Informal Post Bacs

I’m thinking of doing an informal post baccalaureate program in the Saint Louis area to get my prereqs for medical school. I have some questions and any advice would be much appreciated!

  1. I’m trying to go the informal route because of the costs involved with a formal program (and because I’m broke), does anyone have any idea of what the informal route means in terms of my ability to sign up for classes (I’m trying to get an idea of whether I’ll be able to take premed classes when I need to, particularly in the Saint Louis metro area)

  2. Advising: Would I be able to get good recommendations going through this route? Or is a formal program the best hope for this?

    Thanks in advance!

Hi Gabriel,

I’m actually doing a formal program in Chicago (starting this fall), for a variety of reasons, but I know that cost is a HUGE issue. I’m not looking forward to all those loans, that’s for sure! But I have researched both avenues.

One of the reasons I’m going the formal route is because of priority registration. I get to register before EVERYONE, which is awesome. I’m basically guaranteed the classes I need. I haven’t experienced the other side of things myself, but I’ve heard from other OPM’ers who’ve gone the informal route that sometimes (though not always) they can’t get the classes they need. So that’s one thing to bear in mind.

Regarding recommendations–with a formal program, you often get a committee recommendation letter, which you won’t get going the informal route. That said, you can always ask individual profs for letters of recommendation–just make a point to get to know them well. So I guess getting “good” recommendations depends on how well you get to know the prof, and how well you do in the class.

Some people go the formal route, some people go the informal route. There are pros and cons to each. It depends on what you need, and also what you can afford. Best of luck as you make your decision and begin this journey!


I’m doing the informal route at Ariz State Univ. I declared an intent to obtain another bachelor’s degree (whether that actually happens remains to be seen) so I am able to register for classes fairly early and haven’t had any troubles getting into my classes. Compare to another post-bac student i know who didn’t declare as degree seeking and that person had a class reg date of almost a month after mine.

I’ve had no problems talking to profs and securing LOR’s. I secured a strong letter from my chem prof, fairly certain i’ll get another one from my phy2 prof, and plan to work on my o-chem prof this upcoming school year. So far I haven’t had any problems with that. My profs actually seem willing to speak with me more since I have an experienced background.

I am doing the UG version of a post bac right now at my local university. I am mainly taking classes I haven’t taken (or only had Cs in), and trying to get A’s in all of them, although I think for Biochem it may be a stretch, as I haven’t taken it in 11 years. Either way, I found a college that will give me fin aid and I am just trying to increase my scores for now. If I can’t do it with UG classes, I’m going to work on grad classes as well… Just keep taking UL science classes and getting As in them…

Thanks for all the responses! It’s tough trying to decide between a formal and informal program, but I’m going to contact the schools and investigate the different options.

A formal program would be my preferred choice as you get most things taken care of, but it’s a lot of money and I’m not sure how to procure financial aid or loans for post bac programs. I do have some time on my side, so I guess I’ll just investigate thoroughly and see what happens.

I’d also be really happy to talk to anyone who has experience of doing a post bac in the Saint Louis area, so if you’re out there and reading this, please reply to this post!

I have heard pros and cons for both. Some schools have reserved seats if you get a certain GPA and certain MCAT scores, you’re guaranteed a seat in their med school, or an affiliated one… but… those are really expensive, so you’re paying 40k to do your best and get a seat… otherwise, you’re paying 40k and competing with everyone else… As far as DIY programs, you’re paying way less money, taking classes you like, and competing with everyone else… If you’re in STL, talk to the med schools in your area (since you have the best chance with them) and see what they think your best bet is… That’s how I came up with my plan… Also, DO schools replace grades, so if you retake something you have a low score in, you’ll get the recent (hopefully higher) score… That changes my GPA from barely a 3.0 to a 3.25… seems like not much, but that’s huge for me

Just as a note - formal programs with linkages (guaranteed seats in med school if you meet the appropriate requirements) are VERY competitive to get into.

Also, you shouldn’t have any more trouble getting LORs as an informal post-bacc than any normal undergrad student would have. Make sure to approach your professors early in the course so that they get to know you, ask questions in class, go to office hours, etc.