Need some sound advice - re: Science GPA

Ok, I’ve just sat here and figured out my cumulative science GPA… it’s not good… in fact… while I was moderatly concerned about applying and the possibility of getting any acceptances/interviews before… now I’m downright scared…
My cumulative Science GPA as it stands, right now… with ALL bad grades from my former life factored in… is a 2.506…
I’ve “heard” that for a lot of osteopathic schools, which are my main targets at this point for a lot of reasons, that many of them require you have a 2.75 to even be considered.
Without my bad courses from years ago… my cumulative Science GPA is a 2.95 (this is omitting the Ds and Fs from before, there were 2 of each)…
I know that no one has a crystal ball… I’m not expecting anything… I also know that I can’t work any miracles… and it’s going to take me some time to get that up to a 2.75… and probably at this rate a couple years of classes (I’m supposed to graduate this December and was hoping to apply to schools this year)…
Is any of this doable? Should I wait? (I really don’t want to wait)… I know that several people have applied and gotten in on the first try with less than stellar GPAs… and I guess, if it happens, I will be one of those people… but honestly… what am I dealing with here… do I even have a prayer this time around?
Please, if you have bad news/something negative to say… put it to me gently… I’m taking enough internal abuse right now as it is…

To be honest it does not look good for you to apply this soon. Yes some folks do get in with less than stellar gpa but that is after TONS of classes with A’s. You probably need to take more classes and ace them…

I don’t know that there are any hard and fast rules here, but I would agree with efex that the question is probably more about what your recent science GPA is. If the last two years have given you a 2.95 I think you’re not in a great position, and I’d agree with efex’s advice. If in the last year or two you’ve had a much higher average, then you could consider some strategies to try to better your situation–for instance, sending a letter to schools you’re applying to in order to explain your situation.
Don’t beat yourself up about this. You’re doing the right thing by assessing your situation and trying to figure out whether this is worth the trouble this year, or whether it’s better to regroup. I’d think that this is not just a question of your GPA but of your whole package–ie., what are your MCATs, what are your recent grades, what else is in your story, and so on.
good luck–

The last 2 years have given me a cumulative Science GPA of ~3.245, which is quite a bit better… but still not great.

It is a big improvement… most of my early classes were Sciences though… my oldest classes being in 1991… and the “bad ones” ending in 1996, which a year off in there to transfer (1993-1994).

I haven’t taken the MCAT yet… I am/was planning on taking it in August… I know that that will make some difference in any chances that I might have… especially if I do really well on it… but of course, to apply for this year, I will have to submit my apps before the scores come in.


Thanks in advance for the advice… not sure what I’m going to do…


I would still wait…I know that you do not want to hear this and of course the bottom line is up to you BUT it still seems that your grades with a 3.3 are mostly B’s right? regardless have you tried contacting some schools and asking them?

I think I have an even split right now… B:A…
I don’t understand what you mean by contacting schools and asking them. Could you clarify?

Calling or e-mailing schools that you are interested in applying to and asking them. That is the best option IMHO…that is exactly what I did once I received my MCAT score last April. I e-mailed some top ten schools and asked them if I was a competitive applicant, for I did not want to waste their time reviewing my application. It worked like a charm and all of them encouraged me to apply.

I already know I’m not a competitive applicant… I mean, honestly… my GPA isn’t anywhere near (cumulative) what the stats are for most of the schools… my recent GPA is really close… but not there…
I don’t recall what your stats were… but I don’t think we’re even playing in the same league… I’m somewhere playing peewee league baseball…and you’re in the majors…
I wasn’t planning on applying to any of the big 10 schools… mostly smaller ones… MD and DO… I have a list that I’ve been investigating for quite a while… and right now there are something like 30 schools on it… between the 2 areas…
My husband said something to me a while ago about maybe just narrowing down the list to ideal locations and hoping for something from that… and he doesn’t want me to NOT apply this year…
I didn’t really think my chances were all that great… but I did have hope… While my recent record isn’t absolutely stellar… it’s not horrible… and in fact, dramatically better than it was when I was first in school… I’m really tired of reliving the past… there is no such thing as glory days… and I’d really like to get on with my life goals… I’m just afraid no one will give me the chance to, because of stupid mistakes I made 9+ years ago…
Thanks for your advice. I know you’re just trying to help.

Hi Andrea:
I am not near the application process myself. You’re ahead of me on this but I sympathize with your anxiety. That being said since being as competitive as you can be is paramount to first get accepted and second to justify the time and expense ( money and emotionally) why don’t you move back your plan at least a year. If you don’t get in this season, you will have to do this anyway should you decide to reapply. I realize it is easy for me to say as I am not in your shoes. But a year’s time after all you’ve invested to get the upward trend and improve your grades is a drop in the bucket time wise. Taking more classes (ugh! I know what that sounds like) and raising your GPA more may be a necessary evil. It would also give you more time to prepare for the MCATs. I keep hearing the posts of Mary and Natalie in my head about this not being a sprint but a marathon. There is a japanese proverb that says, go slowly, you’ll get there sooner. I try to remember this when I start to worry about the time factor and push myself when it would be better for me to pace myself and slow down. Whatever you decide to do, I am cheering for you. Good luck!

I’m not sure this is going to count as “sound advice”. In fact, it probably doesn’t. All the advice you’ve received so far is very good, and I can’t disagree with any of it-- but I’m going to throw out some other thoughts that lean the other direction. For balance, you know?
By applying this year, other than the money, what do you have to lose?
All the advice given on this board is sound, realistic advice. And had I read it before applying I would have realized I had no prayer of getting into most schools. And that was correct-- I didn’t get into “most” schools-- but I got into some, by finding those where I had a chance and looking at what they wanted in a student. I’d have to look now to find out what my undergrad science GPA was, but it wasn’t pretty. My cumulative undergrad wasn’t gorgeous either–I think it was in just above a 3.0. And my MCATs (also taken in August)-- well they were schizophrenic. My total was marginally acceptable, but I had an incredible split between my highest and lowest scores. And most of my prereq classes were at least ten years old.
But you see, I was too ignorant to realize I had no chance. And frankly, with the exception of the one MCAT score, there was nothing I could change about the numbers-- I was already out of school, so my undergrad numbers were written in stone, forever and ever unchangeable. While I also had my MS with a 4.0 and had some other things in my background that made me a better applicant than the numbers showed, I knew those number would still be my albatross. But like I said, I was ignorant… so I applied to a ton of schools, both DO and MD, got ignored by many places, as expected, but also got some interviews, and to my delight and surprise I got into a few places, and actually had a choice of schools. But frankly, one would have done it.
And I’ve done just fine in med school. In a few weeks I’ll find out how I stack up against med students around the country, but I have every confidence that I’ll be fine there, too. (Okay, maybe not every confidence… maybe I’m scared to death, but that’s a different thread).
So I’m just saying that while traditional (and mostly correct) wisdom would say you shouldn’t apply, unless you are doing something that is going to change your undergrad numbers, (and it takes a lot to pull a GPA up if there were enough credits behind it), why not apply?
Okay, I would expect some serious disagreement with this “advice”, but I want people to know that just because their numbers are not beautiful, in fact are down right ugly even after doing everything they can to fix them, there is still hope. And if there is nothing you can do to change the numbers, and your choices are giving up or taking the shot, why not take the shot?

I basically agree with epidoc except to say that:

1. there is a cost, emotionally, to applying when you don’t feel like you’re ready–a question only you can answer–


2. there is some disadvantage to reapplicants, which accrues the more you become a reapplicant. At most schools, three strikes and you’re basically out.

So, I wouldn’t say don’t apply, but I would say, think carefully.

I also think there’s truth and risk in your response to efex. On the one hand, efex and I are both folks who had good success in the application derby and so it’s reasonable to think we don’t know what we’re talking about, when you’re coming at this from a position of feeling as if you are going to scrape your way into the–let’s not say minor leagues, let’s just say, not one of those major media market teams. OK: there’s some truth to that. However, the risk is in thinking that there is no way you can make yourself more competitive. I think you may want to also take this moment to really pause and figure out if there are ways in which you might still be able to go all out in some ways that you haven’t yet–beyond just taking more classes, even. If you assume you’re always going to be a scraper-by, you generally will be. And taking another year won’t make much difference. It’ll add a couple of points to your GPA, maybe, but not so many. On the other hand, if you can figure out your own way to be a spectacular (and more to the point, more confident) applicant–dream a little, think of what you could and would want to do that is both most you and also embodies why you should become a doctor–then you might suddenly want to take that extra year. I think that everyone at the beginning of the process thinks, “I’ll just go to whoever takes me.” The ideal, obviously, is to think, “I want to go to where’s right for me.” The real risk of applying now is that you will go into this process thinking the first way and not the second way; and that you won’t have the choices and mobility to think the second way.

I think applying or not applying would both be reasonable choices under the circumstances when all is said and done.



To everybody:
Thanks for the responses…
My husband sat me down and gave me a talking to… and said… you know, you really do have options… and listed several for me… they’re not all ideal, but they could be, if I actually consider them… LOL.
I appreciate the things that everyone has said… honestly… I never have really cared where I attend school… I didn’t have my heart set on Brown or Michigan or I don’t know where else… I really didn’t/don’t care… so, I don’t think that that was ever really once of my concerns. It would be nice if my family could locate to a “nice” area… (that’s subjective by me, depending on the day :slight_smile:
I know I do have some immediate options that might better my chances. I’m already adding more volunteering to my application. It isn’t necessary, given that I have a pretty decent list already, but I want to do it… so I am… (it was already in the works before any of this reality came about). I of course, plan to go all out for the summer courses that I’m taking now… I don’t know if I will get the grades in before my apps go in… but they should be in before my application is considered (if that makes sense) and hopefully that will help.
I haven’t given up on anything… just having a few moments of despair. The reality of it is that I just don’t know… and I won’t until I try.
If I don’t get in anywhere this year, I will do whatever I can to “fix” whatever problems that my application has… if that’s grades, then I’ll load up and do the best I can… if it’s MCAT, then I’ll take it over again in April… if it’s volunteering, then I’ll add more… I’m willing to work at it… but at this point, not willing to give up on this year, even though I know I’m probably a long shot.
I think that thing that burns me about the whole situation with my grades… is that I am beaten up on a daily basis (mostly by myself) about stupid mistakes and indecision from all those years ago… I know I’ll have to work my a$$ off when/if I get into school somewhere, and I’m totally prepared to do that… but honestly, I’d love it if my slate could be wiped clean and no one would care about stupid things I did a long time ago.
So… I’m reviewing my list of places I was considering… and I am going to narrow it down quite a bit… I don’t want to waste a bunch of money… but I’m pretty sure I’m going to apply this year… unless something changes… and there’s always that possibility.

Andrea you can still call or e-mail schools regardless of their ranking and ask them directly what your chances are. Most of them will let you know and of course there may be some that will not respond but most will. I think often times we do not realize that hey we are paying for these applications and us asking politely if it is viable to apply to X or Y school is totally okay and should be done before plunking down the fees for amcas and secondaries which let me tell you add up…

I was exactly in your shoes this application year. Did very well this time around in college, but with previous grades, my science gpa was also around 2.5. Add this to what I thought was a kickass resume, 17 years as a pediatric home health nurse, volunteer experience, and moderate MCATs. I got ZERO interviews. The very nice lady at WVSOM specifically mentioned the gpa cutoff. So…its seems that even with an exponential upward trend (in my case) the gpa cut off is still a hurdle to cross. My suggestion for you, is, if you can take a few more classes to try and boost the gpa over that cut off, it MAY give you a chance. Take care and good luck.
Kathy (who doesn’t quit, and is still going to medical school overseas!!)

Has it been many years since the poor grades? Explaining the past grades briefly will help your app. Most of the advice I’ve read has stated not to focus on long explanations but to emphasize the present and how well / how hard you’ve worked towards your goal. Some schools like to see your positive progress over the recent years. Kathy and I are both going overseas to med school (same one) with our family but that was something our family was up for. I read your other posts and it looks like your husband is supportive so hang in there it will all work out. Bill.

Andrea, I used to be a childbirth educator back when natural childbirth was much more popular than it is now. (said very sadly) Anyway, a common thread in our classes was “last time I ended up taking the drugs, and I felt like a failure.” I NEVER wanted my clients to feel this way! And neither did my colleagues. So we had a mantra that we repeated over and over and over in class:
You did the best you could with the information and circumstances you had at the time.
PLEASE stop beating yourself up. The past is just that - it has passed, and it is over. You can’t go back and relive it; obviously you’d love to redo it. What you can do is hold your head up and pursue your goals now with clear purpose and no apologies for what you did when you were young and stupid. We were all young and stupid once.
Of course you are rebuking yourself for those youthful indiscretions, and regretting them - you are daily faced with their consequences. But it is also clear that you have the intelligence and fortitude to go from here with the determination and work ethic that will lead to success. So do a mental shrug, say, well, dang, I really did dig myself a bit of a hole, didn’t I? and then climb on out of it. You absolutely CAN do it, but you need to be your own best friend and cheering squad, not your own worst enemy! It’s easy for me to say that you need to change your mindset, but VERY hard for you to do when you’ve been beating yourself up for so long. Since you recognize you’ve been doing it, now the trick is to change to positive thinking - something you’re obviously motivated to do, so I am sure you can do this. Good luck!