Hello, I’m currently a “senior” at a top 25 University and for the first time, I’m scared about my future. I was hoping someone on here could maybe help me be pointed in the right direction.
I’m currently a Biology major, switched from Business. I had transferred into this university during my freshmen year where I held a strong 4.0. Coming here however brought on new family, academic and financial responsibilities that I simply wasn’t ready for. I bombed my first two years at this University. I’m currently holding a 2.5 and for the first time, I feel like I’m in too big of a hole to dig myself out of.
I feel like I put in the work and the time, but I don’t get the results. I’d like to think I’m more than capable to do this work, but all the signs have told me NO to this point.
After the last two years, I’ve worked in labs to make sure research wasn’t something that was for me, shadowed doctors and volunteered (hospitals and in the community). I truly believe that being a doctor is something that I can, and want to do. So far, it’s the only thing I’ve done that makes me feel satisfied.
With that being said, I’m scared that I won’t be able to get there. And it’s not simply just not being able to get there. I’ve been brought up with the idea of competing with your peers and simply put, it’s incredibly hard to get rid of.
I’m currently 21 right now, and I’ll be 22 when I graduate. I’m thinking of doing an extra semester at my University simply to get my grades up. This means I’ll have 3 more semesters (15+15+15 avg) + 10 more credits during the summer. That’s 55 or so of graded credits left. I’ve completed (15+15+10 x2) about 80 or so. Probably a bit more but in that range. So I know it’s not impossible to bring my GPA up to a not HORRIBLE level.
I’ve taken some practice MCAT and I’ve been scoring in the 32-33 range, and while I’m not completely satisfied with it, it’s a score I’d like to take.
So enough with the background, my question really is…
I’m considering taking a year off after I graduate in the Winter to go to Asia to teach English. (I’d probably use the 6 months or so to work and/or volunteer). I feel much more at home in Asia as well, so it’s a chance I’d want to finish Medical School in the US, but practice in Asia (Not EXACTLY sure how that works, but I plan to research it this summer).
I guess what I’m wondering is, is it likely that I’d have to finish a Post Bacc as well when I come back or would I have a chance to apply straight into Medical School? Because of the more non traditional route, I’m looking at a potential 24-25 when I apply, and while it’s not that old, I’m getting a lot of pressure from family, friends, peers, and advisers to apply when I’m younger. I know I shouldn’t listen, and do what’s right, but I guess I"m scared of doing a Post Bacc, and STILL not getting in because of my Undergraduate performance.
The stories on this site are amazing btw, it’s really lifted me up from what’s been at least a year long battle with the depressing of maybe not making it.
Hello, I’m currently a “senior” at a top 25 University and for the first time, I’m scared about my future. I was hoping someone on here could maybe help me be pointed in the right direction.
Okay…this is my third attempt as I got kicked out twice, probably my laptop.
First welcome Chaggi!
As for your grades, you will unfortunately hit some roadblocks if you can’t bring your GPA up to at least a 3.0 even if you do really well on the MCAT. I think there are different screenings and one might be for the GPA.
You’ll get some more input shortly. Most of the crew on in DC for the conference.
If I were you, I would continue with my degree and just get your bachelors degree. Of course, do the best you can, but it might not be a bad idea to take that break. It very well could provide you with the space you need to see how you want to proceed.
As for postbacs, they are usually covering the prereqs, so you may not need that type of program because I am sure that you have taken the prereqs.
One option to look at later is the DO. The DO will allow you to retake classes and will use that higher grade in your GPA which will bring up your grade. The thing is, it might not be what you need if you want to eventually be an international doctor. You would actually need to check with whatever countries you are interested in their view of DOs. Some countries do recognize it and some do not.
The other option is the Caribbean, but you need to be careful with which one.
Well, I’ve been up all night and before I get kicked off yet again…wishing you the best of luck!
I think 25 is the average age of a medical school matriculate these days. You really wouldn’t be that old and you’d gain some more experience out of the university setting in the years you spent working. Even after college, it took me a few years to really learn some things about myself. Hell, even at 27 and going through the premed process I find that I am still learning things about myself.
- HugzMonster Said:
Believe me, Hugz, you find this at any age if you are willing to open your eyes and mind!
Thank you for the advice!
The specific type of Post Bacc I was looking at was like the ones that were made specifically to raise your GPA with classes, like the one I saw that got my attention was Temple’s where you took classes (not specifically Pre Med, looked like higher level sciences) and if you scored 3.5 GPA or higher, it was an auto admit or something of that sort to their Medical School.
While I did look at the Carribean, I have heard not so great things, and truthfully, am a bit scared by that. However, I am a Canadian citizen, so I would maybe also apply to a University in Canada for Medical School, but once again, I’m not sure how it is up there, and still, a 2.5 in the United States is still, a 2.5 anywhere in the world.
Also I was wondering if anyone had any study or test taking tips? I seem to have tried almost everything and STILL can’t seem to get the grade I’ve been looking for. I’ve just been up doing Biochem for the last 12+ hours and while I understand the concepts, I’m still very nervous…
Oh and I just calculated my Potential GPA.
If I were to maintain a 4.0 (hahah…)
I could get anywhere between a 3.171 and a 3.261 (depending if I stay 1-2 more semesters)
I just wanted to tell you ‘welcome’ and let you know that there are still possibilities here for you. I know that the formal post-back programs are attractive, but don’t hesitate to take classes informally at your local university. Also, don’t hesitate to do this at your pace. In order to boost your GPA, you’ll have to take plenty of classes. Take things that interest you, plenty of sciences and a smattering of liberal arts. But, most of all, everything is a matter of perspective. If you look at it constantly as something you have to do because you had messed up along the way, you won’t have any fun. Look at it as a way to improve your lot in life, and that you don’t have to follow a curriculum set out by a major. Enjoy it, and learn to embrace learning itself. When you’re a doctor, you’ll still have to do plenty of learning. Might as well learn to love it now.
But, I also have study skills tips for you. I was a mediocre student in undergrad and I didn’t really work at it at all. I had studied very little science before this journey, but now I think I’ve really got a grasp on how to do it. My plan is like this.
- Always pre-read. No highlighters, just a pencil to quickly underline something that may be important. I have found that highlighting can quickly get out of control, and is very distracting when you have to go back and review the concept. This reading is not an all-out-learn-the-whole-c hapter project, just a quick skim to suss out the main concepts.
- Always go to class (no-brainer). When you are there, be an active listener and use your knowledge of the reading to anticipate where the prof is going. Also, try to spend more time listening and less scribbling. If the prof uses powerpoints, try to write down as little as possible from the ppt.
- Review your notes with the powerpoints (if you have access). This is the third time you will be seeing the material. I usually use a computer to take notes, and then I review the power points, and actually cut-and-paste visual aids from the power points into my notes. Then, I write my own summary for what is happening in the process in the visual.
- Work problems in the book. I work through several problems, and then look up the answers. If I was right, I don’t go back. If I was wrong, I circle that one, look at the answer to determine where I went wrong. Then, I leave it alone and revisit the problem during the next study session. I try not to repeat material during a study session. Don’t fret and get stuck on a concept. This is a great way to lose valuable time.
- I never spend more than a few hours a session, and 3 may be a stretch. No 12-hour marathons. If your mind starts to wander, switch subjects or do something else for a little while. Even if you feel like you’re down to the wire. Your brain is telling you that it needs a little break.
- For exams, look back through your notes, re-read on concepts on which you don’t feel quite solid. Chance are you’ve seen each concept multiple times by now, and you’ll be able to succeed on the exam.
I know it sounds time-consuming, but, once you get used to it, it really works out well and it doesn’t take long to convert minimal notes to more exact representations of the lecture. Just avoid the trap of writing everything on the ppts, especially if your professor posts them later. Spend time listening and trying to understand the concepts. Your recall of the lecture will be better, because you were actually paying attention instead of writing feverishly to keep up.
It seems to work for me, and may be a place to start for you.
Thank you! I guess lately I don’t really Pre read as much as I should (that’s just a lie, I don’t really pre read :P)…
My 12 hour marathons are never in one session. I usually take a break every hour or so, just to walk around for 5-10 minutes, maybe watching a youtube video, then go back. However these days… I’ve been getting much more impatient with myself and not focusing as hard.
I will try the own summary thing, I’ve heard that it really helped one of my roommates but I never got around to it.
If the problems are more Biology related, would you still work through problems? Most of my exams are pure memorization based now without too much actual application, which I found strange since I do much better in pure application.
For biology, there’s still usually questions at the end of the chapter. Use those to test your recall. If your textbook has online resources, look at those as well. Sometimes online resources include interactive visuals, that I have found to be incredibly helpful for learning processes that are harder to visualize.
For topics that require more memorization, I try to find a system for rote memorization, but for biological processes, I try to summarize the process in my own words, and redraw diagrams for the processes. I also tend to think about it outside of class. I remember studying plants in a general bio class, and then looking at all the plants around and identifying trichomes and stomata and sporophyte and gametophyte structures. The nice thing about biology is that it can be related with the wider world. So, what really helps me is to try and find how the information relates with the larger world. Then, its more interesting and I can remember things better.
If I’m studying for an exam and I start to feel really unprepared, I start to anticipate questions using lecture notes. Generally, the test that I make up is equal to or harder than the actual exam. Since my made-up exams are entirely free-response, this method tends to be fairly useful for multiple choice as well (since I read the question and KNOW the answer – it takes the guesswork out).
Finally, never sit and stare at your book or notes. Get creative and you’ll probably find new ways to study that will get you through the long haul.
somedaydra, very good pointers and they are quite effective. i have a lot of gpa boosting to do (im below a 2.5 - i had a rocky undergrad to say the least) I cant wait till classes start!
On top of that, I’m not sure my Masters program GPA will offer any wieght either since its a non science.
Chaggi dont give in to the pressure around you, like you said - you should do what you think is right. it also took me a few years to finally come to the conclusion that this is the route i want to go but believe me, I get weary sometimes because I know my GPA needs work and it freaks me out that that could be my downfall. Ive done everything from art to theatre to publishing and pursuing this always seems to pop to the surface. Looking back, I’m glad that I took the “break” that I needed because now I can move forward with a new and stronger, more mature mindset. Sometimes time can be on your side. Good luck!
Oh what is with those “questionable” caribbean schools by the way, anyone? Im considering those but I’ve been getting mixed reviews for some. Why the bad reviews?
This post is a drag since I am “typing” it with a stylus on my palm (on the WEENSY TEENSY little keyboard at the bottom of the screen). Sadly, I could not manage a trip to the convention… I am in RESIDENCY and on “Med I” specifically… I need say no more… Perhaps someday!
First, as is the norm, I am going to “second” much of what my splendid OPM colleagues have already said. I might be a bit more forward or “plain”, but understand being the eternal optimist, this IS intended for YOUR BENEFIT; to meet YOUR goals in the long term. At this fork in the road, to blow smoke up certain posteriorly orinted nether regions would be doing you a dis-service. Further, doing the wrong thing because you feel you need to do something is a recipe for disaster.
As with everyone who posts here, it is impossible for me to grasp every single nuance, you would have had to type volumes and volumes for an “absolute” call. However, one finds that the “reading-between-the-line s” aptitude goes up considerably the longer one hangs around here!
It seems to me that you are in a tough place presently and I do not think more classes in your present academic or station-in-life incarnation is going to do anything for you except cook whatever financial aid you have left. I think you can see this in your heart of hearts based on your statement
“I’m scared that I won’t be able to get there. And it’s not simply just not being able to get there. I’ve been brought up with the idea of competing with your peers and simply put, it’s incredibly hard to get rid of.”
Great insight “Weed-hopper”! You should NOT TRY to get rid of it because medicine IS competitive like none other, and when you get back to the show, the sad reality is someone will win and others will lose.
Most around here will agree, in graphing the age of medical school matriculants you will note a “bi-nodal” distribution. The young folks (plus or minus 2 years of traditional graduation) and The older folks (I arbitrarily define 28 or so and UP)
The first are the young folks right out of HS and college. In general, this group is stratified by who is to most perfect out of the perfect. In my estimation anyway the most unforgiving of any deviation in this narrowly defined “perfection”. I believe the reason is simple: measurable stuff; numbers are really ALL young folks have to offer and ADCOMS have to pick based on that (your MCAT is good, but so is everyone ELSEs in your cohort and they do not have the GPA problem…). In short young folks have had NO life (NOT meant nastily) outside academia to DEMONSTRATE the attributes prized by the profession.
“Coming here however brought on new family, academic and financial responsibilities that I simply wasn’t ready for. I bombed my first two years at this University.” OK so how will you demonstrate that is provide verifyable evidence this was a one time deal the OLD YOU is no more etc.
“I’m currently a Biology major, switched from Business”… “After the last two years, I’ve worked in labs to make sure research wasn’t something that was for me, shadowed doctors and volunteered (hospitals and in the community)”
OK, reading between the lines, what this says to me is that in 4 years you have tried and discarded (while only in training) two careers and your committment to medicine consists of shadowing and volunteering? OK… I am going to shock you here (sorry) Given this statement, I am hard-pressed think of a scenario in which you would gain admission even if you had a 30 composite and a 3.77, (by the way, I would keep to yourself the dislike of “research”… because undergraduate research is one of the two “golden tickets” to medical school the other is teaching)
The other group are the “older students”. Simply by doing a good job living life, holding a job, raising kids, demonstrating committment; establishing a pattern of giving of yourself to the benefit of others speaks volumes of you as a physician independently of the classroom. While everyone must be outstanding in the classroom to get in to medical school, to do so as a grown-up speaks much more directly to your committment (what high school kids would not say, “I want to help others”). However I have also observed (and frankly benefitted DIRECTLY from) the special status; “PROPs” if you will, one earns for achieving the requisite outstanding academic work at age 38 (with all of the grown-up stuff to go with it) especially if your present excellences is contrasted by a stumble academically 10, 15 or 20 years ago!
I am not telling you NOT to do it now… but as you put it, “I’m currently 21 right now, and I’ll be 22 when I graduate”, and your stuff is simply NOT “perfect” enough to get in among your present cohort. Besides, if you ask around this forum, I think the consensus would be that even if you were to start over with a new undergraduate degree, you have at least 15 years before you would even come CLOSE to some cut-off. Heck, I enrolled at the University of Kansas for a new undergrad degree ON MY 38th birthday August 21, 2000!
Again, I think you understand this at some level with strong intuition," I’m considering taking a year off after I graduate in the Winter to go to Asia to teach English. (I’d probably use the 6 months or so to work and/or volunteer)". I would choose a PAID biological research gig for about 5 years tho…
You also seem to have a good idea of what it will take to demonstrate the stuff you will need to show to eventually make it “I’d want to finish Medical School in the US, but practice in Asia”.
I suggest finding something around medicine where you work with and for people… then take another look at the five year mark!
Wow… that’s really impressive to type that on a stylus… I can’t imagine how long that post took…
I like the bluntness of your post, but I guess I failed to include a few things into my original post, and I could clear it up.
- In reply to:
"I'm currently a Biology major, switched from Business"... "After the last two years, I've worked in labs to make sure research wasn't something that was for me, shadowed doctors and volunteered (hospitals and in the community)"
OK, reading between the lines, what this says to me is that in 4 years you have tried and discarded (while only in training) two careers and your committment to medicine consists of shadowing and volunteering? OK... I am going to shock you here (sorry) Given this statement, I am hard-pressed think of a scenario in which you would gain admission even if you had a 30 composite and a 3.77, (by the way, I would keep to yourself the dislike of "research"... because undergraduate research is one of the two "golden tickets" to medical school the other is teaching)
I chose Business at first because it was something I did. I had been working at an architecture firm since my junior year of high school, and am still there working part time. While it's not the most full responsibility job ever, it was still a very good glimpse into what I might've ended up doing if I just had settled for Business.
As for research and volunteering, I had done research in high school and continued through college through 3 different labs. I realize that research is a big thing for medical schools, and honestly, it's one of the reasons why I'm still in it. I don't enjoy it, but I find that it's a necessary hoop to jump through. I enjoy teaching much more, and I tutor on a weekly basis (mostly math and languages). I'm having an interview to possibly teach ESL (English as a Second Language) for next year.
The reason why I separated the time of my research was due to the focus and intensity of it. I originally only put in 10 hour weeks, compared to 25 hour weeks.
The problem really is, outside of shadowing doctors, volunteering, and research, I can't think of much ways to show a commitment to medicine. At least in my current situation.
- In reply to:
I guess that was really my ultimate question at the end of the day. I don't really know how I can demonstrate that this is an old me.
OKas to the palm, after the first bit, I gave up and got the ‘IR Palm folding keyboard’ out, so nothing that impressive, more retentive…
OK do not dispair…
While I do believe you may indeed have missed your queue for a traditional trip undertaken by “whipper snappers”. On the other hand, I would say you are in a splendid position to carefully plan, methodically execute and fine tune things for an “old-timer” kind of trip!
As to ideas… just LOOK AROUND, you are welcome to search my posts especially the KC Star article and “Richards rules”. But there are a boatload of others with examples to follow, While my story is good, I know three off the top of my head who demonstrated even more of “the right stuff”: Mary Renard, Old Man Dave, and the record holder for age who matriculated in Canada (SORRY his name and handle just flew from my head) etc
I actually started in high school, EMT. I was a member of the voluteer rescue squad for eons (real responsibility you have to do for FREE). I was then a nationally registered paramedic. I began teaching then… I took the next step since the Creme de la creme of EMS teaching credentials was the have the following behind your name:
Yep, I paid cash as I went for a VERY economical asociates in nursing, please check out my (and others) perspectives on this because there is quite a bit of variation in opinion. While not a “junior doctor”, I would not trade the human interaction, healing touch and patient centered focus of nursing for anything. Indeed, since residency the old RN initials have pushed the present MD initials to a new level. I get called now to care for “difficult” patients, to break bad news, to transition families to end of life &c, &c, &c.
When I applied as an undergrad teaching assistant when I went back to school… they found out I had been a nurse… hum… nurses spend a LOT of time teaching complicated stuff to lay people through PhD’s… How would you like to do more than grade papers?.. UM… the POPE Catholic? Do bears POO in the woods…
Read my post regarding the how the teaching of undergrad physiology BIOL 306 and BIOL 647 reached right down there and EXPLODED to my credit in my “open records interview” (the same interview where they could SEE all the skeletons AND that mediocre MCAT… to whom all things are known and from whom no secret is hid…) The odd cool part was that I LOVED teaching and frankly would have been a splendid alternative to what I am doing now had I come up short (an important element to consider because… you should SEE the dismal numbers comparing those who start pre-med and those who matriculate… There are HUNDREDS… nay… THOUSANDS of places to come up short and there is no guarantee at ANY LEVEL.)
My point is this: YOU get to write the next chapter with some new perspective and get to pick and choose the “zingers” for your application (an interview that in my case literally waited until I was FORTY ONE, you can too if life circumstances should dictate)
It seems to me a career in biology would be such a zinger… assuming you don’t throw it away and work a Boarders Book. This is especially true if you stay on the academic side… maybe get a masters and TEACH college level work at a CC for example.
- Chaggi Said:
Because of the more non traditional route, I'm looking at a potential 24-25 when I apply, and while it's not that old, I'm getting a lot of pressure from family, friends, peers, and advisers to apply when I'm younger. I know I shouldn't listen, and do what's right, but I guess I"m scared of doing a Post Bacc, and STILL not getting in because of my Undergraduate performance.
I think it would be a real benefit to you to some time off; and that would be getting away from the insanity to mature and grow so that you're less scared and more confident in who you are and what you want. According to what I've been hearing, this is the real advantage that nontraditional students have when applying. Beyond the advantage, what that means is losing the fear and gaining valuable perspective. When you're 21 or 22 you think the world's going to end if this or that things doesn't work out. When you've managed to survive on your own, away from family, figuring out how to do that and what you like and want for yourself out of life, the fear gets replaced with real desire and drive. Personally, I think it's a good goal to find a way to no longer do things out of fear, but instead to do it out of real and genuine desire.
So then next thing to figure out is, how best to spend that time.
- In reply to:
I learned at the conference this weekend, that you should really just continue with advanced coursework in the sciences. There are special masters programs that are like "advanced pre-med" if you will, or continue with a masters in a science you truly are interested in. Did you really like Bio (is the low GPA, perhaps, from low interest?) IMO I think it's a huge waste of time to continue working at a lab if it bores you. It's better to use that time to research and find out what really drives you. There are so many opportunities for someone like you, from summer internships at NIH in a variety of research fields, to the peace corps (med schools seem to love that).
When I was your age I took some personality tests that I found really insightful. The Myers-Briggs test (can take for free on internet here). There's even book out that suggests medical specialties by your MBTI type.
I also took a validated career assessment test called the HAB or the Highlands Ability Battery. It is $200 but SO worth taking. It tells you things that are very useful in figuring out the best career for you, and you can use it to figure out what aspects of medical career make the most sense.
Then armed with this info, go explore, see what doors open, what doors close. IMO during this time, the most effective research you'll do to help you get into med school (or pursue whatever it is that you were created uniquely for) is do research into yourself.
OK so can you all tell I studied psychology? LOL
BTW another very interesting test is the Oxford Medical Career Aptitudes Program, or MCAP.