In need of some pre med advice for a 27 yr old

Hello! Newbie here. I have found myself on this site every day during lunch time, reading many inspiring posts in the last month or so. I want to share my story and get advice from you folks.

I’m going way back and I appreciate your time!

When I was in middle school, I remember telling my friends I wanted to be a Cardiologist, I was such a smart kid. As I went into HS, my mother was a single parent and so I had to work, every day after school. In spite of this, I still managed to do well overall. I was accepted in the Bioengineering program, full ride and all (low income + good grades). But my mother did not believe in college, or leaving the nest, so i stayed. I can’t say I regret staying because I had to help her, life happens.

I wanted to help my family, and I knew the only way to get a good job was through a degree. So, I decided to go to JCC the following year, I started taking liberal arts courses and so I got my BA, GPA 3.2. I didn’t try much, because I had to work two jobs at the time, I raced through it and finished in three years. I then went to get my MA in Public Policy, GPA 3.5, finished in 1.5 years.

Two years later, I am a Program Director at a JCC, and I hate it! I think I took the easy way out, and now I am saddened that I could not follow my childhood dreams, and every time I see a doctor, I think to myself, “this is what I was meant to do, this is where my heart belongs,” I don’t regret my choices though.

And this is why I am reaching out to you all, I am encouraged to go back to school to become a doctor at 27. To help people, and would love to volunteer my time overseas. The problem is that I have not taken any science courses or math since JCC, if any. Here are my questions: Should I go back to get my Post Bac? What are my chances if I work really hard on my grades and MCAT as a non traditional student? Can I still work full time while I do a Post Bac or DIY program? What are my chances of getting accepted into a local Medical School in Southern Cal at 29 yrs? Anyone know which Post Bac program is best locally? I am planning to enroll in a Bio and Chem or Calculus course in the Fall 2012 at a JCC. Is this a good idea?

I know that I have a lot of questions, but I really appreciate the comments greatly.

You can ABSOLUTELY do it. It will require a ton of time, and your free time will disappear (working full-time). But yes, it can be done.

Can’t answer the CA school-specific question, but heck yeah.

Start investigating the programs, and find a place to volunteer (clinical position), if possible. It will help to ensure you’re making the right choice.


You have a BA and an MA, so a post-bacc is probably the best bet. You can do a formal one, through a school that will also provide your with pre-med advising and opportunities to get clinical and/or research experience. Or, you can create your own DIY PB by taking all the necessary pre-med classes at your nearest university. This is often done by starting a Bio degree, then choosing only the courses that you need for pre-med, because this will get you better odds at getting into classes than being undeclared. Of course, you don’t have to finish the degree or take classes your advisor says are required, at most unis, so this is a great way to get into that packed organics class.

Balancing school and work is hard, but not impossible. Most OPM’ers have done it. You have to always remember that work is less important than your grades. If you forget, your grades will dip and you can jeopardize your chances. I worked full-time, but I was able to go in early, leave for classes and then come back and stay late at an office job, as well as working from home. You may have to commit to working 9-5, begging to get out 20 minutes early on some nights to make it to your 5PM class. Night classes tend to be offered less often (ie: 2 nights a week) and so you can expect to be doing a 5-10PM stretch of class those nights.

“What are my chances of getting accepted into a local Medical School in Southern Cal”

Angel - SoCal is crowded, and lots of students from other West Coast states want to get into those schools. To give yourself the best chance to get into them I suggest you contact their admissions departments (sooner, rather than later) and ask them what they advise as you start on this path. While your at it, ask if THEY recommend any particular post-bacc programs! Other than that, researching on Google will be your best bet, because if you go the formal route you are the one who knows what one fits YOU best. Do you want to do research? Or get lots of local exposure in free health clinics? Different programs have different strengths in these areas.

Fall 2012 is coming up quick - you need to enroll as soon as possible. Having said that, if you’re in SoCal there are lots of universities around - choosing community college instead may make you less competitive on paper, so I advise against it. I realize tuition at uni is 2 or 3x the CC cost, but if you want to stay in CA it may be necessary. Again, call and ask the schools you’re interested in how they view CC vs Uni.

  • PixieSanders Said:
...This is often done by starting a Bio degree, then choosing only the courses that you need for pre-med, because this will get you better odds at getting into classes than being undeclared...

...Having said that, if you're in SoCal there are lots of universities around - choosing community college instead may make you less competitive on paper, so I advise against it...

Since you already have a degree, chances are you won't be able to enroll for a second undergrad degree at any public university here in CA. You can certainly apply, but there are severe restrictions. Look for posts by user 'nnylacire' on this topic, and see this link:

As you'll see, some places such as UCSD simply don't take second-bacc applications, while some such as UCLA only take applications to the school of nursing, and most of the rest consider applications on a case-by-case basis. I would suspect that CSU policies are similar to the UC system. If you can't enroll for a second degree, you are allowed to crash classes as a student-at-large. So you have one of three options:

    - A formal postbacc (full-time because I don't know of too many postbaccs that are part-time or evening-based.)

    - Crash the classes you need and pray that the instructor gives you an addcode.

    - Community college (I won't get into the 'good or bad' argument here because there are already plenty of threads on this.)

I don't know where in SoCal you are, but there is an institution named SCUHS in Whittier that offers the pre-reqs entirely on weekends, in 8-hour sessions. I looked into that option but decided against because I was dubious of their success rate. Regarding your chances of getting into a CA school: I would suggest at least being open to the idea of other states. The competition here is intense and I recall hearing somewhere that CA is a net exporter of med students.

Angel - I echo what the other folks say, with the addition that WITHIN California, it’s my understanding that California CC credits are regarded the same as 4 year college credits.

You mention taking Bio and “Chemistry or Calculus” in the fall. Most medical schools do not require Calculus Physics (“calc. physics”) - check out the websites of any schools you are interested in if you have thought that far ahead. I’d had calculus but did NOT want to take Calc. Physics as I’d have had to redo the calculus so just made a decision that I wouldn’t apply to any school that required it. As it turned out, when I made my list of schools I wanted to apply to (much later), that decision did not limit me at all. So for what it’s worth, I’d advise taking General Chemistry in the fall if nothing else. Because you can’t take Organic till you’ve had Gen Chem. THerefore, delaying getting into chemistry can stretch out your timeline for your requirements unnecessarily.

Best of luck – you can do it!!


I appreciate all the words of encouragement and the advice.

It is difficult for me to think to apply out of Southern Cal. All my family is here, although I am not married or don’t have any kids, I do have an 8 yr relationship. But I also know that I have to make sacrifices to get what I want.

I fear the Post Bac route because of the expense. Does anyone know of any programs that offer financial aid or scholarships for someone in my position? What about Post Bac with Linkages, I guess it wouldn’t be so hard to think of the expense if I had a guaranteed spot at a Med School.

One more question, for someone in my situation, what would be the minimum GPA and MCAT requirement for my Post Bac program?


Hey there Angel!

I’m in So. Cal and in a formal Post-Bacc program.

If you were to go the formal route, here are the programs that I would check out:

Cal State Fullerton (linkage with GWU)

Loyola Marymount University

Charles Drew University

Scripps (linkage with Drexel and GWU)

Chapman University


Cal State Dominguez Hills

Santa Monica, West LA, or El Camino CC

UCLA Extension

Usually, post-Bacc progs don’t offer scholarships; it is mostly loans. This is not to say that you can’t find private scholarships to help fund your program.

I am at one of the formal post-Bacc progs that I listed. It was the best decision for me, because it is small and there is a connection with a CA medical school. Because of anonymity, I won’t say which program or which medical school specifically, but with research, you can find the information.

If there are further questions that you may have, you can PM me and I would be glad to answer them.

Good luck in your travels towards becoming a physician!

  • Angel25 Said:
I guess it wouldn't be so hard to think of the expense if I had a guaranteed spot at a Med School.

Although I understand your hesitation in dropping tons of cash as well as your desire for a linkage type program, keep in mind that the very attributes required for a successful linkage offer (high GPA, ## MCAT score, good ECs) are also the ones that will make you successful as a standalone/DIY applicant. I guess I'm trying to say that if you go for a postbacc program, don't be hung up on linkage agreements. Aim to do the best you can with your GPA, MCAT, and ECs. The rest will fall into place.

If the cost does not scare you off, you can also consider USC's postbacc in addition to the ones TTJ posted.

I did not understand your question about GPA/MCAT requirements for a postbacc. I don't think you need to have taken the MCAT in order to apply for a postbacc. Perhaps you were thinking of SMPs?

The UCLA RAP and a few other UC post-bacc progs require applicants to have taken the the MCAT already.

The program at Scripps REQUIRES a certain GPA and SAT scores. This was the reason that I didn’t apply to that program. Also, the PD (who has sense been replaced) was discouraging, but that is another story all together.

Cal State Fullerton requires certain courses to already have been completed prior to admission.

This is all just FYI.