cutemom2012

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Nov 12, 2013
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Hi all,

I'm looking into community college (some classes are even online but supposedly the transcripts don't state that) for the pre-reqs. I already have a BA and MS from reputable universities and graduated summa cum laude from both. I took 3 of the pre-reqs as part of my MS program.

Because my husband is a surgery resident and we have small children, I am considering community college strictly because of scheduling issues.
I will be taking Physics 2 at a 4 year university.
I would like to take college algebra and Gen Chem 1 and 2 at community college. I'll then see about Orgo when I get there...
What do y'all think? Will it kill my chances? I don't even know if I will apply before my husband gets done (4+ years) since we will be relocating to be closer to our families. Advice/opinion?
Thanks!
 

TeddyBoomBoom

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Jul 12, 2011
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Hi all,

I'm looking into community college (some classes are even online but supposedly the transcripts don't state that) for the pre-reqs. I already have a BA and MS from reputable universities and graduated summa cum laude from both. I took 3 of the pre-reqs as part of my MS program.

Because my husband is a surgery resident and we have small children, I am considering community college strictly because of scheduling issues.
I will be taking Physics 2 at a 4 year university.
I would like to take college algebra and Gen Chem 1 and 2 at community college. I'll then see about Orgo when I get there...
What do y'all think? Will it kill my chances? I don't even know if I will apply before my husband gets done (4+ years) since we will be relocating to be closer to our families. Advice/opinion?
Thanks!
It will not. The ONLY time I see CC credits being an issue are when somebody does mediocre or poorly at a class in a university, then turns around to repeat them at a CC because it is easier. That could raise a flag. The BULK of my early work was done at a CC, and it was never brought up once in a D.O. or M.D. interview.
 
Dec 9, 2012
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IDK, I would take them at a 4 year university and as somebody who is having a hard time getting the classes I need at my local 4 year I am doing everything in my power to avoid CC credits.

I bought a copy of the online MSAR and most of the schools in my state accept CC prereqs on a case by case basis. I dont think it will kill your chances but this is a RIDICULOUSLY competitive process. Even lower tier schools have median GPAs of 3.65-3.7 and MCAT scores above 31. You dont want to give anyone a reason to put your application down. So if it is your only option go to war with what you can. But if you can take the classes at a 4 year that would be your best bet imo.

The good news is that there are some schools that dont care, so if you have to do them at CC you will have options they just might be more limited.
 

jayoh

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Aug 18, 2011
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Hi all,

I'm looking into community college (some classes are even online but supposedly the transcripts don't state that) for the pre-reqs. I already have a BA and MS from reputable universities and graduated summa cum laude from both. I took 3 of the pre-reqs as part of my MS program.

Because my husband is a surgery resident and we have small children, I am considering community college strictly because of scheduling issues.
I will be taking Physics 2 at a 4 year university.
I would like to take college algebra and Gen Chem 1 and 2 at community college. I'll then see about Orgo when I get there...
What do y'all think? Will it kill my chances? I don't even know if I will apply before my husband gets done (4+ years) since we will be relocating to be closer to our families. Advice/opinion?
Thanks!
It won't kill your chances at all, assuming you do well. I would steer clear of online pre-reqs though, personally. A lot of schools won't consider online credits, and you would basically be neglecting to tell them, then hoping that the schools don't find out. Not saying they will find out, but that kind of thing would stress me out. I understand that it would be a lot less convenient, but med school will be too, so it may be worth it to just take the course on campus. Either way, good luck to you!
 

Mad Jack

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I mixed it up with my prerequisites, with physics I and II at the local community college and the rest of my prerequisites at my university. Most of my credits were from community college (I have over 90 of them, with only around 50 coming from my university-level education). It was never brought up. I would strongly advise against taking orgo at a community college, as I have heard in the past that adcoms view their facilities as inadequate to properly teach organic chemistry (the vast majority of CC chemistry departments do not have gas spectrometers, NMR equipment, and tools that are critical to properly learning organic chemistry). If you do elect to take courses at a community college, try to do well on the MCAT, as this demonstrates that you have mastered the material regardless of where your studies took place.
 
Jan 18, 2011
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Basically it's up to you. As you can see, we nontrads disagree with each other on this topic. Where are you planning to apply? Broadly? Then I wouldn't worry about it. If you are geographically limited, then I would talk to the admissions people at the schools you are limited too.
 

surfdoc29

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Dec 12, 2012
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There's a lot of opinions on this, but I'll give you mine. I went back to school about 4 years after getting my bachelors and did essentially ALL of my pre reqs at a community college. I have currently been accepted to a top-20 med school this cycle, so it is my opinion that no, it will not hold you back at all.

As long as you do well in the classes and also on the MCAT, most schools won't care. There are a few that don't accept CC credits (Johns Hopkins I think), so just double check to make sure those aren't schools you really want to attend.

CC was way more economical and friendlier on my schedule, so if that's the case for you I'd say go for it!
 
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futuredoc331

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Always call the schools you want to apply to to find these things out and then steer clear of the forums (at least when it comes to these questions). There are very few adcoms here and everyone else is a premed with just about as much knowledge as you.

Listening to all the non educated opinions will discourage you and drive you crazy.

Check with the schools, make a plan that works for you, then make it happen.

Don't look back, don't look too far forward and just do it.
 

Lifschitz

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Took all pre-reqs at community college, then transferred and completed upper division classes for my biochemistry degree at a university. No issues.
 
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The MCAT is the grade equalizer. As long as you learn the material (as gauged by your MCAT score), the adcoms won't really care.
 
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How would it look if I took Chem 1 and calc 1 at a 4 year and then took physics 1, bio 1, chem 2, physics 2 at CC because I couldnt get classes at the 4 year(bio and algebra based physics are over crowded) and then took bio 2, orgo 1, orgo 2 at the 4 year?

It would make life a lot easier if I could do that without being penalized, but after reading conflicting views here and seeing how competitive everything is from the MSAR, I am worried about doing that.
 
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How would it look if I took Chem 1 and calc 1 at a 4 year and then took physics 1, bio 1, chem 2, physics 2 at CC because I couldnt get classes at the 4 year(bio and algebra based physics are over crowded) and then took bio 2, orgo 1, orgo 2 at the 4 year?

It would make life a lot easier if I could do that without being penalized, but after reading conflicting views here and seeing how competitive everything is from the MSAR, I am worried about doing that.
As long as you don't look like you're trying to dodge your school's classes or cherry pick classes, I think community college classes would be acceptable so as long as you can pull off a solid MCAT score generally. I would NOT, however, split sequential courses as some schools will differ in the order and presentation of some topics. Don't take Chem 1 at "School X" and Chem 2 at "School Y."
 
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As long as you don't look like you're trying to dodge your school's classes or cherry pick classes, I think community college classes would be acceptable so as long as you can pull off a solid MCAT score generally. I would NOT, however, split sequential courses as some schools will differ in the order and presentation of some topics. Don't take Chem 1 at "School X" and Chem 2 at "School Y."
Well that is unavoidable if I go the CC route for a semester. The good news is that the CC is affiliated with the university I am at now and all the courses I plan on taking at the CC transfer to the university(and other SUNY schools).

My other option would be to take the classes I can this semester at the 4 year university and try to get the ones I miss during the summer.(but that would mean heavy course loads in both summer sessions which I want to avoid so I can get ECs in)
 
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Well that is unavoidable if I go the CC route for a semester. The good news is that the CC is affiliated with the university I am at now and all the courses I plan on taking at the CC transfer to the university(and other SUNY schools).

My other option would be to take the classes I can this semester at the 4 year university and try to get the ones I miss during the summer.(but that would mean heavy course loads in both summer sessions which I want to avoid so I can get ECs in)
Even if the undergraduate institutions consider the credits "transferable" between the schools this is no guarantee that medical schools will agree, and I would be concerned about it. Since applications to medical school can be so unpredictable and you don't know how each school will view this, I would avoid this at all costs (i.e. unless you have already been admitted by a school; you need to finish a pre-requisite; and the school confirms that it is okay). I would consider summer sessions if your school offers them.

Edited to add: The other option would be to go into course overload at the community college and enroll in parts one and two simultaneously and go into course overload assuming 1) this doesn't cost you significant more and 2) you retained enough of the material that the increased work load will be minimal (i.e. you already know the material). I see this as a lot of wasted effort and energy that could be better used for, e.g., the MCAT though. My thought is that you would be better off taking research courses (if you can find a mentor) the second semester and filling in some electives/extra curricular activities while at the 4 year school. Alternatively, take a heavy summer session and take a gap year to patch up your extra curricular activities/resume. If you continue with your plan, I think it would look very sketchy.
 
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Jun 30, 2013
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Hi all,

I'm looking into community college (some classes are even online but supposedly the transcripts don't state that) for the pre-reqs. I already have a BA and MS from reputable universities and graduated summa cum laude from both. I took 3 of the pre-reqs as part of my MS program.

Because my husband is a surgery resident and we have small children, I am considering community college strictly because of scheduling issues.
I will be taking Physics 2 at a 4 year university.
I would like to take college algebra and Gen Chem 1 and 2 at community college. I'll then see about Orgo when I get there...
What do y'all think? Will it kill my chances? I don't even know if I will apply before my husband gets done (4+ years) since we will be relocating to be closer to our families. Advice/opinion?
Thanks!
I don't think it will kill your chances. I have taken community college classes and some online classes too. However, to be safe I wouldn't take any online classes that have labs, for instance Gen Chem 1&2, any biology with lab, any physics with lab, and Organic Chem 1&2. Good luck.
 

stlrams22

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There's a lot of opinions on this, but I'll give you mine. I went back to school about 4 years after getting my bachelors and did essentially ALL of my pre reqs at a community college. I have currently been accepted to a top-20 med school this cycle, so it is my opinion that no, it will not hold you back at all.

As long as you do well in the classes and also on the MCAT, most schools won't care. There are a few that don't accept CC credits (Johns Hopkins I think), so just double check to make sure those aren't schools you really want to attend.

CC was way more economical and friendlier on my schedule, so if that's the case for you I'd say go for it!
My situation is similar. I left my career for medical school and took all my pre-reqs at the CC. The way I see it is you are smarter for taking your classes at a CC because you save lots of money. The whole "university is greater" is an education scam. Johns Hopkins can GTH if they think CC classes are somehow inferior (maybe the large lecture halls and overpriced tuition make education better???). I got a better education at the CC than my university and saved $12k. That is $12k that will not have interest compounding during four years of medical school and at least 3 years of post-doc training.
 
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Even if the undergraduate institutions consider the credits "transferable" between the schools this is no guarantee that medical schools will agree, and I would be concerned about it. Since applications to medical school can be so unpredictable and you don't know how each school will view this, I would avoid this at all costs (i.e. unless you have already been admitted by a school; you need to finish a pre-requisite; and the school confirms that it is okay). I would consider summer sessions if your school offers them.

Edited to add: The other option would be to go into course overload at the community college and enroll in parts one and two simultaneously and go into course overload assuming 1) this doesn't cost you significant more and 2) you retained enough of the material that the increased work load will be minimal (i.e. you already know the material). I see this as a lot of wasted effort and energy that could be better used for, e.g., the MCAT though. My thought is that you would be better off taking research courses (if you can find a mentor) the second semester and filling in some electives/extra curricular activities while at the 4 year school. Alternatively, take a heavy summer session and take a gap year to patch up your extra curricular activities/resume. If you continue with your plan, I think it would look very sketchy.
Would it really be a big deal? I would be taking orgo and upper lever bio classes at the 4 year. The only real sequence that gets broken up is the chem sequence. Bio isnt really a sequence that builds on the previous classes.(At my 4 year you can take 203 without taking 202, 202 without 201, etc.)
 
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Would it really be a big deal? I would be taking orgo and upper lever bio classes at the 4 year. The only real sequence that gets broken up is the chem sequence. Bio isnt really a sequence that builds on the previous classes.(At my 4 year you can take 203 without taking 202, 202 without 201, etc.)
All I can say is that I would be hesitant unless you plan to contact every single medical school that you plan to apply to and discuss the matter thoroughly with them. Moreover, I wouldn't rely on the transferability of the credit. In may very well be that if you take Chem 1 and Chem 2 at the community college that it will be comparable, but there is no guarantee that taking Chem 1 at the 4 year school and Chem 2 at the community college will necessarily provide the same experience/cover the same topics in the same order. The order and presentation of topics can and do differ from school to school. I would be afraid that I would miss something.

With regards to taking advanced upper level classes, many schools will allow you to substitute those for lower level requirements. I suppose if you took classes like Cell Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Anatomy or Physiology (or at least some class that touches upon the form and function of the structure of organisms), then most medical schools probably wouldn't care as much about the introductory biology course splitting since you will already have more classes that discuss the same topics at a more advanced level. By the same token, I also suppose that if you took several upper level chemistry courses (maybe advanced inorganic or pchem), that may work as well; however, you are effectively just adding on more classes that would seem to defeat the purpose of what I'm inferring that you're attempting to do.

In short, I wouldn't take short cuts when it came to pre-requisites and medical school. That's just me.

Edited to add: My concern is more about the Chemistry than the Biology for the reasons contained in my post and suggested by your post.
 
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Do as much as you can to save money now rather than allow yourself to get crushed by interest on those student loans. My community college, for example, charges about $90 per credit hour. To take the same orgo class at a 4-year institution, I would have had to pay about $600 per credit hour. The math checks out. Go with CC if you ever have the chance to.
 
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All I can say is that I would be hesitant unless you plan to contact every single medical school that you plan to apply to and discuss the matter thoroughly with them. Moreover, I wouldn't rely on the transferability of the credit. In may very well be that if you take Chem 1 and Chem 2 at the community college that it will be comparable, but there is no guarantee that taking Chem 1 at the 4 year school and Chem 2 at the community college will necessarily provide the same experience/cover the same topics in the same order. The order and presentation of topics can and do differ from school to school. I would be afraid that I would miss something.

With regards to taking advanced upper level classes, many schools will allow you to substitute those for lower level requirements. I suppose if you took classes like Cell Biology, Genetics, Biochemistry, Anatomy or Physiology (or at least some class that touches upon the form and function of the structure of organisms), then most medical schools probably wouldn't care as much about the introductory biology course splitting since you will already have more classes that discuss the same topics at a more advanced level. By the same token, I also suppose that if you took several upper level chemistry courses (maybe advanced inorganic or pchem), that may work as well; however, you are effectively just adding on more classes that would seem to defeat the purpose of what I'm inferring that you're attempting to do.

In short, I wouldn't take short cuts when it came to pre-requisites and medical school. That's just me.

Edited to add: My concern is more about the Chemistry than the Biology for the reasons contained in my post and suggested by your post.
If the concern is about information learned, wouldnt the MCAT cover that?
 
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If the concern is about information learned, wouldnt the MCAT cover that?
My comment about the MCAT being the grade equalizer was more to address concerns about a difference in the rigor of grading among some community colleges and some four year undergraduate institutions. So, yes, if you receive a good MCAT score, I don't think that will keep you out (in fact, you are not required to even complete all of your pre-requisites before applying although they must be completed prior to matriculation). With this said, I think you should consult the medical schools that you are interested in applying to to see whether they will accept the course work. I wouldn't want to go through the entire process and be forced to delay matriculation. It could happen. With regards to your other comment, it is possible to miss a few smaller topics completely that may only constitute a few questions on the MCAT and still pull off a decent score; however, if there is a conceptual weakness, you would more than likely want to address than before you go to medical school. For whatever it is worth, it is my understanding (having been told by several physicians) that the first year curriculum at their medical schools was heavily weighted in biochemistry. I wouldn't play around with chemistry.
 
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Yea my plan includes taking biochem at the 4 year university, regardless of if I do a semester at CC or not.
 

mommy2three

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I took algebra, stats, g chem and bio at a cc and I never ran into an issue with me taking them there vs a 4 yr school so I think you will be fine
 
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My situation is similar. I left my career for medical school and took all my pre-reqs at the CC. The way I see it is you are smarter for taking your classes at a CC because you save lots of money. The whole "university is greater" is an education scam. Johns Hopkins can GTH if they think CC classes are somehow inferior (maybe the large lecture halls and overpriced tuition make education better???). I got a better education at the CC than my university and saved $12k. That is $12k that will not have interest compounding during four years of medical school and at least 3 years of post-doc training.
It depends on the schools that you are comparing. A top 30 four year undergraduate research institution will typically be more rigorous than most community colleges (although there are certainly exceptions, I'm sure). As someone who has taken community college classes while in high school and then compared them to my alma mater (a top 30 university), there is no comparison IMO. Moreover, the bulk of the transfer students from my school concurred with my observations. Many of the students that had 4.0s from other four year universities or were transfers from community colleges, suddenly found themselves with GPAs below 3.5. Your experiences may differ. That's why I qualified my response to the OP: the MCAT is the grade equalizer. If you can pull off a solid MCAT score, then you should be fine. At some community colleges, that may be very possible. At others, a 30+ MCAT score is more difficult. Others may disagree. There are trade-offs that must be considered.

I am very happy it worked out for you, but I think you are misguided to assume that four year universities are all overpriced compared to community colleges. It depends on the rigor and strength of the individual institutions you are comparing. Moreover, if you want to go to a top research school, you may limit your research opportunities for the first couple of years (unless you have a nearby four year school and a mentor willing to work with you).
 

stlrams22

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It depends on the schools that you are comparing. A top 30 four year undergraduate research institution will typically be more rigorous than most community colleges (although there are certainly exceptions, I'm sure). As someone who has taken community college classes while in high school and then compared them to my alma mater (a top 30 university), there is no comparison IMO. Moreover, the bulk of the transfer students from my school concurred with my observations. Many of the students that had 4.0s from other four year universities or were transfers from community colleges, suddenly found themselves with GPAs below 3.5. Your experiences may differ. That's why I qualified my response to the OP: the MCAT is the grade equalizer. If you can pull off a solid MCAT score, then you should be fine. At some community colleges, that may be very possible. At others, a 30+ MCAT score is more difficult. Others may disagree. There are trade-offs that must be considered.

I am very happy it worked out for you, but I think you are misguided to assume that four year universities are all overpriced compared to community colleges. It depends on the rigor and strength of the individual institutions you are comparing. Moreover, if you want to go to a top research school, you may limit your research opportunities for the first couple of years (unless you have a nearby four year school and a mentor willing to work with you).
From my experience (2 universities, 3 community colleges) the greatest difference seems to be the professor and not the school. Some professors make harder tests and all professors grade them differently. Some professors make the hard tests worth 95% of the final grade and others only 70% with the remaining percentage easy homework points. Other professors drop the lowest test score. There are so many variables to education it seems comical to pin the difference on the institution. Four students in my summer organic ii class at my CC said that organic was much easier at their university. Three of the four dropped because they said it "wasn't worth their time."

All my professors had doctorate degrees and were equally qualified to teach as university professors (and they actually taught instead of presenting pathetic lectures and focusing on research). I'm not misguided about universities being overpriced....90/credit hour vs. 400/credit hour.

As are as top 30 university and attending snobbish type schools, then yes I agree it would be best to avoid CC. Those schools are blinded by their own ignorance. The MCAT is the great equalizer and that is why I believe any bias is foolish.

I think the bottom line is you get out what you put in. Take responsibility for your own learning regardless of your institution to help prepare for the MCAT.
 

EMDO2018

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CC credits are okay. If I had to do it all over again I would have went to a cheaper undergrad and saved a ton of money.
 
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From my experience (2 universities, 3 community colleges) the greatest difference seems to be the professor and not the school. Some professors make harder tests and all professors grade them differently. Some professors make the hard tests worth 95% of the final grade and others only 70% with the remaining percentage easy homework points. Other professors drop the lowest test score. There are so many variables to education it seems comical to pin the difference on the institution. Four students in my summer organic ii class at my CC said that organic was much easier at their university. Three of the four dropped because they said it "wasn't worth their time."

All my professors had doctorate degrees and were equally qualified to teach as university professors (and they actually taught instead of presenting pathetic lectures and focusing on research). I'm not misguided about universities being overpriced....90/credit hour vs. 400/credit hour.

As are as top 30 university and attending snobbish type schools, then yes I agree it would be best to avoid CC. Those schools are blinded by their own ignorance. The MCAT is the great equalizer and that is why I believe any bias is foolish.

I think the bottom line is you get out what you put in. Take responsibility for your own learning regardless of your institution to help prepare for the MCAT.
If you think that undergraduate institution and rigor has no influence (not even a small or moderate one) on the admissions committees, then I think you are wrong. Since many colleges will curve final science course grades, where do you think it will be harder to receive an "A": 1) an institution where the average SAT score >1400 and average high school GPA > 3.8+ or 2) an institution where the average SAT score is round 1000 and an average GPA of somewhere in the 2.0-3.5 range? There will be more competition at the first institution and it will be harder to receive an "A." Keep in mind that not all institutions curve upwards; some curve downwards. Yes, the MCAT is the grade equalizer, but (in my opinion) it will be weighed more heavily on less rigorous institutions and a high GPA will not have an equal effect unless there is a stellar MCAT to back it up. As such, there is truth in the last sentence of your post; I don't disagree. But this is not to say that rigor of undergraduate institution and classes are not considered. And before you or anyone asks, no, I am not implying that an applicant with mediocre or crappy stats from a top 30 school will get in over someone from another school with significantly stronger stats.

Also, based on your description of top 30 undergraduate schools as "snobbish type schools" that are "blinded by their own ignorance" and your use of loaded terms such as "education scam" and "overpriced tuition" in your first post, I can only conclude that you have a chip on your shoulders.

P.S. The actual application data backs up my opinion. At some schools, including at least two top 20 allopathic research schools that I can recall, the average cumulative GPA of our admitted candidates was 0.10 -0.12 GPA points lower than the national average for those schools. There were several applicants (more than 100) and the trend was present over the 2-3 years that I examined. To avoid hijacking the OP's thread, I will refrain from posting further to this thread. :beat:
 
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If you think that undergraduate institution and rigor has no influence (not even a small or moderate one) on the admissions committees, then I think you are wrong. Since many colleges will curve final science course grades, where do you think it will be harder to receive an "A": 1) an institution where the average SAT score >1400 and average high school GPA > 3.8+ or 2) an institution where the average SAT score is round 1000 and an average GPA of somewhere in the 2.0-3.5 range? There will be more competition at the first institution and it will be harder to receive an "A." Keep in mind that not all institutions curve upwards; some curve downwards. Yes, the MCAT is the grade equalizer, but (in my opinion) it will be weighed more heavily on less rigorous institutions and a high GPA will not have an equal effect unless there is a stellar MCAT to back it up. As such, there is truth in the last sentence of your post; I don't disagree. But this is not to say that rigor of undergraduate institution and classes are not considered. And before you or anyone asks, no, I am not implying that an applicant with mediocre or crappy stats from a top 30 school will get in over someone from another school with significantly stronger stats.

Also, based on your description of top 30 undergraduate schools as "snobbish type schools" that are "blinded by their own ignorance" and your use of loaded terms such as "education scam" and "overpriced tuition" in your first post, I can only conclude that you have a chip on your shoulders.

P.S. The actual application data backs up my opinion. At some schools, including at least two top 20 allopathic research schools that I can recall, the average cumulative GPA of our admitted candidates was 0.10 -0.12 GPA points lower than the national average for those schools. There were several applicants (more than 100) and the trend was present over the 2-3 years that I examined. To avoid hijacking the OP's thread, I will refrain from posting further to this thread. :beat:
I think the point is that it varies a lot school to school and from professor to professor. The 4 year that I am at currently at is a school that has a great reputation in math and science. I know people that go to the community college taking the same classes I am taking and plan on taking. In some of my classes there is no curve where others are curved(but usually curved up especially for bio and physics). Same thing for the CC. From what I have seen the material is the same and the difficulty of test questions depends on the department/professor more than the school. I would say Bio is easier at the CC but chem is harder. But it depends a lot on the professor you have. If all the classes were on a strict bell curve then I could understand your point about higher quality competition but so far a lot of the classes arent curved.
 

stlrams22

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I think the point is that it varies a lot school to school and from professor to professor. The 4 year that I am at currently at is a school that has a great reputation in math and science. I know people that go to the community college taking the same classes I am taking and plan on taking. In some of my classes there is no curve where others are curved(but usually curved up especially for bio and physics). Same thing for the CC. From what I have seen the material is the same and the difficulty of test questions depends on the department/professor more than the school. I would say Bio is easier at the CC but chem is harder. But it depends a lot on the professor you have. If all the classes were on a strict bell curve then I could understand your point about higher quality competition but so far a lot of the classes arent curved.
Well said. At my CC none of the classes are curved. Furthermore, no tests or assignments have ever been curved in any classes I have taken either. In my organic chemistry class there was no part of any tests that was multiple choice. Fully detailed mechanisms were required and one minor mistake would cost 7 or 8 points out of 10. This is in contrast to the local university that had tests nearly all multiple choice, their tests involve mostly recognition and you still had a 25% chance to get the correct answer if you had no clue.
 
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stlrams22

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If you think that undergraduate institution and rigor has no influence (not even a small or moderate one) on the admissions committees, then I think you are wrong. Since many colleges will curve final science course grades, where do you think it will be harder to receive an "A": 1) an institution where the average SAT score >1400 and average high school GPA > 3.8+ or 2) an institution where the average SAT score is round 1000 and an average GPA of somewhere in the 2.0-3.5 range? There will be more competition at the first institution and it will be harder to receive an "A." Keep in mind that not all institutions curve upwards; some curve downwards. Yes, the MCAT is the grade equalizer, but (in my opinion) it will be weighed more heavily on less rigorous institutions and a high GPA will not have an equal effect unless there is a stellar MCAT to back it up. As such, there is truth in the last sentence of your post; I don't disagree. But this is not to say that rigor of undergraduate institution and classes are not considered. And before you or anyone asks, no, I am not implying that an applicant with mediocre or crappy stats from a top 30 school will get in over someone from another school with significantly stronger stats.

Also, based on your description of top 30 undergraduate schools as "snobbish type schools" that are "blinded by their own ignorance" and your use of loaded terms such as "education scam" and "overpriced tuition" in your first post, I can only conclude that you have a chip on your shoulders.

P.S. The actual application data backs up my opinion. At some schools, including at least two top 20 allopathic research schools that I can recall, the average cumulative GPA of our admitted candidates was 0.10 -0.12 GPA points lower than the national average for those schools. There were several applicants (more than 100) and the trend was present over the 2-3 years that I examined. To avoid hijacking the OP's thread, I will refrain from posting further to this thread. :beat:
I believe the whole curve concept is pointless for actually making education better (ie more rigor). Tests should be designed so students have to achieve a certain level of understanding to get the grade they want. It should not be based on what other students do. A curve should never push anyone's grade down, some classes might have 18% of students get an A, others might have 35% of students getting an A. Maybe the first class has less students interested in medicine so they don't care about the A as much the second class. The students in the second class may all have worked very hard and deserve the A, even if it doesn't fit the "curve." This is why I say so much of education is a scam. There is not a good way to measure academic rigor and using the high school GPA doesn't translate well. My high school GPA was 1.08 and I have gotten nothing but A's in all my pre-med classes (my lowest grade was 97% without a curve). High school GPA is about worthless. I agree that admission committees will weigh the faulty ranking of undergraduate schools in their decision, but I would hope there are more important things they consider and this is rarely the primary determining factor.

As someone who has been on both sides of education, I am qualified to say much of education is a scam (especially the public school system). I have experienced a high level of arrogance when speaking with a professors from the local university. They informed me the CC was inferior and taking classes there would not get me into medical school or prepare me for the MCAT. That almost convinced me to avoid the CC, but after comparing 400/ch vs. 90/ch I decided to give the CC a try. I am thankful I made that decision, paid out of pocket for all my classes, saved $12,000, and received a better education than I would have at the university. The cost of tuition is outrageous, why can a CC provide classes for less than 25% of a university? The CC has smaller class sizes and the instructors are paid to teach, not do research.
 
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cutemom2012

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Thanks for all your thoughtful responses.
I was looking into a community college (jn my area) that offers college algebra, chem 1 and 2 online.
Transcripts don't state that the classes are online, though.

My concern is that I won't learn the material well enough for the MCAT. Is it crucial to really understand everything before diving in to the MCAT or can some of it be self-taught?
 
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Thanks for all your thoughtful responses.
I was looking into a community college (jn my area) that offers college algebra, chem 1 and 2 online.
Transcripts don't state that the classes are online, though.

My concern is that I won't learn the material well enough for the MCAT. Is it crucial to really understand everything before diving in to the MCAT or can some of it be self-taught?
May I ask, what school is this? I have been looking for online classes myself and the costs are outrageous!
 

theseeker4

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Thanks for all your thoughtful responses.
I was looking into a community college (jn my area) that offers college algebra, chem 1 and 2 online.
Transcripts don't state that the classes are online, though.

My concern is that I won't learn the material well enough for the MCAT. Is it crucial to really understand everything before diving in to the MCAT or can some of it be self-taught?
First, how are the labs going to be completed if it is an online class? Make sure that isn't an issues, since all the major pre-reqs require labs.

Why are you worried about not learning the material well enough for the MCAT? If you are worried the courses you are looking at are that "light" in content, you really are doing yourself a disservice by taking the courses there. Now, if you are worried that they simply don't require much to get an A, you can easily supplement what they require you to know by studying in greater depth on your own, and that should make up for any deficits in the course. All that takes is the self-discipline to study more than you "have" to to do well.

That said, MCAT studying should be reminding yourself of what you have already learned. Ideally, you are simply filling in the gaps and reminding yourself of things you already know, not learning things from scratch on your own. There are people who learn whole sections solely through self study and still do well, but just as there are people who don't study for the MCAT at all and do well, it is NOT recommended. Make sure you learn the material as well as possible when you take the classes, whether it is taught that well and in depth or you supplement your studying during the course, and you will be well prepared for the MCAT.
 

EParker37

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New to the forums, but have been lurking around for a while. I am in the same boat. I went to a traditional 4 year university, and graduated with a BS in public affairs(sort of a grab bag of sociology, ethics and public administration) with a 3.5 cGPA. I spent the last two years just working as a pediatric critical care flight paramedic, and now I am taking the rest of my pre-reqs at a comm. college during the week and working full time over the weekends. So far I have made A's in every class, but I am not taking them full time, just two classes and the associated labs at a time. I do want to retake Physics and Calc to improve from a B to an A. I am genuinely curious if I should continue taking class at the CC since I am paying for everything out of pocket, or take out a small loan and take the rest of my pre-reqs at the aforementioned 4-year as a post-bac non degree seeker.
 
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New to the forums, but have been lurking around for a while. I am in the same boat. I went to a traditional 4 year university, and graduated with a BS in public affairs(sort of a grab bag of sociology, ethics and public administration) with a 3.5 cGPA. I spent the last two years just working as a pediatric critical care flight paramedic, and now I am taking the rest of my pre-reqs at a comm. college during the week and working full time over the weekends. So far I have made A's in every class, but I am not taking them full time, just two classes and the associated labs at a time. I do want to retake Physics and Calc to improve from a B to an A. I am genuinely curious if I should continue taking class at the CC since I am paying for everything out of pocket, or take out a small loan and take the rest of my pre-reqs at the aforementioned 4-year as a post-bac non degree seeker.
Before you try to do it at a 4 year, make sure there is enough room for you in the classes you need. For me the hardest thing about going to a 4 year university is being able to register for the classes I need as a non degree student. Im likely going to be taking classes this upcoming semester at CC because I cant get the classes I need at the 4 year.
 
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I've taken 3 of my prereqs at a community college - physics 1 and 2 and anatomy (I was short a bio lab, so I took anatomy for the lab). I took bio chem at a 4 year college's extension program, which allows people to do an a la carte postbac. I don't think it has impacted my cycle negatively.
I think there was a definite difference in rigor, but financially and schedule wise doing the cc was the much smarter option. The biochem class was around $1000, which is how much the other three classes were combined.
I agree with an above poster that you should try and take orgo at a 4 year (and maybe even all chem except biochem). I also think that schools won't care that your classes are cc credits as long as you can show that you can handle the (presumably) more rigorous university classes and score well on the MCAT.

(And I think only you can answer the question about whether you can self-teach for the MCAT)
 
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My situation is similar. I left my career for medical school and took all my pre-reqs at the CC. The way I see it is you are smarter for taking your classes at a CC because you save lots of money. The whole "university is greater" is an education scam. Johns Hopkins can GTH if they think CC classes are somehow inferior (maybe the large lecture halls and overpriced tuition make education better???). I got a better education at the CC than my university and saved $12k. That is $12k that will not have interest compounding during four years of medical school and at least 3 years of post-doc training.
You are partially correct that "university is greater" is a scam. Basically what you're learning at a CC is material. The problem is, most of the material in pre-requisites could just as easily be learned a home with some decent textbooks.
As other people have stated, many CCs lack some equipment, like a gas chromatograph, NMR machine, etc. Granted, you don't NEED these things to understand the material, so it's not much of a barrier to understanding.
The problems with CCs are more about standards and opportunities. How many other students were in your classes that wanted to be doctors, scientists, or other careers that require an excellent understanding of science? Based on my year of CC classes, it was probably zero. If it wasn't zero, it wasn't very many. Ideally, no matter where you take a class you should be expected to know the same information. However, this is rarely the case. At many CCs, the mean student ability is lower than at universities, so the expectations are lowered to still get passing grades in the class.
I think it is unfair to assume that JUST because someone took classes at a CC that they don't know the information as well as someone that went to a university. However I think it is almost certain that a random sample of students from CC versions of a class will not perform as well on a test of material as a classes from universities would.
As for opportunities, there are a lot fewer things to do around a CC than around a university. CCs that do science research are rare if they exist at all. There are fewer people willing to participate in clubs, especially anything a pre-professional is looking at doing. The availability of hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors is unlikely to be different though, since one is enough and they're pretty basic things.
In summary, universities actually do have reasons for discriminating against CC classes. Luckily, there's a standardized metric to determine whether grades were inflated at the CC, the MCAT, so OP shouldn't worry. She might have to exert a little more effort to get more ECs if she's not in a city though.
 

stlrams22

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You are partially correct that "university is greater" is a scam. Basically what you're learning at a CC is material. The problem is, most of the material in pre-requisites could just as easily be learned a home with some decent textbooks.
As other people have stated, many CCs lack some equipment, like a gas chromatograph, NMR machine, etc. Granted, you don't NEED these things to understand the material, so it's not much of a barrier to understanding.
The problems with CCs are more about standards and opportunities. How many other students were in your classes that wanted to be doctors, scientists, or other careers that require an excellent understanding of science? Based on my year of CC classes, it was probably zero. If it wasn't zero, it wasn't very many. Ideally, no matter where you take a class you should be expected to know the same information. However, this is rarely the case. At many CCs, the mean student ability is lower than at universities, so the expectations are lowered to still get passing grades in the class.
I think it is unfair to assume that JUST because someone took classes at a CC that they don't know the information as well as someone that went to a university. However I think it is almost certain that a random sample of students from CC versions of a class will not perform as well on a test of material as a classes from universities would.
As for opportunities, there are a lot fewer things to do around a CC than around a university. CCs that do science research are rare if they exist at all. There are fewer people willing to participate in clubs, especially anything a pre-professional is looking at doing. The availability of hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors is unlikely to be different though, since one is enough and they're pretty basic things.
In summary, universities actually do have reasons for discriminating against CC classes. Luckily, there's a standardized metric to determine whether grades were inflated at the CC, the MCAT, so OP shouldn't worry. She might have to exert a little more effort to get more ECs if she's not in a city though.
Grade inflation occurs just as much if not more at a university than a CC, see: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/grade-inflation-colleges-with-the-easiest-and-hardest-grades/ (its an interesting article about the vast differences between universities with regards to GPAs, they have no room to put CC's down). "The mean student ability is lower than at many universities," I'm don't agree with this. Many students at CC are adults returning to class and people who want to save money by completing their first two years cheaper. The "real problem" is that so many people believe if go to a school with a nicer building or you pay more for tuition you learn more (completely illogical). There are two primary stakeholders in education, the professor and the student. All else is irrelevant. A quality professor who establishes a rigorous course and a student who works hard to learn the information equals a good education. Outrageous tuition, expensive parking permits, and other fees and other miscellaneous charges do not translate to learning more.

It is unfair and illogical to determine the quality of education someone received based primarily based on CC or university attendance. To summarize, there is an unfortunate bias against community colleges, it seems more like a socioeconomic issue more than a educational one. If you are interested in attending the so called "high ranked" institutions then you should attend a university because of the research opportunities and because these schools need to look down on someone so they can feel better about themselves (ie. Johns Hopkins). If your goal is to get into medical school and you want to save some money then go with CC all the way. Save your money. Don't feed into the university is better because we charge more scam.
 

stlrams22

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New to the forums, but have been lurking around for a while. I am in the same boat. I went to a traditional 4 year university, and graduated with a BS in public affairs(sort of a grab bag of sociology, ethics and public administration) with a 3.5 cGPA. I spent the last two years just working as a pediatric critical care flight paramedic, and now I am taking the rest of my pre-reqs at a comm. college during the week and working full time over the weekends. So far I have made A's in every class, but I am not taking them full time, just two classes and the associated labs at a time. I do want to retake Physics and Calc to improve from a B to an A. I am genuinely curious if I should continue taking class at the CC since I am paying for everything out of pocket, or take out a small loan and take the rest of my pre-reqs at the aforementioned 4-year as a post-bac non degree seeker.
I did just like you, 2 classes at a time, done in four semesters, starting medical school in July. Avoid the university if at all possible. Don't borrow money that will compound for at least 4 years. You have excellent work experience and the location of your classes will be the last thing adcoms look at.
 
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I really think this is a touchy subject that the schools should seriously set straight. There are students who are just not fortunate enough to pay for university classes and even still have to take out some sort of aid to fund the CC classes. Why should they be discouraged from applying? I am lucky enough since I have a fulltime job already and paid for my CC classes but I still cannot afford university classes again. I finished a bachelors at one and the cost was just huge and I can easily say that most CC classes I have taken for prereq were just as hard as university. What I cannot understand is paying over $2000 for a 4 credit course at the university, getting a crappy lecturer and still studying hard when the same course and a 2% lesser workload costs $300 at a CC. It's all about your grade; make sure you get very high grades throughout, A's, and don't apply to high profile universities and you will be fine.
 

surfdoc29

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New to the forums, but have been lurking around for a while. I am in the same boat. I went to a traditional 4 year university, and graduated with a BS in public affairs(sort of a grab bag of sociology, ethics and public administration) with a 3.5 cGPA. I spent the last two years just working as a pediatric critical care flight paramedic, and now I am taking the rest of my pre-reqs at a comm. college during the week and working full time over the weekends. So far I have made A's in every class, but I am not taking them full time, just two classes and the associated labs at a time. I do want to retake Physics and Calc to improve from a B to an A. I am genuinely curious if I should continue taking class at the CC since I am paying for everything out of pocket, or take out a small loan and take the rest of my pre-reqs at the aforementioned 4-year as a post-bac non degree seeker.
Your story is actually very similar to mine. Graduated with a degree in business with a 3.43 GPA. worked for a few years, specifically as a firefighter/emt for 2 years, then went back to school and did the pre reqs 2 at a time at a CC except for a few upper division classes. Got all A's and scored well on the MCAT, and have gotten early acceptences to 2 excellent medical schools, and have withdrawn from multiple other interviews.

As long as you get As and do well on the MCAT you'll be fine. Schools will love your clinical experience, so play that up in your essays. Good luck!
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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"Absolutely" is a strong word. There is almost nothing absolute in medicine, and that includes admission to medical school. Since I'm the only person responding to this thread who has ever sat on an adcom as far as I'm aware, here's my two cents:

The discussion in this thread makes it sound like med school admissions is a simple binary decision based on simple criteria. It's not. No one applies to medical school with an application that is absolutely perfect in every way, and apps therefore have to be considered holistically. Certain things that you do will increase or decrease your odds of admission by varying amounts. Getting straight As in your postbac will improve the strength of your app significantly. Scoring 33+ on the MCAT will improve the strength of your app significantly. Having substantial clinical experience will improve the strength of your app significantly. Applying to schools that give preference to residents of your state will improve your odds of admission substantially for most people.

Taking classes at a community college will not improve the strength of your app at all. However, at some schools, it will not matter where you took the classes as long as you did well in them. Many schools (mine included) discourage CC classes and would ideally prefer to see prereqs taken at a selective four year school. However, we still interviewed and accepted some students with CC credits who had a strong app overall. And yes, some schools (and some individual adcom members) will consider your app to be weaker if you took your prereqs at a CC. You will be hurting your chances at those schools to some degree by taking CC classes. Understanding that this is a reality of the way medical school admissions works, you are left to choose between two values: saving money/time by taking CC classes, versus maximizing your application strength every little bit possible by not taking them. I can't tell you an absolute right answer to this question. If you are willing to be a little less competitive overall as an applicant, then attending the CC may be the better decision for you.

That being said, taking your science classes online, especially those with labs, is not a wise decision. Please don't do online chemistry. The whole point of taking lab classes is to go to the lab and perform the experiments. I wouldn't care if you took online chemistry at Oxford or any other world-famous university; if you didn't physically do the experiments, then you didn't get what you needed to get out of the class. I might still be willing to accept someone who had taken an online lab if the rest of their app was strong, but it would be with the stipulation that they'd have to complete the live version prior to matriculation. Speaking as a former gen chem and organic chem instructor, I feel very strongly that there is "absolutely" no substitute for hands-on learning in the sciences.