Post Bacc???

I have read many posts of advice for getting your pre-reqs taken care of, when you have already gotten your B.A… It looks like most people say post-bacc programs are unnecessary, just do it on your own. However I have been warned of community/ junior colleges.

Therefore it seems like taking the pre-reqs at a local university/ college is the best route for me.

My question is how do I go about this. I graduated from UCLA in 09, with a 3.0 and a degree in philosophy. I would love to take the classes at UCLA but how does one do this. I’m open to state schools too or other locations even, but where does in the informal route start?

It starts by looking at different schools and figuring out a few things. Do they offer the courses you need when you need them? Can you register as a student (I’ve heard that some schools in Cali are putting limitations on letting people enroll in undergrad classes if they already have a degree)? If they accept you as a student, will you be able to enroll in the classes you need or will you be last in line and get shut out of your courses (pre-med courses typically fill up very quickly and if you have lowest registration priority, you may find yourself unable to register)?

You may really need to do a lot of research . . . with the budget cuts in Cali, a lot of people are finding that they are having problems getting accepted and/or being able to register for the classes they need. Some people have decided to go the formal route for just that reason.

Unfortunately, it just involves a lot of legwork. Read through the forums here and on SDN - there are lots of Cali people who have are in the same boat who might have some advice for you.

As you consider your options for completing the prereqs, I would also suggest that you think about how you would obtain the Pre-Health Committee Letter which is an essential part of your application packet. Most medical schools expect you to submit this letter in addition to the individual letters of recommendation as part of your packet. If you do not enroll in a formal postbac program, be sure to find out the terms for getting a committee letter from the school that you attend. As a former director of 2 postbac programs, I know that many schools usually have a minimum course (completed at that school)and gpa requirements. This will help you avoid the problem of finding out at the time of application when you need the letter. If you are interested, I offer more information about this topic on my website at

All the best

Actually, I disagree with a committee letter being essential. Many schools do not offer committee letters or even letter services. I did my post-bacc work at Ohio State, which used to provide a letter service (but not a committee letter), but the year before I applied, they quit providing the service and instead referred people to Interfolio.

Only one of the schools I applied to specifically stated that they wanted a committee letter. When I called them and asked what I should do since my school didn’t provide one, they told me just to submit 3 letters of recommendation. It’s possible that this may be regional, but I have talked to several people who were in the same situation who were simply asked to proved x number of letters when they explained that a committee letter was not available to them (either because their school didn’t provide them, or because it had been a few years since they did their pre-reqs).

Where a committee letter is essential (in my opinion) is if you are doing your coursework at a school that provides them for their pre-meds. It does look suspicious to med schools if you go to one of those schools and don’t submit a committee letter. Where it gets complicated is that some schools try and say that they will only provide those letters for traditionally enrolled, pre-med students and you may have to argue with them to get a letter if you are enrolled as a non-degree student.

There are so many caveats in this response. A good strategy would be to contact the medical schools you want to apply to and find out if they expect a committee letter as part of the application packet. In my experience, it is a definite plus to provide a committee letter. Given the competitive nature of medical school admissions, I would strongly encourage an applicant to get one if he/she can. Students can get it from either their undergraduate school or from the school where they completed the postbac work. It can’t hurt, but it can offer an advantage – assuming of course that the commitee letter is a good one.

I know that UCLA Extension offers premed courses, but have no firsthand knowledge of how they are. I found out about their course offerings after having already started my pre-reqs at a Cal State. UCLA Extension seems a little pricey, and from what I can tell it seems like some of the classes aren’t offering labs. Aside from going the formal program route, they’re a possible option though. You won’t be able to obtain regular admittance into a CSU or UC at this point, due to budget cuts. All campuses in the entire state system have stopped accepting second degree seeking students (as well as just general post-baccs).

As for private schools: In the bay area there is Mills. In the SoCal area you have Scripps. I believe that Loyola Marymount offers a formal program as well. There is an osteopathic school that recently began a Masters program that serves as a formal post-bacc (Western). Last time I checked they were waiting for accreditation though, if that sort of thing makes you uneasy.

I would probably start by talking to the extension programs and asking if they’re still offering courses. Before posting this to you I checked UCLA and they have pre-med courses open right now, but I didn’t check Berkeley. Not sure where you’re at geographically. From there, I’d try the formal programs at private schools. After that, you’d probably need to look into leaving the state. I was fortunate enough to get in under the wire, but it appears that it’s no longer possible to go the informal post-bacc route at any of our state schools.

Best wishes to you!