Intro + Do I have a chance?

Hi all! I joined the forum today after stumbling across the website doing some research regarding non-traditional pre-med pathways and I’m so glad I found this site. I’ve been scrolling through a multitude of posts and listening to almost every podcast and have learned a lot more about the non-traditional pathway than I had in months. It’s great to know that such a supportive community exists as other forums seem intimidating and more discouraging than encouraging. Anyhow, I wanted to get a feel of what my chances are on getting into med school and what steps I should take in order to better my chances or if most think I should probably move on from this goal (being painfully blunt would be very helpful, I’m a realistic person). So here goes nothing.

My undergrad academics were a mess my first two years which resulted in a very poor cumulative and science GPA. At the end of my second year I was at a ~2.3 GPA. Since then I’ve spent the last two years of my undergrad to boost my GPA to a 2.7, but since those classes were non-science, my science GPA stayed the same. I’ve failed a few classes and am currently retaking the Organic Chemistry series after failing the first (of three) classes twice. I’ve succeeded in passing this third time and successfully moved on to the final part of the series. My school offers the series as a 9 week program (in which each class is 3 weeks long), so I feel that I can actually do well in very difficult and high stress courses. I plan to do an unofficial postbac in which I try to take classes at a local university of CC in order to better my chances at med school. I’m planning to take a gap year and study for the mcat as well as trying to up my GPA, but I feel that my GPA is too poor to even attempt to fix. I have about 120 hrs of science courses with subpar grades, because I was stupid and too self-confident to realize I needed some time to figure things out rather than ignoring them and forcing ahead like a stubborn bull. Hence, I’m thrown myself down this deep deep hole that I’m trying to climb out of.

A little background on how I got here. I initially started my undergrad thinking of going to med school for no reason other than, I thought I should because of the prestige and title, so I decided to major in Molecular Biology. My high school curriculum wasn’t that challenging to me even as I took AP courses and had plenty of extracurricular activities, which fed into my confidence that I was one of the “smart” kids that rarely needed to study and still passed exams, boy was I wrong. When I failed my first course in college, I just shut down and everything fell apart I wasn’t even sure where I was heading in college, much less plans after graduation. Rather than picking myself back up, that instant of failure led to a domino effect that eventually led me to be kicked out of my major. I think that was the moment I realized enough was enough. I met a mentor who was a Psychology major that was also aiming for med school, but unlike me, she knew her whole life she wanted to be a Physician and proceeded to med school right after she graduated from undergrad. Her guidance really helped me reflect on whether or not the pre-med life was for me, so I began volunteering at my local hospital. That was actually the best decision I made in college. It really showed me how a hospital runs in the real world and what doctors really do on a daily basis. I was intrigued and enticed. I wanted to do what they were doing, hence I began to seriously plan out my steps towards trying to get into med school. For that I petitioned and basically begged the dean of my college to allow me to retake Ochem for a third time, even though it was outside of my major. I am forever grateful he saw at least some potential (or pity) in me and granted my request.

But with my past record, I feel that it is next to hopeless for me to pursue the dream. I have too many science credits to apply for a career changer post-bacc, but my GPA isn’t high enough for a record enhancer or SMP and a lot of other forums have posted that CC retakes or credits hold little to no value towards Med school admissions. I haven’t taken the MCAT so I don’t know what my score would be either, and I can’t just rely on getting a high MCAT score (even though I will work my ass off studying for that).

So all in all, I would just like to know, realistically, what are my chances at med school and if those of you who believe that I might still have a chance if I continue to work on it, what is your advice on how I approach this situation?

I’m very sorry for the long rant, but this has been weighing on my mind for a long time and I finally decided to gather the courage and talk about it in a supportive and collaborative forum. I thank you all in advance for taking the time to read my long post and for offering any advice you may have.

Thank you!

I believe you have a chance… Have you had a chance to speak with an advisor about getting your GPA up? My GPA sucks but I’m very optimistic. I’m just getting started and I’m pre-studying to get a grasp early so I won’t struggle. I’m an Old-head and I’m having to take courses over I took 14 years ago. I’m NOT giving up. Get your head in the game and push your reset button. Find an advisor that can guide you down the path of redemption. Tell yourself you can earn good grades and actually step outside the picture and see what you can change to be a stronger student. I come from poverty and had zero encouragement when I tried to become a physician 15 yrs ago. So who ever I can encourage I will do it! Do some research You can do this!

Peace and Blessings

Thank you so much for the encouragement!! The advisors that I talked to, especially the ones that were specifically meant to help Pre-med students, all said I pretty much should give up on this path and maybe try something like PA or RN school. They didn’t believe that I was academically capable because they were so focused on pushing traditional medical students through to med school and didn’t have much advice for non-traditional students like us. This forum was the best place I could get in terms of positive advice and support and I really want to thank you for helping the community live up to its creed. Thank you for the supportive commentary and advice! I’ll try to search some more for places that might help me create a more cohesive plan of action towards med school!

Hi Cy426,

You have a hard uphill battle. Most schools won’t even look at GPA’s lower than 3.0 so that may be a good place to start focusing your efforts. It’s also concerning that you failed the retake of that O Chem class. Schools can and do forgive a failure, but having failed the retake is a big red flag. You’ll also need some killer EC’s to ‘round out’ your application to give schools a reason to overlook your poor academic record. If possible try to get involved in research and publish. Start a non-profit. Something that shows initiative, passion and follow-through. LOR are going to be very important for your application. Reach out to local schools and ask for advice on what they recommend. Many have programs that feed into the school (special masters, some research programs, etc). That may be a way to get your foot in the door. The academics only get more difficult in medical school and beyond. You’re really going to have to push yourself to be successful the first time. I’ve seen people get dismissed from school because they weren’t performing well, and that is a bitter pill to swallow, not to mention the debt that they’re then responsible for without the career they were hoping for. It’s interesting that your pre-med adviser suggested PA school, they’re getting just as competitive as medical school and much of the pre-requisites are the same. I wouldn’t write it off completely. PA’s are an important part of the healthcare team. Really give yourself the environment you need to do well on the MCAT. Not to stress you out more, but it’s going to be very important to your application that you do well. Give yourself the time to study appropriately to prepare. Once you have your score you can reassess where you stand. Good luck to you on your journey! Please keep us updated.

All great advice above, I also recommend that you visit, which is a chart of acceptances into med school by GPA and MCAT, and just take a look at where you lie on the chart. I realize you haven’t taken the MCAT yet, but I think the chart could provide some motivation and will show that, yes, low gpas can be compensated for by excellent MCAT, LORs, ECs, volunteer work, research etc. As other posters have said, that retake could weight on your application but that’s where you can use your personal statement to touch on why you failed and what your situation was. Where there is a will there is a way! Just take your time to raise your gpa and to expand your application, it’ll be worth it! Good luck to you!