Old grades, new prospects?

Hi all,
I’m curious about something and maybe you can chime in with your sound advice.
From the OPM posts, I have gathered that if you had bad grades (Bs and Cs in sciences) in undergrad, that it is recommended to enroll in a post-bacc program to “proove” your 4.0 capabilities. I have a B.S. in community health (1999) and an MPH (2002), and am enrolled with Kaplan to help prepare for the MCAT (which I plan on taking in August).
…I don’t know if I can leave my job to enroll in a full-time post-bacc program! Surviving on my husband’s paycheck is just not an option right now.
Am I overly concerned about my bad grades and wanting to make them up somehow? Should I be (I have a STRONG feeling that the answer is yes)? I know that the MCAT and other aspects of the application are just as important as grades, but what if my numbers from undergrad prompt the AdComs to toss my application in the “rejection” pile?

Many thanks in advance for your advice…

Well, you’ve gotta have SOME good grades in the prerequisite science courses. If all your BCPM grades are Bs and Cs, then you’re right, you’re asking for your application to be dropped pretty quickly. A really breathtakingly good MCAT might cause them to look a little more carefully at your application, but not very many people get MCATs above 35 - it is HARD to do that and is certainly not something you should bank on even if you’ve always done well on standardized tests; even if you are scoring in the 30s when you do your Kaplan prep.
I don’t know enough about your situation to say too much, but based on the dates you’re providing, I’m wondering - were you pre-med when you did your undergrad degree, and just didn’t go through with the apps for whatever reason? What has caused you to jump into the pre-med rat-race at this point in time?
Here’s what I think an AdCom might think - and keep in mind I’m constructing this based only on the very little information you’ve provided here. "This person was pre-med in college but wasn’t very serious about it, obviously, or s/he would’ve gotten better grades. Now s/he claims to be more serious, and the MCAT score is OK, but s/he hasn’t taken any more science classes. So how serious is s/he really?"
You see the problem? Now, I don’t know if you actually would have to do a full-time post-bacc - LOTS of us on here have not done that. But you need to take more science courses for a couple of reasons: 1, you need to show that now you’re serious; 2, you need to show that when you’re serious, you can get A’s; 3, you need some A’s to help your BCPM GPA. You know what your GPA is right now, so you can do the math to figure out how many courses it would be wise to invest in so that you get enough A’s to bring up your GPA.
Sorry to be so blunt but it sounds like you actually know this already!

Point very well taken. Please, don’t worry about being blunt - I wouldn’t have it any other way. Your response makes sense to me and I did have a feeling that I would need to improve my science GPA prior to applying. I was indeed a pre-med in undergrad but decided to drop it and move on to community health because of a various issues. Receiving bad grades in gen bio and gen chem was probably the main reason. I decided that the curriculum for community health (disease prevention and health promotion) better-suited my interests at that time - included microbiology, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, excercize physiology, etc… I do have As and Bs in those science classes, especially anatomy and nutrition. My premed advisor at that time also discouraged me from medicine and so did the seceratary for the bio department (I remember this clearly). Anyway, what I’ve learned is that I am still interested in medicine and health care, especially in international settings (including the U.S.). My interest in health and medicine and exposure to medicine through volunteer work at the local hospital and an observational study in a developing country’s slum area led me to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
I never really gave up my goal of becoming a physician, and I figured that I’ll tackle that when time permits. I enjoy working as an epidemiologist currently, but the time is ripe enough for me to pusue medicine once again. Instigated by my internal desire, I decided to enroll in the Kaplan course.
What I leanred from your response is that post-baccs don’t have to be fulltime. I didn’t know this - so thank you for this. I will have to investigate part-time programs further. Also, thank you for your bluntness - I now know that I should be concerned about having my application sent to the trash pile. I am planning to apply after the August MCAT for 2006 (leaving time to proove to adcoms that I’m worthy!).
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Thank you!

pvd, you’ve got a LOT of interesting, attractive points to stress in your application when you’re ready to apply. The things you’ve pursued, the interests you have - those are good, relevant things for a career in medicine, especially if you go to a school that emphasizes international medicine, public health, etc. (e.g. I think you’d be able to get people interested in you at GWU, which is very proud of its MPH program - you don’t need another MPH but they looove having MPH folks in the MD program).
Post-bacc can be something that you pursue through a formal program organized by a university (and in such a formal program, you probably don’t have a part-time option). But it can also be simply taking the courses you feel are necessary to make your application shine. If you do something informal, whether it’s part-time or full-time, you won’t get the other benefits of post-bacc programs such as MCAT prep, extra advising, sometimes even linkages with med schools. But you do have a lot of flexibility. Given your background, you probably don’t need a formal program. You can probably get some kick-ass letters of recommendation from some folks in your MPH program, and then some more letters as you brush up your sciences. You can definitely do this on your own, and I think you’ve got a great chance of doing it quite successfully.

This was my personal experience. Old VERY bad grades, tho none were pre-reqs. New gpa 3.3. Still did not get ONE invitation to interview this application cycle. I had hoped the adcoms would look at the 10+ age gap in grades, my personal statement, strong LORs, and consider me, but that was not the case. No particular point, just my experience.

I really appreciate your kind words of encouragement!! GWU is one of the schools I will be looking into when the time comes. My mind is a lump of mush at the moment, as I had the 2nd full length today. It was really grilling… I don’t want to know my score. On a brighter note, I am not at all dissappointed by the knowledge that I will need to re-take a few science classes prior to applying. No problemo - I’ll figure it out in the coming months.

Thanks once again to you and Kathy for your comments.

Be well!

It looks as though you’re in Boston and if so, you couldn’t be luckier as far as additional classes go. Three words for you:
Harvard Extension School
The classes are excellent, profs great, and the tuition is inexpensive. I can personally recommend the Physiology and Evolutionary Anatomy courses. I also took Biochem and repeated Biology there. I did an independent post-bac there and can’t say enough good things about it.

I was considering HES as well - but, I thought it was exclusively a full-time program. I’m going to call them and ask them all sorts of questions.


I was considering HES as well - but, I thought it was exclusively a full-time program. I’m going to call them and ask them all sorts of questions.

actually it’s just the opposite. a relatively small portion of the program is full time. most of us are night and weekend students. it’s great for those of us who work full time.