I need a prognosis


I’m new to the forum. Here’s my story. What is your advice? Comments?

I am a 33 y.o married father of 2. I had a 2.52 gpa in my first UG and to make matters worse it was a B.A. The reality is that I never had to study in public school (shocker) and therefore, didn’t study in college. My undergrad was geared toward ministry and thus I didn’t think it important to “blow the doors off” on my gpa. I know… immaturity gone to seed. I quickly realized in '97 (a year out of college) that my dream was medicine. I chose not to step out and make the plunge out of fear. (More immaturity) My wife and I made the decision to leave full-time ministry in '99 so we could both pursue our degrees. We chose to allow her to finish first due to my earning potential. She completed her M.A.Ed. in Dec. '02 five months pregnant with our son. So, I delayed my education again. My son will be 4 in May and my daughter will be 2 in Sept. At this point in my life, I know who I am. I’m no longer afraid and I’m beginning the enrollment process for my pre-req’s. I was advised by the Dean of Admissions at a local Med-School that I would be wasting my time pursuing the full B.S. and that I, instead, should focus all of my energy on my pre-req’s plus 8 to 12 hours of advanced Bio and Chem. courses. What’s your take?

Also, my wife is a teacher in the same dreaded public school system I attended as a child and, of course, is not highly paid. I’ve run a budget and will need to make a minimum of $1,000 per month in addition to my wife’s salary to get us through the next 18 months of school. What did any of you do to make ends meet? I have no idea what we’ll do should I be accepted to the medical school of my choice. I am further befuddled as to how we’ll make it should I have to attend elsewhere whereby she’ll have to give up her job. Ideas?

Med-School debt doesn’t scare me. I will be largely out of debt aside from about $45k-$50 debt on my home. Also, I’ll have $45k-$50k set aside for any sort of crisis with my wife or children while I’m in Med-school. Would you advise using this money differently?

How do you make proper time for your children and spouse or SO?

Give me your brutally honest assessment, Docs!

Thanks, for this forum!

You’re definitely not too old (see my .sig). I will let others speak to your financial questions as that was something I blessedly did not have to fret overly much about, though I surely am in a heap o’ debt now!

There is nothing wrong with a B.A. Do not fall into the premed trap of thinking that you need a B.S. in biology to get into med school… OR that you will need that level of educational preparation in order to do well. My colleagues in med school included music and performance majors, literature and language majors, even one classics major. If you look at the MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements, published by the AAMC - go to aamc.org) you’ll find the most amazing statistic, or at least this was the stat several years ago: philosophy majors have the HIGHEST acceptance rate of any major into medical school.

So you are already better prepared than you think. I agree with your advisor that you need to take the prereqs and some upper level courses. You will need to absolutely ROCK them given your previous immature GPA. Your goal will be As in every single class if you can. I would caution you to start slow with one class, sort of dip your toe in the water and see how you like it. Don’t mistake your new-found determination To Do Things Right This Time with the study skills you’ll need to get great grades in these classes. Start slow, get your study skills up to speed, and then you can ramp up.

Good luck!


Thanks so much for your input. I intend to take 6 hours this summer. I intend to start with one class per summer term beginning with my 100 level Bio and Math. Do you have any other advice to offer as to my class schedule moving forward?

Also, I spoke with the Dean of Admissions at my first choice med-school again today and he really seemed to take an interest in me and my plans. Hopefully, this will help when the time comes. His statement was 32 hours of prereq’s + 8-12 hours of upper level. This would allow me to finish in Aug. '08 and then take the MCAT and hopefully be admitted by Aug. '09. With all of this coursework being intensive bio, chem and math, do you suggest taking fewer hours each term and finishing maybe Dec. '08 while sitting for my MCAT before the upper level classes? Or, should I wait until those upper level classes are satisfied before taking the MCAT?

Thanks again!

Sounds like you’re in a bit of hurry. It’s a long road from start to end, and you want to do things right and that may mean taking it a little slowly at first. Summer school tends to be intense and concentrated so be cautious–you want to do really well in your first class and set up some good study habits.

My recommendation would be to slow down some and take maybe one course over the summer, perhaps a pre-chemistry or pre-calculus warmer-upper, and then tackle the full strength prerequisites in the fall semester.

Slow and steady wins the race. An extra year will make little or no difference to your career in the long run. At a very minimum, use these months before school starts to prepare–get the textbook, read the first ten chapters and work all the problems, so you’ll start out with a bang.

Good luck,

I agree with Mary the Oracle 100%. You may be fine starting out with a ton of schoolwork right off the bat, but why risk it? Given the choice between good grades and a large course load - both are considered by admissions committees, I think you’re better off erring on the side of the former. Some schools screen their candidates on numbers alone (although I gather that’s becoming rarer). If you’re not working full-time, it might be worth it try to take more than one class, however.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably also want to spend some of your time volunteering, shadowing and/or looking for research gigs. If you only need to contribute $1,000 per month for your wife, you might try either finding a research job or looking at taking an EMT-B course and finding a job there (depending on your location, there could be a ton of EMT jobs or none, so I’d do some homework there first). Neither of them pays much, but either will give you relevant experience.

When I went through pre-med, I chose to keep my full-time job and attend evening school. I started out with one class, and found that I could balance two at a time without dying as long as I shuffled the labs around and tried not to schedule two really hard classes in the same semester. I wouldn’t recommend it though, it was pretty rough. I had no life at all. I often spent my weekends studying as much 16 hour days. By the middle of the semester, I didn’t have enough time for my SO, and I really only saw him when he was helping me study or write lab reports. He’s really excited for me to go to medical school though, so he made the temporary sacrifice. If I’d had children I would have had to cut back on classes, no doubt about it.

You’re definitely not too old. I’ll turn 32 the day I start classes in August, and I believe we’re outnumbered on these forums by folks who are even older!

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!