I am so happy to have just discovered this community of non-traditional premeds, and I’ve really enjoyed reading these very supportive forums. I live in the Chicago area, so I’m also really looking forward to attending the conference in June!! A little about my background: I’m a 27-year-old professional classical musician. I wanted to be a doctor throughout my entire childhood and through high school, but somehow when I got to college I went in without a concrete plan and ended up in an intense music music performance program, with few science classes and no med school prereqs (music has always been a hobby; I had never intended it to be a career). I also got a masters in music performance - hey, I figured I’d already gone as far as a bachelors’… anyway, my career has been great as far as music careers go - I have amassed a list of musical accomplishments that I’m VERY proud of. But over the last few years many things have happened to make me realize that I never wanted to be a professional musician, and that, in fact, my dream to be a doctor is still very much alive - and I’m way more passionate about it than I’ve ever been about music.
So, I started taking night classes at my alma mater to get the prerequisites I needed to even apply for its post-bacc premed program. I also started getting my feet wet in some volunteer work and lab work to make sure I enjoy both clinical and research settings… and I DO!!! I am volunteering in the ER of a local hospital and at a center for fetal alcohol syndrome research. I am also working in a lab part-time at my alma mater, helping with a research project.
Like most non-traditional premed students (I imagine), I have some aspects of my application that I’m afraid med schools may look at askance, and I want to minimize that if possible. I have two primary concerns:
- Although both my undergrad GPA (3.815) and masters’ GPA (3.95) are high, and I’ve gotten all A’s so far in my post-bacc career, my undergrad transcript has a giant eyesore on it: a C+ in 2nd-quarter Calculus (I AP’ed out of the first quarter, so that C+ is the only math grade I have on my transcript). I was required to take a refresher math course in order to apply for the post-bacc program, and after that Calc experience, I was terrified of getting a bad grade again. So, I took Precalc and aced it (mainly because the professor was SO great). But I’m concerned that this is going to look really bad - a C+ in Calculus back in 1997 or '98, then for some reason a Precalc class in 2006… even though it’s an A… So, should I retake Calculus? A whole year of it? My concerns are twofold: 1. I am really not good at high-level math like Calculus. I have many strengths, but Calc is NOT one! 2. I still have to work full-time as a musician and music teacher to pay for school (and food, etc.), in addition to 20-25 hours a week of lab work and 10 more hours of volunteering, so I can’t just pile on the classes willy-nilly; aren’t science classes (like the basic prereqs, anatomy, physiology, biochem, etc.) more important?
- I have been receiving conflicting advice about doing my prereqs in a post-bacc program. My alma mater is a top-ranked elite university, and there is a real bias within the community there against the “night school” division (where I’ve been taking classes this past year). I’ve been advised by members of the “day school” community that med schools will really look down on me doing my prereqs in this or any “night school.” However, 1. The prereq classes are taught by the same professors that teach them in the day school!
- as an alum (and someone with flexible musician hours), I have the ability to take the classes at the day school if I wish… but at over 3 times the cost, or nearly $4000 per class, per quarter!! I would NEVER be able to afford this without some hefty loans (and I’m already in debt $50,000 from my previous degrees and plan to go further into debt for med school). Should I bite the bullet and do the day school classes anyway, to maximize my chances of getting into med school? I don’t want all of my effort in taking any class I’m taking now to be in vain… I completely LOVE the material I’m learning, but it’s been a financial hardship and has also taken a toll on my personal life, as I’m sure many of you can relate to. I’ve been going back and forth about this issue, and I’ve read so much reasonable, helpful advice on this forum… any advice you could direct my way would be much appreciated.
Thanks in advance, and I’m looking forward to meeting some of you at the conference in June!