AlaskaScribe

5+ Year Member
Oct 15, 2012
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Pre-Medical
Whether tis nobler for the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a Sea of troubles, and by opposing end them; to die, to sleep...

I just finished with the GRE testing yesterday, and my preliminary quantitative score was 149 and my verbal was 163 (my essay portion I'm going to conservatively guess between 4-5). I graduated cum laude with a BFA in Theatre and Dance double major, with a cGPA of 3.518.

Since college I've continued taking math courses while working full time, getting mostly As with one B, and I got a D in anatomy class after a skiing accident made it impossible for me to get to class for the rest of the semester (blew the ACL on the leg that I use to clutch on my manual car, on crutches in December, so pretty much a hot mess). I'm currently in trigonometry through an online state university extension and plan on taking calculus I in the spring.

I've also been working in various medical areas since graduation; I spent 6 months as a personal care attendant to several elderly people with a variety of medical issues, 2.5 years working as a pathologist's assistant running his office operations, personal life, as well as assisting in autopsies (adult and fetal), gross dissection of specimens, performing cytologic and histologic tests, and currently almost 3 years working as a transcriptionist to 50 bed and 4 OR hospital with 5 physical therapy offices, a drug treatment center, a psychiatric group, and a nursing home. I will probably go back to working part time for the pathologist this winter. I know I can get a good recommendation from him, as well as his wife who is a retired pediatrician who I worked with on occasion.

I didn't study, really, for this recent GRE, between work and classes. Magoosh (a GRE prep firm) had a list of grad school programs and the GRE scores they look for and it appeared that Columbia, NYU, and USC's "Health and Medicine" programs look for a 150-154 in the quantitative section. "Health and Medicine" seems pretty broad, but I'm assuming that at least Columbia's includes their postbaccalaureate premedical program.

Is it really worth it to buckle down, become a complete hermit, and retake the GRE in 30 days (on top of finishing up my trig class and working) in hopes of improving my quantitative score before I start making applications? Should I just chillax about the 1 point difference and let my professional experiences and post-grad academics speak for themselves? I want to go to one of the top tier programs like Goucher, Mills, Columbia, Tufts, or Bennington, since I'm going to be digging myself into another 30+K of debt anyway and I want the most bang for my buck.

I was the first person on either side of my family to graduate from a bachelor's program, let alone look at graduate schools, especially in the medical field, so if I seem a little neurotic and I'm asking questions with obvious answers, that's why. I'm kind of without a compass or map, and the sky is all cloudy so I can't see the stars. Any successful or unsuccessful applicants out there have any suggestions on anything else I should be doing?
 

DrMidlife

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Think a bit farther ahead here. You're in a great (GREAT) position to pursue UWash. You don't have to go to a big name formal structured postbac. You can get your prereqs done in Fairbanks or wherever you are now. UWash is a top 10 school on all the lists.

Regardless, I seriously doubt that a GRE retake is going to change anything with the big name postbacs. You did fine.

Best of luck to you.
 

Hailstorm

10+ Year Member
Aug 12, 2007
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Honestly you can/should phone the schools and ask if they don't post what is competitive or for their advice. I don't think that your GRE quant is very good (personally, <50th percentile = <25 MCAT, keep in mind that medical school applicants are not "average" students, you need to be the best of the best, not just better than most), especially if you're relying on the As in your math courses to offset the D and demonstrate your academic credentials. Regardless of whether you wind up retaking it or not I cannot emphasize the importance of being mathematically sound before you begin your general chemistry/physics courses. If a similar situation to your ACL tear ever comes up again, I would seriously consider meeting with the professor ASAP and attempting to negotiate an incomplete and/or withdrawing from the course.
 
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A

AlaskaScribe

5+ Year Member
Oct 15, 2012
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Pre-Medical
DrMidlife -- I'm certainly considering the WWAMI program for med school, but I have been incredibly unimpressed with the University of Alaska system over the last 3 years. Their financial aid department is run by graduates from the Pennywise School of Clowning and Financial Aid, I swear to god, at both UAA and UAF. I've also been told by a physician professor in the UAA medicine program that UAA is pretty much a party school and that I should look elsewhere if I wanted a good undergrad education (admittedly, he used to teach at Yale, so most every college probably looks like a party school to him). All in all, the only reason I'm even considering WWAMI at all is because the tuition is probably the cheapest you can get for med school without signing up for indentured service, and their new building. Any way, taking the premed courses there actually winds up being as or more expensive for me than just uprooting and going across the country since I don't live near UAA or UAF, and would have to find a place to live while I was there anyway. The college extension locally only has 30 spots available in its bio and chem labs per class, and those go to the nursing majors, and the classes crap out before organic chemistry. I'm not even sure we have anything beyond calc 1 here, since most of our courses are geared towards petroleum engineering and related fields.

Hailstorm -- I am under no illusions that the quant is in any way a 'good' score. It is at least an improvement from my 230 (aka less than 1%) that I got back in 2010 (which I shared with no one). Unfortunately, retaking the GRE costs me about $300+ since it's a 3 hour drive to the testing center in good conditions, and generally involves an overnight stay. You can see why I would really rather avoid going back for another try if I didn't have to. I think I will take your advice and make some calls to see a little bit more what they're looking for. I do have some break time at the end of the year coming that I could possibly squeeze in another trip. I'll also try and petition to get my anatomy grade flipped to an incomplete/withdrawal ( getting a letter from the surgeon should be easy since we work at the same hospital at least).

Thanks both of you guys for your input!
 

DrMidlife

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DrMidlife -- I'm certainly considering the WWAMI program for med school, but I have been incredibly unimpressed with the University of Alaska system over the last 3 years. Their financial aid department is run by graduates from the Pennywise School of Clowning and Financial Aid, I swear to god, at both UAA and UAF. I've also been told by a physician professor in the UAA medicine program that UAA is pretty much a party school and that I should look elsewhere if I wanted a good undergrad education (admittedly, he used to teach at Yale, so most every college probably looks like a party school to him). All in all, the only reason I'm even considering WWAMI at all is because the tuition is probably the cheapest you can get for med school without signing up for indentured service, and their new building. Any way, taking the premed courses there actually winds up being as or more expensive for me than just uprooting and going across the country since I don't live near UAA or UAF, and would have to find a place to live while I was there anyway. The college extension locally only has 30 spots available in its bio and chem labs per class, and those go to the nursing majors, and the classes crap out before organic chemistry. I'm not even sure we have anything beyond calc 1 here, since most of our courses are geared towards petroleum engineering and related fields.
Gotcha. I did prereqs at UWash and I regret it. You're making me nostalgic for the time before I'd already made all my choices. I wanted to do Bennington and never did anything about it.

Play up the romance in your story when you apply - overachieving first generation college grad from the snowy tundra, such practical premed experiences, so ready to work! Humble & grateful makes the sale.

Your plan and your list of schools sounds completely rational, assuming you have some financial backing. Moving costs are never covered by school financial aid, assuming you can get some. Be very wary of private loans, because these do NOT offer repayment terms that are consistent with medical training.

PM me as needed, I'd like to help if I can.