Overly ambitious? Postbacc at UT-Dallas plans...

Hello all,

As a brief introduction, I am a early/mid 20s history graduate who is a recent transplant to Texas. I married a PhD student at Texas A&M University and have been cooling my heels in College Station ever since. That brief time in the “real world” has been very useful for me, and it’s been a huge factor in my decision to try completing the premed prereqs and go to medical school. I realize by the standards of this forum I am still a toddler, but if it is any consolation I think that just developing a good non-traditional plan is pretty tough no matter what… thus, I seek your advice.

Unfortunately, due to Texas A&M’s silliness, it is likely going to be very difficult for me to finish a postbacc there; postbaccs register last and popular premed classes fill up quickly, so I am considering a program at UT-Dallas or an informal postbacc at U of Houston. However, I took some postbaccs a while ago and I am unsure what the “best” route would be.

My current situation

I’ve already taken the following:

GenBio I/II (summer community college, A x2)

GenChem I (4y uni, B)

Human A&P (4y uni, B+ and B)

Current overall GPA: 3.79

Current science GPA: 3.40-3.46, depending on if that second Bio grade is an A or A-

I can pursue one of two options: I can finish the pre-reqs in 18 months, or I can drag it out a second year and possibly strengthen my app. I am presently leaning towards the latter.

My present plan looks like this:

Spring 2010: Stats and Chem at a local CC while working FT

Summer 2010: Chem II at Texas A&M, 4- or 10-week option, FT student

Fall 2010/Spring 2011: Orgo and Physics plus some third class. MAYBE GenBio. FT student.

Summer 2011: Take MCAT.

Fall 2011: Resume working FT OR take some advanced biology classes. All TX schools require 2 upper-level bio courses in order to apply.

I have a few questions for the seasoned vets among you:

  1. Should I retake Bio? I took it at a CC in the summer, so I do NOT feel very confident that I learned everything I needed to. On the other hand, I received an A for both courses if memory serves, so I would hate to retake it at a 4y and do WORSE. It also seems terrifying to leap right into Orgo/Bio/Physics after being out of the full-time school loop.

  2. Do you think a schedule where I took Bio/Chem during Year 1 and Orgo/Physics during year 2 would make more sense? It would require me to push the MCAT back a year, of course.

    Basic goals are:

    A) keep up a good relationship with spouse and the 3 cats

    B) get the best possible app for med school

    If you would be willing to evaluate my plan based on Goals A&B, I would sincerely appreciate it. Thank you.

If I understand correctly, here this is your status for required prereqs:

Comp 1 (assume you did for history degree)

Comp 2 (assume you did for history degree)

Gen Bio 1 - A

Gen Bio 2 - A

Gen Chem 1 - B

Gen Chem 2 - need

O-Chem 1 - need

O-Chem 2 - need

Physics 1 - need

Physics 2 - need

College Algebra - (but I’m assuming you had this for your degree)

Calc I -

A couple of questions right off – why do you plan to retake Chem 1? Was the first one you took a non sci majors course? If the first one you took was a legit Chem class, don’t take it again. Go straight to Chem 2. If you fear you forgot too much, don’t. I recently successfully tested out of Chem 1 with a little independent studying and subsequently scored an A in Chem 2. It had been 12.5 yrs since I took Chem 1 in college. Same with Bio. Why on earth would you pay money to retake it for credit? Study on your own or audit the course if you think you could use some more practice.

Where are you at on math? College Algebra is required. Calc 1 is required at many places. Is stats required by some of your target schools? If not, I’d postpone that for one of the courses you need.

If I were you, I’d do g-chem 2 now (spring 2010).

Physics I & Calc I in the summer would be okay if you’re a FT student. It’s not fun, but doable. (I know, I did a Calc III/Statics summer once. . .Statics is next after physics I for engineers - I didn’t misspell statistics.)

O-chem 1/physics 2 fall 2010/upper level bio.

O-chem 2/MCAT study spring 2011. Take MCAT in May, when you’ll have most O-Chem and apply for 2012.

Take the second upper bio fall 2012. It will be a yet-to-take course on your app.

Obviously, I’ve assumed you don’t need Chem 1 and that you shouldn’t retake bio. If you do want to take those 3 classes again, I’d push out till 2013. Of course you need to have some time to shadow & volunteer too.

I’m sure others with more knowledge than me will weigh in too.

Thank you for your very detailed response. I will see if I can explain a bit better.

My pre-reqs status is pretty similar to what you posted. It is:

Comp 1: Creative Writing - A

Comp 2: 5 on AP English test; need to find out if it counts for med schools. It would be ironic if I had to take another humanities class given my major.

Gen Bio 1 - A

Gen Bio 2 - A

Gen Chem 1 - B

Gen Chem 2 - need

O-Chem 1 - need

O-Chem 2 - need

Physics 1 - need

Physics 2 - need

College Algebra - A

Stats - need for TX schools

Calc I - may need

The main reason I wanted to retake Chem I was because I figured it would be an easy way to get back into college coursework after my hiatus. Also, I will not be able to take classes at a 4-year college until summer, and I wanted to take a “real” college-level Chem 2 class. The community college near me is not great.

As for Bio, I’m a little worried that I won’t know enough for upper-level Bio courses because I took it at a community college. I also read somewhere that Bio curriculums have been changing a lot recently and that retaking it was important as a result.

Math-wise, I took College Algebra. Stats is necessary for all Texas medical schools if you do not take calculus and is a requirement for several OOS schools I am considering. I’m also married to a stats TA. Do math grades count as part of that science GPA?

Your alternate summer schedule seems pretty promising. Stats/Algebra-based physics as a FT summer doesn’t sound too bad to me in one summer. Part of my past summer coursework included a “year” of Mandarin with mostly second-gen Chinese and native speakers. Stats and algebra-based physics seem like a breeze next to that. Bu zhidao.

Your suggested schedule:

Spring 2010: GChem 2 (CC)

Summer 2010: Stats, Physics I (TAMU)

Fall 2010: Ochem I, Physics II, Advanced Bio I (UT-Dallas)

Spring 2011: Ochem II, MCAT (UT-Dallas)

Fall 2011: Advanced Bio II (somewhere)

My main worry with that schedule is that I’ll bomb a class or not be able to secure a strong LOR since I’ll be college-hopping so much. I’m also terrified that I’m going to screw this up and have to spend more time doing damage control, or won’t have time to get enough volunteering/shadowing in.

However, the accelerated schedule also means I’ll spend a max of one year away from my spouse during my postbacc. That is also important to me…

Further input or third opinions would be very welcome. Ali, thank you again for the detailed response… and if you want to say more, I would love to hear it.

(Dazed, my apologies if I caused offense!)

I will comment on the personal side of this post. On your basic goals, you said to “keep up a good relationship with spouse”, have you discussed medical school with your spouse?

If you do get accepted into medical school it will most likely mean you have to relocate to another state.

The reason I say this is because this caused a lot of turmoil in my marriage, which ended in a divorce.

This might have been prevented if she clearly discussed her goals with me and we were on the same page.

She is now a doctor and remarried. For me, still single and now I am trying to become a doctor. The crazy thing is during our marriage I was a computer programmer and becoming a doctor was not on my radar. The reason that I did not think of it back then, I thought I was too old. I was 39 at the time and now I am 45! Crazy … The good thing about it is I look like I am in my late 20’s … God has blessed me with good genetics. With that said, I do not look so out of place in class. Anyway … I found this website and others like Value MD and Student Doc. With my age, I know I will not be able to get into a MD school in the states, so that leaves DO and the Caribbean Medical Schools (SGU, ROSS, AUC, SABA) for MD.

Ok, back on topic. Make sure you both understand what this will mean. (Waiting to have children, moving, long hours studying, living on student loans, etc …) If he is on board with this, then go for it. If not, you have to really think about what is important to you.

I hope I did not get too deep. I just want you to avoid the pain that I went through.


Definitely sounds like you’ll have quite a juggle no matter how you do it. I think you just need to decide what year to target - quick or slow (slow is the vote you’ll get around here) - and the rest will fall into place.

As for the bio. . .I’m no bio major, but you are right that it’s a constantly evolving field. I’ve heard you should retake anything older than 10 years. You just might be covered for the MCAT by taking the advanced bio class instead.

The other thing that kind of popped in my head with your situation was the PhD wife. If she’s already started, she will finish while you’re in the middle of this, so you should probably consider where she’s likely to end up as well as where you’re located now. For that reason, you might not want to do too many TX-specific things early, like choosing stats instead of calc. If you leave TX, you might need calc for sure. Be sure to find out what her timeline is for expanding the kids beyond 3 cats, too.