In desperate need of advising help!

Hi all!

Last summer, I quit my teaching job of 10 years to pursue my medical school dream. I enrolled at the local branch of a major university this past fall to take all of the pre-med requirements that I DIDN’T take as a foreign language major. After this quarter I will have completed the Inorganic Chemistry series, Biology series, Math requirements, and two of the three quarters of Physics. This summer I am taking the equivalent of the entire Organic Chemistry series (yes, I’ve been told that I’m insane). In the fall, I plan to take the last Physics, and then two of these three (assuming I can get into the classes at main campus): Biochem, Microbiology, or Anatomy and Physiology.

Some questions:

1. Which of the above courses would you most recommend? Fall will be my last quarter of financial aid, and I will probably not take any more undergrad coursework unless I am rejected from med school and they recommend it.

2. I had hopes of taking the fall MCAT for possible admission in 2005. Given where I’m at in the requirements, does this seem unrealistic?

3. Where does one find the best advice on the admissions process? What needs to be done when and etc. (Keep in mind, that I am attending a branch campus without a “true” pre-med advisor. I am taking 20 credit hours with four labs a week, and don’t have time to go to the main campus to meet with an actual pre-med advisor.)

4. Assuming I am not unrealistic in thinking I can apply for 2005 - what are my chances? I have been an EMT for about six years (volunteer and paid), had a mediocre (2.78) undergrad GPA (due to lack of motivation, not ability), a 4.0 in my MEd, and a 4.0 so far in my pre-med requirements. If I can’t pull a 4.0 this quarter, how bad will that look?

Thanks in advance to any and all who can help me out. I’m so glad I found this site.

Amy Beaupre

Hi and welcome to OPM from one Amy to another
ok, well I will answer your questions in order.
1. Physiology was a big help to me on the MCAT. It helped me answer a bunch of questions. Any of the classes you mentioned are good. Genetics is also a good one to take because they added more genetics and took off some organic on the MCAT. However you wouldn’t be able to get those classes in before the MCAT, so take what you want due to your personal interest. But if for some reason you have to take the MCAT over in APril, you would have at least Physiology and or genetics to help you in April.
2. You will not be done with the second part of physics. That may hurt you on the MCAT in august. You should really have all the required courses finished or be taking them in the same semester that you take the MCAT. For example alot of people are taking the 2nd part of organic and physics in april. They aren’t done but are 90 % done and that is ok. I would never recommend anyone to take the MCAT without all the classes unless they are a genius and already know physics. How did you do in physics I?
And organic in the summer is going to be rough. You may want to think about taking organic in the fall and spring and taking the april MCAT and applying next year. Just a suggestion. Make sure you know what you are doing before you mess things up.
3. On OPM of course. Also if there is a professor who is used to dealing with premeds and advising them. And of course we have our very own Judy Colwell here on OPM, who is a premed advisor. Her web site link is
4. Being an EMT is a great EC to have. I always wanted to do that but didn’t have the time. Make sure you can get great reference letters from them. GPA may be an issue, but you have shown an upward trend and that is what schools like. Don’t worry about not having a 4.0. I would dare say most applicants don’t have a 4.0. In fact I went to school with only 5 people who had a 4.0.
Good luck. and again welcome to OPM.
Amy B

i just have to say that I think it would be extremely difficult, virtually impossible, to take organic chemistry during summer session AND at the same time adequately prepare for the MCAT. The time you’re going to have to devote to o-chem to do well… I just don’t see it giving you time to also study for the MCAT at all.
I would equate the MCAT with at LEAST a four-credit course. I’ve known lots of people who put more time into MCAT preparation than a whole year of coursework.
whatever you decide, good luck to you!

It seems like your in a sprint instead of a marathon. Why can’t you take the MCAT in April for fall 2005 admission.
Everytime you take the MCAT it will be reported and it counts.
The adcom see all your grades you have from all the years in college and all the MCAT scores. Taking the MCAT when you are
ready is very important. You will have 11 months to work through the work books and prepare for one of the most important part of applying to med school. Pace yourself and you’ll do great!

Hi Amy:
There is a japanese proverb that says, “Go slowly, you’ll arrive sooner.” Or its western counterpart, “slow and steady wins the race.” Don’t learn this the hard way (as I have). If you rush through these courses, you have to factor in damage control if something goes awry. If you have to backtrack if o-chem doesn’t go well, then not only will you have to deal with the time factor but possibly mediocre grades and marginal MCAT scores. It might even take longer than if you went slower. What if you have to repeat something? As this site amply shows, medical school will still be there in 2006, 2007 etc. Take a deep breath and take the scenic route.

It looks like you are off to a good start in your pre-med studies but as others have said, take your time and keep your grades high. Organic chemistry during the summer is very, very difficult and very time-consuming because it is so compressed. You won’t have much time to prepare for MCAT because you will have plenty of problems and material to keep up with in your organic. Missing a day of a summer class is like missing a week during regular session.
Try to find additional financial aid if you have to. Consider doing part time and working part-time but leave plenty of time for your classwork. If you don’t get a 4.0 one semester, it will not kill you as long as you don’t drop too low. You have some damage control but you have good experiences with being an EMT. Take your time; do the best you can and don’t beat yourself if you get a B or two.

First - thanks to all who have offered support and advice. It is appreciated.
As far as the sprint thing - since I already have a bachelor’s (and Master’s) degree, I was told that the only way I could get financial aid to do this was to enroll as Continuing Ed. As a Continuing Ed student, I am only eligible for 12 consecutive months of financial aid. I declined aid for Fall quarter, as I had money saved up to pay for fall, which gives me aid through fall quarter next year. The only way I could get more aid at this point would be to enroll as a “degree seeking” student. I’m not sure if they would give me aid even then, as I have already submitted for the 12 months of aid for Pre-professional requirements.
As far as the summer ochem - I am aware that it will be difficult. This is a reputable program that was pointed out to me by a pre-med advisor who said that she had had many students take it, and do well. I know it will take a lot of time, and be a lot of info. But, really, will it be any more difficult than the course load of Calculus, Physics, Biology, and Chemistry that I carried last quarter and am taking this quarter? I’m kind of looking forward to being able to concentrate on just one subject instead of four every night.
I am concerned about taking the MCAT with so little preparation time. However, I was under the impression that the only way I could even be considered for 2005 would be to take it in the fall. I have always been a very good test taker, so I have hopes that that will make up a little for lack of prep. Also, I will have taken all of the subjects on the test since September, so it is not like I will have to refresh myself on material I took two or three years ago.
With that in mind, if I don’t do as well as I need to on the MCAT, will that hurt me in applying for 2006? I know I can only take it 3 times, but I’m less concerned with that fact than the possibility that a less than acceptable initial MCAT will hurt my admissions chances.
It will not be the end of the world if I end up not being able to apply/or be accepted for fall 2005. I can always go back to teaching for a year, or . . . go to paramedic school to keep me busy until 2006!
Grateful that I found this forum -

I would just be aware that the MCAT is unlike any test you have taken before. It is just as much about the quantity of practice questions you do to nail the format and timing as it is the “facts” you know. This is not a test I would recommend taking to “see how you do”. You only want to prepare for and take it once. Just my two cents.
Good luck,

I will give some serious thought as to whether or not I should take the MCAT in August. I know registration opens for it soon. Do you take a risk of not being able to get into a test site if you don’t register early?

I have to agree with above posters taking organic chemistry in the summer AND studying for the MCAT in the summer is a recipe for disaster. No matter how good of a test taker you are the McAT is not like any other exam you have taken. Not only are you rushing through via this strategy but you will also be missing some of your pre-reqs right? sooo as a non-trad do not give the adcoms any excuse to reject you. With 30,000 folks or more applying the burden of proof is on you…we here at OPM are not trying to discourage you by any means but most of us have been there and done that and do know how difficult organic chem is on a regular semester taking it in the summer is really really fast paced and they do not wait for you, if you add on top of this studying for the mcat it will be extremely hard. Good luck either way!

Unless I’m wrong, for a fall 2005 admission one would normaly take the MCAT in April 2005 and have a last chance in Aug 2005.
So you would have plenty of time to be ready if this is true.
And you should take the MCAT in April 2005. Applications start in March or April I think? So you would be in better shape with this schedule. Also have you looked into private loans? They won’t have you pay until you graduate.

Actually, no, to enter in the Fall of 2005, the last MCAT you could take would be August 2004. Applications are reviewed, and interviews then conducted, during the year prior to a class entering, so you apply LATEST in the fall one year before you expect to start, and your application has to include MCAT scores.

Thanks to all who have given their opinion on this topic. It has given me a lot of food for thought. I will definitely NOT jump right into the MCAT/Application process. I will be giving it some more thought before I decide whether or not to pursue admission for Fall 2005.
I think I will (in all my free time this summer ) visit a couple of the schools I am considering applying to and also get some opinions from their admissions people. I am also considering hiring a professional advising consultant as there are no expert pre-med advisors as my branch campus and I’m not sure how much individual attention I’ll get from the pre-med advisors on the main campus.
On the plus side - I got an A on the Physics midterm!!! On the downside - Physics is my easiest class this quarter!

Amy, congrats on the A! I think your approach seems sound. And you’re reacting very thoughtfully to a lot of advice that isn’t what you wanted to hear - that’s hard to do and I commend you. The truth is that this pursuit requires a tremendous level of commitment to your goal, and when you’ve done the self-talk to convince yourself that you need to do X,Y,Z to get there, it can be awfully hard to hear someone else say that, ya know, you’d be better served doing A,B,C first. So my hat’s off to you for keeping your commitment AND considering alternative ways to make it work. That shows the kind of mental resiliency that is going to serve you well throughout this process.


It seems like your in a sprint instead of a marathon. Why can’t you take the MCAT in April for fall 2005 admission.
Everytime you take the MCAT it will be reported and it counts.
The adcom see all your grades you have from all the years in college and all the MCAT scores. Taking the MCAT when you are
ready is very important. You will have 11 months to work through the work books and prepare for one of the most important part of applying to med school. Pace yourself and you’ll do great!

Med schools require that you take the MCAT no later than August of the prior to matriculation. (e.g. no later than August 2004 for matriculating in August/September 2005.)
Also remember that for most med schools, the “shelf life” of your MCAT scores is 3 years.

Sorry I thought you could take MCATS in the same year.

I just worry when people rush into the test without proper prep. Everytime the MCAT is taken it counts.