2010 liberal arts grad on fulfilling prereqs and committing to the path

Hey all,
I’m looking for some feedback and advice. I graduated with a double liberal arts degree from UC Berkeley in 2010 when I was 21 years old. I had a solid GPA (3.89) and have worked in the nonprofit world since then. Over the last couple years, I simply can’t shake the dream of going to med school and pursuing an entirely new path. I’m 29, don’t have any of the science or math prereqs fulfilled, and I feel so far behind in the game. I’ve been scouring community college courses and I think that if I took on really heavy course loads, I could fulfill the requirements within a few semesters.

My major concerns:

  1. I feel old and way behind in the game.
  2. How can I be entirely sure of the prereqs that will be recognized by the vast majority of med schools?
  3. Will being an older applicant hinder my chances of acceptance?
  4. Realistically, how long does would it take to fulfill science/math requirements? (I’m not intimidated by a really thick course load. I’d rather work crazy hard and knock out the requirements as soon as possible).

Is anyone else here in a similar position? Can anyone offer any advice? I really, really appreciate any thoughts or words of wisdom!

Hi jvq!

So, I’m also a non-trad student who figured out that my background in kinesiology/ Exercise physiology and biomechanics was not the right fit for me. When I was starting my senior year, 2014-2015 school year, I decided to outline a DIY post-bacc at my local university. I was 26 at the time, and now I am 29 and have just completed all my prerequisites for medical school, with the exception of physics, which I’ll be completing this upcoming year as well as studying for the MCAT. Even though I transitioned right from my undergraduate degree program to my completing prerequisites, I still felt old and behind the game too. It’s honestly a very uncomfortable feeling at first being in classes with true freshmen, intro to biology and chemistry for example, because they are mostly 18-19 year olds, so there is very little common ground. However, after the first few courses, you quickly outpace those younger students, because your focusing only on courses you need, not all the other extraneous BS that uni has you take, and it gets much better.

As far as question number 2, as long as your go to an accredited university it can be a community college or a four year university, it really doesn’t matter. That being said, like Dr. Gray says, some university AdComms may have a bias against taking courses at a community college, but fundamentally, it doesn’t matter.

Concerning number 3, absolutely not. Frequently there are a number of applicants who aren’t the traditional fit, so 22-23 years old. I’ve seen some newly accepted age ranges as high as mid 50’s before! As long as you have the course work, EC, and MCAT scores to back up for desire to attend medical school, which should be explained in your personal statement, you should be just fine; there shouldn’t be any ageism. Additionally, DO schools tend to have a lot more diversity in age of matriculating students, frequently accepting many non-traditional students, whereas it is a little less common in MD programs, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, i’m simply going at the admission statistics profiles that the universities I’ve looked have posted on their pages.

Lastly, for number 4, it should take exactly as long as it takes. A lot of the university sponsored post-bacc programs are organized to be completed in 2 years, but considering your in the same boat I was, and have to work, get volunteer experience, shadowing experience, and every/anything else, it may take longer. For instance, it has taken me 3 years, but it’s still shorter, and shows more consistency in my experiences and drive to attend medical school, than just doing academic work and then completing the EC work. Remember, traditional students usually have 4 years to complete all of this, and have the liberty of spacing out difficult courses like ochem, with other classes that are much easier like writing, public speaking, etc. I highly recommend easing into the science course work, especially considering you have a liberal arts background, as the study modalities, amount of information, and complexity of the material are fathoms more difficult, not to belittle liberal arts in any capacity, just speaking realistically here. Think of it this way, your already non-traditional, so even though I know exactly where you’re coming from thinking the age gap is frustrating and want to matriculate as fast as possible so it doesn’t widen further, you need to go at a pace that suits your needs, not the pace you think everyone else needs to go at; never get trapped in comparing yourself to your peers. While it is very competitive, think collaboratively, and go at a pace unique for you.

I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to try and answer them as a fellow 29 year old, 30 next month, and non-traditional premed student.


Hi there! Here are my 2 cents…

  1. You’re not old or behind the game. I was not the oldest person in my med school class, and I’m also not the oldest in my residency program (currently mid 30’s). you probably won’t be either.

  2. the only way to be entirely sure is to call the schools you’re applying to and ask.

  3. No

4)Probably 2-3 years. Again the goal is to get good grades, not finish as fast as you can. Doesn’t matter how heavy your course load is if all you get is C’s.

Good luck to you on your journey!

There are multiple ways to complete the prerequisites (DIY postbac, formal postbac, etc.) but I would also add that I hope you’ve done some volunteering to explore the medical profession to gain clinical experience and confirm your decision to pivot to medicine. You’d want to do that before starting to take courses–and it’s something medical schools will eventually want to see, as well.