Apr 26, 2010
New York, NY
I'm interested to find out if there are any non-trads with similar issues. I have always been a non-traditional student. I dropped out of high school after sophomore year in HS, and went directly to college level courses. Ended up with very spotty grades including 5 Fs before I finally addressed substance abuse issues which had been holding me back (I am now almost 10 years clean). Eventually enrolled at Tufts University at age 24 (I was a non-trad in a special program then) and earned my BA with a 3.85 GPA at Tufts. Worked as a musician and also as a substance abuse educator before deciding that I wanted to go to medical school. Now I'm just a few semesters from completing my pre-reqs and looking to apply for 2012. My numbers are looking like this:

GPA: 3.14, BCPM: 3.95

If I take my GPA since 2001, when I finally got my act together, I have a 3.83 GPA. And my overall GPA trend is very strongly positive, even since then. I hope to improve my GPA over the next couple semesters, but it is unlikely that my overall GPA will change significantly. Does anyone know if a very strong MCAT score possibly get me beyond simple elimination by GPA?

If I could do it all over again, I'd have probably done things differently, but I feel I've learned invaluable lessons from the mistakes I've made and the experience of being in recovery from addiction. Nevertheless, I don't like having to spend so much of an application process explaining what is ultimately a rather brief, but consequential period in my life. I also do not feel right in using this experience as an excuse. Has anyone had experience balancing their own academic and personal struggles with their present success and desire to contribute?


in recovery
10+ Year Member
Jan 20, 2007
Medical Student
There aren't a lot of older nontrads in recovery - you'll see the most info here about younger kids with DUIs. Generally it's not a good idea to out yourself in med school admissions or in practice, because of the stigma associated with addicted physicians. Anonymity recommended, and you'll find plenty of support as you need it. You don't *need* to tell your recovery story, because there are plenty of late bloomers, and it's generally well-received to have a strong comeback from a weak start. PM me if you want to discuss how to tell your story (I've got 12 years and will start med school next summer...with 5 F's and a strong comeback).

There are some schools that have GPA autoscreens, such as at 3.0, but I don't think you will run into that with a 3.14. I would expect your BCPM GPA will get you noticed. I would aim for the best MCAT you can get. I would hope that's above the average (31 or 32). You should schedule the test so that you have your score in time for an early app.

Since you need adcoms to look past your 3.14, I recommend *not* applying to the schools that get bazillions of apps, such as Gtown. They just won't be able to give you enough review time. Get and use the MSAR, tidy up your app package, and apply early and broadly (meaning: submit your complete, astonishingly well-produced app on the day the app opens [June 1 AMCAS, May 1 TMDSAS], to 25+ well-researched schools).

Good luck!
Nov 12, 2010
I don't have the strongest background either. Sometimes I feel like I messed up my chances big time but I am not giving up. Medicine never crossed my mind while I was an undergrad, so I really didn't even care to do well in my sci and math classes. Plus I had major depression, in and out of therapy sessions and psychiatrists, then my ex fiance up and left me during my last year of college. It was hard to concentrate in school obviously, and I have two withdraws.
So, no you're not alone. But I am not gonna give up. My major was political science and my grades in the humanities are mostly As and Bs, my GPA is 3.379 which isn't bad, but isn't anything to brag about either. But, I'm so determined to start a post bacc program this Fall 2011 and really do well in it. I am done letting outside circumstances interfere (like boyfriends etc). I just hope that schools will see how serious I am and how much I've learned from my mistakes and setbacks. Don't give up!


Membership Revoked
Apr 28, 2010
You're fine, musicmajor. Schools will see it has been years since the poor grades and will consider your sGPA as being more representative of your abilities. If you're willing to go DO, use grade replacement.