Hello, and question about Brandeis post-bacc

Glad to have discovered this site a few days ago. I have passed it on to a musician friend of mine who is working toward medical school.
It feels like I’ve been late with everything. I majored in Chinese studies, spent a couple of years in Taiwan, eventually finished my B.A. and M.A. and have spent the last 15 years as a computer programmer and part time musician.
At 42 I finally got married, and now on the verge of turning 45, unemployed and with very poor prospects in the computer field, I am wondering what to do with the rest of my life, even as we are about to have a child.
Though I’m unemployed, I have started a business out of my home to develop a voicemail product that could possibly make me a lot of money, or it could leave me broke after 4 long years of sixteen hour days. Just like medical school.
I’m a doctor’s son and he pushed me hard to go pre-med. Over the years he has reminded me of how much money I would have made had I become a doctor. Thanks, Dad.
I had toyed with the idea of medicine in years past but never thought very highly of the system or the people who went into it. My univ. was full of pre-meds, and the kind of people I met… well let’s just say they had dollar signs etched into their eyeballs. Some of them I definitely wouldn’t want for a doctor.
A number of years ago I got into a kind of guided meditation using sound waves to enhance the experience (http://www.monroeinstitute.org/) and went to a couple of week long retreats where I met people in the healing professions, including chiropractors, psychologists, massage therapists, energy healers, etc., all of whom were quite interested in enhancing their own healing skills and self-understanding through this kind of technology and meditative practice.
The retreat experience and my contact with these good folks opened my eyes in ways that I’m still just beginning to understand. One thing is for sure, though; it was this experience that got me back on the path to thinking about medical school. I am interested in incorporating some of the wisdom developed in Asia into Western medical practice as well as exploring the body-mind relationship. I have a theory that the best healer teaches the patient to heal himself.
Anyway, on a practical note, I am now exploring pre-med post-baccalaureate options in the Boston area. So far, I am aware of Brandeis and Tufts programs. Brandeis in particular intrigues me because they have a one year program, June through June, which purports to cover the four essential science requirements. They also have a relationship with several medical schools including GWU. Tufts’ program seems to take longer but they say if you pass, you are guaranteed an interview spot at Tufts Medical school. As someone else mentioned on this board, Harvard Extension is much cheaper than these programs, but I don’t think they have a concentrated curriculum or the medical school focus.
Does anyone here have experience with any of these programs? Is it even possible to cram that much knowledge in one’s head in 12 months? Are these people just trying to make money off us poor deluded pre-med dreamers? Thanks to all and I wish you the best of luck in your pursuits,

Welcome… I’ll offer what little advice that I can.
I don’t know much about the Brandeis program, but I can see how they could fit all the pre-reqs in a 12-month period (I’m assuming you’d do gen chem as a summer course and then bio, orgo, and physics during the fall/spring?). I think it’s rigorous but do-able if you don’t have anything else to be concerned with, i.e. maintaining an income (obviously full-time work is probably out of the question, but part-time may also be difficult due to the rigor of the courses and needing to fit in volunteer time/shadowing – even though your dad is a doc, you should definitely consider finding someone outside the family to shadow to get different perspectives on the profession).
Both Tufts and Brandeis have the consortial advantages (you mentioned Tufts relationship with their medical school, but they also have one with UNECOM in Maine if Osteopathic school is of interest to you). You are right that Harvard Extension School does not have any consortial options, however they do have an advising/sponsorship program for pre-meds and it offers the advantage of being very low-cost and offering evening classes. I believe you could do a one-year schedule at HES, as at Brandeis, by taking gen chem during their summer session (though the tuition is much more expensive than at the extension school) and then taking the others during the school year.
All this being said about the scheduling… please keep in mind that accomplishing all the pre-reqs in one year is going to be quite challenging. Don’t let your age make you feel that you must find the shortest route to med school possible. It’s far better to take smaller steps if they will allow you to better maintain your sanity, perspective, and enthusiasm (oh yeah, and your grades!). And the fact that you mentioned that you and your wife are expecting a baby makes me want to really emphasise this. Your life is about to change and you need to consider how this new, demanding little life is going to factor into the balance.
I look forward to hearing about your journey through the pre-med world and welcome again!

Thanks for your reply. I talked to Brandeis today and their linkage is with GWU only; it’s really unclear to me what’s the advantage unless one’s heart is set on GWU (which might be good since it seems to be an OPM-friendly school). The tuition for the premed program is at least $24K. Yikes! I thought a course was two semesters, silly me. Labs count as half courses.
Anyhow, you’re right, one could in theory take these courses elsewhere. I’m now looking at the Harvard Summer School Chemistry course. One year of chemistry, over with in two months; seems like a pretty good option. Don’t know how they differ from the other schools but my past experience with Harvard Extension and Summer School has been very positive. This might be my “test the waters” move; if my spouse and I survive, I could move on to organic in the fall.
The Brandeis person noted that even if one completes the pre-med requirements in 12 months it will still take another year to apply, the “glide year”. Interesting.
Are you past pre-med?
Still on the brink…


I talked to Brandeis today and their linkage is with GWU only; it’s really unclear to me what’s the advantage unless one’s heart is set on GWU

I think you’re right on that one… if there’s a school you really want to go to and a post-bacc has a linkage to it, then it’s a great option (assuming you get accepted by the med school, there is still an application process) and you can eliminate the glide year by doing this. However, if you’d rather apply to a bunch of schools and have the possibility of choosing which one to attend, then the linkage really doesn’t offer much benefit.
I didn’t know Brandeis was so expensive, although I’m not at all surprised. I’ve considered going that way since it’s more formal, but the cost is definitely a prohibiting factor (especially with the cost of living being what it is around here).
I’m taking gen chem at Harvard Extension now (final for semester I is next week!). I’m not sure who teaches the summer session, but the professors for the extension school course are awesome (Greg Tucci and Logan McCarty). I was terrified to take “hard” sciences during college and now I’m wondering why; this is cool stuff! The professors make the class really interesting and they give you all the tools to succeed (I think Logan did his PhD work in chemistry pedagogy, so it’s no surprise, I guess). Compressing the course into a summer is going to be a lot of work, but if you have the time to do it, I think it’s a great way to “test the waters”. That’s why I’m taking the course. Have to say, I’m still up in the air about everything, but at the very least I’ve proved to myself that I can do chemistry!

I took college chemistry and labs back when I was a freshman and did poorly. It was a weeding-out course and really hit me over the head like a ton of bricks after the wonderful high school chemistry teacher I had. Actually the prof seemed like a nice guy but I suppose he had a job to do. Your experience sounds great.
I hope your guys are teaching this summer. I took the intro to comp sci at Harvard summer school back in '86 and it was superb; I really learned how to be a programmer from those two months (despite having to use Prime terminals). I am starting to think this could work.
Do you happen to know if U-Mass Med School has any linkage/consortial relationships? Also, how competitive is it to get into versus some of the other regional schools (Tufts, Harvard, BU, Brown)?


Do you happen to know if U-Mass Med School has any linkage/consortial relationships? Also, how competitive is it to get into versus some of the other regional schools (Tufts, Harvard, BU, Brown)?

That I’m not sure about. I know from checking the AAMC web site that there are other post-bacc programs in MA, outside the Boston area, so one of them might offer a consortial option with UMass. The only thing I really know about UMass in terms of competitiveness is that they are incredibly restrictive with their residency requirements (I think if you didn’t graduate from HS here you have to have lived in the state for the past 5 years, or something like that). I’m not sure whether they take anyone from out of state, and if they do, the numbers would be very small. It sounds like you’ve been here quite a while, though, so I’m guessing that wouldn’t be an issue for you. My assumption would be that they must accept a higher percentage than other schools, simply because they have fewer applicants (if their pool is only from MA and not nationwide like other schools), but I don’t think that really reflects on the quality of the school. I seem to remember that they were ranked #1 in primary care (?) by US News a year or so back.
If you do get a chance to take the chem course during the summer with Logan or Greg I think you’ll really enjoy it. They challenge you, but also genuinely want their students to succeed. Between this and my one prior class at Harvard Extension, I’ve been incredibly pleased with the quality of education here. I hope that whoever teaches the summer course lives up to this precedent!

I simply want to second your opinion about HES. The quality of courses and professors (sorry this is back in mid-90s) was suberb. And their advising/support for pre-meds was pretty rigorous. And the the price was pretty unbeatable. I took Gen Chem I and II, Organic I and a Biology course, during regular semesters. I did have a friend who survived the whole post bacc ordeal in about 18 months which included summer courses. She did well on the MCAT and was accepted to her first choice, Stanford ( and many more).
This is really meant to be anecdotal, it was forever ago, but I would really look hard at what HES has to offer.
Much luck with your path.