I am happy to have found this site. I find it to be a useful resource. I am 24 and married to a very supportive husband and don’t necessarily count as old, but I am certainly non-traditional. My story is more complicated than others, but I will not give up on my dream of being a physician.
I’ll start off with saying that after high school, I went to Arizona State with no idea what I was doing. I left because I couldn’t afford it and left behind a 2.7 GPA. I came home to CT and started completely over at community college. I graduated with an Associate’s in General Studies with a 3.85 and transferred to Goodwin College, a tiny, private college that isn’t very competitive, but a very good environment for me personally. I am a Health Science major and have been working full-time with the disabled/mentally ill since 19 and the balance can be very tricky. Because of this, I have not taken any medical school prerequisites yet, because I want to enjoy my undergrad studies, plus I simply cannot afford the extra classes (they are also sparse and at inconvenient times). My school has no premedical advising and I plan to take the DIY route. My last semester is this Fall, and I am scheduled to graduate with a 3.9. I just got accepted into a clinical research program at a hospital in Bridgeport for the Fall, and I’m hoping to get the most out of it. Once I am finished, I know that I need to jump into prereqs, but I’m not sure how to go about this. I contacted several schools that appeal to me and asked about credits from community college. Hofstra gave me the thumbs up, Quinnipiac said the same, but said to mix them with 4-year credits, and New York MC said yes, but a post-bacc would strengthen my application. Currently waiting to hear from UCONN and Howard. I absolutely cannot afford a post-bacc, nor do I feel like I need one, since I am not cleaning up my GPA–if would probably just be nice to have some advising and MCAT prep, but I am very disciplined with my time and I predict that I will at least get an average MCAT score. My best alternative would be to take them at UCONN, but I question whether or not I will be able to afford the tuition. Most private loans that I have researched will only lend to the degree-seeking. Since me just taking courses counts me as non-degree seeking, I will have to pay out of pocket, which will hurt a lot. I was thinking of maybe taking most at CC, then of course the uppers at UCONN. This is really my only affordable option, but since I started at CC in the first place, I wouldn’t want my application to appear weak, even though I know that my CC was more rigorous than even what I’m taking now.
As far as leadership/community service/volunteering goes, I have a ton. I am apart of two honor societies and like I said, I work with the disabled, which gives me many opportunities for community service on its own. My job involves administering medications, attending appointments, keeping up on inservices that are always medically related, and doing nursing delegated tasks. I volunteer for Special Olympics, I will soon join the Health and Safety committee at my workplace, and am currently volunteering at a center for cancer support services. I also will take on a hospital volunteer gig at Yale-New Haven in the ER. On top of that, I plan on taking an EMT-B course that I’ve been putting off for years (school and work just get in the way) and volunteering for clinical hours. Mind you, I plan on doing this within the next two years, not all at once! At some point, I need to shadow–there is an excellent organized program at Hartford Hospital, so I’m not worried about getting the opportunity.
Overall, there are many things that work to my advantage–my job, my volunteering, the research that I will do, my GPA, and I am also a minority and plan to apply disadvantaged.
The things that worry me are my community college credits, my lack of planning in not taking my prereqs earlier (I’ve known since CC that I wanted to pursue medicine, just put off acting on it until I finished undergrad–not sure how that looks on an application), the fact that I will have 4 transcripts, and my college not being very competitive. School is generally a cake walk for me and I have made it through school a little bit easier than others, but I haven’t had a chance to really prove that for my application.
Most days I am confident that I can get in if I work hard, and then other days I doubt myself because of my complicated route to the admissions process. I have accepted that I am an atypical applicant, but I worry about not being “good enough.” Many people tell me that I am thinking too far ahead, but I can’t help it! I will have to see where this next year takes me and then re-evaluate.
Anyone’s insight would be greatly appreciated!
Best of luck to you all!
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I use the term “post-bacc” loosely to describe literally any non-degree class after graduating versus a “formal post-bacc” which is what I consider to be a real program that shills put out for non-trads/grade repairers. I definitely don’t think you need a “formal” program to meet your needs, but I do think you should try your best to get prereqs done through a 4-yr university. I went through UNE COM’s online DIY post-bacc option which worked out for my schedule. A lot of schools take online credits but still prefer you take classes in the traditional classroom setting (also helps for LORs). I think your best bet would be to take the courses at any regionally accredited school near you that offers courses to non degree students (not sure how that impacts tuition). CC credits are accepted but aren’t considered as highly when comparing transcripts. As far as number of transcripts…as long as you can explain your story feasibly, you should be alright. Your story makes sense:started school, it didn’t work out, you took gen ed at a CC, then finished out at a 4-yr school.
Your work since 19 will look much better than the “check the box” type stuff you have lined up. A lot of people think that getting an EMT license but not using it doesn’t help an application as much as you’d think. I don’t know for sure, but I would prioritize that lower on your list of “to-dos” coming up. Some schools like the box-checking activities, but I think a lot of adcoms can recognize box checking versus doing stuff you’re actually passionate about.
Let the adcoms decide whether or not you’re the person they want. Do the best you can at what you do, gain experiences that are medically oriented and/or what you enjoy doing and be able to explain how they strengthen your desire to pursue medicine or otherwise made you who you are.
There’s nothing wrong with planning for the future as long as you plan for contingencies as well. I think your plan is good as long as you don’t spread yourself too thin and still allow time for you and your husband.
Hello, and welcome to OPM! I’m glad you have found this site to be useful already - it most definitely is a wonderful resource. The support I have gotten from the people here is one of the reasons I got into medical school. A BIG reason.
First, a comment about post-bac programs - I did a formal post-bac program at a small liberal arts university in the Chicago area, not for GPA reasons at all but because I did want that structure. I also wanted priority registration, smaller classes so I could get to know my professors, and a committee letter of recommendation. It was also wonderful being around other people in my same situation (non-traditional pre-meds). This is not to say you should go that route, just to say there are some benefits to it. If you can find a degree-granting post-bac program (which mine was), then you CAN get those loans. Just a thought for you to investigate.
As for CC courses, that has been debated to death here on OPM. You will find all kinds of opinions on the subject. Do ADCOMs look at them as less competitive/rigorous? In many cases, yes. That said, I personally know people who have gotten into medical school with CC pre-reqs. It all depends on your situation. If you simply can’t afford a 4-year school, then the choice is made for you.
I do agree with kennymac about extracurriculars - focus on quality rather than quantity. It’s better to have a handful of activities to talk about (that you did for several years) than fill up all 15 slots on the AMCAS application with things you did only for a short time. Sounds like you have the volunteer aspect covered. You’re right to look into shadowing as well. Research is great, and many people do it, although it is not a must-have to get in.
I think the best piece of advice I can give you, though, is to worry less about being “good enough” and focus on being who you are. Rather than compare yourself to the other tens of thousands of applicants, highlight the personal qualities and life experiences that make you stand out, and that will help you become a caring and competent physician someday. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to do well on your pre-reqs and the MCAT - you certainly do. (And I will tell you, as someone who also did very well in school, that some of these science classes, and especially the MCAT, are NOT to be underestimated or taken lightly.) In short: be yourself.
Best wishes to you. And keep posting!