Advice appreciated!

Hello, everyone!

I’m new here and very thankful for this wonderful site as well as the wisdom and experience of you all. I’d be very appreciative of comments/advice from anyone on my situation and as to the route I should take.

I am 41, a mother of four (ages 17, 15, 12, 10) and am married to a doctor. I have always wanted to be one myself. I realized in college that I did not have the life experience and maturity to go to med school then, so I majored in biology, psychology and French. My GPA was about a 3.2 - 3.3. A few years later, an experience with a major illness solidified my ambition. I have learned a lot and have a whole new level of compassion now. After having been out of school a number of years due to raising children, I am back to finish my premed requirements. I am finishing organic chemistry this year – I have just finished the labs and done a research project with my professor. The other labs and classes went very well, but I did have to repeat both semesters of organic, thankfully not because of failing, but because of not doing as well as I needed due to rusty study skills, family “things,” memory trouble, and just not being ready for such a difficult class.

With this background, and no science classes or full-time school since 1988, I am far from being the ideal candidate for admission. I will be meeting with my advisor and would like to have an idea of what I should be doing/taking. Do any of you have any suggestions as to a plan for me? I appreciate any help! (I know that I will make it, but it sure has been a long and complicated road.)

Thanks so much,


You need to have some recent science courses with A’s. Admissions folks will be looking for recent science classes with labs to make sure they are admitting someone with the potential to do well in medical school. Do not fall into the trap of biting off more than you can chew! you need to prove that you are capable of doing well in the difficult medical school curriculum…this is done via recent excellent grades. This may take a couple of years for you to accomplish but better slow and well than fast and doing poorly.

Thank you, EFEX 101. I hope you, or anyone else, won’t mind a few more questions. I was thinking that I needed some upper-level bio courses myself. I finished all the bio pre-reqs., but it was in 1988. Would you suggest that I repeat any or take different courses? Take biochem? Are there any that would be particularly helpful for the MCAT and/or med school?

As you suggested, I do plan to go slowly, but I heard that admissions committees might look down on candidates who do this, wanting proof that the candidate is capable of taking a full course load and doing well. Do you think there’s any merit to that? I hope not!

I appreciate your time!

Biology has changed a lot since the 1980s and most med schools do require that your prerequisites be taken within the past 5-7 years. You might try calling one or two schools that you’re interested in and see what they say.

As for full load vs. part time, this seems to be a myth that is perpetuated by pre-meds and pre-med advisors. Obviously you’re going to impress lots of people if you take 4 classes a semester and get straight A’s, but if you bite off that much and fall on your face you’re going to look rather less smart.

The best and safest thing is to take the appropriate number of courses that you can handle and that fit in with your job and schedule. Any more and you may be at risk of getting poor grades and those can never be erased. It’s understood by most medical admissions people that nontraditional applicants have families, have jobs, and can’t usually go to school full time.

Good luck,

Agree with the above post…admissions folks will be looking at your GRADES first. Sure, if you take a full load and get A’s that may give you some points with some adcom…but in general as long as you are doing extremely well will suffice. This holds specially true for those non-trads with more than one juggling act! it is not like you are NOT doing anything and taking one/two classes…so go slow but do well then IF you find yourself with plenty of time in your hands and getting A’s by all means add some more courses. A huge mistake that some non-trads make is “assuming” then can work FT, take a FT course load, volunteer, be a parent, AND GET A’s…not very advisable for most mortals.

I would retake the old science courses UNLESS you got A’s and the schools you will be applying to do NOT care about the age of pre-reqs (many have a cutoff limit). Like the above poster stated science HAS changed a lot so you may be better prepared IF you go ahead and retake them regardless.

Other courses that “may” be helpful but are not pre-reqs are human physiology, biochemistry, genetics, etc.

I would focus first on those classes that are a MUST. If you then feel you need more then and only then add on.

Thank you all for the good advice – sorry it has taken me so long to say so – pesky finals interfering. I am going to take some upper-level bio courses and talk to the deans of my target medical schools admissions offices to see what they suggest. I am just going to resign myself to taking several extra years of very part-time classes. Like you all said, it is better to go slowly, do really well AND be well-prepared for it all. Thank you for taking the time to share your advice with me!