New to forum... needs advice

Hello Everyone,

I just found this great forum and wish I had found it earlier.

I am a recent BS Bio Psychology graduate from a college in California. My plan has always been medical school but due to my horrific GPA of 2.86 I feel that I have no chance. I very foolishly took too many units as I was worried that I would not be able to graduate in 4 years. By the time I realized my foolishness it was too late to do anything. Chemistry has been my worst subject with my having to repeat 1 Gen. Chem. class and two of the Ochem classes due to getting a ‘D’ in them. The repeats gave me a B in Gen. Chem and C’s in the O chems. I am still short of 1 Ochem and a Bio Chem class which I could not take due to the major I was in. The medical advisor at the College I went to was not helpful at all and totally discouraged me from going to med school due to my GPA.

As of now I volunteer in the Emergency Dept. at a hospital. I enjoy the volunteering and know that this is the field that I want to get into.

Please advice me on how I could increase my GPA so that I could at a later be an acceptable candidate for med. school. I haven’t yet taken the MCAT. I thought of doing a PostBac but found that my GPA would not qualify me for it.

Thank you all in advance.

October 5,2016

Here are a few things to consider. First, DO schools allow for grade replacement, so if you go that route, you could retake some of the classes you have done poorly in and you can have those grades replaced which can bring your GPA, and especially your sGPA up. You could take care of this as a DIY post-bacc. Next, there are ‘GPA-enhancer’ post-bacc programs that are designed to help raise your GPA. I’m not sure about the entrance requirements, but the AAMC has a good list of programs that you can check out.

If you’re committed to this, you can make it happen, but you’ve got some work ahead of you.

Best of luck.

Thank you so much for the advice. I will check out the aamc website.

This might be blunt, but I don’t mean it in any negative way…

There’s definitely a hole to dig out of there, especially this fresh out of undergrad. I think there are a few different ways to proceed, but you really need to do some self-reflection on what really happened with your undergrad experience that brought the grades down (study techniques/habits, motivation, difficulty level, prioritization of x over schoolwork, etc). Using “heavy course load” as a rationale doesn’t look that great on paper because it shows that you got yourself in over your head and didn’t do anything to remedy the situation or effectively adjust to the situation. Unfortunately, medical school is just a ridiculous amount of work in a broad range of subjects requiring different study tools. I would recommend a look back and really examining what went wrong and how you can fix it. This is really what an interviewer would be asking you during the admissions process – what went wrong and how did you fix it/learn from it.

That being said, Bennard’s recommendation of a post-bacc would be beneficial to your GPA. A rigorous formal program would somewhat mimic the brutality of med school so you can prove to admissions and yourself that you can handle the load. Keep in mind, though, that EVERY grade goes on your transcript even if they aren’t factored into your GPA. They’ll continue to follow you, which is why you really need to reflect on the “what went wrong/how can i fix it” thing. There is also the informal post-bacc, where you basically just take undergrad level courses without entering a degree-seeking program. Some states (TX?) have some weird rule where they’ll only look at the last X amount of credit hours, i’ve heard, but I don’t know exactly how that works.

Because of your academic record, you really need to do something that can show you excel in other areas/experiences. They don’t have to be medically related, either. Something like a being part of a large research project that has positive implications for humanity (ie cure cancer, but you don’t have to go that big). Take a regular job, move up the ladder, show maturity, leadership, etc. Do something that helps you stand out from the crowd that shows you can work as part of a team, are responsible and able to multitask, etc. I don’t think that you’ll be able to get by with the simple “check the box” type activities of the standard undergrad (the “i volunteered at the hospital for 200 hours stapling papers” kind of thing). Since you aren’t going to medical school right now, make a difference in whatever it is you will do in the interim. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to navigate “real life,” which is actually something very positive in the grand scheme of things. You’ll gain some perspectives that someone fresh out of school will definitely not have. Focus on the positives.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there is an easy button for you on this one. It’s going to take reflection and time to “recover” to become a desirable candidate. But luckily, this board is full of people who are in it for the long haul for one reason or another, so you’re not alone. Keep the motivation if this is something you can’t see yourself not doing for the rest of your life.

Thank you kennymac for all your advice. I know I messed up but now I am determined to make it right.

I have looked at UCLA Extension which gives a certificate and all of the necessary classes that I would need to take. It seems to be like a DIY post bac. The only thing is it is really very pricey. But again they don’t ask for a minimum GPA unlike other post bac programs. I have to check to see though whether this will be recognized by medical schools before I go forward with it.

Thank you again for your help.

@Kennymac wrote:

Some states (TX?) have some weird rule where they’ll only look at the last X amount of credit hours, i’ve heard, but I don’t know exactly how that works.

I think Wayne State does that. Don’t know if it is only for MI residents or for OOS as well. UCLA EX should probably be fine. They wouldn’t be selling it as a pre-med certificate program if it wasn’t accepted. As to the course difficulty and cost etc, I don’t know. Even if it is 15K, that’s not bad. I need to take one class outside community college, so I was looking at the rates. The private university here it was 1500/credit. No way I’m paying 4500 for one class. The state university is like 550/credit which is much more reasonable.

I checked some of the reviews for UCLA Ext. on the SDN forum. None of them seem to be good. So, I have to really decide whether I want to take a chance on UCLA. I think the fees are around 15k-16k.

According to the SDN forum Chemistry labs have to be taken during Summer and concurrently with regular students and you may not get in as by the time your pass time comes all the classes are full. That used to happen at my University too and it was a hassle to get classes if your pass time was towards the end.

I think you have about 3 years to finish the certificate with UCLA.

Rich and I answered this question on today’s podcast episode! Check it out at


I know this is 4 years later, but did you end up going with UCLA? I am currently look at the program. Thanks!