First, let me say great site! I have been looking for a net resource dedicated to older medical school hopefuls attempting to fulfill a dream for quite a while. Looks like I finally found it.
I am 41, have had a great run in business / computer science, and am looking at what I am going to do now that my adolescent days are nearing an end. I got my BS from Regents University in 1983 while in the Marine Corps. Using a combination of CLEP, DANTES, and AP, I tested out of 90 hours and have a 3.83 GPA for the actual classes that I took. Among the classes that I tested out of were English, math to the calculus level, biology, chemistry, humanities.
Building a general demographic from the posts that I have read, it looks like my situation is very similar to others that post here. I work 55+ hours a week as a director with a national audit firm, have a family, and all the responsibilities that go along with. In addition, I feel a calling to the medical field.
I am planning on taking 70 hours of science / math between Jan 05 and Aug 06 to establish a current academic record. Due to the time commitment I have at work, I have located schools that I can take all the required prereq’s via the net (www.ivytech.edu for physics 1 & 2, www.lakemichigancollege.edu for gen chem 1 & 2 and ochem 1 & 2. Labs are required and included. In the case of the chem course I have to go to Benton Harbor for 4 Saturday’s to complete the labs, physics labs are done at home.). I haven’t yet found a school with general biology 1 & 2 availability in the US (Athabasca University in Canada has a 2 semester biology sequence, and even offer labs).
I am planning to take the MCAT in August 05, and will enroll in the Princeton Review course (along with taking ochem 1, physics 2, and an assortment of other courses that truely certify my insanity. Oh, and did I say the part about my 55 hour / week job?). My hope is to mtriculate to medical school, hence the rush.
And I want to go to Yale. I don’t know why, but what I have read and heard about Yale really interests me.
Since I work full time, and have to go to a couple of different schools, I have become my own pre-med advisor. With all this in mind, here are a few questions I am soliciting feedback on:
Will the fact that I tested out of so many hours hurt me in the admissions process?
Will the fact that I am taking courses at at least 3 different schools hurt me? My thinking is that it shows an admissions counselor that I’ll do whatever it takes to be successful.
Does anyone know where I can take an on-line Biology or Zoology class with labs in the states? It’s OK if I have to fly to do the labs, as long as I can do them on a weekend.
By the schedule I am on, I will have taken chem 1 & 2, physics 1 & 2, ochem 1, anat & phys 1, self taught Biology, and taken the Princeton Review course prior to sitting the MCAT. I am not concerned about PS, VR or the essay. BS scares me without ochem 2. Is my fear unfounded?
Will I need to take an English Comp (gag) and calculus class, or will my test outs be sufficient?
Do I have a rats-chance of getting into Yale, or is this a pipe dream?
Thanks for taking the time to respond, and good luck in your pursuits.
While I cannot vouch for others, my impression in talking to medical school admission advisors, is that on-line courses hold less weight than in-person courses. Learning and working in a lab under direct supervision is apparently more acceptable to medical school AdComms (admission committees) than via the Net. But, perhaps, this is due to the novelty of this mode of learning. Remember, most AdComms are composed of older, conservative academics who often are at a loss as to the nature of current technology.
From my own experience and research, I think it would be good for you to repeat lower division coursework, especially the stuff you tested out of or that is old. Why? Because medical schools want to see success in RECENT coursework. By recent, I mean not more than 5 years old, and probably even more recent than that.
Where does this advice come from? It comes from the medical schools themsevels: I called more than a dozen medical schools (Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCSF, Stanford, UCI, UC San Diego, UC Davis, Case Western, etc.) and the general consensus from the deans and advisors was to retake old coursework. In addition, some med schools want to see more advanced coursework in the sciences, especially biology.
I took my sciences in 1982-1984 and did decent but not stellar. Interesting, when I brought up the idea of retaking the sciences to some other premeds, they assured me that I did not have to retake any but just apply to medical school. I then called UCSF, Harvard, and UCI back to inquire if their deans of admissions had given me incorrect advice. Harvard said “Retake your sciences, they are too old.” The following morning, both the dean at UCI and UCSF called me to tell me that given the fact that I took these courses > 20 years ago, it would behoove me to retake them. Enough said.
Just where to take them? At a 4-year school is best, whether through a formal post-bacc or through an extension program. Community college courses and summer school coursework are given less weight than formal coursework during the regular school year. This is not easy to do, as I am finding out. Classes aren’t offered all the time. I am having to relearn math all over again. I must take the GRE. The application process for the formal programs has required me to do a lot of legwork, driving, and flying to see old professors, old volunteer jobs, etc. But it is a serious endeavor. It requires complete undivided attention; I even quit my job in order to do this. And I’m willing to go into debt.
YALE: I hear that Yale is a good school. One of my favorite doctors attended Yale. But it is a hard school to get into. This is especially true for older applicants in general for some Ivy League medical schools. One Ivy league medical school dean told me (flat out) that my chances of getting into her school were slim simply because of my age. I thought such practices went out with the Vietnam War, but apparently I am mistaken. Oh, well. I’m going to apply to her school anyway. If I don’t, I’ll never have any chance of attending that school, right? A small chance is better than none at all.
Unfortunately, talk from deans like her give many older premeds the jitters. As a result, many premeds – particularly older ones – are so eager to matriculate into medical school that many will skimp on their preparation for medical school; or, they will choose medical schools that they would rather not attend, all in the interest of saving time.
I suggest that you take your time, do well, be fully prepared with the proper motivations, recent coursework, sufficient volunteer work and hands-on experience, and great LORs (letters of recommenation). This pathway may take a bit longer, but you’ll be a better applicant for it.
Also read what others have done, not only through this website, but also biographies of other doctors. Try:
William Nolan, the Making of a Surgeon.
Ben Carson, Gifted Hands.
and there are others.
Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Texas silver baron, once stated that you can achieve what you want if you are willing to pay the price.