• The site has been updated!

    If you see any bugs, please report them in this thread.

Too Many Degrees?

PepperMD

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2007
234
3
201
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Okay, so I'm semi-nontrad, having arrived at medicine late and spending some extra years in undergrad, and will be graduating in May with a B.S. in Psychology and a BA in Literature, Science, and the Arts (an interdisciplinary degree that I was able to plug my extra credits into) and a minor in English. I applied late for 2007 and received an interview at my state school (my first choice anyway) and will receive a verdict in March. However, if I should have to reapply, I have a question regarding degree options.

My gpas are sub-par but not fatal, 3.33 total, 3.41 BCPM on this year's app, approx. 3.41 total, 3.47 BCPM upon re-app figuring this year's grades. In addition to the normal stuff, improving MCAT, more clinical experience, etc, I have been considering further academic options. From what I've read on SDN, Master's, MPH, etc are relatively worthless in med school admissions and I'd be better off doing an unofficial post-bacc in upper-level science courses. This brings me to my question.

If I'm going to be taking a bunch of upper-level undergrad courses, I may as well get another bachelor's degree while I'm at it. I would only need about 20 credits to get a BA in Biology. Doing so would raise my total and BCPM gpas to 3.49 and 3.67 respectively (assuming straight A's which I've been doing for the past 6 semesters, so it's reasonable) and would mean I would have 3 bachelor's degrees total.

The question is, is this too much? Is there a point where adcomms would see such a thing as overkill and ultimately turn out to be a negative for me? I have a hunch it might, but if I'm going to be taking the courses anyway, I might as well get a degree out of it, right? Input would be appreciated.
 

bbabul01

Full Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2006
412
0
201
Boston
Status (Visible)
  1. Resident [Any Field]
I would shy away from another bachelors. If you're considering going for another degree, do a Masters. I think another Bachelors degree is equivalent to a second major.

If you want to do a Masters, I personally think an MPH would be great (although I agree that it is shunned here on SDN). The other options is a bio sciences masters or something along those lines.

Whatever you do, refrain from just getting a degree to add letters after your name to improve your application. Make it something your interested in, something you could consider actually using for a career, just in case plan A does not work out. Good luck!
 

soeagerun2or

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Sep 27, 2006
566
3
0
Status (Visible)
The question is, is this too much? .. but if I'm going to be taking the courses anyway, I might as well get a degree out of it, right? Input would be appreciated.

1) Don't be so convoluted

2) At the undergraduate level you get a degree. It doesn't matter what the letters say or what its in really (engineering aside) because you aren't really capable of doing anything (see number of liberal arts majors managing the Gap or working at Mc Donalds). No, getting another undergraduate degree will not make any difference. If it helps you sleep at night go ahead and do it.
 
About the Ads

GuzzyRon

Son of the Son of Man
10+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2004
1,058
30
221
Under the shadow of the Almighty
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
IMHO, it can go both ways. They either can see you as a person who loves learning and life-long learning is one of the hallmarks of a medical professional. But on the flip-side, the multiple degrees can cut an image of an unfocused person who is not yet sure what he wants to do with his life.

I don't think you need another degree. But if you don't get in this cycle, for the next cycle, simply complete the prerequisite courses, take the MCAT and turn in your app ASAP.
 

Genetics

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2006
145
1
0
Status (Visible)
It does you no good to have multiple degrees and not have any real world work experience.

You already have undergraduate degrees. If the only reason you want to get another B.S degree is to get into medical school, don't waste your time and life. Just take a few classes over that you did poor in and then re-apply, or apply.

Why not get a masters degree? Move up in the world!

I know of a person who is similar to what you are dealing with. This person finished with a 2.5 overall GPA as an undergraduate 6 years ago from Thiland (some engineering degree). He then got admitted into a masters program for some engineering degree in a top rated public university in the Midwest. I have no idea who good he did in his masters work. He started back up as an undergraduate degree again last year. He will be applying for medical school next year. The real killer is that he won't have worked a single job in the last 3 years. If he doesn't even get into medical school next year, I have no idea what this person is going to do with his life. Oh well, that is his life and he can do whatever he wants. He is now 29 years old and will be 30 if he were to get into medical school and would not have worked a single job since he was 26 years old.

The funny thing is, this person thinks he will just apply for scholarships to cover one-half of his medical school tution and his wife cover the other half. To top it all, he only plans on applying to california schools and no place else (currently lives in the Iowa Wisconsin area and goes to a no-name private school).

This is a classic case of "Having Your Head Stuck in The O-Chem Textbook Too Long Syndrome and Not Understanding How the Real World Works."
 

PepperMD

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2007
234
3
201
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
It does you no good to have multiple degrees and not have any real world work experience.

You already have undergraduate degrees. If the only reason you want to get another B.S degree is to get into medical school, don't waste your time and life. Just take a few classes over that you did poor in and then re-apply, or apply.

Why not get a masters degree? Move up in the world!

I know of a person who is similar to what you are dealing with. This person finished with a 2.5 overall GPA as an undergraduate 6 years ago from Thiland (some engineering degree). He then got admitted into a masters program for some engineering degree in a top rated public university in the Midwest. I have no idea who good he did in his masters work. He started back up as an undergraduate degree again last year. He will be applying for medical school next year. The real killer is that he won't have worked a single job in the last 3 years. If he doesn't even get into medical school next year, I have no idea what this person is going to do with his life. Oh well, that is his life and he can do whatever he wants. He is now 29 years old and will be 30 if he were to get into medical school and would not have worked a single job since he was 26 years old.

The funny thing is, this person thinks he will just apply for scholarships to cover one-half of his medical school tution and his wife cover the other half. To top it all, he only plans on applying to california schools and no place else (currently lives in the Iowa Wisconsin area and goes to a no-name private school).

This is a classic case of "Having Your Head Stuck in The O-Chem Textbook Too Long Syndrome and Not Understanding How the Real World Works."

I never said I don't have real world work experience. As a matter of fact, I had to work to put myself through school and have gained a ton of clinical, research, patient care experience through my employment over the years. The root of my question is whether taking some extra undergrad courses which would help my gpa (since master's courses do not figure into AMCAS undergrad gpa) and subsequently getting another degree because it wouldn't take that long to do so, would ultimately be a positive or a negative in the admissions process.

And as for your friend from Thailand, interesting story but it really doesn't apply here.
 

Genetics

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2006
145
1
0
Status (Visible)
I never said I don't have real world work experience. As a matter of fact, I had to work to put myself through school and have gained a ton of clinical, research, patient care experience through my employment over the years. The root of my question is whether taking some extra undergrad courses which would help my gpa (since master's courses do not figure into AMCAS undergrad gpa) and subsequently getting another degree because it wouldn't take that long to do so, would ultimately be a positive or a negative in the admissions process.

And as for your friend from Thailand, interesting story but it really doesn't apply here.


I wasn't saying you don't have real world work experience. I was just pointing out the mistkae people make...staying in academia too long.

My advice is just to take a few classes that you did poor in and raise the GPA about .1-.3.
 

TMP-SMX

Senior Member
Moderator Emeritus
15+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2006
3,839
183
316
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
I'm not seeing what the problem is with your GPA. If your MCAT is above 29 you will be perfectly fine. If you don't get in after this March just take a couple classes here and there if you can afford it. Do not retake your lower level classes unless you received Cs or below in them. I would also recommend that you take upper level courses that would help for med school. If not, then get a job and work full time. I'm not seeing what the confusion is about.
 

braluk

SDN Surgerynator
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2006
11,823
65
0
The Big Easy
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
(didnt read the entire post but just commenting on your general topic) Having too many degrees is a bad thing. Its one thign to be a double major (with two degrees) with a masters degree in something but its another thing to have 4-5+ degrees because you get stigmatized as the career student or the degree hoarder- unable to make your mind up.

If the purpose of the degree is to make yourself more competitive for medical school if you didn't get in, it might even be better to use the degree in the real world, and if unsuccessful again, to take upperlevel science courses (with no degree) through a postbac or some similar program to prove your grades. If that doesn't work again, you may want to pursue another degree if it will enhance what you are doing in the real world. That way, adcoms dont label you as someone who doesn't know what you want, but instead, the mulitple degrees have a real world validity that telslt hem that you have another plan in life if you dont get in- which shows maturity in thinking and planning.
 

PepperMD

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2007
234
3
201
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
I'm not seeing what the problem is with your GPA. If your MCAT is above 29 you will be perfectly fine. If you don't get in after this March just take a couple classes here and there if you can afford it. Do not retake your lower level classes unless you received Cs or below in them. I would also recommend that you take upper level courses that would help for med school. If not, then get a job and work full time. I'm not seeing what the confusion is about.

There really isn't that much confusion I guess. My gpa problems stem mostly from a few unmotivated semesters early on. I have a pretty good upward trend with several years of straight-A's. So as far as gpa being a factor, upward trend, pretty good ECs and a decent MCAT can make up for it. That being said, I probably don't plan on getting another bachelor's, but as an option I was wondering how adcomms might view it.
 

PepperMD

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2007
234
3
201
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
(didnt read the entire post but just commenting on your general topic) Having too many degrees is a bad thing. Its one thign to be a double major (with two degrees) with a masters degree in something but its another thing to have 4-5+ degrees because you get stigmatized as the career student or the degree hoarder- unable to make your mind up.

If the purpose of the degree is to make yourself more competitive for medical school if you didn't get in, it might even be better to use the degree in the real world, and if unsuccessful again, to take upperlevel science courses (with no degree) through a postbac or some similar program to prove your grades. If that doesn't work again, you may want to pursue another degree if it will enhance what you are doing in the real world. That way, adcoms dont label you as someone who doesn't know what you want, but instead, the mulitple degrees have a real world validity that telslt hem that you have another plan in life if you dont get in- which shows maturity in thinking and planning.

Word.

Good advice as usual.
 

notdeadyet

Still in California
15+ Year Member
Jul 23, 2004
11,777
1,995
426
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
If the purpose of the degree is to make yourself more competitive for medical school if you didn't get in, it might even be better to use the degree in the real world, and if unsuccessful again, to take upperlevel science courses (with no degree) through a postbac or some similar program to prove your grades.
Agreed. A master's can be valuable for its own sake, but a master's for the sake of a master's doesn't do a whole lot. At least with UD science you'll be improving your GPA and look better on your app.
 

foofish

Full Member
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Apr 23, 2006
1,204
4
151
SDN
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
If I'm going to be taking a bunch of upper-level undergrad courses, I may as well get another bachelor's degree while I'm at it. I would only need about 20 credits to get a BA in Biology. Doing so would raise my total and BCPM gpas to 3.49 and 3.67 respectively (assuming straight A's which I've been doing for the past 6 semesters, so it's reasonable) and would mean I would have 3 bachelor's degrees total.

If you're going to reapply next year, then whether you're working toward another degree or just taking higher-level classes would be rather irrelevant....except for the fact that some schools require you to *complete* any degrees in progress before matriculating, so how long would you be trapped in a degree program that will be worthless once you get into med school? I'd also echo the concern about being seen as a career student, especially since it's continually repeating the same level of degree instead of "advancing"....but yeah, the masters for the hell of it is also probably as useless.

Have you thought about working in a lab, or a hospital, and taking a few classes part-time? Maybe expanding the breadth of your experience would be more beneficial than expanding your number of undergrad degrees. :) Good luck!
 

PepperMD

Full Member
10+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2007
234
3
201
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
If you're going to reapply next year, then whether you're working toward another degree or just taking higher-level classes would be rather irrelevant....except for the fact that some schools require you to *complete* any degrees in progress before matriculating, so how long would you be trapped in a degree program that will be worthless once you get into med school? I'd also echo the concern about being seen as a career student, especially since it's continually repeating the same level of degree instead of "advancing"....but yeah, the masters for the hell of it is also probably as useless.

Have you thought about working in a lab, or a hospital, and taking a few classes part-time? Maybe expanding the breadth of your experience would be more beneficial than expanding your number of undergrad degrees. :) Good luck!

Yeah, I currently work at both a lab and a hospital, but there are always other experiences I can pursue. The main reason I would pursue the extra degree is because I wouldn't need that many credits (like 2 semesters tops) to get it and if I were taking some extra classes I might as well just top off another one. However, I've been in school for so long, I might just take my slightly crappy gpa for what it's worth, stress the upward trend, and continue piling on experience.
 

Genetics

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Aug 5, 2006
145
1
0
Status (Visible)
Yeah, I currently work at both a lab and a hospital, but there are always other experiences I can pursue. The main reason I would pursue the extra degree is because I wouldn't need that many credits (like 2 semesters tops) to get it and if I were taking some extra classes I might as well just top off another one. However, I've been in school for so long, I might just take my slightly crappy gpa for what it's worth, stress the upward trend, and continue piling on experience.

This post screams what others have already warned you about. Just from this post it sounds like you are career studet already.

Work, develop some skills. Take a couple of courses part-time to make you feel better about having a 3.4 instead of a 3.3 and work on the rest of your application. Your number of degrees won't do much for getting you in compared to someone who only has one degree.

Look at this way:

Adcom: Hi Mr. Jones! How are you doing today?

Mr. Jones: I'm doing good. I'm happy to have the chance to interview with you today!

Adcom: Your welcome, so let's take a look at your application.

Mr. Jones: Ok.

Adcome: Well, Charles, it looks like you have 3 B.S. degrees and 1 minor. So why do you hve a degree in Arts, English, and Physics? None of those degress have anything to do with each other?

Mr. Jones: Well, I don't really know. I just thought that getting a couple of more degress might help me have an upper hand on admissions into medical school compared to a person who only has one degree.

Adcom: Ok, I see, you think you are better then others just because you took another year of classes so you can have three degrees.

Mr. Jones: No! That is not what I'm saying.

Adcom: Well, that is what it looks like to me. Why didn't you just take a couple of classes over, or get a masters degree so you can advance your career, oh wait, what jobes have you worked at?

Mr. Jones: I have worked at ...................

Adcom: That is cool. What did you like the most about your jobs?

Mr. Jones: The best apart of my job is the flexibility that I have to get another degree while the experiment runs all day long.

Adcom: So why do you want to be a doctor again? What does getting three degress have to do with you becoming a doctor?
 

Shpamme

status pages confuse me.
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 14, 2005
357
0
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Non-Student
I absolutely agree with Braluk. I have a law degree and in fact, at some of my interviews the issue has come up. At Tulane, my interviewer literally, ad verbatim, started out with "you did law, you got a masters, now you want to go to med school. Are you like a career student? Are you crazy or something?"

I really had to demonstrate to them that my interest in medicine was apart from anything I did before. In other words, that I wasn't just going for medicine because I disliked law. If you can come up with articulable, independent reasons for going into medicine, it will help.

But even with those explanations, I've always still been asked whether I worked as a lawyer. I didn't. Sometimes they just say okay and move on, but other times they question further. I too have had plenty of work experience through college and law school in a wide variety of settings (research assistant, judicial extern etc)--but these don't seem to count in the eyes of most interviewers. As a older nontrad, they want to actually see you out of schools for a while, out in the real world, making a actual salary, etc. Those types of extended work experiences are, at least from my experience, what carry the most weight and distinguish you as a nontrad.
 
About the Ads
This thread is more than 14 years old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.