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Really bad academic skeleton

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by closertofine, Nov 25, 2002.

  1. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    I was reading the post about academic skeletons in your closet, and I have a question about a problem that will probably come up in my application. Right out of high school, I started college at one school...and then was kicked out about four weeks into it for reasons I am not proud of (basically suicidal depression). Apparently the school didn't want to have a reputation of having people die, so they wouldn't let me back in.

    So I took the rest of that semester off and attended a community college the next semester. After that, I came to the school I'm at now, where I've stayed...and I have good grades and no "criminal" record.

    The problem I think will come up when I have to list all the schools I've attended...I have no transcript or record from my first school, since I left before I completed a semester. Whether this is ethical or not, I left this info off when applying for scholarships at my current school.

    Also, when ad-coms want to know why I apparently started school a semester late, and then started at a community college, I don't know what I would tell them. I generally am an honest person...but I worry that there is so much stigma surrounding my reason that it would keep me out of any med school.

    Any suggestions? I know honesty is usually the best policy, but here I'm not so sure.

    --Karen
     
  2. DoubleDoctor

    DoubleDoctor Ceder Dog's Daddy
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    I would think that you could just say that you started college at one school and left after 3-4 weeks because you realized that you weren't ready mentally for what would be required to be successful at a major university so the next semester you took some classes at a community college and then returned to a university setting the following year. If they press you about why you weren't ready you can honestly say that you had some medical problems and family stuff and didn't feel that you could give it 100% at that time so you left until you could devote all your time to your education. Just say, that you are the type of person that wanted to succeed but doubted that with everything going on in your personal life at that time, if you could have given school the priority that it needed. Turn it into a positive experience. Talk about how it was a hard decision to make, but now looking back you are glad you did and it was the right decision. Good LucK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
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  3. Miss Dr.

    Miss Dr. Member
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    don't worry about detailing the exact story to every adcom or interviewer you meet with. address the issue as you feel comfortable with...
    and if it relates more specifically to your interest in medicine, then go ahead and perhaps elaborate a little more. but you're by no means expected to explain away every single day of your life. i have a similar situation (having to do with withdrawals). and as the years have gone by, i've found myself more comfortable addressing why that period of time happened in my life....
    but i definitely know how you feel. because at times i still feel very embarrassed about it---ESPECIALLY in a world of pre-meds, where many peers haven't experienced the same kinds of difficulties or don' t have the same blemishes...

    (but always remember that many others DO have certain dark periods in their past too, it's just that you don't always hear about it from them. so it's easier to feel like the only one).

    hope that helps! you will do fine....good luck :)
     
  4. Chieka

    Chieka Senior Member
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    Suicidal depression may not be something to be proud of, but I don't think it's something to be ashamed of. I hope you are not beating yourself up for it.

    I think it's admirable that you survived that stage of your life and progressed to college, even doing well enough to consider applying to med school. I believe adcoms will appreciate that too.

    C.

    P.S. And SHAME on that school for kicking you out!:mad:
     
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  5. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    Yeah, I was pretty mad about getting kicked out...they didn't even let me go back to my dorm to pack my stuff...made my parents come up and do it. :(

    Unfortunately I didn't learn my lesson then...I've made it back into the hospital twice at this college...luckily the adminstration here isn't so involved (I don't think they know, and if they do, they don't care!) :) I do worry that this history doesn't bode well for my future in medicine, but that's another story....

    Anyway, do you think I should actually list the first school on my application, since then I'll definitely be asked about it, or just leave it off and answer any questions that come up in the interview? I agree that some degree of honesty is good...though it's hard for me to decide between you guys' opinions that I should either chalk it up to "personal problems" or actually go into more detail, using it as an example of overcoming a difficult situation?

    Thanks for the input!
     
  6. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    maybe I could just mention it briefly (and positively?) in my personal essay. At first glance, though, that doesn't sound like a great idea to me.
     
  7. X

    X

    Alright, at first glance I thought you may not have to list institutions that you didn't earn any credit at, but I checked the AMCAS instruction booklet and it says (on page 23) that you have to do that. So I would. Have you not sent in your AMCAS app yet, or are you talking about secondaries?
    However, I don't think its that big of a deal. I don't think most places will ask, however there is that one dude who is just curious. Just tell them that you had a medical reason and thus had to leave school because of it. If they press about it, you can tell them that you were severly depressed. That should satisfy their curiousity.

    X
     
  8. I wish you the best.

    One thing, though - be prepared to explain/prove that you are now mentally up to the task of med school/being a doctor. Please don't think that I am speculating on your status, but if your past problems come up in an interview, be prepared for the follow-up questions. Again, you can use this as a positive showing how mentally fit you are now.
     
  9. academic skeleton...bad pun

    good luck karen. im certain youve solved whatever problems plagued you in the past. it might even be useful, if not risky, to mention how you've changed and what youve done to cope with sorrow. this sort of development might impress the admissions committee. The obvious alternative is that they might be taken aback by the measures you once considered.

    Just some thoughts... i wish you the best, karen.
     
  10. gramcracker

    gramcracker Emergency Medicine Attending
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    Chieka said it best. But I'm going to repeat it anyway. :>

    Depression is not something you should be ashamed of--no mental illness is. (You shouldn't be ashamed of having cancer or diabetes--and it's time people give parody to mental illness as well.) Explain it how you want--sometimes it just depends on the feeling you get from the interviewer. I'd probably just say I had some personal problems I had to work out, but make it clear that you can handle medical school stressors.

    Good for you for not losing sight of your interest in medicine, even with the challenges you've faced; you'll probably be a much more compassionate and understanding doctor than those who have never tackled mental health problems. And that school that kicked you out should be ashamed. That's a terrible way to treat its students.
     
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  11. So terrible that I question the statement's veracity. Karen, if what you said is the whole truth I urge you to bring this issue to the school's attention. Is it just me or would expulsion motivate further depression? The ****ing school put your life in jeapordy. Raise hell!
     
  12. closertofine

    closertofine Emerging from hibernation
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    Thanks again for the responses...though there's no way I can "prove" to you that the school kicked me out, it's absolutely true...I was shocked and horribly upset at the time...but I've heard that it was mainly because the school has an intense environment and has had several suicides (actually strings of suicides) in the past. So they didn't want to hurt their reputation any further.

    I'll have to think some more about whether or not to mention it... I'm thinking not, since it seems like I would be putting up a huge, unnecessary red flag...though this issue has been important in my development. Seriously, though, I do think it is/was largely biochemical...even without any major "issues," I could feel unexplainably bad without the right medication.

    Hopefully I can move past this for med school, right?!
     
  13. I think so.
     

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