Retaking the Core Classes: Where to GO Back to School

Hello Everyone:

I’ve just discovered this wonderful group, and I’m just delighted to find a group of people who share my dream of going to medical school past 30. Finally, I feel like I’ve found some support.

This being my very first post, I’ll try to keep it short. I graduated college in '94, and only recently made the decision to re-apply to medical school. I’ve already taken the core pre-med curriculum, but I’m now re-taking the courses, as it’s been too long to get ready for the MCAT and applications from work done 13-16 years ago. My question is this - like most of you all out there, I have to work FT while I’m completing my journey, and pursuing this dream. And, I live in Colorado. To my knowledge, Colorado has no Post-Bac pre-med program, at least not that I could find. And certainly not at night, when I am going to school. The requirement that I take night courses left me with basically one choice of where to go back to school: my local community college. Classes just started. Now, I’ve just read some posts on other pre-med sites and pre-med prep books, which generally state - or at least strongly suggest - that medical schools these days view community college work as totally inferior, and such course work is given little, if any weight in the application process. Basically, I’ve read that C.C. work is seen as little more than glorified high-school academics. Does anyone have any advice for me? Is this generally true? Am I dooming myself from the start just based on where I had to take coursework? I would really like to hear from some people on this, as this whole problem has got me really concerned right now. Thanks.


No, it’s not ideal to take your classes at a community college, but sometimes you can’t help it. If you have to keep your day job, and you can’t work out a little schedule flexibility, that’s how it is. Did you do well on the pre-reqs when you took them previously? If this is just an update for you, it may not be as big a deal to take them at a CC the second time around.

You don’t have to look for a formal post-bacc program as long as the classes are offered when you want them, but I, too, have noticed that prereqs tend to be offered during the day only at universities. Frustrating as all get-out!

It’s always a good idea to call a couple of med schools that interest you, explain your situation, and get their take on it. You may find that in your particular circumstances, some schools will not penalize you for taking classes at a community college, and if some will, hey, at least you won’t waste your money applying to those schools.

MCF, You sound just like me. I started taking one of my pre-reqs while I’m deciding if I should commit to such a sacrifice for myself and my family. I can only take night courses also, and as you guessed it, only the local CC offers them.

I called 3 med schools up I would consider attending. All of them said that they think CC courses are not as competitive as a university. What is sad is that the CC that I’m attending is one of the better ones in the country (top 100 at least), and the university I would attend (I got my BS from there) is not nearly as good as a school as the CC (I know, I attended both). They aren’t going to research this though.

All this comes into consideration when I think of attempting this idea. As much as I would like to do it, the thought of going to night courses for 2 or 3 years and then not even being considered to enter medical school is discouraging to say the least, particularly when I would have to move to the state of the school I’m interested a year before I applied to have a chance of getting in due to residency restrictions. I suppose if you want it bad enough, you’ll make the steps necc.

An interesting question to ask the med schools is, “What, if anything, could I do to make up for the fact that I took (am taking) my prereqs at a CC?”

Maybe you could take a plunge at the end of your prereqs and quit your job (AAAAAACK!) to take a full semester at a university. Maybe a certain grade point average would make it acceptable.

Maybe not. But it might be worth asking.

Thank you all for the answers and input on my question. I really appreciate that. I got to thinking about my own question - whether I’m placing myself at a serious application disadvantage by being basically forced to re-take the core pre-med curriculum at a community college, and the more I thought about what people wrote, and my own experience, the more infuriated at “the system” I’ve become.

I mean, to have a medical school tell you that applicants with community college work aren’t as strong potential students as others is just a hugely prejudicial statement to make, insults all number of people, and is, in my humble opinion, totally unfair.

By saying I’m an inferior applicant due to community college work, that medical school is basically saying that I’m an inferior student, my instructors / teachers aren’t as good as a university professor, the administration is not as competent as at a university, and on down the line. What a Big-Headed Load-of-crap! I did my undergrad work at a Quasi-Ivy League Schhol (Ok, I went to UVa), and I’ve taken classes at a community college too. And, you know what, some of the best teachers I’ve ever had the privelege of learning from have been the group of dedicated people who served as my C.C. instructors. Full-blown PH.D’s, who only teach. I don’t know about you all, but I NEVER saw that at university. We use the same books, we study the same topics, the library has a respectable collection. Ok, so the community colleges don’t have billion dollar research programs and nobel laureates on the faculty, but whats wrong with a solid education at an “affordable” price, provided at times and locations older people, or working people - can manage? Is that foundation likely to somehow lead to an incompetent doctor? Will I be less caring, less able to make a diagnosis, less able to understand pharmacology if I learned about cyclohexane from a community college instructor rather than from Professor Big himself? I don’t think so. I know, this is pure soapbox here, but I feel strongly about this. I don’t like being on the receiving end of any type of prejudice. It hurts. I would still really like to hear from people on this topic. Any thoughts?

My platitude of the day: Don’t Give Up! Pursue your dream.


I periodically go through my own version of this. To be blunt, we can argue with reality, however we will lose every time. Of course your feelings that things seem “unfair” are valid. This is because feelings are always valid for the person having the feelings. Despite the feelings, it’s necessary to be circumspect about the reality of the medical school application as well as the whole physician training process. There are a variety of ‘things’ about this path we all encounter that may seem unfair. Despite these feelings, this is just the way it is. It’s like getting upset that there is gravity. Hang in there.

100% agree with your observations. I think it’s a residual prejudice against community colleges from when they were considered an easy, open admissions alternative to regular 4-year universities. In this day and age, when millions of working adults have gone back to school, universities offer night classes that are not necessarily comparable to their day classes but nonetheless they are considered university quality, while the historical bias against CC remains. Mind you, some night/extension programs have very high standards as well. Sooner or later, reality will catch up with medical admissions and they will consider people more on the basis of their knowledge and experience than on what type of institution they come from.

Fortunately, the MCAT is the great equalizer. If you do well on the MCAT and score 30 or above (and some on this chatboard are saying it’s more like 34 or 35) then you will have demonstrated that you have the science and reasoning abilities to do well in medical school and on medical board exams. So a high MCAT may cancel out the CC stigma, but still you are best off coming from a university. Bear in mind that it’s a highly competitive environment and the slightest edge may tip the scale enough to get you in, while the slightest shortcoming whether perceived or real may knock you out of the running. As Mary Renard has said elsewhere on this board, it’s their rules, their ball, and their game.

It’s also worth considering that the somewhat arbitrary and unpredictable admissions process is only the beginning. You will then have to deal with a ridiculous workload in med school itself where there is far more material thrown at you than you could possibly learn even in twice the time. Rotations are hit or miss; you can have a wonderful experience at one place, then a horrible experience at another. I haven’t been there yet but have heard plenty of stories. Then you go into residency and then practice and have to deal with all sorts of weird personalities, demanding patients, stupid rules and laws, and your original idealist wish to cure people of sickness begins to sound like a quaint and naive whim. So make sure you’re going into this with a solid understanding of the requirements, and grow a nice thick skin because this is only the beginning! Best of luck,