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Hey guys, I'm a 4th year student at a University in Ontario, Canada.

I'm currently in an Honors Biochemistry program, hoping to graduate this April/May after 2nd semester.

My university uses a weird 12 pt. scale for grading, so I'm going to estimate and say that I'm between 3.4-3.7 GPA according to Ontario conversions anyway. Probably closer to 3.5-3.6. I've taken the MCATs and got a 32S, with a 9 in Bio. Last year a lot of my older friends with (much) better stats didn't get accepted into Canada either, and very few got accepted into the US after applying to over 20+ schools. They were closer to 3.8, and some even had higher MCATs.

My stats aren't good enough for Canada so I've been looking at Post-Bacc. programs in the US.

Now, I'm really confused about this Harvard Extension Program. I've recently been doing a lot of research into SMP programs, and I think if I retake my MCAT this spring and do well, then doing an SMP to boost my GPA would probably the best thing to do (most SMPs boost 70%+ acceptance rates into medical schools, that's insanely good!). Here in Canada, I know my University had 5000-6000 applicants for an entering class of around 120? Yeah, sucks :(

Anyways, this Harvard Extension Program (the Health Careers Program)...I've been reading up on it for hours now, and I'm still super confused about it. I'm in a Science program, so I've already taken Physics, Biology's, Chemistry's, a year's worth of English, and a lot of Biochemistry along with a Thesis and plenty of lab classes.

Does this program mean I would be repeating these science courses? I mean I guess I'd be fine with that as I would like to get definitely get higher marks in most of the courses. And medical schools (top tier medical schools from what I'm reading) end up taking students who finish this program? This seems better than doing an SMP then!

I know I'm not reading it right, maybe someone can explain? And from my research, the courses in the HCP aren't actually offered at Harvard, but like some side college open to everyone?

It just seems too good to be true...get accepted with a not-so-stellar GPA, finishing a program offered by Harvard :eek: in a year or even 2, and then getting accepted into not just any medical schools, but Top tier ones i.e. Harvard's own medical school, John Hopkins...

Please enlighten me, I would appreciate it!
 
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jslo85

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Just a couple clarifications.

HCP does not equal SMP

If you've finished all of the medical pre-reqs, you are not eligible for pre-med post-baccs, but are restricted to either AE post-bacc programs (UT Dallas, UPenn SSP, etc) or SMPs (BU MAMS, GTown SMP, Tufts MBS, etc). Premedical formal programs are very adamant on taking in students who are not using them for remedial purposes.

Harvard Extension is an extension. You are taught by the faculty at Harvard in some occasions (maybe all, no personal experience so I'll come out and tell you what I'm not 100% sure on) but you are not a Harvard student by any means. It is also an open extension program from my understanding meaning they accept anyone who is willing to pay though they may try dissuading you if they don't feel your situation is very applicable.

No, you're really reading too much into it. HES offers UG classes and for many non-traditionals, this works out extremely well because the classes are offered at night allowing them to conduct their clinical activities which should be plentiful around Boston as well as other things. HES is also unique in that they offer "sponsorship" but again, you do not apply since you're not a non-traditional. It is a very successful program both for their cheap tuition and overall efficacy over the years but your situation really does not apply. And no, I can willing to challenge anyone who states that HES is a stepping stone point between top medical schools such as JHU or Harvard so I have no idea what you have been spending hours reading.

If your GPA is truly a 3.5-3.6 and you have a 32 MCAT, I would just apply early next June when AMCAS begins and submit my app to many midtier schools. Your stats should land you a few interviews provided you have strong LOR and CV.

Again, for other people reading.. HES is not a program that caters to people who have taken the medical pre-reqs and yes it is a great program for many of the reasons I have cited above and no, it will most likely not get you into top medical schools but it has a proven track record of getting their succcessful students into medical school.
 
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Thanks for your response.

http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=186028

That thread has people posting they've gotten into top tier medical schools.

Even if it wasn't a top tier medical school...you're telling me that non-science students can enter this program (or other Extension programs at other schools) and do the intro science courses and get into medical school? I don't even care if it's top tier or not.

I mean, this seems like a giant loop-hole, no? Go to this program, do intro science courses for 1, maybe 2 years, get sponsorship, get into medical school?

It's so cheap, too. Compared to SMPs, this is basically free.

I'm definitely not reading this right I guess. But I find it hard to believe that traditional students who got a low GPA have to pay $30,000-$40,000 for SMPs, while non-traditional students with low GPA have to pay maybe 1/3 of that and get a chance to go to Top tier medical schools, all the while having Harvard back them up in the process.
 

jslo85

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Not a giant loophole, it's not the program itself that sends you into medical school, it's your own performance and the whole application. What is so appealing about HES is it's low tuition, it's reputation of being a rigorous academic program despite being an open extension program and the sponsorship letter that indicates that you have the support of the Harvard faculty. Reputation goes a long way in SMPs and formal programs (each for different reasons) which is why programs such as Scripps, BM and Goucher are able to boast that they have a virtual 100% acceptance rate into medical school for their successful students. Schools know their program works and hold the students coming out of said programs in high esteem.

Even if it wasn't a top tier medical school...you're telling me that non-science students can enter this program (or other Extension programs at other schools) and do the intro science courses and get into medical school? I don't even care if it's top tier or not.
If you spent hours reading (I hope it was broadly over formal programs and not just that one thread), then you would know that pre-medical formal programs cater purely towards non-traditionals. The "elite" ones like Goucher, BM, Scripps and JHU usually only take those with a 3.7+ GPA. They apply a very intensive curriculum supplemented with small class sizes and solid advising to create a quality finished product in their students.

I personally don't see what loophole that you're really talking about. Anyone who takes the bare minimum medical pre-reqs and MCAT can apply to medical school. Whether that takes you a year and a cram filled summer or two years is subjective. For the HES sponsorship, you have to obviously be in good standing academically as well as achieve a certain GPA (don't remember this one off the top of my head) and the faculty writes you a letter "sponsoring" you as a good candidate for medical school. So on completion "successfully", you have a) a solid LOR from reputable evaluators and b) you have grades from a widely recognized formal program. Whether you get into medical school would be based off your own MCAT, the rest of your LORs, your PS, and your CV. If you're taking a thread that people posted in 5-6 years ago as the one and only source, then well then the sample size is a nice n=2 (both students were ivy league graduates themselves with one from Harvard already and we have zero idea of their MCAT scores, CV, LORs, background, conections, etc)

An SMP (Special Masters program) is for students who usually have had a troubled uGPA and have completed all medical pre-reqs and most likely have taken the MCAT (sometimes the case) to take medical school classes at the medical school, usually with the medical students and are graded against their curve. So since HES is undergrad (SMP is graduate), at an extension program (SMP @ medical school), classmates of various non-traditional backgrounds (SMP with medical students), HES you have sponsorship (some SMPs you have guaranteed admission), I mean the comparisons stack up. You shouldn't even be comparing a UG pre-medical formal program against that of an SMP.

Regardless, again, yes HES is a great program. Yes it's cheap. Yes you have a very good chance upon successful completion and with sponsorship to enter medical school if you have the other parts of your application. No, you in particular will not need an SMP or any other type of program if you apply early next June with all the other parts of your app.
 
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Interesting and thanks.

So since most of those programs are designed for non-traditionals...are there any "elite" programs with the rep for science/traditional students that having something similar to sponsoring students? Or is it just SMP?

The cost + the acceptance rates are the main draw for me (and probably everyone).

I'm guessing SMPs are the only path then for traditional students? Wish there was something like Scripss/BM/Goucher/HES for science folk.

If you're taking a thread that people posted in 5-6 years ago as the one and only source, then well then the sample size is a nice n=2 (both students were ivy league graduates themselves with one from Harvard already and we have zero idea of their MCAT scores, CV, LORs, background, conections, etc)
That's the only thread I can find. Unless you can find anything else, then yes that's the only basis we have. You sound pretty condescending in your answers, even after I point out that I'm probably not understanding anything : \

If you spent hours reading (I hope it was broadly over formal programs and not just that one thread)
You really think I would spend hours reading 1 thread?

then you would know that pre-medical formal programs cater purely towards non-traditionals. The "elite" ones like Goucher, BM, Scripps and JHU usually only take those with a 3.7+ GPA.
Nope, did not know that, which is why I made the thread. I've only looked up the HES so far, and it only specified that the Diploma from HES was designed for non-trad students, while it still said others are able to take courses.

Not quite sure I'll wait 'till June to apply to US med schools since a) I still don't think my chances are that great, and should I not get interviews/accepted then it may be a complete waste of a year waiting for replies b) There will still be a year between applying and starting medical school, not sure what I'll do then

So I'm not ready to take a gamble on that and I'd rather just go through some kind of Post-Bacc. program.
 

jslo85

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So since most of those programs are designed for non-traditionals...are there any "elite" programs with the rep for science/traditional students that having something similar to sponsoring students? Or is it just SMP?
Not that I know of nor is there any that have caught attention on SDN at least. HES is unique in offering the "sponsorship" which undoubtedly has contributed to their substantial succes. There are only three AE style formal programs that I know of UTD, SFSU, and UPenn SSP. UPenn SSP is probably as close as you can find to continue taking upper div sciences at a reputable institution in a formalized program sort of organization.

The cost + the acceptance rates are the main draw for me (and probably everyone).
Not all SMPs are expensive. Tulane ACP is arguably the cheapest "SMP" around though it does not grant any degree but has probably the highest acceptance rate out of any "SMP" out there. The only real requirement that they have is that yo uhave to be able to show proof that you've been waitlisted by a medical school in your application to them.

I'm guessing SMPs are the only path then for traditional students? Wish there was something like Scripss/BM/Goucher/HES for science folk.
It's not the only path. SMPs are mainly catering for those who have had a torrid UG past and have a) completed all the medical pre-reqs and b) have far too many units/too low of a GPA to realistically recover by taking more upper divivsion courses to try and improve. It's a 1-2 year commitment depending on the program and offers a semi "clean slate" in graduate GPA as opposed to tacking on more credits onto your plethora of UG units. Scripps/BM/Goucher are able to boast the numbers that they do because they heavily screen their applicants for those usually with the best stats and have other factors in their application that suggest they will be successful. I think the most "troubled" applicant they may have taken that I have heard of on SDN was Drizzt who I think said he had a 3.5-3.6. Those who consider SMPs usually have anywhere from 2.9-3.3 with MCAT scores ranging around 29-33.


That's the only thread I can find. Unless you can find anything else, then yes that's the only basis we have. You sound pretty condescending in your answers, even after I point out that I'm probably not understanding anything : \
The "condescending" tone usually comes out when an SDN member posts false conclusions supposedly based on X number of hours of research. And no, that was not pointed directly at you if you'll believe me. You are definitely not the first to begin (you didn't begin with it, I'm just generalizing) with "so I did alot of research" followed up by a popularly asked question which has been answered repeatedly for the past 5-7 years. If I offended you in any way, I apologize but I really find it hard to believe that anyone who has spent even 3 hours on this board can still ask "what is an SMP". (again not at you, saying in general)


You really think I would spend hours reading 1 thread?
No it was a dab of sarcasm that is lost when typing in size 2 Verdana font on SDN.


Nope, did not know that, which is why I made the thread. I've only looked up the HES so far, and it only specified that the Diploma from HES was designed for non-trad students, while it still said others are able to take courses.
It's an open enrollment program that is open to those of many different backgrounds. No one said you couldn't take courses from HES even if you've done the medical pre-requisites but that's not what they cater to (which is why I've used this word so often in this thread). Take Robflanker for instance, he settled on UPenn SSP but sent an app to HES anyway prior and they advised him against attending the program because he had fulfilled the pre-requisites. The strength of HES is the rigor of those pre-medical classes and the faculty which teaches them and getting the sponsorship. If you're not taking advantage of either, why would you want to relocate to Boston to attend what would be another open enrollment extension program?

Not quite sure I'll wait 'till June to apply to US med schools since a) I still don't think my chances are that great, and should I not get interviews/accepted then it may be a complete waste of a year waiting for replies b) There will still be a year between applying and starting medical school, not sure what I'll do then
Your stats aren't low and if you apply early enough with the right LOR and CV, I don't see why you wouldn't receive a few positive responses for interviews if you applied broadly enough. Worst comes to worst, apply to Tulane ACP and some MPH programs. Your GPA does not warrant an SMP nor is it worth the risk. If you can upgrade other facets of your app, it would be far more worthwhile as neither your MCAT or GPA are serious problems.

So I'm not ready to take a gamble on that and I'd rather just go through some kind of Post-Bacc. program
Really don't think your GPA (if it translates to those numbers you posted) is an issue. Neither is your MCAT. Work on getting solid LORs and more clinical activities (preceptorships with physicians, EMT certification, working as a CC at an inner city sliding scale clinic, scribe, etc) imo.
 
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Really appreciate your help.

Like I said, since I'm from Canada and my university uses a weird grading scale, I'm not 100% sure about the conversions. Could be possible that it might be lower than that. I've called 4-5 medical schools already, and all them said they couldn't tell me over the phone on how to convert the marks.

I'm not quite sure what MPH programs are and the benefits of one?

I know you're saying worst comes to worst I should apply to Tulane/other SMPs, but see, I really don't want to have to apply, find out I don't get accepted anywhere, and then apply to a SMP/Post-Bacc, wasting a year in process while also having to do 2 years for the post-bacc. I'd rather just take the ultra safe route if I can. I know I said cost is an issue, but luckily my parents have said they would pretty much give me an interest free loan and I can pay them back whenever after I graduate. Still, would prefer not to ask for a lot.

On the subject of LORs...I don't know how killer mine are at present. I have 2 from instructors in the past, but I'm not super personal with them. I just went up to them at the start of this year, asked if they could write me a reference letter, and they said np. I doubt they even remembered my name from the class of 100-150. I'm not personal with any of my profs and I'm almost certain they would all give me letters if I should ask, but it would be the same situation with all of them. Not quite sure what you mean by killer CV...? I didn't know you had to send in a CV for medical school :confused:

Again I appreciate your help. I'll rename this thread because it seems to have evolved into much more than finding out information about HES. Though I'm still slightly bitter about that :p Students with Bs are accepted into HES (according to their site) and should they do really well in those 1-2 years, they get sponsored and have Harvard behind their backs. I would kill to be in that position.

EDIT: Didn't even notice you're a regular poster. Yeah, I agree it probably does get tiring answering the same questions over and over :p But, I really do appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Not many people would do something like that. I hope you know, though, that whatever you're posting in this thread, I'm relaying to about 4 other friends who are in the same situation as me.
 
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jslo85

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Like I said, since I'm from Canada and my university uses a weird grading scale, I'm not 100% sure about the conversions. Could be possible that it might be lower than that. I've called 4-5 medical schools already, and all them said they couldn't tell me over the phone on how to convert the marks.
The medical schools have no idea themselves. If your school uses an international type of grading system that is unique compared to the US system, most if not all schools will require you to go through a lisenced record/GPA converting agency which handles these cases and converts all grades that you send them into the US numbers. I don't remember the exact names but if you can contact the admissions offices I'm sure they can refer you to the right sites/contacts. There is a fee.

I'm not quite sure what MPH programs are and the benefits of one?

I know you're saying worst comes to worst I should apply to Tulane/other SMPs, but see, I really don't want to have to apply, find out I don't get accepted anywhere, and then apply to a SMP/Post-Bacc, wasting a year in process while also having to do 2 years for the post-bacc. I'd rather just take the ultra safe route if I can. I know I said cost is an issue, but luckily my parents have said they would pretty much give me an interest free loan and I can pay them back whenever after I graduate. Still, would prefer not to ask for a lot.
Nah, I'm saying you shouldn't apply to SMPs in general. There is too much at risk for you in particular to benefit from. Again, I'm just going by the rough numbers that you gave me, but as a normal cutoff, 3.45+ is entering the range where the negatives of an SMP outweigh the positives. As an example I have a classmate that has a 31 on the MCAT(osteopathic program) and roughly a 3.0 GPA. As far as adcoms can see, that's exactly what he is from his UG record, a 3.0 student with a relatively high MCAT for this field. Unfortunately he currently has an 80% in physio and a 70% in biochem (anything below a C is an F in med) and his grades could potentially go lower since we still have the cumulative final at the end of the semester. (sorry ****** if you actually read SDN, we're still cool =D) But this just goes to show you that initially if you were a 3.0 student with a good MCAT that simply wanted to improve your GPA by attending an SMP, you could dig yourself a hole by demonstrating negatively that you are actually a C or an F student. I'm sure Guju or any of the other veteran SDN members in SMPs know of classmates in a similar situation.

What I meant was for you to submit applications to other programs (MPH for example) and medical schools at the same time. If things really don't work out, then at least you have other options and you don't waste a year. If you get waitlisted, tough, but you can send an app to Tulane ACP at that point which expects "late" applications anyway.

We don't talk about MPHs much at this subsection of this forum because the vast majority of cases deal with low GPA student who have a serious deficiency in their app. An MPH doesn't offer any hard science courses which Adcoms are looking for to demonstrate that the studnet is actually capable of handling advanced biomedical sciences unlike what his/her UG track record suggests. I believe it is an applicable option for you because your application is not deficient in that regard and would aid it by suggesting factors that you are genuinely interested in medicine and the healthcare field, valuable experience in the field, and many other things.

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse haha, but I'll say it again. If you aim mid tier schools and apply broadly, I truly believe that you will get a few positive responses if the information that you have given is accurate supposing you have all the other factors in your application. If you ultimately do not get interviews/accepted, it will not be because of your GPA or MCAT but some other factor such as your interviewing skills or that your LORs are not sufficient or strong enough or you are lacking in clinical activities. Yes you could have a better MCAT score and yes your GPA can be improved, but taking a year to attend an SMP or relocating to a formal program meant as an AE is not time or effort efficient (is this even a word) in my mind. The raw numbers are good enough to pass the cutoffs for interviews at some schools, but to gain the acceptance will require a comprehensive application and you should look into buffering those areas if you realize that you are lacking in them. Key message: apply early and broadly in the mid tier schools.

On the subject of LORs...I don't know how killer mine are at present. I have 2 from instructors in the past, but I'm not super personal with them. I just went up to them at the start of this year, asked if they could write me a reference letter, and they said np. I doubt they even remembered my name from the class of 100-150. I'm not personal with any of my profs and I'm almost certain they would all give me letters if I should ask, but it would be the same situation with all of them. Not quite sure what you mean by killer CV...? I didn't know you had to send in a CV for medical school :confused:
LORs are an important factor in your application because it gives legitamite support and credibility to many of the "claims" that you put down for E.Cs./clinical activities/your PS. Usually medical schools will require you 1-2 letters from science faculty as well as at least one physician letter. I can't tell you what a "good" LOR for you should entail, but a solid rough guideline would outline exactly what experiences you have had in his/her office or under his/her mentorship, what positive traits that he/she has observed that you exhibit that would make you a good physician, giving his/her support in your goal of entering medical school, ranking you among other students/medical students he/she has taught or worked with, etc.

What I meant by a "killer CV" is that you have a "solid" and diverse list of clinical activities that suggest that you are genuinely interested and committed to medicine and have a comprehensive knowledge of what you are getting yourself into. AACOMAS or AMCAS will ask you to fill out all the volunteer/clinical activities that you have experienced with a short description/dates/hours completed and it helps to have a structured CV with which to refer to when filling it out. Some examples of clinical activities would be (research/publications in peer reviewed journals/abstracts, EMT certifications, clinical assistant, scribe, joined mercy corp and went overseas, etc). Aside from the GPA and MCAT, I truly believe that after a certain "cut-off" is met, the rest falls to how strong your clinical activites and LOR and interviewing skills are.

Again I appreciate your help. I'll rename this thread because it seems to have evolved into much more than finding out information about HES. Though I'm still slightly bitter about that :p Students with Bs are accepted into HES (according to their site) and should they do really well in those 1-2 years, they get sponsored and have Harvard behind their backs. I would kill to be in that position.
Yeah things aren't exactly equal but I wouldn't stress over it since as a "traditional" with a decent application, you will not be spending extra time taking medical school pre-requisites but have a chance at applying directly in. Remember any year that you take off of school is in a practical sense, a year off of your peak income and another in loans. I'll give those who succeed in HES the benefit of the doubt that they earned their grades and their sponsorship. If other medical schools have that much faith in HES students and as a whole, the students who come out of this program are also successful in medical school, then their system works and the classes/grades that are issued are an accurate representation of the intensity/rigor needed to take the next step.

Good luck