10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2005
Medical Student
I live in NH and cant really make it to a big university to do a formal postbac somewhere like BU or Harvard Extension. And I cant afford it either. I currently have a 3.05 GPA with a 2.81 science. I work in a specimen lab and as a phlebotomist so attending school full time isnt an option. I was a chemistry major and have taken the full scope of pre-reqs. I plan to take classes at my Community College this summer and fall and have found that I can bring my GPA up to around 3.25 with a 3.2 science by retaking one class and taking a bunch of other classes I havent taken yet. My questions are whether doing an unformal postbac like this would look ok to an admissions committee and if it would be better to take a few classes online working towards a masters in biology? The benefits are that the CC is right next to my job, that my job will do tuition reembursement for a large chuck of it and I have had friends who took the classes before so I can get the notes and help from them if I need it. The benefits of the online classes are that they are completely upper level courses, its from a 4-year university, and if i want to, I can complete a masters through the program.

So what I need is some advice on what to do. Community college for really cheap with a load of classes I have yet to take or online classes for a much higher price but that are all upper level and could lead to a masters? Let me know. Thanks in advance.


Got Mustard?
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 24, 2005
In a world all my own.
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Most folks on SDN are not fond of community colleges or distance learning.

I have taken both and plan on doing a few more.

From all the information I have gathered from searching, admission committees don't look fondly on community college classes. Most of them think that the course material is "easier" than at a 4-year school. Distance learning, well THAT is even more of a course of contention!

Most of the folks who post are going to tell you not to do either.

True, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. If ad coms pooh-pooh cc’s and distance learning and you have a MAC truckload of said classes, you WILL be at a disadvantage.

Folks here will also tell you that you are going to need a couple of semesters of full time class work to prove to those ad com's that you can handle the course load in med school.

Because of your situation, it sounds like you may have to take a few classes this way. Best bet; ONLY take a few that way.

Is there a decent 4-year state school nearby you can drive to (SNHU)? Can you save up for a year and move to a "top school" or closer to a 4-year state school?

You have your phelbotomy training; so you can get a job in a hospital to pay the bills while you study if you move. That way you get the tuition reimbursement (isn't that stuff great?) Financial aid may also help you pay for school.

I plan on taking about 12-cr hrs at a local cc and online. Then I am going to do another 30 hrs at Notre Dame when I've saved enough. If that doesn't boost the GPA enough, I will try one of the hard science special master's programs (SMP's) at Georgetown, Rosalind Franklin or EVMS.

Having been homeless because of school expenses, I certainly understand having to work. Homelessness made me a cheap son-of-a-gun, so I am loathe to spend over 20k a year for an SMP.

But if you really want this (and you have a GPA that sucks like mine :D) you have to do something to make yourself stand out. Community college classes may be a start, but you may need more.

Other folks (ahem Phil_A, liverotcod, exmike, etc) can give you better advice. :p

Good fortune



15+ Year Member
Jun 11, 2004
The CC option has been discussed a LOT on SDN if you do a search for it. It can get to be a heated discussion. In general, you're better off not going the CC route, but ultimately, it depends on the adcom at a given school.

As for online classes, I have a different take on this. Your class is at a 4-year school. So long as it's semi-nearby, and it's not denoted as an online class on your transcript (usually it isn't), and isn't predominately an online school, no one will know that you took the class online, especially if there's also the option of taking the class in the classroom. So in that respect, they're just like 4-year classes in the classroom. The only con, of course, is that getting a LOR will be tough if not impossible. I discourage online classes only b/c of the potential lost LOR opportunity, but if you're fine with that, then go for it.