Losing motivation, dealing with FUD, self-recriminations rejection fears.

I’ve seem to hit a psychological roadblock in my very long-term quest for medical school. I am losing my motivation to study for the MCAT. I have delayed my requests for transcripts. I am afraid of asking my mentors for LORs. I have yet to set up an AAMC account.

Instead, I’ve become obsessed over my less than optimal GPA, my reading disabilities, and the great length of time it has taken me to get this far. And it is the uncertainty of, and fear of, rejection, and of when’s ones best is not enough, that is part of the root of my procrastination.

To exacerbate things, I see the successes of others around me and with others for whom I’ve assisted in their medical school aspirations. Their success reminds me of how inadequate and “not good enough” I am. For example, just yesterday, one of my “mentees” and friends just posted on his Facebook timeline his graduation plaque from a top-5 allopathic school. I had helped him get into med school by recruiting him to help me set up a free clinic and helping him write his personal statement. Unfortunately, seeing his success also made me a bit jealous, as I knew that I would never be accepted into his medical school. I don’t have the grades and I am probably far too old (his school has never taken an applicant over age 35).

The “should have’s” and “would have’s” keep coming to mind, and are continually reminding me of how things could have been: If I had only gotten better grades. If I had only found out about my reading problems earlier. If I had only quit volunteering earlier.

Any suggestions on dealing with the past? I know that it is easy for some people to say, the past is the past and we can’t change it, so let it go. But applying to medical school brings up that very same past, and medical schools adcomms use the applicants’ past to screen them in or out. So, my past does affect my future when applying to med school. And, I am now having trouble getting past that.

What’s helped me put my past behind me is my consistent and recent academic success. In fact, I hadn’t thought about my disastrous undergrad for YEARS until an adcom member brought it up earlier in the week.

I’m also about 25+ years removed from those grades too which also helps.

So I guess my first question to you would be what have you done lately to counteract your previous poor performance in school? Because the more recent success you have, the sooner your past becomes the past.

Grades are only one part of the application process. Focus on the good, try to down play the bad, and highlight how you’ve overcome obstacles to get to this point. What did you change, how did you change as a person, etc. this stuff needs to be qualifies blue and quantifiable. A good record of grades now can overshadow bad grades in the past. Definitely go into it with quasi-realistic expectations, but you never know how someone will view your app. So maybe you won’t go to a top 5 school. Is that your goal, or is it to become a physician? The lowest ranked graduate of the lowest ranked school is still a doctor…

As you seem to already know, the primary app is about selling yourself. That’s hard to do when you don’t believe it at least partially yourself. Getting into med school now isn’t just mcat/gpa. You’re more than a number on a transcript, so wow them with your experiences.

Your past is an anchor, let it go. Keep moving forward, inch by inch, regardless of how ugly your grades were. They are in the past and you bet not let your past anchor you in place allowing your dream to sail away. You’re better than that! Quit being lazy, quit being a baby, quit with your pity party and get on with living after your dream OR resolve within yourself that you will die a complete an utter failure because you were too much of a coward to go after what it is you say you want…choice is yours…


We all have those moments during this process. I’ll be speaking about that and dealing with a less than spectacular gpa, etc. at the conference.

Coming to the conference actually is one way of beating the FUD. I have attended for over 10 years now. Each year I find myself recharged by being with such a great group people!

Hope to see you there in June and don’t give up!

I completely understand what you said about how applying to med school brings up the past. I can 100% relate to your situation in worrying about past grades so much to the point where I felt like i was having a psychotic break in an email to my advisor worrying about how to frame my bad grades.

My biggest advice is accept that you had subpar grades and recognize your upward trends and know HOW to explain those difficulties. One of the first few questions I was asked in my 1on1 interview was “Have you ever had any academic struggles and what did you do to deal with them?” I actually made a joke right out the gate answering that question saying, “Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed the glaring grades early on in my undergraduate career.” And she kind of laughed back and said, “Actually, I have no idea what your grades are, all I know is where you went to school and what degree you received, this is a blind interview.” I quickly realized this was my ultimate opportunity to be judged on ME as a person, not as an academic. So I was very honest and said that I didn’t properly appreciate formal education when I was younger and it took me several years before realizing I was sabotaging my own future. I shared my epiphany after getting another bad grade and asking myself what I was doing with my life and knowing that this was not who I was and ever since then I’ve busted my butt trying to make up for all the damage I’ve done and I shared my successes and even shared my insecurities with my former grades AND that I have gotten over those bad grades since enrolling in the post-bacc program demonstrating that I can get good grades.

All adcoms want to hear is that you acknowledge that you had some bad marks, explain any circumstances that may have attributed to the grades (like your reading disability) and that you have been able to demonstrate that you can attain good grades and have an upward trend.

Just remember that you can do this! Like another poster said, grades are just one factor in the process, and many schools have the blind interviews like I experienced. So many programs care much more about who you are as a person because that will indicate what kind of doctor you will be and how you engage with patients.

Good luck! Keep that chin up.

Thank you all for your feedback and support. While you have been encouraging, I still feel that my situation is not very good. I have a downward trend in GPA (both undergrad and postbacc), and what A’s I received are cancelled out by the C’s that I got in upper division sciences. My “slow reading and processiing” learning problem is also affecting my MCAT practice. It takes me 3 times longer to do the passages and the discrete problems, and I have been practicing for months. I was hoping to use a great MCAT to offset some of my bad grades.

And now, the professor who knew me the best and was going to write me an LOR, passed away unexpectedly this week.


I 110% understand where you are coming from. I have postponed hard classes and MCAT etc personally, using good reasons to do so often (surgeries, family turmoil). Regardless of my reasons or my intentions, however, the result is the same . . . the requirements to apply for med school are not complete.

I spend a great deal of time in my head comparing myself to others . . . whether I do or do not measure up is not really for me to decide, it is for the adcoms. If I decide I don’t measure up and don’t apply it is the same net result as being rejected.

I get the greatest personal relief Datsa when I set all those things aside and purify my thoughts and intents to only doing what is required to apply. It really is a simple process with fairly basic steps. We can complicate it ad nauseaum on forums, in workshops, in our fears…

but really you and I just need to finish 4 yrs of science education, take a standardized test and make an application. Lets get it done, you and me…!

Chin up, you got this.



Are there any learning specialist programs nearby who can work with you on the “slow reading and processing”. I don’t know what resources are in your area but that could be something helpful.

I agree with “crepitus” to try to move ahead.


Datsa -

Was able to find out the info regarding a 5 week program at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, that our school sends students to if they fail and have to repeat a year of med school. Often their “contract” with the school includes that they must complete the 5 week program in Huntington. It is designed to identify and address individual challenges. Here’s a link about it:


The founder has broken off and started his own independent program, but they are continuing the program at Marshall. If I find out more about the the other I will send you a link for that as well.


Do you have the money to take an MCAT prep course? Many of the trads I went to school with took one look at the MCAT and decided to take a prep course…usually Kaplan at about 16k a shot! I didn’t have that kind of money. You might also see what sort of disability accommodations are available. If you are smart enough to plow through the questions past dyslexia or bad eyesight, there might be some sort of accommodation for you. As for LORs target science classes that you did the best in, and if you have time go to your professors office hours even if you don’t need to, just go butter and honey 'em up and ask for a LOR. Put together a Curriculum Vitae and Statement in which if you are struggling against something you state what it is. Take the MCAT once or twice this year before the 2015 can of worms opens up under you. Don’t rule out DO schools. I didn’t even though I have sound doubts about OMM, the rest is pat. AT Stills in AZ has an MCAT average around 22-24.

ECs can make a world of difference. I volunteered in hospice care and with sickle cell patients, 4hours once a week. DO schools emphasize how much they look beyond the MCAT to the applicant. Maybe stay flexible and take the PCAT too?

Let the past go and move forward!!! Don’t let age be a deterant. I am 52 and just started my first year of residency.

Thank you all for your feedback. I guess seeing my former mentee’s FB post just triggered much internal conflict and strife inside me. I am back to studying for the MCAT and trying to ease my way out of my various volunteer work; I already have enough EC’s.

I am only taking one class, a non-credit medical terminology class. I am doing very well in it, – so well in fact that the professor (a retired MD), raved at how “smart” I was. That has helped my spirits, and it has made me realize that if I can do this well, maybe I can handle the sciences adequately once again.

@Crepitus and @Kate429: I am slowly moving ahead toward applying this upcoming Spring and see what happens.

@MetalloBetalactamase and @Orla: I am applying broadly to DO, MD, and off-shore schools. As long as I can pursue my residency interests, the choice of school and age may not matter.