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Question about my old bad grades

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by HereIAm, Mar 1, 2007.

  1. I’m 33 and beginning a very long and slow process of obtaining a bachelor’s degree so I can apply to medical school eventually. I attended community college sporadically in 1991-1994 and again in 1999-2000. During those times, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my education and/or future and didn’t take any of my classes very seriously. I took really random courses (everything from drawing to piano to manicuring) and ended up with 79 units completed and a GPA of 2.96, including one F and 4 Ws. This past year I started taking classes again and discovered that I’m a really good student who gets As easily. (By the way, I was a teenage parent and also in an abusive marriage during my first tries at college.)

    How negatively will my past grades affect my chances of admission to medical school (preferably allopathic)? Do grades that old and/or grades for courses that won’t transfer to a 4-year college still count in calculating your GPA on medical school applications?

    By the way, I left the abusive marriage, got my life together, am raising 3 children single-handedly, and started a successful company, so I have changed since those times when I got such bad grades, but will that matter to the adcoms?

    Thanks for any advice you can offer. :luck:
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  3. SunshineNYC

    SunshineNYC SunshineNYC 2+ Year Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    The old grades shouldn't affect you as much as your age when applying to allopathic schools. I don't know why this is, but they tend not to take older students. Osteopathic schools are more accepting of older students, so you should consider applying to some D.O. programs as well.

    As long as you create a new record of good grades, and all of the good grades are in the required courses (including the 6 hours of English) then you should be fine. An F 10+ years ago in manicuring shouldn't even make a difference. Take the opportunity in your personal statement to discuss briefly your bad situation back then and the confusion of youth, and then focus most of the essay on how much you've grown and how far you've come. Don't make it so that it illicit's their pity, make them view you as an inspiration. Good luck and good for you!
  4. Krisss17

    Krisss17 2+ Year Member

    I really wish I can comment, but since I'm going the DO path...I really don't know. Allopathic schools have more stringent GPA requirements. They seem to count every grade that you've ever taken.

    Personally, I think that your GPA isn't as bad as you think. you definitely seem to be on a positive trend. If you haven't taken your prereqs yet (sciences), and you get those A's, I think you'll have an excellent shot.

    I personally think that unless you absolutely know what you want to go for in college, it would be better for you to take some time off from school and get out into the real world. Once you've actually had to support yourself, you actually appreciate things like school and are more willing to work for your grades than just getting them handed to you.

    Best of luck to you...
  5. Krisss17

    Krisss17 2+ Year Member

    Personally, I think this agism, s%^&*ks. Go to any hospital floor (other than peds or OB) and you are going to find that 75% of your patients are over 65. Who better than a nontrad can actually understand the aging process?

    Sorry, but this is a sore subject to me, because I feel that although I am a nontrad, I have as much or if not more of a background to become a successful MD as a traditional student. Two of the most important traits (at least in my opinion) that physician could have is to listen and to empathy for their patients. Both empathy and the art of listening comes with age.

    Rant over, sorry.
  6. Lshapley

    Lshapley Old Man Med Student 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2006
    Regarding age and medical school admission, my understanding is that med schools of both sorts do not discriminate against older applicants, but that non-trads tend to get into the osteopathic schools at a higher rate due to their (generally) less pristine academic records.

    A 2.93 with no basic sciences is not bad at all. You have the potential of having a really high bpcm (science) gpa, which will look very good on your application. You might want to look into a post bac program and get the package of advising and grades rather than doing it on your own, but that is my personal bias. You will see plenty of successful people here who did this without doing a formal post bac.

    Good luck and keep posting if you have questions.
  7. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion 10+ Year Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Wow, how about some facts to back up those statements, which I think are pure bulls***? Are you basing this on being a 25yo rejected applicant at allo schools? Give me a break. I'm sorry you got rejected, that sucks, but being 25 has nothing to do with it.

    For those of us over 30, honestly, how many 30+ applicants are there, compared to the <30 applicant pool? Hardly any. Isn't it possible that 30+ applicants are getting accepted and rejected at the same rates and for the same reasons as <30? HALF THE APPLICANT POOL GETS REJECTED.

    If ageism is prevalent in allo schools, then there are about 200 of us nontrads on SDN who are completely wasting our time. I vehemently disagree (obviously?). Since I started down this path, I've asked at least 1500 physicians, med school students, faculty, administration and adcom members, in several states, whether my age was going to hurt me, and not one person has said "yeah, you're too old, don't bother." 100% of those surveyed in my statistically insignificant survey have said "go for it, of course you can do it." The dozen or so doctors who know me well enough to judge whether I'd be a good doctor have encouraged me strongly to pursue this. Every school I'm applying to (over 30 at last count) has had a matriculant older than me (I'm 40) in the last couple of years. I'll get rejected for my academic numbers, not my age.

    If I'm wrong then we should just f***ing close this forum and go back to being lawyers and dancers and engineers. I gave up EVERYTHING to pursue medicine, based on due diligence in assessing my feasibility as a candidate.

    GPA matters. MCAT matters. ECs matter. LORs matter. Essays matter. Interview skills matter. Credibility, motivation, maturity, humanitarianism. That's 10 things off the top of my head that an adcom is going to consider before they have time to consider how old we are.
  8. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Tell that to the 50+ y/o guy in my class. My hunch is that there are some individual schools that discriminate against older applicants. If one of those schools is your state school, then that sucks. However, most schools, both allopathic and osteopathic, don't discriminate against applicants on the basis of age. The problem that nontrads encounter with allopathic schools is that they're less willing to forgive poor past academic performance than some osteopathic schools are. So, yeah, if there is an issue, it's the old grades, not the age.

    To the op, I think your chances are pretty good provided that you continue to do well, do well on the MCAT and do all those other fun things. :)
  9. awk

    awk AWK 2+ Year Member

    Dec 10, 2006
    OP if you can get As easily then good. I hope your not talking about CC As though cause CC classes are very easy compared to University and Medical hard science classes.

    While it might sound unpleasant, Medical school admissions officers do consider age when determining acceptances. I overheard a three person council discussing applicants while I was standing in line at Chipotle and I heard one of them say "This guy is too old" and "We still need a couple blacks (insert laughs)":eek: This guy could have been fired cause even discussing it is against the law, but that does not mean it doesn't happen. Its just like trying to get a job when you are older than most of the other employees and its a "youthful" place (like a trendy bar or restuarant). Same crap.
  10. spicedmanna

    spicedmanna Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    1) Do grades that old and/or grades for courses that won't transfer to a 4-year college still count in calculating your GPA on medical school applications?

    Yes, allopathic schools do include all of your academic work; there is no expiration date on post-secondary grades, ever. All of your undergraduate post-secondary grades are averaged in together. The importance in this is that medical schools tend to use your undergraduate GPA in cut-offs and admissions formulae. In allopathic admissions, you can't erase your past, so it will affect your admissions process. However, you can remedy this somewhat by demonstrating your current academic prowess by trending as many A's as you reasonably can in a fulltime academic schedule, preferrably at a 4-year institution (although, if you must attend a 2-year institution for a good reason, it'll probably be okay; many have without a hitch). You want to attempt to raise your undergraduate GPA as high as possible. You want to make the GPA cut (which can be different for each school). Once you do that, schools look at your trends.

    Osteopathic schools are more forgiving in terms of grades. While all of your post-secondary work still needs to be reported as in allopathic schools, unlike in AMCAS, AACOMAS, the primary application service for DO schools, allows for grade replacement. What this means is that you are able to retake classes and your most current grade counts in your GPA, not the previous one. Only the newest grade gets calculated into the GPA. This is awesome and of significant benefit to some people. Also, the school in which I interviewed didn't even bring up my past academic performance, they were interested in my extracurricular accomplishments and who I was as a person. My poor past performance never came up.

    Bottom line: do well in all of your classes from now on; trend A's, in a fulltime schedule, if possible.

    2) Other advice:

    Study like mad for the MCAT. You want to score 30+. Remember, the MCAT is both a test of your basic knowledge and a test of your test-taking abilities. Take as many practice tests as you can under real conditions. Learn from your mistakes and fill in the holes in your knowledge. Study hard and intelligently. In the initial cut in the admissions process, MCAT and GPA are both highly important factors. They both need to be as good as you can get them.

    Demonstrate your commitment to medicine. Shadow doctors and learn exactly what they do. This is crucial. You will be asked why you want to be a doctor, so you need to cite real examples based on what you know about the profession. Shadowing can help you do this. My shadowing experience came up numerous times during my interview. Furthermore, you will want to obtain some clinical and volunteer experience. You can combine the two, if you want; many people do. It's important to demonstrate your commitment to community service and to show that you know what it's like to be with sick people. These activities, while important, are all secondary to your academics however. Never forget that.

    There is probably some discrimination going on; it's natural since there are parts of the admissions process that are subjective. However, I think by-in-large most schools judge you more on your numbers. Older folks and non-trads tend to have a spotted academic history, so their numbers may be lower. I think if your numbers are competitive, you will be looked at, so don't dispair. Allopathic schools tend to have higher academic cut-offs and averages. The averages in Osteopathic schools are lower, but they also look at your extracurricular activities more closely. Both types of schools are successful in turning out excellent physicians. You may want to research Osteopathy, as your past academics are less likely to be used against you there.

    When it comes time to apply, the usual SDN advice is to apply broadly. Make sure you write good personal statements and essays, too.

    Good luck! :luck:
  11. I think you may have me mixed up with someone else. Having been in the real world and supporting myself since I was 17 years old (I'm 33 now), I do have an appreciation for education and I have definitely worked for everything I have, including my grades.

    Anyhow, thanks for the advice. :thumbup: I hadn't much considered going the DO route, but I will give it more thought.
  12. Thank you everyone for your advice. You have each given me a lot to think about. I know I am just at the beginning of a long journey and my questions about grades may be premature, but I wanted to get a feeling for where I might stand from those who have done this before or have more knowledge about the process.

    Thanks again!:)

    By the way, I didn't mean to sound like I was bragging about my As. It's simply that I had always thought I wasn't very good at school, and it's been such a nice surprise to find out that I'm a rather good student after all.
  13. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

    Feb 23, 2007
    Do well on the MCAT, and respect will follow you through your premedical journey. You may be out of the running for the top private schools in the country, but you can bring your app toward the top of the stack by nailing the MCAT. :luck:
  14. emomdoc


    Feb 25, 2007
    My route to get into medical school was about as convoluted as they come: I never attended high school due to a troubled adolescence, took a GED before I was 16 and started classes at a CC as a single mother when I was 17. Four years later, with a semester of W's and and more than one repeated class, I earned an AA and headed to a local university to try to complete a bachelors degree, but a few kids later I gave up leaving a couple more semesters of W's and I's on my transcripts.

    I attempted to return to school twice over the next six years, but never got anywhere until my youngest child started school -- by then I was 32 years old. I managed to complete the two remaining years of my BS and take the MCAT in just over two years, and I was accepted to an allopathic medical school, despite those ugly transcripts from three different colleges. I am 39 now and will graduate in June... press on, because anything is possible.
  15. ?DreamsRMadeOf

    ?DreamsRMadeOf Banned Banned

    Dec 9, 2006
    In Your Dreams
    WOW!!! A HUGE Congrats to you!!! I can't thank you enough for sharing your amazing story! GED to MD, at 39, with a few kids, and with W's and I's and stuff too! I'm at a loss for words. It's so wonderful to hear about people who overcome adversity. :love: You have given me so much hope, more than you'll ever know. I was feeling a little down, and I signed on, not knowing I would come across your story. What a huge treat, I might have to print this to put on my mirror ;) . Later, I hope you write a book about your life, keep all your entertainment rights, because someone will want to make a movie too. Remember me. :cool:
  16. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Aug 6, 2003
    I did not find ageism to be a problem. I think it depends on what schools you apply to. USF is very non-trad friendly. We have a number of older students (I am 30 but by no means the oldest and there are two in our class who are 41).
  17. Emomdoc,

    Your story is amazing! Thanks for sharing it with us. What an inspiration!!:love:
  18. Krisss17

    Krisss17 2+ Year Member

    BS. You can't make a blanket statement like that.
  19. mdadmit

    mdadmit Admissions Expert Exhibitor 10+ Year Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    SDN Exhibitor
    Unfortunately, old grades from any post-high school experience are fair game for admissions committees. The key is proving that at this time in your life you can excel in the sciences required for medical school. This can be accomplished by exceptional postbac marks and a strong MCAT score. You also have an opportunity to "explain away" previous substandard grades on the AMCAS and secondary applications.

    If your post back peformance and MCAT score prove that you can handle medical school coursework, certainly don't let bad grades from college etc keep you from applying. However, some schools (particularly state schools) often screen based on a total GPA and may discard your application early in the process. So casting a wide application net is often the best bet.

    Good luck!


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