I am a 23 year old African American female. I graduated with a B.A degree in biology. My grades greatly slipped due to personal reasons as I continued school and I ended up with a 2.42 cumulative GPA. My science GPA is not good and I’m looking for advice on where to go from here. I currently reside in NY. I don’t know what I should do. Should I take an upper level science course or 2 as a non degree student to see if I can handle it and then try getting into a program to enhance my GPA? I do not want to give up and I have been struggling with this since I finished school in May of 2012. I know that post bac programs and most programs require you to have at least a 3.0 so I just don’t know what to do. I want to know if it’s possible. I would greatly appreciate your advice because I do not want any more time to go by.
Some great recent advice I got from the Dean of UCF College of Medicine:
Show that you are dedicated, get a masters degree and prove that you can do it and that you are willing to sacrifice.
- Biscuit23 Said:
Rule 1: Take a Breath
Lets look at few things.
1) you are just 23. While you have been in school for 4 long years, and it seems like time is slipping away, it is not. even if you need another 3, 4, or 5 years, to get in, you will still be much younger than many of the successful applicants here on OldPreMeds
2) Dont assume that all formal postbaccs have strict cut off on GPA minimums. You need to find out from each program and how your existing grade pattern will be looked at.
3) As Doc Gray stated, a masters program in a hard science would show motivation and commitment. You need to examine what area you want to study in. You may need to take/repeat some undergrad courses to get into one.
4) If the above do not come to fruition, then an informal/do-it-yourself post bacc may be in required. You need to repeat/take some 30-40 credits of UG work in the sciences.
5) The MCAT will be vitally important for you but you should not take it until most of the other is accomplished.
6) what are you doing for work? can you get into something in lab, a clinic, or any area that is showing motivation & commitment to people, or a cause or social concern?
7) this really should have been first, you need to sit down with some one to understand why you did have some much trouble in achieving good grades. While personal reasons can damage good students, I find that often there are other underlying academic reasons for difficulties.
How do I get into a masters program with a low GPA? Do I take science courses as a non degree student somewhere?
- Biscuit23 Said:
yes, you would. But I think taking a few courses in hopes of getting into a masters likely wont work for you easily,
If you cant get into any of the formal PostBaccs at Masters level (SMP) then I think you need to you need to plan to redo most of your sciences, add advanced courses, then try to get into a masters.
- Biscuit23 Said:
This is how I got in (contrary to all those who thought that my being Black was it). I also did well on the GRE which helped a LOT.
I did about a year as a non degree student student while working full-time in a clinical lab, carrying a perfect 4.0 GPA in upper division Chemistry courses at one of the top programs in the US. I was also a wife and mother of 5 month old when I started.
I choose to get an MS in Chemistry for a number of reasons including the fact that I was already familiar with the material from undergrad (BA in Chemistry), because it's been a GREAT "fall-back" career, and quite frankly because folks are usually impressed by it (now HERE is where being a Black woman has made a difference!). I also knew that MD/PhD was my goal and that the MS would help which it did/does.
To piggyback on the other replies, keep in mind that a university is a business just like any other (even state schools), at the end of the day they need to make money so turning away too many potential paying customers is not favorable. Ivy league schools have an ample supply of applicants so they can afford to be more selective. In addition to being a business, the schools exist to help self motivated individuals realize their potential and change the world for the better.
What I’m saying in a long winded way is this: If you show people that you want it and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it, getting accepted will take care of itself. If you take the initiative and call or visit the advisors and deans of whatever programs you are interested in before you apply, they are usually willing to work with you. That may mean taking more undergrad courses as a non-degree seeking student, or getting accepted on a provisional basis, or not getting financial aid for a period of time.
If you go in there, lay out your plan, and accept whatever roadblocks that are thrown at you without a second thought, most schools will be happy to help you get to where you want to be, they just want to see that you are truly dedicated to your goal first. Low GPA can be an indicator of many things, they just want to be sure yours is not because you cant handle the material. If you think about it, they are doing you a favor by making sure you are not going to get in over your head.
Thanks for your story. What was your GPA for undergrad if you don’t mind me asking? That’s my main issue because it’s not even a 3.0 and that really eliminates me from most programs if not all programs.
As the song goes: “you gotta shop around.”
Many places I could have gone to would have required ACT or SAT scores. I’ve never taken either, and never had to. I’m in the same boat with the low GPA for BS degree, but got into MBA without GRE, GMAT or impressive GPA … cuz I shopped around.
- Biscuit23 Said:
Remember that the admissions "requirements" are really guidelines, a dean's signature carries a lot of power.
Again, find out where you want to go and talk to them, let them know your intentions, why the past is the past, and what you plan to do in the future. And like eirikr1 said, shop around!
Since you’re a resident of New York, you might be interested in a program such as this one:
- never_satisfied Said:
Shop around, but buyer beware! Not all degrees are created equal and I know for a fact that some schools carry more "weight" than others when it comes to adcom evaluation.
Has anyone done a diy post-bac program? I’m thinking about doing some upper level science classes as a non-degree student but I’m unsure about where to go from there. I guess the next step would to try to get into a SMP. I would need to take the MCAT to get into a SMP right? If anyone has gotten into a SMP program with a low GPA I would like to know your experience.
I would think that you do not need the MCAT to get into an SMP. It would be illogical to expect someone who is unprepared to medical school and looking at a postbacc would be able to do well on the MCAT. Isnt that what the SMP should be preparing you for?
I have a DIY at one of the SUNY schools here on Long Island. I would imagine you can do similar with CUNY as well.
I would suggest that you need to have your transcripts and background looked at carefully and figure out the best classes to start with. Shoot me PM or email and we can discuss offline if you would like (I gotta take care of us new yorkers)
- gonnif Said:
G'town, Gsquared, and ODU are 3 off the top of my head which require the MCAT.
- Biscuit23 Said:
The plan of a DIY post-bacc followed by an SMP is a route I've known many students to take toward getting into med school, especially MD programs.