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cyclin M

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Hi guys,

This is a great forum. I wish I found it earlier, but better late than never right? :D Currently my grades are not the best, but they are on the rise and in the end my cumulative/science should both be around 3.5/3.4 GPA. Now I realize that is low, but I have not taken the MCAT yet and I realize I need to conquer it. I will work my best to achieve this for sure. However, I recently attended several MSTP and MD/PhD seminars the admissions directors said they value research A LOT and research may even make up for some mediocre grades like mine. That said, currently I have 8-11 papers/publications with 2-3 first author ones...but I'm afraid because of my "numbers" the committee will never see them. Should I send them my resume right now and meet with them to discuss if it's even sane for me to apply to their school with my grades? I'm asking because I cannot apply to every school out there and need to whittle down my list to a reasonable number. Currently I'm a junior in college (public state, top 50). Thanks in advance everyone!
 
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StIGMA

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Read the FAQ at the top of the forum. The GPA that counts is you undergraduate GPA, and if it is a 3.5 that is fine if you pull a good MCAT.

I am curious why you desire the PhD. It seems you have plenty of research training... why not pursue an MD and then a postdoc, saving yourself another 4 years of pointless research? Are your a "true" junior with 8 papers/ 3 first author papers? And if so, what field? That is a PhD itself right there...

If your publications are not legitimate and you have the same amount of research background as some would presume (at most 3 years part-time), then you are in no advantage to most applicants and only a slight advantage to others. If you work is only in bioinformatics or in a non-medical field that you do not intend to pursue a PhD, then broaden your research background ASAP to include biomedical research.
 
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gstrub

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That pre-med just doesn't want you in the applicant pool when he applies...haha.

Don't worry about a 3.5. Pull a good MCAT (32+) and you'll be competitive, provided you don't have any red flags.
 
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cyclin M

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Hey thanks a lot for the replies guys. My responses are in bold below:

Read the FAQ at the top of the forum. The GPA that counts is you undergraduate GPA, and if it is a 3.5 that is fine if you pull a good MCAT.

Thanks, I will check it out haha I just found this place last night. Yeah I feel like my MCAT will make or break my chances.

I am curious why you desire the PhD. It seems you have plenty of research training... why not pursue an MD and then a postdoc, saving yourself another 4 years of pointless research? Are your a "true" junior with 8 papers/ 3 first author papers? And if so, what field? That is a PhD itself right there...

Doing research as an undergraduate with a lot of independence as been great, but I know through my interactions with the post docs here and grad students here that I am only skimming the surface. I have done what I could with the minute amount of skills I have, but even now I can feel I am running thin in the knowledge area. I am reading papers nonstop and trying to learn techniques on my own which is extremely time consuming and difficult. I am positive formal PhD training can improve my research abilities, so that's why I want the PhD.

I'm not sure what you mean by a "true" junior, but I have not skipped any grades in my life, and I have not failed any grades, so I'm the normal age you would expect a junior to be. My field is biomedical engineering, and it is essentially translational research I am doing.


If your publications are not legitimate and you have the same amount of research background as some would presume (at most 3 years part-time), then you are in no advantage to most applicants and only a slight advantage to others. If you work is only in bioinformatics or in a non-medical field that you do not intend to pursue a PhD, then broaden your research background ASAP to include biomedical research.

Haha it's definitely not bioinformatics...had to look that one up, I probably am not smart enough to do that type of research. In any case, I'm not sure what you mean by "legitimate." The 8-11 I am counting include peer reviewed journal papers and peer reviewed full conference papers. Nothing like Nature/Science/PNAS yet though.



That pre-med just doesn't want you in the applicant pool when he applies...haha.

Don't worry about a 3.5. Pull a good MCAT (32+) and you'll be competitive, provided you don't have any red flags.

Hey thanks a lot gstrub. I will take care of the MCAT. By red flags what do you mean? I do not have a criminal record, no tickets, I do not have a psychological disorder, but my GPA is the only "red flag" I guess haha. Is that what you mean?

Thanks again everyone.:)
 

StIGMA

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That pre-med just doesn't want you in the applicant pool when he applies...haha.

I am applying and interviewing right now, so :cool:.

In any case, that many papers is very unusual for any undergraduate (which is why I took a guess at bioinformatics), so good job and keep up the great work! Your GPA will not limit you except at a handful of programs (ie: perhaps WashU), but you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
 

cyclin M

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I am applying and interviewing right now, so :cool:.

In any case, that many papers is very unusual for any undergraduate (which is why I took a guess at bioinformatics), so good job and keep up the great work! Your GPA will not limit you except at a handful of programs (ie: perhaps WashU), but you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Awesome thanks a lot. So I guess the consensus is that (a) I need to ace the MCAT, and (b) because this is unusual I should send my resume to the directors ahead of time to see how much my grades will weigh in.
 

StIGMA

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(b) because this is unusual I should send my resume to the directors ahead of time to see how much my grades will weigh in.

No! It is unusual in a good way. Most people will have 0 first author publications. Moreover, your grades are well within average and not something you should worry about - just do as well as you can this semester until you graduate.
 

Jorje286

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Research experience is the most improtant component of the application. It's more important that GPA or MCAT imo. Your GPA isn't horrible anyway. It's below average but still competitive. I don't think you need to "ace" your MCAT to be competitive. A 36 should make you very good to go. So basically with 5 first author papers you're in a very good position, and just need to do be decent in the GPA and MCAT parts.
 

cyclin M

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No! It is unusual in a good way. Most people will have 0 first author publications. Moreover, your grades are well within average and not something you should worry about - just do as well as you can this semester until you graduate.

Yes I agree it is unusual in a good way. I am suggesting that I send them my resume and maybe set up a meeting with them before hand to get to know them better so they are aware of my research despite my GPA (which I am still concerned about. This is a rational concern esp. with a competitive program such as MSTP).

If you guys (maybe some current MD/PhD as well :D) could offer some input on whether its a good idea to get some pre-app exposure with my unusual resume I'd appreciate it.

Well it's getting late, thanks again for all your input so far everyone. And Happy Turkey Day.:thumbup:
 

GliaGirl

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I would not send your resume ahead of time. It'll make you look weird and desperate. Also, meeting with people ahead of time can only hurt your chances. I met with the MSTP director at my school in January (a few months before I applied), and it made it very awkward when I interviewed with him a few months later, becuase we had nothing else to talk about.

Your grades will only be a problem if you make them one. It's more important to show an upward trend than anything else, so get good grades this and next semester if you can. A 3.5 is not a bad GPA, and you have nothing to apologize for. Your publications are going to be a big boon. They will see that in the huge research essay you have to write in the application, so don't send them stuff ahead of time, unless there is one school that you KNOW you want to go to. Remember, most schools are still interviewing the last batch into Febrary and March, with revisit weekends in March. They do NOT want to be bothered by next year's applicants when they are already stressed about this year's. That's just my opinion though, so do what you think you need to do.

I have a 3.65 cumulative and a 3.5 science (or something like that, I'm too lazy to look, so it's that +/-0.02) and I don't have ANY publications, but I have a lot of quality research experience, and I've gotten tons of interviews and have already been accepted to my current top choice (still haven't seen a few programs, so I'm not sure it'll stay my top choice, but for now it's beat out everything else by a long shot).

You'll have no problem getting in somewhere. Just make sure that you apply EARLY (be done with all secondaries by September if possible) and be able to talk about the research you've done in an intelligent manner.

That being said make sure that you ace the MCAT (I'm defining ace as 35 or above). The purpose of the MCAT for me was to prove that I am in fact very intelligent, but just don't care that much about grades (I've never taken a class for an easy A). I got a 37 on the MCAT, and I think that was plenty to dispell any worries about my intelligence.

So in conclusion: don't get desperate, apply early, get awesome recommmendations (I had really good LOR from multiple departments in my school), and ace the MCAT if you can (spend a lot of time studying for this one: start now and keep on studying a little bit a day until March if you need to, and do all of the AMCAS practice tests available to you). It's not hard to get into an MD/PhD program if you play your cards right. I'm happy to answer any questions that you have. When you apply, apply broadly, but don't go overboard. There is never a reason to apply to more than 20 schools, as I found out the hard way. Limit yourself to 15 or so max. If I could do it again, that is what I would have done.
 

cyclin M

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So in conclusion: don't get desperate, apply early, get awesome recommmendations (I had really good LOR from multiple departments in my school), and ace the MCAT if you can (spend a lot of time studying for this one: start now and keep on studying a little bit a day until March if you need to, and do all of the AMCAS practice tests available to you). It's not hard to get into an MD/PhD program if you play your cards right. I'm happy to answer any questions that you have. When you apply, apply broadly, but don't go overboard. There is never a reason to apply to more than 20 schools, as I found out the hard way. Limit yourself to 15 or so max. If I could do it again, that is what I would have done.

GliaGirl thanks a lot your post really cleared my head. I was getting ahead of myself...I still have this year to improve my grades and not to mention the MCAT.

Thanks for taking time from your Turkey Day (if you celebrate it) to help me out :D
 

OddNath

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Yes I agree it is unusual in a good way. I am suggesting that I send them my resume and maybe set up a meeting with them before hand to get to know them better so they are aware of my research despite my GPA (which I am still concerned about. This is a rational concern esp. with a competitive program such as MSTP).

If you guys (maybe some current MD/PhD as well :D) could offer some input on whether its a good idea to get some pre-app exposure with my unusual resume I'd appreciate it.
I don't think this is necessary. I mean, would this meeting really change anything? If you met with one school, and they said "hmm...I don't know...", would you give up and not apply? Like they say in medicine, don't order a test unless it has a chance of changing your management.

In addition, I'm guessing you haven't taken a look at the AMCAS yet. You will have countless opportunities in your application to explain who you are, how your experiences have shaped you, and why you will be the best MD/PhD student *ever*. In fact, you will get sick of explaining these things over and over again in your personal statement, countless short essays (for secondaries), and tireless rounds of interviews. Hearing from you one more time, 1-2 years in advance, probably isn't going to change anything.

I think you're confusing "exceptional" with "unusual." Having 11 peer-reviewed publications either completed or in press is totally insane (in a positive way) for an undergrad. And your grades are fine. This is "exceptional." Had you told us that you had taken 15 years away from school to start a bakery business and did research on the side the whole time, now that would be "unusual." If you're dead-set on WashU/Hopkins or something, then check out their stats and see how you fit in. Then, apply widely and hope for the best.

To give you some perspective: I had a lopsided application too. And my grades *actually* sucked. 4 papers (2 first author), 3.4 gpa in bioeng, 30 MCAT (was going to retake it but my brother died that semester). I've done well in med school and really like the program where I am now. Seriously you need to stop freaking out :)
 

cyclin M

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I don't think this is necessary. I mean, would this meeting really change anything? If you met with one school, and they said "hmm...I don't know...", would you give up and not apply? Like they say in medicine, don't order a test unless it has a chance of changing your management.

In addition, I'm guessing you haven't taken a look at the AMCAS yet. You will have countless opportunities in your application to explain who you are, how your experiences have shaped you, and why you will be the best MD/PhD student *ever*. In fact, you will get sick of explaining these things over and over again in your personal statement, countless short essays (for secondaries), and tireless rounds of interviews. Hearing from you one more time, 1-2 years in advance, probably isn't going to change anything.

I think you're confusing "exceptional" with "unusual." Having 11 peer-reviewed publications either completed or in press is totally insane (in a positive way) for an undergrad. And your grades are fine. This is "exceptional." Had you told us that you had taken 15 years away from school to start a bakery business and did research on the side the whole time, now that would be "unusual." If you're dead-set on WashU/Hopkins or something, then check out their stats and see how you fit in. Then, apply widely and hope for the best.

To give you some perspective: I had a lopsided application too. And my grades *actually* sucked. 4 papers (2 first author), 3.4 gpa in bioeng, 30 MCAT (was going to retake it but my brother died that semester). I've done well in med school and really like the program where I am now. Seriously you need to stop freaking out :)

Hey OddNath, thanks for the input, and sorry to hear about your brother :(

You and everyone else are absolutely right. Doing this will not change anything because even if they say flat out said "no" I would've tried to get in regardless. I recognize that this is a large amount of papers, so I just need to stop worrying about what admissions people will think of me 1-2 years from now, and focus on things I can control such as my grades, MCAT performance, more research progress, etc.

Thanks for sharing your information too...alright, the freaking out has officially stopped. :D :thumbup:
 
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