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Questions that need answering! Plz help!

Copy-pasted from Pre-Medical Allopathic subforum:

Warning: This is a long post. However, I am hoping that some of you will take the time to read through it and answer the questions scattered across the post.

Hello,

I created this thread because I want a critical/honest evaluation of where I am as an applicant for a MD or DO program. I am not making this thread to seek pity or to be comforted. I hate feeling regret and kicking myself over the past - I just want some advice that make me look forward to a pathway that I can focus all my efforts toward.

About myself:

I am a senior at the UM AA. I am majoring in Neuroscience.

ACADEMICS:

* Current University of Michigan cumulative GPA: 3.572 (from 86 credits)
- 1 retake (Orgo I)
- 1 W (Inorganic Chem)
* "Projected" final cumulative GPA: 3.64


* Freshman GPA:3.52
* Sophomore GPA: 3.62
* Junior GPA: 3.68
* "Projected' senior/super-senior GPA: 3.75


* Current calculated "MD" science GPA: 3.4 (from 46 credits)
* "Projected" final "MD" science GPA: 3.63
* Current calculated "DO" science GPA: 3.49 (from 38 credits)
* "Projected" final "DO" science GPA: 3.7


* Total Overall Credits: 99
- 13 from AP examinations (Voided AP Bio credit because I elected to take Intro Bio)
* Total Credits taken: 86
- Freshman Year: 38
- Sophomore Year: 25 (29 if counting Orgo I retake)
- Junior Year: 23 (originally 27 before Inorganic Chem withdraw)
- Senior Year: 34 necessary
~ 27 will be from science courses

I know I 'slowed down' my pace. I am well aware that I could have taken additional classes some semesters and still have done well, but I can't worry about that now.


QUESTION: How is my GPA when considering the amount of credits taken? Is it okay for 'low-tier' MD programs? Is it okay for DO schools?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EC

* Lab Assistant (1 year): Worked 10 hours/week during my freshman year. Was listed as a co-author for one paper.

* Lab Assistant (1.5 years ongoing): Worked nearly full-time last summer, part-time this summer, and about 10-12 hours/week during the school year. First author on a poster sent to a hearing research conference. Expected to be co-author on one paper before I leave.

* Volunteering (2 years ongoing): Around 200 hours thus far volunteering with a Red Cross medical team

* Writer/Editor for journal (3 years ongoing): Have been a writer, then an editor, and now am currently the managing editor of a student-run publication on campus

* Current President of a newly created racquetball club

* Shadowing: 0 hours. Yup, I have NOT completed any substantial amount of shadowing thus far. I have the fullest intention of doing so in the future, but have not made any plans currently.

QUESTION: How are my ECs? Are they okay for 'low tier' MD programs? Are they okay for DO schools?
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LORs

* I have 0 LORs at the moment.
* I will receive 1 LOR from my lab PI before I leave.
* I am hoping to receive LORs from the professors of the two science courses I am currently taking.
* I want to receive a LOR from a physician, but I have not shadowed anyone thus far.


QUESTION: Would LORs from a PI (PhD & Director of research), 2 science professors, and a physician be sufficient?


=================================================


Biggest Concern: TIMING

My primary worry is timing. My freshman year summer I didn't do anything (just played a lot of tennis with friends, went on vacation with family, etc.). My sophomore year summer I worked practically full-time at a research lab, but once I got home I didn't do anything (just spent time with family and friends). My junior year summer I continued working at my research lab and I tried studying for MCAT, but I miserably failed at the latter, and I ended up wasting a bucket-load of time.

Currently, I have a fairly tough course-load where I have to do well. I want to continue my upward trend in grades, and I know I won't be able to accomplish that if I have to dedicate a large amount of time for MCAT preparation. With the particular classes I have remaining, I know I will need an additional full semester before I can graduate. That complicates the matter.

It was always my original intention to take a gap year before medical school. However, at the position I am at currently, I really don't believe I would be able to apply next year.

I was thinking that once winter term ends next year, I would quit working at my lab and spend all of May-early August preparing for MCAT. I know some people argue that 3 months are enough for MCAT preparation, while others say 6-12 is what's necessary. Knowing the type of person I am, I think I will need more, rather than less, time.

What's annoying is that even if I wish to apply in 2015 rather than 2014, I have to take the MCAT by January 2015 because that's the final date for current exam.

TL;dr : Won't study for MCAT during school year. Will hold off until May-August to prepare. Want to take MCAT before new MCAT is implemented (either Aug 2014, Sept 2014, or Jan 2015).


Question: If my MCAT preparation isn't ready after studying from May-August, should I consider taking that Fall 2014 semester (which would have been my final semester at Michigan) off to study for the Jan 2015 MCAT? And then complete my studies in 2015 winter before I apply for the 2015 cycle? Is taking an additional semester off (while maybe shadowing) to study a big 'no no' or something worth considering if I ensure a 30+ score?


QUESTION: What MCAT score would make a person in my situation competitive for 'low tier' MD programs? DO schools?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gap Year Options:

This goes hand-in-hand with timing. If somehow I am ready to take the MCAT by August or September 2014, I can finish my final semester in the fall. That would leave me the first half of 2015 for gap year possibilities such as full-time research, shadowing, volunteering in a free clinic, etc.

If let's say next summer isn't enough for MCAT studying, and I spend that additional fall studying (while also doing some shadowing), I would have to stay in AA for the first half of 2015 before I apply. Of course, I can still do shadowing, volunteering in a free clinic, etc during that time, but I can't leave AA.

QUESTION: For someone who needs shadowing experience, would becoming a Scribe be something that would be looked favorably upon by adcoms?

========================

Conclusive remarks :I hope that by reading through that long post, you got the sense that I am someone who wants to get into a medical school (MD or DO) and am willing to take the right steps to matriculate, even if it'll mean I will be behind some of my classmates.

You might ask...well you wasted time and made mistakes....what makes you say that those won't repeat? Well...I obviously can't predict the future, but to quote a scene from Dark Knight Rises: "Fear is why you fail." Only when he rediscovers fear does Bruce Wayne escape from the Pit. Now I'm not trying compare myself to the Caped Crusader, but I don't think I have ever experienced this much fear in my life. It seems that this fear is what will, and already is, driving me to be more focused.

To those of you who will read this post and answer the questions, I thank you for taking the time and effort to respond. I hope to be in a position in the future where I too can similarly offer some guidance to others seeking counsel
 

usopen

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    Hi just another pre-med over here. I will do my best to comment for MD schools.

    QUESTION: How is my GPA when considering the amount of credits taken? Is it okay for 'low-tier' MD programs? Is it okay for DO schools?

    So-called 'low-tier' MD programs have median GPA of around 3.6~3.7. So I would say your GPA is little below the median. However, everyone's GPA has a different meaning even though the numbers are the same. That is why now lots of medical schools have holistic approach and factor in applicants' life stories when viewing their GPA.

    Your GPA is definitely not a red flag that will give you flat out rejections from MD schools.
    If you talk about how you have upward in your GPA or any other personal stories that could justify your GPA then I think you will be fine (Or maybe since you had spent so much time in the lab working?).

    QUESTION: How are my ECs? Are they okay for 'low tier' MD programs? Are they okay for DO schools?

    Different schools have different focuses on people's ECs. Schools usually post in their websites information regarding this. You should go read about the schools you are interested in applying and possibly seek activities based on the information you've gathered. However, I think you have a good overall ECs except the shadowing experience as you've pointed out. Make sure you have work or volunteer experience as a caregiver.

    QUESTION: Would LORs from a PI (PhD & Director of research), 2 science professors, and a physician be sufficient?

    If you went to UM AA, I am sure they have a premed committee that can write you a letter package. I think it is better to ask your pre-med advisor about this. I am pretty sure they will tell you to get another one from a non-science professor and possibly from where you have volunteered at/worked at.

    Question: If my MCAT preparation isn't ready after studying from May-August, should I consider taking that Fall 2014 semester (which would have been my final semester at Michigan) off to study for the Jan 2015 MCAT? And then complete my studies in 2015 winter before I apply for the 2015 cycle? Is taking an additional semester off (while maybe shadowing) to study a big 'no no' or something worth considering if I ensure a 30+ score?

    I don't really understand your question. Why not just graduate first and then take 2 years off before you matriculate? Then, you will have plenty of time preparing your applications, strengthen your ECs, plenty of time to prepare for the MCAT. But again, I will consult your school's pre-med advisor.

    QUESTION: What MCAT score would make a person in my situation competitive for 'low tier' MD programs? DO schools?

    For MD school, I want to say well balanced 31~33 will get you in MD schools.

    QUESTION: For someone who needs shadowing experience, would becoming a Scribe be something that would be looked favorably upon by adcoms?

    Of course.
     
    Hi just another pre-med over here. I will do my best to comment for MD schools.

    QUESTION: How is my GPA when considering the amount of credits taken? Is it okay for 'low-tier' MD programs? Is it okay for DO schools?

    So-called 'low-tier' MD programs have median GPA of around 3.6~3.7. So I would say your GPA is little below the median. However, everyone's GPA has a different meaning even though the numbers are the same. That is why now lots of medical schools have holistic approach and factor in applicants' life stories when viewing their GPA.

    Yeah, I mean there's nothing I can do except just ace the rest of my classes from here on out and get a GPA as close to 3.7 as possible. It's frustrating, but whatever.

    How is it for DO programs?


    Your GPA is definitely not a red flag that will give you flat out rejections from MD schools.
    If you talk about how you have upward in your GPA or any other personal stories that could justify your GPA then I think you will be fine (Or maybe since you had spent so much time in the lab working?).

    I mean, I will admit that I don't have any compelling story (other than my freshman year being rough just transitioning to college....which is true for a lot of freshmen anyway) about why my GPA was lower than what it needed to be other than due to my own mistakes (like just not using time effectively).

    I am just really frustrated about not using my summers effectively, and not using the extra time during the school year for maybe taking an additional class or just doing well in general. I don't want to keep beating myself over it, but it's just hard not to think about it sometimes.

    I mean, if I do very well this year, I could mention that I did manage to get back my act together and demonstrate that I am capable of succeeding. Other than that, I don't know what else to tell them. Of course I will talk about my EC experience and any shadowing that I will do, but I don't know...

    QUESTION: How are my ECs? Are they okay for 'low tier' MD programs? Are they okay for DO schools?

    Different schools have different focuses on people's ECs. Schools usually post in their websites information regarding this. You should go read about the schools you are interested in applying and possibly seek activities based on the information you've gathered. However, I think you have a good overall ECs except the shadowing experience as you've pointed out. Make sure you have work or volunteer experience as a caregiver.

    Hmm, all righty then.

    QUESTION: Would LORs from a PI (PhD & Director of research), 2 science professors, and a physician be sufficient?

    If you went to UM AA, I am sure they have a premed committee that can write you a letter package. I think it is better to ask your pre-med advisor about this. I am pretty sure they will tell you to get another one from a non-science professor and possibly from where you have volunteered at/worked at.

    Got it.

    Question: If my MCAT preparation isn't ready after studying from May-August, should I consider taking that Fall 2014 semester (which would have been my final semester at Michigan) off to study for the Jan 2015 MCAT? And then complete my studies in 2015 winter before I apply for the 2015 cycle? Is taking an additional semester off (while maybe shadowing) to study a big 'no no' or something worth considering if I ensure a 30+ score?

    I don't really understand your question. Why not just graduate first and then take 2 years off before you matriculate? Then, you will have plenty of time preparing your applications, strengthen your ECs, plenty of time to prepare for the MCAT. But again, I will consult your school's pre-med advisor.

    See, with the classes I have still left, I definitely cannot finish in two and a half semesters. I mean, unless I just cram my schedule with a bunch of challenging science classes, which I think would probably kill my GPA. So I have to take an additional full semester sometime.

    But timing is the issue. I don't want to take the new MCAT whatsoever. If the new MCAT wasn't going live until like later 2015, then I would have been fine. But it's starting Feb/March 2015.

    That means the last dates for the current MCAT are August 2014, September 2014, and January 2015, unless they magically open up dates from October-December (doubtful).

    Like I said, I want to focus on my grades, because as you said, my GPA is below the median for 'low tier' medical schools, and only by raising it to a 3.6-3.7 will I have a shot.

    QUESTION: What MCAT score would make a person in my situation competitive for 'low tier' MD programs? DO schools?

    For MD school, I want to say well balanced 31~33 will get you in MD schools.

    I seem to be getting the consensus that a 32+ will give me a decent chance somewhere.

    QUESTION: For someone who needs shadowing experience, would becoming a Scribe be something that would be looked favorably upon by adcoms?

    Of course.

    Thanks!
     
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    Goro

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      Numbers are fine. I take it you're a non-science major? They do get accepted, even witht he bare minimum of credits. Keep in mind that there are schols that have NO pre-reqs!

      The 3.4 cGPA would limit you to low-tier MD schools, but since you're from MI, to MSU, Wayne State, plus the two new MD schools there. You're fine for any DO program, including mine.


      QUESTION: How is my GPA when considering the amount of credits taken? Is it okay for 'low-tier' MD programs? Is it okay for DO schools?

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      STRONGLY recommend that you get some other type of patient contact exposure. What have you been doing with your 200 Red Cross hours? We want to be sure you want to spend the next 40 years around sick people. You should not apply until you get some shadowing in.

      QUESTION: How are my ECs? Are they okay for 'low tier' MD programs? Are they okay for DO schools?
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      That's fine


      QUESTION: Would LORs from a PI (PhD & Director of research), 2 science professors, and a physician be sufficient?


      =================================================


      There's no law that says you have to go to medical school at age 22. Take all the time you need, because you should apply with the best possible packet. Again, you'll be in practice fro the next 40-50 years, 1/2/3/4/5 more years isn't going to matter, as long as you're ready and competitive..


      It was always my original intention to take a gap year before medical school. However, at the position I am at currently, I really don't believe I would be able to apply next year.

      Again, take the time you need.

      Question: If my MCAT preparation isn't ready after studying from May-August, should I consider taking that Fall 2014 semester (which would have been my final semester at Michigan) off to study for the Jan 2015 MCAT? And then complete my studies in 2015 winter before I apply for the 2015 cycle? Is taking an additional semester off (while maybe shadowing) to study a big 'no no' or something worth considering if I ensure a 30+ score?


      30+ (with 10/10/10 minims). The avg MD matriculant has a 32. for DO, it's high 20s.


      QUESTION: What MCAT score would make a person in my situation competitive for 'low tier' MD programs? DO schools?

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      That would be fine.

      QUESTION: For someone who needs shadowing experience, would becoming a Scribe be something that would be looked favorably upon by adcoms?
       
      Numbers are fine. I take it you're a non-science major? They do get accepted, even witht he bare minimum of credits. Keep in mind that there are schols that have NO pre-reqs!

      I am majoring in Neuroscience. So that's science.

      The 3.4 cGPA would limit you to low-tier MD schools, but since you're from MI, to MSU, Wayne State, plus the two new MD schools there. You're fine for any DO program, including mine.

      Ya, the cGPA is 3.572, but the sGPA is 3.4 MD and 3.49 DO. I'm hoping to raise my cGPA to 3.6-3.65, my MD sGPA to 3.55-3.65, and my DO sGPA to 3.6-3.7

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      STRONGLY recommend that you get some other type of patient contact exposure. What have you been doing with your 200 Red Cross hours? We want to be sure you want to spend the next 40 years around sick people. You should not apply until you get some shadowing in.

      I was part of a First Aid Support Team. We basically are event medical staff at events, including UM athletic events (football, hockey, basketball, gymnastics, etc.). We basically are FA/CPR trained first responders.

      Okay, what's the necessary amount of shadowing? I know some people stock up like 200 hours or something, but I don't want to do anymore than what's needed.
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


      There's no law that says you have to go to medical school at age 22. Take all the time you need, because you should apply with the best possible packet. Again, you'll be in practice fro the next 40-50 years, 1/2/3/4/5 more years isn't going to matter, as long as you're ready and competitive..

      That makes me feel a little bit better.

      I guess the way I see it is that my undergrad GPA and my MCAT scores are the two things that someone really cannot take away from me, so if I do as well as possible in those things, I can always build up other parts of my resume.

      I do have to ask about the semester off thing, because that's the issue that's bugging me the most.

      I have to take about ~34 credits left, and I won't be able to manage all of those in 2 semesters. I will need another full semester (maybe I'll be part-time that semester, I'm not sure yet). While I could finish Fall 2014 as a super-senior, I don't know if studying for the MCAT for just 2-3 months next summer will be enough time.

      Will it look okay to take that next year's fall semester off to study and then just finish classes in winter once my MCAT is done with?

      Again, take the time you need.

      As much as I would like that, I don't want medical school adcoms to look at me and be like "wow this kid took so much time to get a MCAT score/GPA that others managed to achieve in three years of undergrad, and plus he hasn't even graduated yet."

      I mean, I just don't know how I will be able to answer that question in interview other than just admitting that I did waste time but I picked my act together my senior year???


      30+ (with 10/10/10 minims). The avg MD matriculant has a 32. for DO, it's high 20s.

      For someone in my position who takes time off to study, would there be an expectation for an even higher score. Like 33+ for MD and 30+ for DO?


      -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       

      gyngyn

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        As much as I would like that, I don't want medical school adcoms to look at me and be like "wow this kid took so much time to get a MCAT score/GPA that others managed to achieve in three years of undergrad, and plus he hasn't even graduated yet."
        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        We're not thinking that hard.
         
        We're not thinking that hard.

        Honestly, I don't mind if i matriculate in 2016, as far away as it seems. I just want to make sure my GPA is rock solid these next two and a half semester during my senior year, and then focus on MCAT.

        If adcoms won't look negatively if I belay my final additional semester to study for MCAT, then I don't mind being doing my final super-senior semester W2015.

        It's just I want to know WAMC and if this will all pay off.
         
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