What is the problem with community college and pre-meds?

Oct 7, 2014
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Well first off I just wanted to start off by giving a little information about me and then dive into the main question. I am currently attending a community college to obtain my Associates in chemistry. That includes chem 1&2, orgo 1&2, calc 1&2, Physics 1&2, with a few electives. I then plan to transfer to a University to pursue a bachelors in biochemistry. All of the courses except for physics transfer (why I have to take them at cc, I don't know, but they are required for the degree). After all is said and done with that, EC's, and of course, the MCAT I desire to apply to medical school. Now I will get to the main point; Why do medical schools "shoot down" applicants with cc credits? I am only attending cc currently because I didn't really try in high school (graduated with 3.1 and 19 ACT which I am soon retaking) and for financial reasons. I have currently read multiple posts on this forum and other sources saying that applicants with cc credits have lower percentage acceptance than those whom don't. Can someone explain this to me?
 
Sep 15, 2013
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I'm not sure I'd take the posts on this forum seriously on that count. You may have noticed that SDN can give you the impression that you need a 4.0 from a prestigious school, a 40+ on the MCAT, and experience saving a town from pirates or zombies to even have a chance at med school. Some schools won't accept community college credits, but most will.

If there is a difference, I imagine it partly stems from the reasons people go to community college: low cost and ease of admission. Most community college students I know do not come from wealthy families and do not have any physicians in the family to offer advice on the process. People with more money can go on medical volunteering trips overseas or hire tutors or MCAT prep companies or do any number of things that might help a borderline application. They won't need to work during school, allowing more time to study and for extracurriculars, and they'll have more social contact with doctors. Some people may also go to community college because they think it's easier, or may not take their classes seriously once they're there. In my state, the majority of high school grads now need remedial coursework before they're ready for college level courses, which is hardly a background that prepares a person well for medical school. It's certainly possible to catch up after goofing off in high school or going to a high school that simply doesn't prepare you for college, but it takes hard work.

All that said, don't let anyone tell you that going to a community college will prevent you from going to medical school. I went to a community college followed by a no-name state school (my first employer actually checked to see if my program was accredited) and I've already been accepted to a school I would be thrilled to attend.
 

claduva94

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If anything, I'd think that schools would question the rigor of the courses. But I imagine that a competitive MCAT and good performance in upper-level biology classes would settle those qualms.
 

altblue

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CC grad here... I'm in a similar situation. Just nail those upper level courses and you'll be okay.
 

Catalystik

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All that said, don't let anyone tell you that going to a community college will prevent you from going to medical school. I went to a community college followed by a no-name state school (my first employer actually checked to see if my program was accredited) and I've already been accepted to a school I would be thrilled to attend.
If anything, I'd think that schools would question the rigor of the courses. But I imagine that a competitive MCAT and good performance in upper-level biology classes would settle those qualms.
Just nail those upper level courses and you'll be okay.
Well said.
 
Oct 25, 2013
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Like previously mentioned, it has to do with the unknown rigor of CC classes and not about low cost. To be fair, the same can be said about traditional universities.

I've known some CC classes to be at a high school level, some harder than the nearby university, and everything in between, but on average there's much more grade inflation going on. What you're doing is pretty common, what I would definitely not do is take the perceived hard classes at a CC to avoid taking them at a university. Adcom's are very aware of people doing that. Since less can be deduced from your grades that will make your MCAT score even more important. Make sure to do as well as possible on it.

Best of luck!
 
OP
Jake30X
Oct 7, 2014
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Pre-Medical
Thank you all for your advice! I was really beginning to lose hope, but what is needed to be done, will be done!
 

amad01

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I took all my pre-reqs at a CC... I have 8 MD interviews so far and I do not have an amazing mcat.

I was terrified I would never get into med school because of my CC credits. I had many friends, advisors, and not to mention SDN telling me to take all the classes at the Uni, but I didn't want to shell out the $$$.

I even did the unforgivable by going 4 yr, CC, 4 yr... we will see if I get in :laugh:
 
Dec 16, 2013
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The rigor is simply not the same as at a 4 year uni. I took cc classes in 8th grade for goodness sake. But that doesn't mean all medical schools look down on them, especially when transferring, being successful,. and having a good MCAT.
 

darklabel

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It just has to do with perception and rigor, but it won't preclude you from medical school. Honestly, I wish I did first 2 years in CC and then last 2 at a university to save money. Doing well in your upper division classes and MCAT will dispel any myth of it being too easy.
 
Apr 24, 2012
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I was in a similar situation. I started out at an excellent community college and took General Chemistry 1&2; Calculus 1,2,&3; Physics 1&2. I transferred to a university during my sophomore year to pursue a degree in biochemistry and finished the rest of my pre-requisites at a public mid-tier university. My CC and University GPA were >3.8; I scored a 35 on MCAT.

I applied to 4 medical schools and was accepted to all of them. I ended up going to a top 20 medical school. No one asked me at all about my CC credits during the interview season. It was about 5 years ago; I doubt things have changed much since. As long as you do well after transferring and get a good MCAT score, you should be fine. Just don't spend more than 2 years at CC to prove that you can perform well at university level and take your classes seriously.

Good luck!
 
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Winged Scapula

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You have to look at it from the perception of the average middle aged med school faculty member.

Back in the day, when they were your age, community college was for the average to below average student who couldn't get accepted to a four-year university and or had no plans to go beyond the associates degree. Those classes were often taught by bachelor and Masters degree level instructors and therefore the difficulty, whether true or not, was not on par with the university courses.

So the perception lingers that applicants take classes at a junior college because they're easier but this is rapidly changing.
 
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Danbo1957

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Uhhhh... top medical schools do not like your CC credits, nor the degree from that mediocre state school that you transferred to either. But, most other medical schools do look for great students no matter where from, so if you do a 3.8 and 36 you can get in somewhere...
 

Snoopy2006

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I am only attending cc currently because I didn't really try in high school
No one else found this even a little bit funny?

OP, there's part of your answer. Part of the stigma exists from a day when most people who attended community college were those who goofed off during high school and graduated with relatively poor grades. Compare this to students who were focused (and yet balanced) from the start, and you're already behind the 8 ball.

Clearly, in today's age, people go to community college for various reasons, and most adcoms are aware of this. Financial and practical reasons have already been outlined in this thread, and as people have said, a poor high school GPA isn't going to keep you out of medical school. But a community college GPA is just harder for adcoms to judge because of the variability. Analogous to residency programs trying to evaluate foreign grads - there's so much variability in foreign medical schools it's hard to know whose training was adequate and whose was not.

I still find it funny when people goof off / don't take classes seriously and then wonder why there's repercussions down the line. High school is early on in life where you can easily make it up later, but I see a similar mentality in some college students who get serious way too late.
 
OP
Jake30X
Oct 7, 2014
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No one else found this even a little bit funny?

OP, there's part of your answer. Part of the stigma exists from a day when most people who attended community college were those who goofed off during high school and graduated with relatively poor grades. Compare this to students who were focused (and yet balanced) from the start, and you're already behind the 8 ball.

Clearly, in today's age, people go to community college for various reasons, and most adcoms are aware of this. Financial and practical reasons have already been outlined in this thread, and as people have said, a poor high school GPA isn't going to keep you out of medical school. But a community college GPA is just harder for adcoms to judge because of the variability. Analogous to residency programs trying to evaluate foreign grads - there's so much variability in foreign medical schools it's hard to know whose training was adequate and whose was not.

I still find it funny when people goof off / don't take classes seriously and then wonder why there's repercussions down the line. High school is early on in life where you can easily make it up later, but I see a similar mentality in some college students who get serious way too late.
Yeah, I do highly regret the slacking off but at the same time I had no clue I wanted to be a doctor, but I still should have tried harder (I feel I could have graduated top 5). I was offered the opportunity to play university football and had already been accepted to some local universities. I was advised by some pharmacists, which is what I wanted to be at the time, to take gen eds at cc then finish off at uni. I only wanted pharmacy because it was the easier route, but I decided I didn't want to sell my self short and do what I really wanted. I know I can't change my past and I am not going to cry about it, but I do believe if I work smart and hard, that I can get there. I just hope the cc doesn't backfire, especially with taking Gen Chem through Orgo 2 and Calculus. Thank you for your response.
 
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OP
Jake30X
Oct 7, 2014
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I was in a similar situation. I started out at an excellent community college and took General Chemistry 1&2; Calculus 1,2,&3; Physics 1&2. I transferred to a university during my sophomore year to pursue a degree in biochemistry and finished the rest of my pre-requisites at a public mid-tier university. My CC and University GPA were 4.0; I scored a 35 on MCAT.

I applied to 4 medical schools and was accepted to all of them. I ended up going to a top 20 medical school. No one asked me at all about my CC credits during the interview season. It was about 5 years ago; I doubt things have changed much since. As long as you do well after transferring and get a good MCAT score, you should be fine. Just don't spend more than 2 years at CC to prove that you can perform well at university level and take your classes seriously.

Good luck!
So do you think I should take orgo 1 & 2 at my cc and graduate with the associates (which I know is worthless) or should I just take the Gen Chem 1 & 2 then transfer and do Orgo 1 & 2 at uni with the other pre-requisites? I already plan on taking Calc 1-3 at my cc because the professor is excellent. But just not sure i
 

moisne

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There is a confounding factor here...

It is more likely a student chose CC because of weaker HS stats (in your case). This means you need to work harder to catch up as you have a weaker foundation than say someone who was accepted to MIT. Then pre-med CC students will transfer to universities - now - weaker students will tend to score lower in university courses, but some students who chose CC because of finances with strong background can do just as well in a 4 year college. In the later case, good grades in upper division classes and high MCAT will compensate for it.

Also, generally speaking, CC classes rigors are usually much lower than an universities and some med schools (esp if you have low MCAT and a GPA drop after switching schools) will think you were a cop out and can't handle the work.
 
Apr 24, 2012
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So do you think I should take orgo 1 & 2 at my cc and graduate with the associates (which I know is worthless) or should I just take the Gen Chem 1 & 2 then transfer and do Orgo 1 & 2 at uni with the other pre-requisites? I already plan on taking Calc 1-3 at my cc because the professor is excellent. But just not sure i
How much time have you spent at CC already? Why are you planning to retake ACT? What is your CC GPA?
 

amad01

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I don't know anybody who went to a community college because of poor high school grades... it is just as easy to get into a state university with mediocre grades, many even have open enrollment. Most people go to a CC because it is cheaper and perhaps closer to home, not because they couldn't get into harvard. I graduated high school 3.8 and 30 ACT and still went to the CC right by my house... (after spending a year away at a uni).. go wherever is cheapest IMO.

Uhhhh... top medical schools do not like your CC credits, nor the degree from that mediocre state school that you transferred to either. But, most other medical schools do look for great students no matter where from, so if you do a 3.8 and 36 you can get in somewhere...
it is comments like this that made me paranoid ... caused me a lot of stress and almost convinced me to retake all my prereq's at the university just to prove myself.... 36 mcat to make up for CC credits to "get in somewhere..."? you realize 36 is like 99 percentile? Are you just trying to scare pre-meds ...
 

eablackwell

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Danbo has a point, although it's said in a slightly scary way. ;) Many top tier schools do not like CCs, and not all of them will admit it. There are also schools that feel they should be top tier and look down on them as well. Most schools are cool with it, as long as you showed you did well in upper-tier classes or have something interesting/awesome to add to your app. That's just the frank truth of it.

Does it mean if you took CC classes that you won't get MD invites? No it doesn't. I worked full time as a teacher and went to night school at a CC for all my pre-med classes, and I was accepted to an MD school in the middle of Oct my application year. Does it mean you need to be a little more realistic about prejudices of some schools? Yes.

As for the remark about degrees from random unknown state schools, I don't think that's as much of an issue.
 
OP
Jake30X
Oct 7, 2014
9
1
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Pre-Medical
How much time have you spent at CC already? Why are you planning to retake ACT? What is your CC GPA?
Just about a year, had to take some classes because my ACT wasn't up to par. I desire to retake my ACT because I know I can get a higher score and it would look better as a transfer applicant. My current cc GPA is 3.9.
 
Apr 24, 2012
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Just about a year, had to take some classes because my ACT wasn't up to par. I desire to retake my ACT because I know I can get a higher score and it would look better as a transfer applicant My current cc GPA is 3.9.
With this GPA, you will look good as a transfer applicant without a new ACT. Look at a page for transfer students at the 4-year school of your choice. Usually they do not require an ACT score after a certain number of CC credit hours. Just don't stay for more than 2 years at your community college. If the professor is excellent, take Cal 1-3 at your CC. Regarding Organic Chemistry, it is up to you. My preference would be to take it at a 4-year school, but it is just a preference. I did it because I wanted to be involved in undergraduate research in Organic Chemistry. Anyway, an A from a CC looks better on your transcript than a B from a 4-year school.
 
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Oct 23, 2012
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Well first off I just wanted to start off by giving a little information about me and then dive into the main question. I am currently attending a community college to obtain my Associates in chemistry. That includes chem 1&2, orgo 1&2, calc 1&2, Physics 1&2, with a few electives. I then plan to transfer to a University to pursue a bachelors in biochemistry. All of the courses except for physics transfer (why I have to take them at cc, I don't know, but they are required for the degree). After all is said and done with that, EC's, and of course, the MCAT I desire to apply to medical school. Now I will get to the main point; Why do medical schools "shoot down" applicants with cc credits? I am only attending cc currently because I didn't really try in high school (graduated with 3.1 and 19 ACT which I am soon retaking) and for financial reasons. I have currently read multiple posts on this forum and other sources saying that applicants with cc credits have lower percentage acceptance than those whom don't. Can someone explain this to me?
To be honest i would take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. I do not mean that with disrespect to anyone, all i am saying is there really is no way to tell how you will be judged. You cant change the fact that you went to CC now. All you can do is work hard and prove that you want to be a doctor. I am no expert, I like you am a CC student. But contrary to what most people might think some people do not know they want to be a doctor in high school or whenever. I had no idea i wanted to be a doctor till a couple years out of high school when it was already to late to consider going straight to a 4 year. I cant change that about me, but i sure do not let it hold me back from trying.
 
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hydroxyurea

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Some of my undergraduate classmates finished their degree in 4-year university after transferring from community college and are VERY competitive applicants right now. Your CC GPA will not be as strong of a tell of your academic performance as a 4-year's GPA, since the reputation is that your peers lack either the time/ academic prowess / motivation to get competitive grades, or the professors grade easier at CC. That being said, if you transfer to a university, and SMASH your coursework and MCAT, it doesn't matter what you did beforehand, you will be wanted. Your adjustment period will be short, so the transition may be very hard at first given the performance that is required, but you can do it.

Another thing is, you may have less time than somebody at a university to "check boxes" which is what SDN thinks is the holy grail of acceptance. "You need 100+ hours of research/ volunteering in a hospital / shadowing / extracurricular leadership" is something I see constantly on this forum. Be you. Sure, you need some medical experience and diverse activities, but as long as you have some of those, focus on something you are passionate about, something you would have done whether you were applying in the coming years or not, and skills you genuinely care about and hope to eventually use. Once you get into your eventual profession, be it medicine or otherwise, hopefully you can look back on it as a useful and enjoyable experience.

Do well in 4-year, get at least one letter of rec and participate in some sort of relevant activity or activities there, do solidly above-average on MCAT and you will be OK.
 
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Snoopy2006

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Yeah, I do highly regret the slacking off but at the same time I had no clue I wanted to be a doctor, but I still should have tried harder (I feel I could have graduated top 5). I was offered the opportunity to play university football and had already been accepted to some local universities. I was advised by some pharmacists, which is what I wanted to be at the time, to take gen eds at cc then finish off at uni. I only wanted pharmacy because it was the easier route, but I decided I didn't want to sell my self short and do what I really wanted. I know I can't change my past and I am not going to cry about it, but I do believe if I work smart and hard, that I can get there. I just hope the cc doesn't backfire, especially with taking Gen Chem through Orgo 2 and Calculus. Thank you for your response.
Good attitude, surprising and refreshing maturity from someone so close to high school. Work hard and you'll be fine. Good luck.
 
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