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mdaspirant22

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My daughter is a freshman at a top 20 school pursuing premed and taking bio and gen chem this semester. Not doing that great. Is it advisable to transfer to a state school and stay closer to home? She has taken few classes(biology, calculus) at the state school during senior year high school and has got an A with very less effort. We are in a dilemma because if she stays at her current university she might not have the gpa for md school admission.

I am assuming 3.5 minimum gpa for md applications.

Any suggestions or similar experiences?
 

MyOdyssey

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Is your daughter at a T20 with a reputation for tough grading, e.g. Wash U, Emory, UC Berkeley, Penn, Princeton?

What do you mean by "not doing so great"? A-, B+, C+?
 
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brownsfan999

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How bad is "not that great"? It's only the first semester, I would encourage her to exhaust her resources at this school before transferring assuming she likes the school otherwise. Have her visit her advisor and tutors. Lots of pre-meds struggle freshman year and get in.
 
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mdaspirant22

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yes, she is at a university tough on grading. She may end up with an A- most probably or B+ for chem and B/B-/B+ for biology depending on the next few grades and semester exams.

She did get an A in high school senior year taking the same biology course at our state school, hence our dilemma. She is saying the course is 10 times harder and 10 times more material. With all the dorm and new college experience distractions, I guess she is not putting the extra effort needed.
 
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brownsfan999

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yes, she is at a university tough on grading. She may end up with an A- most probably or B+ for chem and B/B-/B+ for biology depending on the next few grades and semester exams.
She is FINE
 
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workaholic181

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First off, she's doing fine for freshmen year intro pre med stuff.

The bump med school applicants from top schools get for going to a top school is marginal. I have classmates who went Ivy League and classmates who went to community college then graduated from unranked state schools. The general consensus I've heard is to go to the college where the classes will be graded fairest and where you will have the least amount of debt.

If she doesnt like her current school and feels she'd be happier at the other one then I'd go for it. But if her whole reason for wanting to leave is a possible freshman year B, that's not advisable. Again the loss of prestige will be minimal for med school. Of course, if she chooses something other than medicine (which most pre meds do) then that could change. I wish you guys luck in whatever you choose.
 
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MyOdyssey

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yes, she is at a university tough on grading. She may end up with an A- most probably or B+ for chem and B/B-/B+ for biology depending on the next few grades and semester exams.

She did get an A in high school senior year taking the same biology course at our state school, hence our dilemma. She is saying the course is 10 times harder and 10 times more material. With all the dorm and new college experience distractions, I guess she is not putting the extra effort needed.

Taking courses that emphasize problem solving, conceptual thinking, understanding of experimental design and primary scientific literature readings will help your daughter prepare for the MCAT. I suspect your daughter's T20 offers that, which may explain why she finds the coursework more challenging.

If the state school you have in mind doesn't offer that, then your daughter will have to pick up those skills otherwise.

Your daughter isn't doing that badly at the moment but the toughest has yet to come. Orgo I and II often trips students up, for example. She needs to take this time to raise her game.

How do research and volunteering opportunities, class size and advising compare as between the two institutions?
 
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MyOdyssey

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yes, she is at a university tough on grading. She may end up with an A- most probably or B+ for chem and B/B-/B+ for biology depending on the next few grades and semester exams.

She did get an A in high school senior year taking the same biology course at our state school, hence our dilemma. She is saying the course is 10 times harder and 10 times more material. With all the dorm and new college experience distractions, I guess she is not putting the extra effort needed.

Also, how does your daughter like the T20 overall? Is she happy there? Does she "fit"? Is she making friends? All of that will contribute to her long term success.

Does the T20 have an associated medical school? A lot of such medical schools take a disproportionate number of applicants from the associated undergrad. For example, Hopkins (another tough grading school) accepts a very large number of Hopkins undergrads. That's something else to consider.
 

ObjectiveBoba

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Is your daughter at a T20 with a reputation for tough grading, e.g. Wash U, Emory, UC Berkeley, Penn, Princeton?

Penn, Wash U, and Emory aren't known to be tough on grading. They just don't have the insane grade inflation at Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. The average GPA for Penn is around 3.4 - 3.5, Wash U is a 3.5+, while Emory is probably around a 3.5.

Princeton, UChicago, the UCs, and MIT/Caltech are probably the most notorious among the T20s for tough grading in an academic-focused environment.
 
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mdaspirant22

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But if her whole reason for wanting to leave is a possible freshman year B, that's not advisable. Again the loss of prestige will be minimal for med school. Of course, if she chooses something other than medicine (which most pre meds do) then that could change. I wish you guys luck in whatever you choose.

Right now, the thought is to do economics/finance major and her current school would definitely be better for it if she drops premed. She will not have as many science classes, which makes it even more difficult as there are Orgo and other hard classes too.
But for sure, she can get a much better gpa at state schools.
 

candbgirl

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    .. She is saying the course is 10 times harder and 10 times more material. With all the dorm and new college experience distractions, I guess she is not putting the extra effort needed.

    I think she’s most likely doing just fine. Freshman year is a year of adjustment in all areas. As she progresses in the premed curriculum she’ll find classes that are 10 times harder than what she’s taking now and she is nowhere near the furnace that is medical school. She needs to learn to adapt to academic demands and not just take the easy way out. Oh and average for med school is currently 3.7 .
     
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    mdaspirant22

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    Also, how does your daughter like the T20 overall? Is she happy there? Does she "fit"? Is she making friends? All of that will contribute to her long term success.

    Does the T20 have an associated medical school? A lot of such medical schools take a disproportionate number of applicants from the associated undergrad. For example, Hopkins (another tough grading school) accepts a very large number of Hopkins undergrads. That's something else to consider.

    She likes it there. Initially I feel she was more worried about not making friends and all, but now seems to be doing fine.

    There is a medical school associated but I don't think she will have a chance with anything less than 3.8 gpa.

    Are there any easy ways to boost science gpa? Like in high school, kids always knew those few ap classes they can add on for gpa and get through with less effort.
     

    mdaspirant22

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    I think she’s most likely doing just fine. Freshman year is a year of adjustment in all areas. As she progresses in the premed curriculum she’ll find classes that are 10 times harder than what she’s taking now and she is nowhere near the furnace that is medical school. She needs to learn to adapt to academic demands and not just take the easy way out. Oh and average for med school is currently 3.7 .

    Is 3.7 cumulative or sGPA?
     

    candbgirl

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    ...

    Are there any easy ways to boost science gpa? Like in high school, kids always knew those few ap classes they can add on for gpa and get through with less effort.

    This isn’t a good attitude or approach. She needs to be ready for the rigors of med school and trying to do it “ with less effort” isn’t going to help her in the long run. She has at least seven semesters left of college. If she works hard and asks for help and goes to office hours etc, she’ll be fine. She also has to figure out how to get all of her ECs done and study for the MCAT at some point. There is no easy way to get into med school.
    FYI-only 40 percent of med school applicants are accepted each cycle. The best think you can do is support her unconditionally but let her figure things out. She’s the one that has to do the work and she’s the one that has to figure things out.
     
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    candbgirl

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    From the Princeton Review:

    The average GPA for medical school matriculants in 2017–2018 was a 3.64 science, a 3.79 non-science, and a 3.71 overall.
     
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    She likes it there. Initially I feel she was more worried about not making friends and all, but now seems to be doing fine.

    There is a medical school associated but I don't think she will have a chance with anything less than 3.8 gpa.

    Are there any easy ways to boost science gpa? Like in high school, kids always knew those few ap classes they can add on for gpa and get through with less effort.

    She is a freshman. This is perfectly normal - it takes some time to adjust to the rigors of undergraduate education, and it seems to me that your daughter is in an academically rigorous research institution. Her grades are not too bad at all - I have friends at my T20 who also struggled their freshman year (earned Bs in all of their first year science courses) and over time learned to study better (reviewed their notes each day, went to recitation hours, office hours, studied with friends), and were more prepared for Orgo, Bio, Physics during their sophomore year.

    I would not suggest your daughter to transfer - it isn't even December yet of her *first* semester. Her grades are solid, and ask her to have a growth mindset with her work: over time, if she analyzes her mistakes on exams/psets, she will improve. Grades are not everything in this process, and having a 3.7-3.8 will not hurt you. Sometimes, upper level classes are beneficial to take because their curves are more lenient, but keep in mind that you should also take classes that will help you develop critical thinking skills, which are extremely helpful on the MCAT (see below).

    Taking courses that emphasize problem solving, conceptual thinking, understanding of experimental design and primary scientific literature readings will help your daughter prepare for the MCAT. I suspect your daughter's T20 offers that, which may explain why she finds the coursework more challenging.

    I cannot agree with this more. People forget about the MCAT and are concerned about grades as premeds; it should be a balance. Personally, I don't believe MCAT studying is ever just a 3 month period of picking up review textbooks and practice tests. It starts from day 1 when you enter college (if you are premed of course). Ask your daughter to learn the material as best as she can to gain a solid foundation in her classes. It will help come study time because the MCAT requires critical thinking skills. Many of my friends at my T20 also had lower GPAs because of the rigorous material and did exceptionally well on their MCATs (518+ on their first attempt). And, this has yielded them multiple interviews at excellent medical schools.
     
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    mdaspirant22

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    Taking courses that emphasize problem solving, conceptual thinking, understanding of experimental design and primary scientific literature readings will help your daughter prepare for the MCAT. I suspect your daughter's T20 offers that, which may explain why she finds the coursework more challenging.

    If the state school you have in mind doesn't offer that, then your daughter will have to pick up those skills otherwise.

    Your daughter isn't doing that badly at the moment but the toughest has yet to come. Orgo I and II often trips students up, for example. She needs to take this time to raise her game.

    How do research and volunteering opportunities, class size and advising compare as between the two institutions?
    Yes, orgo would definitely be challenging.

    Research and Volunteering, class size and advising definitely better at the current university. State school has also enough funding but not sure how things will work out competing with so many students for research opportunities.
     

    efle

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    She should stay. B+ grades in intro chem and intro bio are fine. They'll be balanced out with more A and A- grades from easier upper-level sciences. I wouldn't consider transferring out unless she was trying her hardest and only making like a C
     
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    DokterMom

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    Right now, the thought is to do economics/finance major and her current school would definitely be better for it if she drops premed. She will not have as many science classes, which makes it even more difficult as there are Orgo and other hard classes too.
    But for sure, she can get a much better gpa at state schools.

    She likes it there. Initially I feel she was more worried about not making friends and all, but now seems to be doing fine.

    There is a medical school associated but I don't think she will have a chance with anything less than 3.8 gpa.

    Are there any easy ways to boost science gpa? Like in high school, kids always knew those few ap classes they can add on for gpa and get through with less effort.

    This needs to be your daughter's race to run, and it's far too early in the race to change strategies. Rather than send the message that she's not good enough to succeed at a top school and transfer someplace easier, why not reinforce the message that she's still adjusting to her new school and tougher cohort and that she'll find her place and hit her own stride? At least stick with it long enough to give her the chance to succeed. (FWIW, Med School AdComs will see right through the 'transfer to an easier school produces bump in GPA' strategy, and it will be taken into consideration.)

    Also, do consider seriously the possibility that your daughter may choose another career based on her educational path and personal growth, and that if she does, the Top 20 school name may matter much more significantly than it would for medical school. I'd also like to disagree to some extent with the poster who said undergraduate institution doesn't matter. For top private medical school, it's very important; for state public medical schools it doesn't. So don't give up the top school advantage unless you absolutely have to.
     
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    MyOdyssey

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    Yes, orgo would definitely be challenging.

    Research and Volunteering, class size and advising definitely better at the current university. State school has also enough funding but not sure how things will work out competing with so many students for research opportunities.

    Just make sure your daughter doesn't try to do too much (taking extra classes per semester, heavy involvement in extra curriculars, etc.) until she adjusts to the rigor of her current school.

    Wall Street definitely cares about the pedigree of the undergrad institution so if finance is a possibility, then the T20 pedigree will help as long as she does reasonably well.
     
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    PreMedMissteps

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    She has taken few classes(biology, calculus) at the state school during senior year high school and has got an A with very less effort.


    That actually, doesn’t mean much. Many students get A’s in math/science in high school and then struggle at university. Do you want to know why? In HS, they’re often spoon fed what’s going to be on the test. Study guides are handed out. Sometimes the actual questions/essay prompts are given to students in advance.

    Students then get to college and not only are they not given study guides, but profs will test them on concepts that were never presented in class.


    It’s up to you both if she transfers. She may do better at a state school where there are many smart students in STEM classes, but maybe not as many as at a Top 20 where everybody is a Val, Sal, NMF, top 5% and/or superstar.

    If she does transfer, the new rules still apply. Read/study the textbook. Study the graphs and pictures. Study what wasn’t included in lecture. Never rely on cramming.
     
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    libertyyne

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    Here are some things to consider.
    1. What if she changes her mind about medicine?
    2. What if she has similar difficulties at the state school now or in upper level courses ?
    3. What is the associated loss of research activities, admission counseling etc for admission for med school?
    4. What if the state school classes are not rigorous enough to prepare her for the MCAT, and then she is left with a good gpa but a terrible mcat?
    5. What about the loss of outside medicine opportunities as talked about above like wall street etc?


    The point here is running away from this is not going to help her grow academically, will likely place her in a worse situation medical school admissions wise (consideirng t-20 schools are feeder schools for a reason) and may leave her with a good gpa but shutting out all the opportunities that a good UG can provide. I would pay for tutoring, if I was in her shoes or be more realistic with end goals if performance stays the same. And why isnt she on here asking for advice on how to study better ?
     
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    PreMedMissteps

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    am assuming 3.5 minimum gpa for md applications.

    For an unhooked traditional applicant, I would aim for 3.7+. Yes, the charts show lower averages but not all the details are indicated. I would guess that many non-traditional applicants have lower GPAs because they weren’t necessarily premed at first and may not have been grade crazy.

    If your daughter plans on applying after junior or senior year, then IMHO med schools will hold her to a higher standard and a better than 3.5 GPA will increase her chances.
     
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    puahate

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    For an unhooked traditional applicant, I would aim for 3.7+. Yes, the charts show lower averages but not all the details are indicated. I would guess that many non-traditional applicants have lower GPAs because they weren’t necessarily premed at first and may not have been grade crazy.

    If your daughter plans on applying after junior or senior year, then IMHO med schools will hold her to a higher standard and a better than 3.5 GPA will increase her chances.
    I remember when a 3.5 was actually competitive :(. Looking at r/premed and SDN 3.5 and 30 was the goal now it is 3.7 511. Feelsbadman
     
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    PreMedMissteps

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    What if the state school classes are not rigorous enough to prepare her for the MCAT, and then she is left with a good gpa but a terrible mcat?

    BCPM courses don’t really “prepare for the MCAT.”

    The parent didn’t indicate that the student would be transferring to some crappy unknown school. Maybe I’m reading too much into her OP, but it just sounded like she’s thinking of transferring to one of her good state schools (for instance, if she were an Illinois resident, something like UIUC, UIC, Loyola Chicago or DePaul.)
     

    PreMedMissteps

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    I remember when a 3.5 was actually competitive :(. Looking at r/premed and SDN 3.5 and 30 was the goal now it is 3.7 511. Feelsbadman

    Everything has gone this way. I’m old. I remember when an ACT 30 or a SAT 1350 was considered strong enough to get into virtually anywhere.
     
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    libertyyne

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    BCPM courses don’t really “prepare for the MCAT.”

    The parent didn’t indicate that the student would be transferring to some crappy unknown school. Maybe I’m reading too much into her OP, but it just sounded like she’s thinking of transferring to one of her good state schools (for instance, if she were an Illinois resident, something like UIUC, UIC, Loyola Chicago or DePaul.)
    BCPM courses provide the scaffolding necessary for building the reasoning skills required for the mcat. If you dont understand the underlying physics , chemistry and biology a review course is only a band-aid. It may be possible to get a good background in the sciences through HS but I cant speak to that piece.
     

    mdaspirant22

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    Here are some things to consider.
    1. What if she changes her mind about medicine?
    2. What if she has similar difficulties at the state school now or in upper level courses ?
    3. What is the associated loss of research activities, admission counseling etc for admission for med school?
    4. What if the state school classes are not rigorous enough to prepare her for the MCAT, and then she is left with a good gpa but a terrible mcat?
    5. What about the loss of outside medicine opportunities as talked about above like wall street etc?


    The point here is running away from this is not going to help her grow academically, will likely place her in a worse situation medical school admissions wise (consideirng t-20 schools are feeder schools for a reason) and may leave her with a good gpa but shutting out all the opportunities that a good UG can provide. I would pay for tutoring, if I was in her shoes or be more realistic with end goals if performance stays the same. And why isnt she on here asking for advice on how to study better ?

    All valid questions, decided to give one more semester and see where this is headed. She is taking her first econ class next semester so will know where she stands with that. Our state school is decent but huge class sizes. From what I understood over the thanksgiving break, it is the amount of material she needs to memorize and the time needed that she doesn't have the discipline to put in yet.

    There are study groups and tutoring on campus and she does attend the study groups/sessions. Haven't looked at any outside help yet. Would appreciate any suggestions.
     

    brownsfan999

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    All valid questions, decided to give one more semester and see where this is headed. She is taking her first econ class next semester so will know where she stands with that. Our state school is decent but huge class sizes. From what I understood over the thanksgiving break, it is the amount of material she needs to memorize and the time needed that she doesn't have the discipline to put in yet.

    There are study groups and tutoring on campus and she does attend the study groups/sessions. Haven't looked at any outside help yet. Would appreciate any suggestions.
    If she doesn't know about it already, Khan Academy is a great resource for lower level science classes.
     
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    All valid questions, decided to give one more semester and see where this is headed. She is taking her first econ class next semester so will know where she stands with that. Our state school is decent but huge class sizes. From what I understood over the thanksgiving break, it is the amount of material she needs to memorize and the time needed that she doesn't have the discipline to put in yet.

    There are study groups and tutoring on campus and she does attend the study groups/sessions. Haven't looked at any outside help yet. Would appreciate any suggestions.

    I'm glad to hear this! Definitely evaluate her performance over time together. Outside help varies per person. You can hire a tutor, but that gets expensive, as most charge pretty high rates per hour. Khan Academy as browsnfan posted is an excellent resource and helps consolidate material and understand basic techniques (used it when I was learning NMR and IR spectroscopy for orgo and it really helped me). When I was in college, at least during my freshman and sophomore years, I looked at the syllabus ahead of time (during summer and winter breaks for my fall and spring semester) and skimmed through the textbook so I would be able to get a head start. It may seem overly ambitious and unnecessary, but it helped boost my confidence when I was starting college. I didn't need to do this for my junior and senior years. I also felt that there was too much material in my science classes at times, but the extra preparation I did before the beginning of each semester definitely helped me come prepared. You could try this technique for her spring semester.

    I just want to reiterate that her GPA is just fine, especially for a freshman. We sometimes as premeds just lose perspective on grades and feel that we have to be totally perfect, which no one is. I will vouch for the fact that the MCAT carries more weight than one's GPA in admissions, especially based on my personal experience.
     
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    efle

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    I will vouch for the fact that the MCAT carries more weight than one's GPA in admissions, especially based on my personal experience.
    This is important. Students who make B+ grades in prereqs at intense top 20 undergrads, especially the premed-heavy ones like WashU or Hopkins, usually score very competitively on the MCAT. Don't let them give up this early!
     
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    MyOdyssey

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    I'm glad to hear this! Definitely evaluate her performance over time together. Outside help varies per person. You can hire a tutor, but that gets expensive, as most charge pretty high rates per hour. Khan Academy as browsnfan posted is an excellent resource and helps consolidate material and understand basic techniques (used it when I was learning NMR and IR spectroscopy for orgo and it really helped me). When I was in college, at least during my freshman and sophomore years, I looked at the syllabus ahead of time (during summer and winter breaks for my fall and spring semester) and skimmed through the textbook so I would be able to get a head start. It may seem overly ambitious and unnecessary, but it helped boost my confidence when I was starting college. I didn't need to do this for my junior and senior years. I also felt that there was too much material in my science classes at times, but the extra preparation I did before the beginning of each semester definitely helped me come prepared. You could try this technique for her spring semester.

    I just want to reiterate that her GPA is just fine, especially for a freshman. We sometimes as premeds just lose perspective on grades and feel that we have to be totally perfect, which no one is. I will vouch for the fact that the MCAT carries more weight than one's GPA in admissions, especially based on my personal experience.

    How can you, as a current premed, vouch for the importance of MCAT in admissions based on your personal experience? Asking out of curiosity, because admissions decisions are always billed as being "holistic" and appear to weight different factors depending on the medical school.
     

    MyOdyssey

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    This is important. Students who make B+ grades in prereqs at intense top 20 undergrads, especially the premed-heavy ones like WashU or Hopkins, usually score very competitively on the MCAT. Don't let them give up this early!

    Again, is there data supporting the connection between rigor and MCAT scores to this level of specificity?
     

    PreMedMissteps

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    Again, is there data supporting the connection between rigor and MCAT scores to this level of specificity?


    I wouldn’t necessarily say that. The top 20 schools are just loaded with very smart students who excel at taking standardized tests. That talent translates into higher MCAT scores.

    The would be top 20 student who instead chooses his top 100 state flagship and puts forth his typical “all in” effort will still likely be a high MCAT scorer.
     
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    mdaspirant22

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    From what I saw, most premeds either changed their mind about premed or couldn't handle the rigor and maintain gpa at top 20 schools.
    In all cases where they managed to get decent gpa at these schools they have good mcat scores and had interviews from most top universities.
    Biggest hurdle would be sailing through the first 2 years as I see it, as all the kids in that track are val, nmf and top 3-5% in their high school class but some lack the maturity, self motivation and discipline once they are on their own or they realize it is not their dream anymore.
     
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    efle

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    There is some data out there from schools that fit that description. For example here is some data from WashU, compared to the nation, from a couple years back:

    AaqVte5.png


    As you can see, average for people with a ~3.3-3.4 GPA is still an MCAT of ~33, which these days would be a ~515
     
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    efle

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    From what I saw, most premeds either changed their mind about premed or couldn't handle the rigor and maintain gpa at top 20 schools.
    In all cases where they managed to get decent gpa at these schools they have good mcat scores and had interviews from most top universities.
    Biggest hurdle would be sailing through the first 2 years as I see it, as all the kids in that track are val, nmf and top 3-5% in their high school class but some lack the maturity, self motivation and discipline once they are on their own or they realize it is not their dream anymore.
    I would agree with this characterization. My undergraduate experience lines up. The average SAT/ACT was top 1%, and then the majority of premeds were weeded out by pitting them against each other on the curve. This pretty much makes sure that the people getting A's will do very well on the MCAT and land a bunch of fantastic med school interviews.

    Some further data showing how much higher the top 20 premeds perform on the MCAT:

    9PLjYC1.png


    The GPA shift is ~0.6 if you use the MCAT as an equalizer. That is, the cohort that makes a ~3.1 at an intense t20 performs on the MCAT the same as the national ~3.7 group, and ~3.3 at t20 performs the same as ~3.9 nationally.

    This is why it's ok to get some B/B+ grades!
     
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    mdaspirant22

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    Some further data showing how much higher the top 20 premeds perform on the MCAT:
    The GPA shift is ~0.6 if you use the MCAT as an equalizer. That is, the cohort that makes a ~3.1 at an intense t20 performs on the MCAT the same as the national ~3.7 group, and ~3.3 at t20 performs the same as ~3.9 nationally.

    This is why it's ok to get some B/B+ grades!

    What would happen with these 3.3 gpa holders with excellent mcat scores? Do they still have any chance with the applications since they didn't make the cut for the average gpa needed(3.7).
     
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    efle

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    What would happen with these 3.3 gpa holders with excellent mcat scores? Do they still have any chance with the applications since they didn't make the cut for the average gpa needed(3.7).
    I know this is an annoying answer, but it depends.

    What state are they a resident of? Some states have public medical schools that are focused on admitting instate residents and have very relaxed GPA/MCAT averages as a result (for example, University of Washington has a huge interquartile range spanning 3.4 - 3.9) while other states have very competitive public schools with high GPAs (e.g. California). Minority status (called Under-represented in Medicine or URM) makes one considerably more competitive with a below average GPA. And the higher you score on the MCAT the better your odds get - someone could get a 3.5 GPA at Princeton and then score top 5% on the MCAT and still have solid chances because of how strong the MCAT was.

    Like I said though, getting B or B+ grades in the early science classes doesn't mean they'll have a bad GPA when it's time to apply. They will probably get more A and A- grades in the upper-level sciences if they take a major in something like Biology and can have a ~3.5-3.6 by the end of college.
     
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    NYCVillain

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    You need to either tell her to work harder or tell her to transfer. It’s not going to get easier when she has to take Orgo/higher level major courses unless her school grade inflates. A lot of smart students go to school with their 2200+ SAT and simply can not get into an MD because of their lackluster GPA. I see it all the time at my undergrad where the average SAT is a 2100. The MCAT isn’t testing some ridiculously hard science concepts. It’s just testing mastery of basic concepts and basic concepts can be mastered at any okay state school.
     
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    THEBACKANDFORTH

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    I would actually suggest that getting A's at a state school is not significantly easier than at a top school. In Gen Chem and Gen Bio, everybody learns almost the exact same material across the country. Maybe tests are a little harder at a top school (maybe), but it certainly doesn't warrant a change, especially if she likes the school she attends. Top students will be top students, regardless of where they go. The MCAT is the equalizer.

    Further, the reality of the situation is that most students at both state schools and top schools will not get into medical school, or even finish the pre-reqs. This is for a lot of reasons, including work ethic, ability, and personal lack of self loathing. It's a stressful uphill slog. And at the end of the day, going to a top school can provide a lot of advantages to the non future medical student, especially if she isn't taking on the debt.
     
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    futureDocDD

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    First of all, 3.5 GPA is not going to cut for MD these days, it is more like 3.7+ (sGPA). If you are CA resident, the bar is even higher.

    A CA kid with 3.4 GPA from UChicago had to go DO school. People with 3.3 GPA probably have to go thru SMP or DO...

    Your D needs to get a good private tutor (preferably a grad student from the same school in chem/bio depts). Group study/tutoring center won't help much since tutors get paid minimal wage and 1-to-many not helping either. Saw other people said it is expensive, but if you look at the big picture... without the help, your D might end up with 3.3 GPA (or worse), either stop pre-med completely or have to go SMP (super-expensive and risky) or go thru multiple app cycles (also expensive). And once you got a C or below, the damage is done (it will take forever to bring GPA up hence many simply stop pre-med). Change to easier major is good option to allocate more time for weeder pre-med classes.

    People said pre-med science classes teach the same material, true but what about other factors - your classmates (top schools have plenty talented ones), exams with super-hard questions (graduate level). Weeder classes (orgo being the top one) are used to reduce the applicant pool (the ones will get to the applying stage with committee letter).
     
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    libertyyne

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    a 3.5 is within a SD of matriculants into medical school. Obviously there is variation dependent on state level, but it is usually an acceptable gpa with a decent mcat score.
    upload_2018-11-28_8-36-19.png
     
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    ObjectiveBoba

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    I would actually suggest that getting A's at a state school is not significantly easier than at a top school. In Gen Chem and Gen Bio, everybody learns almost the exact same material across the country.

    If classes are graded on a curve (which a decent chunk of science classes usually are), then grades will be most likely be much harder to get at a top school. For instance, the 75th percentile SAT at a decent state school (UIC) is 200 points (out of 1600) lower than the 25th percentile at a school like UChicago or NU, to keep things in Illinois. The material is the same but the competition is different. I've seen countless students who were valedictorians at their high school do average/below average at a top school, then get extremely depressed at a top school just because, well, they are average compared to other valedictorians. Of course, the MCAT makes up for it in the end, as efle suggested, and most likely other factors (research opportunities, school prestige, etc.). I think the average MCAT for MIT students accepted to medical school is 515 or something crazy like that, and most top schools have pre-med acceptance rates well above the national mean (likely due to the higher MCATs taking precedence over lower grades at these schools).
     
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    AliBabaMD

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    All these statistics mean absolutely nothing. Your DAUGHTER should go where she feels comfortable. Where she feels most comfortable and in the zone, she will perform best. I have helped students with a 3.0 GPA get into med school and as a former UCLA School of Medicine admissions committee member, I can tell you the name of the school means close to nothing. What I want to see is passion, dedication, consistency and an upward rise in GPA at anywhere where she is comfortable. The rest is simply convincing a committee, and just like getting a job, there is a formula and preparation that is involved and all of that is easily achievable with a bit of patience and hard work.

    Best Wishes,
    AB
     
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    THEBACKANDFORTH

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    You need to either tell her to work harder or tell her to transfer. It’s not going to get easier when she has to take Orgo/higher level major courses unless her school grade inflates. A lot of smart students go to school with their 2200+ SAT and simply can not get into an MD because of their lackluster GPA. I see it all the time at my undergrad where the average SAT is a 2100. The MCAT isn’t testing some ridiculously hard science concepts. It’s just testing mastery of basic concepts and basic concepts can be mastered at any okay state school.

    my state school classes
    If classes are graded on a curve (which a decent chunk of science classes usually are), then grades will be most likely be much harder to get at a top school. For instance, the 75th percentile SAT at a decent state school (UIC) is 200 points (out of 1600) lower than the 25th percentile at a school like UChicago or NU, to keep things in Illinois. The material is the same but the competition is different. I've seen countless students who were valedictorians at their high school do average/below average at a top school, then get extremely depressed at a top school just because, well, they are average compared to other valedictorians. Of course, the MCAT makes up for it in the end, as efle suggested, and most likely other factors (research opportunities, school prestige, etc.). I think the average MCAT for MIT students accepted to medical school is 515 or something crazy like that, and most top schools have pre-med acceptance rates well above the national mean (likely due to the higher MCATs taking precedence over lower grades at these schools).

    Although a lot of top schools simply protect their high-achieving cohorts with grade inflation. The grade distribution very likely is such that the top 50% all get A's. The only time I could imagine a top school being a possible detriment would be in the case of a school notorious for battling grade inflation.

    But ultimately, she should just go where she is happiest. Those first two years of college were the craziest most carefree and fun years of my life. Sorry in advance, Dad.
     
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    How can you, as a current premed, vouch for the importance of MCAT in admissions based on your personal experience? Asking out of curiosity, because admissions decisions are always billed as being "holistic" and appear to weight different factors depending on the medical school.

    Good question - I think elfe has showed excellent data above that helps support this. I also have personal experience with the cycle with a very strong GPA from a t20 and an average to somewhat decent MCAT (~33) with regards to my app cycle, and I have seen my friends and classmates with lower GPAs and higher MCATs fare much better than me. I agree that admissions are billed as "holistic", and you will find different schools weighing different things. That being said, I do believe that at top-tier academic institutions (say USWNR top 20 or so), you will find them more forgiving on your GPA and less forgiving on the MCAT. Other schools that may not have this same emphasis on research are likely to treat them equally. But I cannot stress the emphasis on doing well on the MCAT from my personal experience. It changes the time you are reviewed in the cycle (most schools do not review apps chronologically), it changes your app cycle/schools that you apply to, and puts you in a position for merit aid. At some schools, they won't consider you seriously unless you have the scores. Just my two cents.


    I wouldn’t necessarily say that. The top 20 schools are just loaded with very smart students who excel at taking standardized tests. That talent translates into higher MCAT scores.

    The would be top 20 student who instead chooses his top 100 state flagship and puts forth his typical “all in” effort will still likely be a high MCAT scorer.

    This is golden, and I wish someone had told me this advice when I was in high school. I don't believe that t20 classes prepare you more for the MCAT rather than a state school. It's more about the effort and initiative that students place during their college education. Admissions wise, however, there is a slight edge given to those from well-known undergrads. But, that also may/will not be given unless you are a high MCAT scorer to top-tier institutions.


    I would agree with this characterization. My undergraduate experience lines up. The average SAT/ACT was top 1%, and then the majority of premeds were weeded out by pitting them against each other on the curve. This pretty much makes sure that the people getting A's will do very well on the MCAT and land a bunch of fantastic med school interviews.

    You bring up really good data. Just want to clear up that it's a trend and we should be careful to generalize this.I don't think there's that much of a correlation between GPAs and MCAT in general (high GPA doesn't guarantee high MCAT and the converse isn't true either). They both require different skills. Even at t20s, you will find students (not sure how many) who will have high GPAs but struggle with standardized testing. I think even at t20s, you will find this problem that many classes still do not test critical thinking, even if they are notorious for grade-deflation. So, when students are trying to dissect passages, they struggle to do this in time and accurately because of a mediocre curriculum or poorly chosen classes.
     

    DokterMom

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    You need to either tell her to work harder or tell her to transfer. It’s not going to get easier when she has to take Orgo/higher level major courses unless her school grade inflates. A lot of smart students go to school with their 2200+ SAT and simply can not get into an MD because of their lackluster GPA. I see it all the time at my undergrad where the average SAT is a 2100. The MCAT isn’t testing some ridiculously hard science concepts. It’s just testing mastery of basic concepts and basic concepts can be mastered at any okay state school.

    I could not disagree more -- Compromising her future now to game the medical school application system is such a cynical decision.
    1. To get into a TOP medical school she will need a HIGH GPA from a TOP school. That is still very achievable for her since it's freshman year and she's already doing 'well' at a top school.
    2. To get into a GOOD medical school, a GOOD GPA (3.5-ish) from a TOP school will still be more than sufficient if coupled with a strong MCAT score and good activities.
    3. To get into a GOOD medical school, a TOP GPA from a GOOD school will put her in the same position as #2 above.
    So why cut off just the top end?
     
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    NYCVillain

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    I could not disagree more -- Compromising her future now to game the medical school application system is such a cynical decision.
    1. To get into a TOP medical school she will need a HIGH GPA from a TOP school. That is still very achievable for her since it's freshman year and she's already doing 'well' at a top school.
    2. To get into a GOOD medical school, a GOOD GPA (3.5-ish) from a TOP school will still be more than sufficient if coupled with a strong MCAT score and good activities.
    3. To get into a GOOD medical school, a TOP GPA from a GOOD school will put her in the same position as #2 above.
    So why cut off just the top end?

    What? I have friends with 3.8+ at SUNYs that get into top notch medical schools like Cornell and Sinai while my friends at Columbia are stuck at a disadvantage with a 3.4. In fact pre-med advisors at NYU recommend SMPs if your sGPA is below 3.4. The MCAT is the equalizer. Your school quality isn’t going to compromise a .25+ GPA difference. and This is coming from someone who has a 3.9+ GPA at a top notch school.
     
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    PreMedMissteps

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    From what I saw, most premeds either changed their mind about premed or couldn't handle the rigor and maintain gpa at top 20 schools.


    What what I’ve seen, it’s usually the other way around. Students couldn’t handle the science/math rigor and then change their minds about being premed, predental, pre-vet, etc.
     
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