I’m really desperate for some guidance and advice!
I graduated from a good 4-year university with a B.A. in Spanish and an Anthropology minor. I wish to apply to medical schools next fall after completing what remains of my science prerequisites.
I am fulfilling my prereqs at a very solid (accredited) community college and have already completed Gen Chem I and II, along with Microbiology and Anatomy & Physiology I (although I realize the latter two do not count towards medical school prereqs.) In any case, this fall I am enrolled in Organic Chemistry I and Physics I… next spring I plan to finish that sequence (Orgo II and Physics II)… in the summer I plan to take Biology I and Biology II back-to-back… and then take the MCAT late August, right when I finish all of my prereqs so that I can apply that fall (2004). I will not have studied for them, per se, but hope that at the very least the courses being so fresh in my mind will be of benefit.
My question to you all is whether medical schools will necessarily look down upon my application for having taken these prereqs at a community college (it is, of course, accredited.) I have a few friends who were once in my shoes (non-trad. student going back to fulfill prereqs at community colleges) and were admitted. I have thus far earned solid A’s in my courses and hope to continue that trend through this year. I know a lot, of course, depends upon my MCAT scores, but I suppose I am just seeking reassurance that I will not be disregarded as an applicant the minute they see I took these courses at a community college. I have a pretty strong undergrad record, added with lots of study-abroad experiences and volunteer opportunities (including one in South America.)
I realize that my other option is to go to a post-bac program… But it has it’s drawbacks: it would literally set me back an entire year from applying to medical schools (they would require me to enter with a certain number of prereqs still not taken, which means I would miss an entire semester of studies, postponing my MCAT test date and application cycle until Fall 2005 (rather than Fall 2004). I realize that I have the community college stigma working against me, as well as the fact that I really have no idea how I will fare on my MCATs… so for all I know, I may well be looking at applying a second time in Fall 2005 anyway! But something in me urges me to just go for it… do what I can now, do my best now, and apply this fall… without relying on the reputation of a post-bac program to “garauntee” my entrance. What do I have to lose by just going for it, even if it means on my own? Also, those programs are VERY expensive for what they are, and there is a part of me that wonders whether they are just money-traps for the well-to-do who can afford the luxury. Surely medical schools must respect people who take their own initiative to fulfill these prereqs as well?
Have you known of any students who were admitted after having fulfilled their prereqs at community colleges?
I will value your words of wisdom beyond measure!!!
My take on CC classes based on reading posts on this forum is that you would probably be fine but it also probably depends on the school and what kind of student you have been in the past. If you were a pretty good student as an undergrad and you continue to do well in your CC classes (providing the classes you are taking at the CC would transfer to a 4 yr school and count the same as the pre-req classes they offer), you will have no problems. Some med schools are a bit finnicky for whatever reason however, so it would behoove you to check with the adcoms at schools that you are interested in applying to to be certain. If they won't accept the classes, that will obviously affect you decision making proccess. Maybe you want to go to the school enough that you will abandon the CC and take classes at a 4 yr school on your own or as part of a post bac or maybe you will cross the school off your list. I hope this was somewhat coherent. Hopefully other folks will lend their opinions.
There are some schools that simply won’t consider CC credits. Duke is one I know of for sure. So be sure you call the schools you’re interested in applying to, save yourself some money by weeding out those that are irrational about CC credits.
A LOT is going to ride on your MCAT, more than if you were taking courses at a 4-year university, although the MCAT is always important, obviously. A solid MCAT score proves that you got a good education at the CC - schools that might be a teensy hesitant about CC credits will be convinced you learned something if your MCAT is good.
I agree that your coursework is good prep for the MCAT but do NOT discount the necessity of specific MCAT prep. You can’t go into this exam without having done lots of practice tests; it is unlike any test you’ve taken to date. So while I think your schedule is quite do-able, you are going to need to schedule MCAT prep time into the mix as well.
You definitely don’t need to do a post-bacc course; save your money, you’re going to need it!
Oh, and if you do a search for “community college,” you’ll find lots of previous discussions on this topic and likely some additional useful opinions. On the search page, be sure to set the date for a long timeframe as these discussions only come up sporadically.
Thank you both so much, Damon and Mary… I didn’t imagine upon posting that question that I would receive such helpful and prompt advice! I do have a very strong academic background from my undergrad, so hopefully that will make my grades at cc carry more weight, as you both say
I do have one more question, though! (This week has been sooooo intense with respect to planning this next year and trying to make it work so that I can apply fall 2004)… My predicament is this: my remaining prereqs are 2 semesters of Bio, Orgo, and Physics. But I also want to take the MCATs in August -WITH preparation. I’ve already taken A&PI and Microbiology, so I have some basis for biology fundamentals. So I’m thinking: Physics I and Orgo I this fall; Physics II and Orgo II in the Spring… ALL THE WHILE just sitting in on Bio I and II lectures at my college… (making an agreement with the professor in which I just sit in the back corner and take notes, but no lab and no grades) That way, I can do Biology on my own time and not have the pressure of having to ace 3 heavy courses… Then, at the start of the summer, beginning Kaplan, studying intensely for it, and sitting the MCATs late August. I would apply to schools in the fall and take Biology I (for CREDIT this time) next fall and BIO II the following spring. Whew!!! Can you tell I’ve been thinking!!!
So basically… while I’m doing other prereqs, study Bio on my own time… leaving several months for a Kaplan course, and then committing to actually doing the Biology for credit whilst my application is being reviewed. Do medical schools allow for students to have one or two courses in progress?
Thank you all again for your insight!
Can you take the bio next summer?
I would take the Bio next summer (that is originally what I had planned) but I want to prepare for the MCATs 100% instead… so I can effectively audit the bio courses this year for the sake of enhancing my knowledge of the subject and then, after taking the MCATs in August, take the Bio courses for credit the following fall and spring. I actually just heard back from my premed advisor and she said that the plan sounds as though it could work! Hooray! She advises, however, that I submit my application earlier in the summer so that I don't have to wait additional months for the application itself to be processed (only have to wait for the MCAT scores to come through in October.) Sound like a plan?
The plan seems like it can work. As you probably have guessed, you will probably be at some disadvantage relative to others who have finished all their pre-reqs and done the April MCAT prior to applying. That said, if your record is solid I would bet that you can get some interviews. After that, it's up to you and the fates. Good Luck!
You're planning to audit Bio 1 and 2 before the MCAT? I'm sure it's possible to do that and learn the material, but personally, I found I needed to study a lot with the book in bio. Now, I haven't taken the MCAT yet, so I don't know how relevent all the stuff in the freshman bio book is going to be (such as taxonomy, some of the botany, etc), but a lot of that material is very detailed and requires memorization. Maybe people who've taken the MCAT could give you advice as to how well you need to know the basic bio stuff? My impression is that MCAT bio focuses a fair bit on physiology and genetics, so maybe you'll be just fine.
About the community college question–I don't want to repeat what I've said in other threads, but I went to a cc myself and have talked about it here and there. If you look back through the forums, you'll find lots of commentary from various people that should be helpful. You should also be sure to contact some of the med schools you're interested in and ask them what they think of your plan before you embark on it.