Emergency advice!!

Alright non-traditional brothers and sisters, I’m looking for some straight advice. I’m 40, have been writing fiction (novels) for the past ten years and for the last 3 have been back in school getting my BA along with taking the pre-recs for med school. My science grades need a shot of adrenalin: C’s, B-, D, and one F in orgo which I took over the summer, and which I’m going to retake this summer. I have yet to take physics. When I write this it all seems so grim, but here we go. My sci GPA right now is a 2.6.
On the other side of the coin I have an inspiring and interesting volunteer history and excel in relating with patients. Many experienced individuals have commented that I would make an excellent physician. However…. And this is my question: Do I simply persist and do whatever it takes to bring my sci GPA up to a “competitive” level? Or are my grades an indication that I should pursue something else?
Thank you so much for your time,

I’m a non-traditional student and mother of 3 with one on the way. My ugrad gpa from many moons ago was a 3.45 with a 3.95 for the last two years…I had children and went back and started taking post-bacc classes during my husband’s intern year (dumb, dumb, dumb!). I went through a similar chemistry experience (retook and got an 89.5% tongue.gif ). I had my up semesters and my down semesters, but they evened out to a sub 3.0 BCPM gpa because of the few bad science grades that pulled me down. They do stay on the AMCAS application even though you retake and the grade is replaced on my transcript. I had an above 3.0 BCPM gpa with the replaced grades and got into an MS program…so I have that and a solid grad gpa to anchor myself to now…but I have faced many of the same difficulties.
Here are my thoughts and what I’ve been doing:
1. Identify your weaknesses and find a way to remedy them. Are you struggling to find study time due to family obligations?
For me, being more successful in my courses has meant a few things…I’ve changed the way that I study. As a young ugrad, I could afford to skip through the semester, study the week before the exam and pull an A. With all of my adult responsibilities, that doesn’t fly. I have to make a study plan from day 1 and stick to it pretty rigidly. I basically begin studying for the exam the first day that the material is presented…and it has made the difference for me now between struggling and not doing well…and getting As again. There is so much less stress going on about it too.
I also had to evaluate where I was at in my life. After my chem disaster…I mean…growth experience tongue.gif I decided to take a year off until my husband was finished with residency and my children were a little older. Why continue to push the envelope when you are fighting too many obstacles? You may be able to identify some things in your own life to change or may also considering waiting a year or a half a year to go back?
2. Do you have an academic weakness? Maybe you can take some lower level chemistry courses to improve your general background information before moving forward and reattempting orgo? I don’t think that there is any shame in recognizing a weakness and stepping it down a notch to remedy the problem. Especially if it means that you go back a semester or two later and kick some orgo bootie. You could always be honest with an adcom and say that you felt that you were weak and so you took it upon yourself to go back to the beginning and start over…and then let the results speak for themselves. You could also review your old chem books over the summer, or find a tutor in the subjects that you are struggling in.

I recently had a meeting with an advisor at the closeset U to me. I had anticipated him laughing me out the door because I tend to focus on the few negatives. I was sure that he would tell me that I need to take more post-bacc classes to overcome those few bad grades. What he told me is that gpa is only one indicator and that they look at the whole picture and trends…He looked at all of my scores, grades, ec’s, international education experiences, etc…and tried to talk me into applying this cycle blink.gif I won’t be doing this because I’m due in November and becaue I want to wait a few more years…and I’m also contemplating some other options. I was totally shocked by this because I thought he’d tell me I have no chance.
This long rambling post is meant to tell you that you can overcome a few bad grades…Just sit back and evaluate what has gone wrong and allow yourself a new start. Don’t retake orgo until you know how you will do things differently. I have often wondered if there was ‘hope’ for me…and the positive feedback that I got last week was really an eye-opener. We are more than our failures…our failures actually help to propel us forward and make us better. We are the sum of all of our successes as well…focus on your strengths and work to improve your science gpa from here on out…

thanks for you thoughtful and encouraging reply. In answer to one of your suggestions – take a step back and evaluate where your weaknesses are – I think that's the difficult thing for myself, ie specifically locating where that weakness is. It's something I spend much time trying to figure out. I believe though that it might have something to do with laying a more solid foundation. But I didn't want to get some feedback regarding whether or not my struggling aptitude for science is any gauge of whether I should continue and or the quality of physician I might become?
Also, you mentioned that the gpa isn't the only factor. Granted, but isn't true that it has to be somewhere near or at 3.O even to be looked at?
Thanks again

My thought is that, until you've clearly evaluated your weaknesses and barriers to getting good science grades, you don't KNOW that you don't have an aptitude for sciences.
Take some concrete steps, beyond thinking alone, to find out what's been holding you back. Meet with a tutoring center advisor if your school has one. Ask for an appointment with a professor you liked in a course in which you did poorly. Look over your old tests; bring notes if you have them, and write a summary of how you spent your study time and what you focused on. Maybe you can get a handle on whether you were doing too much memorization and not enough problems, or if your weakness is an underlying one related to the basic algebra and trig that underlies many of these courses.
What is the rest of your GPA like? Are you a good student in other subjects? It may be that the sciences don't come naturally to you, but it may be that you just haven't grasped the way to study them yet. I would really look for the best academic counseling services available on your campus before you decide you're not suited for this stuff–AND do it before you try to take a difficult science course in a summer session. That's just asking for trouble.
So, in other words, I would persist, but in a sensible way–finding out as best you can what the issues are before pressing forward. If you give up now you could be depriving the world of a great doctor.
Good luck! And welcome aboard!

I agree with samenewme…evaluate your total performance in the classes that you have had so far. Studying for sciences is much different than studying for social science classes.
How many science classes do you have under your belt so far and what are they? You don’t have to disclose the grade tongue.gif Were there some courses that were ‘easier’ for you?
I like the tutorial center suggestion…You might also consider buying some of the ‘outline series’ books and going through and trying to assess your weaknesses? I know that some of the bigger books (Review books) also have practice exams, etc…for bio, chem, ochem, physics, etc…you might want to invest in a couple or sit down and barnes and nobles and drink a cup of coffee and have a peek. Maybe you will be able to evaluate your weaknesses a little that way???
If there is anything that I can do to help, let me know…it’s all about supporting each other!

I think the tutoring suggestion is a really good one. I don’t know if you’ve worked with tutors at your school already or not, but you sometimes have to look around a bit to find the best one (and it may not be the same person for every subject). It’s worth it though!
Also, have you talked to any of your professors? I know the profs at my school are delighted to help students identify what it is they need to do in order to excel. As long as you’re already working hard in their classes, I’m sure most of your profs would be really happy to go over things like how to study, what to focus on, etc. Even if you go to a huge school where there are hundreds of students in each class, at least give it a try. Talk to your TA’s too.
As far as organic, when I took that class, my teacher told us all to draw these maps that showed how the reactions worked. That strategy turned out to be amazing! If she hadn’t suggested that, I bet I would have spent the whole semester making flashcards and trying to memorize them, which I’m terrible at. I think a lot of professors probably have study tips that are really helpful, and they’re just waiting for students to ask.
Good luck! smile.gif

Well for one, taking organic in the summer is really really tough, and if there were other commitments it was probably even tougher. You must kick arse in your classes from now on period. Adcoms want proof that you can handle medical school curricula regardless of your interpersonal skills (I wish they would only look at this he he). Can you do it? I think so, like the other posters said asses your weak areas and go from there. Asking a professor what you can do to improve is always a great help, getting tutors for those subjects that you are having trouble with, getting together with other students may also help. Do not lose hope and keep us posted, good luck to you!