37 year old noob with no bachelors


I’m turning 38 next week and looking into pre med.

I finished my junior year of college but most of my credits are in acting and writing. No science or math credits.

I didn’t know until well after high school that I actually found science and math interesting, or that I could be good at it.

I will be learning it all from scratch, basically.

I’m sure I can do it. I’ve learned other difficult things to a very high level of proficiency - violin, tai chi chuan, writing. I even worked as a professional puppeteer in NYC for 4 years where I became one of the best marionette puppeteers in the city.

I’ve long since grown bored of the arts though, I find them unfulfilling, and for years have been lurking on science websites. I have an insatiable knowledge to learn about the universe and the world.

I’m basically wondering if I should just go to any university I can get into and take pre med courses? Perhaps I can use some of my old credits and end up with a BS.

I’ve always avoided schools, but now that I think I know what I want to do (Doctor or perhaps research - physics interest me too), I’d like some advice on the right course to pursue.

I should also mention that I’ve defaulted on all of my young student loans so I doubt I can even get loans.

Thanks so much, I’m really glad I found this inspiring site.

Welcome to OPM! This is a wonderful site, full of information and wonderful people … I hope you find it as helpful and welcoming as I have.

In terms of your schooling situation, the best thing to do is probably talk to an admissions advisor/counselor at a nearby university and see what they think and recommend. You’ll definitely need a bachelor’s degree (in addition to all of the pre-med requirements) in order to apply to medical school, but because I don’t know the specifics of your situation, and because I’m not a professional advisor, I’d recommend talking to someone who can really give you some better (and more educated) advice.

The loan issue may be a problem for you, though … you will definitely need significant loans in medical school, and I’m not sure how that works when you have defaulted on undergrad loans. So you should also probably talk to a financial aid advisor with regards to that situation.

Best wishes to you, and keep us updated on your progress!

P.S. Happy 38th birthday!

Thank you for your response. It seems that even if I finish pre med successfully that with defaulted youthful student loans it would be nearly impossible to actually go to med school.

Shadow a doctor. Adcoms will be really interested to know that you know what you’re getting into.

  • Milo Said:
Thank you for your response. It seems that even if I finish pre med successfully that with defaulted youthful student loans it would be nearly impossible to actually go to med school.

While I almost agree with you, don't make assumptions. You're 37, not 18 now. If you've changed your ways you may be able to make this work - although I *am* assuming you are now a financially responsible person.

Regardless, call and talk to a professional at your nearest university - both advising and financial aid. If you don't ask, they can't even tell you no, let alone "well, yeah, we can try this".

Aren’t schools doing background checks for admissions these days? I imagine a defaulted loan could come back and bit the OP in the a$$ in the future, so why take the risk?

Defaulted loans CAN be rehabilitated, so I’d fix that first to prevent any problems in the future anodyne up other means to pay for premed/med school.

Yes, I do have a better concept of money now than when I was 18 and still had no concept of money, time, or how dangerous the student loan system can be. I even tried to set up payments for the loans in the past but could never pony up the minimum amt. they would agree to accept.

Acting school and writing classes don’t exactly put you at the top of the job market. I generally chose food and rent over loan payments for a useless education… (but that’s neither here nor there as my Grandma used to say

I’m thinking if I do the loan rehab (6 or 9 months of regular payments towards the usurious balance) then I might be able to get future loans. And by then I’d know if I had the numbers to get into med school.

Milo - sounds like a solid plan. While I don’t want to dissuade you from paying loans, I do still recommend talking to a financial aid expert at a university or even a medical school in your state. You’ll still want the info on how it affects your chances, both for getting into school and qualifying for loans.

Good luck!

Good for you,

You should talk to a lot of people in medicine and spend some time shadowing and volunteering. I would recommend avoiding community college for credit. I would recommend going to a good 4 year university if you can afford it. If not any 4 year university will do the trick, but just make sure you are at the top of your class if you don’t go to a top school.

Thanks for the helpful insights.

So, avoid CC, got it. That’s too bad, it’s cheaper.

If I finish the pre med requisites and do well on the MCAT, is it necessary to finish the bachelors before applying to med school?

(I might have enough credits by then for a bachelors but I’m not sure. It does seem like a waste of time to take an extra year or whatever of undergrad if it’s not necessary)…?

Thank you

Milo -

Many medical schools require you to have a bachelor’s degree. Of those that require instead only a certain number of credits, bear in mind that the vast majority of their applicants will have completed a bachelor’s degree. To be competitive, you may not want to set yourself apart from the other applicants as having less preparation. As well, you will be well served to have a more comprehensive science preparation prior to medical school. That’s just my opinion


Hi Kate, Thank you.

Do you mean that it’s better to have more of a science preparation than just the basic requisites, even though it’s not technically required everywhere?

Would it hurt my future chances if I apply and get rejected without a bachelors, and then apply again later with one?

For all I know I might have enough credits after I do the pre reqs, in which case the would thankfully be moot…


This process is not easy for an older student. Don’t make it harder by trying to cut corners or do the minimum. There is no easy way, and you’ll be best served by getting your degree and only applying once.

Apply early, apply broadly, and apply when you are most competitive.

  • Milo Said:

Do you mean that it's better to have more of a science preparation than just the basic requisites, even though it's not technically required everywhere?

Yes, she does. Many medical school applicants are science majors. It will strengthen your application (and your med school performance) to have additional science courses with strong performance.

  • In reply to:
Would it hurt my future chances if I apply and get rejected without a bachelors, and then apply again later with one?

Yes. Re-applicants are looked upon less favorably than first time applicants. As Kate said, the "90 credit hour" minimum that most med schools have does not really mean that you can get in without a bachelors. This rule is designed for truly outstanding candidates, usually students who are doing a BS/MD combo.

As said above, don't look for shortcuts. A very, very tiny portion of medical students are accepted without completing an undergrad degree. Complete your degree if you hope to be competitive.

U don’t necessarily have to be a science major to be competitive - Many med schools are seeking non-science majors in order to churn out Dr.'s who are as well rounded as possible. They’re seeking ppl w/ a humanities background, such as yourself, and folks who have demonstrated they work well w/ ppl. I myself was a theatre major and am now going back to get my undergrad degree in English/ ceative writing To be competitive, take more than the minimum required pre-req science classes, like biochem, and do well in your pre-req classes.

And yes I’m sure once u’ve demonstrated you can be financially responsible, you’ll qualify for student loans again…and can finish ur pre-req’s at ur former undergrad school. Good luck & Don’t give up!!!

unless of course ur former undergrad school is a CC. Yes definitely get ur pre-req’s at a 4 yr school.