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Take advantage of this- your undergrad school might be willing to help...

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by Back 4 Post Bac, May 9, 2008.

  1. Back 4 Post Bac

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    I posted this in the postbac forum this morning but realized that some of you might not check there. So, I decided this should also go here since we're pretty much all in the same boat as non-trads...

    I just spoke to one of the pre-med deans at my undergrad school to ask for guidance about choosing a postbac program. (In fact, a second dean called me after I posted earlier and said the same thing, which increases my feeling that they're actually genuinely serious about this.) I learned something interesting that may be helpful to those of you considering a postbac or who are simply applying a few years out of school without going back for more classes. (Disclaimer- I know some people will argue that the information I provide below is misleading or inaccurate, but since it came from someone who has been successfully advising students over the course of many years, I think it's helpful to throw it out to the forum).

    Depending upon where you went as an UG, the committee might be willing to support your application if your postbac program does not offer committee letters, for some reason decides not to write one for you, or you apply without taking additional classes. At my school, the dean told me that I'm "one of theirs"- it doesn't matter how long you've been out (in my case I graduated 7 years ago). You'll always be one of their grads and they take care of their own. So, if you are considering a program that doesn't write committee letters at all or reserves the right to refuse providing a committee letter down the road, it would be wise to inquire about your UG school's willingness to help former students. Your school might turn out to be as supportive as mine is. (As an aside to the non-trads, she also thinks med schools do take note of and appreciate the fact that you have unique experiences that someone straight out of undergrad doesn't and can help make the class more well-rounded. This woman truly put a huge smile on my face when she said that.)

    And, for the record, she told me where you go to school DOES matter. Although the national GPA might be 3.6, successful students from my school average about 3.3 because ADCOMS do consider the rigor of the program. So, don't count yourself out if you had a lower UG GPA at a difficult school. Remember that the national average includes student from everywhere ranging from CC to the top schools. So, whether you were a rock star at an "easier" school vs. a hard-working small fish in a big pond at a very competitive one with steeper curves, you're not at a disadvantage or penalized for choosing the more difficult root. It is obviously important to check with your UG school to find out what their averages have been to gauge where you fall in comparison but I felt much better after getting off the phone with her. She strongly stated that numbers aren't the end all and be all. Though some schools may rely solely on GPAs or MCAT scores, many carefully weigh what your GPA would be at a middle of the road school. If you don't meet their minimum requirement- arbitrarily, let's say a 3.5- the vast majority will look further at your record to get a better idea of what your GPA at YOUR school would compare to the "average" school.

    She also stressed that as everyone says, doing well in your postbac weighs much more heavily than your GPA from classes you took 10 years ago. The two are averaged together by AMCAS but realistically your most recent grades are the ones they really consider to be more accurate indicators of your academic ability.

    So, I hope this post makes some people feel less anxious about the entire postbac/ non-traditional route. I know that's easier said than done- believe me!- but I really felt better after hearing all of this encouraging info and I wanted to pass some good juju on to everyone else. :)
     
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  3. viostorm

    viostorm Senior Member
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    I have to caution you because although where you went to school may be one factor, it is certainly less important then GPA.

    I cannot overemphasize that enough.

    Going to a great school and getting a 2.7 to a 3.3 will severely hinder you in the admission process. It is much better to go to an easy school, come out with a 3.6 to 4.0.

    The forumula for interview and admission is usually some variant of 10*GPA + MCAT. You can find the average GPA and average MCAT of the school you are interested in and see how you compare. This determines if you make the cut for interviews or not. Your UG's academic reputation has absolutely no bearing on if you make the cut, it may however help you once you get the interview.

    The least important person's opinion in this whole process is your "premed UG Dean" and I would be careful what advice of hers you follow. Your UG pre-med committee often likes to think of themself as the med school admission committee. I have had three people very close to me who were told to go to dental school and not recommended by the UG adcom now in medical school.

    Your UG wants to say: "hey, we got 90% of the people who we recommended into medical school." They try and weed out people so their stats look better. Don't believe a word they say.
     
  4. ShyRem

    ShyRem I need more coffee.
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    I second the hesitation of believing everything your pre-med dean/committee/advisor says to you. There are hundreds of stories just here on SDN about advisors/deans telling students "No prob! You're a shoe-in with a 2.5 GPA!" and "oh, a 22 MCAT is just fine" or the other side: "If you don't have a 4.0 don't even bother" "You MUST have a 35 MCAT to even think about the worst schools".

    You're talking about pre-med advisors. They are not medical school admissions folks and I would strongly encourage you to call some of the medical schools you are considering and discuss things with them to get the straight scoop.

    And, BTW, saying that your undergrad university name means a bunch is like saying they consider whether you're degree is in chemical engineering vs. basketweaving. They don't care. Just "show them the numbers!" (although exceptions do exist.)

    Now as for the committee letter. Pretty much every school will allow you to submit individual LORs rather than a committee letter if your school/program doesn't have a committee; the only reason I say "pretty much every school" rather than "every school" is I haven't checked with every single school out there. But I haven't heard of any who won't accept individual LORs vs committee letter. Don't worry about it.
     
  5. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills
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    As opposed a stranger in an internet forum. :rolleyes:

    Stats on acceptances from my undergrad school:

    National Acceptance Rate 45%
    My School's Total Acceptance Rate 74%
    -prehealth advising user acceptance* 86.7%

    National Avg GPA 3.65/4.0
    My School's Accepted Average 3.6/4.0
    My School's Range of Acceptances 2.4-4.0
    My School's Range of Denials 2.5-3.7

    There was absolutely no grade inflation there and it is known as one of the toughest schools in the country, draw your own conclusions.
     
  6. mshheaddoc

    mshheaddoc Howdy
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    Sadly there are a few "picky" schools out there that make this a sticking point. I can't remember their names but a friend that just applied tried to get around this with little success. If I remember it I will edit this post.

    I agree with everything else said on here though. UG is something to consider for LOR's though and its a great point! While UG schools will be supportive of you, some pre-med advisors are often clueless in my roamings. I spoke with quite a few medical school admissions counselors who would tell me different requirements (even for PREREQS!) than the pre-med advisors. Buyer beware!
     
  7. Lacheln

    Lacheln Cavorting in the Hills
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    I think half the problem is that there is so much conflicting information out there, so I'd definitely agree with mshheaddoc that it's "buyer beware" no matter who you talk to, UG advisor or anyone else. Even if you talk to schools themselves, they may have differing opinions.

    Take a look at the increase at my undergrad in acceptances for people who used the advising service. The blanket statements that a) where you went to school doesn't have an impact on the interpretation of your GPA during the review process, and b) undergrad advisors are useless just isn't born out by the numbers. So, you need to consider the lizzy, consider the schools you are applying to and their points of emphasis, consider your whole app, and yes, consider where you went to school and what their advice is. GPA is not the be all end all of everything. One way to see if your school will be more highly regarded and taken into account re: GPA is to compare the national mcat average for accepted students and those of your undergrad. Since the MCAT is a standardized test it corrects for the quality of the undergrad program.

    National MCAT Average 31
    My undergrad school's MCAT Accepted Average 34.5
     

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