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UPENN Special Science Post Bacc

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So....I am going to be straight up...Many of us in this special science program want to raise our gpas. Also, most of us need to do well in this program. I understand each class will require work, but are there any classes where it is semi interesting, but very possible to get an A....
*One of you posted that the ER class was interesting and doable, but another posted that they were receiving a C or D grade in the class....Yah, I'm not up for that...are there any fairly easy to get A courses?

I may have been the one you were referring to, as I received a C+ in one of my classes last year here. I went to Penn for undergrad, and am now doing an informal postbac here. After going for ugrad at Penn you can take any classes you want after you graduate, so I'm just doing that rather than being part of the Special Science program. There are some easy-A courses, but I doubt you'll find enough of them to fill your schedule. Most of the science classes are curved to a B or B- average, so if you fall below the average, getting a C or C+ is a real possibility.

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I just had my interview... it seemed a little short. Does anyone know how many they interview and accept?
 
I just had my interview... it seemed a little short. Does anyone know how many they interview and accept?

My interview wasn't very long, 15-20 minutes. My interviewer told me the overall size of the program is around 200 people IIRC. I think that might be both PreHealth and Special Science, though. After my interview I was told I would hear back within 1-2 weeks. I received an email about my decision the next day, for what it's worth.
 
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Mine was pretty short, 15 minutes, and a lot less formal than I thought it would be. It was on a Friday, and I heard from them on Tuesday.

Got accepted!:thumbup: See you guys in September!
 
I just finished the SS program with a post-bac GPA of just below 4.0, and am applying this year.. so I'll be sure to let you guys know my experiences.

To address some of the things in this thread:

1) Dr. Hollander's class.. for Clinical Research in EM... it's basically a class where you got to put the work and effort into. When I say work and effort, I mean taking the initiative to get along with people, talk to people, and do your job... it's more of a job than a class. Ergo, it's more political than anything. Show up on time, do your job well, don't shirk your responsibilities and you'll be fine. Exams are a complete crock and is the only negative thing about the class. Great way to get clinical exposure.

2) Grace leaving: well, while she's given me some pretty good information on who to talk to at certain medical schools (I have some specific personal details that are relevant to medical schools), I don't mind either way. She already wrote my committee letter. I'm sorry to see her go, but a lot of the direction in this program was self-directed. I read up as much as I could on SDN and from friends, so I more or less knew what I needed to do. So, in a way, I just wanted her to write my committee letter and that would be that. So I'm not that upset about her leaving.

3) SS classes: As a SS student, the classes are not difficult at all compared to the classes I took in undergrad. Maybe 90% of the classes I took were not curved. For instance, Molecular Bio and Genetics, Vertebrate Physiology, Immunology, etc. are not curved. That being said, you still have to bust your chops to make the cut, since it's not that easy to attain a 93+ average in some of these classes. Think of it this way: conceptually easy, but you have to pay your dues. The last 10% of the classes were curved but again, you gotta pay your dues and hope for the best. Worked out for me.

4) Pre-health classes: They can be quite hard, because these are pretty much like undergrad where it's curved around C+/B-, and the cutoffs are not known in advance. You'll need to bust your chops, especially if you are in the Pre-Health program and taking Bio, Chem and Physics with all 3 labs in one semester like a few people did.

5) Community: to be honest, it's a bit segregated. Pre-health people are actually pretty tight with each other, since its a 2+ year program. Since I was taking a few PH classes, I didn't fare too badly. On the other hand, SS people tend to be more reclusive in a way. Either way, you'll meet new people, some fresh out of college, and some older people. Again, its what you make of it - if you want to make friends, go out and make friends! If you just want to study, then by all means...

6) BBB classes: they'll count as Biology, because it's an 'off-shoot' of the Biology department. Even Clinical Research in EM counts as Biology on my verified transcript. So, believe it when they tell you it does. (I was initally skeptical, but hey, my verified AMCAS application is living proof).

7) Letters of recommendation/committee letter process: They do a pretty solid job here, but the first day we can get our letters sent out is August 1st.. no matter how early Grace finishes it. It's something that Penn Career Services does, not CGS, so it's not the post-bac's fault here. But my letter has been finished since late June and I'm not even allowed to send in a request. Quite irritating.

8) Research opportunities: University City teems with opportunities to find research work. You've got HUP/Penn Med, CHOP, Jefferson, Temple, as well as the Sciences building on Market St... you can find something to your heart's desire. You just gotta go out and look hard. Again, it's a political thing - learn to work people.

Any more questions, just post here and I'll try to respond.
 
Do you have any recommendations on which classes to take? Also, do you know of some good places to live in the area?
 
Just found out my roommate is leaving. I have an available apartment in a 2 BR 2 Bath apartment. 12 minute walk from penn, great center city location.
 
Do you have any recommendations on which classes to take? Also, do you know of some good places to live in the area?

Classes... generally, they're all good classes to take. There's no particular class I recommend against, but I haven't taken all of the possible ones.

Good areas to find housing are in Center City and University City. I'd go no further than 45th St or so, though, as it is pushing it a bit too far west into West Philly. Look around for apartment buildings, but you should be able to find a good house to live in. Rent can be quite expensive, so be prepared for that.
 
Do you have any recommendations on which classes to take? Also, do you know of some good places to live in the area?

I posted this on an earlier post in this thread:

Check out the BBB courses http://www.psych.upenn.edu/bbb/BBBCo...ferings08c.htm

They are mostly neuroscience based and very interesting courses. Often they aren't difficult to get through and the profs are quite interesting. Courses in particular that I thought were good to take were Chemistry of the Brain, Clinical Research in Emergency Medicine, Biological Basis of Psychiatric Disorders and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

I also took Cell Bio & Biochem (1 class), regular Biochemistry, Genetics and Immunology. I hear the Histology class with Dr. Weill is taught well. And having histo is a good idea since many med schools allow you to test out of the lab part of it during first year.

As for living, I lived around 31st and Walnut in a place called the Left Bank which was wonderful but expensive. There is a place called 2400 Chestnut that is really nice and has a lot of students living in it. A lot of people also live throughout downtown, especially in Rittenhouse Square. There are some nice places further north towards West Philly too that are cheaper and more student oriented. There are a lot of people that live around 40-45th between Walnut and Baltimore (streets that run east of West Philly). You may want to check out apartmentratings.com to get some ideas. Also check out this from the Penn Housing website: http://www.business-services.upenn.edu/offcampusliving/index.php
I think it lists comments from students that have lived with companies off campus. Beware of the company called Campus Living that manages most of the housing around the West Philly and upper campus area - most of their buildings are poorly maintained.
 
I just finished the SS program with a post-bac GPA of just below 4.0, and am applying this year.. so I'll be sure to let you guys know my experiences.

To address some of the things in this thread:

1) Dr. Hollander's class.. for Clinical Research in EM... it's basically a class where you got to put the work and effort into. When I say work and effort, I mean taking the initiative to get along with people, talk to people, and do your job... it's more of a job than a class. Ergo, it's more political than anything. Show up on time, do your job well, don't shirk your responsibilities and you'll be fine. Exams are a complete crock and is the only negative thing about the class. Great way to get clinical exposure.

2) Grace leaving: well, while she's given me some pretty good information on who to talk to at certain medical schools (I have some specific personal details that are relevant to medical schools), I don't mind either way. She already wrote my committee letter. I'm sorry to see her go, but a lot of the direction in this program was self-directed. I read up as much as I could on SDN and from friends, so I more or less knew what I needed to do. So, in a way, I just wanted her to write my committee letter and that would be that. So I'm not that upset about her leaving.

3) SS classes: As a SS student, the classes are not difficult at all compared to the classes I took in undergrad. Maybe 90% of the classes I took were not curved. For instance, Molecular Bio and Genetics, Vertebrate Physiology, Immunology, etc. are not curved. That being said, you still have to bust your chops to make the cut, since it's not that easy to attain a 93+ average in some of these classes. Think of it this way: conceptually easy, but you have to pay your dues. The last 10% of the classes were curved but again, you gotta pay your dues and hope for the best. Worked out for me.

4) Pre-health classes: They can be quite hard, because these are pretty much like undergrad where it's curved around C+/B-, and the cutoffs are not known in advance. You'll need to bust your chops, especially if you are in the Pre-Health program and taking Bio, Chem and Physics with all 3 labs in one semester like a few people did.

5) Community: to be honest, it's a bit segregated. Pre-health people are actually pretty tight with each other, since its a 2+ year program. Since I was taking a few PH classes, I didn't fare too badly. On the other hand, SS people tend to be more reclusive in a way. Either way, you'll meet new people, some fresh out of college, and some older people. Again, its what you make of it - if you want to make friends, go out and make friends! If you just want to study, then by all means...

6) BBB classes: they'll count as Biology, because it's an 'off-shoot' of the Biology department. Even Clinical Research in EM counts as Biology on my verified transcript. So, believe it when they tell you it does. (I was initally skeptical, but hey, my verified AMCAS application is living proof).

7) Letters of recommendation/committee letter process: They do a pretty solid job here, but the first day we can get our letters sent out is August 1st.. no matter how early Grace finishes it. It's something that Penn Career Services does, not CGS, so it's not the post-bac's fault here. But my letter has been finished since late June and I'm not even allowed to send in a request. Quite irritating.

8) Research opportunities: University City teems with opportunities to find research work. You've got HUP/Penn Med, CHOP, Jefferson, Temple, as well as the Sciences building on Market St... you can find something to your heart's desire. You just gotta go out and look hard. Again, it's a political thing - learn to work people.

Any more questions, just post here and I'll try to respond.

Can you shed more light onto the RWJ linkage that they offer? The website's description is very vague.

Also, when did you apply for entry into Fall quarter (i assume Fall)?
I'm taking my MCAT in January 2009, then applying (so maybe late February). Do you think this is a reasonable time to apply, or too late?
 
Can you shed more light onto the RWJ linkage that they offer? The website's description is very vague.

Also, when did you apply for entry into Fall quarter (i assume Fall)?
I'm taking my MCAT in January 2009, then applying (so maybe late February). Do you think this is a reasonable time to apply, or too late?

I didn't use the RWJ linkage, but the way it works is that you need to meet the minimum requirements.. I don't remember, but it was a specific post-bac GPA over a certain # of credit hours.. and also a specific overall uGPA. Then, I think you tell CGS that you want to be nominated for the linkage to RWJ... at which point, you meet with CGS, review your credentials. If you're good, they'll nominate you, and RWJ reviews you... probably interviews you, at which point, if you're successful, they'll give you an acceptance contingent on your MCAT score which I think has to be 10's in each section. Maybe 9's. Again, this is kind of rough and I'm not 100% sure how it works.

Your timeline is fine. I didn't apply until May for Fall entrance. You should be fine if you want to start in the Summer, too.
 
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FYI Grace Hershman accepted the position to run Temple University School of Medicine's post bac program. I had an inkling they were going ot do this.
 
FYI Grace Hershman accepted the position to run Temple University School of Medicine's post bac program. I had an inkling they were going ot do this.

Yeah but while I was a post bac there was never any indication that she was at Penn temporarily. I know that Dr. Cecatti left in part because he could no longer work with her and she stirred up enough trouble in short tenure there. And the other thing that pissed me off was that knowing that the program had already been in limbo once after Dr. Hunter left, why would you put your students in that position again?

The whole thing just annoys me :mad:. I just think the program was very better under Drs. Hunter and Ceccatti's reign and that it's become some kind of money making machine since they both left.
 
Has anyone who has been at Penn heard about the intro to microbiology classes? I am also considering taking cellular biology and biochemistry or the molecular genetics class. Any recommendations?
 
Has anyone who has been at Penn heard about the intro to microbiology classes? I am also considering taking cellular biology and biochemistry or the molecular genetics class. Any recommendations?

Cell bio and biochem with loudon was awesome. He's a good guy and it's a good class to take. Genetics was really badly taught so it depends on who is teaching it. If it's with Professor Rickard - don't bother. You won't learn much and unless you want an easy A, it's not really worth the time.
 
Hi, I just graduated from Penn with a bachelor's in Psych, and I completed most pre-med requirements. I got a 33 on the MCAT, and my GPA is about a 3.4. I had a phone interview this morning, and it was only about five minutes...I was only asked basic questions (Why do you want to be a doctor? etc) so I'm assuming the interviewer hadn't taken a good look at my application. Does anyone know or have any idea what my chances are of getting in? Also, for those who were interviewed, how long did you have to wait until you got a decision from them? Thanks a lot!
 
Cell bio and biochem with loudon was awesome. He's a good guy and it's a good class to take. Genetics was really badly taught so it depends on who is teaching it. If it's with Professor Rickard - don't bother. You won't learn much and unless you want an easy A, it's not really worth the time.


Loudon is no longer teaching cell bio and biochem...and his class was an easy A
 
ya its professor hong for cell bio and biochem and prof parisi for molecular biology and genetics. any more recommendations?
 
I have no idea who Hong is....the only other classes I can think of is Immuno with Cancro, any BBB classes, esp those that are taught by Lexow....I can't think of anything else.....hope this helps. Perhaps think about Histology since a lot of med schools allow you to test out of the lab portion of. I have heard having some Anatomy under your belt is also helpful. I have a friend that took Neuroanatomy and found it good prep for medical school since it's taken with the med students.
 
Hey guys, I'm considering applying for the Special Sciences program at Penn, and I figured here would be the best place for a bit of advice/guidance on the subject.

So, I just graduated undergrad from a small liberal arts school a few months ago. Being a doctor never really intrigued me all that much, until maybe half through college. Since then, I've become more and more interested in pursuing this career. However, my exposure to doctors and medical school was very limited, and so prior to applying to med school, I was able to get a job here at Penn working for a fairly reputable doctor in his lab. It's been a great gig so far; I've been here for about 2 months. My plan was to work in this lab for a year or maybe two, and take a few classes part time.

Essentially, participate in my own unoffical post-bacc program.

So I was wondering what the benefit would be to do the Special Sciences program. I've taken all the sciences classes needed, and my GPA isn't a huge issue (always could use a few more As though). I essentially am here just to really learn about medicine and maybe make some contacts.

It seems like the Special Sciences program would essentially allow me to formalize what I'm already doing, and give me a bit more guidance/structure. So I'm wondering, do you guys think this is something I should strongly consider? Also, my understanding is that if I were to participate in the Special Sciences program, there isn't really any sort of time limit to how long I have to be here. Is that correct? Say, for instance, could I be a part of the program and "complete" it (get that LOR), if only took 4 classes total? Will medical schools look more favorably on me for being a part of the official post-bacc program, rather than just taking classes/working in a lab at Penn?

Many thanks guys.

Sorry for the long post.

Cliffnotes- I am working at Penn in lab after graduating undergrad to experience medicine, and was going to take some classes. Don't need to boost GPA or fulfill any prereq. I was wondering if I should try to do official post-bacc program.
 
Hey guys, I'm considering applying for the Special Sciences program at Penn, and I figured here would be the best place for a bit of advice/guidance on the subject.

So, I just graduated undergrad from a small liberal arts school a few months ago. Being a doctor never really intrigued me all that much, until maybe half through college. Since then, I've become more and more interested in pursuing this career. However, my exposure to doctors and medical school was very limited, and so prior to applying to med school, I was able to get a job here at Penn working for a fairly reputable doctor in his lab. It's been a great gig so far; I've been here for about 2 months. My plan was to work in this lab for a year or maybe two, and take a few classes part time.

Essentially, participate in my own unoffical post-bacc program.

So I was wondering what the benefit would be to do the Special Sciences program. I've taken all the sciences classes needed, and my GPA isn't a huge issue (always could use a few more As though). I essentially am here just to really learn about medicine and maybe make some contacts.

It seems like the Special Sciences program would essentially allow me to formalize what I'm already doing, and give me a bit more guidance/structure. So I'm wondering, do you guys think this is something I should strongly consider? Also, my understanding is that if I were to participate in the Special Sciences program, there isn't really any sort of time limit to how long I have to be here. Is that correct? Say, for instance, could I be a part of the program and "complete" it (get that LOR), if only took 4 classes total? Will medical schools look more favorably on me for being a part of the official post-bacc program, rather than just taking classes/working in a lab at Penn?

Many thanks guys.

Sorry for the long post.

Cliffnotes- I am working at Penn in lab after graduating undergrad to experience medicine, and was going to take some classes. Don't need to boost GPA or fulfill any prereq. I was wondering if I should try to do official post-bacc program.

You sound like you are in good shape already so I don't think a formal post bac would be helpful or useful for you. i would continue to work at the lab and if you need to take some classes, go ahead and take them at Penn or elsewhere for cheaper and do an informal post-bac. The only thing you would really gain out of the Penn program would be a committee letter and if you already have a strong committee letter that you could get from your UG, there really is no reason to do a formal program. Good luck!
 
ya its professor hong for cell bio and biochem and prof parisi for molecular biology and genetics. any more recommendations?

If it helps your decision, I'm taking cell bio and biochem and I promise I'll study with ya!:D
 
Great! I need someone to help keep me on track haha
 
hell no..pre health kids have a better chance at penn then we do. special sciences are people that screwed up in the undergrad and need to take more science classes to make up for their crappy GPA, so it's harder because you already have SOO many science credits from undergrad and taking 6 - 8 classes here doesn't make a big difference...im so annoyed about the admin. change and that the program is falling apart..im applying through my undergrad, so are alot of other people i know. alot of people are leaving and doing MPH because it's better than throwing money away on a non degree..penn has a great reputation and all, and yea they 97% of people get in from this program..but i don't appreciate the run around and BS they throw at you when you apply and interview - when you get here EVERYONE JUST LEAVES! this is the second person to leave since i've been here

Nilam
Why is the administration falling apart? It's my understanding that they've done a good job getting the committee letters out and had 2 advisers on hand through the summer.
 
Like I said before, success depends mainly on you. If you're sufficiently self-motivated and have good sources of information (SDN, friends, etc.), then you don't need the advising as anything more than just having someone to talk to about your application and to write your committee letter.

I never had any problems with the administration at all, and they got me my committee letter in the time they said they would. So I really have nothing to complain about; if anything, the new adviser may be better than the one that just left as I heard Grace rubbed a lot of people off the wrong way.
 
Does anyone know how grades work in the clinical research class? I hear tests don't matter that much, but does anyone have an idea what actually does?
 
Does anyone know how grades work in the clinical research class? I hear tests don't matter that much, but does anyone have an idea what actually does?

DON'T BLOW OFF THE EXAMS!!! I did very well in the research part of it, but blew off the tests and ended up with a B+ in the class. Be on time, take an active role in the ER and be willing to forge relationships with the attendings, nurses...etc. Also pay attention to what's in class and stay above the mean and you'll be fine.
 
Hey guys! Quick question...

I want to apply for the UPenn Special Science Program for the Fall of 2009. How soon should I start to prepare my application and send it in? I know the deadline is not until like late May, but I always feel that it can be sent in a lot earlier. Does anyone have any advice???
 
Hey!! I have an interview for next week and I was wondering if any of you know how many people they accept for the Spring.

Do you know what percentage of the people they interview actually get into the SSP?

Thank you!!
 
I just finished the SS program with a post-bac GPA of just below 4.0, and am applying this year.. so I'll be sure to let you guys know my experiences.

To address some of the things in this thread:

1) Dr. Hollander's class.. for Clinical Research in EM... it's basically a class where you got to put the work and effort into. When I say work and effort, I mean taking the initiative to get along with people, talk to people, and do your job... it's more of a job than a class. Ergo, it's more political than anything. Show up on time, do your job well, don't shirk your responsibilities and you'll be fine. Exams are a complete crock and is the only negative thing about the class. Great way to get clinical exposure.

2) Grace leaving: well, while she's given me some pretty good information on who to talk to at certain medical schools (I have some specific personal details that are relevant to medical schools), I don't mind either way. She already wrote my committee letter. I'm sorry to see her go, but a lot of the direction in this program was self-directed. I read up as much as I could on SDN and from friends, so I more or less knew what I needed to do. So, in a way, I just wanted her to write my committee letter and that would be that. So I'm not that upset about her leaving.

3) SS classes: As a SS student, the classes are not difficult at all compared to the classes I took in undergrad. Maybe 90% of the classes I took were not curved. For instance, Molecular Bio and Genetics, Vertebrate Physiology, Immunology, etc. are not curved. That being said, you still have to bust your chops to make the cut, since it's not that easy to attain a 93+ average in some of these classes. Think of it this way: conceptually easy, but you have to pay your dues. The last 10% of the classes were curved but again, you gotta pay your dues and hope for the best. Worked out for me.

4) Pre-health classes: They can be quite hard, because these are pretty much like undergrad where it's curved around C+/B-, and the cutoffs are not known in advance. You'll need to bust your chops, especially if you are in the Pre-Health program and taking Bio, Chem and Physics with all 3 labs in one semester like a few people did.

5) Community: to be honest, it's a bit segregated. Pre-health people are actually pretty tight with each other, since its a 2+ year program. Since I was taking a few PH classes, I didn't fare too badly. On the other hand, SS people tend to be more reclusive in a way. Either way, you'll meet new people, some fresh out of college, and some older people. Again, its what you make of it - if you want to make friends, go out and make friends! If you just want to study, then by all means...

6) BBB classes: they'll count as Biology, because it's an 'off-shoot' of the Biology department. Even Clinical Research in EM counts as Biology on my verified transcript. So, believe it when they tell you it does. (I was initally skeptical, but hey, my verified AMCAS application is living proof).

7) Letters of recommendation/committee letter process: They do a pretty solid job here, but the first day we can get our letters sent out is August 1st.. no matter how early Grace finishes it. It's something that Penn Career Services does, not CGS, so it's not the post-bac's fault here. But my letter has been finished since late June and I'm not even allowed to send in a request. Quite irritating.

8) Research opportunities: University City teems with opportunities to find research work. You've got HUP/Penn Med, CHOP, Jefferson, Temple, as well as the Sciences building on Market St... you can find something to your heart's desire. You just gotta go out and look hard. Again, it's a political thing - learn to work people.

Any more questions, just post here and I'll try to respond.

Hi RoadRunner,

This is a two years later but I was hoping that since you completed the program, if you can perhaps shares some insight as to which of these programs you think has a greater success rate of and support for getting students into med school.

I have an interveiw for Penn coming up next week but Drexel has accepted me and needs a reply the day after my Penn interview.
I just graduated from an Ivy League undergrad with decent extracurriculars (two publications, clincal, etc) but really would like to enhance my gpa (3.2). You mentioned that classes are not curved which I'm happy about and in either program I'm prepared to work hard but Drexel does have the option of coming back for a second year and a part of me really thinks that a longer program might help my gpa more than a one year program would.

your thoughts?

Thank you in advance!
 
Hi RoadRunner,

This is a two years later but I was hoping that since you completed the program, if you can perhaps shares some insight as to which of these programs you think has a greater success rate of and support for getting students into med school.

I have an interveiw for Penn coming up next week but Drexel has accepted me and needs a reply the day after my Penn interview.
I just graduated from an Ivy League undergrad with decent extracurriculars (two publications, clincal, etc) but really would like to enhance my gpa (3.2). You mentioned that classes are not curved which I'm happy about and in either program I'm prepared to work hard but Drexel does have the option of coming back for a second year and a part of me really thinks that a longer program might help my gpa more than a one year program would.

your thoughts?

Thank you in advance!
As you mentioned, this is two years dead. Here is our current thread;
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?p=9884998#post9884998

I have completed the program too and i'll give you my $0.02 if you'll hear it. Are you going to one of the Drexel SMPs?
All of Penn's classes will count towards your UG GPA whereas if you are going to a Drexel SMP then it won't count towards your UG GPA as it is considered grad work. That should clear up going to Drexel and raising your GPA more, as it wouldn't because its in a diff column. Also, some of Penn's classes are curved.
With a 3.2, I'd do an SMP because you won't get the bang for your buck with more undergrad classes. Do the math and figure out how much another year of UG classes will raise your cGPA - i bet it won't move it much north of 0.15, if that much.
 
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