Can a person be doomed from the start?

Hello everyone. I am trying to build up the confidence to take the leap and try to get into med school. I will be heading back to school next year after a 10 year hiatus with the initial plan of trying to right some wrongs by retaking most of the pre-req courses.

However, I have the looming fear that my past performance in school can not be overcome. My undergrad GPA was a dismal 2.65, which includes an F in physics (its hard to pass a class when you only show up for the exams).

I read a few posts that mention an F in a pre-req will pretty much kill any chance of med school, even if the course is re-taken for an A. Is there any truth in this?

Thanks for any and all feedback.

Hi, Wallace.

If you look around on these boards, you will find many different examples of people overcoming academic adversity worse than where you’re starting. What you need is a plan based on your particular situation and your goals.

Your F in physics immediately makes me think of DO schools and their grade replacement policy, which will provide you with a fairly quick way to fix your GPA. Just repeat the classes you did poorly in and your GPA will rise quickly. DO graduates really do have the same opportunities as their MD counterparts (personally, I will most likely go to DO school myself), but there are people out there that still harbor prejudice against this set of initials. Your best bet would be to do some research and see where you stand. For me, I’ve had a few excellent doctors that were DOs so I’m far more likely to go DO than MD.

Secondly, you have to start out with amuch more positive attitude. This is your chance to prove to adcomes that you have changed and learned from your mistakes. Take clases, including retaking all of your prereqs, get involved in your school and with volunteering, and most of all try to enjoy the journey. Its possible, but it may be tough.

Hi Wallace. I have a childhood friend who performed dismally in college, spent years working odd jobs like hotel bellboy, and then studied his a** off, did great on the MCAT, and got offers from many top-tier schools. He’s a doctor now.

Have faith in yourself and look forward, not back.

I did poorly in college as well, but I have decided my energy is better spent focusing on my post-bacc classes, which I will be starting next month.

Best wishes,


I think the answer you’re going to find is, “it depends.”

Call a number of schools and ask.

Call a few of the more focused pre-med post-bac programs as well.

I think you’ll find a wide range of answers, but I imagine that if you were to put together a compelling demonstration of patient focused volunteering, do well on all of your pre-reqs in a clearly rigorous environment and kill the MCAT that you’d be well received at a number of schools. I can’t imagine why not.

Make sure to call a few DO schools in the process as well. But I would make the DO choice based on philosophical preference only.

My GPA is worse. My hiatus only slightly longer.

ALL the MD schools I talked to said, no issue with old grades IF and I mean IF, my current grades are stellar and my MCAT score is good (32+) (I am not considering DO at this time.)

So, I’m not worried about that which I cannot change from my past; and focusing instead on what I can do now.

Welcome, and good luck!!


Only if you allow yourself to be doomed from the start.

Agree with the above - as long as you do well in your coursework from here on out and do well on the MCAT, you have a shot.

As others have said - excel now, and demonstrate that those past misdeeds don’t define you.

Are there some schools that may discount you out of hand? Probably.

Are there some schools that will give you the opportunity to prove yourself? Yes.

So take this opportunity and prove yourself!

(For what it’s worth, while I didn’t take any prereqs my first time through, I graduated with a 2.5 cumulative GPA. I’m currently in my 2nd year at an allopathic school I’m rather happy with.)

  • pi1304 Said: my 2nd year at an allopathic school I'm rather happy with.)

Big 10 rules!

Thank you all for the feedback. I am definitely excited about getting back in the class room and proving to myself that I can succeed in the prereq courses.

I am planning on starting out taking 2 courses at a time, likely bio or chem and calc during the first couple semesters to get back into the groove. How critical is it that I take a full load while working on bringing up the GPA? Should I plan on taking 3 courses once I am back in the swing of things to show that I can handle the heavy workload?

Wow! Really? you’re just down the road from me. I’m in Findlay. Could you clarify just a little what you are saying. Did you earn a BA/BS earlier in life with a 2.5 GPA and then go back for science pre-reqs?

BTW, I’d be Proud as hell to be attending OSU!


Yes. That’s pi1304’s story in a nutshell. Emergency! has the same story as pi1304. She was a high school teacher with a degree in Spanish and a sub 3.0 GPA when she went back to school to complete her premedical prerequisites. She’s now a year ahead of pi304 at Ohio State.

Feel better?

Two years ahead of pi, actually, I’m currently in the process of interviewing for residency positions and will graduate with my MD/MPH in June.

Yes, I had a sub 3.0 GPA from my original undergrad, limited math and sciences (from BGSU, ironically). I took pretty much only the pre-reqs +biochem, micro, and calculus. I applied to five Ohio medical schools and was accepted to all five.

Since you’re in Findlay, I highly recommend you see if you can meet with someone in admissions at UTMC (formerly known as MUO, formerly known as MCO). I talked to them back when I was just considering the med school path and found them to be very helpful.

Hi Wallace,

While it’s a good idea to gradually increase the number of courses you register for each semester to show that you can handle a heavy science load, I’d strongly advise against taking bio and chem simultaneously. (Speaking from personal experience!) Start out with chem and calc, which, incidentally, will also help you a lot when you repeat physics.


I would start with ONE course if you are working full time. And check with the schools that interest you to find out if you need calculus or not.

Because you have bad grades to overcome, it is essential that you ramp up gradually–probably to no more than two classes while you are working full time in the end. You can’t afford to make anything less than stellar grades at this point and you need to be cautious and thoughtful about how you’re going to make sure you get those grades. Take your time and focus on quality.

Emergency, if you do not mind me asking, what was your MCAT? Thanks!

My MCAT was a 31, which was actually a little bit below average for OSU. The ave MCAT was 32 the year I started and its up to 34 now, I think. My score was certainly a factor. Had I had a lower score, I likely would not have been as successful. It proves the point of why people call it the great equalizer.

I think Pi and I are both of examples of how you are NOT doomed from the start. I didn’t think I had a chance st OSU, yet I was accepted, was awarded a couple of different scholarships, and ended up in the top 50% of my class (despite a rough 1st year).

Don’t give up on certain schools before you’ve even started - you might be surprised. Its okay to apply to some very competitive schools - you never know what might happen. Of course, you should make sure you apply to a broad range of schools, but don’t reject yourself as a contender - admissions offices have different thought processes and a great many of them look beyond the numbers.

Good advice. I have yet to take the MCAT, and I will not sell my self short. Thanks!