new here, mech eng to doc hopefully...

Hey Everybody!

I’m definitely glad I have found this online community, of what I have read so far, it is a great resource for people like me!

So, a little about me, I am soon to be 25, currently a mechanical engineer working for a large aerospace company located in the Silicon Valley who is not incredibly happy with his current situation and dreams to be a doctor one day…

A little background…

However, like many others, my UGPA was not the best of the best, for my heart was just not there… 3.17, however, my current graduate mechanical engineering GPA is a 3.8 (will be done in Dec 2008).

Reason why…

I always wanted be able to help others, do something for somebody else, but never thought being a doctor was realistic for myself, but I always kept in the back of my head… I guess with a little bit of growing up and working for a few years (can’t imagine doing this type of work for another 30yrs); helped persuade me to search for something else, and recently, it hit me, I should really do it, and become a doctor (or at least try).

Future plans…

After talking with some admission people and reading many posts on where to take pre-reqs, I have decided to enroll at the relatively newly formed UC Berkeley Extension Post-Bacc Pre-Med program (that’s a mouthful) rather than take courses at a CC/JC. However, it means I have to drive about 40 miles in traffic for the next 2-3 years (only 1-2 times a week). The advantage of this program is that if you do well (maintain a 3.33 GPA) they will provide LOR and help you on your personnel statement. If anyone has any opinions on this feel free to opinionate away! I also plan on volunteering at the local hospital for the next coming years.

Wow… that was a long post, but any thoughts and comments would be great.



welcome to OPM. It sounds like you’re doing things right. Your GPA is not bad; do well on your post-bacc courses and your MCAT and you will become a physician.

I took post-bacc courses at Harvard Extension School, which sounds similar to your program. Upon successful (3.0 or better) completion of the four basic courses and 30+ MCAT, you get a unified LOR and they broker your applications. The only gotcha was that it was a very competitive program and people came from all over the country as well as right out of Harvard College, so I was in class with some of the best and brightest. In general this was a good thing but it was exceedingly difficult to obtain A grades even though they don’t curve; they set the bar very high.

Undoubtedly Berkeley will attract a similar crowd, so you’ll probably be working very hard. Your engineering background will be of great value, though. Anyway best of luck,

Depending on what side of the bay you’re on, you might also consider the San Francisco State post-bac program as one that might or might not make the commute easier–whether in formal or informal versions. j

Hey Chris,

It looks like you and I are pretty much in the same boat. I graduated from Upenn Wharton undergrad in 2005 and am currently working as an I-Banker in Chicago. Needless to say, my experience has not been fulfilling and I after some serious soul searching (motivated by some personal experiences) I am looking to attend Northwestern’s Post-Bacc program in the fall. While I am switching to a less demanding job in the summer, I am still worried about working and doing well in my classes. Will you be working? Either way… I have decided to pursue the challenge and I hope that I can get through it.

How do you plan on getting up to speed with the more traditional pre-med students? My entire background say business so I am a little worried about not having the LOR and extracurriculars that will make me an attractive candidate to good schools.

This is a huge 180 for me, so its good to see that there are people like me out there!

Keep me posted as it would be good to see how the process goes.

Will you be attending the conference?


Actually I am coming from the south bay, so it is a bit far for me to go up the city. There are some other universities in my area, but all the classes are during the day. My options were either take JC/CC locally or do the pre-bacc program. It took me some time to decide, but I think the benefits from the more formalized program would help in the long run… but I could be wrong.

Hey Pete,

Definitely a big 180 for myself as well! The road is going to be nothing but uphill for here on out for quite some time. It definitely is going to be a lot of work to make myself competitive against the masses, but well worth it in the end!

I have yet to formally write down a plan, but I do plan on doing it this weekend, here are my thoughts so far…

I am going to continue to work where I currently am for various reasons. One, I can work 40 hours, thus giving me time to focus on schools an ECs. The pay is good as well, so that will help fund the future. I also get every other Friday off :), so again I can do some ECs on those days. Lastly, a LOR from my boss or supervisor would also be good.

I am probably sitting in the same bought as you with LOR and EC. To boost both of these, I plan on volunteering at the hospital down the street from me as much as I can (for now, probably my off Fridays and part of Saturday). I hope to be able to establish a good relationship with a doctor or two and get a LOR from him/her. The reason why I choose a formal post-bacc program is for the LOR, so I hoping to get a composite LOR (if I maintain a good GPA) and also get to know one or two professors and get an additional LOR from them.

I also have seen a lot of people talk about trying to get some clinical research in, but I am not too sure how to go about doing that quite yet.

Lastly, I need to kick some butt on the MCAT! I think we all knew that though…

I think I forgot to mention that the post-bacc program is a part time basis, classes always offered at night or weekends, which is great for me.

I haven’t really given the conference any serious consideration yet (just a bit far for me), I am sure this would be an excellent opportunity to meet others like you and me and not to mention the great information and insights from doctors who took routes like us. If I was in the immediate area, I would be there in a heartbeat. If you go, let me know how it goes.

Good luck to you as well, I do hope to hear from you in the future.


Chris & Pete,

Hello. I’m in a similar situation as well… Ugrad 2003, currently 27, working in finance in NYC for past 4 years… and it’s just not for me either.

Seems like both of you will be working at the same time you start your post-bacc classes. Is that right? I am planning on starting classes full-time this fall here in New York (still awaiting acceptance). Have you been accepted already since you’re planning on starting this fall? It’s a little nerve-racking now being mid-May and not expecting an answer until late June and then to start classes in August. I’m sure others have dealt with this stress of a compressed timeframe leading up to starting classes again for the first time in awhile, can anyone weigh in on this?

Since I won’t have a source of income, I’m also concerned with the financial burden of quitting work and taking on the debt now, with a long road ahead. My current job isn’t flexible enough to take classes part-time, nor supportive for that matter. Was wondering if you’ve looked into financing? I’m going through the normal channels right now (FAFSA, college specific options, private loans and scholarships). Terry, did you do your program full-time or were you working as well? Any thoughts on this?

Best of luck, I’m sure you’ll find this forum very helpful, I certainly have. Look forward to reading more as your paths take form in the coming months.


Hey Zach,

I will be working to help support my current lifestyle and to save a bit for med school. I am on the same timeline, in that I am waiting for approval from Northwestern to start in September. I ideally would like to do a 1 year intense program (is that what you are doing) but I already missed the 1 year program deadline for NW. What are your plans for buidling up the EC part of your application over the year? What do you plan on doing during the glide year? Given that you have a finance background are you considering a MD/MBA? I have given a lot of thought to this and still have not come to a conclusion on whether it would be worthwhile given that I have a Wharton undergrad. Does anyone have any thoughts on the natural career route of an MD/MBA?

I don’t really have thoughts on funding the post-bacc aside from out-of-pocket, so let me know if you get further info.

Good luck!



I’m looking at 2-year horizon to complete my classes (not sure about the glide year… haven’t gotten that far). A 1 year intense program is attractive, but a) there is not a formal 1-yr intensive program in my area (would be doing it by myself) and b) I would be concerned about doing well in all the classes and having ample time to prepare for the MCAT. As far as working, I would like to, but I’m going to start off slow with only taking classes since I haven’t had science since high school, I don’t want to get in over my head off the start. If I feel like I can balance some part-time work, school and volunteering, then I’ll give it a shot later on. As for EC’s, I currently volunteer at a non-profit for children and families facing medical difficulties, but also plan to start in a clinical setting this fall once my schedule sorts out. Most hospitals have a volunteer office and you can also leverage any contacts you may have in med school or working physicians to gain experience. From my experience, you just need to be persistent and flexible with your schedule.

I’ve thought about the MD/MBA, but I’m not going to pursue that personally. It could never hurt in the long run, but I just don’t have that much interest in an MBA. I have a number of friends who are currently in MBA school and if you have a business degree from undergrad (not to mention Wharton) it will be a A LOT of repeat material, more of a “check the box” vs. really learning. That’s just my 2 cents… There are some other posts on that subject as well I believe.


I’ve been taking the post-bac courses by night at CCs in the Bay Area over the past 2 years (I’m almost done, finally!) while working full time. I am not sure that the level of instruction is much better at Berkeley; the Physics II professor in the UC Berkeley program was the same professor teaching the night section of Physics II at my CC! I have found the level of instruction at the CCs to be rigorous (my BS is from Georgetown U. in Washington DC) and many of the community colleges, including De Anza in the South Bay, have a very good reputation with in-state schools. That being said, you will get the LOR and the “Berkeley” brand name if you get good grades. The tradeoff is 2 hours in the car at least two nights per week and $5000 total difference in tuition.