Little insight from a Dean of Admissions

Hi all, I posted this as a response on another forum to someone’s concern over a low GPA. I thought I’d re-post it since we can all use some encouragement now and then.
Here goes:
…though I am doing better those old GPA’s haunt you forever. But what everyone else has posted is absolutely true, it’s not the end all be all of your medical pursuits. What I’m also beginning to learn is that you must find the right med school! Some are more strung-up than others on high GPA/MCAT as being the most important determinant. I was just visiting a med school here in Texas and the Dean of Admissions was saying that they choose applicants (as most schools do) on the potential of the applicant to actually finish and graduate from med school. However, he went on to say that they have learned that the GPA and MCAT scores are not always good indicators of that (though that is the common belief). Here’s his story that I found rather encouraging:
A few years ago they had about 40 med students failing and struggling to make it. Wanting to see “where they went wrong” in the admittance process, they went back to review these students’ applications hoping to find a common thread. He “expected” that the commonality would be low GPA’s and MCAT scores. That didn’t turn out to be the case however. He found that some of the kids that were failing had 4.0’s, some 3.0’s, some 35’s on MCAT, some 22’s. Then they took their best students, those doing very well in med school and looked at their records: some had 4.0’s, some 3.0’s, some 35’s on MCAT, some 22’s. So they began interviewing and talking to all of them. And they found that ALL of the students doing well had one thing in common: in their past they had all faced some sort of set-back or crises that they had to overcome. Whether it was family issues, health, or just failing grades in college that had to be brought back up. Whereas none of the students who were failing had been through such an experience. Not to say that you had to have had some sort of tragic experience to make it through med school…but he says all students entering med school will face a major setback: they go from being the best undergrads to suddenly struggling and failing exams in med school. And the ability to cope, pick yourself up, and “come back” is essential (also why they like adult-returning students). This is why along with looking at the GPA/MCAT they now immediately ask applicants “what sort of set-back have you had to overcome?” They find that this is a more realistic indicator of a student’s potential to finish as opposed to the GPA/MCAT.
I’m sorry this was so long. But I said all that to say, get to know the schools…they each seem to have different “philosophies” on what’s important in applicants.

Bea,
Thanks for that thoughtful posting. I’ve always felt that selection “by the numbers” is a very poor substitute for intuition and understanding human nature. I’ve also heard it said that graduating in the top of one’s medical school class does not correlate with being a good doctor.
I guess that old premeds can have an edge in some ways.
Cheers,

Hi Terry,
I agree…unfortunately some of the worst doctors I’ve had came out of great med schools (that stress high numbers). I’m afraid just because one has high numbers doesn’t mean he/she understands the “art of caring.” I find for most of us it is something learned through life experience…another reason I think us old pre-meds make great docs.
Bea

There is a very large part of me that hopes against hope that that was Texas A&M

wow. well, isn’t that heartening? now i just hope that my first choice has come to this realization by the time i start applying!

It was actually UT-San Antonio. However I was also at Baylor and they had a similar outlook (suprisingly!). I also spoke w/someone from Tulane and apparently they LOVE adult students. And I’ve “heard” that Yale and Mayo are beginning to “seek out” older pre-meds…I haven’t heard this first hand though but it would be interesting to find out! I don’t know about A&M…you should just email the Dean and ask about the school, you’ll definitely be able to get a feel for what they’re looking for.
Bea

Thanx sooo much for the clarification. I have been struggling with these questions, since I don’t see myself as having had many major challenges or setbacks, mostly because I don’t usally describe events in my life that way. Now I feel that I can answer these questions more effectively.

Oh goodie! I live in set-back city
This is good news to me

I am sorry but I am not so sure about allopathic schools love ADULT students. But I will be 100% sure that they love a young 4.0 GPA with 35 MCAT.
Therefore, until anyone bring proof that more ADULT with pretty average or low GPA be accepted to MD, I won’t believe it.
C’mon now, there are more young studs in every MD program than old non-trad. like myself right?

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I am sorry but I am not so sure about allopathic schools love ADULT students. But I will be 100% sure that they love a young 4.0 GPA with 35 MCAT.
Therefore, until anyone bring proof that more ADULT with pretty average or low GPA be accepted to MD, I won’t believe it.
C’mon now, there are more young studs in every MD program than old non-trad. like myself right?



Well, of course there are lots more traditional-aged students in med schools because they make up the vast majority of the applicants to med school. Duh.
But you can’t generalize about 120 allopathic schools. Yes, there are some that are rather numbers-driven, who will go for the high GPA and MCAT to various degrees of exclusivity. But many other schools will have different approaches to evaluating their candidate pool, and claiming that all allopathic schools are numbers-driven is just silly.
Numbers ARE important. I find that a common mistake among OPMs is to think that their life experience should make up for lousy numbers, and that’s just not going to happen. You have to show that you can hack a highly competitive and intense academic environment, which is why schools look for reassurance from grades and MCATs.
There are lots of OPMs out there getting good grades and MCATs - THEY are your competition as much as the traditional students with good numbers. You’re not going to see non-trads OR traditional students getting in with “pretty average or low GPA.” Sorry. Non-trads with bad old grades have to work hard to show, by virtue of new GOOD grades, that they can hack it.
Mary

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Numbers ARE important. I find that a common mistake among OPMs is to think that their life experience should make up for lousy numbers, and that’s just not going to happen. You have to show that you can hack a highly competitive and intense academic environment, which is why schools look for reassurance from grades and MCATs.
There are lots of OPMs out there getting good grades and MCATs - THEY are your competition as much as the traditional students with good numbers. You’re not going to see non-trads OR traditional students getting in with “pretty average or low GPA.” Sorry. Non-trads with bad old grades have to work hard to show, by virtue of new GOOD grades, that they can hack it.
Mary


Amen, Mary!!!

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I am sorry but I am not so sure about allopathic schools love ADULT students. But I will be 100% sure that they love a young 4.0 GPA with 35 MCAT.





Therefore, until anyone bring proof that more ADULT with pretty average or low GPA be accepted to MD, I won’t believe it.





C’mon now, there are more young studs in every MD program than old non-trad. like myself right?







Come on, now, kiddo, this is a grown-up message board. I think you’re looking for the pre-allo forum at SDN.





Why don’t you get your binky and let the adults finish their conversation? Good boy!

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Come on, now, kiddo, this is a grown-up message board. I think you’re looking for the pre-allo forum at SDN.
Why don’t you get your binky and let the adults finish their conversation? Good boy!


I think Spooner has a point. I think he/she/it is aggravated by the apparent paucity between how an adult student with good grades should be looked at, and how they are looked at. All of us OPMs are subject to this, and it has frustrated me. The point is that we are competing against kids with plenty of free time to study, and plenty of free resources from their parents. No consideration is given to how much more phenomenal an A is when you did it while taking a full load, raising 2 kids, working part time, and taking your old hooptymobiles to the mechanic once a week.

I don’t buy it. I think he’s a troll. But hey, he could post again and change my mind!

There is a lot of good advice from people who have gotten into medical school on this public forum. For that I am extremely appreciative. I am also appreciative for the candid and pragmatic advice that is posted here. I don’t think any of us can afford to have the information we seek to be sugar coated. It would be a waste of our time.
That said, after posting on this sight for a over a year, it is clear that some are allowed to be completely candid and dare I say glib, sarcastic and sometimes insulting. I don’t have a problem with the ball being lobed in my direction, so long as I’m allowed to lob it back.
There are three voices on this site who are freely and without reservation allowed to say whatever they want. God forbid you deviate from worshipping the OPM trinity.
In the name of the Renard, the Belle and the Old Man Dave.

I respect the Trinity, but I call it like I see it. But I’ve been wrong from time to time

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I don’t buy it. I think he’s a troll. But hey, he could post again and change my mind!


Admittedly, he does kind of have the appearance of troll having only one post and comming out swinging like that. We’ll know if other 1 post sock puppets come along to support him.

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There are three voices on this site who are freely and without reservation allowed to say whatever they want. God forbid you deviate from worshipping the OPM trinity.


I’ve noticed this, too. There are a few disciples of the trinity as well.
You think it’s bad here, though, try SDN. That place is full of primadonnas who walk on water. I don’t like to post there any more.

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[snip] I think he/she/it is aggravated by the apparent paucity between how an adult student with good grades should be looked at, and how they are looked at. All of us OPMs are subject to this, and it has frustrated me. The point is that we are competing against kids with plenty of free time to study, and plenty of free resources from their parents. No consideration is given to how much more phenomenal an A is when you did it while taking a full load, raising 2 kids, working part time, and taking your old hooptymobiles to the mechanic once a week.


I think you aren’t giving members of admissions committee nearly the credit they deserve. They work very hard at trying to tease through all the information about an applicant to determine the applicant’s qualifications, taking all factors into account in the decision process.
Cheers,
Judy

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I think you aren’t giving members of admissions committee nearly the credit they deserve. They work very hard at trying to tease through all the information about an applicant to determine the applicant’s qualifications, taking all factors into account in the decision process.


Caution: You have just invited a long overdue rant. Hide your children, lock your doors. The weak at heart may want to scroll down to the next post immediately.

Perhaps, because of cognitive dissonance, you give them way more credit than they deserve. They often make wrong decisions that could easily be avoided. They work hard? I work WAAAAAAAAAAAY harder than them just to impress them, and for WAAAAAAAAAAAAY less money than they make. Everyone works hard; so what?
Why do they consistently pick those who are set up in life for the easy A first, and those of us who do more, make almost the same grades, and have infinitely more sensibility and responsibility get passed over? Tease? My ass! They do the easy thing and just look at the numbers. The only 2 they care about: GPA and GPA (sic).
I get measured all the time by the same yard stick they use for kids. I get condescended to by university faculty and staff who fail to realize that I didn’t reach 32 in a bubble. What makes the holy adcomm people so much different when they engage in the same behavior? Especially when they cannot recognize that there is a difference between making an A when you have kids to help with their homework, feed, clothe, etc. and making an A when you might have to skip the next kegger, call mommy and daddy for a new Beemer because you scratched the last one, and “borrow” money from mommy and daddy for a social organization membership because you just can’t buy enough friends in a low rent area.