Aug 1, 2016
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Hello,

I am a recent graduate with a non-science degree looking to go back to my dream of becoming a doctor. here is a little about myself. After being a decent student in high school I became a total trainwreck in college and rarely went to class/ partied my ass off. After switching majors in my 4th year, I finally graduated, but I feel empty and unfinished. The last 2 quarters in school I changed everything around, took 20 units per quarter, and got 3.7's. Doing well in school reminded me how good I can be if I put 80-90% of my effort. It made me miss learning, so have decided to take a risk and not give up on my dreams.

I used to be a biology major in college and have taken a big portion of med school pre-reqs, but I would also like to retake some of them to improve my grades. I need help deciding what I can do to boost my chances of getting into one of the best med schools in cali given my current stats. I want to get into schools like UCI, UCSD, and UCLA (north cal too but preferrably socal). I know that it will not be easy at all but I am willing to take as much as 3-4 more years until I tremendously improve my resume/stats and get accepted into top programs. ( I am turning 24 soon, so by 27-28 will not be too late). I am currently looking up different formal/informal post bacc programs that I can attend with my current Grades.

My stats: Chem 1 - A , Chem 2 - B+ Chem 3 - C
OChem 1 - A, Ochem 2 - B, Ochem 3 - Did not take
Physics 1 - B+ , Physics 2 - B- , Physics 3 - C+
Bio 1 - C, Bio 2 - D(need to retake), Bio 3 - Did not take
Math: Passed both AP Calc's in High School, B+ in the last of the calcs in college, and B+ on multivarialble calc
sGPA:2.76
undergrad GPA: 2.995

First of all, I need help finding the right postbacc program. I know some programs are different from others so which ones would fit my situations the best. While my financial situation is going to be tight, I am willing to make sacrifices and attend non-community college programs. So far, UCI and Scripps college have programs that match my interest, but I am sure there are others out there as well. And I am also curious about the policies regarding GPA replacements/averaging when classes are retaken.

Secondly, should I try to just take the remaining of the few pre-reqs or should I add some non-prereqs, and even non-science classes, to boost my science GPA? I believe that I will be able to do well in these classes since I have always understood the content well and was a good test taker but in college I rarely did my HW's and did not go to class. So, assuming that I can get 3.7-4.0 GPA in postbacc, how many units should I take to improve my chances. I was thinking of taking 40-60 units somehow to be in the bracket for low GPA/high MCAT for these schools. I have not taken the MCAT either but I will be spending the next 3 years studying for it, and hoping to be in the 90th percentile.

Lastly, I want to show interest in medicine to somehow stand out. I already plan on volunteering, getting an EMT licence possibly, and even continue learning Spanish to improve my chances, but I need some type of a job that is health/medicine related. I have been applying to certain medical assistant positions but most of them require experience or licences. If anyone knows of any medical related jobs that can boost my chances please let me know

I know I have a lot of questions and this thread is kind of long, but any little answer to any of my questions would be appreciated. Most people that enter college as premeds end up changing majors/careers or going to dentistry/pharmacy schools, but I have decided that it is better to achieve my goal late than to give it up and regret it for the rest of my life.
 

DrMidlife

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With those grades you should be looking at a 2nd bachelors, such as in biochem or microbio. Lots more undergrad won't do much for your cumulative numbers, but it's the price of admission - multiple very strong full time years of mostly science with a very high GPA. You'll also need to do more, such as an SMP or a traditional masters with pubs. A 2nd bachelors is a postbac. Structured formal postbacs generally aren't taking sub-3.0's.

Every grade you get that isn't an A is a step away from med school. It all looks organized and settled until you're up against those exams again.

Search SDN on "low GPA" and read until your eyes fall out. California's hardest, yes, but the general advice still applies. Your competition is spending months studying the low GPA problem space. Reading at breakfast, reading late into the night, taking notes, building an understanding of chances and best practices. It's all here. It's free. The stuff written a decade ago is some of the best stuff.

It would be good to decide early if you'll feel like all this will be worth it if you end up at a DO school, far from home. That would be an outstanding outcome for a low GPA comeback. That's not sarcasm.

Best of luck to you.
 
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cabinbuilder

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I would think you need to reconsider your eye on California. The schools you listed take 4.0 students with no retakes. If you want to be a doctor you need major grade overall and you will need to apply broadly, not locally. I would apply to the DO school in SoCal after your grade replacement.
 

CyrilFiggis

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There is no grade replacement with MD Programs, only DO. With your grades, you should stop worrying about how to get into a CA MD school and more concerned about getting your grades up so you can get into an MD program period. As DrMidlife said, most post-baccs won't take sub-3.0 GPAs (mine wouldn't take sub 3.25. That's because they know that with the number of credits in the program, even if you get a 4.0, your GPA is still on the low side of competitive.
 
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DrMidlife

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Med schools expect multiple full time years of mostly science with a very strong performance. Period.

Usually that's done during the 4 years of a bachelors degree.

You still have to do it, even though you're done with a bachelors. Multiple years, full time, mostly science, very strong performance. 2nd bachelors is a way to do that.

Then, you are still damaged, because of the "A" in GPA. Hopefully the additional undergrad years you do will put you up over a 3.0. Which is still crap, in the eyes of normal med school admissions committees, and in California you'd get nowhere (MD or DO).

Thus, in order to get med school admissions people to give you a chance, you need to do more. It's extremely common for Californians with 3.4-ish GPAs and above average MCATs to head out to Georgetown or Cincinnati for a year to do an audition in an SMP, because they didn't get any love when trying to apply to the UCs. Of note, the UCs will not be interested in your enrollment in an SMP - you have to complete it before applying.

Clearly you don't like this. Clearly you're looking for an easier way. Again, there is an unbelievable amazing free gold mine of GPA comeback experiences on SDN. For all you know, I'm a 13 year old kid in Malaysia messing with you. Read. Read for consensus. Read for ownership of your fate. Nobody bends over backwards for a low GPA premed.

Best of luck to you.
 

QofQuimica

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@DrMidlife Are you suggesting that I do a postbac and then an SMP? Won't it be better to concentrate on one or the other?
She's telling you that either one alone likely isn't going to be enough to make your app competitive for a Cali school. And even both together may not be. There's a reason why so many CA residents get their degrees in places like Ohio and Michigan. We're talking here about even people with excellent stats who aren't trying to overcome the kind of prior poor academic performance that you are.

You need to make a decision regarding whether you care more about location or more about becoming a physician. If it's the former, you will not be applying to medical school at age 27. It will be several years later than that, and only after many years of hard core grade remediation as DrM laid out. Applying to CA schools at age 29-30 (after repeat BS and SMP) would be reasonable if you can also pull a competitive MCAT. If you're willing to be flexible on location in order to become a physician ASAP, then you have many more options. In that case, your best bet is to retake all classes with a grade of C or lower so you can take advantage of the AACOMAS grade replacement policy. You could probably be ready to apply to DO schools with a competitive GPA in two years via that route.
 
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Thank you for all the answers. My main goal is to become a physician, but I want to attend the best possible program. While cali is just close to home I would go to any med school in the US. So the best strategy it seems is to first retake some prereqs thru postbac then get into a traditional masters or SMP.
 

CyrilFiggis

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Just remember that for every class you got a C in, getting an A only averages it out to a 3.0. You have a massive uphill battle ahead of you if you want to go MD. Whereas with grade replacement, it becomes a 4.0. You should take the time, shadow a DO and not discount it. If your goal is to help, heal and serve others than it really shouldn't matter if it says MD or DO after your name.
 
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Goro

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The fastest path for you to become a doctor will be to retake all F/D/C science coursework, do well on MCAT, and apply to DO schools, especially Western or Touro-CA


IF you're boning for the MD degree, there are MD schools that reward reinvention. You'll need to ace all the classic pre-reqs, and ace either a post-bac (which can be DIY) or a SMP, ideally one given at a med school. Then also ace MCAT (513 or better, 33+ on the old scale).
 
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Aug 1, 2016
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Thanks again for the answers. Concerning retaking pre-reqs I am a little confused on whether it is okay to take them at a community college or not. Since I just graduated I did not apply for FAFSA for this year so I will have to wait until summer, the earliest, to be able to pay for school. Also since the next postbac programs start around that time, my only option is to take some community college courses for now. So is it better to wait a little bit and be a full time student or I can just take a class or two at a community college?
 

DrMidlife

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take a warmup class at a community college - make sure getting an A in a reasonably difficult science class is seriously, no messing around, a thing you can predictably do, before you take on more.

doing more at a community college does not help you establish your academic prowess, which is in doubt because of your GPA.

be sure you understand the difference in MD and DO applications with respect to grade replacement and how GPAs are calculated. it's never too early to read the transcript/GPA parts of the AMCAS and AACOMAS instructions.
 
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cabinbuilder

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You can take repeats anywhere. However, the class name and number of credits of the class you are trying to grade replace need to match.
 

drneeecole

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She's telling you that either one alone likely isn't going to be enough to make your app competitive for a Cali school. And even both together may not be. There's a reason why so many CA residents get their degrees in places like Ohio and Michigan. We're talking here about even people with excellent stats who aren't trying to overcome the kind of prior poor academic performance that you are.

You need to make a decision regarding whether you care more about location or more about becoming a physician. If it's the former, you will not be applying to medical school at age 27. It will be several years later than that, and only after many years of hard core grade remediation as DrM laid out. Applying to CA schools at age 29-30 (after repeat BS and SMP) would be reasonable if you can also pull a competitive MCAT. If you're willing to be flexible on location in order to become a physician ASAP, then you have many more options. In that case, your best bet is to retake all classes with a grade of C or lower so you can take advantage of the AACOMAS grade replacement policy. You could probably be ready to apply to DO schools with a competitive GPA in two years via that route.
How does retaking C's, C-'s, C+'s at a community college look for med schools? Unimpressive? Talking generally and also for schools in Cali.
 

DrMidlife

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How does retaking C's, C-'s, C+'s at a community college look for med schools? Unimpressive? Talking generally and also for schools in Cali.
...doing more at a community college does not help you establish your academic prowess, which is in doubt because of your GPA...
 

drneeecole

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Cali vigorously protects its deadbeats, illegal immigrants and especially its bureaucrats. Its working citizens? Not so much.

One result is that high ed has been in disarray in Cali since the late 1990s. One result of this is that there aren't enough MD seats, so admissions are totally cut throat.

UCB and UCLA both have good structured extension schools without grade deflation. UCD also has open university but you get last pick of seats and grade deflation.

3.5 cGPA and sGPA are minimums generally for non URMs.
ok...I'm aware of UCLA extension, but I would still be retaking the same courses. If med schools don't consider grade replacement, is there a point? I also know that the courses can be taken as a part of a pre-med certificate they offer, but that would mean retaking bio and physics courses that i've done relatively well in (and a lot more money). So between a post-bacc where I would be taking new upper division science courses and an extension program where I would be retaking core reqs...is one better than the other? The extension would definitely be cheaper and easier to start considering there's no application process.
 

QofQuimica

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How does retaking C's, C-'s, C+'s at a community college look for med schools? Unimpressive? Talking generally and also for schools in Cali.
Unclear to me whether you're asking about retaking C's earned at a CC in the past, or attending a CC now to retake C's earned at a four year school in the past. If it's the former, yes, definitely do retake the Cs, especially if you plan to apply DO and make use of the AACOMAS grade replacement policy. If it's the latter, I agree with DrM that you might as well not waste your time. The liberal arts major with the 4.0 GPA or the military member stationed abroad can get away with doing unconventional premed postbac prep. But someone whose primary purpose for doing a postbac is grade repair? That should be played as strictly by the book as possible. Meaning, take classes at a four year school, and preferably a well-regarded one, not local regional U. Because yes, if you have a C average from your first stint in college, you do have something to prove when it comes to showing you can hang academically with the big boys and girls.