baboseki

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I’ve searched the forums quite a bit and I found a lot of good advice. Of course, I (like most people) think that my situation is unique enough to warrant a completely new thread. :) It has taken me eight years, yes eight years, after high school to finish college. I was a very, very part-time student for the first three years. Most of the classes were remedial and don’t really count, so my fourth year is really my freshmen year (although AMCAS or anybody else that matters won’t see it that way).

I transferred from a community college to a 4-year university and my grades really suffered. It wasn’t because the university was too difficult; I just had a lot of personal/family problems during that time. I could make up a bunch of excuses, but the bottom line is that I lost focus on what is important.

Community College
Years 1-3: 65 quarter credits. GPA 3.6 (Mostly As and some Bs)
Year 4: 53 quarter credits. GPA 3.6 (Mostly As and some Bs)
Year 5: 45 quarter credits. GPA 3.7 (All As except one B+)

4-year University (Did poorly in Biology and Organic Chemistry here)
Year 6: 53 quarter credits. GPA 3.4 (Mix of As and Bs)
Year 7: 43 quarter credits. GPA 3.0 (Mostly Bs, some As, two Cs)
Year 8: 40 quarter credits. GPA ~2.6 (Three As??? Depends on how I do this quarter. Five Cs, one B, one D. Absolutely terrible I know.)
Ok so I went a little overkill with the detail but it’s a lot easier to see where I am coming from this way. My cumulative GPA would be anywhere from 3.3 to 3.4 depending on how I do this last quarter. My BCPM GPA would be nearly identical to my cumulative GPA and I got a 35 on the MCAT. There you have it. I basically screwed myself over during my last two years.

I can’t change what I’ve done in the past so rather than tormenting myself with what could have been, I came here looking for advice. As far as I can tell, these are my options: (1) Apply broadly and early with my grades as they are, and try to improve my application in other ways (volunteering, research, LORs), (2) Retake undergrad science classes I did poorly in and/or take harder undergrad science classes to raise my GPA (3) SMP, post-bacc or whatever (4) Some kind of master’s degree in science to show that I have the ability to handle difficult material. Of course, I could just give up, but that’s not really an option. I could take the MCAT again too, but that doesn't seem like the brightest idea in the world when I already have a respectable 35.

Realistically, I can’t make much of a dent in my GPA since I have so many damn credits, but at least I would show somewhat of an upward trend. I’m really confused on what the best course of action would be.

Sorry for the long post, but I could really use your help. I guess I'm looking for that elusive solution to all my problems that probably doesn't exist. Regardless, any advice, opinions, experiences, ridicule, criticisms, flames are welcome.
 

EpiPEN

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I think you should do option one and plan for option four. Your MCAT is decent so you can probably make a case about how your GPA suffered for personal reasons. Might not fly with all the collages, but I'd put my money down in that you will catch someone's interest in a med school. But you have to plan for the worst, so maybe look into a Masters program now and plan for it should the worst case scenerio occur. Ofcourse I would also recommend some EC's maybe? you didn't mention where you worked while you were a part time student and if you had any clinical or research experience in your 8 years. Any community work? did you have to take time off to help family members? Your grade might turn off some of the big name research heavy schools, but I don't think the med door is shut for you or anything.
 

baboseki

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Thanks EpiPEN, I was kind of leaning towards that too. I'm wondering if the downward trend should be something I mention in the AMCAS or should I wait for secondaries or interviews even? I'm not sure what kind of Masters program would be appropriate. SMP maybe?

My ECs are pretty weak. I worked odd jobs mostly, nothing healthcare related. Later on I helped my mom out with her small business and when I say help out, I mean I pretty much ran the whole show. That was basically a full time job and I did that while going to school. I have some clinical and shadowing experience but it's minimal compared to other applicants. I'm working on improving this but there is only so much I can do with the time I have. I don't have any research and my GPA blows so I won't be applying to any big research schools. I hope applying early really makes a difference.
 
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EpiPEN

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Thanks EpiPEN, I was kind of leaning towards that too. I'm wondering if the downward trend should be something I mention in the AMCAS or should I wait for secondaries or interviews even? I'm not sure what kind of Masters program would be appropriate. SMP maybe?

My ECs are pretty weak. I worked odd jobs mostly, nothing healthcare related. Later on I helped my mom out with her small business and when I say help out, I mean I pretty much ran the whole show. That was basically a full time job and I did that while going to school. I have some clinical and shadowing experience but it's minimal compared to other applicants. I'm working on improving this but there is only so much I can do with the time I have. I don't have any research and my GPA blows so I won't be applying to any big research schools. I hope applying early really makes a difference.

I'd say mention it in your primary at least, or work it into something else and don't directly say something like "... and that's why I had bad grades." I would suggest talk about the reason why the trend happend, and let the adcom make the connection (and make it fairly obvious) that it caused your grades to slip. Remember, always talk positives even if it's about something that can be negative. After all, you want to catch the adcom's interest and explain yourself later during the interview.

I also helped my mom run her home business and I worked that into a bit in my personal statement about how it taught me to work with people, prioritize my life, and be responsible. And in that I discussed how all my free time was used to help support the family and run the business which caused my curiosity and hunger for the sciences outside of the classroom to grow until I finally had the time to work at a lab later on in my career (which was really to explain why I didn' thave any academic/clinical/research experience in my early undergrad years). Anyways, you get the general idea.

As for masters program... not sure on that one. I do know that they aren't cheap though... but I do know a lot of pre-meds go for a MPH before applying for medical school. Applying early should help a lot as I have learned from painful personal experience.
 

DrBubbles

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Congrats on having your bachelor's in site--you're amazing for sticking with it.

I agree with you--retaking the courses you didn't do well in can certainly help. Applying broadly with a 35 will also help. Definitely keep your MCAT! Also, DO is a great way to go.

I would, however, advice against a special master's program. For one, if you don't do well, it'll pretty much break your chances of getting into med school, and from your undergrad history, I'm not convinced otherwise. Also, it might be easier to retake four undergraduate pre-med courses that you did poorly in, bring your gpa up above a 3.4, and apply with that.

If it helps, my boyfriend had about a 3.5 undergrad gpa over four years of full-time and then 2 1/2 years of pre-med courses, with almost all As in the premed stuff, and a 35 MCAT. He applied super late in the cycle (submitted the primary late October) and got seven interviews. I had a 3.48-ish gpa (about a 3.3 undergrad gpa--the rest of graduate coursework from an SMP) and a 32 MCAT. I applied early, but since I took the late MCAT, I wasn't complete till October anyway. Anyhow, I had five interviews. And we both got into our first choice (in-state) program. I know it's not quite the same situation, but hopefully it'll show you it's definitely possible.

Best of luck!
 
B

Blade28

With that many credits, it'll be hard to significantly improve your GPA with post-bac work. I agree that retaking classes (especially if you're considering going the DO route) would be your best bet. The downward trend in your grades is a little worrisome, as well.

But great job on the MCAT, though!

Best of luck.
 

baboseki

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I really appreciate all the advice. It's giving me a lot to think about. Thanks for the encouragement too; it gave me a little hope. I can use all the hope I can get.

I'll probably apply both MD and DO, I'm not really particular about either one.

My sharp downward trend in GPA was caused by a confluence of factors in my life, but I have dealt with most of them and I'm back on track. The only reason my science GPA isn't completely ruined is because I pretty much aced calculus, some advanced math, physics, and gen chem. I did poorly in biology, orgo, and biochem. Of course, this doesn't look so great for someone who wants to go to medical school. (Interestingly, my BS>PS score. I don't know how that worked out.)

I was thinking of retaking biochem and some orgo. My main concern with this approach is that I can't continue school full-time after graduating. If I got a 'C' as a full-time student before and now while only taking one or maybe two classes a quarter I get an 'A' how much does this really improve my app in the eyes of an adcom? I guess that isn't really an answerable question unless you are a member of an adcom.

I forgot to mention that I am on two waitlists right now. They haven't seen my recent grades so even if I am accepted off a waitlist my low grades may pose some problems. This whole process is painful, although most of my pain is self-inflicted. C'est la vie.
 

xeulee

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It's a good idea to apply to both MD and DO schools. You can talk about what happened during the downward trend and how the situation changed in your personal statement. Maybe that would help. :luck: Good luck getting off those waitlists.
 

Delo_Ohm

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My brief 2 cents... Be confident. Don't get down on yourself. Applying and not getting in is a unique experience. The bottom line is that if you are not your own biggest advocate, someone else is not going to buy in either. I don't mean to come across too cheesy, but do not ever downplay who you are and what you have done - i.e. "shadowing experience is minimal compared to other applicants" - that experience is something only you have, and I am sure that you did learn something valuable from it. I will leave it at that...
 

baboseki

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My brief 2 cents... Be confident. Don't get down on yourself. Applying and not getting in is a unique experience. The bottom line is that if you are not your own biggest advocate, someone else is not going to buy in either. I don't mean to come across too cheesy, but do not ever downplay who you are and what you have done - i.e. "shadowing experience is minimal compared to other applicants" - that experience is something only you have, and I am sure that you did learn something valuable from it. I will leave it at that...

Thanks for that. You actually gave me some ideas for my next personal statement. :)
 

hippiedoc13

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As someone who has sat on an AdCom...

- Don't touch your MCAT score. It's great.

- If I was reading your file, I would be most concerned about the clear downward trend in your grades in the last couple of years (especially this year). I personally would need to see some much stronger grades after that (esp in bio, organic chem, biochem, and/or related biomedical courses) to make me feel comfortable about your academic preparation. In my experience the upward trend is huge.

-I feel that your personal statement MUST address the obvious weaknesses in your application. Do this in a straightforward way, explain the mitigating circumstances, do not make excuses, and show how you've resolved that situation and learned from those challenges. Three to four sentences max. In order to do this in a compelling way, you will need that evidence of improvement to show (ie, the improved grades from the bullet point above).

-I think your personal story could be really compelling. You need to find a compelling way to tell it, in a way that doesn't sound like excuses or a pity-party. Show how your unique personal experiences have shaped you into who you are, and will help you relate to your patients, who will come from all different backgrounds. NEVER de-value your own experiences, which may be different from those of other applicants, but are your strength not your weakness.

-Consider getting some really good clinical experience, which will help you in two ways. One, it will give you a more realistic sense of what you are getting yourself into in medicine, and you can talk about that. Two, get to know a physician really well, and have them write you a strong letter of recommendation. There are threads elsewhere on the forums that have great advice about what constitutes a worthwhile clinical experience and what's not.

-Get hooked up with a really good pre-med advisor who can guide you through this process, someone who will really invest in you.


I guess what this all boils down to is, I would advise you against applying this year with the overall app that you have now. Take the next year to improve your academic record, get your personal life solidly in order, get some strong clinical experience, get yourself a strong pre-med advisor, and secure three great letters of rec. Then start the application process one year from now, confident that you have done all you can to create a great app.

My honest opinion is that applying this year will be a huge waste of time and money for you, and will impede you from doing all the things you need to do to have a really solid app for next year. Save the money you would waste this year and use it for a really broad, strategic effort next year. Trust me, you only want to go through this process once.

And keep in mind, this advice is coming from someone who was the person on the admissions committee who was most likely to give an applicant the benefit of the doubt...
 

arlingtondoc

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As someone who has sat on an AdCom...

- Don't touch your MCAT score. It's great.

- If I was reading your file, I would be most concerned about the clear downward trend in your grades in the last couple of years (especially this year). I personally would need to see some much stronger grades after that (esp in bio, organic chem, biochem, and/or related biomedical courses) to make me feel comfortable about your academic preparation. In my experience the upward trend is huge.

-I feel that your personal statement MUST address the obvious weaknesses in your application. Do this in a straightforward way, explain the mitigating circumstances, do not make excuses, and show how you've resolved that situation and learned from those challenges. Three to four sentences max. In order to do this in a compelling way, you will need that evidence of improvement to show (ie, the improved grades from the bullet point above).

-I think your personal story could be really compelling. You need to find a compelling way to tell it, in a way that doesn't sound like excuses or a pity-party. Show how your unique personal experiences have shaped you into who you are, and will help you relate to your patients, who will come from all different backgrounds. NEVER de-value your own experiences, which may be different from those of other applicants, but are your strength not your weakness.

-Consider getting some really good clinical experience, which will help you in two ways. One, it will give you a more realistic sense of what you are getting yourself into in medicine, and you can talk about that. Two, get to know a physician really well, and have them write you a strong letter of recommendation. There are threads elsewhere on the forums that have great advice about what constitutes a worthwhile clinical experience and what's not.

-Get hooked up with a really good pre-med advisor who can guide you through this process, someone who will really invest in you.


I guess what this all boils down to is, I would advise you against applying this year with the overall app that you have now. Take the next year to improve your academic record, get your personal life solidly in order, get some strong clinical experience, get yourself a strong pre-med advisor, and secure three great letters of rec. Then start the application process one year from now, confident that you have done all you can to create a great app.

My honest opinion is that applying this year will be a huge waste of time and money for you, and will impede you from doing all the things you need to do to have a really solid app for next year. Save the money you would waste this year and use it for a really broad, strategic effort next year. Trust me, you only want to go through this process once.

And keep in mind, this advice is coming from someone who was the person on the admissions committee who was most likely to give an applicant the benefit of the doubt...

i agree with this post. wait a year, and retake a couple of courses that you did not do so well in. like biochem. maybe bio or chem too or perhaps an advanced course in physiology or pharm depending on what is available in your area. the downward trend is probably not going to be viewed favorably by the adcoms. so taking the courses would help address the trend academically.

i would also try to address it in the essay in the context of whatever was going on to hurt the GPA. x happened, i realize it was a problem, i've done y to correct it and learned z from it to make sure it won't happen again. be careful to make sure the tone is not self-depricating and is always positive. don't make excuses. they have heard them all before, and don't want to hear it.

take the year to get some clinical experience too, volunteer work and so forth to bulk that aspect of the app too. save the money. applying to 30 schools once is better than 10 three or four times.

best of luck.
 
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