Another newbie

I am new, and as such, I don’t know the etiquette. I hope I don’t make any enemies by posting yet another of these posts - as I’ve seen similar posts get bashed on other sites.

So, lets get down to it, eh?

Let’s see… 10 years in the military, I bounced around doing deployments and trying to finish a degree. I never had trouble in school but am sitting around a 3.1 GPA with about 100 credits. I’ve only taken one science course and one math course. I’ll be honest - I didn’t try hard and I got a C in the science course.

I have had some things happen in the military that have made me drastically change my mind about what I want to do, and after a year of searching, I found this site. I am planning on starting the pre-reqs(and finishing a degree, probably in bio) in January at a local state school. I’m not sure how much the four year school matters - everywhere is different.

I wanted to know opinions. Can I drag that C in bio up? Can I drag my 3.1 up? I won’t ask if I’m too old, as you’ll all say no, hence the site… but I’ve got 2 years of pre-reqs, the MCAT, a bad GPA, and I’m sure other negatives, like the fact that because of the military I bounced around through 5 different schools.

So, I noticed you guys have a mentor-mentee program. I’d love to get involved, or have one of the veterans try to point me in the right direction. I realize I am behind the curve, and it will be an uphill battle to get into medical school. I have barely any science, a crappy GPA (in science, too… shudder…)… I’m older… anyway, I learned in the army not to give up, and I don’t want to give up on this. I’m open to DO, I’m even open to Caribbean but I’ve heard that option has gotten harder recently, as far as matching outside of NRMP.

So… Anyone have any thoughts? Any guidance? I’m lost in the sea of conflicting internet data and doubt, but I have set myself on the path of becoming a doctor and I don’t want anything to detract me from it.

I do have the benefit of the GI Bill to pay for college, so money (up to a state school, anyway) isn’t a big deal. I can afford up to four years pretty much free - med school will probably hit the 17,000 cap and keep going but loans are fun, right?

Anyway, I’ll stop ranting and let some people respond. I’m ready, so hit me with it - It’ll be hard, but I need to do it.

To sum it up - how do I go from prospective old pre med to real old pre med… in a way that ensures success when I’m a med student and then old doctor?

Neverwhere -

I’ll borrow from Richard and tell you Rule 1: Breathe! Really - take a deep breath.

Here’s the situation. 3.1 is NOT a bad place to start from. A number of our successful docs started from a worse GPA than that. You are concerned about it being a “bad science” GPA - but you have only one science and 1 math course.

Let me give you a little orientation. AMCAS (the application system for MD medical schools) counts Biology, Physics, Math, and Chemistry courses in your science GPA. If you retake biology, they will average both grades (there is no grade replacement). When med schools are reviewing your application, they will see your overall GPA, and a science GPA. I believe they also see a breakdown by year (which will give you an opportunity to show an upward trend).

If you apply to DO schools, that is thru AACOMAS. They average Bio, Chem, and Physics, but not Math. They DO have grade replacement. So if you retake your bio course, they will average in only the more recent grade (whether it is higher or lower). So there is is the potential to improve your GPA further.

Since you have almost all the science to do, I think I"d suggest redoing the one bio course - doing 2 semesters, with labs, of bio, physics, general chem, and organic chem. Also, considering the change coming in MCAT’s, you will need to to a psychology course. Biochemistry is required by some schools, strongly suggested by many. Some upper level Bio will definately be necessary to get a bachelor’s in biology, as you suggest. This will give you ample opportunity to show a strong science GPA, if you are very successful in those courses. It is crucial to study for A’s (do the reading, practice problems, go to any teaching assistant study hours, ask questions, review continually rather than cram, etc).

MCAT can be prepped for to take prior to your last year, provided you have gotten in the core requirements before that. You will want to devote several months of concentrated study to that …perhaps take a light spring schedule and study for it like another course.

Taking MCAT’s early (May, June) allows you to apply early in the cycle (June), which gives you a stronger chance as many schools (most) use rolling admissions.

That’s enough to get your planning started, I guess!

Best of luck in your journey.


(ps - no worries about posting an intro with questions. It is a time-honored tradition here!

Kate’s given you all the important stuff, so I’ll just say WELCOME TO OPM!

Thanks for the quick reply guys! Great not to be squished upon posting.

What about school? Does it matter that I’ve transferred so much because of the army? Does it matter if I go to a mediocre public school? Should I get a biology degree or just the pre-reqs? I don’t expect all the answers… just some thoughts.

I have a ton of questions. I’ve searched a ton and can’t seem to get answers that satisfy my questions, so I’m sorry about going over the stuff repeatedly. I’m sure my questions will be intermittent… apologies, but luckily I have this thread for it.

Thanks again.

  • Neverwhere Said:
Thanks for the quick reply guys! Great not to be squished upon posting.

What about school? Does it matter that I've transferred so much because of the army? Does it matter if I go to a mediocre public school? Should I get a biology degree or just the pre-reqs? I don't expect all the answers... just some thoughts.

I have a ton of questions. I've searched a ton and can't seem to get answers that satisfy my questions, so I'm sorry about going over the stuff repeatedly. I'm sure my questions will be intermittent... apologies, but luckily I have this thread for it.

Thanks again.

1) Rule One: Take a Breath

2) Your army time and the transfers will have to be address in your personal statement upon the application. It will be noticed but not as a positive or negative, call it a flag as why. You'll make it a positive in your narrative such as: Even while on full-time active duty moving from post to post I still made time to attend schools.

3) A mediocre public school is OK as long as they have the courses. The rule of the thumb is go the best school that you can do well in. So doing well is more important than presitige.

4) The bio degree doesnt matter, stick to getting the prereqs and getting a degree.

5) another option that I have wondered about (and I would like to here what the group thinks about this) is dont do the prereqs as part of this degree, finish it as best you can with the highest grades you can. Then go do a post-bacc just for the preqs. The advantage that I see from this the post bacc will be reported as a separate line item on your application GPA as well as rolled into your overall cumulative GPA. It might also say more about your commitment and achievement. May also build your network for LORs

5) Oh, keep in touch with your CO and/or others that can get give you a good letter of recommendation. I think one letter from someone who can say something about you personally and note from your record would be good

What do others think of your post bacc plan? It doesn’t seem like a terrible plan, although most post bacc’s I have found are medical masters degrees meant for people who have a science background. Are there very many programs that are focused on getting people the science pre-reqs?

If you search on the following link picking undergrad you will find about half the listed postbacc programs specifically geared directly at gaining the prereqs for medical school. You should note that a large percentage of the grad programs are actually the same just charging graduate prices and getting you a graduate level certificate for undergrad courses

You also can simply do an informal/do-it-yourself (DIY) program by taking undergrad courses at a nearby school

Richard…forget something???

is the link, I think.


  • Neverwhere Said:
I do have the benefit of the GI Bill to pay for college, so money (up to a state school, anyway) isn't a big deal.

Don't forget about the Yellow Ribbon Program to expand your options for schools.
  • Kate429 Said:
Richard....forget something???

is the link, I think.


Yeah, yeah, I am so forgetful. I think last week I left a hemostat in during an appendectomy.

Oh no! Did you forget you weren’t supposed to be doing appendectomies again?!

Tsk, tsk.


  • Kate429 Said:
Oh no! Did you forget you weren't supposed to be doing appendectomies again?!

Tsk, tsk.


Must be all the tequilia and those blackouts. Last week I thought I was Teddy Roosevelt and wanted to charge up San Juan Hill... But I digress

Yes we are a friendly informal bunch here

And no I am not a doctor, I just help get them educated!


Maybe you should switch from tequila to…elderberry wine?


So… planning my degree. Working with an advisor… which is somewhat helpful, as they decided to give me the military advisor rather than pre-med. Not sure if thats good or bad.

Alright, so… the plan is, in 2.5 years… Spring 2012 start, fall 2012/spring 2013, fall 2013, spring 2014 I graduate… gives me five semesters plus summers(which I plan on taking at least one class each summer)… I can finish the pre-reqs by fall 2013, maybe spring 2014.

I know it’s a long way away… but, basically, when do I need to apply in order to start medical school? For example, if I finish pre-reqs in May and then take the MCAT, I assume I will need to wait a year to apply and go to med school. So, what date do I need to finish pre-reqs and MCAT to apply and start the fall after I graduate? Is that unrealistic?

Alright, let me simplify, because I’m making myself sound retarded - when do I need to finish things in order to start on date x for med school? IE… To start medical school in year 20xx, when do I need to be finished with req’s in year 20xx -1.

If you finished the basic prereqs tested on MCAT (physics, gen chem, org. chem, biology) by spring 2013 and took MCAT’s spring 2013 your could apply in June 2013 for admission to start medical school in fall of 2014.

If that is not do-able, then you could grad. spring 2014, take MCAT’s, apply to med school in June, hopefully have interviews in fall (and possibly Jan or Feb 2015), and have a “glide year” before starting med school in fall of 2015. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In retrospect, I’m very glad I had a glide year between post-bac and med school. You can use it to strengthen your application, to get clinical experience possibly, and to spend time with friends and family prior to being immersed in med school.


So, I know it’s been discussed and mentioned… but is there ANY stigma for not having a science degree? I want to avoid any possible negatives. I know some schools encourage it or are supportive of liberal arts degrees, but I want to give myself every chance to succeed. While it would shorten my degree time, it probably wouldn’t shorten my time to med school to get a non-bio degree. So the only advantage is a year of working or a year of post-bacc between finishing pre-reqs, but both of those could help for later.

So, basically, is there an advantage to having a science degree? Or do they TRULY only care about the pre-reqs?

Somewhat related, do the science courses taken after pre-reqs count in the Science GPA? And if so, is it only Physics/Bio/Chem or any other science as well?

They don’t care at all about the science degree. Better to do well in whatever degree you pick and enjoy it.