I spoke to the actual real “pre-med” well health advisor at my school today and she suggested quitting my job and going to school full time and while I want to do that…I simply can’t afford to unless I win the lottery, so I’ve been trying to juggle budgets all day, while neglecting actual work here in my office to see if this is possible and it’s just not right now, so any advice, how has everyone else managed this?

I feel like there is basically no chance of med school if I continue on my current path of working full time and going to school 2 classes a term, sometimes only 1 class in summers and tired most of the time trying to keep everyone in my life happy and not being able to do what I really want. I know that everyone feels like this sometimes, like they’re trying so hard and the goal is so far away and the closer you get the farther someone just pulls it a little farther away. It’s frustrating me…and when I think about giving up I just get mad at myself because then what will I do? It’s not like there is even anything else that I want to do as a good backup plan! Anything else would be putting me at the elbows of doctors so that I could look at what I want to be all day long and watch what I didn’t make it to be.

I’ve considered leaving work to just go to school full time but financially I’m pretty sure that’s impossible. I’d have to tap into private loans in order to make that work. While I’m not totally against that idea, If I can maintain working half time and still get the grades then it is worth me trudging through my job (which I increasingly dislike with each day now that I’m back in school). Perhaps one of these days I’ll start a scholarship fund for people who are in this very exact situation as we are in now.

I’m with you. Everyday it seems I dislike my job more and more. I have less and less tolerance for my co-workers as well I find. I can’t even work half time or I’ll lose my benefits and I can’t afford that at all. I’m lucky that I can do homework at work when I have free time which lately is never and they’re fairly good with letting me semi-work my schedule around classes so I suppose it could be worse.

I wouldn’t say there’s no chance if you don’t quit work. . .your profile says you’re 28. You have time. Yeah, at your pace, you may only be able to do about semester/yr, but you will finish all your requirements eventually.

If you do consider quitting work, I think it all depends on how much you’re willing to give up. Some people are willing to live in non-trad student housing on campus, not have a car, and live off Top Ramen. You might be able to work part-time and balance the budget and up your course load to 3-4 per semester (depending on how hard the classes are). Or, you might be able to tighten the belt now and save up enough to make your last year work as a FT student. . .depends how many yrs you’re looking at. I’m saying if you had 4 planned, go 2 PT and finish up the 3rd yr FT.

Anyway, the main point is don’t let some career academic type get you down. You can do it, no matter HOW you have to do it. Juggling careers, school, and kids is rough, but if it’s not this it would just be something else!

It might be worth talking to a financial aid counselor at your school to find out what kind of aid you could be eligible for (and how much). Keep in mind that some schools have a system in place for the Office of FinAid to review your status if you go from full-time wages to either part-time or no wages in terms of the FAFSA. Certainly can’t hurt to ask!

That’s true. I should definitely talk to the Fin. Aid people although I think I get pretty much the max without taking out loans, I’m trying to not take out loans so that I can take out the max loans when I get to med school. I actually talked to my bosses today rather than just keep stressing myself over it and I believe that the problem is solved, my cubicle mate is going to hate it and try to make my work life as miserable as possible but the fact that my 2 bosses are behind me 110% means that I don’t have to care what she thinks!!

I think for now at least my situation is solved, at least until I get to those tougher upper level classes and I am hoping by then my SO will be done with his program and that will mean I can at least go to half time work.

Rhonda, you haven’t said why your advisor suggested full time classes, but many people do manage to prepare for med school while working.

The usual arguments given by conventional premed advisors for taking classes full time is that it “shows you can handle a full load”. However they ignore the very full loads that many of us nontrads already have, between work and family. Note that med school admissions do understand the demands of family and work situations, even if some of these goofy “premed advisors” don’t.

Your current situation sounds perfectly acceptable–a couple of classes a semester, maybe one in the summer, and you’re working and keeping your benefits and avoiding piling up a lot of debt. At your age, or even 20 years from now, this is a wise thing to do. You’ll get plenty of debt later on when you are in school full time.

Try to find a way to live with your job and appreciate its good points for the next few semesters until you are done with school. If it’s truly intolerable, quit. Your sanity is more important than the paycheck. But then you may need to get student loans and the debt will accumulate quickly.

Best of luck,

  • ttraub Said:
The usual arguments given by conventional premed advisors for taking classes full time is that it "shows you can handle a full load". However they ignore the very full loads that many of us nontrads already have, between work and family. Note that med school admissions do understand the demands of family and work situations, even if some of these goofy "premed advisors" don't.

After 20+ years of being "premed",I hate to say that I understand exactly why premed advisors say this at least as far as MD admissions are concerned. I've also heard this first hand from a few adcom members over the years.

IMHO, the question isn't so much about whether or not a particular applicant can handle a full course load, as much as it is the fact that when you apply to med school, you're being compared to your peers, folks who are not only younger than you, but who have no problem showing a full course load with excellent grades. As a super nontrad, I understand that having a family and going to school even part-time can be quite a challenge, but no adcom I've ever talked to has been particularly impressed with that (which is why I stopped mentioning it many years ago). If anything, I think statements like these could bring into question your ability to handle med school and a family.

To sum it all up, I think it's in the nontrads best interest to show at least 1 year of full-time coursework before/ or in the year you're applying to med school.

path, if you’ve got some numbers to back up that assertion can you post them? I’ve been through the process and I’ve never heard any med school people say that (you should have one year full time classes), though maybe it’s other med schools than the ones I applied to. The places I talked to seemed more interested in who you are and what kind of doc you will become than in arbitrary metrics like how many credits you can juggle.

There’s a recognition today that there are two types of medical applicants: traditional path and nontraditional path applicants. It’s understood that nontrads are going to have jobs and families and lives outside of school and these are positive attributes, not liabilities. Truly, the trads are not your peers; they’re a separate cohort with different standards applied.

Then again, my experience is my experience and your mileage may vary.

She didn’t really give any reasons, I asked “wouldn’t it be plausable that I am taking 2-3 courses and making A’s and B’s while working full time and volunteering while having a family? doesn’t that show that I’m capable of carrying a full load?” And she didn’t really have an answer other than to say it doesn’t show a full class load. I really don’t know as I’m at the tip of the iceberg with this journey and I’ve only just dreamt of it for a very long time and not really acted on it. Now I’m putting it into action and I feel very frustrated.

I have figured out a way to fit 3 courses and a lab into my fall schedule which is 9 credits so that is very close to full time and still work 40 hours a week and I find that to be pretty darn good! I will also have a 9 year old doing football and be doing some volunteering at a school for children who live in homeless shelters. I will do all of this while making sure that I maintain my grades because I can’t afford to get bad ones.

As much as I am sure that the pre-med adviser meant well, you are an unusual case for them and maybe a case that they have never handled. The number of people going into medical school later in life and with children is going up. And as such demographics have changed and they will continue to do so.

If you want the truth, the best thing to do is to set up an appointment with an admissions person from the school of your choice. I know that my school’s admissions director is always giving admissions counseling. It may be the best way to not only ensure that what you are doing is right, but it may assuage your fears.

just be careful not to over-extend yourself and risk hurting your GPA. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I think you’re on the right track already and I would not listen to that advisor. Keep in mind also that med schools don’t screen your primary app for amount of “full time load” versus “part time load” classes (as far as I know). It’s all about grades and MCAT scores. In the interview, they may or may not ask. None of my interviewers ever asked. They did ask, could I handle the course load, and my answer was always–I worked 50 hours/week and took courses at night and I know med school will be challenging but I believe I’m up to it. (little did I know)

You might contact Judy Colwell who advertises on this site; she has a lot of experience advising nontrads. Best of luck,

You don’t think it’s too early for me to contact my medical schools of choice? If they are out of state should I just email them and see what they say?

The fall courses are not a full load of science, only 1 General Chemistry course and the rest are just those annoying required courses like “American National Government” that no one really wants to take but the school requires and “Healthy Life Skills”. My friend took the Healthy life Skills last semester, he said it was super easy, you go over how to live a healthy life basically. And government will be a breeze considering my original major was paralegal but the school won’t for some reason transfer my class from Florida that the title was “American Federal Government”…they are just wanting me to take their version. I suspect it will be similiar and I got an A in the first class. I figure retaking it will just boost my GPA though, so I’m ok with it.

It is never too early, unless you are in high school. With this process, the more information you have the better you will be at making those important decisions. Now is not the time to fly blind.

  • ttraub Said:
path, if you've got some numbers to back up that assertion can you post them?

It's kinda like payola in politics. EVERYONE does it, knows it exists, but no one (except Blagojevich) is willing to put it out there and talk about it. My "favorite" quote from an adcom at UNC Chapel Hill was this when I told him I couldn't afford go to school full-time: "You're either going to work or go to school". I left his office in tears that cool November day in 1994, but my tears didn't change the nature of the game.

Keep in mind that I'm talking about MY personal experiences from rejected to accepted applicant and conversations with adcoms from Harvard to Howard. I didn't keep any stats on who said what and when. Again, I'm talking about MD programs. My experience with DO programs is that they are more likely to be impressed with the balance of family/school/good and grades/MCATS.