New here, seeking direction and advice:

This is a bit lengthy… if you’d like the readers digest version you’ll find it marked in bold.

I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am to have found this website! My entire life, the only thing I’ve ever had any desire to accomplish was to become a doctor. Having read many of the success stories here… it’s really nice to know I’m not the first person to wear these shoes. I’ve been reading over these forums for at least three hours, and many of my questions were answered.

I am a 26 year old high school dropout (due mostly due to a battle with depression that started my freshman year, and a chaotic family life). I obtained my GED in 2002, a few months before I should have graduated. I didn’t really do much with my life up until a couple of years ago when I served two years in a full time mission capacity for the church I belong to.

While helping the people of the places I was able to serve, my life long dream to become a doctor was remembered. I love people, I love helping people. My childhood consisted of many visits to the doctors office due to health complications I would later outgrow, and a “no pain, no gain” attitude when it came to sports and recreation. My former pediatrician is actually a good family friend these days, and very supportive of my dreams. Thankfully, so are most of my family and friends. I count myself blessed, reading many of the stories here, this doesn’t always seem to be the norm.

I am now a freshman about to finish my first semester, and it’s been a bit of a challenge staying focused on my studies and not procrastinating too badly. But I’m going to make it, I really don’t consider failure an option. I look at it like eating an elephant, one day at a time… or one class, or one paper at a time.

My main problem, stems from the lack of direction and the seemingly unwillingness of anyone at any educational institution to take me seriously when I tell them of my goals. As a matter of fact, prior to registering for classes the academic adviser I met with at the community college I’m currently enrolled in took one look at my application, then asked me what I hoped to pursue career wise. When I informed her of my ambitions, she did all but come right out and say I don’t think you’d make it.

She basically outlined the prerequisites for medical school, and gave me the slightest bit of an idea as to where to start. All of this was done within the span of a minute… then she had to move on to her next appointment.

Side tracked there with a rant, but I would assume this response was atypical of a situation such as this? It doesn’t phase me too much…I really enjoy proving people wrong, and sometimes find it to be great motivation.

Anyways… my goal is to make it to medical school in the most efficient and timely manner possible. Thankfully, I only forgot how to do algebra and only have two remedial classes to take to bring myself up to par.

I’m trying to decide where to go from here, but after the initial experience with the adviser I find myself a bit timid about returning to speak with someone there. I guess I’m going to need to break down and arrange an appointment. I’ll just have to ask for an adviser who actually cares?

My main question with summer semesters and 15 credit hours (while working 30 hours a week), about how long am I looking at to achieve a bachelors?

Would it be a good idea to major in something other than the sciences to demonstrate more diversity on my future application? Doing so would probably require more time… but it might also give me something to fall back on, if the unspeakable happens.

Also, should I take as many of my classes as possible at the community college, and obtain an associates before transferring? Or just complete a certificate of completion, and jump to the university level as soon as possible? I’ve read countless topics regarding the debate of community college classes for prereqs v. university level institutions… and I still don’t know what to think, but I find myself leaning towards transferring as soon as possible.

Any other general advice?

Thanks in advance! Hope it wasn’t too much to read!

First of all, welcome to OPM! I hope you find this to be a nurturing, helpful, supportive environment – I know that I have.

Now, about some of your questions. You asked how long it will take you to complete a bachelor’s: that depends on you, your major, how many credits you take each semester, etc. Once you decide on a major, and figure out how many gen eds, classes for your major, etc. you have to take, you can plan out your semesters and figure out how long it will take. But I think it’s a bit premature to set a timeline at this point.

In terms of a major: that also depends on you. What interests you? Med schools don’t seem to be picky about undergrad major. Sure, most matriculants tend to be science majors, but there are art history majors, English majors, etc. I’m a journalism major, and I fully intend to go to med school. So I’d do what interests you. If it’s biology, go for that. If it’s history, do that. Mostly, you want to do well, and if you’re studying something you care about, you’re more likely to do well in your courses.

Regarding transferring: You’re right, there is a huge debate about CC vs. 4-year university. Personally, I think that it’s best to take as many courses as possible at a 4-year institution. Med schools tend to view those courses as more rigorous than courses at a CC. And you want as much of a leg up as you can get when it comes to application time. So if you can afford the 4-year university, and that’s a viable option for you, I’d do that.

Now, a couple of comments. First, you say you want to get into medical school in the “most efficient and timely manner possible.” I would caution you about being in a rush – it’s important to do this right, and do it right the first time if possible. There’s a lot to getting into medical school, besides taking the basic pre-requisites and having a decent GPA, and these things take a significant amount of time: volunteering (med schools expect at least 200 hours), shadowing physicians, good MCAT score, letters of recommendation, etc. Med schools also look upon it VERY favorably if you have taken some upper-division science courses, such as biochem, microbio, genetics, etc. These courses not only look good on your transcript, they will help prepare you for med school, where you will be taking more difficult versions of these classes.

One more suggestion: you mention having some difficulty staying focused and procrastinating. This could be a problem down the road if you do not address it now, as your courseload and difficulty of courses will only increase exponentially as you get to med school. Figure out WHY you are having these problems, and develop strategies for coping with them. You need excellent study skills to succeed at upper-level courses, so this is really important.

Best wishes to you! Keep us updated on your decisions/progress.

Regarding community colleges. The Dean of admissions from East Carolina University came to talk at UNCC this past friday and was asked about community college courses. His response was that it is not desirable but acceptable for a few courses. But you must have a ‘good’ reason that you took the course. Such as you work fulltime and could not fit the course into your schedule at the University. He said that if you’re attending a college or university and then go take organic chemistry at CC they pretty much automatically assume that you did it because it was easier there, so don’t do it unless there’s no other choice.

I’ve seen a few med school’s websites that say they will not accept CC courses as credit for the required prerequisites. Some say they will accept AP credit for prereqs as long as the undergraduate institution counted it, I would think CC courses would be similar. So those schools may be okay with some CC courses.

The bottom line is though, in general, whether it’s true or not there’s a perception that CC courses are easier and medical school admissions is largely about perception. You’re trying to convice them that you have a bigger passion for medicine then the next guy and that you will be able to excell in med school as well or better than the other thousands of applicants. Try to take all your courses at a university, and if you can’t, be sure to address it up front(personal statement).

Even at a university certain types of courses are seen as more ‘rigourous’ than other types. I’m interested into going into orthopaedics/sports medicine and my university has a big and well respected kinesology department. I’m trying to fill out my schedule this spring with higher level undergraduate courses(which are ‘rigorous’ of course). I asked the pre-med advisor if I should take a kinesology course and she advised against it since it’s seen as a heath sciences course which are ‘less rigorous’ in the minds of adcoms. Which is completely untrue most of the time, but they are the gatekeepers, so I must please them. It’s all a game really and you have to play by thier rules, cause if you don’t there’s thousands of other applicants waiting behind you who did.

Good luck with your journey :).