I hope I am posting this in the right area.
I would like to say that I have been reading here for the past few days and everyone here seems to be nice and very willing to share any information.
I have always been interested in medicine and would love to eventually start pre-med. (after I get past a few things) My husband is 100% with me on this!
Here are my questions:
1. I have never been to college at all I am 36 is it too late to start with a few classes now?
2. I do understand that I will need the different science classes such as biology with labs and etc… but, how much should I bite off at a time? (which ones to take first?)
3. I do not have a traditional HS diploma I have a GED so is that going to look bad?
I think that is all for now.
I would love to say that this quote by Mary Renard “Never Give Up! Never Surrender!” gives me hope!
I constantly now think of that qoute!
Thanks for any advice you all are willing to give this newbe!

Welcome to OldPreMeds! Unfortunately, the answersto your questions are not simple. But I will strive for concision…
HS Dip vs GED: while it won’t help, I also seriously doubt it will hurt. One of our member, Meridith (GED2MD) accomplished exactly that feat.
No college at 36: look at it this way, unlike the majority of we older folks working to accomplish this, you will not be battling the “boat anchor” of old crappy grades.
How long/How much at a time: only you can gauge this. It will depend on your ability to balance life, family & current career obligations with scholastic achievement. Again, play your cards right (do well from square one) & having a blank collegiate academic slate could actually be made to your advantage.
Course sequencing: I would suggest starting slow & easy…plan to complete a full BS or BA…and start off fresh with a mix of courses just as any entering Freshman would do. Finding an objective & supportive academic advisor may be more of a challenge & you have to ‘convert’ one & eduacate them along the way.
Hope this helps. Feel free to reply w/ additional questions.

Thanks OldManDave I appreciate that!

Hi and welcome to OPM,
I didn’t have a college degree (I was a freelance photographer) when I entered my 30’s either. I had some college courses from a surgical tech program but that is it. Since you have a GED, I would suggest you sign up for a few classes at the local community college and see if you can handle those. Perhaps General Biology with lab to start with and maybe an English class. That way you can see if you can handle it.
If those classes don’t give you problems then you could take general bio II with lab and english and maybe a math course the following semester.
If you get through all of those with no troubles, then I would suggest applying to a university as a transfer student. Your GED won’t be looked at as much as your transfer credits from the community college and that should give you a better chance.
Once at a college/university, you will need to determine your major. It can be anything but you will need the following classes to apply to med school and for the MCAT.
1 year general bilogy with labs
1 year general chemistry with labs
1 year intro Physics with labs
1 year English
1 year college math
1 year Organic Chemistry
It is not too late, but you want to make sure the classes you take in the beginning don’t overwhelm you because you need to maintain a good GPA and don’t want to mess up in the beginning.
Good luck. Don’t let your age stop you.

Thanks Amy B my next question was going to address was going to be about comunity college to get into the swing of it all. Thanks!

Dave’s and Amy B’s advice is on the mark. You are especially lucky in that you can have a fresh start, unlike most of us. Start with baby steps, gradually build up, stay focused, stay sane,finish solidly, don’t meander. A few more words of advice:
Get to know professors personally as you take courses. Go to office hours when necessary and even a bit more than that. Ask questions. It shows you care about them and their work. It will improve your scores on tests. And frequenting office hours will show professors that you are a real person, so when you need to ask them for a LOR, they won’t respond blankly with, "Who are you?"
Go through your undergrad solidly, try not to quit or drop out. AdComs want to see if you can finish a project you have started (your undergrad); this gives them a good idea of how you will handle being in medical school.
Keep up your GPA. When talking to friends who are receiving interviews, those with the highest GPA seemed to be the ones who get the most interviews, MCATs not withstanding.
Show that you are human. Don’t just take sciences, take art, literature, engineering, etc.
In fact, unless you really love biology, you may want to major in something other than biology, even though it is tempting because it seems to justify why you want to go to med school. Every year, tens of thousands of biology majors apply to medical school. As a bio major, you’re just one in a menagerie of premeds. Consider a different major, one that reflects your real interests (unless those interests are biology).
Many premeds think that if they major in biology or public health, they are a shoo-in for med school; not so. Study what you love, for there may come a time when you cannot do medicine and need something to fall back on. Perhaps turn a hobby or side interest into a major. (I’ve always loved other cultures, so I majored in Anthropology.) Above all, do well.
I understand how the age thing can be scary, but don’t let it deter you. I am also learning not to let age deter one’s goals, and it has renewed my enthusiasm for school and life in general.
Good luck and welcome to OPM.

Ok another question if you all do not mind
My husband is the only person in my imediate family that knows how serious I have been about achieving this goal.
My children know as well,I have spoke about it in front of them.
Here is the problem though how do you handle other family members such as siblings that will in all likely hood say things like “but your too old!”
I am thinking for the first several years to keep it under my hat and wait until maybe even finished the MCAT to bring it up to them.
any advice regarding how to handle those that are pessimistic?

I cannot speak for others, but my experience has been to bring it up to people as needed. Be a stealth premed. I have found that if one advertises too much about their goals, it dissipates the energy behind the goals – energy which could have been used to further the goals. Keeping things low key also lessens the inevitable negative feedback one receives when one is older: “Aren’t you too old to go to medical school?” For some reason, there seems to be a pervasive myth in our society that medical school is only for the young; that premeds must be youthful; that the only good doctors are young doctors. I’ve always found this preoccupation with youth perplexing, perhaps simply a reflection of a socially-embedded gerantophobia.
As far as how to respond to these naysayers: tactfully remind them that you are following your heart’s desire and that you are confident you will succeed. Don’t let them dissuade you; your future is too important. In my case, it took years before I finally convinced my old-fashioned parents that I still have the wherewithall to succeed in school; nevertheless, my mother still calls periodically to inquire if I still want to go to medical school. Some things are hard to change.
In fact, you may find your friends and family rooting for you – you’re very own cheering squad.

Thanks nahani2 for both responses!
I do plan to take baby steps with the schooling after I get a few things sorted out.
side note: I do think I would like to major in either psychology or sociology in my undergrad studies.
You all are so helpful thanks!

WElcome to OPM, the greatest folks around. You are a lucky girl…no old bad grades to drag around. That probably sunk my application this year!! Just take it slow in the beginning, get to know your instructors, and the rest that Dave and the others said. Good luck,

Thinking, I’m glad you’ve joined us here. (Seems every time I’ve gotten on the forums in the past two days, you were on-line with us)!
You’ll find lots of good advice and encouragement here. Kathy’s right when she says take your time and do it well. And nahani2 is very right-on when she wrote something to the effect of don’t tell everyone…keep that energy going for yourself.
And no, you’re not too old to start. (My classmates and I range from 21 - 45 years old; other schools have students who are older than that. It’s fine).
Ask any questions you’d like here and you’re bound to get an answer. Good luck!

Of course different people are different, but my family surprised me with how supportive they were when I finally spilled the beans. My mother was so proud she cried. My father was vaguely happy at first, then worried about my finances, then fantasized that someone had told him I’d make 300,000 a year and now he’s happy again (Daddy has a touch of Parkinson’s and/or dementia and sometimes lives in his own world.)
Although there are quite a few naysayers out there, I found that most people are just very impressed with anyone who has the courage to do this at this age. On the whole, I’d say take your time telling people, but I think many people will be very supportive. Interestingly, one of my naysayers is a fellow dancer who’s a retired nurse. She thinks I’d be better served by being a nurse practitioner because it doesn’t take as long and I’d learn more in nursing about certain nurturing aspects of patient care. As she chatted along (Lois has a LOT to say on this topic), I realized that she wanted me to be an NP because I would get to do what SHE’S interested in. And because she likes me, she assumes I’m interested in the same things. It’s a kind of compliment.
There’s a kind of power in knowing what you want to do, and people see it. When they see you actually having the courage to go after it, most people are very impressed.
Good luck!

Hello. I read your post this morning and as I was reading the newspaper during lunch just now, I saw the article below and thought of your situation. While this article doesn’t relate to medical school, I still found it inspiring. People do whatever is necessary to accomplish their goals.

Hi Thinking.
I would like to respond briefly to both of your posts.
36 is the age I began taking the pre-reqs, and I began med school this year at age 43, so your timing is fine. I ended up doing one class at a time, for logistics I won’t go into here. While this obviously did not keep me from being accepted, I did have to be prepared at interviews for the inevitable question "What makes you think you can handle med school when you weren’t taking a full course load in your pre-reqs?"
As to folks telling you that you are “too old”, yes, you will probably get that. I chose to discuss my plans with people who were supportive, and also noticed that many of the people who were quick to make comments like that were not necessarily happy in their own lives. In other words, always consider the source.
Good luck, if you decide to do this, I have no doubt that you will succeed.

I am now doing my pre-reqs at 37 and have been told that without fulltime semesters that I will have a difficult time getting into MD COM in my state which is Florida. Are you attending MD or DO and what did you tell them about being able to handle the COM load? Did you do the pre-reqs at a University or junior college and if I may ask what school do you attend?
Thank You,

Welcome Michael,
You’ve resurrected a nice old thread that has lots of good thoughts to ponder and chew on. I haven’t seen Bonjuju around these parts for a long time - but then, she’s an MS-3 now and probably kinda busy!
As you continue to work your way through the forums, you’ll likely find many more thoughts on the questions you’ve posed here. Note I didn’t say “answers,” because there aren’t answers so much as there are different perspectives on these situations.
For example, if you search for “Community College” or some variant, you’ll uncover a bunch of discussions about whether that’s advisable (brief answer: only if necessary, but there’s a lot more to it than that). Similarly, we’ve kicked around the part-time vs. full-time thing. (you might try a search for “part-time coursework” or something like that) There’s no right answer to these questions because, as you’ll discover, people here on OPM have tried a whole lot of different approaches and many of us have succeeded doing wildly different things.
Keep reading, keep asking questions, and welcome to OPM!


I am now doing my pre-reqs at 37 and have been told that without fulltime semesters that I will have a difficult time getting into MD COM in my state which is Florida. Are you attending MD or DO and what did you tell them about being able to handle the COM load? Did you do the pre-reqs at a University or junior college and if I may ask what school do you attend?
Thank You,

Hi Michael,
Welcome to the group! I will take a stab at your question since this is an older thread and it might not get too much traffic.
You should contact some of the schools that you are interested in applying to. As a non-traditional applicant, it is understood that you probably have a full-time job in addition to taking classes. If you are working full-time, it is nearly impossible to attend school full-time and do well in the pre-med courses with labs. Ask some of the schools before you get yourself in too deep.
As a member of an admissions committee, I always take into consideration, the employment status of the applicant. Your grades are going to be one of the major determinants of your admission to medical school not your full-time or part-time student status.
Most non-traditional students are not able to take time off to do full-time semesters if they have a family to support. Again I would question anyone who told you that you had to be full-time as I have offered both interviews and acceptances to students who have taken courses part-time and done well.
Good luck!

Hi Thinking,
I’m a pre-med at 50!
Yes, I do have a college degree but I got it back in '85 in Nursing.
I couldn’t remember all the math and science and the math and science is much more involved in pre-med then nursing.
Long story short, at 43 I got bit by the pre-med bug. I knew I wouldn’t survive college classes without a solid foundation. I did some soul-searching, and knew the only way I could do this was by going to Adult High School classes in algebra, chemistry, biology, and geometry. It was the best decision I made. And I was doing this at 43! It really built up my confidence adn it was fun because there were all ages in these adult hs classes. I really had to swallow my pride since here I was an RN,BSN but I didn’t care. Now I have 1 yr left of pre-med classes.
You can do this, take your time.
My Adult hs classes were at a 2 yr. technical college, then I took college level 100 classes, which are classes in between hs and college. That really helped. My grades are mainly A’s now for strict pre-med classes.
Good Luck to You!!!