Question for Med Students/Applicants who worked throughout undergrad

relentless11

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Hi all,

Just wondering if there are any applicants/med students here who as an undergrad(or even grad) had to work full-time to keep themselves under a roof and enrolled in school. I am curious about:

1) How did you sell yourself on your personal statement.

2) How did you think that affected your chances for admission, invitation for an interview, or getting a secondary?

3) Was GPA an issue? If so, did other areas on your application combined with the fact that working shows that your GPA does not tell the entire story?

Right now, i have a nice draft of my personal statement. I heeded the Tulane's dean of admissions advice on making a negative into a positive. I know for a fact that working made me a better person through the challenges i faced, and the skills gained. For how far can all this go? Any key points, should I cover on my personal statement?

Lastly, if there's anything else that anyone thinks is helpful, feel free to throw it in. Can't wait to apply;)
 

Tiki

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I've had to work full time throughout my undergraduate career. I didn't write about it in my personal statement, but I mentioned it in a few of the essays in my secondary applications and also during the interviews.

I chose to write my personal statement about my job, but not in the sense of letting them know how many hours I was working. Instead I concentrated on a particular experience I had with a patient, and how that experience further strengthened my resolve to become a doctor.

Even on my secondary applications, I mentioned the fact that I was working full time while going to school full time, but it was more in a way that would emphasize my clinical experience, rather than highlighting my different path. I was afraid that I would come off whiny, so I pretty much stayed away from talking about it too much.

The interviews were a different story, though. I let the interviewers know that the reason why I had no EC's was because I was working forty hours a week and taking 18 credits. I think it was looked by them as a positive rather than being a negative. My GPA wasn't an issue, since I worked my ass off every waking moment of the day to get it where it was, but I do feel my MCAT score might have been an issue at some of the schools. My score was not bad (28P), but its not outstanding either. I think understanding my work/school situation helped me in regards to the MCAT, because they understood that I didn't have as much time to study for it, and I didn't have the monetary resources to take a class to prepare for it.

Overall, I believe that my situation helped me out. The Adcom already has proof that I can work long hours and still succeed. I really think that it helped me get in.

Good luck with the application process!

-Kristen
 
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Blade28

I worked 40 hours/week during all 4 years of college, in order to supplement my financial aid and scholarship money. However, besides writing in my work experience in the appropriate AMCAS section, I didn't address it at all. Wasn't in my personal statement, and it never came up in interviews. I don't know how it affected adcoms...maybe it made them look at my not-very-stellar-GPA a little more sympathetically? :)

Edit: I think they also just looked at the kind of work I was doing, saw that it built character and helped me develop as an adult, and left it at that.
 

relentless11

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I'm surprised that you guys didn't put it into your PS, but thats more power to you:). I am definately concerned with not coming off as too whiny. I think I will have to put it into my PS though, since it did help me get to idea that medicine is the way to go. Additionally, i'm over here in CA, so I think they screen GPA/MCAT's, so need to throw that thing out there in hopes they show some mercy. Hehehe..

Thank you very much for such great insights!
 
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Blade28

Originally posted by relentless11
I'm surprised that you guys didn't put it into your PS, but thats more power to you:). I am definately concerned with not coming off as too whiny. I think I will have to put it into my PS though, since it did help me get to idea that medicine is the way to go. Additionally, i'm over here in CA, so I think they screen GPA/MCAT's, so need to throw that thing out there in hopes they show some mercy. Hehehe..

Thank you very much for such great insights!
Ah. Well, my work wasn't directly related to medicine, nor its pursuit, so I didn't talk about it in my personal statement. But feel free to, if it's in any way related!

I also applied from California, but like you, didn't want to appear too "whiny." :) The adcoms could see from my AMCAS that I worked 40 hours/week. That's enough. No need to try and "justify/rationalize" my lack of a 3.80 GPA or 36+ MCAT. ;)
 

relentless11

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Yea my GPA is kinda crappy, but my MCAT Is good which should give them a big "?" over their heads when they compare the two. The way i'm tackling this is, just stating that I worked, and hope that they connect the dots.

I'm kinda paranoid (unjustified I think) that they may not make the connection, but I think its better if i make it subtle, rather than make it whiny.

Anyway, so you're from Honolulu huh? Great place, great people. If only more people on the mainland can have nice personalities like the ones I encountered while in Oahu. :)No wonder you got in. Seems people from the Hawaiian islands are so nice and laid back (in a good way!) I also like how the highways there have a minimum speed limit...we need those here in California!
 
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Blade28

Originally posted by relentless11
Yea my GPA is kinda crappy, but my MCAT Is good which should give them a big "?" over their heads when they compare the two. The way i'm tackling this is, just stating that I worked, and hope that they connect the dots.

I'm kinda paranoid (unjustified I think) that they may not make the connection, but I think its better if i make it subtle, rather than make it whiny.

Anyway, so you're from Honolulu huh? Great place, great people. If only more people on the mainland can have nice personalities like the ones I encountered while in Oahu. :)No wonder you got in. Seems people from the Hawaiian islands are so nice and laid back (in a good way!) I also like how the highways there have a minimum speed limit...we need those here in California!
Just out of curiosity, what was your GPA and MCAT? You don't have to answer, or can just give an approximate range if you'd like. :)

And we may have minimum speed limits here, but the maximums are WAY too slow! :(
 

relentless11

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No prob, my GPA is 2.7 (Biochemistry) at this moment, post-bacc is 3.65 (Biomedical Engineering), MCAT is 34. Still room to improve both GPA's though, since I still have another quarter to go.

Spent all 5 years as an undergrad working full-time. If I ever worked part-time, it was because I was doin two jobs. Ironically, I think the jobs helped me to figure out a lot of things in my life. I'd probably be a clueless person right now with just a degree in Biochem, looking for a job as a teacher. I'm still playing with that teaching idea though as a job between here and med school though:).

Pretty much, i'm hoping the MCAT, post-bacc, and extra-curriculars get me to secondaries, and my letters of rec get me to interview. I'm less concerned with letters of rec, since they are pretty strong IMO. So cross your fingers!:D
 

confewshz

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Originally posted by relentless11
No prob, my GPA is 2.7 (Biochemistry) at this moment, post-bacc is 3.65 (Biomedical Engineering), MCAT is 34. Still room to improve both GPA's though, since I still have another quarter to go.
Hello relentless11, how many years does your postbac span and how many courses do you take per semester, if you dont mind me asking :)
 

relentless11

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Originally posted by confewshz
Hello relentless11, how many years does your postbac span and how many courses do you take per semester, if you dont mind me asking :)
By the end of spring quarter (June) 40 units of post-bacc work. Which works out to around 13 units a quarter. For us here, thats full-time (12 units is full time). I would take more, probably about 15 units, but 1) work, and 2) I'm treading in new ground with engineering/biomedical engineering stuff, so I'm kinda being careful. Entirely different way of thinking for me with regards to these engineers. But i think its fun.

On that note though, I was checking out post-bacc programs (i'm on an unofficial one). The one here at my school requires students to take about 12 units for fall quarter, and 8 for winter and spring quarter. I guess they do other things too though.
 

confewshz

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Originally posted by relentless11
By the end of spring quarter (June) 40 units of post-bacc work. Which works out to around 13 units a quarter. For us here, thats full-time (12 units is full time). I would take more, probably about 15 units, but 1) work, and 2) I'm treading in new ground with engineering/biomedical engineering stuff, so I'm kinda being careful. Entirely different way of thinking for me with regards to these engineers. But i think its fun.

On that note though, I was checking out post-bacc programs (i'm on an unofficial one). The one here at my school requires students to take about 12 units for fall quarter, and 8 for winter and spring quarter. I guess they do other things too though.
Thanks for the info. I might be doing a postbac this fall, but havent decided exactly want to major in and never thought of biomedical engineering.
 

relentless11

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No problem man.

Be careful about BME though. I personally like it, but some people may not. Try out some classes first, or ask around. Lots of math involved. But I think its definately something to make people wonder about ones abilities.

IMO Engineering courses are far harder than Bioscience courses. Seems that engineers are ecstatic to just survive a class in some cases. Can any engineers provide input on this?

My buddy pretty much lived in the computer labs on campus for most of his undergrad life. Working on projects, blah blah blah. His new friend became MATLAB..haha. Through my undergrad days, my friend on the computer was AIM. Haha....
 

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I'm curious which UC your at.
Lets see...I think it has to be one of these 4.

UCI, UCD, UCSD, UCLA. I'm thinking it's UCLA since you mention it being a lot of math. I almost became a bme grad at one of those... ended up choosing not to go to any :(

Also, I'm curious how you structured your program coming from biochem and all.

... I ask because if I make it into UCI or UCD, I think I'm going to try adding BME work into the program (PhD, MS, research... dunno) somehow.

Seems that engineers are ecstatic to just survive a class in some cases. Can any engineers provide input on this?
I think it depends. Some yes, some no. Also depends on the type of engineering. As an EE at SB, there were only like 2 classes where I thought "Oh $hit, he's going to fail me."
 

confewshz

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Originally posted by relentless11
No problem wo-man. :)

Be careful about BME though. I personally like it, but some people may not. Try out some classes first, or ask around. Lots of math involved. But I think its definately something to make people wonder about ones abilities.

IMO Engineering courses are far harder than Bioscience courses. Seems that engineers are ecstatic to just survive a class in some cases. Can any engineers provide input on this?

My buddy pretty much lived in the computer labs on campus for most of his undergrad life. Working on projects, blah blah blah. His new friend became MATLAB..haha. Through my undergrad days, my friend on the computer was AIM. Haha....
Yeah, I checked the curriculum for BME at my local U and they require Calc I-IV and DE (Differential Equations). Thankfully, I was a chemistry major (before my school watered down the curriculum) and I took all the above Calc and LE (Linear Equations) as a prereq for my major. Hell they even made us take calculus-based Physics. Shortly before I graduated, they watered down the curriculum so that chem majors only needed Calculus through Calc III and they could opt for algebra-based physics +pissed+. They made this change to recruit more chem majors, since they scared most of the potential chem majors off with the calculus-based curriculum. Anyhow, hopefully the math wont be too much of a problem. I also took 1 engineering course and didn't find it too bad, but it was just an intro course though, so I may want to take a higher level course to be sure.