Hi - My First Post - Dazed and Confused!!

Hi All:
This is my first post and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts/suggestions/moral support for my venture!
I am 41, and still out there in student-land. I’m a single mom, and WAS pursuing my BA in Geology in NY (had only 24 credits left) and then my daughter, a freshman in Boston, suddenly got very sick right off the bat in Oct. as her college life was just beginning. WE SPENT THE ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR in the hospital, and as a result (she’s now better and doing her freshman yr over) I decided I needed to pursue a career in medicine and it comes from within and I can’t stop the feeling, illogical as it is, and horrible family comments notwithstanding.
So I upped and moved to Boston both to be near her and to continue school here! No real job, no resources, no plan, just my gut feeling that this is what I need to be doing!
My educational dilemma: Had almost completed Geol. Here there is no Geol degree program. BU. Hence my only choice I believe is to switch majors to Bio (I’ve been told non-trads need to show more than the kids that we can handle the hard sciences and that a science degree will hold more sway) so I’m jsut taking Chem 101 as the prelude to it all but I have no idea how to approach my degree ultimately and would so appreciate any suggestions! To continue on the Bio Ba path? Get a quick degree in something easier such as Eng while completeing the pre-reqs? (as long as I’m there it would take almost the same amount of time to do the science as it would to do a liberal arts)
Also if anyone has had any experience with the following? I had a 4.0 gpa in NY before my daughter got sick, then she took ill suddenly and I had to pick myself up and come to Boston and be with her, so my classes got W’s which will turn into F’s soon. Then I tried to attend school again in Spring 05 during a healthy lull, and right away my daughter got sick AGAIN so it was back to Boston again, and now I have 2 semesters of INC’s that will soon turn to F’s. I have a ton of documentation - does anyone have suggestions as to how I approach getting rid of them, if at all possible, and if not, how will med schools ultimately look at this?
Lastly, I’m in Boston, are there any Boston OPM’ers out there? Boy could I use some moral support as I begin this crazy but exhilirating journey which makes sense only to me and my daughter!
Thanks so much for reading! And thanks so much for creating this site which I’m sure you already know must be such a help to so many as they go through this often lonely quest!

Greetings and welcome to OPM!!! You are among kindred spirits and friends here. There is nothing that you have or have not done that someone here has not experienced.
Read back in the past and see how people have or are doing.
I am glad to hear that your daughter is doing well. As for adcoms and nontrads, they are expecting you to do as well as someone who wants to be a doctor, no more and no less than the traditional student.
There are many myths that have been floating around Pre-Med land about being a non trad and having more expectations. About 99% of them are not true. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Welcome and remember, you are amongst friends.

Ahhhh…to be pursuing medicine at such a young age. It must be a great feeling.
Welcome young chickadee, errr….Nicole

Oh yay! Thanks so much for the welcome! Very discouraging sitting in Chem 101 with the young 18 year olds and sometimes I say what have I gotten myself into but I can’t and won’t stop now! Finding people to studu with is the hardest! And finding positive feedback is even harder! But I’m going to hang in there? Am I the only one who has been through this? ) It seems not from reading the wonderful postings here and I am so glad I found this site! Thanks again ) Nicole

When it comes to positive feedback, well, you’ve found the place to come. We are here for that, and for support and encouragement when bumps occur, for sharing your excitement when victorious, and for comforting you in times of need.
And, let me welcome you, as BacMedic did. Welcome young chickadee!

Great to have you on the forum! To answer your question about how ad-coms would look at your two semesters of withdrawals turned F’s . . . I am not in any position to speak for people on the ad-coms. However, I have also had a daughter fall very ill with a rare, serious illness. (I was not in school at the time, so my grades were not an issue.) I can empathize with you on how your world comes to a screeching halt and nothing else matters except your “little” girl (no matter what her age–she’s still your little girl, right)! If I was on an ad-com and you told me your story and had your documentation in order, I would not hold it against you one iota! Of course, the people on the ad-com you are sitting in front of may not have had a similar experience and may not be as understanding. I think in order to mitigate what those grades will do to your GPA, you will need to explain what happened in your personal statement.
I know that my advice isn’t much help, but I mainly wanted to let you know that I totally understand how that could have happened–even twice–under those unfortunate circumstances!
Again, welcome to OPM. You will find lots of support here.

Nicole, I echo the welcome from everyone else.
As to those Ws --> Fs, you’ve probably already done this but it can’t hurt to say again: any and all effort to get those grades expunged will be well worth it. While there will be schools who’ll look at your “whole package,” there will be others who’ll get no further than the summary of GPAs on the cover sheet of your AMCAS/AACOMAS application and those Fs will be glaringly evident. This is an instance where I would not accept a registrar saying, “That’s the policy, no appeals.” Don’t take no for an answer on this one - keep pushing to try and change that situation if you can.
Again, welcome to OPM!
who dragged home from a rough night on call to find my “baby” (19) pathetically sick and stayed up the rest of the night with her!

Hi, Nicole. As a fellow early-forty-something, I’m glad to see you here.


My educational dilemma: Had almost completed Geol. Here there is no Geol degree program. BU. Hence my only choice I believe is to switch majors to Bio (I’ve been told non-trads need to show more than the kids that we can handle the hard sciences and that a science degree will hold more sway) so I’m jsut taking Chem 101 as the prelude to it all but I have no idea how to approach my degree ultimately and would so appreciate any suggestions! To continue on the Bio Ba path? Get a quick degree in something easier such as Eng while completeing the pre-reqs?

As a junior, I made my fateful decision not to go to medical school and switched my major from microbiology/zoology to several different engineering fields before I ultimately settled on physics. From my experience, an engineering degree is certainly not any easier than a biology degree; in many ways, it’s quite the opposite. So if you’re thinking of going engineering because it’s “easier” than biology, I encourage you to look long and hard at that idea, and talk to advisers in each college a lot.
Or did you mean English? In that case, I take it all back.

Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement!! Thanks all who replied )
Mary any suggestions? When I approached Hunter College about getting those incompletes expunged (which will turn to F’s come Jan) with my 13 letters of support from my daughters various doctors in Boston (attesting to the fact that I was there with her every moment and not in NY) the Dean of Students just said tough break, kiddo.
Any suggestions or insight as to how I would go about appealing this? I know its possible because BU did it for my daughter in one day! (well they are the affiliate of her hospital-but still!)
So all that notwithstanding, I had a 4.0 before that, and hopefully will continue on that same path or close to it (Chem 101 so I’m not so sure!)
Oh me oh my it’s frustrating!
Mary you are my idol upon looking at your story - my role model for what IS possible to achieve despite the many naysayers!
Thanks so much and thanks OPM site for existing!
ps will now attempt to contact my own 18 year old baby who is not answering her phone and has mom quite worried!

Hi Lu:
Oh my gosh, you’ve been where I am. No one can understand how the entire universe stops turning when your child takes ill, especially when its serious. People ask me, why did you not take care of the grades while it was happening? And the answer of course is because I could not leave her, and if I could I would not have had the energy to do the every day things that need to be done.
But I’m happy to see that we can move forward.
I’m still trying with all my might to get rid of those grades. The advisors here at BU tell me don’t even bother applying to med school if you can’t get them expunged so I’m working on that!
Thanks so much for the post Lu.
Hi everyone!

Take it to the president, then the chancellor! There has GOT to be something in the student handbook about serious extinuating circumstances!!! On the other hand, if you apply to DO schools, you can retake the courses you received an F in and up your GPA on those applications. But it’s still not fair when applying to MD schools. In the worst case scenario, retake the courses, get A’s, then your GPA for the 2 courses will be A vs. F and won’t impact your GPA so badly, then getting the A will let the adcoms know that you know your stuff and had a bad moment with your ill daughter. I don’t think it would look that bad for you!

Why are your W’s turning to F’s? Is this normal? Shouldn’t W’s just remain W’s? Isn’t it I’s that turn to F’s? I thought this was universal at colleges… I have a few W’s I’m going to go check that they’re still W’s…

yeah that is my understanding…I think that you may have I (incompletes) which means withdrawing from a course PAST the “due date” of being able to withdraw for a W. Most schools that have W’s do NOT turn into F’s…that is IF you withdrew withing the alloted time usually a couple of weeks. If you were well into the course then you received an incomplete which DOES turn into an F if you do not do X or Y by a certain date. You need to check this out and get the straight poop from someone.

Hey Crooz and efex101:
No you guys are both right. I meant to say they are INC’s not W’s. W’s is the least that I’m trying to get them to be. But my daughter was able, with the same documentation that I have, to get them TOTALLY expunged so that they don’t even appear as W’s. I know that’s too much to hope for here, but I’d be happy with W’s. The appeals board is giving me a hard time, and I have about 14 letters of support from various physicians and other staff from the hospital my daughter was at. Oh well, I don’t give up. I’ll keep fighting!
On ANOTHER note, anyone’s input on the following would be greatly appreciated:
Took Chem 101 13 years ago. Got an A. It’s no longer valid, none of my grades are, so I’m taking it again. I was told by the pre-med advisor here at BU take it you’ll do fine. Told him I forgot all my math. He said you don’t need it no prob. Of course I am lost. Should I muddle and struggle through (I’m falling behind already as I forgot the basics such as log and sigfigs) or should I drop it, take a math refresher course, and re-enroll in the summer (more intensive!) or wait til the fall thereby losing another year of my life? Or try to stick it out: chance of jeapordising my grades further still? But if I drop I lose almost another year!!!
Someone help please - keep the advice coming!

How far into the semester are you? How much longer do you have before you can drop it without penalty? (either in terms of money or grade)
If your back is against the wall because the deadline is days away, I say DROP IT NOW.
If you’ve got another week or two to try and get up to speed with your math, well, keep plugging at it until you are at the deadline, then drop it if things aren’t improving.
A year is NOTHING at this point. Trust me, AdComs can’t and don’t distinguish between 42 and 48 (or whatever). They DO still distinguish between good grades and not-so-good grades, and you really don’t have any more leeway for iffy stuff at this point.
One other thing - I got this sense from your very first post and what you’re saying now reinforces it: GIMOM, slow down. Take a deep breath. Spend some time really thinking about this path you’re choosing, why you want it, what you’ll need to do to get it. You are in too much of a hurry and you are putting your decision at risk with the way you’re jumping in.
I don’t want to sound harsh. Believe me, I know how pressed for time you feel! But regardless of whether you’re 25 or 45, you still need to plan this very carefully, building each step on the premise that the previous step has been successful. You kind of jumped in with both feet last year and who knows? Had it not been for your daughter’s illness, you might’ve been successful. But given that you’re now under the “cloud” of grades that you may not be able to expunge from your record, every single step you take now needs to be in the right direction. So if your chem grade is looking dicey, drop it NOW. Take the math refresher, then go back. I know, it seems a step back but look at it as redrawing the starting line from which you will ALWAYS be going forward.
Not sure I’m wording this right. I hope you won’t take offense. I’ve just talked to too many folks over the years, usually people in their 40s like me at the time they decide to do this, and the absolute bottom-line lesson for all of us was to slow down and take it one step at a time.
Hang in there! Regardless of how it feels, you will continue to age at the same pace whether you are in chemistry or math

Depends on how far behind you are getting. If you can change the class to an audit then perhaps that is an option.
To be honest…what’s another year? At this stage you have to bust out solid grades and more importantly a solid understanding of the subject matter. If you are having problems with the math, which is usually a prereq, then you might want to consider auditing the class.
I’m no expert because I have 3 W’s, 1 D, 1 C on my transcripts from 4-5 years ago. Actually THANK YOU for bringing this topic up because I would’ve continued guessing at my GPA instead of actually knowing it. Now I know that besides getting A’s on my prereqs I will also have to take a year of extra science and perhaps a Special Masters Program but time will tell. By the time I apply for med school the W, D, & C will be 8 years old and not a reflection of my most recent (3-4 years) performance.
My advice to you is to speak with your professor honestly about how you’re doing in class. It’ll take work but you can make it thru this…but it’ll take WORK…time at your desk studying and doing problems and studying and doing problems and studying and doing problems…and rinse & repeat.
I’m currently on a 15 minute break from studying Micro. I just finished “teaching” my wife how a gram stain works and she was asking why the peptidoglycan layer was so thin in gram (-) cells…