low GPA (originally by newmom)

(note from Mary: Sandy started this thread in “FAQs” but it’s really better suited to this forum. Please reply here, okay? Thanks! And if I could suppress my .sig I would, since this is really Sandy’s note)
Hey Everyone!
I’m new to this site and am so glad that I’ve come across it. Got a few questions. I am 27 years old and I REALLY hate my job. I’ve always wanted to go to medical school, but never really thought that I could get accepted. I’ve thought about going back to college to take the pre-requisites, but I’m afraid that I’d be wasting my time. I wasn’t really focused during my undergraduate years, and did not graduate with “honors”, to say the least. I keep trying to forget the whole med school thing, but it keeps coming back to “haunt” me. I keep wondering if I should go back or not. My husband and I just had a baby 7 months ago, and I’m thinking I should wait a few more years before I even consider it. Do med schools only look at the GPA compiled by AAMC? Unfortunatly, I did take some of the pre-reqs while I was an undergrad, and I totally blew them off. Should I go back and take these classes and hope that the AdCom will see that I am now focused and serious? Help. Any suggestions welcome.
New and frustrated mom,

Sandy, only you can decide if this is an itch that you’re going to just have to go ahead and scratch at some point!
as for grades, yes, every grade you’ve earned is going to be figured into your AMCAS GPA. If you took the prerequisites and did poorly in them, you probably will be best served by taking them again when you decide to take the plunge. They won’t cancel out the old grades, but at least some new good grades will bring your GPA up some, and will show AdComs that you are now serious about school.
It’s impossible to say how MUCH coursework you’ll need to do, but in general, the lower your original GPA, the more you’re going to need more courses to help you improve that image. None of us can give strict “rules” for this (e.g. if your GPA is less than X, you’ll need to take more than 6 new courses) because, first of all, each school is different, and secondly, each candidate is evaluated individually. In other words, there really aren’t hard-and-fast "rules."
Meantime, as I think Theresa pointed out, you can do lots of things to further explore your inclinations, such as clinically-oriented work or volunteer activities, shadowing and networking with physicians, and so forth.
Good luck, and welcome to OPM!

Regarding “old” grades, do they really factor in grades from 20 or more years ago? I recall getting a “C” in chemistry from 1978; suppose that I took Chem again and aced it; would it be averaged down to a “B”? Suppose, further, that the motivated modern me got A and B in all my new pre-med courses; would they take my modern 3.5 and average it down with those old scores? Would some schools just mechanically dismiss my application because of the ancient, bad grades? (I did get "A"s in most of my other courses, non-science however!)
It’s ironic that I’m even thinking about grades. When I finished graduate school I said “Bah! never again!” to grades and papers and quizzes and the vicissitudes of academic life. I never wanted to worry about such things again, and here I find myself coldly calculating my GPA, and how well would I do on the MCAT verbal.
However now I believe I am over my fear and loathing of academia and am thinking of it as simply another foothill to climb before ascending the summit. At least, I’m trying to.

Every grade you’ve ever earned is going to be averaged into the AMCAS GPA. My C’s in chemistry and calculus from 1973 went into the calculation - as did my As from 1998.
You see, you’re going to be entering all these grades into a computer program and it does not care about the date. It just chews 'em all up and spits out a number.
You also send copies of all your transcripts to AMCAS and they verify the grades you’ve entered into the computer against the certified transcripts. The timeline during which grades were earned gets noticed when the detailed application is scrutinized by individual schools… they’ll be able to see when you went to school and when you earned the grades.
Don’t worry about those crappy old grades. You can’t do anything about them now, right? Just do well from now on. There are definitely schools that will notice the correlation of “long time ago = bad grades” and “motivated now = good grades.”

Thanks everyone for your replies. I think I am going to return to school and take the pre-reqs over. I’m starting grad school this week, and I’m going to go ahead and take Chemistry. I’m hoping that if I do well in grad school and with my pre-reqs, the AdCom will consider me a competitive applicant. Meanwhile, I’m also working in the pharmacy of the Veteran’s Hospital which I think will also help a little. Anyway, thanks so much to you guys, and I will keep you posted.

Good luck newmom…I started my prereqs in the fall of 02 and will be done this coming May. The time will fly by before you know it.

Good luck in your studies. Taking the chem over will help you look better in the adcoms eyes as well as help you prepare for the MCAT. You want a good knowledge level of the basic classes so you can do well on the MCAT which will be your next big hurdle. Don’t give up. It is a long and difficult journey and I wish you well!!!

Hi Sandy (newmom)!
For the classes you did poorly in, you may want to consider retaking them. No, it won’t change your old grades but it will show your motivation/commitment to AdComs. More importantly, won’t you feel so much better getting an A in a class you did poorly in the first time around? Good luck with your endeavors and keep us posted on your progress.