Do old bad grades matter?

@Prodigal wrote:

Some schools have hard minimums for GPA/MCAT/ECs etc that no amount of extenuating circumstances will change.

@terra_incognita wrote:
Schools look at your initial undergraduate GPA and your post-bac GPA (which they consider as any undergrad courses taken after your initial degree was earned) SEPARATELY in addition to combining them. So that first number, while from decades ago, can indeed enter into schools' decision making process. It often does. That's why it's so important to apply early, when there are more interview spots and school seats open. You increase your chances by doing so.


Hopefully, Prodigal and Terra won't mind me using their posts as a topic for discussion, but I think it's important that the right info gets put out there, especially for oldpremeds.

My personal experience (MD/PhD committee) mirrors exactly what these other admitted medical students have said, and that is that old grades DO matter to many adcoms and can also result in your app being screend out of the admissions process altogether.

So the answer to the question is YES old bad grades DO matter. Are there exceptions to this? Yes, that's why they're called exceptions. :roll: Will old bad grades keep you out of medical school? Not if you have the standard "good app", apply early and most importantly, apply SMARTLY! ;)

Love how my question about app cycle application turned into something aimed at my grades. :roll:



So, for the record let’s talk about ME since this was all aimed AT ME:


  1. My college career started in 1982.
  2. In 1985, I was dumb and got pregnant.
  3. In 1986, my son was born, given up for adoption, in foster care while I chose the family for him, changed my mind during the parental period time, and kept him
  4. In Sept of that year, my son died. I found him dead in his crib, blue in the face, rigor mortis had set in.



    During those first few years of college, I was at a top 10 research institution taking science courses, getting drunk my first year, getting pregnant, burying a dead child



    AND



    I was involved in a service sorority, serving as the Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of the Campus Assembly (Basically, the deans of all the schools of this very large institution and the President of the institution met once a month; I was nominated by the President to be vice chair, elected by that board, and served in that capacity).



    My grades were abysmal. I had F’s, D’s, C’s, A’s here and there but mostly … Cs. No one could understand. The President called me in and asked what was wrong, told me he was there to help - I could not answer him, I did not know why I could not study, why I could sit still, why I could answer everything in class (which was boring me to tears) and whatever else.



    After my son was found dead, the autopsy was performed and he was buried. I left school. While pregnant my parents refused to talk to me, cut me off, and disowned me.



    My father was the EVP of a then Fortune 25 company. My dad was not the problem the mother who abused me from the time I was born until … well … she was the issue.



    Anyway, I left school. I came back 6 months later and the President went through my transcript and starting pulling entire quarters off my transcript so that I could get my GPA up. Given we were trying to maximize the credits earned vs. GPA (actually in tandem), some of my F’s stayed on the transcript.



    Two years worth stayed on there because in the midst of the F’s were some A’s and B’s.



    I graduated.



    I went on with a career turning a weak BA in English Technical Writing into a career filled with Partner at Deloitte, VP of Audit at $2B publicly held company reporting to the board of directors, advising companies like Accenture (Joe Forehand, CEO), Honeywell (Larry Kittleberger, CIO) and many others were my clients.



    I traveled the world for my jobs, volunteered in disaster services for the ARC (still am), helped in the latrines of ghettos in Ghana and the Philippines, built water wells in Peru. My Rotarian membership led me to Africa and polio eradication camps there and inner city kids’ charities domestically.



    In 2007, I told my public company to restate their financial reports to the SEC due to serious violations of SOX laws. Little did I know, SOX has no teeth. Wall Street is far too powerful to mess with and no CFO or CEO will ever see the backlash of lying to the street. Ken Lay might have actually gone to jail but after Fastow and that gang, as well as WorldCom and that gang… SOX … well, it’s a nice little check box on an audit statement for filing at the SEC.



    Anyway, I was fired. One month after being honored as one of the best leaders ever at that company, I was fired. I sued but that’s when I found out how little respect the Sarbanes-Oxley laws had. None.



    About that same time, I started dating a physician. He’d built the largest hospital on the western side of the area and was currently serving as their board chair while still treating patients.



    He diagnosed me quickly with ADHD. He also said he was amazed I’d ever gotten through college and said I was lucky to have built the relationships that I had with the President … The good doc then sent me to a specialist and I started the prescription as I … headed back to take pre-reqs for medical school.



    I have a 4.0…



    To carte blanche say that old grades DO matter? Well, that is naive and judgmental… and saying that someone who has been admitted has more say than the adcoms that I HAVE PERSONALLY TALKED TO?



    Well, now we’re just down to silliness. Admitted students are not greater than adcoms and frankly, don’t know squat about what is and what is not acceptable. They only know what they had to get in.



    If your old grades are less than 10 years old, I would say yes, that is a problem.



    However, NOT ONCE IN 5 YEARS HAVE I BEEN TOLD BY ANY ADCOM OR PROFESSOR OF THE TOP TEN RESEARCH UNIVERSITY WITH A SUBSEQUENT MEDICAL SCHOOL, OR AN ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR OR A DEAN OR A DIRECTOR OF ADMISSION … NEVER. NOT ONCE. HAVE I BEEN TOLD MY GPA FROM 1989 WILL BE CONSIDERED.



    NOT ONCE. NOT BY MAYO, NOT BY TN, NOT BE VANDY, NOT BY STANFORD, NOT BY ANY OF THEM.



    Will the schools see the grades? Yep. But given my BCPM is 4.0 and current MCAT score … I remain unconcern though flattered that ya’ll got so pickled at me you had to start an entire thread about OLD GPA.

The biggest point was in the 3rd paragraph of the OP. Most of the people coming to this site don’t have that large of a gap in academic history, and their previous grades will have an impact on the strength of their app. I think you would generally be considered an exception to this “rule”.



Everything in the app will be viewed, weighed, and considered. How that happens will depend on the rest of the app and the story that goes with it. That’s my opinion, not based necessarily from experience with med school apps but from screening files for employment.

Adoc2b, glad you could join the conversation. :wink: I love to say that I read what you wrote, but I didn’t because I can guess based on how you talk to other people around here what you said. Plsus it’s Frriday, and I’m enjoying a lovely evening with my family. :smiley:



With that out of the way, I’m not sure why you think EVERYTHING on this site that doesn’t support your position is about YOU, but since you’re there, let’s clear something up first.



THIS POST IS FOR ANY NONTRAD APPLYING TO MED SCHOOL WITH BAD GRADES FROM A PREVIOUS ACADEMIC EXPERIENCE.



Now, here’s what IS just for you.



I think it’s great that you’ve earned great grades and that you’ve academically and personally overcome sigificant obstacles in this thing called life. But the acerbic personality you show when people don’t agree with you is a HUGE turn off for ANY mature communication. You claim to have connections that may allow you “to nepotism” your way into med school. Fantastic!, I’d use my connections too. But with the way you talk to people who diaagree with you, you’re gonna need nepotism+ to STAY there and make decent grades, especially in 3rd year when personality seems to matter as much as smarts. I’m kinda wondering, do you honestly think a patient would choose/stay with a Doctor that would “go off” the way you did on Terra in that thread about applying to med school late? BTW, I knew that thread was going to be a train wreck when I saw you post it. And I ain’t Cleo with a crystal ball predicting the future.



That said, I’m VERY fortunate to have people in my life who care about me and are honest with me, even when I’m standing in my own truth and p*ssing off/insulting other people, which I try not to do too often. However, I sincerely think it’s unfortunate that you don’t have someone like that in your life too.

@Doc201X wrote:

…And I ain’t Cleo with a crystal ball …




Ah, Ms. Cleo. “Kahl me now! :lol:”



On a more serious note - does anyone have a spreadsheet listing schools with hard computer cutoffs? Or schools that do “human” review 100% of the time, without our request? I’d hate to spend money on an app if it’ll never see “eyes” on submit.

Thanks, yall, for the information on the old grades. I’m one of those having to deal with old grades from more than 10 years ago. The important thing that came out (at least, for me), is that it IS still possible to get into medical school. Sometimes, it’s good just to know that you’re not chasing phantoms.

@Dullhead wrote:

@Doc201X wrote:
…And I ain’t Cleo with a crystal ball …




Ah, Ms. Cleo. “Kahl me now! :lol:”



On a more serious note - does anyone have a spreadsheet listing schools with hard computer cutoffs? Or schools that do “human” review 100% of the time, without our request? I’d hate to spend money on an app if it’ll never see “eyes” on submit.




I just recently went over this with some premed advisers and adcoms and there really isnt one for a few reasons


  1. if schools have a hard cut off, it will be posted on their website. Most do not
  2. There is almost always what I refer to the “reject review” step either just before or after initial evaluation by a school (ie first read of full file with secondaries. LOR, etc). The reason for this step is precisely to see if there are underlying supportable exceptions to cut offs. It typically gets explained to me as suicide of roommate, family illness, etc. It doesnt mean everything is wiped away but reviewed in context.
  3. As holistic reviews become the norm AAMC has reported that high importance in academic criteria includes grade trends and postbacc. ([url]https://www.aamc.org/students/download/267622/data/mcatstudentselectionguide.pdf/url] see table 4)
  4. Every student should be fully aware of the DO grade replacement policy (https://www.aacom.org/docs/default-source/insideome/aacomasinstructions.pdf see page 19)

@Adoc2be wrote:





However, NOT ONCE IN 5 YEARS HAVE I BEEN TOLD BY ANY ADCOM OR PROFESSOR OF THE TOP TEN RESEARCH UNIVERSITY WITH A SUBSEQUENT MEDICAL SCHOOL, OR AN ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR OR A DEAN OR A DIRECTOR OF ADMISSION … NEVER. NOT ONCE. HAVE I BEEN TOLD MY GPA FROM 1989 WILL BE CONSIDERED.



NOT ONCE. NOT BY MAYO, NOT BY TN, NOT BE VANDY, NOT BY STANFORD, NOT BY ANY OF THEM.




In my 15 years of advising premeds and working with adcoms on primarily nontrads, I have never once been informed that old GPA will be ignored or not considered. This is also a problem for many traditional students who werent all that serious in the first year or so at college. Simply by the mechanics of how AMCAS works, which calculates GPA for all MD school applications except the TMDSAS Texas schools, it will be seen and in many cases automatically populate the applicant intake system at many medical schools. Even AACOMAS/DO grade replacement policy does so ONLY for GPA; the original course and the original grades will still be there. While there are a few schools that are moving to a “formal” recalculation on secondary applications that all work in different ways (the last 30 credits, the last 120, graduate vs. UG,) it is still by no means widespread or common.



Even as holistic reviews are becoming the norm, GPA and MCAT scores are still rated as the first or second factor (order switches) at 75%+ of MD schools. Over the past decade GPAs of matriculants have gone up 0.5 and MCAT score by 2 points. The overwhelming increase in the applicant pool at DO schools has sharply increased the GPA and MCAT scores there as well.



Nontraditional students with uneven backgrounds and large disparity of grade trends must be able to write a coherent, concise and compelling narrative showing their path and pattern of motivation, commitment and achievement to be successful. Unfortunately the increase in the applicant pool size and thus increase in applicant to seat ratio makes this a much more difficult task