e. immaturity that you've gotten past and you've learned from it) for the interviews though.

Rule #1 for PS: People don't like to read excuses.

Your PS should be a positive statement about you and what you want. Save your explanations for the interview, if asked.
This.

Thank you for all the words of advice and encouragement everyone!

I had an interesting conversation with the professor in charge of the premedical committee at my university. He said if my grades aren't up to par for allopathic programs then they aren't for osteopathic either, despite the grade forgiveness policy. He also said the best way to amend for past mistakes is generally a SMP because the courses taken should be on par with med school curriculum. Have any of you ever received similar advice? I'd prefer the route of a DIY post-bach program because it's much less expensive, but whatever it takes. How much weight would you say a ~4.0gpa SMP would have in comparison to 24 hours of DIY post-bach work (~4.0)?
Not great advice. Obviously a 4.0 in an SMP is better than a 4.0 in a DIY post-bac of retakes, but overall it won't have as big of an effect on your stats. If you leave a post-bac with a combined GPA ~3.4 or even 3.5 (doable with grade replacement), not only will it be cheaper, but you'll get in provided you have an average MCAT. If you do a SMP, its harder, more expensive, and at best you will only be averaging grades with your undergrad GPAs as opposed to replacing them. Plus, if you do bad, it kills your chances at med school and you won't even be able to do grade replacement for those classes (unless maybe you do another SMP) because they are usually special classes.

Its only really worth it to do an SMP for 2 reasons: (1) to prepare yourself for med school as SMPs are usually med-school "light" (if they aren't, its not worth it to begin with) OR (2) to get into a school that you REALLY want to get into that has linkage with the specific SMP. Its also good if you have like a 3.2/3.3 and really want MD.

Generally speaking, your advisor is right that your GPAs aren't good enough for MD or DO (averages aren't that different for GPA - 3.69 vs. 3.52), but honestly, you can get close enough to that with some strategic grade replacement and it shouldn't take you too long.

After you do the post-bac, study like crazy for the MCAT, do well, then apply early and broadly.
 
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Continuum

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Thank you for the advice hallowmann. So would you recommend taking the MCAT after the post-bach work, or this next summer when things are more fresh? Considering I'll be doing post-grad gpa improvement regardless, I have a little time to play with on the MCAT. Is it better to take the MCAT mid-semester or during the summer/winter breaks?