recent college grad would really like your advice!

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Aug 5, 2010
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Hey everyone!

So I just graduated from TCNJ a little over a week ago with a cGPA of 3.45 and scGPA of 3.21. I retook Chem I and if you don't count the old grade my scGPA is around 3.3. I am nontraditional in the sense that I'm a psychology major who decided to go pre-med the summer after my Sophomore year of college. Fitting in all the classes required a lot of summer classes, and I consider myself successful (even if marginally). I also have not taken the MCAT. My plan is still open-ended and could entail

a) applying to the Graduate School of Biomedical Science at UMDNJ Newark, which has a medical scholar program that funnels people into UMDNJ and other med schools (though I am out of state / PA resident).

2) applying to an in-state osteopathic school such as PCOM.

3) depending on my MCAT I may apply to a few MD schools for the heck of it.

However, I am not sure when to apply and how much time I should give for MCAT studying. I am also currently trying to find a job working as a ER scribe part-time. I have been interviewed and am waiting for responses. The truth is that I have time. My parents are laid-back and willing to accommodate me through this process. The pre-med committee at TCNJ is willing to work with me long after my graduation.

So the question remains, should I take the MCAT this summer and see what I can get? My understanding is that grad schools and osteopathic schools are more flexible with MCAT scores. I may be able to get by with a few months.


Should I really try to compensate for my low GPA and study long and arduously? I have a lot of time and motivation. I could really try to give it my all and take it next year.

I would really appreciate your advice. I have posted before and found this forum really useful. Thanks in advance :)

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only DO schools do grade replacement so for MD you aren't competitive. If you really want MD, wait a year, take some upper level classes, do amazingly on them, do amazing on the MCAT 34+ and you might have a shot at MD. You need a great mcat to make up for your low gpa if you are interested in MD schools.
I graduated college with a 3.5 / 3.25 (sc) GPA (not too far off your numbers). I didn't bother applying straight out as I knew that I could become a more competitive applicant and this wasn't reflective of my true ability (a C in a chem class my sophomore yr did me in). I also wasn't sure about medicine at the time.

If you really want an MD school, I'd suggest taking more classes and bringing your numbers up (won't hurt you for DO either). I had a lot of credits so I knew the best I could do was bring my science GPA up to 3.5 and that was my aim. I'm not yet in med school, but the 3.6 / 3.5 (sc) is definitely a lot better.

I've heard a lot of folks here say get a 35+ on the MCAT or get 40+ and it will overcome part of your GPA; it probably will, but that vast majority of people don't get 35+. From experience now studying, getting to a point of scoring 30 is pretty hard. If you really think you can get a 33+ get the MCAT out of the way. I'd still take a few more classes before you apply, but getting the MCAT out of the way is HUGE!

To this point above, how long do you need to study for the MCAT is really up to you. I've read many people say don't study too far in advance. I disagree. Don't waste your time memorizing things too far in advance, but start as early as possible. Listen to the EK cds, watch videos on Khan Academy, go through wiki premed. I took classes piecemeal so an accelerated sprint to the finish was NOT what I needed. I needed to go back and review the material slowly. I needed a long time to understand things. If you have a good grasp of material, then by all means go to the 90 day plan and follow it. If not, take your time, it's not a sprint it's a marathon.

I wouldn't waste money on a graduate program. Just my opinion.
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I don't think you're a nontraditional student. Major doesn't matter, and you finished pre-med while doing your undergrad the first time around. Your scores are, unfortunately, non-competitive for MD programs, but you may be able to get an osteopathic acceptance if you apply broadly enough.
I wouldn't waste money on a graduate program. Just my opinion.

I found your response interesting, why do you think it's a waste of money?

Thanks everybody for your honesty.
The end goal is medical school. Imho, the best way to become a better applicant is to raise your MCAT score, take a few undergrad classes to boost GPA, volunteer and shadow. All those can be done for far less than a yr in grad school. Hence, I think it's a waste of money.

I found your response interesting, why do you think it's a waste of money?

Thanks everybody for your honesty.
I found your response interesting, why do you think it's a waste of money?

Thanks everybody for your honesty.

It is a waste of money if you're only applying for the grad program in hopes of funneling into an MD school. Look, the bottom line is that for every dollar you accept in student loans you're truly going further in debt. Let's assume medical school costs you $200,000 at 6.8% financing and you intend to pay that back over a 15 year period. According to, you will repay ~$320,000 ($1775 monthly for 15 years).

Now, let's theorize that you get to medical school through an OOS masters program that cost you $50,000 (I have no idea what your specific one costs - we're theorizing here). We slap that onto your already $200,000 in medical school debt for a total student loan debt of $250,000. Paid back across 15 years @ 6.8% interest and you will repay ~$400,000 ($2220 monthly for 15 years).

So, yes, a $50k two year Master's program will get you to medical school... but, in the grand scheme of things, it will cost you $80,000.

Your mileage may vary on this because your Master's program might not cost that much and/or it may be free... I'm just trying to make a larger point here for you and any others that come along. All pre-meds (I'm guilty as hell myself) worry so much about getting into medical school that they never stop to consider the financial realities at stake. "Oh, I did crappy in undergrad, but that's OK... I can just do a post-bacc." Yeah, a $25,000 one, which will amount to $45,000 after interest.

Thus, with all that said.... unless you destroy the MCAT, you're only going to be competitive at the low-tier MD schools. With a solid MCAT of 26+ you will be competitive at all of the DO schools. Just please, for your own sake, do it with the least amount of steps between A and B and with the least amount of debt incurred. It's an expensive road and $200,000 for the road is being conservative.


$67,020 x 4 years poorer (you do the math!)
Regarding graduate school, find a program that you don't have to pay tuition. I have a graduate assistantship/stipend in my program, and I only have to pay for about 25% of the tuition; I have already gotten enough scholarships to pay for half of it. Many programs will give you the tuition waiver and stipend just to work ~20 hours a week. I got to do this for 8 months, and it gave me the opportunity to work at a well-known children's hospital in the process.