Feedback re: plans - need advice

HI everyone!
I just mailed my application to a state Post-Bac Program and I am both nervous and excited. I have a strong GPA (3.94), but my SAT scores suck (I am an American, but I grew up in another country and did not start speaking English until I was 15 years old). I have finally accepted that medicine is the right choice for me despite all of the uncertainties regarding acceptance and financial help. This is a major decision for me especially bc I have just been accepted to two Ph.D. programs that are offering me a complete financial package (no cost for me).
I have a M.S., but I still need to complete my pre-reqs. I excelled in Gen Chem I and II 8 years ago. Do you think it would not be wise to not take Chem again and start O-Chem this Fall? I have already began reviewing Gen Chem to make sure I know most of the material. My hope is to finish all of the core science classes in one year and study for the MCAT asap.
I am also planning on living with my family as to save money, but that means I have to commute 1 hour each way to school.
Can anyone give me feedback regarding my plan?
Thank you for your insights

First off welcome!
As for your plan of skipping gen chem I and II again while I think you would most likely be fine as far as doing well in organic chem you will most likely need to retake the gen chem because of how old the grades are. Most schools seem to have a cut off of 7 years although this does vary. Now you “may” be able to take an extremely condensed year of gen chem over the summer but that depends on the school - ours only does one semester over the summer. Your best bet is to call some schools you’re interested in and seeing if your gen chem grades will be accepted or not.
Good luck!
–Jessica, UCCS

Hi Nikkie,

You should plan on retaking General Chemistry even though you had it before. First of all, it will be an easy A and second, it is good practice for the MCAT. You also need to take advantage of every testtaking seminar, skills lab etc. that you program offers. Taking standardized tests like the SAT and the MCAT (and further down the line the USMLE/COMLEX) is a learned skill. As a physician, you can’t just say," I did poorly on a test because I grew up in a different country." You can master these as easily as you have mastered your coursework.

That one hour commute is going to be a real chore unless you do something like make study tapes so that you can use the time for study. I know that saving money is good but look into finding a way to spend a couple of nights near your school. See if one of your new classmates will let you bunk on their sofa one night a week or so.

One of the UVA medical students lived in his car (A Honda Accord) for his entire freshman year because he wanted to save money. While I don’t recommend this for you, find something equally creative.

Good luck on your choice and welcome to OPM!


Hi and welcome to OPM,

I agree with Natalie. That 2 hours a day that you are going to drive is really going to start affecting you if you aren’t careful. Think about how much you could study in 2 hours. Do you have any other alternatives to living so far away?

As to the classes, I personally wouldn’t take Chem over again if I felt I had a good grasp on the material, especially if I were reviewing the material and still understood it.

Good luck.

Hi Nikkie,
Your post-bacc program should be able to give you some advice about whether you need to retake gen-chem. I agree with Natalie that it would be good review and a (relatively) easy A but I also appreciate that maybe you would rather put the $$ into something else… anyway, get more solid information about med schools you’re likely to apply to and whether they’re going to be looking for newer grades before you make up your mind.
That commute… well, ya gotta do what you gotta do. As someone who has done the one-hour commute thing all through medical school,* I can tell you that it’s do-able. Pretty tiresome at times but do-able. I don’t know how many classes you’ll be taking or what sort of schedule flexibility you’ll have… certainly if rush hour traffic plays into the length of your commute, I would advise leaving for school really early, or leaving for home late, if those things work for you, and using that time before/after classes to study in the library.
I’d actually try to use the car time for something other than review/study. This is when it would be great to listen to NPR or good music for a nice change of pace - then when you get home you’ll be ready to do more studying.
Obviously you’ll do what works for you, each person seems to come up with different strategies for this!
*looking forward to a 20-minute commute during residency, yee-haaa!

Thank you all for your advice. I am waiting to hear from the school. I’m concerned about time and money, but I’ll do what is necessary. I’m not too worried about the classes. I should do fine. I am a little concerned about the MCAT bc I don’t like standardized tests.
It feels good to know that many have gone through what I’m experiencing right now. I’ll keep you posted.

Hi Nikkie! Just wanted to say hello and welcome. I think your plans sound good but if it was me, I’d retake the general chemistry class. You may already know it but the review won’t hurt and an extra A to boost your GPA is always a good thing. Keep me posted on what you decide to do.