Post-Bacc or SMP for a 32 yr science major

Dear All,

A 32 year old non-traditional aspiring premed student here. I have graduated from Drexel U. with BS in Chemistry in 2007 (almost 9 yrs ago) initially attempting to do Chemistry/Computer Science double major. My current sGPA is 3.05 with 161.5 science credits. My cGPA is 3.13 with 210.5 credits. The link below points to sGPA and cGPA calculators for those who are interested.

I feel that after 9 years I should retake the basic/prereqs science classes considering some of them did not have stellar grades anyway. Formal Post-bacc program would be great but most of them specify that applicant cannot have more than 50% science grades completed. I have also been suggested at SDN to apply for a Special Masters Program but those are high risk and I am concerned that my grad school grades would not be good after such a break. I am not sure what would be better in my case.

Are there members here that have been in a similar situation? Did you go with SMP or Post-Bacc? If Post-Bacc was your choice, were you able to enroll in a formal program with most of science prereqs completed more than 5-6 years ago or so?

Thank you.

I was in similar straits, I had completed a BS in Engineering about 12 years prior to going back to post-bach. My GPA wasn’t stellar from undergrad (3.2 cGPA). I did a DIY post-bach to fill in some of the missing requirements I had. I applied Gen Chem I, Physics, Math, English, and Sociology credits from my undergrad.

I went back to take Gen Chem II, Organic Chem I & II, Gen Bio I, Microbiology and Genetics. I encountered no issues with having some of my prereqs being about 15 years old. The biggest part was that I had to re-teach myself some of the physics and chemistry that I hadn’t seen in a while for the MCAT.

If you’re planning on going DO, then retaking those courses may make some sense. Personally I wouldn’t want to go through the time/expense to re-take those old courses and just try and catch up on whatever material I felt I was lack on my own.

Thank you for your reply. I am concerned that my stats are not competitive and formal post-bacc would be a good way to show admission committee that I am able to cope with the workload.

But as I mentioned the problem with formal programs is that they are created for non-science, career changer students, with very little or no science courses taken. In addition they ask for SAT score, and being in USA less than a year prior taking SAT, my score is below the requirement.

Chemistry and physics should not be too much of an issue since I have already attempted to take an MCAT once and went through the basic science. I did no do too well on MCAT due to not dedicating enough time for practice.

I am open to the idea of matriculating into DO school as well as MD. When time comes I will be applying shotgun style to DO and MD schools in the vicinity.

So your advice is to take/retake some classes that are part of the requirements for admission, DIY style, and not enroll into a formal post-bacc? No SMP either? Followed by MCAT.

If you’re wanting to ease yourself back into school, I would not go with an SMP. Sometimes the grad students in our SMP program seem more stressed out than the med students. If nothing else, they seem more competitive with one another than do the med students.

You might want to run some numbers to see if a retake will really change your gpa much with that many credit hours. Since the degree was a pretty good time in the past, your best bet would be to take what you need and show that you can crush it academically now that you’ve had time out of college to mature, grow, etc. It might look better, on paper at least, to not retake classes you did okay in and take the next course in the series if that’s what you want to do. The commercial prep programs available out there really do a good job at reteaching you what you need to know from physics, chem, etc. It would run you a few grand (3?), but would keep you focused on what you need to remember instead of having to go through entire classes again. I did one, and instead of 3 months to retake chem I, 3 months to retake chem II, etc, I crammed full review into 3 months after being removed from some of those classes by up to 12 years…

Check the AAMC site. They have a database of different postbacc/smp programs based on what type of student you are (ie grade enhancer, career changer, etc.). Good recent grades plus a good MCAT score would put you in a better position than “starting over” in my opinion.


Would you be able to disclose what program you used to review the science courses? And just to make sure I did not misunderstand you are not talking about MCAT prep program correct?

Thank you.

Yeah, I meant MCAT prep. I used Kaplan, but there are pros and cons to pretty much all of them out there. If you are going to do a mcat prep class, research the different ones to see which one fits your learning style. I pretty much just used Kaplan to completely relearn Organic chem, regular chem, and some of the physics. It helped having the fundamentals a long time ago so it wasn’t totally new, but it really was just intense not-quite-cramming for that miserable test.

I personally did a DIY online post-bacc for the prereqs I had remaining after undergrad. While doing that, I ended up referencing some of those “___ for dummies” books as well as Khanacademy and other sources online.

I just scrolled through your calculator thing. It would be a good idea to take a handful of courses to show you’ve figured out what it was back then that caused you to get some of those grades. Writing about how you’ve matured, changed your perspective, or whatever, will only carry you so far. You’ll want to show them that you aren’t the gamble that your transcript due to the roller-coaster grades and the sporadic dings toward the end. Don’t take just my word on that though, hopefully others will weigh in again.

Thank you for your reply and for your feedback. Besides obvious things like Physics II and Calc 1 and Biochem there are classes I am excited about taking/retaking. I would prefer to be a part of a formal Post-bacc since a lot of them offer benefits such as linking, advisers and such, but as I mentioned there are complications with applying to those. I definitely misunderstood you at first about the prep program. In terms of a prep program I am leaning towards EK or Kaplan (more).

Thank you again for your help!

AAMC can help you find a program near you (maybe). Check it out, it lets you filter by the type of program you’re looking for.

Hi, can anyone recommend a good postbacc for a nontraditional student in Chicago? Thanks

@Kennymac wrote:

AAMC can help you find a program near you (maybe). Check it out, it lets you filter by the type of program you’re looking for.

Thank you. Yep I was using this to narrow dawn the schools/programs in my are.


This question was mentioned on the podcast. Thank you, Dr. Gray, for replying personally. I will apply the “Academic record-enhancers” search criteria suggested and redo the search more thoroughly.

Interestingly what I see immediately is that the career changer programs are essentially SMPs (PCOM, Temple ACMS, Drexel IMS etc.) and they do require basic prereqs completed which brings me full circle to a portion of my initial issue: need to retake the basic science after 9 years and would like to enroll into former Post-Bacc. So career changer Post-baccs offer basic science , record enhancers require basic science.

I will rerun the search more thoroughly and re-check this.