reparations for younger and dumber times

I need some good advice about how to recovering from some stunningly bad grades in the pre-med reqs. from my younger, dumber years. I’ve posted before giving a vague description of my issues, but I was never specific about the horrible undergraduate transcript.
I have applied previously and not been accepted- not a surprise given my undergrad grades, however, I do feel that I have a few things going for me. I have a MPH with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics (soft science I know, but it still required classes in immunology, virology, genetics, and other hard science topics as well as a whole lot of math). I have first authored one manuscript and co-authored several others. I have been very active volunteering in healthcare for the homeless clinics and as a floor aide in a major hospital. I have recent, strong recommendations from many physicians willing to back my abilities. I have solid recs from a few undergrad professors, but all are at least 5 years old.
I’ve been trying to decide which classes to take to boost my science GPA and so I made an appointment to speak to the pre-med advisor where I’m currently taking a post-bac class. He was less than helpful - an hour of ‘it’s really up to you. I can’t tell you what would be best’. My undergraduate pre-med advisor is more bleak with a ‘it’s just not going to happen for you attitude’. I refuse to accept that my immaturity at the age of 18 is destined to follow me throughout my life and steal away my dream. I’m ready to work hard to repair my transcript- but I’m unsure how to go about it.
Here’s the situation:
1995: Bio I & II: C+ and D
1996: Chem I & II: C+ and B
Physics I & II: C+ and C+
Organic I & II: C+ and C+

I’m truly embarrassed by these grades- these grades are not me. These grades have nothing to do with my academic ability and everything to do with the inability at the age of 18 /19 to handle life and the problems therein with maturity and poise.

Here we are a 9 years down the road. I am in the midst of completing a comparative anatomy course and so far it looks like I’ll have an A. The school where I’m taking this course offers several biology courses, but only the standard pre-meds for the other three disciplines. I was thinking I might retake Gen. Bio beginning in the fall and erase that D (as much as you can with AMCAS anyway). Is this a smart move? Do I retake all the reqs or do I pursue upper level bio courses? (I know that I’ll do just fine in any of the upper bio courses)
I emailed two medical schools in an attempt to ascertain what they would prefer, but got a standard - check the manual response.
Do I try to enter a special masters’ program? Would one even take me?
I am certainly aware that with my past performance there is no reason any medical school would look at me and pick my application over other candidates whom apply with a much higher GPA-I know that, but I don’t know how to fix the situation.

Okay, first of all, this is not an unwinable situation.
Did you apply to a broad range of med schools before? All the other credentials you mentioned sound really excellent. Did you have them when you first applied or is this new info for the med schools to consider?
The grades are a problem, but not an insurmountable one. Consider taking upper level bio (like the anatomy course) and just redo the Physics and Chem. You need to prove you can handle those classes! It'll take time and it's a pain in the you-know-what, but you may just have to jump through those hoops if you are serious about the MD/DO.
how's your MCAT? Is it recent?
Premed advisors discourage people. It's part of the process. Don't take it to heart or even think that they know better. Only you know if you have the determination and tenacity this will take.
Personally, I wouldn't recommened another Master's unless you intend to use it in the event you don't get accepted to med school.
Maybe this is too much advice; but sit down, plan out what you need to do. Make a time line, write out your goals, discuss them with people who are on your side and knowledgable about the process. Maybe get help with your PS when it's time to apply again. A professional can help you sculpt an essay that tells your story in the best possible light.
Do what you need to do. Don't let the naysayers get to you!
Best of luck!

Theresa gave a great response, you may also make appointments with various medical schools adcoms, and let them tell you what else, if anything you can do so they would consider your application…

Thanks for the advice. very solid. i did try and contact a couple ad coms but received a standard response advising me that any questions i might have would be addressed in their admissions handbook. i'm considering stopping by for a tour and then asking if by chance i can speak to anyone- but that feels kind of sneaky.
the mcat is not so great- at least not competitive. 10v, and then two 8s. i'm hoping that taking the post-bac classes will give a really solid review and enable me to score better on a future attempt.
Keeping my fingers crossed and pushing forward.
Thanks for the support!

That base MCAT isn't so bad (avg for med students!). I think you are right, with the retake of prereq's and a new MCAT under your belt, you should be in good shape.
Best of luck!

I would say that you should ask the med schools what they think would be helpful. I would STRONGLY agree that pre-med advisors are more discouraging than encouraging. You'd likely have to repeat the Ds of the undergraduate anyway, but otherwise, I have been told to move forward and do better now than trying to go back and repair the youthful mistakes. My situation in my younger college years wasn't any better, but I didn't have an undergraduate degree, so I went back. I still made Cs in OChem and am only a 3.44 GPA (2.8 overall due to bad grades from before). So who knows? I wish you luck though. If you want it bad enough, you will get it.

I wanted to chime in here with my own experience…maybe it will help?
My early grades also pulled down my science gpa. I failed a chemistry class long ago…retook and got an 89% while working in the chem dept…I also had a couple of early C’s…the F really hurt though…even though my retake grade counts…unfortunately, so do the 0 grade points that will forever be calculated in with the new grade. I have obsessed, felt badly, and chastised myself for those early mistakes, feeling certain that they doomed me to failure. I went on to be successful academically just as you did…I got my MS in molecular biology in a competitive program in a College of Medicine, did research that was high quality and also had a portion of it published…though I did not end up as first author. Despite all of that success and an excellent grad gpa, I continued to stress out and worry about it. I felt that it was pretty ‘hopeless’ for me and wished that there was a way that I could undo the foolishness of the past.
I finally went in and met with someone at our local Med School several months ago…and he was very encouraging. He looked at my old scores and we did talk about them briefly, but the focus was really what I had learned from the experience and what I had gone on to do since then. After an hour of talking, his comment to me was that I was a competitive candidate. Many schools are much more interested in your most recent performance. They also like to see well-rounded candidates who have a lot of diverse and interesting life experience…for me that was living abroad, speaking a foreign language and my volunteer work.
I chose not to apply this year because I am pregnant…and to be quite honest, I don’t really see myself applying in the next few years if at all. I have found a real peace with where I am at in my life with my family. I am also teaching at our local U part-time and I really enjoy that…so my life is pretty full right now. But you never know what the future holds. I spent many years working towards the idea of applying to med school…and maybe someday in the future that bug will bite me again…for now I’m happy being mom, teacher and wife…but at least I know now that that option is not out of the question.
I will tell you that many schools don’t accept grades that are 9 years old, so you may want to consider retaking the Bio course where you got the D…and then taking upper division courses with labs in Bio and possibly chem? It may be in your personal best interest though to simply repeat the whole sequence. At the end of the day, the grades are important, but the most important part is knowing/understanding the material. You won’t be able to do well in upper division courses if you are weak in the basics…and the same applies to the MCAT. I wouldn’t apply to another masters program. Grad grades won’t be computed into your ugrad or post-bacc gpa. Have you considered applying for a second degree program (ugrad) as a post-bacc and completing the intro sequence or other science coursework over the next 2-3 years and then applying? This way, you will also have some strong ugrad science grades to pull up your weaker science gpa from the past.
My advice to you is to simply look at those youthful transgressions from 9 years ago as a great character building experience. Let yourself feel bad about it one last time and then let it go and recognize all that you have accomplished since then. Make a definate plan for how you want to proceed to pull up your ugrad science gpa and then do it…and don’t look back at those few bad grades any more and use them as a measure of your worth…it’s done and the grades will only hold you back if you let them wink.gif
You can do this…it is not hopeless!
Good Luck,