Non- Traditional Student


I am looking for some guidance! I am a very non traditional student, and want to know if I even stand a chance getting into medical school. To provide you with a little bit of a background story, I had a lot of issues with adjusting to a new environment when transitioning from high school to college. Consequently, I fell into a very deep depression and it caused me to do very poorly my freshman year, leaving me with a 1.4 GPA my very first semester. After that it became very difficult to raise my GPA. In total throughout my 4 years, I have about 7 F’s on my transcript. I worked four jobs in undergrad in order to be able to pay for my education. I graduated May 2020 with a bachelors in English and a minor in Spanish and I was heavily involved on campus and did many extracurricular activities throughout my time in college and was a division 1 athlete. I did about 5 mission trips to the Navajo Nation annually. I as well interned at a children’s hospitals and as soon as I got vaccinated began volunteering at a different hospital as a vaccination ambassador and helped distribute the COVID vaccine to my community. I am currently fulfilling my clinical hours by working as a medical patient care technician and a medical scribe while working under a Harvard medical school doctor. By this time next year, I should have about 2000 hours of clinical work.
While doing my Post Baccalaureate program, it became even more apparent that I was really struggling with learning the material for my classes, even if all I did was study for 5-8 hours a day. I then went to the doctor and was diagnosed with ADHD mid way through my post bacc and am now doing much better in my classes. I now have about a 2.7 overall GPA ( which I know is very low) and have 3 classes left to take in my post bacc and plan to take the MCAT next April 2022 and apply in May 2022. Do I even stand a chance getting in? or What else can I do ?

Hey dunkin!

I have 2 answers (in my opinion) for you, a short and a longer one.

The short answers to your questions, respectively, are: (1) Yes, if you work hard enough you can get into medical school and (2) You might want to continue taking some extra classes to help with your cGPA and (more importantly) your trend.

The longer answer with some explanations is that it seems to me that you are asking the wrong questions. Instead of “Do I have a chance” and “what else can I do?,” the questions I would ask you are: (1) Do you want to be a doctor? and (2) If so, what do you need to do in order to succeed? Quick aside, remember to do things that you enjoy during this process. Becoming a doctor is a long journey, and I feel that you should be able to enjoy to journey as well as the destination (i.e. don’t treat it as a check-list or you’ll probably burn out). Okay, back to the questions.

The answer to the first question will come out of your shadowing and clinical experience. After all, these are the activities in which you witness the job of a doctor (to see if you enjoy it) and whether or not you enjoy working with patients.

The answer to the second question, (in your case) seems to be more academic. I too struggled with transitioning into college and am currently evaluating my post-bacc options. The key here (according to Dr. Gray) isn’t so much you cGPA but rather your trend (and story). To explain, yes your cGPA matters (to an extent) and IF POSSIBLE I’d recommend trying to raise it above a 3.0. However, it might be that you have so many credits at this point that raising the cGPA above a 3.0 is impractical, and listening to Dr. Gray’s podcasts certainly provides evidence that people have gotten into medical school with below a 3.0 cGPA (check out The Premed Years podcast Episode 261 and Episode 263). This is why your trend and story are important. You want as many of your most recent classes as possible as close to a 4.0 as possible (I’ve heard different numbers from different people but let’s use the most recent 45 credit hours as a guide). This will demonstrate that despite struggling initially, you learned what you needed to do to succeed in your classes. It sounds to me, that your previously undiagnosed ADHD was a big academic hurdle for you and that you are now doing better academically. Consequently, I’d suggest taking some extra classes to demonstrate a good upward trend. Beyond that, do as well as possible on the MCAT and remember to let your story shine through on your application. People don’t get into med school on stats alone. Once your stats are “good enough” then it’s your story that becomes more important.

Best wishes on your journey!