How would you fix this?

(2nd Post - first was to answer a question).

Here’s the story in a nutshell:

  • High School Valedictorian and generally full of promise and a future

  • Decided to become a doctor

  • Undergraduate Disaster… came out with a 2.3 GPA after taking all pre-med requirements except physics. D in OC, B in Bio, C in Chem. Grades progressively got worse. I held 1 - 2 demanding jobs and just didn’t care to study. Majored in Biology and Neuroscience. People I tutored in High School were getting better grades than I was because I was used to not studying and passing. Science GPA is even lower. D in Histology (after begging prof for a passing grade and her graciously giving it to me so I wouldn’t have to go back another year). It was a nightmare.

  • Decided to NOT become a doctor

  • Worked for a year at a community center helping people on welfare find jobs

  • Got married, went back to school (a real business school) to complete MBA full-time… did not work part-time for first year. Got a 3.67 overall (without much effort…).

  • Worked as a business analyst for last 2 years.

  • Bought a house, had 2 beautiful children (boy then a girl).

  • After attending a med school graduation, I decided to try again to go back to medical school… 5 years after my disaster… with the intent of eventually working overseas in a Doctors without borders environment. Wife is completely on board.

  • Hopefully starting a job at local Medical School helping Researchers with statistical analysis of genetic data (within the next 3 weeks) with the intent to (1) have them pay for re-doing my pre-requisites and part-time masters degree, (2) Get some really great letters of recommendations from actual med school instructors and (3) get my name on a couple of journal publications.

    100% of those who know me think that this is completely the right decision for me and the right career for me… and the one who matters most (my wife) is certain I’m making the right choice. It’s not a question of ability or intellectual capacity for me… but determination and stick-to-it-iveness.

    How would you fix the undergrad debacle if you were me?


    Masters Degree?

    Another Undergraduate Degree?


    I’m in the planning stages over the next couple of months on how I’m going to attack this. I welcome any and all advice… I’m sure that I’m not the only person in this mess.

  • qtipp Said:
How would you fix the undergrad debacle if you were me?


Masters Degree?

Another Undergraduate Degree?


Hm. I think I would start by seeing if you can get an appointment to talk to an admissions person at the med school. Lay it all out for them, similar to what you did here, and ask them "What would you recommend I do in order to make myself a competitive candidate for your school?"

From what I've read, Masters degrees don't generally seem to be given as much weight as undergraduate degrees. I think you should start out by retaking all of the pre-reqs and then progress on to taking a few upper level classes, especially ones you perhaps haven't taken before. Dedicate sufficient time to knock the MCAT out of the park - even if you do another degree, you're still not going to raise your GPA significantly. A combination of doing very well on all courses from here on out (as in all A's if possible), an excellent MCAT and well-rounded "other" aspects of your application (LOR's, extracurriculars, etc) will be what you need to try and accomplish.

I'm not sure on doing an additional degree, but the more upper level courses you take and do well in, the more it will help prove that you are capable, but didn't perform to ability in undergrad.

Good luck!

It looks as if your older courses may be a few years old anyway, so why not consider retaking those basic sciences, and this time around, ace them! It will make no difference for the allopathic schools, but the osteopathic application will list all your grades, with the replacement grades becoming the ones used to calculate your gpa, thus raising it. With the improved gpa, some strong upper level science courses, and a great MCAT, your application would become much more competitive.

And, as was stated before, check in with the medical schools you would be considering applying to in the future, and see what further advice they might have.

Best of luck!

ditto, definitely retake, then take some upper science (biochem, neuroscience, anatomy, etc.) and build up your science knowledge and credentials. Meet with your premed advisor or hire one (e.g. Judy Colwell), and ask for guidance from your most preferred medical schools.

In terms of graduate programs, as others have stated the schools are looking for coursework, not degrees, though something like a PhD is going to carry some weight. You might consider a “masters of medical science” that have become rather popular of late, such as the one at my school. Drexel, BU, Georgetown I think offer them as well. They are medical school-like courses (sometimes the identical classes). I’m starting to wish I had done one, just for the preparation. But, it does cost bucks. Best of luck,

You all are the best! Thanks for the advice so far. Are admissions staff really that approachable? I will try to contact the local school here about getting their feedback on what I would need to do to repair the damaged undergrad record.

MMS programs seem to be competitive as well. I have looked long and hard at the Drexel program, but my wife’s work contract situation keeps me in Baltimore for the next 3 years.

Another degree seemed like a good choice to me because some recommended having a contingency plan. With another degree I could still work in research or pursue a PhD. But the more I look at a contingency plan, the more I look at it as an excuse to fail at the ultimate goal. Any thoughts?

  • qtipp Said:
Are admissions staff really that approachable?

Some are, some aren't. You never know until you try. Explain that because of your non-traditional background, you aren't really sure of the best approach for you to take in order to make yourself a competitive applicant. The worst that can happen is that they say no, they won't meet with you.

regarding contingency plans, a.k.a. Plan B, well, that’s totally up to you. To some people, plan B means fix what’s wrong with the application and reapply next cycle. To others, it means have a back-up career ready. It all boils down to how badly you want it and how singlemindedly you plan to focus on achieving it. If you come up with a plan B that sounds appealing, then maybe you should consider going with that instead. If you can’t see yourself doing anything but medicine, and you’ve volunteered in clinical situations and shadowed physicians enough to know what you’re getting into, then your plan B probably should be reapply if no acceptances.

Medicine is no joke. I’m struggling through my first quarter here and it’s harder by an order of magnitude than any undergraduate premedical courses, in terms of quantity of material. It’s sheer hard work, 24x7. Be sure you want it. Best of luck,

So… I just got off the phone with a friendly admissions staff at a local medical school. Here are some recommendations they gave me, given the situation I outlined above:

  • Take a program/post-bacc in Hard Science. They recommended taking either a graduate degree or a post bacc program. The degree needs to be in a subject that shows I can handle the rigors of medical school (no MPH or Epidemiology).

  • Shadow or Volunteer to show that I understand the requirements of the medical profession and that I’m dedicated to pursuing the profession.

  • Take a couple of SCIENCE courses at a time. This also helps to demonstrate ability to handle medical school. I was specifically told though that it’s not a race.

  • I got the impression that publications don’t help as much as I’ve heard in the past… with this particular medical school. But they are a bonus.

    Take home message: HARD SCIENCE. And as much as possible… with all A’s.

    I want this badly. As the sole bread winner for a family of 4 I won’t be able to go to school full-time for a couple of years. Part-time courses will have to do until then… but I feel some semblance of a plan coming together.

  1. Re-take basic sciences and get A’s all around (2 at a time if possible)

  2. Take the MCAT (10’s and 11’s minimum)

  3. Take a formal post-bacc or Hard Science Masters program

  4. Apply.