Another handy e-mail for those considering post-bacc programs from Michigan's pre-med advising guru Mariella Mecozzi.... Many college graduates find they need to improve their academic credentials prior to applying to medical school. Others, after an unsuccessful application cycle, realize they need to address some academic deficiencies before reapplying. Still others discover their passion for medicine later in their academic careers (or even after graduation) and need to complete their premedical academic requirements in an efficient and effective manner. A postbaccalaureate program (or a special master's program) may be an appropriate endeavor to pursue for some of these individuals. In this posting, we will focus on postbaccalaureate programs. Some postbaccalaureate programs are specifically designed for individuals who are underrepresented in the health field. Others are run by a medical school, which selects underrepresented candidates and/or individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who failed to gain admission to their medical school in the previous application cycle, but showed academic promise. One of the main advantages of completing such programs at a specified performance level is that one may be guaranteed automatic admission at that medical school. Postbaccalaureate programs vary greatly in type, mission, duration, cost, financial aid opportunities, selectivity, structure and size. Prospective applicants are encouraged to assess carefully their past record, their need for improvement, and the type of postbaccalaureate or graduate program that will best fit their specific circumstances. With the help of a premedical counselor and/or medical school admissions officers, prospective applicants can make informed decisions about the best timing for their application and the ways in which they can strengthen their academic profile to improve their chances for admission. As individuals look at various programs, it would be beneficial to consider the following factors: --Duration of coursework and implications for application timing (one vs. two years) --Program focus (underrepresented minority, or enrichment courses for individuals who need to improve their credentials, or basic coursework for career changers who still need to fulfill their prerequisites) --Program eligibility (beyond GPA, also residency status, race/ethnicity background, MCAT score requirement, previous unsuccessful application if applicable, etc.) --Program structure (curriculum components, MCAT preparatory coursework, level of autonomy for students, support services, facilities) --Program reputation and success rate (availability of bridge programs: with how many schools and where, how many slots, early assurance programs) --Premedical advising (access to a premedical advisor, reference letter service or premedical committee, programming and lectures on applying, etc.) --Access to research and clinical opportunities (mandatory vs. elective, paid/unpaid) --Alumni relations (opportunities for mentoring, networking, shadowing) --Class composition (class size, diversity, career changers, age span) --Timing of classes (day vs. night courses, ability to pursue employment while in school) --Atmosphere (competitive, relaxed, supportive ) --Geographical location (proximity to own support system, program recognition with medical schools of choice) --Cost (one or two years, opportunities for financial aid) For a list of postbaccalaureate programs for students who (1) need to improve their credentials, (2) students who have little or no science, and (3) students who are from underrepresented backgrounds in the health professions, please go to: http://hpap.syr.edu/LISTPB.HTM For a more comprehensive list of post baccalaureate programs organized *by state*, go to: http://services.aamc.org/postbac/ Enrichment postbaccalaureate programs (designed for individuals who wish to augment their premedical preparation after having already taken the necessary premedical classes) can be particularly valuable for those who have very low science GPA. Through these programs, in fact, individuals have the opportunity to retake all or most of their pre-medical coursework and (hopefully!) do better. For other individuals, however, repeating the premedical coursework may not be as beneficial, especially if their science GPA is more borderline. These individuals may benefit more from enrolling in special master's programs. Through such programs, they can take graduate level science classes, often side by side with medical students, thus proving their academic readiness for the rigors of the medical school curriculum. Conversations with one's own academic advisor, a pre-medical counselor in The Career Center, and/or medical school admissions officers may assist in discerning which type of program can better meet an individual's specific needs.