Please help!

Good day all! First I want to say that I think this site is simply wonderful.

My dream since I was a little girl, is to become a psychiatrist.I became a teen mother at the tender age of 17. I am 30 years old now and after losing site of my dream for 13 years, my dream is back with a vengeance.

I dropped out of H.S in the eleventh grade,never returning. I have taken the G.E.D test,failed the math portion by 11 points. I understand that some colleges allow you to earn your G.E.D while taking some college classes. I have looked into L.I.U and B.M.C.C, however I am uncertain about the courses I should take and or where to start, when wanting to fulfill my dream of becoming a Psychiatrist. I am also feeling that it is too late for my dream to become a reality.

Thanks in advance.

Welcome to the site.

I first want to tell you that I admire you very much for even having the courage to dream your dream. I also became a young mom (19), but was fortunate enough to continue my education and finish college. Sometimes I think I am incapable of being successful in pursuing the med school goal and am also too old (30 too), and I know I wouldn’t be bold enough to try it if I was in your situation. Seriously, I think you are doing a great thing. My sister-in-law is a 35 year old high school drop out, and I would be so excited if she told me she was going to change her life!

I don’t know about your area, but my local CC has an adult education program that offers GED prep. Once you pass the GED, which you can take through the college, you can enroll for classes at the college. That’s what I would do if I were you. I wouldn’t jump the gun and try to take CC classes first. Focus on taking the whole thing, GED thru med school, in baby steps so that you can really digest each new piece of information you learn. You will have a better chance at success if you go slow. . .you just have to go quick enough to stay motivated, right?

After you get the GED, I would enroll at a CC for at least a year. CC classes tend to have fewer students, and I think most schools have more help available, like tutoring centers. Since you haven’t been in school for a while, I think it’s a more supportive place to start. (FWIW – my husband, who graduated high school by the skin of his teeth, took a pre-Algebra class at our large local U, and got a D. He took classes at the CC and did well (B’s). The university class was large, taught by a foreign TA, and full of on-campus freshman. The CC was much more oriented towards people who were working adults with families and past academic deficiencies.)

I’m guessing most schools have a recommended curriculum for someone who is starting from scratch, but if not, I would start taking basic math, basic English, and a general science. Definitely a computer class too, if you don’t use one for stuff like Word and Excel regularly. You don’t even need to think about which degree or major yet – just get used to going to school and take these entry level classes to sort of make up for the college prep work that you missed in HS or have forgotten anyway : )

I would NOT recommend getting overloaded or taking the “for majors” classes until you take the entry-level courses in all areas. What I mean, is you should not take Cell Biology (the one that would be a premedical prereq) until you have had a general Biology class to get your feet wet. If you can be successful in a lower-level class, you can build on that knowledge and confidence. It may add another semester to your plan, but hey, what’s a semester, or even a few years after you’ve waited this long? (I am sure not trying to insinuate that you aren’t “smart” enough to dive right in to harder courses because of your past situation, but I’ve been in classes with people who DID jump right in and ended up getting C’s instead of A’s. We ALL have to guard our GPAs, so it’s best to start slow until you KNOW what you can handle.)

The positive thing for you is that you have a clean slate. A lot of people are starting over, but have to overcome a 1.0-2.0 from their early goof-off college days.

I believe you can do it. College really isn’t too hard – go to class, understand the material (as opposed to learning for tests and forgetting), and do the homework. If you do that, you will earn a good GPA, be successful in college, and be a great med school applicant. Good luck!

That’s just my $1.02

Thanks AliJ…

I know that I have a long bumpy road ahead of me…Thought you would like to know that your advice, took away some of the bumps in the road. If only 1 of my teachers offered nearly a pinch of the encouragement that you’ve provided,I would not have turned my back on my education. Feels good to feel a little more focused. The magic of encouragement!!!

I agree with AliJ’s recommendation. The CC have placement tests. Go take it, and see where you stand. I placed high in English, low in Math. I assume psychiatrists need to take the same core sciences all medical students must take, (forgive me if I am wrong)but, the math you will have to complete can be challenging. In fact, it is taking me a year longer to complete mine. I have enjoyed math immensely this time around. I despised it in HS. You will do fine, and don’t stress about extra classes. It is easier to pull those higher grades when you have a really good foundation in the lower level classes. Hurrying and rushing will result in burn out and possible failure. Take your time, bug those advisors and best wishes!

Yes, a psychiatrist is a physician like any other … and so the initial path, through college and med school, is identical to that of any other physician.

AliJ has done a really nice job of illustrating the many steps involved in this process, and also of showing that you only need to worry about each step that is in front of you. It would be rather daunting to plan it all out now. So you figure out the next step - the GED - and then the next step after that - college - and just keep going. Be sure to enjoy yourself at each step along the way!

Back when we started this forum, we had a member GED2MD (if I remember right) who had become a general surgeon… her name reflects that her first step was to get her GED. You can try searching for her posts here using the Search feature, although the posts may be so old that they’re not retrievable any more. Her story was quite an inspiration!

Good luck to you on your journey.



At the University of Minnesota, a non-degree seeking student can enroll through the College of Continuing Education WITHOUT a high school diploma OR a G.E.D. However, to my knowledge, there is no financial aid available for such registration.

My son is enrolling for chemistry and math through that avenue. When he finally obtains his high school diploma OR his GED, those credits will have been applicable to both high school and college.

Essentially, he is taking a fresh start approach and leaving what has been a difficult few years in public school, behind him.

Perhaps, there is something similar to that where you are?

I have my GED as well. I had my son at 19, it can be done, I started at CC and am now at a university, I am still taking lower end math courses but I am doing well in math now, I seem to have overcome the mental hurdle that I was horrible in math. You can do it Godschild! It’s a long bumpy road like everyone else has said but it’s also an awesome one and look at the example you set for your child!

Hi, Godschild.

I wanted to second the above posters, and confirm that you are definitely not too old. Look up OPMs newest doctor, Dr. Linda Wilson. Her story is inspirational as well. Also, you have certain advantages, besides a clean slate. As an older student, I find that I am so much more focused than my younger counterparts. I know that I can do it, and I will, because, hey, we’ve all been through tougher things than this test or other hurdles on the way to medical school. Also, I find that I really enjoy school because I enjoy learning and I’m too old to get wrapped up in the college-age drama. So, I just wanted to say ‘welcome,’ and encourage you to take it slow and build your academic skills. Tackle all the classes, and enjoy the journey.

By the way, I’m 31, almost done with my prereqs, now focusing on building my application with upper division sciences. By the time I actually start med school, I’ll be 33. I figure, what else am I going to be doing for the next ten years? Investing time, energy, and money into accomplishing your dream is far better than spending ten years doing something that doesn’t get you any closer to your dream.


Another thing.

Attend conferences, shadow a couple of docs, and volunteer. Get your hands dirty. Not only does it help to build your application, but it can help keep you motivated. I love walking out of my volunteer gig and having that sense that, “yep, I want to be a doctor.” It puts what I’m doing into perspective. Its easier to come home and do my homework when I get little glimpses into what my future holds.

Good Afternoon All,

Today is not a good day… first before I continue I would like to know, Where have you guys been my whole life? I would have loved to have experienced such warmness and concern during my early years.

Ok. Last week Tuesday, I read online that LIU has a CEP program. this program allows you to work towards your GED while taking college classes.When I dialed in to the University and was told that they were giving placement exams at 5:30pm and if I could make it down by this time to come on in. I did just that.

Today I called in for my results and as usual I failed. I received ( If I understood the results correctly) a 14 on my writing exam - which is good for 3 credits or a 3 credit course & On math i was told I received a DSMOI and this is a non credit course. I don’t know this all seems very foreign to me. The person that provided me with my results found my scores very funny and thinks college is not for me… well although very rude I agree.

I mean you guys are great, and you make a person feel like they can do anything, you all are great. However my brain is fried. I cried during the placement exam and here I am crying now. I want so much more and so much better, but with my scores, I better be great for the job that I have making close to 40,000. I figure with my education I lucked up! Sorry If I disappoint you. You guys continue to inspire those with drive and ambition.

Not to be a downer…but the first thing you need to figure out is what is causing your low scores in Math. Until you get past this hurdle, college will be an uphill battle as there will be many classes with math skills necessary. I would suggest going to a learning counselor (maybe a your local undergrad) and finding out what is going on. You are putting the horse in front of the cart, first pass the GED, then think about college, then think about medical school. Good luck.

Hey, GC.

I want to put these placement tests in perspective. They are not a test of your ability or drive or motivation. They are not even a test of your intelligence. Placement tests simply tell where your starting point is. Nothing more. So, take a deep breath, and put those mean people out of your head.

First, I totally agree…that was very rude behavior by a college official. Did they actually say that college wasn’t for you, or are you putting words in their mouth?

Both efex101 and SomedayDrA are right. First…take it a step at a time…don’t run before you and walk, and that means to start at step 1, by getting your GED. If you are having difficulty with a subject get a tutor. Math is a subject that requires a lot of practice to be comfortable with.

Also, as SomedayDrA stated, the placement tests are just to get an idea where you should start. There are many that take the placement tests that don’t place high and this could be for all sorts of reasons. If it is due to lack of knowledge, then starting at a more fundamental level to get the basics is the best idea…it’ll build both knowledge and confidence and allow you to move ahead.

If test anxiety is the culprit in a placement in lower level class, well, the knowledge will show during the class and the confidence will come as you are taking tests on this material. Slowly, I think, you will see the balance shifting where your knowledge will increase and your anxiety will lessen.

In the interim as you work towards your goals, look into other areas such as getting more healthcare exposure, do some volunteering, and think about why you want to be a doctor.

You have an advantage that many of us don’t…you are starting school with a clean slate. You don’t have any black marks on your record…get a good foundation, even if it means taking noncredit courses, and then when time comes to apply, you will be golden.

Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do anything…that is something you will need to do and discover yourself.

BTW, if that placement person actually did those things (and it wasn’t your own feelings being manifested into the situation), I would contact someone at the school, and let them know that you were disappointed by this. As a perspective college student, you are a perspective consumer. Colleges know that a nontraditional student will be more motivated to learn, and with the growing numbers of nontraditional students in the college setting, they are an important part of the student body.

Stop crying…it doesn’t help! Believe me, I know!