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To Apply again or give up???

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by labrat, Mar 11, 2002.

  1. labrat

    labrat Member
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    I haven't spent much time here lately, because it's too depressing for me. I am 31 years old, and have a 29 O MCAT and 3.6 GPA (3.4 BCPM). I thought I had a moderately competitive application and I have many ECs and great LORs, but after applying to 9 schools, I have received three rejections, no interviews and presumably 6 more rejections are on the way. I had really hoped to at least get an interview at my state school (from whom I received a 2nd B.S. with a 4.0 GPA), but no such luck. Here's the question....Should I just give it up now, or try again?? I am completely undecided, and I would like some insight from people who might have a clearer understanding, rather than friends and family, who tend to tell me what they think I want to hear, rather than honest answers.

    PROs: I really, really want to be a doctor, with many reasons for this. I am extremely interested in short term medical missions, something I cannot do in my present career.

    CONs: I am 31..If I apply again this year, there's no time to improve my application appreciably, and, if I want to improve my MCAT, I will have to take it in August, which would put my app behind, which is a mistake I made this year. If I wait until next year to retake, I will be 33 when I start med school, and 42-43 when I would be at a point to be on my own, so to speak. This seems pretty old to me (no offense to you older applicants!)and I'm not sure my tolerant husband, will be willing to put HIS life on hold for another 2 years while waiting to find out, as well as another 10 years or so while I'm in medical school and residency. I'm sure he would be fine with it, if we knew for sure that I'd get in somewhere, but to go through all this again, possibly to fail miserably again, may just be too much.

    Also, given the response to my current application, there's a good chance I will fork over lots of $$$ just to receive additional rejections.

    Sorry to be a downer.... I'm really impressed with all of you here, and I congratulate all of you who have gotten in this year. My hat is off to all of you who have reapplied and gotten in as well. How you found the strength to go through all of this more than once is truly amazing to me!

    If I wasn't married, I would go through the whole process again in a heartbeat, and do whatever it took to improve my app and get where I want to be. But since I am married, I need to take my husband's wants and needs into consideration as well, and even though he says he supports my decision either way, I cannot help but feel he would be happier if I just accepted the fact that I'm not going to go to medical school and just move on. I know he's been seriously worried about the depression I've sunk into as I realized I wasn't going to get a single interview, and really doesn't want to see me go through it again.

    What do you think?
     
  2. moo

    moo 1K Member
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    Well, I know you probably don't want to hear this, but being married and going through med school is really tough. Hats off to all the people who've made it, and all those who have been accepted and who will make it. As a non-trad, you will have to take into consideration what your husband wants and what you want for your family. Do you have kids? Do you want kids? Can your husband stand being home alone with your kids for days straight while you complete your rotations/residency? Will he be able to just pack up his bags with you and move to where you're going to go to school? Will he be able to find a job, etc. etc.

    I'm sure you've considered all of the above... it can be done. There are many nontrads who've gone down this road. But if you don't get in this year, maybe it's time you thought of applying to schools which appreciate life experiences (i.e., DO schools). Osteopathic schools will train you just as well as an MD school and are really open to non-trads.

    I hope you don't give up... Good luck!

    Unfortunately a big part of the process is the uncertainty. If you feel
     
  3. rxfudd

    rxfudd 1K Member
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    A 29 MCAT and a 3.4 GPA? I don't understand, those are good scores. Have you gotten interviews? Have you called schools to find out why you were rejected? What schools did you apply to? What state are you from? I need some more info before I can begin to speculate on what your best move might be.
     
  4. kd

    kd Senior Member
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    Hey labrat- I had to apply 3 times myself before I finally got in. I don't have much time right now, since I have block exams for the next 2 days, but just wanted to let you know that I've been there and know exactly how you feel. I persevered, kept trying, and couldn't be happier now that I'm finally in med school. If medicine is what you really want, don't give up after just one try- after all, how will you feel 5 or 10 years from now, if you don't try again? You'll be 5 or 10 years older and still no closer to becoming a physician.
    I'll write more specifics after my exams are over-but the place to start is to see what went wrong with your application. Call up some of the schools that rejected you, see if they can identify a problem. Are you sure all of your letters of recommendation are outstanding? Get someone - ideally several people, e.g., a premed advisor- to read over your personal statement and see what might be missing. Your numbers look solid enough to get you interviews SOMEWHERE- unless you're a California resident, in which case it could be tough. Regardless, you should apply to more schools-at least 15-20. You're right that applying late definitely hurts- August MCAT puts you at a disadvantage- but if you can get your AMCAS and secondaries in early, you should still be ok. Make sure you keep up getting clinical experience- a couple times a month volunteering is fine. Take a science class or two over the summer and/or fall, to show med schools you can do the science coursework.
    I don't know if you even need to retake the MCAT- it's best to ask the schools that rejected you and see what they think. A 29 would be fine at my school (in fact, the average for our class is 28), but may be a tad low for some.
    OK, I'm back to crack the books- hope this helps!
     
  5. katiep

    katiep Senior Member
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    labrat,

    Well, I'm married with one daugther and another on the way. I'm 34, going to be 35 in July. I scored a 29R and although I graduated from Columbia with a 3.7, because of a disastrous undergrad attempt 15 years ago, my overall is 3.3. Sounds like very similar to your numbers, if not slightly worse.

    I applied last year and despite a couple of interviews, and a waitlist, did not get in. Because I thought 29 MCAT was good enough to get me in -- plus everyone saying "of course you'll get in" -- I hadn't bothered studying for it again. So I didn't retake it.

    So I finished school with almost a 4.0 my senior year, added some more good research plus clinical activity as a nurse's aide to show heavy patient contact (one big weakness in my original application). And although I only had two interviews so far, I have one acceptance.

    So it can be done. Maybe I got lucky (for most of us, it's just that). I'm sure there are tons of stories like this. You are not so bad. I would say you have an average application numbers-wise, and the chips just didn't fall your way this year. But definitely try to find out where you can make the most improvements. Suggestions: Try to isolate your weaknesses. Speak to an advisor, or better yet, deans of the schools that rejected you. Don't reapply unless you improve your application significantly. I've been told by several people, including adcoms, that they look for how you've improved the second time around. Perhaps do a master's, which may help you anyway if you never get into med school. Apply to more schools. Apply early. Don't worry about how old you are and the money, these should be ancillary to the passion for medicine. Otherwise, don't do medicine, it's probably not worth the trouble. The older you are, the wiser you'll be. The money, you'll make up in the long run with plenty interest.

    Good luck. I've been there. Don't give up.
     
  6. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
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    You did not apply to enough schools. With your numbers, you should have gotten more interviews if you applied to a lot of appropriate range schools. You didn't mention your essays -- they are really important. If you decide to reapply, make sure you have killer essays even if you have to pay someone to help you edit. It is not just a numbers game. Taking the MCAT in August is not the kiss of death. You just have to make sure everything is in (including secondaries) so that your app is complete the minute they get those scores. I took it in August, and out of 23 schools I applied to, have 13 interviews, 4 acceptances and 3 waitlists. 3.5 GPA, 30M MCAT. If I were you, and really wanted to maximize my chances and go for it, I'd apply to 30 schools. Check out the <a href="http://www.studentdoctor.net/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=008425" target="_blank">number of secondaries/interviews/acceptances/rejections thread</a>. :)
     
  7. otter

    otter Senior Member
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    A lot of what I am going to say incorporates what previous posters have said. I recall your post about two months in which you sounded devastated by getting rejected from OHSU. I have not forgotten about you, and I still think that you have been very unlucky.

    Like you, I am a nontrad (although I'm single and few years younger) and so I understand the pressures of age, finances, family and other things. Although I'm compelled to tell you that you should not give up on your dreams and that you should try again, I can totally understand the merits of calling it quits and moving on. After all, not everyone can handle the emotional stress and the uncertainty of going through the med school admissions process over and over again. This is especially true if you're married and when you consider the significance of your family's future.

    If you do decide that you want to give it one more try, I would apply again this year. Get your AMCAS in at the earliest possible date. Have your personal statement critiqued by multiple people. Don't bother retaking the MCAT. Your MCAT scores and GPAs are very respectable. Apply to about 30 schools. Try to take on one or two meaningful new clinical volunteering activities.

    Applying early, adding one/more activities, and applying to 3x as many schools should be enough to get you in somewhere in the next cycle. No guarantees, but I really believe this. This year, it just came down to the fact that you were unlucky. I too consider myself rather unlucky. I went to a top-30 school, have tons of industry/leadership/clinical/research/foreign experiences, and have 30 MCAT, 3.6 GPA. I applied to 14 schools and still have zero acceptances. Who knows? This process is a crapshoot. It's easy to let this process get you down and make you feel like a loser. But a lot of times you simply have to accept the fact that you were unlucky... that and perhaps the fact that you did not apply to enough schools this year.

    I'm sorry that you did not get an invite to OHSU. Quite honestly, I am shocked that you didn't, with your stats and your OR residency (am I right that you're an OR resident?). This was not fair. But, as for next year, you need to balance what you think will make you happy down the road and what you think will be the reasonable thing to do. It sounds like you have a great husband and, if you don't do med school, you will at least have a fulfilling life ahead with him. If you do decide to apply, however, I think you'll have a very good chance, provided you apply early, apply to many schools, and add couple more clinical stuff. Feel free to PM me if you want, okay?!
     
  8. none

    none 1K Member
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    I concur that 9 schools was WAY too low. OHSU is a very competitive university, on par with some of the UCs and shouldn't have been relied upon. Did you apply to Finch, Albany, and GWU? At least one (hopefully more) of those should have been part of your application. It is important to apply where you'd like to be, but it is much more important to apply where you'll get in. Try 20+ schools next time around. As you have seen, it saves money in the long run.
     
  9. otter

    otter Senior Member
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    For an OR resident to secure an invite from OHSU, I don't think that's anywhere near as competitive as a Californian trying to get an invite from UCDavis or UCSD. As an analogy, UW is also an outstanding school and pretty competitive to get into, but they interview a majority of the in-state applicants. For an OR resident with 29 MCAT and 3.6 GPA to not even get an invite from OHSU is just tough break. I can't see it any other way...

    But I do agree that she needed to have applied to more schools.
     
  10. vixen

    vixen I like members
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    I would reapply to more md schools and also apply do
     
  11. tBw

    tBw totally deluded
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    Have you tried contacting any of the schools that have rejected you to find out why they didn't look favorably on your application? Some schools are willing to discuss this with you. If you could find out whats wrong, you might be able to figure out how to fix it and whether it is thus worth re-applying this next year (which I am sure it is...).

    good luck

    tbw
     
  12. nebula7

    nebula7 Senior Member
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    labrat, I was sorta in the same boat as you a while back. I am 26, married, with a child. This was my 3rd consecutive yr applying, and I was getting SO distressed until I finally received 2 acceptances last month. I sometimes felt like giving up, but I am very glad I didn't. If it's what you really want to do, then I hope you apply again. And, you still might get in this yr. Your #s are good, so just from that I don't see what's holding you back...your MCATs are definitely better than mine. I applied to only 6 schools and was accepted, so I don't know that you necessarily need to apply to a much greater # of schools, maybe just a wider variety (eg "safe", "reach").

    I agree with those who said you should contact the schools that have rejected you, and those you haven't heard from. They could at least tell you how to strengthen your app or let you know if the info they received was correct. Good luck! :)
     
  13. bee

    bee Member
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    Hi labrat! I feel for you. This is my third application cycle.
    I agree with what everyone is saying about the # of schools applied to. You can have a greater chance of getting in that way, BUT I also understand the thinking behind applying to only a few schools. In some cases it has nothing to do with the expense involved. This year I only applied to 5 schools. I think that everyone's main goal in life is to find happiness, and for most of us we feel that becoming a physician will provide that. However, some of us also know that we will not be happy living in (insert city). There is only so much that we are willing to sacrifice in order to become a physician. I don't think that makes us any less capable of being excellent physicians.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

    Bee
     
  14. psyche

    psyche Member
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    Labrat:

    I was where you were two years ago and know what a lousy period this must be for you. You're entitled to feel crummy for awhile if you end up not getting in this year, but if you truly want to be a doctor you must apply again. I was 34 when it became clear to me that I wasn't going to get in. And just as you're doing now I worried about being two years older if I applied the following year after first improving my application. Unfortunately, if you want M.D., that's probably what you have to do. It stinks and it does put a strain on your relationship with significant other, but if you reapply, you need to rack up some more A's to show med schools you're committed to improving app. I think you're O.K. with your MCAT. This worked for me. Med schools are impressed with perseverance. Look at this as an oppurtunity to demonstrate how determined you are to purusue medicine. Thousands of re-applicants get in every year. You can do it.
     
  15. Zack90

    Zack90 Senior Member
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    I agree with most of the previous posters.... I was 34 years old last year at this time, had applied to 15 or so schools, and had not been accepted. This year, I'm 35 years old, am thrilled to have a new baby, am in a committed relationship, blah, blah, blah, and have been accepted to several medical schools..... So, what's my point? Quite simply, if you really want to go to medical school, it's possible with being older, have less than a stellar GPA, have a family, etc. This is what being a non-trasitional student is all about. What should you do? You probably know the answer already. So, just go do it! If it's not on your list, I'd suggest that you ask to meet with the Admissions Directors at a couple of schools and see what you could do to make yourself more competitive. They'll most likely give excellent advice - better than what most of us can give you. Also, like others have stated, medical schools like to see perserverance - it's OK to have to apply more than once, many of us to it - but while you're reapplying you need to be doing whatever it takes to improve your application, that may be more EC's, retake the MCAT, complete several more science classes with great grades in every one of them, a revised personal statement, etc.

    On the other hand, it's also OK to decide medical school is not right for you at this time. And if that's the case, accept the fact and move on. There's so much to life! Live with no regrets. Move forward, not back. I hope this doesn't sound harsh.

    I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.
     
  16. racergirl

    racergirl Senior Member
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    Definately apply again, but in addition to applying to more schools, APPLY EARLY!!! Your numbers are solid, but not spectacular. In that kind of situation I think it might be even more important to apply early...
     
  17. Art_Vandelay

    Art_Vandelay Junior Member

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    Labrat

    I know you don't want to hear this, but... you need to get your MCAT score up. As it stands right now, your 29 is slightly below the avg. for admitted students. Your GPA is ok, but definitely not gonna turn heads. You need to consider that you are competing against the group of applicants who get admitted, not really the whole pool of applicants. Ask yourself how you stand up against them? it appears to me that you fall just below the 50 percentile range, which apparently is not enough to sway the adcoms to take your bait.

    So, as a scientist, you should know that if one approach doesn't solve the problem you need to come at from a different angle. The most obvious place that you can make an immediate impact is with your mcat scores. The gpa is a slow and painful process, and its just my opinion, but, I feel adcoms are far more impressed with high mcats than high gpa. Go to the OPM site and look under success stories, there is a guy named Laurence Flint who posted, he had a similar situation to you, but, turned it around with a good showing on the mcat.

    Even though it sucks to study for that monstrous beast of an exam, you need to. Bust your a$$ from now till august, then come october you will be in charge of your destiny.

    God speed my friend.

    ------------------------
    You may be done with the past, but, the past may not be done with you.
     
  18. EpiII

    EpiII Senior Member
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    I think going to the OPM (old/non traditional med school students/applicants) website might help you as well. <a href="http://www.studentdoctor.net/opm" target="_blank">Here it is.</a>
     
  19. Hero

    Hero Senior Member
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    hey, if being a physician is your dream...
    <img src="http://members.aon.at/~fschern1/never-give-up.gif" alt="" />

    :)
     
  20. labrat

    labrat Member
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    Thanks so much for your encouraging replies. This whole process has me really scared. I really want to reapply, but the fear of getting repeated rejections again is pretty strong. I don't think I can take another round of solid rejection. Keeping all of your advice in mind, here's my plan.

    1. Reapply, but get my application in at the earliest possible date. I will revamp my personal statement and get several more people to read it. I poured out my heart and soul in the last one, but I can see now that it might seem a little too idealistic to adcoms. The thing is, I really DO want to practice in underserved areas and participate in medical missions. (Maybe they thought I made that up just so I could get in??)

    2. Add a few more volunteer activities. I am currently volunteering at a local agency, and I can add another volunteer activity at my local community health center.

    3. Retake the dreaded MCAT. This I really do not want to do, but I agree with Art that this might be the one thing that really proves my serious intent to get in. I will have to take it in August however, because there is no way I can be prepared by April.

    I have tried to contact my state school (OHSU), to get feedback on my application, but have received no response. I emailed a person on the adcom whose position, so I'm told, is to counsel rejected applicants. So far she has not responded to my email or my written letter, both of which were sent a month or more ago. I don't want to alienate her by being a pest, but I will try again next month to get a response. Two of the other schools I was rejected from said explicitly in their letter NOT to contact them for info regarding my application and why it was rejected.
    I haven't officially been rejected from the other schools yet, but I did apply to a wide range, many whose acceptance stats are close to mine.

    As to increasing the number of schools to apply to, I agree that this would help me a lot, but there are some geographical reasons why I chose the schools I did. My husband will not be in a position to move for a few years, so we will have to be separated the first few years of school. Since we're in Oregon, it doesn't make sense for me to apply to schools in New York, unless I never want to see him.

    moo- thanks for your reply. I agree that being married makes it much more difficult. We do not have kids, though I do want to adopt eventually. Since adoption won't depend on my ovaries, I won't have to worry about med school interfering with my childbearing years.

    rxfudd- I am an Oregon resident, and no, I have not gotten any interviews.

    kd- thanks for your encouraging reply..3x wow! that's impressive! That does give me hope. I do know for sure that 3 of my LORs were awesome... The writers gave me copies. The fourth however, I'm not sure about. When I asked my professor (who is now retired) to write it, she acted like it was an inconvenience, but agreed to do it. If I'd known that she would see it that way, I wouldn't have asked her to begin with, and there was no way to withdraw my request since she agreed to do it. I will not ask her again this year!

    katiep- wow, med school with two kids and a husband. You are so awesome!! I will try to find out my weaknesses, I just hope one or more of the med schools will help me in this area. Congrats on getting in. I understand well now how hard it is to reapply.

    SMW, none & simseema17- I agree about the numbers thing, and I will try to apply to a few more schools, but I am a bit limited geographically.

    Otter, thanks for your message. I agree about this process being a crapshoot. According to the MSAR, OHSU interviewed 1/2 of the applicants from Oregon last year and accepted 1/2 of those interviewed, so, theoretically, I had a 1 in 4 chance of getting in. I guess I fell into the unlucky 1/2 that didn't get interviewed this year. Yes I am an Oregon resident, but, as I found out, that is not enough.

    nebula7-congrats! All of you reapplicants have really given me hope. It CAN be done!

    bee- I totally agree about choosing schools where you can see yourself living for several years. I really don't want to be separated super far from my husband, so I will never apply to east coast schools.

    psyche &zack90- I applaud both of you for continuing your pursuit of medical school. I will really try to improve my app. You have both inspired me to try again. I probably will retake the MCAT rather than take more classes though. I work full time, and my schedule is varied enough to make taking classes nearly impossible. I can however, study at odd hours (much as I hate to).

    Thanks everyone for your honest responses! i was shocked to see the replies to my question. I really was ready to totally give up, but you have all inspired me to try again. The fact that I'm even considering retaking the MCAT is amazing.

    Hero- I feel just like that frog.
     
  21. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior
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    Never give up! Never quit! Because you're too legit to quit. 2 legit; 2 legit to quit.

    Apply early, apply many.
     
  22. sandflea

    sandflea Senior Member
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    i disagree with those who said your numbers are the problem. your numbers are FINE. no, they won't necessarily be competitive for elite schools, but they're definitely enough to get you in somewhere, and isn't that what matters? actually i believe the average MCAT score for accepted applicants *is* a 29, so you're fine. really--your numbers are solid. but it couldn't hurt to bring it up--HOWEVER, if you're sure that there is no way you could be prepared for the april MCAT, then don't bother retaking it, because taking the august MCAT will put your application too far behind for the potential benefits to be worth it, considering you already have a competitive score.

    i agree that you should apply to more schools, because the process is a crapshoot, and DEFINITELY apply as early as possible. that can make all the difference in the world. good luck!
     
  23. otter

    otter Senior Member
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    Hi Labrat - I'm going to have to bug you again. Like I posted before, I really really want to caution you before you decide to take the August MCAT. (please note that I'm NOT necessarily trying to talk you out of it) I think sandflea's comments exactly reflect what I said earlier. Your stats are fine. With your stats, it was an anamoly that you didn't get interviewed by OHSU.

    This is the question you need to ask yourself. Do you really believe that you can make an appreciable improvement in your MCAT score? In order to justify retaking the MCAT this August, I think you will need to have at least 2-point improvement. Otherwise, it's not worth having your applications pushed back. Like sandflea said, 29 is right about the national average of all the accepted students.

    Think about another scenario: you retake the MCAT, but for some reason you end up scoring the same or lower. That will really put you in a rough spot. While your current score of 29 is well within the acceptable range as far as most second-tier schools are concerned, retaking the MCAT and then somehow getting a 27 this time might take you out of running altogether. I've seen this happen to some people. When you took your last MCAT and got a 29, did you feel as if you pretty much maxed out on your potential? Did you feel as if you studied everything there was to study and performed just about as well as you could've? If so, you really need to rethink.

    I'm not saying that you should be content with the MCAT score of 29. Ideally, it'd be nice to have a higher score. But it's still a decent score. And, just like raising your MCAT score will improve your chances, so will applying early and applying to many schools and and improving your essays and increasing your clinical activities. Don't get me wrong -- if you feel that you could do much better on the MCAT (like 31~33), then I think you really should retake it. But you need to ask yourself if that is a likely possibility.

    As for your geographical considerations, I understand the constraints. Unfortunately, there are very few schools on the West coast where you will have any realistic chances if you're going to apply with your current stats. In fact, the only such schools would be OHSU, USC and Loma Linda (USC and Loma Linda are actually extremely competitive, too). If you're willing to stretch out to the Midwest, you have a lot more options: Creighton, St Louis, Finch, MC-Wisconsin, Loyola, Case Western. In case you change your mind about the East coast and South, you should consider: Albany, NYMC, MCP Hahnemann, Jefferson, Temple, Penn State, Vermont, George Washington, Pitt, BU, Rochester, Tufts, Mt Sinai, Howard, Tulane. That's already 24 schools... Again, you need to apply early!!
     
  24. smedly

    smedly Member
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    Labrat,
    Your scores should have earned you an interview, especially in your home state.
    You're 29 and female ....medical schools discriminate! I am 28 and also female. My MCAT was lower (27), my GPA 3.78 and I have years of health care experience....my state wouldn't even grant me an interview. I believe, as applicants, we are penalized for not knowing the direction of our lives when we graduated from high school. With that much 'time off' we should have earned a PhD.
    If you really want to be a physician you should apply to DO schools...in the end you'll be doing the same job for the same $$$. You can change your MCAT but not your age, sex, race... Why put yourself through this agonizing process again for yet another uncertain outcome. Any osteopathic school will take you as is. Save a few thousand dollars next year and go for the sure thing.
    Just my opinion. Good luck
     
  25. smedly

    smedly Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
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    labrat, I made you younger...sorry.
     

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