cjb85

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I was just granted an interview for Penn's Pre-health program and I was wondering how difficult it is to complete the program in a year and a summer. Also, for the ppl who are in the program, do you think this program is more competitive than most other post-pac programs? Basically, is it doable or do you find yourselves struggling immensly with the coursework?

Thanks in advance!
 

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What were your stats if you don't mind my asking? I still haven't applied but I have heard that you can apply later and its not that big of a deal, any opinions on this?
 

Lshapley

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I was just granted an interview for Penn's Pre-health program and I was wondering how difficult it is to complete the program in a year and a summer. Also, for the ppl who are in the program, do you think this program is more competitive than most other post-pac programs? Basically, is it doable or do you find yourselves struggling immensly with the coursework?

Thanks in advance!

Hi,

I am in the special science program, but I also am taking gen chem with the pre-health people (many people are in a hybrid of the two programs). I think that it is possible to complete all of the coursework in the timeframe you suggest, but it is not the most common road. Put it to you this way, we had a lunch meeting last week with about 60 students present. The asst director asked for a show of hands of who was completing the basic sciences in one year and only one person raised their hand. The asst director than said, "Sounds about right."

What I found is that lots of people start the fall with three courses plus the labs and then drop one. If I were you, I would plan to do it in one year and leave open the open to drop the third course in the fall if necessary.
 
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cjb85

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My stats: I have a 3.8 GPA from a top ten university, a lot of research experience and volunteer experience at a hospital, and a 27 ACT composite score.

Lshapley, thanks so much for your reply; it was very useful. My next question is do you think classes at Penn are far more cut-throat competitive and demanding than they would be at a school that isn't Ivy-league? Also, what do you think about the advising and the strength of the post-bac community at Penn?
 

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With stats like that why not look at Bryn Mawr or Goucher cjb? They are generally the programs with the highest matriculation as well as linkages for people with stats like yours. Just something to consider.

I'm looking at the UPENN program very seriously but I don't have your stats. UPENN is always going to have the curve so it is always going to be pretty competitive, but at Bryn Mawr or Goucher if you put in the effort you are going to medical school, generally. It's getting in that seems to be the tough part, especially for Goucher.
 

cjb85

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Thanks for the response Gooble. The problem with those programs for me is that I have a hole in my application. I took one quarter of gen chem in the beginning of my freshman year of college and did not do so well, so that's kinda holding me back now. I didn't get into Goucher and my application is on hold at Bryn Mawr.

While I do appreciate healthy competition, I want to make sure that the program I go to is not going to be excessively competitive and cut-throat b/c I went to a school like that and it's not very appealing to me. I want a learning environment that is a little more positive.
 

Lshapley

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Well, from my personal experience, the gen chem I am taking (which some say is the most demanding basic science in the UPenn program) is much more demanding than the gen chem I took 12 years ago in a small liberal arts school. That being said, I am doing much better this go around (not because I remember anything, I don't) because I am more mature and working more intelligently than when I was young.

No one is going to hold your hand at Penn, but you will be able to meet with professors (a bonus at a big university!) and TA's outside of class. You have to do the work and then some to get a good grade. But, you will be rewarded if you work hard. None of the tests I have taken have felt unfair and none of the grades seemed unfair, but maybe I have been lucky so far!

I have found the environment to be positive and there is certainly a feeling of community among the pre-health students. These guys see each other almost everyday between lecture, lab, recitation and workshops. The Special Science is a little different because the student body there is more transient. People in that program could just be taking one class and there are no (or almost no) labs with any of the upper level courses.

The advising just got a boost. We were without a director for the 2nd half of the fall term when the long time director of the program moved on to a prestigious position in the university. She was just replaced with a new director, Grace Hershman, who spent over a decade as the director of admissions at Jefferson. Grace certainly knows what we need to do to get into medical school and she is programming many activities this term to prep us. There is also another part time advisor who is a nice complement to Grace.

Hope that answers some more questions.
 

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Thanks for the response Gooble. The problem with those programs for me is that I have a hole in my application. I took one quarter of gen chem in the beginning of my freshman year of college and did not do so well, so that's kinda holding me back now. I didn't get into Goucher and my application is on hold at Bryn Mawr.

While I do appreciate healthy competition, I want to make sure that the program I go to is not going to be excessively competitive and cut-throat b/c I went to a school like that and it's not very appealing to me. I want a learning environment that is a little more positive.


Sounds like we are in the exact same boat. I have a decent GPA, but I took a few premed courses as an undergrad 5 years ago and didn't do so well either.

Have you applied to the UPENN program yet? I've been stalling a bit but think I am going to go for it. We will see, though.
 

Trismegistus4

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Thanks for the response Gooble. The problem with those programs for me is that I have a hole in my application. I took one quarter of gen chem in the beginning of my freshman year of college and did not do so well, so that's kinda holding me back now. I didn't get into Goucher and my application is on hold at Bryn Mawr.

While I do appreciate healthy competition, I want to make sure that the program I go to is not going to be excessively competitive and cut-throat b/c I went to a school like that and it's not very appealing to me. I want a learning environment that is a little more positive.

I am in a similar boat to you; I had actually taken both semesters of general chemistry and gotten a C- first semester. I didn't have a 3.8 from a top ten university, but rather a 3.1 from a small liberal arts college, so I didn't even bother applying to Bryn Mawr and Goucher.

The Penn program has worked out perfectly for me. I did it in 1 year + 1 summer (with the exception of postponing the organic chemistry lab until my "glide" year.) I started with gen chem in the summer of 2005 and am now sitting on a med school acceptance to start this year. As others have mentioned, there is a curve, but most of the professors are not jerks about it. For example, the biology instructor told us at the beginning of the year that she doesn't mind if lots of people get A's, and the physics instructor has several "safety nets" in his grading scheme whereby you can prevent yourself from doing too poorly. If you can score in the 90's on exams (which is feasible if you're smart and you study; the CGS sections aren't like the crazy undergrad sections where they make the tests so insanely difficult that the class average comes out to 60) you're going to get A's.

I was actually warned before I started that the Penn program was filled with "gunners," but I didn't find that to be a problem. Lots of people studied in groups. I mainly studied on my own and did fine.

One other interesting thing to note is that the basic prereqs aren't taught by Penn professors, but rather by Penn staff and adjuncts who are full-time professors at other area universities. It's not a problem at all, just don't think you're going to be approaching the thrones of mighty Ivy League professors. ;)

It's also a heck of a lot cheaper than Bryn Mawr, and probably Goucher too. And with a 3.8 from a top ten university, volunteering and research experience, you'd probably stand a good chance for one of the linkages.

I'm also willing to answer any specific questions. Good luck.
 

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I am in a similar boat to you; I had actually taken both semesters of general chemistry and gotten a C- first semester. I didn't have a 3.8 from a top ten university, but rather a 3.1 from a small liberal arts college, so I didn't even bother applying to Bryn Mawr and Goucher.

The Penn program has worked out perfectly for me. I did it in 1 year + 1 summer (with the exception of postponing the organic chemistry lab until my "glide" year.) I started with gen chem in the summer of 2005 and am now sitting on a med school acceptance to start this year. As others have mentioned, there is a curve, but most of the professors are not jerks about it. For example, the biology instructor told us at the beginning of the year that she doesn't mind if lots of people get A's, and the physics instructor has several "safety nets" in his grading scheme whereby you can prevent yourself from doing too poorly. If you can score in the 90's on exams (which is feasible if you're smart and you study; the CGS sections aren't like the crazy undergrad sections where they make the tests so insanely difficult that the class average comes out to 60) you're going to get A's.

I was actually warned before I started that the Penn program was filled with "gunners," but I didn't find that to be a problem. Lots of people studied in groups. I mainly studied on my own and did fine.

One other interesting thing to note is that the basic prereqs aren't taught by Penn professors, but rather by Penn staff and adjuncts who are full-time professors at other area universities. It's not a problem at all, just don't think you're going to be approaching the thrones of mighty Ivy League professors. ;)

It's also a heck of a lot cheaper than Bryn Mawr, and probably Goucher too. And with a 3.8 from a top ten university, volunteering and research experience, you'd probably stand a good chance for one of the linkages.

I'm also willing to answer any specific questions. Good luck.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write about the Penn program. I am looking at other schools (my apps to Bryn Mawr and UVA are on hold) and am thinking that Penn sounds right up my alley, and it's fairly affordable, too. I have pretty good stats, but not good enough to slide me into a top-tier pbpm, apparently. :) I'll make it somehow. Quick question - does Penn have an MCAT study course, or were you on your own with Kaplan? Thanks again!
 

Lshapley

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There is no MCAT prep offered at Penn, but there are numerous Kaplan classes offered on campus. Probably costs about the same... Lots of people also study on their own or online.
 

Heinz57

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write about the Penn program. I am looking at other schools (my apps to Bryn Mawr and UVA are on hold) and am thinking that Penn sounds right up my alley, and it's fairly affordable, too. I have pretty good stats, but not good enough to slide me into a top-tier pbpm, apparently. :) I'll make it somehow. Quick question - does Penn have an MCAT study course, or were you on your own with Kaplan? Thanks again!

(By the way, I didn't mean to insinuate that Penn isn't a top-tier pbpm program. I guess I never considered it seriously because, for some reason, I thought it was through-the-roof expensive. Anyhow. Not that anyone cared. But just in case they did. :) )
 

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Hi there,
Just thought I'd interject with my two cents because for better or worse I'm having a slightly different experience. I am a Penn grad who is now one of those hybrid post bacc students....need to take orgo and physics plus several upper levels...I am finding that the basic pre-health classes are very competitive and difficult. I'm not trying to just refute what others have said, but I also dont want you to get the impression that just studying will get you A's as some have insinuated. Clearly, some of these classes come easier to some than others....I personally dont think i'm dumb ( I did graduate from penn) but I find the level of exams to consistently be beyond the notes/lectures. The issue is the penn program is relatively large so in every orgo class of say 80 people, there are easily a quarter or so who find it very manageable. I am one of the students who is in between. I am confident I will be getting some kind of B in orgo and physics, but have gotten all A's in the upper levels. I can't reference any facts on this but I have heard through the grapevine that this program does have a high attrition rate and many prehealth students move onto the special science program by necessity. Again, I'm not trying to be a downer but for your sake i think its good to get an objective and honest perspective from people already in the program. hope i helped a lil.
 

01futuremd

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When I was looking at the Penn website, it seemed you would take a mix of day and evening classes, some with mostly postbacs and some not- is that the case, or is it mostly you're taking classes with other postbacs that are not taught by Penn professors?
 

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If you take day classes you pay the full UPENN tuition, so you are better off taking all classes at night. They are like 1/3 cheaper.
 

Lshapley

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When I was looking at the Penn website, it seemed you would take a mix of day and evening classes, some with mostly postbacs and some not- is that the case, or is it mostly you're taking classes with other postbacs that are not taught by Penn professors?

I have/had classes with adjuncts from Drexel and Princeton, one vet working at Penn med (for physiology) and one Penn prof. These were all evening classes. I personally don't feel that it is necessary to have the rockstar professors for the pre-med classes. Better to save that for med school!

Yeah, and daytime classes are much, much more expensive, but you can take them if you like. Few post bac students take day classes.
 

Trismegistus4

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Hi there,
Just thought I'd interject with my two cents because for better or worse I'm having a slightly different experience. I am a Penn grad who is now one of those hybrid post bacc students....need to take orgo and physics plus several upper levels...I am finding that the basic pre-health classes are very competitive and difficult. I'm not trying to just refute what others have said, but I also dont want you to get the impression that just studying will get you A's as some have insinuated. Clearly, some of these classes come easier to some than others....I personally dont think i'm dumb ( I did graduate from penn) but I find the level of exams to consistently be beyond the notes/lectures.

That did come as a surprise to me when I first started the program. Professors, no matter how "nice" they are, will try to throw you curveballs on exams--testing a concept in a way you've never seen it presented before, giving you a problem that uses the formulas you've learned, but in a context in which you haven't previously seen them. For example, our first organic exam contained a problem in which the correct answer involved formation of a ring, although we hadn't seen ring formation in lecture or in any of the homework to that point.

I was under the impression, though, that this sort of thing is de rigeur for undergraduate science courses. If so, this is something it would be useful for those who have never taken such courses to know. Chrissy, was your experience in bio and general chemistry as a regular undergraduate different? Did they not try trick you?

Lshapley said:
Yeah, and daytime classes are much, much more expensive, but you can take them if you like. Few post bac students take day classes.
I think the most common reason for people to take a day class is that they want to avoid giving up their Saturday to biology, so they take the MWF undergrad section instead. The people I've seen do that are those who have plenty of moolah.
 

Chrissy

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I completely agree with that. I'll never forget my orgo prof emphasizing how "finals are usually pretty superficial....it will basically be a test to see if you got anything and can put a few things together".....then it was BY FAR the hardest exam we had all semester....I was doing consistently above mean all semester and ended up doing average in the class because of that final. I still think the prof was good, but i did feel taken back like I was almost lied to....

as far as my experience with bio and chem: i took these as a freshman in college 7 or so years ago and did well in both. In fact, this experience has been the basis for my argument against the occurrence of grade inflation at Penn. I took these pre-reqs at a very reputable undergrad school which was not as "competitive" as penn and wow was it different. You had to work hard, but working hard and regurgitating information would get you a good great. It was more of who studied the material not "i know everyone knows the material, lets see who can figure this out"....night and day. Like i have mentioned though I feel I am one of those students who may have been more suited for my former school and the Penn program was just above my level. I'm doing well but not great. I do get the impression that the Penn post-bacc program is highly regarded compared to other schools so hopefully it will carry some weight when we ultimately apply.
 
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