Jul 9, 2016
5
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hi everyone,

Here's my story: I'm just beginning my journey into medicine. I've been out of school for almost 10 years. Have some college credits but never received a degree. I just turned 30 this summer and FINALLY truly realized that becoming a doctor is what I want to do after many, many years feeling lost and confused about what career field I should go into. I understand the sacrifices and I'm at peace with everything and am focused and determined to see it through. I've been trying to research and grasp the basics of what steps to take to get there but I need some advice.

The little amount of time I was in school, I accumulated F's and W's like I was collecting Pokemon (gotta catch 'em all!). My school has a "Fresh Start" program that will exclude grades and withdrawals that are detrimental to a student’s grade point average. They will stay on my transcript but won't be factored into my cumulative GPA. However, from my understanding MD schools will still factor in any and all grades on a student's transcript.

So my questions is, since I can't hide from my past, how do I proceed into the future to make adcomms view my record in the best light? I initially wanted to retake all of those classes to receive A's but is it a waste of time? I'm also starting this Fall at a community college. I will be getting my A.A. in Liberal Arts before transferring to a state school. I wanted to bust out some med pre-reqs (to save time and money) so should I instead focus on that? Or should I take most of them at state/university so they aren't viewed as "not as challenging courses". The degree takes 60 credits and the school only allows me to take up to 150% (90 credits) of the program's credit time before I must graduate.

Any help is appreciated. I'm glad to have found this forum. It's nice to find a group of people in the same boat or have already gone through the path of a non-trad.
 

Eccesignum

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Unfortunately you're correct, those F's and W's will still appear on your official transcript and will factor into your eventual GPA.

Do note that DO schools practice what's called grade replacement, which means if you go back and retake those F and W courses at the same or greater credit amount, DO schools will only look at the second grade (the first will not factor in at all). Needless to say this is great for many people and can shoot a low GPA way up if that's something you can do.

MD schools on the other hand will average the grades, so a retake of an F with an A will still come out to a C. You're still potentially not dead in the water, though.

Since you don't have a bachelor's degree you're in a slightly better spot than some, as you have a full road ahead of you. And if that road is spotless from here on out then you might have a chance to come out ahead. Do not do your pre-reqs at your CC if it's an option to do it at the 4-year. Some schools will outright not accept CC-acquired pre-reqs, and although you won't be totally out of the race if you do that you'll be limiting your options. Can you not attend the four-year totally rather than transferring with an AA? It would be a better picture overall if you could.

What's your current cGPA and sGPA? All classes included, from the moment you walked into college first. I'll attach a GPA calculator in case you need one. You'll need to break at least a 3.0 cGPA to prevent being autoscreened, so plug in your classes and get an idea of how much work it's going to take you.

With a string of poor grades in the past you'll need to really ace everything that's ahead of you. The good news is, with a rigorous, sustained courseload that shows beyond a doubt that you've been academically rehabilitated, and with a strong MCAT and an ending GPA that won't get you autoscreened, you may end up in a decent position. Of course this is harder than it sounds and you need to understand that the competition is nasty. Every year 60% of applicants don't get in, and that's including young'uns with a flawless GPA and 95th percentile MCAT. It's always a big risk. Remember that successful applicants also have strong ECs, such as work history, volunteering, and clinical experience. These are must-dos apart from academics.

I was in a similar situation myself -- dropped out late in college 10+ years ago with a GPA around 2.7, and a string of dismal F's and W's much like you. Got an associate's degree later in order to enter a particular field. When I made the choice to be pre-med I went back to a four year and completed a new bachelor's degree from the ground up. By the time I was done I had a 3.28 cumulative but a very high science GPA (as my former missed attempt at a degree had involved zero science) and a competitive MCAT. With all that, plus some unusual ECs that really worked for me, I was successful. Again, many people are not, and you do need to understand that nothing is guaranteed. But it's been done.

Good luck to you.
 

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DokterMom

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Excellent answer above :claps:

I would like to add though that Texas has an academic forgiveness policy that allows you to start over after 10 years where your previous bad academic record will truly disappear for Texas medical schools. So if moving is an option, that's something to consider.

But in general, 10 years is a long time. While your old grades will show up, AdComs will pay much more attention to your newer results and the path you took from 'screw up' to redemption.
 
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OP
G
Jul 9, 2016
5
5
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Wow, thanks Eccesignum for taking the time to reply to me in length. I am so appreciative! :)


Do not do your pre-reqs at your CC if it's an option to do it at the 4-year. Some schools will outright not accept CC-acquired pre-reqs, and although you won't be totally out of the race if you do that you'll be limiting your options. Can you not attend the four-year totally rather than transferring with an AA? It would be a better picture overall if you could.

Ideally, I would love to jump right into the University, it is a good research school which would hopefully give me some research and lab experience before I'm through. However, I wasn't kidding when I said I had a sad and laughable transcript. So I'm having to start at my local CC to raise my GPA and show that I am competitive enough to handle the rigors of school. I do intend on transferring to the University and do think I have a chance as they are IS friendly.



What's your current cGPA and sGPA? All classes included, from the moment you walked into college first. I'll attach a GPA calculator in case you need one. You'll need to break at least a 3.0 cGPA to prevent being autoscreened, so plug in your classes and get an idea of how much work it's going to take you.
All right, here it goes...current cGPA is 0.9 :barf::dead:+pity+ No sGPA as of yet. 5 F's, 2 W's, the rest A's. I have 29 credits, which I believe is about what a student at the end of Freshman year would have around. So if I calculated it right, by the time I finish my A.A. if I aced every. single. course I could sit at a 3.2 And as crazy as it sounds, I think I could do it. I'm in a total different mindset. If I think about it, I guess one positive thing about sitting stagnant in my life for a decade is that I'm refreshed and determined. And truthfully, I don't think I'm a bad student. When I put my mind to things, I can succeed. Different scenario but I was an honor student all throughout HS. However, when I was in my dark place, I really let it take control. I don't need to make excuses, but dealing with some emotional issues, feeling burnt out, and not understanding the consequences of my actions until it was too late was what led me to a rocky year.




With a string of poor grades in the past you'll need to really ace everything that's ahead of you. The good news is, with a rigorous, sustained courseload that shows beyond a doubt that you've been academically rehabilitated, and with a strong MCAT and an ending GPA that won't get you autoscreened, you may end up in a decent position.

I didn't explain the rest of my plans but I think by the time I apply to med school I should have some great shadowing experience which I am starting now, nice EC's and volunteer work. I'm not underestimating the MCAT by any means, but I've always been a good test taker so hope with ample practice I will get a good score. Because of my GPA I also plan on doing an SMP to prove I can handle med school. I was just curious about how I should handle those ugly F's and W's.

Thanks again for your support and kind words.
 
OP
G
Jul 9, 2016
5
5
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Excellent answer above :claps:

I would like to add though that Texas has an academic forgiveness policy that allows you to start over after 10 years where your previous bad academic record will truly disappear for Texas medical schools. So if moving is an option, that's something to consider.

But in general, 10 years is a long time. While your old grades will show up, AdComs will pay much more attention to your newer results and the path you took from 'screw up' to redemption.
Thank you for the tip, I didn't know about Texas' academic forgiveness policy. I wish Texas was an option, would love to take advantage of their tuition rate, but with being a non-trad, I've got some baggage like many, which includes my SO owning a successful business in town. It wouldn't be fair. Ideally, I wish I had all my options open but I also have to be realistic about things too and think locally which I know is going to greatly limit my options.
 

Eccesignum

I Narcanned Your Honor Student
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Oct 13, 2011
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Wow, thanks Eccesignum for taking the time to reply to me in length. I am so appreciative! .:)


Do not do your pre-reqs at your CC if it's an option to do it at the 4-year. Some schools will outright not accept CC-acquired pre-reqs, and although you won't be totally out of the race if you do that you'll be limiting your options. Can you not attend the four-year totally rather than transferring with an AA? It would be a better picture overall if you could.

Ideally, I would love to jump right into the University, it is a good research school which would hopefully give me some research and lab experience before I'm through. However, I wasn't kidding when I said I had a sad and laughable transcript. So I'm having to start at my local CC to raise my GPA and show that I am competitive enough to handle the rigors of school. I do intend on transferring to the University and do think I have a chance as they are IS friendly.
.



What's your current cGPA and sGPA? All classes included, from the moment you walked into college first. I'll attach a GPA calculator in case you need one. You'll need to break at least a 3.0 cGPA to prevent being autoscreened, so plug in your classes and get an idea of how much work it's going to take you.
All right, here it goes...current cGPA is 0.9 :barf::dead:+pity+ No sGPA as of yet. 5 F's, 2 W's, the rest A's. I have 29 credits, which I believe is about what a student at the end of Freshman year would have around. So if I calculated it right, by the time I finish my A.A. if I aced every. single. course I could sit at a 3.2 And as crazy as it sounds, I think I could do it. I'm in a total different mindset. If I think about it, I guess one positive thing about sitting stagnant in my life for a decade is that I'm refreshed and determined. And truthfully, I don't think I'm a bad student. When I put my mind to things, I can succeed. Different scenario but I was an honor student all throughout HS. However, when I was in my dark place, I really let it take control. I don't need to make excuses, but dealing with some emotional issues, feeling burnt out, and not understanding the consequences of my actions until it was too late was what led me to a rocky year.


.

With a string of poor grades in the past you'll need to really ace everything that's ahead of you. The good news is, with a rigorous, sustained courseload that shows beyond a doubt that you've been academically rehabilitated, and with a strong MCAT and an ending GPA that won't get you autoscreened, you may end up in a decent position.

I didn't explain the rest of my plans but I think by the time I apply to med school I should have some great shadowing experience which I am starting now, nice EC's and volunteer work. I'm not underestimating the MCAT by any means, but I've always been a good test taker so hope with ample practice I will get a good score. Because of my GPA I also plan on doing an SMP to prove I can handle med school. I was just curious about how I should handle those ugly F's and W's.

Thanks again for your support and kind words..

Only twenty-nine credits? Oh, you shouldn't have a problem GPA-wise if you're solid for the next few years. I had nearly 150 wrapped up in my 2.7, so you're ahead of where I was :) I highly doubt you'll need an SMP unless you trip somewhere along this line and your grades take a second hit. Your GPA will likely be lower than the average just looking at your cumulative, but the amount of time that's passed between your poor grades and your theoretically shiny new ones will mean a lot.

I think you're on the right path, and you seem to understand the non-academic side of the workload too, which is a good thing (many people don't). Take it one step at a time, continuously re-evaluate where you are, and go gettum :)
 
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OP
G
Jul 9, 2016
5
5
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Do not do your pre-reqs at your CC if it's an option to do it at the 4-year. Some schools will outright not accept CC-acquired pre-reqs, and although you won't be totally out of the race if you do that you'll be limiting your options.
How common are schools that do not accept any CC pre-req's? Does there happen to be a list, on MSAR's, or another or do I need to search on a school's website/contact administration? So far, I've only looked at a handful of school requirements and may have wrongly assumed that, while not ideal, CC credits are acceptable. The growing population of non-trads and I thought I read somewhere that even "regular" undergrads, for reasons of economy, benefit of still living with parents, lower cost attend CC start there and transfer. I suppose though that not everyone is looking to apply to med school and the competition between those that are make having CC pre-req's look no so hot.

I will probably have some science courses done at my CC since it's a requirement for the A.A. but if I continue at a 4-year and take higher level science courses that should look okay, right?
 

Eccesignum

I Narcanned Your Honor Student
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How common are schools that do not accept any CC pre-req's? Does there happen to be a list, on MSAR's, or another or do I need to search on a school's website/contact administration? So far, I've only looked at a handful of school requirements and may have wrongly assumed that, while not ideal, CC credits are acceptable. The growing population of non-trads and I thought I read somewhere that even "regular" undergrads, for reasons of economy, benefit of still living with parents, lower cost attend CC start there and transfer. I suppose though that not everyone is looking to apply to med school and the competition between those that are make having CC pre-req's look no so hot.

I will probably have some science courses done at my CC since it's a requirement for the A.A. but if I continue at a 4-year and take higher level science courses that should look okay, right?
.


The MSAR gives a nice checklist for each school that shows what their pre reqs are and whether they accept them from CC or not. DO schools I'm not sure if there's a list in one place or not.

It's honestly a judgement call. People get in with CC pre reqs, certainly. For some doing it otherwise isn't an option and some schools don't mind. Some will be strict about it. The path of least resistance is to do them at a four year as then you don't deal with the "but will x school accept then" issue.

If you can't then just be aware there's going to be a little more legwork involved when it comes time to apply, and you may find yourself being told no by some schools. It's up to you to decide what your best course is.

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NoTownPreMed

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How common are schools that do not accept any CC pre-req's? Does there happen to be a list, on MSAR's, or another or do I need to search on a school's website/contact administration? So far, I've only looked at a handful of school requirements and may have wrongly assumed that, while not ideal, CC credits are acceptable. The growing population of non-trads and I thought I read somewhere that even "regular" undergrads, for reasons of economy, benefit of still living with parents, lower cost attend CC start there and transfer. I suppose though that not everyone is looking to apply to med school and the competition between those that are make having CC pre-req's look no so hot.

I will probably have some science courses done at my CC since it's a requirement for the A.A. but if I continue at a 4-year and take higher level science courses that should look okay, right?
.

I purchased the MSAR last year, a majority of schools I've looked listed "CC courses as case-by-case basis". I'm currently and plan on finishing the majority of my post-bacc courses at my local community college by the way. When finances are factored in for some of us nontrads, going to school for cheap and in some cases free at a local CC beats paying thousands at university.
 
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OP, it's kind of a moot point how CC classes look in your case, because your GPA is too atrocious for you to attend a four year school anyway. So you have no choice but to start at a CC, and worrying about "how it looks" is pointless. End of discussion.

Here's what I'd recommend:

1) Go to the CC, but only if you're prepared to get straight As. Whatever was going on before, no more shenanigans now if you're serious about med school.

2) Plan on transferring to a four year school after 1-2 years. I don't know where you are, but here in FL, many of our CCs have linkage programs with one of the state universities. If your CC does that too, find out what you need to do to transfer, and plan on transferring as soon as possible (even before receiving the AA if possible, but at the end of your AA if not).

3) Take the minimum number of med school prereqs possible at the CC level. Any classes you do take there should definitely be followed up by higher level classes at the state U. So for example, if you take gen chem and organic chem at the CC, take biochem at the state U.

4) Definitely do start accumulating clinical experience (shadowing, volunteering, work) now. It is better to do a little over a long period of time than to try to cram a lot in right before you apply.

5) In your PS, definitely do explain that you had to go to the CC first to overcome the failing initial GPA. As someone else already mentioned, while adcoms do not generally like to see a lot of CC classes, some people have no choice. You are one of those people. And in spite of their bias against CC classes, most med schools do consider CC credits on a case by case basis. I don't think anyone would hold it against you for attending a CC when that is your only option, provided you do well there and also at the state U once you transfer.
 
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