Back 4 Post Bac

10+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2008
Also applies to non-traditional applicants...

I just spoke to one of the pre-med deans at my undergrad school to ask for guidance about choosing a postbac program. I learned something interesting that may be helpful to those of you considering a postbac or who are applying a few years out of school without going back for more classes. (Disclaimer- I know some people will argue that the information I provide below is misleading or inaccurate, but since it came from someone who has been successfully advising students over the course of many years, I think it's helpful to throw it out to the forum).

Depending upon where you went as an UG, the committee might be willing to support your application if your postbac program does not offer committee letters, for some reason decides not to write one for you, or you apply without taking additional classes. At my school, the dean told me that I'm "one of theirs"- it doesn't matter how long you've been out (in my case I graduated 7 years ago). You'll always be one of their grads and they take care of their own. So, if you are considering a program that doesn't write committee letters at all or reserves the right to refuse providing a committee letter down the road, it would be wise to inquire about your UG school's willingness to help former students. Your school might turn out to be as supportive as mine is. (As an aside to the non-trads, she also thinks med schools do take note of and appreciate the fact that you have unique experiences that someone straight out of undergrad doesn't and can help make the class more well-rounded. This woman truly put a huge smile on my face when she said that.)

And, for the record, she told me where you go to school DOES matter. Although the national GPA might be 3.6, successful students from my school average about 3.3 because ADCOMS do consider the rigor of the program. So, don't count yourself out if you had a lower UG GPA at a difficult school. Remember that the national average includes student from everywhere ranging from CC to the top schools. So, whether you were a rock star at an "easier" school vs. a hard-working small fish in a big pond at a very competitive one with steeper curves, you're not at a disadvantage or penalized for choosing the more difficult root. It is obviously important to check with your UG school to find out what their averages have been to gauge where you fall in comparison but I felt much better after getting off the phone with her. She strongly stated that numbers aren't the end all and be all. Though some schools may rely solely on GPAs or MCAT scores, many carefully weigh what your GPA would be at a middle of the road school. If you don't meet their minimum requirement- arbitrarily, let's say a 3.5- the vast majority will look further at your record to get a better idea of what your GPA at YOUR school would compare to the "average" school.

She also stressed that as everyone says, doing well in your postbac weighs much more heavily than your GPA from classes you took 10 years ago. The two are averaged together by AMCAS but realistically your most recent grades are the ones they really consider to be more accurate indicators of your academic ability.

So, I hope this post makes some people feel less anxious about the entire postbac/ non-traditional route. I know that's easier said than done- believe me!- but I really felt better after hearing all of this encouraging info and I wanted to pass some good juju on to everyone else. :)