DIY mostly online or Formal post bacc?

Hello all, I have been posting on SDN for a while now and wanted to bring my posts to a more non-traditional centered forum in need of some sound advice. I am a 25 year old student that will be graduating at the end of this year with my bachelor’s in medical laboratory science. I still need to take all of the chemistry courses and physics and probably biochemistry before I can apply to medical school (most likely DO school), and maybe a few retakes as well. The question I bring today is whether or not I should do my post bacc almost entirely online through UNE or should I apply to a formal post bacc? I am not taking any of this lightly, but really need a fresh set of eyes on my situation. I’m willing to relocate to be in a formal post bacc, provided I could actually get accepted into one. Some benefits to this would be a structured, in-class program where I can attend lectures, Supplemental Instruction (if available), study groups, etc. The benefits of doing it all through online would be that I could have my full time job as a Med Tech when I graduate, but I will be paying for this out of pocket, slowly, maybe able to take 2-3 classes per year, based on my work schedule and realistic affordability. Feedback is greatly appreciated!



As a guy who did an online post-bacc (mostly through UNE), I’d say do the formal one if your schedule, finances, life, etc can make it work out. You’ll get a lot more from the classroom interaction than you can from an online course that is self-paced, which doesn’t equate to good student discussion.

That being said, I got everything out of the UNE program that I needed to, information-wise. I ended up taking a commercial MCAT prep course but wasn’t really surprised of any of the content. Keep in mind that not all schools accept online courses or view them in the same light as in-class courses. It did limit where I could apply, but for me it wasn’t a show stopper. I did the online thing because it was impossible for me to make the first sentence of my post work.

I’m a few years removed from UNE, and the professors and syllabi have changed since I took my classes. But all in all, the lectures and reading materials were good, the courses were medically related/relevant, and the professors were easily reached via phone and email for additional help. I spent between 3 and 6 months on the classes depending on how my work schedule was. They didn’t have any issues giving me an extension. Downside is that UNE isn’t cheap. I took one class via distance learning through a local university for a few hundred bucks less. Contrary to SDN saying everything has to be through one school, I believe that if you have a good reason to do what you’re doing and it makes sense, adcoms will understand…

I only applied to one DO school (CUSOM), which had no issues with the classes on my transcript. I didn’t really research more schools. You should really dive into the AACOMAS school handbook and school websites to see if the decision will be self-limiting based on where you would want to go.

The standard advice is to do your pre-reqs/post-bac at accredited four year institutions, mainly because there is still stigma about online courses and community college courses. Thus, the formal post-bac is strongly preferred over an online post-bac, as it will take place at a traditional four year university. Also, while I have heard good things about the UNE courses in the past, I researched recent reviews, and it seems like many students are very unhappy with the updated syllabi. I wouldn’t take more than one course online, and that is only if it were impossible for me to do otherwise (e.g. because of deployment or an international job).

That said, I would like to address you about cost. If you are accepted into a formal post-bac, you are eligible for federal financial aid through FAFSA, so don’t let cost deter you from applying, and the amount you’ll spend on it will be small compared to med school loans and your future earning potential. To keep costs down for your formal post-bac, please consider the following:

  1. Does the school have linkage? To me, it isn’t worth the price unless you have guaranteed linkage. When researching this, don’t be fooled by the acceptance rates on the sites–the 90%+ acceptances usually happen because the program only “graduates”/writes committee letters for those who have a certain GPA/MCAT during their program tenure, or because many students drop the classes due to their rigor.
  2. Name recognition doesn’t play much of a role. I read through almost 200 pages of threads on this site, and I realized that no adcom turns their nose up at a state school’s post-bac versus a private one.
  3. Remember, you don’t have to do a formal post-bac to apply to medical school. You can go the DIY route and this can save you a bundle. I’m taking classes at my local state and community colleges as a non-degree student; you can even apply as a degree seeker but only take your pre-reqs and never graduate with a second degree if you want to save yourself registration hassles. For me, this means I am paying $200-300 per credit hour rather than $600-700 pch in the local fancy formal post-bac at the big name university near me. Caveat: the community college courses are retakes of classes at night–I’ve already done the courses years ago at a four year institution and passed–try for the four year state schools if you can, as that always looks better.

Gray’s option #3 is the one I’d choose.

Thanks for the advice Gray. I’d be much more inclined to work in my field and take coursework at night at a community college of nearby university, provided the opportunity was there. Unfortunately for me, the ONLY community college around me does not offer evening courses for pre-reqs. Regarding the 2 universities near me, 1 is very traditional and I don’t think has a single evening class, and the other university has maybe 1 pre-req per semester in the evening but consistently has professors teaching it that have very bad reviews. It’s amazing to me how little flexibility and attention is given to non-traditional students in this area, but that’s for another discussion, I suppose. But that’s part of the backstory as to why coursework through UNE is at least a possibility and why I may apply to a formal post bacc (career changer) when I graduate at the end of this year. Does anyone here know of any career changer post baccs that fund at the graduate level? I’m maxed out on my Stafford loans. The 2 that I have found are Washington University In St Louis (this would be my 1st choice) and I think Bryn Mawr (but not totally sure about this)

I know a guy who went to Montana state for his career change post bacc. I haven’t talked to him much about the program, but it was good enough to get him into med school.

@Kyle wrote:

Unfortunately for me, the ONLY community college around me does not offer evening courses for pre-reqs. Regarding the 2 universities near me, 1 is very traditional and I don’t think has a single evening class, and the other university has maybe 1 pre-req per semester in the evening

I found out something very similar when I began to investigate this path. What I ended up doing was to quit my full-time job, go back to university as a full-time student for 3 semesters and to knock out the remaining classes that I needed. It was a struggle, but I was fortunate to find a part-time job that helped to support me during that time. Also came out a lot cheaper than doing a formal post-bacch.

Sounds like going back to school full time is the right option for you, then. You could always work part time for a few hours a week to pay for extras (books, food, etc.); plus since you are a med tech, that counts as clinical experience.

RE: post bacs that fund at a graduate level. The AAMC has a search function that can help you narrow down choices. For your needs, I searched for “Career Change” and “Academic Record Enhancer” type post bacs at “Graduate Level”. Keep in mind that a majority of these are technically Special Masters Programs rather than post bacs. You can contact the schools to see how they bill.

UNC Charlotte’s program bills as graduate, though technically you are considered “non-degree seeking”:

NJ Medical School has an SMP that (obviously) bills as graduate.

UC San Francisco seems to also bill at the graduate level: