Post Bacc (non-formal program)

Hello all, I am brand new to the forum, and have found it very helpful so far. My question is regarding Post Bacc pre-medical work.

First, a little background about myself. I am currently practicing law in private firm in Michigan. I have approximately a 3.81 from undergrad and a 3.74 from law school. I have determined, for many reasons, that I would like to give up my career and pursue a new career in medicine.

Now my question is in regards to where to take my pre-medical sciences. I originally was thinking of doing a structured post-bacc at Columbia, Penn, BM, JH, etc.; however, after talking to some doctors, they have me convinced that I would be better off picking up the pre-medical science classes locally at a state university. I am now considering the University of Michigan (it is the most prestigious university nearby); however, Wayne State, Michigan State University, or Oakland University would also be available options.

Does anyone have any experience with these schools? Would you recommend one over another? Does the “prestige” factor really matter as a post-bacc student? Does anyone know how likely I am to get into classes as a non-degree student at these universities (i.e. are the classes filled to the max by undergrads with priority registration)?

Any other insights or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance.



Welcome, Mike. I can’t speak for those schools in particular, but I can say that the “name” of a school doesn’t really count for much in the admissions game. As I understand, this is something of a contrast with law schools.

At my local university (Univ of Central Florida), I was able to enroll as an ostensibly degree-seeking student, which allowed me to register for all my classes as normal. I ended up having to talk my way into quite a few of them anyway, due to pre-reqs, overfull classes, and the like.

You might be able to do the same and enroll as if you were degree seeking (I was very up-front with my school about this). That may also change your options for student aid, if that is something you’ll be pursuing. Good luck with it!

Mike -

I tend to agree with Adam that the name factor doesn’t matter as much you might think. As long as the university you are attending has a decent rep, you are probably ok. What may be more important to you is where you can get into the class you need. You may want to contact the universities you are thinking about and find out what your status will be for registering. At some schools, non-degree students go to the end of the line for registering (which becomes a problem for freshman level classes that fill up quickly). At Ohio State, non-degree students actually get a fairly high priority (behind seniors) for registering. If you register as a degree-seeking student, some schools will count your previous undergrad hours towards your rank, others will only count hours from the new degree. Every university has a different policy

Your doc friends are right, though - you definitely don’t need a formal program, especially in the midwest where there aren’t all that many formal programs.

Welcome and good luck!!


Go to Wanye or OU for sure… OU if you don’t want to do the downtown Detroit thing. Believe me when I say, OU is MUCH nicer than Wayne. I’ve been to both. In addition, OU is opening a med school 2010, in conjunction with Beaumont Health System. That’s my aim.

Hey Mike,

I am not going to say the name does not matter because I think it does but it certainly is no guarantee of an acceptance or an excuse for poor performance. If I was going to do this process all over again, I would be looking at formal post-bacc programs that have a linkage program. I know schools like Rutgers, Wake Forrest, and Georgetown have programs where at completion of their program you have the opportunity to immediately matriculate into their medical school. If you think this is not for you and you have not made up your mind on which medical school you would like to attend, I would agree with what Adam, DMR, and others have said and go to a state school. The post-bacc certificate is nice but does not carry the weight that some people want you to believe it does. I and many others took the non-formal post-bacc route and we all made it. Looking at the stats you quoted us, I am confident you can too.

PS - I hope I am not offending anyone - avoid community colleges. I am not bashing the quality of education you will receive at one but I do not feel medical schools like them.

I generally advise to go to the most rigorous four-year institution that time and $$ will allow. And then do very well. As far as the name of the institution not making any difference at all, consider this scenario:

You are an admissions director and you have two nearly identical applicants, one with a very nice post bacc gpa from a well-known/well-respected college/university. Let’s say a 3.75 in p/b science work. And the other applicant has the exact same record from a school you’ve never ever heard of. Who do you think will get the first interview invitation?



  • jcolwell Said:
You are an admissions director and you have two nearly identical applicants, one with a very nice post bacc gpa from a well-known/well-respected college/university. Let's say a 3.75 in p/b science work. And the other applicant has the exact same record from a school you've never ever heard of. Who do you think will get the first interview invitation?

Judy, if I may insert words into your mouth - please correct me if you disagree with my alleged 'refinement' of your statement.

In my opinion "well-known/well-respecte d" does not necessarily mean Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford & so on. There are many institutions that are not among the Ivies or Elites that are still "well-known & well-respected".

The reason I make this assertion is that many folks seem to be convinced (or advised) that they must seek out a high-dollar, big-name institution to be perceived a viable applicant to medical school. I do not feel this to be accurate.

OTOH, those that choose to attend a program that is not respected or respectible do so at their own peril. While I will conceed that there are likely few post-HS institutions that are not respectible, there are quite a few that would fall into the unknown category. I suspect that many Comm Colleges fall into the unknown &/or less-than-rigorous academics categories, which is why we all advise folks here on OPM that if there is any way possible that you should attend the most convenient 4-yr institution you can afford.

No, doing your pre-reqs at a CC is not death sentence - folks get in every year from CCs. However doing your pre-reqs at one without substantive work at a 4-yr program raises a red flag & yields additional scrutiny...something you will already most likely be subjected to for other irregularities in your application: your age, gaps in your education and so on...

Why give them additional fodder?

Thank you everyone for your kind and informative replies. I believe I have narrowed down my choices to either Oakland University (Oakland) or University of Michigan (UofM) (with Wayne State University (Wayne State) being a distant third). All three of these schools either have a Medical School or, in the case of Oakland, will have one in the near future. I believe I will enroll as a second degree student for enrollment priority purposes, and I am fairly confident of being accepted into all three programs. In no event will I attend a community college, it will be one of the three previously mentioned state universities.

After Judy’s response I have a few initial follow-up question.

While I know UofM has a very high level of “National prestige”, how is Oakland’s prestige in comparison. I know Oakland is a great school and has a very good local reputation, and I have had many friends attend/graduate from the university. I am just not sure how it is viewed on a national level. Is there any distinct reasons to choose UofM over Oakland?

I should note that in-state tuition is within $1,000 per semester between the two universities, with UofM being the higher; Further, UofM will require a longer commute of approximately 50 minutes, while Oakland University is approximately 15 minutes away. (while if I do attend UofM I will likely relocate once my appartment lease expires)

Also, does anyone see why Wayne State might be a better option than Oakland or UofM?

If anyone can weigh in on which school might be the best choice and why (or indicate that between these options it does not really matter), I’d greatly appreciate it.



Dave, you are interpreting me correctly. “Well-known” is an “iffy” thing and has a regional flavor as well as a national. For instance, in Mike’s case, I had never heard of Oakland University until I had a client a couple of years ago who was there; but certainly “regional” admissions offices will know of Oakland U. Just as med admissions offices on the east coast may not know much about, say, Reed College in Oregon, but it has a wonderful reputation out here. (That may be a bad example, but I think you understand my meaning.)

And, “rigorous” may not be synonymous with “well-known.” :slight_smile: