Post Bac - Career Changer vs Academic Enhancer

Hi Everyone,

I had a question about post bac paths. Background is 2007 graduate, majored in Economics, but completed all prereqs including biochem, and took the MCAT in 2006. I didn’t get into medical school, and owed a five year commitment as a Naval Officer. I spent those 5+ years outside of the continental US and on many deployments. I’m transitioning out of active service in May (7 yrs after graduation) and am looking to start a post bac program. Some of my courses will be 10 yrs old by then, but others will not. Most of the schools that I have called suggest the academic enhancement path. After being away from science for almost 7 yrs, I’m uncomfortable jumping into graduate level health science courses. Plus, I need to retake the MCAT and a physics/chem review would really help me. I’ve been studying on my own, but would like a more structured environment. The schools don’t want me to repeat anything, and the counselors tell me that I am ineligible for their career changer program because I completed the prereqs. But I am a career changer! Any suggestions for programs that would best fit my profile? Is it really frowned upon to repeat a course if it has been more than 7 yrs? Thanks in advance for the advice and information.

Well you’re a career changer who already took the prereqs. I don’t know of any postbacc program that will accept you if you’ve already taken the prereqs. That isn’t to say I’ve contacted them all. I would keep calling and definitely lay on the Naval officer angle and lay it on thick. Play to their pro-military heart strings. You should also consider that you may just have to take these courses on your own. Perhaps taking a Kaplan type course to see how much you still remember or comes back to you. I guess as I’m thinking about it, you may want to answer why you didn’t get in the first time. Grades? MCAT? Interview? What was it? I’m not asking for an answer but for you to ask the question and answer it for yourself. I know of a few people whose prereqs were old and they took a MCAT type course, took the MCAT, did well, applied, and were accepted. When I asked the one guy I know personally he told me the schools don’t really care when you took the prereqs as long as you did well but most importantly that you do well on the MCAT. A great MCAT is the biggest multiplier to an application. Great MCAT + Great interview = guaranteed acceptance…(usually )

So with the little bit I know of your situation my half-arsed advice is to;

  1. Evaluate how well you think you will perform on the MCAT. If all you need is a refresher, then spend the grand or two on a structured MCAT prep or find a tutor. If you’re doing really well on the practice exams then…

  2. Take the MCAT, early next spring

  3. Apply to schools early. Have everything in by June 1st, 2014.

    Let the schools tell you that you’re prereqs are too old AFTER they see your MCAT results. From what I know and hear on the street, if you apply broadly enough, you will get in somewhere.

    Now if you’re not doing well on the practice test then you should forego taking the MCAT. From there lace up your best pair Vibram 5-finger shoes and commence the slow & steady marathon pace of a DIY postbacc.

    Hope that helps and I’m sure mo’ smahtah folk will offer even better advice than my own.

Actually, the post-bac where I went would (potentially) accept you, and might be an option. It’s an undergrad program that you can tailor to your own needs - do you need to retake the basic pre-reqs? Take upper-level science courses? A little of both? It’s up to you. It’s private and pricey, but I had a great experience there. PM me if you want more info.

P.S. I’m not on commission or anything.

I would suggest Columbia University’s postbac. They (Columbia U) have a long history of catering to current and former service members. It’s a bit of a tricky situation, since you have taken the prerequisites already. However, in that case I can’t see why an academic record enhancers program wouldn’t work for you. You mentioned that counselors have told you not to retake courses, but I’d err on the side of caution and directly contact the admissions departments of your prospective programs. Let them tell you yes or no.