Hi Everyone! - I am introducing myself too!

Hi All,
I am Roberta (better known as RB) and I finally am listening to that voice in the back of my mind, all these years, telling me to be the doctor I believe I can be. (not the mention finally listening to the dreams I’ve had of vivid encouragement from my deceased grandfather who was a doctor, telling me this what I should be doing; hope I didn’t come off too way out with that statement)
I am currently in the Bay Area from NYC, and I have noticed there are not as many post-bac programs here. I wonder if anyone has any advice about programs or pieceing together one in this area?
I have been studying for the GRE to get into a post-bac program but I am also wondering if I am in the end wasting my time. Though the Kaplan course has helped me hone in on thinking about school and some concepts since being away from school for some time.
I have a BA and and MA, a decent job -not in health care-,though I volunteered in an emergency room back east and am looking for another stint while I am here. I realize if I don’t make this happen I will always be missing something.
Any adivce or comments are welcome. I am so glad I found you all!!

You do NOT need to go through a formal post-bac program. You didn’t say what your degrees were in, so that makes it a little tougher to give specific advice. The med school pre-reqs are one year of biology w/labs, one year of physics w/labs, one year of general chemistry w/labs, and one year of organic chemistry w/labs. Have you taken any or all of these courses before? If so, do you need to boost your GPA or just refresh you memory prior to taking the MCAT?
There are lots of different options for you, depending on what your educational background is.
Welcome to OPM!
(who is once again doing anything EXCEPT studying for her final anatomy exam! )

Hi RB, If you mean the San Francisco Bay Area, you can take post-bacc classes at San Francisco State, San Jose State, Cal State East Bay (formerly Cal State Hayward). Also, there is a formal post-bacc program at Mills College in Oakland. And if you are more in the San Jose area, you also have Santa Clara U. available to you. Also UCBerkeley extension classes. Hope this helps.

Thanks Amy!
My BA is in Poli Sci and my Masters is in Interactive Technologies (a little unique ) Anyway, I havent had any sciences or math classes so I know I am starting from the VERY beginning. Any other feed back you have after viewing this additional info is more than welcome.
Judy! thanks for the info on the programs! I’d heard of the Mills program, but thanks for the leads on the others.
And yes, the San Francisco Bay Area, I am already abbreviating the region’s name since being out here.

Ironically, my master’s is in Classroom Technology.
Okay - so you are starting from scratch. The first step is to find out what math level you are at. I took one math class in college that qualified as the pre-req for chemistry and physics, but chose to retake it (while getting a waiver so that I could enroll in Chemistry at the same time) since it had been 10+ years since I had taken ANY math and felt I wanted to review before jumping into a higher level class. So - long story short - check into what the pre-reqs are for the various places you might consider going. You may have to take a math placement test before you can really plot out your strategy.
Some schools require a year of math, a FEW require through calculus. At the very least, you will need to have a solid foundation in algebra prior to gen chem and physics and a good knowledge of basic trig for physics. Having the math skills down before taking these classes will make them SO much easier for you. Many people who struggle w/ gen chem and physics have difficulties with the math concepts.
Some schools have chemistry as a pre-req for biology, some don’t. If not, you could consider taking biology and math together. The vast majority of the time gen chem is a pre-req to organic, although I have heard of people taking them simultaneously (which I think is the exception rather than the rule).
So - again, find out what pre-reqs you need to take before taking the med school pre-reqs. Look at schedules and see when all of the classes you need are generally offered. Get a feel for whether or not they are typically offered at night (if you plan to continue working during the day) or only offered during the day. Decide whether you are going to go back full time or continue working and do school part-time. Decide if you want to do your own post-bacc or a formal one.
Your courses do not all have to be taken at the same institution, so feel free to take them wherever you can work them in. Look into options for taking pre-reqs during the summer. Some places, you can take the entire year of gen chem, physics, biology or organic chemistry in an 8,10, or 12 week summer session. Often, you can take the lecture portion without the lab and then take the lab during the year. Be advised that these classes tend to be jam-packed and hectic and not vey conducive to doing anything BUT those classes.
As a general rule, if you don’t have to take any classes prior to the med school pre-reqs, it will take you two years to complete them (due to the chemistry requirements). This often throws a third “lag” year in there, because you really shouldn’t take the MCAT until you have most of your pre-reqs done and you can’t apply until you have taken (or will be taking the MCAT).
Hope this jumbled up mess of words gives you a starting point rather than confusing you more. Go meet with a couple of pre-med advisors, see where they point you. And then, feel free to post additional questions on here as you find out more info and need to make some decisions.
Good luck!!
(Who is STILL avoiding studying for the anatomy exam and now its less than 37 hours away!!!)

Hi Soda:
I am applying right now, and I do have one piece of advice on “piecing together” a post-bacc.
1. I really agree that the courses are the same at a school with a formal postbacc as at a school that offers strong science courses. General chemistry is general chemistry is general chemistry.
2. If you decide to matriculate at a place without a formal program, however, you need to ask their administration who is going to write the premed committee letter. If they hem and haw and say there is no central place organized for this or if they don’t know what a premed committee letter is, RUN AWAY. You don’t want to have to organize this yourself, it’s enough of a nightmare when a school has a structured system.
Good luck my friend!


2. If you decide to matriculate at a place without a formal program, however, you need to ask their administration who is going to write the premed committee letter. If they hem and haw and say there is no central place organized for this or if they don’t know what a premed committee letter is, RUN AWAY. You don’t want to have to organize this yourself, it’s enough of a nightmare when a school has a structured system.

Actually, Matt, I will disagree a little with you on this point. A LOT of schools do NOT do committee letters. Ohio State, where I did most of my pre-reqs, does not do committee letters. They used to have an office that handled confidential letters of recommendation for students, but they don’t even do that anymore. They give you an information sheet on using Interfolio to handle your LOR’s.
I had one school ask for a committee letter (granted, I only applied to five). The rest generally asked for a minimum of three, with at least two from science faculty. When I asked the one school about the committee letter, they said if a committee didn’t exist at my school, just send three letters.
Admissions offices are aware of the fact that some schools do committee letters and some don’t. That being said, where you DO occasionally run into problems is if the school you are attending has a committee and you choose not to use it. This seems to cause some adcoms to be suspicious of why you didn’t use the committee. If there is a valid reason for not using a committee letter when that option exists, med schools are generally accepting of that.
So, if the school does not have a committee, you don’t have to organize a committee yourself. You just need to arrange for confidential letters of recommendation to be sent to medical schools. You can do this by having your writers submit their letters to a service such as interfolio. Then, when you need letters sent, you go online, enter the information about where they need to go, and Interfolio sends them all out in one package. This is how I did my LOR’s, and I had no issues with them, even from schools that stated they wanted original letters, not copies. My recommender’s loved using Interfolio, knowing that it was saving them from sending out multiple copies of letters to different schools.
That being said, my knowledge is limited to Ohio Schools and what I read on here and SDN. I do agree with Matt that you should ask how LOR’s are done wherever you attend school so that you know going into the process what you should be thinking about. Example - I bet that we have 3 - 6 people interviewing at Ohio State in any given week from the UC system. So, you can bet that our admissions office is very familiar with whether or not those schools do committee letters. If someone applying from one of those schools doesn’t send a committee letter when that is the norm, this might raise a red flag. (This is hypothetical - I have no idea how the UC’s do LOR’s)
I hope other experienced adcom type people will correct me if I’m wrong or clarify. Different views on things like this are why I often tell people to ask your questions of multiple people, advisors, counselors, etc, to make sure that the advice you are getting is correct.
LOR’s are often a pain in the a$$, and rounding them up by yourself can be a challenge. But - pop over to SDN sometime and listen to the committee school people rant and rave about how they can’t get their letters when they want them because the committees only meet a couple of times a month, or only send letters out once a month or not before September, or etc.
Hope this doesn’t muddy the water for you further!!!
(Avoiding anatomy for the last time - practical at 7:55 AM!!!)

That’s a good point, Amy. There are several post-bacc’ers that already have a degree (or 2 or 3) and really just need the pre-reqs, and are not in a formal program or make use of a committee.

Hear, hear! Amy has a more nuanced explanation of what I was trying to say. The bottom line is you need to know from the Starting Gate going in that gathering Letters of Recommendation is a crucial step of the postgraduate premed task, and to stay as informed as possible.

It’s more common for west coast schools to NOT have premed committee letters, particularly the larger universities (Stanford, Cal, UCLA come immediately to mind) and more common for the east coast schools to have them. Go figure.
As for getting LORs, if you get to know one professor really well each semester/quarter, you’ll have a nice stable of potential recommenders by the time you apply to med school and you won’t be caught short trying to figure out “who can I get to recommend me?” when the time comes.

To add to Judy’s excellent comments:
Once you know that you intend to apply to med school, every professor you meet is a potential “referee” (author of a LOR). Treat them accordingly. Nurture your relationship with them, show them your interest in the coursework and your willingness to work outside the usual expectations to do exceedingly well. If you’ll be coming back to them a year or two later, talk to them BEFORE the end of your class with the professor and say something like “I would certainly be interested in a LOR from you when I apply, but that won’t be until two years from now. Would you be willing to write a strong positive letter for me when the time comes?” If s/he says yes, then keep that professor updated as you continue your way through post-bacc or coursework or whatever. Don’t cheerfully accept the commitment and then blow them off for a year. Drop an occasional e-mail letting him/her know what you’re doing. Stop by the office just to say hi. In other words, keep yourself remembered.
And when the time comes, ask with plenty of lead time. Don’t ask for a letter on Friday when it’s due on Monday. Be respectful of the many demands on a professor’s time and ask accordingly. I’d ask at least a month in advance.
Finally try to get a sense of whether someone is reliable. Don’t ask the absent-minded professor for a LOR because you may never get it despite his/her best intentions. You want someone you can count on.
My .02

Thanks everyone for additional info on the post bac work and the info on LORs that information was very helpful. Great to be a part of this list.
-RB (and “Soda” if you like - thanks for that one Matt )
p.s. Amy hope you did (do) well on the test!!

hey soda! i don’t have anything to add since i’m newer than new… but i wanted to say hi! i’ve not been posting here long, but since i started, everyone here has been so incredibly encouraging. i think you’re gonna like it here!


It’s more common for west coast schools to NOT have premed committee letters


That’s really interesting, because I have here a stack of application forms on which it says in rather punitive-sounding terms that committee letters are the way they want to receive their LORs, and they’ll take the three separate science letters only as a second choice.

Truth is, if you write on your application, “My school doesn’t prepare committee letters” then the admissions committee can’t complain, right? If the program doesn’t exist, it doesn’t exist, and it is unlikely anyone would be so unfair as to punish a student for the practice’s at his university.