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Returning to undergrad... a plan

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by pairofcats, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. pairofcats

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    Hello again.

    I recently posted here, and I was pleasantly encouraged by some of the responses. I am considering going back to undergrad to take the pre-med courseload. If it doesn't work out, well, at least I tried. I have some questions regarding how to manage the transition from full-time work back to undergrad again (and even to med school... gulp).

    My case is more complicated than some and less complicated than others. Monetarily I can afford the cost of UG classes + no income for the next several years, if need be (although med school will place me into massive debt, as normal). If my fiancee and I live frugally, we can survive without huge problems.

    On the other hand, my fiancee is currently getting her PhD, which means that I am trying to schedule this to maximize the number of years we spend together. More than, say, 2 years apart would not be good. That being said, my current plan is to go back to school ASAP and apply to med school when she has 2 years left of her PhD program. I have several options.

    A) Super-fast Plan: Take classes at a CC this spring and summer. Take classes at a state university during fall/spring. Apply to med school Spring 2010.
    Problems: While this gives me the earliest possible start date, I will also be in danger of doing poorly in courses due to the super-accelerated timeframe. I am also worried that, say, community college gen chem will not prepare me for Big State University organic chem, and in order to finish on time I will absolutely HAVE to take courses at a CC. (This plan may not even be possible anyway; I took A&P and Gen Bio back in college, and a semester of Chem, but I would be terrified of transitioning right into, say, organic chemistry my first semester back. So I'd have to retake EVERYthing.)

    B) Normal-pace plan: Take a course during the spring semester. If it works out, cut dramatically back on work to focus on taking 2 courses in summer and then start school full-time in Fall 2009. Apply to med schools Spring 2011.
    Problems: Seems like the most "natural" option to me, but I will be entering med school during my fiancee's final year of PhDing. Seems like it could cause job-application problems for her, because her geographical area will be limited to jobs that are near me and my medical school. If I only got into med school at, say, some really isolated university where there were no jobs for my fiancee, I am not sure I would be able/willing to go there.

    C) Slow-pace plan: Work a year, taking classes part-time. Apply to med schools in Spring 2012. This plan lets me apply to med schools at the exact same time my fiancee will be applying for teaching jobs, which might increase the odds of us ending up geographically nearby one another.
    Problems: The extra wait to start school; I'll be "old" by the time I finally start working. On the plus side, grades will probably be all As.

    D) Super-slow pace plan: Wait til my fiancee gets a university job before I apply. Apply to med schools Spring 2013+.
    Problems: Class of 2018. Yipes. Oh, and what if I waited all that time and the university job goes sour?..

    Other thoughts: For those of you who began at community colleges before transitioning back to a normal uni, did the CC classes actually prepare you enough for the advanced courses? I'm terrified that CC bio will lead to me doing terribly in upper-level bio courses, or chem, or anything. But at the same time, community college courses let me start sooner, work a bit, et cetera, before making the Big Plunge back into undergraduate. I would love to be able to start soon, but I am not convinced enough by med school yet to just quit my job right this second.

    Thank you for any suggestions you may have. I really appreciate it. :) If you think I am missing something, or am nuts or deluded, do let me know.
     
  2. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    The speed/pace that you take your courses is dependent upon your performance in those courses. If you have been away from academics, it's very wise to take one course and get As period. If things work out well for you in terms of one course, try two the next semester.

    What you can't do is load up and earn Cs in your work. It's nice that you want to spend as much time as possible with your SO but get a schedule and then work around it. Things have a way of working out when you do some planning first. If both of you are busy with your coursework and research, then just being in the vicinity of each other is worse than planning a romantic weekend every week where you can totally concentrate on each other without distractions.

    My fiancé and I moved in together when I was accepted into medical school. Most of the time, even though we lived under the same roof, he didn't see very much of me. We had to schedule time for each other.
     
  3. ruraldr

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    If you are serious about trying to become a doctor, I would make sure to give yourself enough time pre-application to be fully ready to apply. I was advised to try to do the pre-reqs in non CC schools.

    You need to make sure that not only you have time to take the pre-reqs and do well in them, but also time to study for and do well with the MCAT.

    You'll want to leave enough time to be ready to get your application in early in the cycle you eventually apply to.

    This is my second application cycle. I rushed classes and the MCATs to be able to apply in time for last year's cycle--and ended up needing to apply a second time. Although I'm now accepted in a school I love from this cycle, I could have saved time, money and frustration if I had taken it more slowly.

    Feel free to PM me if you have more specific questions!
     
  4. aunt ethel

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    I like Plan B. If you apply broadly and have done well in your prereq courses, you should have several geographical options for med school. In that point in your fiance's (spouses?? how long are you planning to be engaged???) program, she should have an idea which cities would have the best options for her, and then you can choose the geographical area together and just commit to it.

    Good luck. :luck:
     
  5. sindadel

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    I like plan C. You guys can kind of do couples match. If you both apply broadly, then you should both be able to get an acceptable position.
     
  6. betterlate

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    1. Don't take your prereqs at a a community college as this will limit your options for medical school. Many med schools won't accept coursework from a community college. Since your options may already be limited geographically by your fiance's options, you want to be as flexible as possible in where you're able to apply.

    2. Take classes at a rate that will allow you to excel. It won't help you to get everything done quickly if your grades are sub-optimal. Likewise, you want to have time to put in as much study time as you need to really nail the MCAT.

    3. I think the age question is something of a straw man argument. I've seen it mentioned a lot around the forums ('...but I'll be XYZ age by then!'). You'll be XYZ age no matter what. The question is do you want to be XZY age and be a doctor or be XYZ age or be something else. Don't let your age deter you from following your dreams. If this is what you want to do, do it. You'll be happier for it in the end.

    Good luck!
     
  7. pairofcats

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    Thank you all for your replies. :)

    I have a question that might make my asking somewhat moot. How long does it take to get through pre-reqs AND the mcat, if you have none currently done? It looks like it takes two years to get through chem and bio; I'm assuming physics/math can be done at one's convenience. But it looks like planning for this to take two years is a little nuts, because as soon as you're done with organic chem/year 2 you have to take the MCAT and then apply IMMEDIATELY. Did any of you do this, or is it common to wait the year and apply in the next cycle?

    Thank you once more.
     
  8. aunt ethel

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    Why is it bad to take the MCAT and apply "IMMEDIATELY" when you're done with you're prereqs?

    Personally, taking the MCAT at the end of my last semester of classes (May) was a bit stressful due to finals but good because most of the info was pretty fresh in my brain.

    Also, the application process takes about a year, so if you waited a year before applying, what would you do? If you had something in mind that might boost your application (upper level bio, research, etc) then that would work out just fine, if you wanted to wait for better timing with your fiance. Otherwise, by applying immediately, you're still looking at a 3 year plan.
     

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