Feeling a bit lost

I’m at a low point right now and am really feeling lost and confused. I sincerely need some input since it appears I’m currently unable to see the forest through the trees. Here’s my situation:

I was planning on taking this quarter off and then at the last minute decided to retake o-chem I. By last minute I mean that I decided and enrolled the Thursday before classes began…which also turned out to be the day before my mom died. I went ahead and began the classes anyway, even though I was torn over whether or not I could handle school plus her death/funeral/clearing out her apartment/etc. Probably not my brightest move. I had a quiz on Monday that I just missed a passing grade on. The midterm is this coming Monday and my plan is to take the W if I don’t pull at least a B on it. We still have 2 more in-class quizzes plus 2 online quizzes, plus the midterm and final exam to go. I missed one quiz to attend mom’s funeral, but that will be my lowest grade and get dropped.

Aside from that, I recently learned that I have about 50 quarter units left before I’m completely out of undergrad money. The problem with that is that I’m calculating that I need much more than that to finish the 2nd bachelor’s I’ve been working on, plus the rest of my med school pre-reqs. Yes, I realize I don’t need to complete that degree per se…but my transcripts seriously look like a roller coaster and I’m trying to finish strong with what I’ve got to work with. Plus I’m on year 3 of a DIY post-bac and it’s bothering me to come out of this “empty handed” if you know what I mean. The idea of a 2nd degree is sort of my security blanket in many ways.

I’ve been frantically trying to figure out what to do with myself. I still need to finish physics and math, plus finish out the o-chem series. I’ve also got one quarter of gen biology to finish. I’d wanted to take molecular bio/genetics and biochem as well. The trouble is that doing all of that exceeds the units I have to work with. I’ve thought about taking as much chemistry and biology as I can with the remaining units at my current school, then taking math and physics at a JC. I’ve also come across a potential program that I can transfer into which would allow me to finish that 2nd degree and all of my pre-reqs (including the extras). The difference being that I have a pretty good shot at getting scholarship money to cover the whole thing. Other than that, I do qualify for the California post-bac programs through the UC system. I missed the deadline to apply this year, but I could try for next year. The problem there would be coming up with the money to do it, plus it would delay me another year before applications. Complicating all of this is o-chem. If I drop it I’ll have to figure out where else I can pick it up. I can’t spare the units to cover it again later.

I honestly don’t know what to do anymore. I’m feeling really defeated and frustrated, and wondering if I should just throw in the towel and give up. It’s an awful feeling that I’m sure is compounded by the recent loss of my mother. I’m completely stressed out right now. Any ideas on which would be the best way to proceed? Or maybe an idea of something I haven’t thought of yet? My credit is shot. Mom had always planned on co-signing on a PLUS loan for me. Obviously that’s not in the cards now.

Thanks in advance for the help!

Erica, I am sorry to read about your Mom. I wish she rests in peace.

I am not an expert but just wanted to add my 0.02cents … if you withdraw from O.chemI it does not look bad at all in your situation. Loosing a mother is a really big “change” to adjust to.

I wish you luck and peace … and I am sure others will be able to answer your questions much better than I can.

  • ChicBrownie Said:
Erica, I am sorry to read about your Mom. I wish she rests in peace.

I am not an expert but just wanted to add my 0.02cents ... if you withdraw from O.chemI it does not look bad at all in your situation. Loosing a mother is a really big "change" to adjust to.

I wish you luck and peace ... and I am sure others will be able to answer your questions much better than I can.


I can empathize with your situation. In 2003, I attended my first OPM conference the day after I took my Mom home from an 11-day stay in the hospital. She passed away two weeks later.

On to your situation.

Rule One: take a breath. You have immediate, middle-term, and long-term issues to deal with for both premed and personal/emotional factors

1. the immediate crisis is organic chemistry. One of my rules for non-trads is do not risk bad grades by doing too much. In your case, you had it thrust upon you. The ability to withdraw from a course due to external factors is what the "W" is for. You need time to deal with the loss of your mother and not to be stressed by a course that is not going well. I strongly suggest that you take the W and regroup emotionally and spiritually, if that make sense.

2. Your middle-term issue is pre-reqs and your second degree. If your primary focus is to get into medical school, then your academic focus must be on the pre-reqs over courses/work for the second degree. While it may be a plus to have second degree when applying, the adcoms will focus on the required courses. I can see your desire to finish the degree but to me, there can be no question that pre-reqs need to primary goals over the second degree.

3. Long-term issue is both paying and timing. You need time to recover from this emotional blow form your mother's passing. If that means delaying your med school plans by a year, then you need to overcome the common psychological block that many non-trads have in waiting yet another year. While your situation is certainly much more difficult than a typical non-trad, the question I would ask is the same: is your goal to get into medical school or to get into medical school quickly? I would agree that taking Math and Physics at the JC/CC is the least impact on pre-reqs, but you should complete as much as you can at the 4 year.

whether or not to change schools, go into one of UC/post-baccs, I am not sure of. The other suggestion is to finish your pre-reqs, apply to med school and work on the rest of your second degree during your glide year. This would serve both to fulfill your personal goal of the degree as well as have something academic/current to discuss at when the inevitable comes up at a medical school interview.

Lastly, I know that you feel in a lonely dark place for many reasons. She may be gone, but your mom, your strongest supporter as you have said, is still there with you if in no other way than the memory of her that you carry and in the grown daughter that you have become. You must not let the FUD factor of fear, worry and doubt cast such a shadow as to give up your dream. You may have to regroup a bit, but I am sure that your mom you have wanted you to move forward. And I am sure that all of us at OPM will support, advise, and be a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, and a push or two to help obtain your goal.

Once again, well stated Rich.

Erica, first and most importantly,

y condolences on your mom’s passing. Second, Rich puts forth some excellent advice in my opinion. I agree strongly that your focus (and funds) needs to be on the prereq courses. It seems to me that the extra year is going to be a positive in this case rather than a negative. It will give you what sounds like some much needed time to refocus your energies and come up with a finalized plan.

Thank you so much for the input! I’ve gone ahead and informed my professor that I’m dropping. She said she was impressed that I’d even tried to attend and offered to let me sit in for the rest of the class if it would help me in some way. I just need to do the paperwork and then will be dropped with a W.

Since I last posted things have gotten significantly worse. The loans to cover the 50 more units that I had been promised have mysteriously evaporated. Monday I got an email from the FAFSA people notifying me that I have exceeded undergraduate loan limits. It appears there was a mistake made by my campus financial aid office in calculations. I now have to pay money back for this quarter, plus I’m assuming that makes me ineligible for loans going forward. I haven’t gotten a call back yet confirming that, but have noticed that there is now a bill posted to my student account and a hold placed on me as well.

Murphy’s Law being what it is, next week is registration for winter quarter. With my hold I can’t register…not to mention the fact that it seems extremely unlikely that I’ll have loan money to pay for the classes anyway. If I don’t finish the general biology 202 class that I skipped last year then my general biology sequence will be incomplete. If I go to a school on the semester system (which all of my alternative schools are) that will mean repeating the entire year of general bio…even though I have A’s in bio 201 and 203.

In other news, I went ahead and entered my transcripts into both an AMCAS and AACOMAS GPA calculator to see where things lay. It appears that I mis-spoke horribly when I’d assumed I’d be eligible for a UC post-bacc. I don’t see how I’ll even get a passing glance at this rate. My cGPA is 2.372 and BCPM is a whopping 1.8392. As for AACOMAS, my cGPA is 2.948 right now and science GPA is 3.221. Basically, an allopathic program is off the table for me, but I think I can pull off enough repair to at least get my application looked at by an osteopathic school. Problem is that the tuition rates as soooo high in DO schools…which brings us back to my inability to get a Plus loan. UGH!

I’m feeling like I just can’t win. The other twist to this is that if I fall out of attendance for more than 2 quarters at Cal State then I’m dropped completely and would have to reapply…BUT…the Cal State system has stopped taking post-bacc students so that means that until the budget improves I’m out indefinitely if I can’t figure out how to stay in now. My husband and I are contemplating a move to Texas to take advantage of the Academic Fresh Start program. My brother in law lives in Houston so we have family there anyway. I really don’t know what else to do, other than just quit. It sure would be awful to have to walk away after all that I’ve put toward this though. Boy…when it rains it pours!