Mar 22, 2010
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Medical Student
Hey guys,

I am pleased to announce that I will be graduating in may, after 5 years of undergraduate education. I have plans on applying to medical school after taking a few years off to improve my application, though I find that even the lag time might pose some issues when I apply, so I wanted to get some opinions, if that is okay :)

So, a little background about me. I went to a community college for two years, and I took most of my med school pre-reqs there (Bio 1/2, Chem 1/2, Orgo 1/2, English 1/2, Calc 1/2). I transferred to Cornell University, where I have been a bio major for the past 3 years. I took my Physics at Cornell, and I got a D, but then Retook for a B-, and I am on my way to an A in physics II.

Although I took alot of my prequisites at community college (which, as I understand it, is not looked upon favorably), I did take many many many upper level (3000-7000 level) electives in biochemistry and physiology, as well as a multitude of lab classes.

Here are my plans for my gap years:

I will be working full time in a cardiology biomedical research laboratory at a top 25 medical school, as a lab tech with a 3 year commitment.

I will be volunteering in an emergency room while living at home for about 6 or 7 months (will volunteer roughly 200 hours), and then I will be moving closer to the medical school I will be working at. There are plenty of volunteer ambulance companies in the area, so I was thinking of doing some volunteer-work as an EMT.

The university at which the medical school that I will be working at is part of, has an employee degree program that I plan on taking advantage of. I will be taking masters courses in biology, and some elective courses in basic medical sciences through the medical school.

Throughout all this time, I will be preparing for the MCAT, which I will take most likely in April of 2012, so that I can apply to medical schools that summer.

Here are some concerns that I have:

I will be graduating with a GPA of about 3.0 (plus or minus 0.05). However, my AMCAS gpa will be a little bit higher because of my grades at community college and from the masters classes.

Is it plausible that there may be a "forgiveness factor", if I get phenomenal grades in a graduate program, with respect to my undergraduate GPA?

I did pretty well in my electives at Cornell, will this help make up for having taken pre-reqs at community college? Is there a way to explain to med schools that I had no choice but to take them, as they were required to gain admission to a 4 year college as a transfer student?

When I apply to med school, it will have been roughly 7 years since I took my med school pre-reqs (or, started to take them) - is it likely that medical schools will not accept "old" coursework?

I find that this post is becoming a bit long, so I will pause for now and hopefully I'll get some feedback.....more to come (eventually)
 

DrMidlife

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I will be graduating with a GPA of about 3.0 (plus or minus 0.05). However, my AMCAS gpa will be a little bit higher because of my grades at community college and from the masters classes.
Grad classes aren't averaged in with undergrad. The important number is cumulative undergrad GPA. AMCAS and med schools won't look at the GPA calcs on any one transcript. Regardless, go to the admissions sites for your favorite med schools and read some fine print.

Also note that retaken coursework doesn't erase old grades for MD schools, so make friends with that old F. DO schools will forgive the old grade.

Is it plausible that there may be a "forgiveness factor", if I get phenomenal grades in a graduate program, with respect to my undergraduate GPA?
Against a 3.4-ish GPA, grad work is good buffer. Traditional grad work (as opposed to an SMP) won't offset low undergrad GPA. Against a 3.0, even with an extraordinary MCAT score, you aren't in good shape. IMHO, use your gap years to take a bunch more undergrad, or think about an SMP.

I did pretty well in my electives at Cornell, will this help make up for having taken pre-reqs at community college? Is there a way to explain to med schools that I had no choice but to take them, as they were required to gain admission to a 4 year college as a transfer student?
IMHO against a 3.0 cumulative, having CC prereqs is an extra cringe for the adcoms. Nothing you can do about it now, and in your shoes I'd be looking to keep taking upper div sci at no less than 3.7.

When I apply to med school, it will have been roughly 7 years since I took my med school pre-reqs (or, started to take them) - is it likely that medical schools will not accept "old" coursework?
A minority of schools expire prereqs (such as UMass). If you have recent upper div sci I'd be surprised if you get called out on this.

Congrats on your progress! Best of luck to you.