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SMP vs. Fifth year of undergrad.

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Lov3, 01.15.14.

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  1. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    I would really appreciate any input. This has been weighing on my mind a lot this week.
    I'm a senior, and I've been considering staying in school another year to raise my gpa more. Until now, my plan was to apply for a 1-year-masters program in my state, but I'm starting to have doubts about if this is the best option or even if I could get into one of these programs.

    I asked my academic adviser, and she said my reasons for staying another year are good. I asked my dean of science, and he said it's best to graduate as soon as possible. I asked my boyfriend (since he would probably come with me if I moved anywhere), and he said he's okay with either one. I asked my financial aid office, and they said I'll have enough aid to cover another year of undergrad.

    Right now, I'm leaning slightly towards taking another year despite my professor's advice. Does being a super senior look especially bad for med school? I should also probably mention that if I did stay another year, I would probably retake my year of gen chem, which I think would bump my gpa up to above a 3.4 just by itself. So I think I can significantly increase my gpa. My other reasoning was if I were to take another year of undergrad, I could always go to a masters program after that, but it isn't really possible to return to undergrad and fix my gpa after graduation. Lastly, I heard that admissions committee placed more emphasis on undergrad gpa than graduate gpa (not sure if this is true?). So that was another reason I was unsure of what to do.

    Stats:
    GPA: 3.3. It's possible, but unlikely that I will break a 3.4 this semester. Also upward trend.
    MCAT: scheduled for March. If I take another year, I would probably push this back to the end of summer.
    EC's: good/decent
     
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  3. kyamh

    kyamh 2+ Year Member

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    You definitely want to get your undergrad GPA up, graduate GPAs are not given much weight since most graduate programs basically never give out anything other than As or Bs.

    An SMP, however would still count as undergrad. Why do you want to do a masters program? Not saying there are no good reasons, but if you want to go to medical school, what will a masters degree in anything bring to your education?
     
  4. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

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    Pretty sure SMPs do not count as undergrad. It's just that they're looked at slightly different since they generally consist of actual medical school courses. But they don't count into your undergrad GPA.

    OP, generally if you have any other option other than an SMP you should take it. SMPs are expensive and risky. If you do well in them, it definitely redeems poor undergrad performance. But if you do poorly (or just poorly in comparison to other people in your class), you've basically shot yourself in the foot in terms of medical admissions because you've essentially proven preemptively that you can't handle medical school coursework.
     
  5. BlueLabel

    BlueLabel 2+ Year Member

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    They don't. A Special Masters Program earns you a Masters degree and thus counts towards your graduate GPR.

    ETA: I'm not the expert on SMPs and other non-traditional options. But I will point out that the SMP might help you more (as you can only lift your GPR so much in your 9th and 10th undergraduate semesters), although it will likely have a much heftier price tag (Georgetown's SMP for example checks in at an eye-popping $45K, and that's just tuition).
     
  6. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    It would be nice to know your BCPM GPA now and as projected after an optimal 5th college year. Assuming it is lower (but above 3.0), and considering your recent downward grade trend that you discussed in another thread, staying an extra year in college to get your cGPA up to ~3.5 may not make you a particularly desirable MD candidate without a very strong MCAT score. But it would certainly make you a viable DO applicant with the chem retakes.

    Aiming to complete a true SMP, where you compete with med students for grades, earning a 3.7+ GPA , is high risk/high reward, and would make you a good candidate at many MD schools, but is still not a guarantee of an acceptance. Most of these require a 30+ MCAT score to be considered for acceptance. DO would remain an option, however.

    Post-Baccalaureate Programs Dr Midlife List: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=640302

    To choose the best path, you need to decide: Is it your goal to be a physician, whether MD or DO, or it it essential to your happiness to have an MD after your name?
     
  7. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin 10+ Year Member

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    Essentially nothing was right in this post.
     
    rellak, singler12 and notbobtrustme like this.
  8. Instatewaiter

    Instatewaiter But... there's a troponin 10+ Year Member

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    .
     
    Last edited: 02.26.14
  9. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    I don't know what my science GPA is. I've asked the advising office before how to calculate it, and I got blank stares. No one in there even knew what a science GPA was. :rolleyes: I don't know what classes count toward a science gpa, and what doesn't (for example, does a class like physiology count?) But these are the score I got in the pre-reqs.
    Biology I: B+
    Biology II: B
    Chemistry I lecture/lab: C/B-
    Chemistry II lecture/lab: C/B-
    Physics I: A
    Physics II: A-
    Organic lecture/lab I: B-/A-
    Organic lecture/lab II: taking this semester

    And to answer your question, I don't have a preference of MD or DO. However, for personal reasons, the med school I want to end up at is IUSM, and that is an MD school.
     
    Last edited: 01.15.14
  10. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    The last MCAT practice test I took was a 22, and that was before the new year. So I think the potential is there if I keep studying hard. And there are other advantages to doing a fifth year like I might push the MCAT back to the summer, take a lighter course load now, it'll be time to retake my year of gen chem. And yeah, I don't disagree with your calculations. I think retaking gen chem will bump it up slightly more, but after an entire extra year, I still won't have a glorious GPA. So it's a lot of extra work, without much reward. And I'm pretty risk averse. So I don't quite know what to do.
     
  11. MedPhys2MD

    MedPhys2MD 2+ Year Member

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    Retaking gen chem will bump it up slightly more for DO schools with grade replacement, but not for MD schools (which I'm assuming you're talking about since this is the Pre Allo forum). Even if they replace the grade for your school GPA, AMCAS will avergae both.
     
  12. MedPhys2MD

    MedPhys2MD 2+ Year Member

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    Use these tools to calculate your BCPM GPA:

    https://www.aamc.org/students/download/181694/data/amcas_course_classification_guide.pdf
    honors.usf.edu/Documents/AMCASGPA_Calculator.xls

    It includes not only the basic science classes, but any science of math class classified per the above link
     
  13. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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  14. notbobtrustme

    notbobtrustme Crux Terminatus Banned Account on Hold 2+ Year Member

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    SMP = med school audition. It's probably the single best way to shore up a low GPA. It's not really comparable to other graduate programs which involve research and independent learning. In an SMP, you will be taking some or all of the first year classes that med students take.
     
  15. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    Thanks for the links! I calculated my sGPA real quick, and assuming I did it right, I believe my sGPA is 3.234. I went ahead and looked up my cGPA, and that is 3.329.
     
  16. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Now calculate in the proposed credit hours for next semester and the extra year, assuming, say, a 3.7 GPA (or whatever you think is likely) to see what you'd potentially end with.
     
  17. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    Assuming I take a fifth undergrad year and I get an A- in every class from here on out, and A retakes in gen chem lecture and lab for both semesters, it looks like I will have a cGPA of 3.54 and an sGPA of 3.565. Graduating this year, assuming I have an A- in all my classes, I will have a cGPA of 3.376 and an sGPA of 3.327.
    Whether it will be worth it to stay another year, I cant decide.
     
  18. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Are those calculations as AMCAS would figure them, using all grades earned. Or as AACOMAS would do it, not including the Cs from the first Chem classes?

    How likely are you to earn a 3.7+ for the next three terms?

    How do you tend to do on standardized tests? Are you an intuitive test taker?

    Can you afford an SMP?
     
  19. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    I figured them doing how AACOMAS would figure them with a completely new grade. If I calculate it by AMCAS it would be cGPA 3.484 sGPA 3.476.

    I think I can make a 3.7 average. I did that my junior year for three semesters. Really its my sophmore year thats bringing me down. It wasnt like I was slacking off that year, just a lot of bad stuff happened.

    Im not a great test taker. I have a bad habit of overthinking things. But I'm a very hard worker.

    I haven't done the calculations exactly, but I think I can. I just spoke to the financial aid office yesterday about this subject, and it seems like I can.
     
  20. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    In your fifth year plans, how many upper-level Bio and Biochem classes did you include. What are they?

    Do you know if IU discriminates against reapplicants?

    Is there a more economical GPA boosting program in your home state that is a feeder program into IUSOM? Are you able to find success statistics for alums entering MD programs? Note: many such programs don't differentiate between MD and DO programs in their success statistics.

    Have you considered calling Marion, the new Indiana DO school, to find out what their acceptance parameters might be? What if they would take you as you'd be at the end of the 4th year, assuming a decent MCAT score, without the extra year or a GPA boosting program, considering you already have a strong junior year on your record?
     
  21. MedPhys2MD

    MedPhys2MD 2+ Year Member

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    Opps just saw you said AACOMAS
     
    Last edited: 01.16.14
  22. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    You bring up such good questions. If I were to do a fifth year, I would essentially be changing my major from Biology and Physical science with biology and chemistry minors to Biochemistry, no minors. I'm about four-five classes away from this. Two of those classe are intro classes that weren't required for my major (there is some chance that I might be able to get one waived), and the other three are upper level classes. Those upper level classes are proteins and enzymes (5 credit hours), which is the first half of biochemistry at my school, biochemistry (5 credit hours), and physical chemistry (3 credit hours). Although I expect my academic advisor will try to push me towards taking as few classes as possible.

    I'm pretty sure IU doesn't discriminate against reapplicants. I can't recall if there was anything about third time or above applicants. And I've always heard that IU takes care of their in-state residents.

    As far as feeder programs, there are these two:

    http://physiology.medicine.iu.edu/graduate-programs/master-of-science/
    This program admits about 25 students a year. Competitive stats are 3.4-3.6 cGPA and above a 25 MCAT. 50-70% of students accepted to medical school.

    http://biology.iupui.edu/graduate/degrees/ms
    I haven't spoken to anyone at this program so I'm not sure on their requirements. They take the GRE and not the MCAT though, and I can't find a minimum GPA, it just says students accepted with an average below 3.0 are rare.

    Both programs are about 30 credit hour, 1-year M.S. degrees, but I'm not even sure if I can get into one of these.

    I've never heard of the Marion DO school until you mentioned it. So I just looked up their admissions requirements, and at first glance, it looks like my stats match them (3.2 sGPA/cGPA minimum and a 24 MCAT). So I'll try to keep them in mind.
     
  23. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    I think it's important to consider every possible pathway and potential outcome, so you can make the most time-and monetarily-efficient choice that will get you to your goals.

    There's a good chance that if you called Marion and asked to speak to an admissions counselor that someone might listen to your personal story and tell you exactly what steps would be important to admissions consideration there. From what I've seen in the PreMedOsteo forum, the program is well thought of.

    The same may well be true of IUSOM, though considering how busy they are right now in mid-application season, they may not be so available for personalized input.
     
    Last edited: 01.16.14
  24. Lov3

    Lov3 2+ Year Member

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    I tried calling IUSM admissions office earlier, and they couldn't really tell me anything without scheduling an advising appointment. So I made a phone appointment for next week. I didn't get a chance to call Marion today, but I think I might try that tomorrow morning.

    How my opinion is now, I think I want to take a fifth year of undergrad, and if needed, a one-year master's program after. Because 1) this would give me more time to increase my GPA for DO or MD. 2) This will give me more time to study for the MCAT. 3) I would personally feel more "safe" doing this. 4) This would give me more time to put together a
    stronger application, improve ECs, practice interviews, etc. Lastly, although I don't know if a year of biochem with labs will look like I "slacked off" or not my fifth year, I don't necessarily think it is entirely unjustifiable because I was an undecided major my first two years of undergrad (another reason my gpa is low to begin with). In fact, the only reason I am able to graduate on time was because I settled on a major with probably the loosest graduation requirements. I still have all of my pre-reqs, but my current major offered greater flexibility for which classes satisfied it. In fact, at the time I decided I wanted to go to med school, I chose my major specifically because it was the only one that I could complete on time. Any other science major my school offered would have added at least a year because of the timing of when some necessary upper level classes are offered. I don't know if taking a fifth year of undergrad is the right decision, but as of now, it is the decision I am most comfortable with.
     
  25. Catalystik

    Catalystik Providing herd protection SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    1) It won't.

    2) I think it's a good decision and I'm glad you're comfortable with it.

    3) I hope you'll let us know what they say.

    4) Excellent. In general, the appropriate person isn't immediately available when you cold call, so a later phone appointment is the best way to go.
     
  26. Dr. Bob Doe

    Dr. Bob Doe The four yonko of medicine 2+ Year Member

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    Do the fifth year undergrad. Keep in mind that retakes may or may not replace old grades, regardless your gpa should go up. But nail the mcat.
     
  27. jacks_ster

    jacks_ster 2+ Year Member

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    Hey Guys,
    I'm also in a similar predicament.
    I'm an African American Junior at NYU.
    Currently my GPA is a 3.0 and I've had an upward trend.
    I'm trying to decide whether I should retake a few classes and then apply DO or if I should apply for a SMP and then apply both MD and DO.
    I have strong extracurrics and I've had a job all throughout college. I plan on taking the MCAT spring of my junior year. I guess my plans would be contingent on how well I do on the MCAT, but I just want opinions on what you guys think would be the best path.

    Thanks!
     
  28. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

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    If you're only a junior the easiest/best thing to do is simply take a gap year. That way you have four full years of college grades instead of three when you apply. If you keep up a strong upward trend you probably won't need an SMP if you can pair it with a good MCAT.
     
  29. jacks_ster

    jacks_ster 2+ Year Member

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    Thankss! And with that, if I get a good score on the MCAT, should I apply MD or DO?
     
  30. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

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    The AAMC's data on acceptance rates for African American applicants is here:

    https://www.aamc.org/download/321514/data/2012factstable25-2.pdf

    I will let you draw your own conclusions, but if you finish your senior year strongly and have a good MCAT I doubt you'll have a problem getting an MD acceptance.
     
  31. jacks_ster

    jacks_ster 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you so much! You were really helpful!
     
  32. knv2u

    knv2u 2+ Year Member

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    A 3.3 GPA isn't great for medical school purposes, but it isn't far off enough to warrant a SMP IMO. I would recommend that you do a year of post bacc/undergraduate work to raise your GPA. The closer you get to 3.5 or higher the better. A higher MCAT score will also help you. You are still in the running for an allopathic school if you can raise your GPA a bit and have a solid MCAT score. Osteopathic schools are also an option, especially since you will be aided by grade replacement if you choose to retake some classes to boost your GPA.
     

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