Maryland this fall

I’m 31 and will be starting at Maryland in just a few weeks. I decided when I was about 26 that I wanted to go into medicine but was fulfilling my committment to the Army for providing my college education (I graduated from West Point in 1995). I went to college straight out of high school and hated it. It wasn’t the work that I hated but being in a school with over 15,000 undergrads- I felt like a number in a system (no offense to those who thrive in that type of environment). I worked in retail for a couple of years while applying to the academy. I had never taken even an elementary or hihgh school course in biology, so I never considered medicine as an option because I thought you had to be a biology major and I had no desire to spend the rest of life looking into microscopes. Then , when my friends who were pre-meds told me about their experiences, I was envious. But I figured that I had chosen my path as a math major and future Army officer and would be happy. After graduation I discovered that I could actually go into medicine with just the pre-reqs. I tried to take the courses I needed at a local college in Georgia where I was stationed but was deployed too much. That set me on the path to Towson University where I completed my pre-reqs as a part of their post-bac program. I was accepted to “bigger name” programs, but Towson was less expensive and gave me the flexibility to take other courses since I already had some of the pre-reqs. And by no means do I feel that this hurt me in the application process. While back in school, I volunteered (and now work at) the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland. Fortunately, I have a wonder husband who supports my dream 110%.
I’m sorry that this got long, but I wanted to give the pre-meds an idea of where I came from in case they had any questions. I remember how unsure I felt about being “older,” worried that adcoms would hold it against me. However, I felt my “maturity” and life-experience worked for me during my interviews.
Congrats to all the rest of the old pre-meds that made it!!
Take Care :D

I just wanted to add that I think this website is great- I've been reading it on and off, even back in an earlier format and wanted to say thanks to everyone. Your words of encouragement were invaluable and now I hope that in some way I can maybe be of help to someone else.

Hi tec,
Congratulations on your acceptance—that was a wonderful story. Could you share a little bit more about your experience applying to the University of Maryland and what made you decide to attend (I know that you currently work there so I am sure that you were more familiar with the school than other applicants)?
I live in the area and praying that I do well on the MCAT in April, I plan to enthusiastically apply next year. Your post was refreshing to me in that I decided to enroll in a refresher course at Montgomery College this fall and was a little concerned about how that would look to admissions committees. It seems like Maryland does not hold that against you.
Thanks for sharing!

Hi Astoria,
Maryland is a great school with new facilities going up everyday. We are very fortunate in that we are from a state with a great state school.
My husband is still in the Army and is currently serving a one-year tour in Korea and we did not know where he would return to, so I only applied to 6 schools (5 local and Vanderbilt). I applied to Vanderbilt because we knew he could get stationed at Ft. Cambell so we could be together, which was extremely improtant to us. We knew there was a very good chance that it would be to Maryland (because of his job specialty), but we weren’t sure at the time. Once my husband found out he was returning to Maryland (sometime around Christmas), I focused on the local schools. So even though I loved Vanderbilt during my interview, I withdrew.
I interviewed at 5 of the schools I applied to and at none of the interviews was I ever questioned about my choice for where I did my post-bac work. They focused on my life-experiences, primarily my deployments with the Army, and the typical “why medicine.” As someone who had done other things in life, I actually thought this was an easier question because through the journey of my life experiences, I have discovered who I have grown into. For example, in high school I was very much a person who would be happy if given a project and a quiet corner to work on it. But during my time in retail, at the academy, and in the Army (I was a signal officer managing voice and data networks), I worked with people on an ongoing basis and realized that I enjoyed the people part of my job but missed a sense of satisfaction that what I was doing had meaning. If I had gone straight from high school, to college, to med school, I’m not sure I would understand that about myself and the field I am entering. And that’s just one example of many of why I think being older with life experiences is an asset and not a liabilty.
Maryland offers a pre-matriculation summer program, which is free (actually you receive a stipend because you are part of a research study). There were 20 spots but only 14 were filled. The vast majority of the group were people just like us. It was 3 weeks of anatomy and 3 weeks of biochem. While I may not remember every detail I learned this summer, I learned how to assimilate and manage the sheer volume of material and the manner in which it was presented. If you choose Maryland, I highly recommend this program.
Let me know if you have any questions that I didn’t address. Good luck in your studies and on the MCAT.

Hi Tec,
Thanks for the information. It sounds like things worked out really well for you. I have heard a lot of positive things about the University of Maryland and I look forward to applying next year. I wish you the best!

Hi Tec,
Congradulations on starting at Maryland. As I currently live in Gaithersburg a DC suburb, Maryland is on my list too. I even heard of a woman that passed up Hopkins to attend Maryland.
I'm so glad you mentioned being an Army officer. I passed up an opportunity to attend the Air Force Academy when I was 18 (although I'm glad I did since I ended up flunking out of undergrad - I did eventually graduate). A few years ago, I tried to enter the Navy as an officer with the hopes of attending UHSUS after my time was up. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with asthma, so I was disqualified. My dad was a veteran of the Marine Corps, so I've always wanted a military career. Now, I'm planning on joining the Health Service Corp (Reserves) after I complete medical school. Hopefully, this will work out!!