Premed Post-Bac v. Open Enrollment

I went through U.C. Santa Cruz without the slightest bit of practical motives, and received a B.A. in Literature. Since graduation I've been working as a medical assistant and counselor and am now compelled to aim toward med school, (thus my affinity to this resourceful website). But it appears to be a sort of oblique road. Of course, I have basically all of my med school prereq's to complete. Which gets to my question. I live in the SF Bay Area, and have heard excellent things about the Post-bac premed program that Mills offers, but hesitate to dive into loans even before med school. The only alternative I can see, if I stay in the Bay, is to do Open Enrollment at SF State, but can't find a class with room for the life of me. Any advice or suggestions would be very appreciated. Thanks!
Jake Scott

I think a lot of OPMs struggle with this decision–should they give up their full-time jobs and take the prereqs one or two at a time after work (thus saving lots of money and it’s “safer”) or do they quit work to enroll full-time in school (thus taking out lots of loans). I guess it depends on your risk tolerance and how you feel about a post-bacc program. Some people like the structure and feel it will motivate them to do well if they have no other distractions (i.e. a job). Some people can’t afford to quit their jobs (esp. if they’re married and/or have kids) so they work and go to school. Damn superstars… biggrin.gif
I’m in a similiar situation only I’m on the East Coast. I work full-time and will be taking 1 class this fall and next spring (PreCalculus) but my goal is go to school full-time next summer or fall. I don’t know anything about the schools you mention, but if you feel you can handle the debt and feel comfortable going to school full-time, than I would do it!
For myself, I figure I’m not really missing anything by bailing out on Corporate America to pursue my dream. If I get into post-bacc programs over here and do well, then I’ll make it to medical school. If I find out, for whatever reason, that I can’t hack the premed reqs, then I’ve learned a valuable (and expensive) lesson. I can always put my resume back out there and get another job. (FYI, like you, I have a similiar degree–B.S.J. (journalism) and no pre-med reqs from undergrad. I currently work in publishing).
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

It’s a dilemma. There seem to be pros and cons to doing it both ways no doubt. I don’t really have any advice but here is a link to the AAMC post bac site to help you find out if there are more options in your areaPostbaccalaureate Premedical Programs. Good Luck!

When I was making my decision (not very long ago), I decided that a full time program would suit me best. The top post-bacc programs have a linkage arrangement which nearly guarantees admission to med schools if you do well enough in class and MCATs. I chose a full time program because I wanted to be guaranteed to get the classes I need at a 4 year university. My undergrad GPA was, uhm… tragic. I have a lot of proving myself to do. I also wanted a bit of hand holding from a premed advisor and a full on letter of recommendation from a review committee. If I had done better as an undergrad (20 years ago), I may have gone the community college route to retake the classes.
Overall, I think your decision should consider how strong an applicant you already are and all the normal financial/logistical issues.

I think the question you have to ask yourself is where do you feel you have the best chance to succeed. What kind of an environment would make you more comfortable, one in which you are more independent or one that provides more “behind the scenes” support? And of course you have to take into consideration the ease of getting into the classes you want. Did you just decide too late to take the classes or is it a chronic problem that you will have to fight to get into the classes? Can you talk to a pre-med advisor at SF State that will help you get into the classes? In terms of the money, I’ve been going through a similar situation myself. I had plans to enroll in the Harvard Extension School post-bacc program this fall because the tuition is very reasonable and they offer classes at night, so that I could (theoretically) continue to work, even though at the info session I attended they noted that most people do not. The thing that kept nagging me, though, is the fear that I will not have enough time to do well at both work and school and maintain my sanity at the same time. I need balance. I am now planning to apply for a full time post-bacc program starting next summer (although I will take one class at HES this semester). I’m scared at the idea of losing a year’s worth of salary, but at the same time, I view it as an investment in my future. The most important things to me are doing well in my studies and receiving personal attention, which I don’t think I will get with my prior plan. Plus the program I’m looking at now has a consortial option with my dream med school. Of course, this is just my experience. It’s all a matter of what you feel will work best in your situation. Don’t know if any of this helps or not, but thought I’d share. Good luck with your decision!

hopefully Joewright will pop in to see us again soon and maybe address this with specifics from his experience - IIRC his ugrad was UC Santa Cruz, non-science and he took his prereqs as a post-grad somewhere in the Bay Area - and now attends that Boston school with the yaaaaard and is summering in South Africa smile.gif

Hi jakescott, What about San Jose State? Is that too far from you?

Lisa emailed me to let me know about this thread, so I’m writing from an Internet cafe near the beach in the Cape Town area. Never let it be said that I abandon my fellow Banana Slugs, even from all the way around the world! I was indeed a UCSC graduate, with the equally career-oriented degree of anthropology (and a lot of film classes–I was planning to be a filmmaker.)
So, I strongly recommend looking more thoroughly into SF State. Open enrollment is not the way to go, exactly because of this enrollment problem; what you will want to do is enroll as a second-bachelor’s student. There is no penalty in med school admissions for applying to med school before you complete that mythical second-bachelors, and it allows you to get classes more or less along with the rest of the undergrads rather than last in line as in open enrollment. I think it may even be cheaper than OE. Plus when you apply you will get a cool, “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to college!” letter. It also gives you more options for financial aid and departmental awards, scholarships, etc.
Mills is also a fine program and also worth looking into. Many good people have gone there and then gone on to medical school. But the same can be said of SFSU, which is much cheaper and has a more diverse student body. I am frankly a partisan of SFSU–by that, I mean not only as an alumni of their post-bac program, but also as a believer in CA’s public education system. So, ask the Mills people–and especially, students–what they think. From my point of view, it’s not worth the money.
I recommend two resources; first, the post-bac student organization at SFSU has an email list on yahoogroups called sfsupbso; go to I think. (I’m remembering the link protocol not looking it up so if that doesn’t work just do a search within the yahoogroups site.) Good group of people–there are always interesting post-bac premeds at SFSU because of the nature of the city, so I predict you’ll find some good fellow students there. I owe a great deal to my chemistry study partners from my first semester there. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be where I am now if it hadn’t been for them. Probably not. Second, make an appointment with either or both of SFSU’s able advisors, Barry Rothman and Cliff Berkman (bio and o chem professors respectively).
My next piece of advice is to use the money you will save by going to SFSU by taking more time off work to volunteer, work at labs or clinics, do research, travel, etc–the things beyond the pre-reqs that will help you learn more about medicine, find your passions, keep your interest and morale high, and because of all of that, become not only a more happy and fulfilled person but also a much stronger applicant.
Feel free to get in touch with me if you have more questions-- I’m at . Because I’m in South Africa until late August and always using borrowed or bought internet time it may take a while for me to reply.
Good luck!