another community college thread...wwyd? LONG!

Here’s my situation…BA in French from Baylor University, JD from University of Houston. Practiced law for 6 years, quit to be a mom (not currently working outside the home), now looking at taking prereqs and going to med school. I am pretty much putting all my eggs in one basket, as I cannot as a logistical matter go to med school anywhere except my local school (30 minutes away - Texas A&M Temple) because of my husband’s career and the support system I have here locally. I am okay with that, because as badly as I want to go to medical school, I have to accept that my family situation imposes certain limitations on what is possible (or at least what is prudent).

Anyway, I am planning to apply under Texas Fresh Start statute (which only applies to Texas schools). The statute, for purposes of calculating GPA, removes grades that are more than 10 years old from the equation. Adcoms will still know I have degrees, and they will know I was on the Dean’s List, Law Review, cum laude, etc. (there is some misinformation out there that says you can’t talk about any of this and that your degrees, in effect, disappear – I have confirmed with the director of TMDSAS that this is not true). The negatives are 1) that those courses cannot count toward prereqs (this isn’t a big deal for me because the only prereqs I even have are the two English courses) and 2) the old courses don’t count toward the 90 hours required for matriculation. I am choosing to go under the statute even though my grades are not that bad (3.2 UG, 3.15 law cum laude) because with the number of hours I have, it would take me about 70 hours of straight As just to get my GPA to a 3.5. What I can do is take all my prereqs, apply after 60 hours (allowed at the school I am aiming for), and then take the remaining hours during the glide year.

Anyway, I am trying to make a plan for taking my prereqs. The two choices I have are a local community college and Baylor University. Local CC is $61/hour, Baylor is $986/hour plus student fees of about $1500/semester. I do have 36 hours of tuition remission available to me because my parents work at the university. It counts as taxable income to them because I am not a dependent, though, and the effect of that is to reduce the cost per hour of Baylor to about $333.

My plan has been to take my hard sciences at Baylor and everything else at CC. There are some kinks in the tuition remission policy that may make that impossible (post-bac rules regarding degree-seeking status, etc.). Even if it is possible, I am looking at a HUGE cost difference here.

CC will cost me about $6000 for everything, and the only class I will have to take at Baylor is Biochem (not required but recommended).* If I go the Baylor/CC combo route, I’m looking at roughly $24,000. Baylor alone (no CC) is not an option – that’s closer to $100K.

So, based on what I’ve told you, what would you do? I am pretty confident I can do very well in the classes no matter where I take them. I do plan to take TPR or Kaplan and prepare extensively for MCAT and I hope for a very good score. The school I am targeting has 3.66 median GPA and 30 median MCAT.

Assuming I do well enough to be above the median, do you think the fact that my credits are from CC and not a 4-year university is enough to be the deciding factor in whether I get an interview? Would it make a difference to adcom that my only two local choices for prereqs are CC or a school whose tuition is 13x the CC tuition? Would the fact that I have received degrees from two 4-year universities figure into the equation?

Obviously, I know y’all can’t answer these questions, and I am going to talk to the premed advisor at Baylor and the director of admissions at A&M about this. But I would love to hear what you would do if you were me. I just don’t know that I can justify spending $20K (and that’s best case scenario with the tuition remission stuff) on prereqs at this point in my life. If three years pass and I apply a couple of times and I don’t get in, I can live with having spent $6000. I don’t know if I can live with having spent (let’s say it…wasted!) $20,000 or more.

*When a med school says they want 6 credit hours of “advanced biological sciences”, what does this mean? Do 2000-level classes (like A Phys) count, or are we talking like 4000-level bio electives like Immunology? I could justify taking a couple of bio electives at Baylor, using my remission. That would also be a good avenue to getting my professor recs. That is one thing that concerns me about CC – I don’t know how much weight professor recs would carry.

If you made it this far, you deserve a cookie!  I am sorry to be so long winded, but this is such a tough decision....

Regarding advanced biology courses, we’re talking neurology, genetics, immunology, pharmacology, histology, anatomy & physiology, that sort of thing. Biochemistry is another excellent preparatory course. These are topics that will be extensively covered in med school and any preparation you can get in advance will be helpful.

Thanks! I can take two semesters of A Phys (all my premed friends in college who went to Texas med schools took it…I assumed it was required, but it’s not) at CC, but they’re 2000 level classes (same at the 4-year). CC also offers micro. I didn’t know if by “advanced biology” they meant 3000/4000 level or just something more than intro classes. From reading the TMDSAS website, it looks like anything more than intro is fine.

I will definitely take Biochem, but it will have to be at Baylor. It is in the recommended, not required category at the school I’m interested in.


I think the debate of community college courses versus 4-year college courses has been overblown on importance on this board. To muddy this distinction, there are several 4-year state colleges across America (such as Utah Valley University and Saint Petersburg College) that act both as a community college and a 4-year state college. Additionally, as mentioned in other posts, there are 4-year colleges in regions of the country where it is downright impossible to enroll in premedical prerequisites without being a full-time, degree-seeking student. With these colleges, you are expected to enroll in community college if you have to be a part-time and/or working student. With that said, I think following list of criteria in order of importance should be used in selecting a college to complete premedical prerequisites:

First, is the considered college regionally accredited? If the college isn’t regionally accredited, there is no point in considering it any further.

Second, does the considered college offer needed premedical prerequisites in a timely manner? A college that will only be offering O-chem five years from now won’t be that helpful.

Third, can you achieve at this college? A prestigious “F” won’t help anybody.

Fourth, can you afford the considered college?

Fifth, does the considered college offer premedical classes at the time of day and during days of the week when you can attend?

Sixth, does the considered college have a rapport with medical schools? Or, to rephrase, does the college have a good track record of getting its students into medical schools? You’d be surprised. As an example, my 4-year college alma mater hasn’t sent a graduate to medical school in over 20 years. The small science faculty of my alma mater readily admits they don’t know anyone at any of the nearby, regional medical schools. Contrast this with the nearby the community college which has sent at least one non-traditional premedical student to medical school every year. The community college biology professor knows several medical school admission committee members and has written plenty of medical school recommendations.

Seventh, if you haven’t narrowed your list to a college after the end of the sixth question, then you could apply the criteria of choosing a 4-year college over a community college to avoid the additional conditions a small number of medical schools apply to community college credits: As examples, Wake Forest will accept community college premedical science prerequisites as long as a the advanced-level classes of the prerequisites (like biochemistry for o-chem and biology) have been taken. Louisville will accept community college credits as long as a 4-year college has accepted those community college credits. But if you plan on taking advanced-level premedical courses (which is a good idea regardless of which type of college you attend) and transfer community college credits to the 4-year school where you’ll be taking those advanced-level courses then you really should have no problem having attended a community college with medical schools. As an aside, I think the posters OMTDave and craigmire both recently got into medical school having done their entire premedical post-baccalaureate coursework at community colleges.

Extremely helpful, thank you.

Yes, it is accredited, affordable ($61/hour vs. my only other option which is $986/hour!), course offerings are fine and schedule is doable, etc.

I actually called the med school I am targeting this morning and the admissions person I talked to told me that they absolutely accept CC credits (I knew this) and that they have many applicants from the CC I will be attending (I don’t know about accepted applicants…will ask more about this in my meeting in January, of course). She said that CC doesn’t count against you, per se, but that if adcom were weighing me against an identical applicant and I went to CC while they went to 4-year for prereqs, it could come into play. She was quick to point out, though, that as a practical matter, that isn’t really how the process works and every candidate is an individual and will be considered in light of his/her circumstances. She specifically mentioned geographic location, affordability, and background.

I felt very good about the way the conversation went.

Thanks again for the advice!

One advantage to applying to only one school would seem to be that you are contending with only one set of standards. Now you know that taking your courses at the CC will not be a detriment. I’ve applied to several schools, and one of them stated outright on their application materials that they would not accept courses unless they were from a 4-yr university. You should also ask the folks at A&M about the bio courses. My adviser specifically recommended I take “upper division” (ie. 3000/4000 level)sciences, but your medical school may be more interested in the course name than the number.

Off topic, it’s always good to read a post containing a proper use of the word y’all. And, since my boys are on the bus in about thirty minutes and headed toward Waco for a football contest…Boomer Sooner!

Haha, 05.

I was at the game yesterday, and if I never hear Boomer Sooner again, it will be too soon. I am a BU alum, but my husband is a 3rd gen Longhorn and I have been a Horns fan for over 10 years (since before I met him). We will probably be heading to Dallas on Saturday. HOOK 'EM!!!

So sorry to hear about your unfortunate malady. I have long been an advocate of pre-marital testing for such devastating social diseases. If I could be of any assistance, I’ll be in Dallas next weekend with my son. Just, glance about the other end of the stadium. We’ll both be wearing Crimson and Cream. May God have mercy on your souls.