The best route to med school..nursing? biochem? Harvard Extension?

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MedThinker

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Everyone, please consider my situation, I need help deciding. B.A. Biochemistry from UPENN CGS, BSN nursing in 2 years then Postbac, or worse case scenario, Harvard Extension School ALB Bio.

My background: Since I was a child, I wanted to be a doctor (cliche but true). Since I was a kid, I did well in school. Always on top honor roll then moved on to gifted, then in middle school got a 99.9% on my Stanford Achievement Tests (known as SATs, but not the ones for college, these are for school district, click the link to read about them in wikipedia), then was in a program where in 8th grade I did math and science in highschool in the morning & went back to middle school to do the rest of my classes for the afternoon. In 8th grade I was in classes with Seniors in Highschool. All of my classes were As. Then my mother got cancer, father who abused me sexually got worse, one day my mom called the cops, they came and took him. I ended up moving with biological father who hadn't seen me since I was 2. He let me do whatever I wanted. I had problems getting to school, the whole experience was new. Then I got a job so I could send money to mother, worried more about job than mom. I'd work so late, took 2 buses to get home around 2am, then ate something, showered, went to sleep...did some homework, then would wake up late for school and sometimes I wouldn't make it, or would leave early a few periods so I could go home eat, take an hour nap and then go to work. Meaning, I skipped classes. Ended up getting a GED.

Where I am now:
I'm 25 years old, been married for 7 years and about to divorce. We have a son who has HF Autism and is 4 years old. He's doing so much better now, he's catching up quickly. We're tri-lingual. I need to be a doctor! Need because, I can't imagine dying and then thinking "what if". If I can't be a doctor, it needs to be because I tried and failed knowing I gave it my all, not because I didn't try.

Academics: While married dabbled in CC taking general ed courses for a degree. 2.9 GPA (reason for low gpa were some courses I didn't go at all and didn't even know Ws existed and I could ask for that), husband didn't want me to go to school. The last few months before we separated I took a few classes at another CC and got a 3.75 GPA, and that was 2 years ago.

Question: Which way to take?
  1. Take a math course at local CC, get A, then apply to UPENN CGS for B.A. in Biochemistry? Then apply for medschool, Time = 4 years. Expense = :eek::eek::eek:, 3 scared faces because I'd like to do it full time for a full load and will probably scramble for money left and right.
  2. Take a math course and microbiology course at CC, get As, then apply to local no name 4 year private school for BSN, completed in 27 months, then do Postbac (hopefully somewhere with a good name?) for 2 years, then apply for medschool, Time = 27 + 24 = 4 years 3 months. Expense = :eek::eek:, 2 scared faces because it's less than option 1, I could try working during BSN school.
  3. Skip math course at local CC, go straight for Harvard Extension (anyone can get in if they put the hard effort for the 3 pre-req classes that count toward the degree). Get an A.L.B. in Bio, then apply to medschool. Time = 4 years? Expense= :eek:, one scary face because I could probably work part time and it's overall a bit cheaper.
I'm thinking option 3 useful as a worse case scenario. Option 2 will have a backup plan if medschool doesn't work out plus will give me clinical experience, however the classes at this school aren't academically challenging as UPENN or Harvard Extension and not sure how competitive my application will be having taken option 2. Option 1 I like best, the classes are rigorous enough to demonstrate my abilities but does it make my application more competitive compared to option 2, specially considering the expense?

Another option in back of my mind...Columbia GS for neuroscience (my favorite subject) but I'll never get in there. *sigh* :rolleyes: , I've heard they're admission rate is 40% and most have mega resumes and just doing it to change careers.

So what do you think? I'm very interested in hearing everyone's 2 cents, what option would be best, and feel free to input another possible route.

Thank you all.
 

gman33

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The best option is the one that works for you.
I'd get a degree in something that you could see yourself doing even if you don't eventually get into med school. Hopefully you will, but somewhere around half the applicants don't.

The school and degree don't matter too much for admissions. Just go to a four year school that has strong science departments. You mentioned a whole bunch of schools in different locations. Penn CGS isn't really that expensive, but if you are in Philly there are cheaper options. Check out Temple or WCU if you want to save money. Both would serve you well.

Your first step is getting a degree and doing well along the way. Try to get in some clinical experience as well. You will need it to be a competitive applicant. Search the forums to get more info about specific schools and programs.
 

thoffen

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Some information:
1. You need to have completed a bachelor's prior to enrolling in med school
2. What you major in is largely irrelevant as long as you complete and do well in your pre-req classes
3. Nursing as a major for pre-med has a lot of problems. On the plus side, it offers great clinical experience. On the minus side, it's a separate profession from doctoring, and it has its own shortage. You will likely be questioned why you took away a nursing seat if you didn't plan to be a nurse. Also, it generally does not offer the basic science prereqs needed for med school.
4. GPA is highly important. That 2.9 can seriously hold you back if it's a significant portion of your undergrad hours. The average matriculant has a 3.7 GPA. Many have gotten away with less, but anything sub-3.5 is really pushing it these days.
5. The best place to take classes is at a 4-year university. Unless you go to a very highly respected institution, which school you attend is completely irrelevant.
6. Just as important as grades and MCAT is clinical experience and volunteer experience. You're probably not lacking any in life experience, but it is critical to establish long-term volunteer and shadowing experiences prior to applying.
 
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MedThinker

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Thanks for replying gman33, I'll take your advice and find more info for Temple and WCU. I've been reading threads for nearly a month now, seeing if there are others in similar situations, reading others stories and comparing, etc...

The best option is the one that works for you.
I'd get a degree in something that you could see yourself doing even if you don't eventually get into med school. Hopefully you will, but somewhere around half the applicants don't.

Yes, you're right. Although I'd go into Biochemistry because I geniunely like it and because it would provide me with better preparation for higher learning in science (2 birds, 1 stone). As far a what I could do in future if medschool doesn't work out and I have that degree? I could work in a lab somewhere, do consult work for other businesses, I could even go back and do a one year accelerated BSN for those that already have a degree.

The school and degree don't matter too much for admissions. Just go to a four year school that has strong science departments. You mentioned a whole bunch of schools in different locations. Penn CGS isn't really that expensive, but if you are in Philly there are cheaper options. Check out Temple or WCU if you want to save money. Both would serve you well.

The 2 schools I mentioned by name are in the northeasternish part of the country because that's where I would preferably like to be. I thought Penn CGS was comparatively more expensive than the other options. Penn CGS is $2,246 for 1 CU. Harvard Extension is between $600 to $900 per course. The no name school is 30k for whole program of 2 years. By the way, if I ever were to go to any of these schools, I'd be proud to say it was CGS or if Extension then make sure people knew it was Extension and be proud of that too. It's great that these schools have made themselves available for people that might not have a chance otherwise to attend a class in their school because of lack of opportunity, time constraints, finances, etc... Even though it's not at all the same as their college. I respect those high school kids that stuck by their books and were able to pass through their competitive selection process.

Your first step is getting a degree and doing well along the way. Try to get in some clinical experience as well. You will need it to be a competitive applicant. Search the forums to get more info about specific schools and programs.

Thanks again gman33. :)
 

MedThinker

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Thanks for your input thoffen. By the way, congratulations on your acceptance to University of Miami, way to go! Orange and green are nice colors.



Some information:
1. You need to have completed a bachelor's prior to enrolling in med school
Yes, I am aware. ;) ....sorry if I knew you better I would sarcastically say "no, really? I thought I could just sign up on the list and say 'let me get my learn on!'" Don't worry, I'll slap myself on the back of my head for you.


2. What you major in is largely irrelevant as long as you complete and do well in your pre-req classes
3. Nursing as a major for pre-med has a lot of problems. On the plus side, it offers great clinical experience. On the minus side, it's a separate profession from doctoring, and it has its own shortage. You will likely be questioned why you took away a nursing seat if you didn't plan to be a nurse. Also, it generally does not offer the basic science prereqs needed for med school.

Exactly! You're right. Which is why I thought Biochem...I like Biochem, it's challenging, it includes the pre-reqs needed to apply, and if medschool says "no" then I can find a job in the public or private sector requiring a degree like that. It might also be useful in putting my foot in the door of research. My fear is, if I don't watch the GPA I can forget about this whole thing. As to nursing, you're right about that too, why is why I'm not sure...I keep going back and forth between the plusses and minuses. Clinical experience, yay!:thumbup: Questioning of why, and shortage and more prereqs, nay! :thumbdown:


4. GPA is highly important. That 2.9 can seriously hold you back if it's a significant portion of your undergrad hours. The average matriculant has a 3.7 GPA. Many have gotten away with less, but anything sub-3.5 is really pushing it these days.
5. The best place to take classes is at a 4-year university. Unless you go to a very highly respected institution, which school you attend is completely irrelevant.
6. Just as important as grades and MCAT is clinical experience and volunteer experience. You're probably not lacking any in life experience, but it is critical to establish long-term volunteer and shadowing experiences prior to applying.

Yes, the 2.9 however are on a few classes...maybe like 5 or 6. With the other school it would be brought up to 3.1 or 3.2. I still have plenty of classes to do that could bring it up, still they may ask me to explain it. However, if UPENN or another 4 year said "these are CC classes, we won't allow you to transfer those"...then they wouldn't count toward GPA and I'd retake them? or would they count toward the GPA and I'd still have to retake them? Hmm..I'll have to ask them. Thank you thoffen!
 
N

njbmd

I see more than a few problems based on what you have written. First, you have a poor track record. You have started this and started that with no particular follow-though. That isn't going to work very well in terms of application to medical school. You need to find an accredited 4-year college/university, major in something and complete your degree. The best school for you is going to be the one where you can excel and one that you can afford.

Since you have a child with special needs, you definitely need a solid support system that will allow you to focus on your studies, take care of your child and move solidly through your courses without starting, stopping and re-starting. Right now, you can get your support system together and have plenty of back-up in place.

You need to sit down with all of your transcripts (every class taken since your GED) and calculate your uGPA. You need to know your starting point and you need to know your uGPA after any coursework that you take. You can do this right now and eliminate any guesswork in terms of what you have to do to get yourself into range to be competitive for medical school. Remember, the average GPA for matriculants is 3.7 and that's just the average. You need to be above average and not just average.

A couple of things that are in your favor is that there is no age limit for medical schooland that you have plenty of time to do excellent work if you don't rush. You can take your time, set your sites on your long-term goal and achieve it. What you cannot do is show any signs of not being 100% dedicated to the achievement of your goal. This means that once you start school, you have to follow through (not dabble here and there).

As others have said, find a major that you like in a school that works for you and get the job done. It won't be quick and it won't be easy but many people manage to get it done with day in and day out dedication to their goal. If this is you, you will be successful. If not, make sure you have a good back-up plan.
 

thoffen

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Thanks for your input thoffen. By the way, congratulations on your acceptance to University of Miami, way to go! Orange and green are nice colors.

Thanks. :) I'm hoping for USF to come through so I can stay local, but I'm definitely thrilled about UM as well.

Yes, I am aware. ;) ....sorry if I knew you better I would sarcastically say "no, really? I thought I could just sign up on the list and say 'let me get my learn on!'" Don't worry, I'll slap myself on the back of my head for you.

Reason I said that is that it wasn't 100% clear to me that you'd end up with a bachelor's in all of your options. I figure almost everyone to know this, but it can't hurt repeating it.

Exactly! You're right. Which is why I thought Biochem...I like Biochem, it's challenging, it includes the pre-reqs needed to apply, and if medschool says "no" then I can find a job in the public or private sector requiring a degree like that. It might also be useful in putting my foot in the door of research. My fear is, if I don't watch the GPA I can forget about this whole thing. As to nursing, you're right about that too, why is why I'm not sure...I keep going back and forth between the plusses and minuses. Clinical experience, yay!:thumbup: Questioning of why, and shortage and more prereqs, nay! :thumbdown:

My personal advice is that you have plenty of time to get clinical experience. Do a degree that interests you, and it doesn't even have to be health/science related as long as you can squeeze in those prereqs, and a couple more science classes can't hurt.

Yes, the 2.9 however are on a few classes...maybe like 5 or 6. With the other school it would be brought up to 3.1 or 3.2. I still have plenty of classes to do that could bring it up, still they may ask me to explain it. However, if UPENN or another 4 year said "these are CC classes, we won't allow you to transfer those"...then they wouldn't count toward GPA and I'd retake them? or would they count toward the GPA and I'd still have to retake them? Hmm..I'll have to ask them. Thank you thoffen!

Whether they transfer matters only if those classes are needed for a degree. Otherwise, it doesn't matter whether or not your university transfers the CC credits. You are still required to list them and send transcripts, and they will be factored into your GPA for AMCAS/AACOMAS.
 

MedThinker

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Thanks njbmd,

As far as grades go, yes, I am at the bottom of the barell right now. The schools mentioned in the original post are ones that:

a) I'm confident I can get into, with the exception of UPENN CGS, their admin info seems simple but I'm sure it's more complicated than that, they don't let just anyone in.
b) Are affordable.
c) Have a good curriculum that is challenging to demonstrate ability but that also has resources to go to if I need extra help to make sure I get that A. (e.g. TAs, good advisors, etc...)
d) Have classes day and night/ offer flexible schedules, just in case.

Since all school possibilities that I'm considering have these qualities, I'm undecided as to which route to take. Since I'm barely hanging by a thread as it is, I'd like to very carefully consider the differential qualities amongst them and ask other's advice before making a serious commitment, as this could very well be the last opportunity I have of obtaining this dream.

As far as a support system, I currently have the best support system I've ever had since I was 14. Making sure to surround myself with those who carry concern for my future while maintaining distance from those who do not. It also helps that said support system consists of college graduates (with the exception of my mother).

I'll do more research as to what ugrad school (or schools) would be the one to aim for admission.

Thanks again, by the way, your blog in wordpress.com is a joy to read. Very informative.
 

MedThinker

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Thanks. :) I'm hoping for USF to come through so I can stay local, but I'm definitely thrilled about UM as well.

Well, in that case I'm crossing my fingers for you, hope USF comes through!



Reason I said that is that it wasn't 100% clear to me that you'd end up with a bachelor's in all of your options. I figure almost everyone to know this, but it can't hurt repeating it.
No, no, by all means, you were right in mentioning it, you didn't know if I knew and I may not have been clear in my op. My mother always says "Sometimes, you have to speak up, people aren't mind readers and you can't assume they know.", plus you know what happens when you assume? hee hee. :D



My personal advice is that you have plenty of time to get clinical experience. Do a degree that interests you, and it doesn't even have to be health/science related as long as you can squeeze in those prereqs, and a couple more science classes can't hurt.



Whether they transfer matters only if those classes are needed for a degree. Otherwise, it doesn't matter whether or not your university transfers the CC credits. You are still required to list them and send transcripts, and they will be factored into your GPA for AMCAS/AACOMAS.

Hmm, if I do a class over and get a better grade, then it will help the AMCAS GPA. That would also mean that I can do a pre 4 year ugrad class at a CC for admission to ugrad and it will count toward the AMCAS GPA equally as ugrad class from a 4 year school would. Interesting. Thanks thoffen!
 

thoffen

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Hmm, if I do a class over and get a better grade, then it will help the AMCAS GPA.

Yes, but AMCAS just counts it as an additional class taken. Both classes will show up on your AMCAS, and both will be calculated into your GPA equally (they will not be replaced or averaged).

For AACOMAS (don't know if you're considering the DO route), both will show up on the application. However, the grade will be replaced in the GPA calculation.

That would also mean that I can do a pre 4 year ugrad class at a CC for admission to ugrad and it will count toward the AMCAS GPA equally as ugrad class from a 4 year school would. Interesting. Thanks thoffen!

Yes, the CC credits will be factored into your GPA the same as any other school. It's important to note, however, that med schools can judge your academic background any way they please.

Personally, I would just concentrate on getting your degree and getting a good science background with excellent grades from a 4-year university. You can't change what you did in the past. I would only re-take a class if it was a science course (especially pre-req) you got a C or below in.
 
B

Blade28

I agree with the above advice from njbmd and thoffen.

Decide on a good 4-year program, pick a major that interests you and work hard to maintain solid grades. Calculate your current cumulative GPA and see how much improvement you need. Maintain your strong network of support.

You've been through a lot so far - kudos on surviving this far! :thumbup:

Best of luck.
 
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