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ChopinLiszt

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Hi all,
I'm a 35 year old who has always wanted to go to medical school (specifically interested in neurology) but has spent most of the past 15 years being a stay at home mom, with some ECs thrown in - shadowing, volunteering, research assisting, etc.

Now that we're done having kids, I'm ready to commit to the process. My goal is to enter in 2019, when my youngest will be in full-time school. I could really use some advice from all of you seasoned and well-researched pros. ;)

Here's a brief pic of my academic background:
Graduated in 2001 from an ivy with a 3.51 cGPA. Took all pre-reqs besides biochem (which wasn't really a prereq back then)
I signed up for the MCAT in 2001 before finding out that I was pregnant with my first, and took the MCAT without really studying much (due to severe morning sickness) and managed a 32. Obviously that doesn't matter admissions-wise, but it gives me hope that if I review and work really hard, I might be able to do well on the new MCAT.

Ok, so strategy. I assume that schools would like to see that I can still use my mom brain, and I need to take biochem before the MCAT. My current plan is to take 4-6 classes online from Harvard Extension School (biochem and other upper level bio). Then study for months and take the MCAT in early 2018 and get a 520+. (you love my super realistic optimism..haha)

If I have a 4.0 from those 4-6 classes, it will only raise my cGPA to a 3.56. If I take another 4-6 classes after that, I might be able to get up to a 3.6x, but does that really make much of a difference at this point, or would it be better to just get on with things with my 3.5x?
Will anyone look down on my online classes (from HES)?
Any idea if number of children is a legal basis for discrimination? :laugh:
I volunteer as an interpreter (Spanish) at our local free clinic - do you think this counts as 'clinical' even though I'm just there as a translator? Any other EC recommendations or commentary?

Thank you for reading my novel, and for any and all replies!
(I'd love to hear from you, oh wise @Goro)
 
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Ad2b

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No to online classes, even from Harvard. Some schools are accepting them but that is NOT the norm. You can buy the MSAR to find schools that do accept the courses.

Raising old GPA won't happen as your degree is closed out and that old GPA is what it is. BUT... the adcoms see this other line: post bacc ugrad courses :) = good

The Spanish is excellent :) Honestly, take a few classes in person (including biochem, psych and soc) and take the MCAT. Some schools may require you to retake the old pre-reqs like gen chem, etc but the best thing is to contact potential schools and ask them. Some schools don't care about age of pre-req IF you have take more classes in that subject and/or have nailed that part of the MCAT.

Best bet is to ask the med schools. :)

Welcome back to this crazy path!
 
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Hendeaux

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Do you live near Boston? A lot of the classes HES offers online can also be taken in person, so the online resources (like recorded lectures) are available to all students. If you can make it for the exams, you can effectively take the class online but not have it show on your transcript.

This is kind of a dicey strategy. I would probably prefer an in-person class for things like small-group sections, but it's an option to look into.


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Ad2b

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@Hendeaux - no, I don't live in Boston but here's a list of Universities that offer online courses IDENTICAL to the in-person ones and ARE NOT accepted:

USF - physics, chemistry
UF - physics, chemistry, orgo
UMN - physics, orgo, bio, gen chem
USC - orgo, gen chem, physics
UIA - physics, gen chem, orgo, biochem

By and large, it doesn't matter which school you go to (like I said, Harvard online is probably seen just like any other online - oh, and you have to mark it as online - you can't click the in-person category on AMCAS)

IF the above were not TRUE, I'd be in 7th heaven given this summer. But no one I know will risk taking an online class when the in-person is offered at the same institution and surely NOT for any required course.

Edited to add: I registered for and took 95% of my physics 2 course, live in a hybrid lecture/on-line class this summer. Why 95%? Because I'm in consulting my contract paid 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. I needed the last 1/3 to clear my son's and my tuition bills. At my home institution you can pay the tuition late just with added fees. When I entered the cashier's office to pay the tuition and late fees, I was told that we'd been dropped from the class completely and it was TOO LATE to re-register and pay for them. (We both take physics together - he's premed too now). Anyway, I had an A+ in the course, the lab and the recitation. (Can provide the proof :) )

Literally - 3 lectures left and 2 finals (one mandatory and the other optional). 3. 3 days, 1 lab. A+ ... and we were dropped.

Professor teaches the online version of the same course (same course actually as we were registered for and taking sans the goofy demos he does in class)... and because that course is ONLINE, I can't take it. Again, the only difference is: the demos he does in lecture. All "lectures" are in videos. All tests are taken in the lecture hall even for the online course.

So, I wait. I won't risk it because on my transcript it would say, "ONLINE"
 
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Hendeaux

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@Hendeaux - no, I don't live in Boston but here's a list of Universities that offer online courses IDENTICAL to the in-person ones and ARE NOT accepted:

USF - physics, chemistry
UF - physics, chemistry, orgo
UMN - physics, orgo, bio, gen chem
USC - orgo, gen chem, physics
UIA - physics, gen chem, orgo, biochem

By and large, it doesn't matter which school you go to (like I said, Harvard online is probably seen just like any other online - oh, and you have to mark it as online - you can't click the in-person category on AMCAS)

IF the above were not TRUE, I'd be in 7th heaven given this summer. But no one I know will risk taking an online class when the in-person is offered at the same institution and surely NOT for any required course.

I should have quoted. I meant to ask if OP lives in the area, because maybe she could enroll in person and take the classes mostly online.


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ChopinLiszt

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Thank you for the responses.

So, online classes are bad even if they're not the prereqs? I know most schools do not accept online courses for the required intro bio, chem, orgo, physics, etc., but are ALL online courses frowned upon? Or just in my case since it's been so long since I was in undergrad? I live about 5 hours from Boston, and have considered going in for exams, since most classes only have a midterm and final.

All of the schools that I'm interested in do not have an age requirement for prereqs listed in the MSAR, but I think the suggestion of contacting them directly to make sure is a good one.

Any thoughts on if it will really matter to have a 3.5x vs a 3.6x? I thought post-bacc undergrad courses were averaged in with your undergrad cGPA?

ETA: I did take all the prereqs in person, at an ivy, but a very long time ago. I guess I'm hoping that a good showing in upper level classes, plus a great MCAT score, will show that I still know the material and test well, etc.
 

Ad2b

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It has been my experience in talking to adcoms and people who teach that "online" still has the stigma of being like U-Phoenix... or Regis or ... whatever you have out there.

Unfortunately, med schools are verrrrrrrrrrrrrry slow to adapt to things. People my age who have done things their way and have been wildly successful and are not exactly "tech savvy" have a skewed idea of how online works now with the big names doing online teaching. That also gets watered down when you have big name schools offering weird "Degrees" MBA Online, etc.

Maybe at some point that will, and probably should, change. As of now, online is generally not accepted (it's seen as easier to cheat, skew, etc).

*I* will not risk having to put "ONLINE" for anything. I will never even bring up that I take Coursera classes for fun (Cancer bio taught by Johns Hopkins MD/PhD, near taught by Duke MD; these folks teach IN their med schools and I won't mention it)...

As for a 3.5 xx v 3.6xx - can't imagine that would matter... :)

Harvard for prereqs will not matter more than another school, really. Take them at the largest land granting institution you can and nail the MCAT.

Overall GPA is there. but there are additional lines:

ugrad: cGPA
ugrad: sGPA (BCPM)
postbacc: sGPA (BCPM)

so yes, they see it all lumped together and trend lines and other stuff... the adcoms on here can be specific and the AAMC site shows you as well... but trying to drag up an old GPA is not worth the time focusing on it... just do well now :) (and a 3.5 is not bad... MANY on here would love to have that... and they got into some pretty darn great schools: Mayo, Wash U, Duke, Georgetown, et al ) :)
 
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ChopinLiszt

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Harvard for prereqs will not matter more than another school, really. Take them at the largest land granting institution you can and nail the MCAT.

Ad2b, thank you so much for your advice!

Just to be clear, I do not plan to retake the prereqs, as most schools I'm interested in don't have a specific expiration date on those. Post-bacc courses would be to show more recent academic prowess, and also because they're super fascinating! ;)
 
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Ad2b

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Just to be clear, I do not plan to retake the prereqs,

That's fine just know the MCAT tests on the pre-reqs and it's easier, imo, to have them more recently (like gchem, orgo, and physics). I say that having A'd gchem 5 years ago and am now like:

hmmm, so delta G = delta H - Delta S, but higher entropy must be up so T goes down? well, that doesn't make sense... so I have to, le gasp, think! And then there's all the Ksp, Ka, pka to ka to pH to pOH and the and then... yeah, easier would have been to stay in the courses 5 years ago rather than go through all the stuff again now.
 

DrMidlife

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Just to be clear, I do not plan to retake the prereqs, as most schools I'm interested in don't have a specific expiration date on those. Post-bacc courses would be to show more recent academic prowess, and also because they're super fascinating! ;)
You need letters of recommendation from the professors for these classes. That's another reason online won't cut it. You can get maybe one (out of 3-4) letters from your past life.

Your past GPA won't keep you out of med school. Not even a little bit. It's normal to apply to 25+ schools, regardless. And you need to aim to have everything done for an early June app.

This forum is full to bustin' with stories from parents who made it through. Look for those stories.

Go get 'em.

Best of luck to you.
 
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CyrilFiggis

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What were the weakest grades from your undergrad? If there is a local CC you can take those classes at, I would do so. It's not meant as grade replacement, more as a show that 15 years ago you were a B- OChem student and now you are an A- OChem student.

Don't worry about boosting your GPA, just worry about doing well in whatever recent classes you take. AdComs will look at those more closely.

The big issue will be what you are doing with your time. If you aren't currently working full-time, you should be able to commit at least 15-20 hours per week to classes, volunteering, etc. If you can't show that you can balance the family commitments with part-time classes and ECs, some AdComs may be weary of your ability to handle the demands of med school with family. That's not to say it can't be done or this is a serious barrier for you.
 

ChopinLiszt

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hmmm, so delta G = delta H - Delta S, but higher entropy must be up so T goes down? well, that doesn't make sense... so I have to, le gasp, think!
It's so true! I've been reviewing through some MCAT subject books and clearing out some serious cobwebs!


Cyril - My lowest grade was a C in advanced multi-variable calculus, which I jumped into my freshman fall in a fit of 17 year old insanity. (I failed the midterm although I had done well on all assignments - welcome to college! Haha) Most of my grades were above the course median (which is listed on my transcript - not sure if that will matter), but I have a dozen B+'s and 2 or 3 straight Bs. Nothing lower than that. I was very into 'life balance' as a college student and spent a lot of time volunteering, etc., and was determined to learn but not to be obsessed with my grades. Now I wish I'd been a bit more obsessed because you can't go back and redo that.. :laugh:
You have a great point about showing capacity to handle more, and I do plan on taking multiple courses per semester, but hopefully for only 3-4 semesters, and then I'd dedicate a few months to MCAT and application prep.

I'm a little surprised that (reputable) online non-prereq courses are such a red flag - I've seen them recommended in plenty of sdn threads. Letters of recommendation are a big concern, though. Schools within an hour of me that I could DIY post-bacc courses are MUCH more expensive, and would require long commutes, etc. I'm willing to do that - guess I was hoping HES courses would be respectable enough.
 

Ad2b

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online non-prereq courses are such a red flag - I've seen them recommended in plenty of sdn threads.
I don't know what you're referring to because in the few years I've been pretty active here, I have never seen ONE that encourages it. Not for MD. Not for DO.

Maybe dental, pharm, etc but not for physicians.

It's not only that they raise a red flag they are NOT considered complete for pre-req purposes at the school.

You are competing against everyone else who has taken them in a normal setting. Why put yourself at a distinct disadvantage?

Read the MSAR. Every school on there. Read the column that says they accept online. Go from there.
 
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Dullhead

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Couple lines down is a thread that discusses this exact topic - folks should browse that one. Personally IMO, it's a non-issue for non-science pre-reqs. How much of an issue it becomes for science pre-reqs depends on the number of such courses taken and the school.
 

ChopinLiszt

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Gotcha. I did know that prereqs absolutely can't be taken online (I already took all prereqs in person and did well) - I didn't realize the same was true for non-required courses -- other upper level science, etc. Not meaning to argue about it - I really appreciate your advice!
 
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Hendeaux

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Gotcha. I did know that prereqs absolutely can't be taken online - I didn't realize the same was true for non-required courses -- other upper level science, etc. Not meaning to argue about it - I really appreciate your advice!

You might consider contacting the HES premedical program office. They are pretty much straight shooters and will probably be able to help. They may have insights about whether you'd need to enroll as an online student or if you could enroll in person but participate online. If you enroll in the premedical program, they'd be able to help with a committee letter.

One thing that's been nagging me a little about this: if you've already completed the pre-reqs, I wonder if taking additional classes is actually necessary. Doing well in them would show you're on your game, but then again so would a solid MCAT score.


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Ad2b

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Not meaning to argue about it - I really appreciate your advice!

Not seeing it as arguing, sorry if I come across that way - I'm just very proactive with non-trads who have a prayer and a good shot at medical school acceptance; I would hate for them not to get solid advice (not that I'm the end-all, be-all, I'm certainly not)... using my own experiences, own research on behalf of me, I posted what I've found and heard.

I really think the MSAR is our best friend. It will state in a column what is or is not acceptable for online. As Dullhead said, some non-pre req courses might be fine (music class, arts, sports, etc).
 
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ChopinLiszt

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Yeah, I have an MSAR window permanently open, and I've definitely looked through it enough to make any neurotic premed proud. My husband got contacted recently by a recruiter from another state and I immediately went to the MSAR and scoured every page of every med school in that state.. So yeah.. I may have a problem. :laugh: (maybe I should spend some of that MSAR time on MCAT prep? Haha)

For example, here are Temple's requirements, and the 'my courses' check list from my MSAR account of the prereqs I've taken in person, as an undergrad, with lab, at a top 10 school, etc etc:
ftcw13.png

tinypic.com



The courses I was planning on taking this year at HES are: Human Endocrine Physiology, Stem Cell Biology, Biochemistry, and Immunology. There is a school about an hour from me where I could take similar courses, just at much greater (commuting)time and expense. It sounds like the consensus is that that would be the better option, though.

(ps - I can't tell if that photo is coming through on this mobile site, sorry!)
 
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Ad2b

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Your pictures didn't show up so I pulled up Temple (listed as one of my favorites)

See the column under Online accepted and the big red X? those are the ones you can't do online and have them accepted. I'd call Temple and ask them about the courses you're interested in because there's no specific line item for them.

(and let me know ;) )

And I don't know how to update the MSAR either - I have other courses (Genetics, etc but it's not letting me edit)...
 

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ChopinLiszt

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Ah, the file upload.. Excellent :smuggrin:

I've checked off all of those prereq boxes from in-person classes, but I definitely need biochem before the MCAT! (And most schools want it now anyway)

And I will let you know what they say about online upper levels!
 

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ChopinLiszt

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Off topic, but WHY do they have computer science listed as a prereq? Are there any med schools that require computer science courses?? I say take that out and put in a foreign language slot - I'm sure they'll listen. :laugh:
 
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Just to add: it's more of a newer thing, but there is talk of some schools (not all) having an expiration date on prerequisites. Some schools say 10, some say 5. It's in your best interest to call every school you're interested in applying to and asking if your courses are too old to count. It's probably fine at most places but I would hate for you to get your heart set on one school and find out you got rejected because of something silly like expired courses.

I didn't buy the latest MSAR, but methinks this info is not included there. Hence, call the schools.

Edited for spelling. Teaches me to type on a phone and not proof read...
 
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Promethean

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I don't know what you're referring to because in the few years I've been pretty active here, I have never seen ONE that encourages it. Not for MD. Not for DO.

Maybe dental, pharm, etc but not for physicians.

It's not only that they raise a red flag they are NOT considered complete for pre-req purposes at the school.

You are competing against everyone else who has taken them in a normal setting. Why put yourself at a distinct disadvantage?

Read the MSAR. Every school on there. Read the column that says they accept online. Go from there.

I was about OP's age when I decided that I needed to go to medical school. The only problem was that I didn't have a bachelor's degree at all. I had an RN nursing diploma and a bunch of scattered credits that I'd picked up along the way. If I'd listened to the advice in this thread about online credits being unacceptable, I wouldn't be in medical school now.

Other than my diploma, which was earned at a hospital based vocational school and thus not considered accredited (so none of the credits I earned there helped me,) my entire undergrad education was obtained via community college, CLEP, and an online university, for a total cost of about $7k... still less than a single term at any of the traditional colleges in my city.

I did all of my pre-reqs at a local community college, taking the max course load, plus several CLEP exams, to complete a 64 credit AS Liberal Sciences degree in 1 calendar year. Between those credits, a few dozen online credits I'd taken toward a BSN, and a 37 MCAT score, I had a strong enough app to get accepted early in the cycle by the DO school that was my first choice.

That left me about 9 months to complete a bachelor's. I chose the cheapest, fastest legitimate route available to me. Western Governor's University is a fully accredited non-profit online school. It's offerings are limited to programs designed to get people into careers that get them into the work force. WGU charges by the 6 month term, about $3k per term. You must complete at least 12 credits during a term to remain in good standing, but you can do as many as you are capable of doing. There is no limit. That was important to my plan.

I knew that completing the BSN degree would take more time than I had because most of the assessments involved writing papers and other time intensive assessments. Meanwhile, WGU's business programs were more oriented toward exams. I had a background in business and had owned my own small business, and I was accustomed to the intense study required for hard sciences, so I was able to blow through a 3 credit business course once or twice a week on average. I was also able to transfer in some credits, leaving me a total of 90 needed for the degree. I set a goal of being done in 6 month term, and I finished a month early. My advisor said that she'd never seen anything like it.

Despite being online, WGU isn't just a diploma mill. One of the conditions for completing the degree was to pass the same national professional competency exam administered to graduating seniors from HR Management programs at traditional 4 year brick and mortar schools. I passed it with the highest designation, indicating that my grasp of HR practices and the relevant laws was considered excellent for an entry level HR professional, despite my unorthodox approach to completing the degree. (Take from that what you will regarding the rigor of HR programs generally.)

I'm still going to be every bit a licensed physician as anyone who schlepped to an expensive university for 4+ years. Yes, I am an outlier, in a lot of ways. But that I pulled off this stunt means that SDN's assertions are a bit overblown in saying that it would be the kiss of Death for the OP's app if she took a handful of online courses from Harvard Extension School. OP is already years ahead of where I was when I decided to apply. She has an undergrad degree, from an Ivy, with a decent GPA. Her 32 back in the day indicates that she has a real hope of getting a decent score on the new test, if she applies herself with the diligence that she has planned. Taking a few online courses will not discredit her as incapable of handling rigorous academic coursework. She is a non-traditional student, after all. An adult, with kids and a life, who is going back to fill in a few gaps... not a young adult trying to dodge difficult classes. Online courses are entirely appropriate for her situation.
 
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ChopinLiszt

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Just to add: it's more of a newer thing, but there is talk of some schools (not all) having an expiration date on prerequisites. Some schools say 10, some say 5. It's in your best interest to call every school you're interested in applying to and asking if your courses are too old to count. It's probably fine at most places but I would hate for you to get your heart set on one school and find out you got rejected because of something silly like expired courses.

I didn't buy the latest MSAR, but methinks this info is not included there. Hence, call the schools...


You're right - it's not in the MSAR, but most schools have it listed on their websites if you dig. Of the 15ish that I've checked, only one had said that they had a prereq age requirement, but a few didn't have the info listed at all, so I'll need to contact them directly. I would think that if you can do really well on the MCAT, that should show them that you still have mastery of the material, and that maybe your time would be better served by learning something new. But I'm not an adcom..
 
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ChopinLiszt

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And I don't know how to update the MSAR either - I have other courses (Genetics, etc but it's not letting me edit)...

@Ad2b - you can update your courses by clicking the button in the upper corner of the course table. Then when it sends you into the editing table, you have to first select a course, and then click the edit course button.

Also, this screen shot is from Penn's requirements. I love that it looks all "anything goes" - community college! Online! AP courses! Buuut their median MCAT is a 38, so.... And the MSAR has it in red that Penn has "progressed to a competency based admissions process" Not biased at all. :laugh:
 

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ChopinLiszt

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so I was able to blow through a 3 credit business course once or twice a week on average. I was also able to transfer in some credits, leaving me a total of 90 needed for the degree. I set a goal of being done in 6 month term, and I finished a month early. My advisor said that she'd never seen anything like it.

WOW. That is amazing. Legit amazing.
Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective, and congratulations on your (well-earned) success!
 

Ad2b

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I had a strong enough app to get accepted early in the cycle by the DO school

@Momof9 - if DO is your path, then Prom is correct for his school and possibly for others. Like you found with Penn - sure anything goes BUT that MCAT of 38 is probably like a 520+ now... which I see very rarely.

Also, competency based admissions is a good thing for non-trads. I would love to have schools with more of that because it equals holistic view of the app vs.

1982 GPA: 2.2
Auto-Rejected

Vs.

UGRAD: 1982 GPA, 2.2
POSTBACC: 2016 GPA BCPM, 3.9+
MCAT: 512
EC's: 10,000+
Shadowing: ...
Leadership: ...
 

Promethean

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@Ad2b - you can update your courses by clicking the button in the upper corner of the course table. Then when it sends you into the editing table, you have to first select a course, and then click the edit course button.

Also, this screen shot is from Penn's requirements. I love that it looks all "anything goes" - community college! Online! AP courses! Buuut their median MCAT is a 38, so.... And the MSAR has it in red that Penn has "progressed to a competency based admissions process" Not biased at all. :laugh:

Remember that "median" doesn't mean "minimum."

Also remember that someone has to get those top scores. It may as well be you. As one of my favorite faculty likes to say to us all the time... study hard!
 
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ChopinLiszt

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I agree that it's a better approach to admissions, but it cracked me up to see the MSAR kind of publicly labeling it as more evolved than other methods.

As for Promethean's online experience, I do think it was a safer bet to complete so many online courses after receiving the med school acceptance and just needing to finish up. Not many people can finish 90 credits in one year, online or not! I hope they gave you a medal of some kind along with that diploma.

Okay, so I called Temple and Penn today. (I got brave)
I knew Penn didn't have a prereq age requirement from their website, so I didn't ask them that, but temple didn't have it listed. Temple said "prereqs don't expire, but they like to see some recent science coursework." That seems to be the consensus from most everywhere I've checked, with a few exceptions (Cornell comes to mind - they have a 10 year limit).

About online classes:
Temple flat out said "We don't accept any online classes" as soon as I brought it up. I tried to press a little bit about if that was just for prereqs and was quickly met with "We don't accept any online classes" again. I don't think she wanted to be on the phone, either.
The Penn admissions person was very helpful and thoughtful and said that if it was a community college online course, it wouldn't be seen as rigorous. If it's supposed to be a lab course, they want it to be taken in person for the lab component. With regard to upper level science from Harvard Extension with online lectures (all exams are in person), he said "I wouldn't worry about it" and "if you get good grades from Harvard Extension, that's what we're going to see". And he also expounded a bit about distance lectures being "part of the nature of modern education."

Honestly, I think the institution should be given more weight than the format of the class. Any good distance learning program will have proctored exams where they check identity, so it shouldn't be overly easy to cheat, etc. The majority of med students in 2016 go to lecture for the first few weeks and then just watch the recorded lectures at 2x speed from home after that, and show up for labs and exams. Does that mean they went to an 'online' med school for M1 and M2? Yes, I know it's not a perfect analogy, but still. :p

I still may take classes in person, to cover my bases for the programs that are more black and white in their requirements like Temple seems to be. I'm not sure why I've focused on these two schools, as I might not even apply to Temple, and I have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting into Penn.. But it is an interesting comparison! And I see more why MSAR labeled the Penn admissions model as having "progressed."
 
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Promethean

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WOW. That is amazing. Legit amazing.
Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective, and congratulations on your (well-earned) success!

Thanks. I wasn't telling it to toot my own horn, though. Just... amazing is more possible when you dare to do things in unconventional ways.

Medicine seems to be very full of the conventional, and to be very slow to progress to newer ways of thinking and doing things. That isn't unreasonable. Sometimes, things just aren't done because there really is a reason, and ignoring conventional wisdom can be perilous. Medicine is a high stakes profession. People's lives depend on us not deviating from the routine without good cause. It just troubles me when I see that leads to a fear of innovation or of anything remotely out of the ordinary.

I believe you asked above if you might be discriminated against for having many children... and I'm guessing that your name is some indication of how many you have. No, officially, you wouldn't be. No adcom is likely to write down on your file that you are being turned down for a seat because of the size of your family and the reproductive choices that you have made. Unofficially, yes, you absolutely are going to be judged on that, because your family size falls far outside the typical. I've heard reports, just today, about a health care provider in our community making insensitive comments toward a patient who had 6 children.

I personally believe that it will be worse for you as a mother of 9 than if you were the father of 9, because I think that there are still a great many people who unconsciously assume that women bear greater responsibility for child care than men. Again, I heard, just today, medical students discussing about whether it was a mother's responsibility to obtain medical insurance for her baby. There was no thought that mother didn't make that baby all alone, and that maybe father is involved and bears an equal share of any burdens. There was just this unexamined assumption that a child who didn't have health insurance must be the child of a single mother, and that she was the only party responsible.

But perceived gender biases aside... Even if you were the father, I think that you would do well to avoid discussing your number of children if you can avoid it during your application and interview process. Of course, if it is absolutely relevant to why you are pursuing medicine, and you feel you must mention it, that is different. But the absolute number is not anyone's business but your own, and just as it should be irrelevant for a job application, it should be irrelevant to medical school admissions. I am transgender, and that has fueled my desire to serve underserved communities, absolutely it has. But I was very reluctant to disclose that openly in my medical school application. I didn't even want to open up the possibility of being discriminated against based on something that does not predict how I will perform as a physician.

Choosing not to disclose that information was not about hiding something of which I have any kind of shame or embarrassment. Rather, there was just too much else that mattered that they needed to hear, about who I am and why I want to do this crazy thing... there just wasn't time to bring up such an irrelevant detail. My advice would be to handle your reproductive history the same way. Once you are in and they are getting to know you better as a person, that is a fine time to disclose, if you choose. Or don't, as you like. Your mission at medical school is to obtain the education that you need in order to function as a competent, compassionate physician, and as a professional, it is appropriate to set some boundaries around your personal life.
 
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Promethean

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Honestly, I think the institution should be given more weight than the format of the class. Any good distance learning program will have proctored exams where they check identity, so it shouldn't be overly easy to cheat, etc. The majority of med students in 2016 go to lecture for the first few weeks and then just watch the recorded lectures at 2x speed from home after that, and show up for labs and exams. Does that mean they went to an 'online' med school for M1 and M2? Yes, I know it's not a perfect analogy, but still. :p

I still may take classes in person, to cover my bases for the programs that are more black and white in their requirements like Temple seems to be. I'm not sure why I've focused on these two schools, as I might not even apply to Temple, and I have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting into Penn.. But it is an interesting comparison! And I see more why MSAR labeled the Penn admissions model as having "progressed."

LOL. It is very much how most medical students seem to like to learn, so it does always crack me up when premeds pooh-pooh the idea of distance education. It is so important to them that all coursework be done in person, until they get to med school, and then when they hear about a school like mine that has mandatory in person attendance for lectures, they think that is too strict to be believed! It is kinda funny, when you think about that.

It sounds like you are looking around Philly. I would urge you to consider PCOM. It is one of the best of the DO schools, and--despite SDN's occasional rumors to the contrary, DO's can specialize and neurology is not so overly competitive that you would have a lot of trouble getting into a good program as a DO with a PCOM degree. (They were my second choice school. I wanted to stay in PA, but I'm rooted in the western end of the state. Philadelphia is one of my favorite places, but it was just a little too far from home.)

If you really want to stick with the MD initials, and could look a little further outside the city, The Commonwealth Medical College is a decent school by all accounts. They were high on my list of MD possibilities. Very primary care oriented, admittedly, but students get early exposure to patients in clinic and as a newer school, admissions is more lenient. I haven't looked up their details for the most recent year, but I know a couple of folks who ended up going there and they seem even happier with that than they had expected to be.
 
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