Should I graduate and apply to a second degree, or should I stay for longer?

Hello everyone.

I hope this question receives some answers.
I am currently in my last year of Biology, and I have recently decided to apply to medical school. My GPA is not as high as I want it to be. When applying to the school I am in right now, I had 1 year worth of transfer credits. So I entered basically in the second year of my program. And spent 4 years in this program, pursuing prerequisites to graduate from the biology program, as well as pursuing many psychology courses due to personal interest. I decided a couple of weeks ago to apply for a second bachelor’s degree to both increase my GPA and pursue my interest. This way, if I stay longer as an undergraduate, I can explain it to the medical school committee that I was pursuing 2 degrees, rather than staying longer in my current program (5 years+) to take more courses to increase my GPA.
I have contacted a couple of schools. Some of them say that they count all undergraduate course grades into account when calculating cumulative GPA, some say they only take into account grades form one degree.
Now I don’t know what to do after finding this out. Should I still pursue the psych degree or should I graduate later, with only one Bachelor’s degree?

Thank you in advance for your help.

I think it really depends on your goal. Getting loans prior to graduating may be easier than trying to get a funding source to get a lateral degree. You really don’t have to justify pursuing your interests to a medical school outside of saying “I did it because I was interested, and it was easier to pay for by prolonging school.” You can do anything before medical school as long as you can justify why you did it in a logical way. Even if you can’t, you should be able to elaborate on what you learned from experience that would make you do it differently (ie in the more logical way). Don’t let what you think somebody somewhere at a medical school that may or may not even see your application be a primary driver in achieving your own personal goals in the way that is most beneficial to you.

Unless it has changed, AMCAS breaks up your coursework by undergrad, post-bacc undergrad, and masters+ level courses. I may be wrong, but it seems like the undergrad GPA is a major screening item and not an end-all, be-all. It’s not like they won’t take into account your other coursework if it isn’t included in your cumulative undergrad GPA.

Since I don’t your definition of “as high as I want it to be,” it’s hard to really offer any specific advice. If you’re truly struggling with school, it may be beneficial to graduate, take some time away from school to regroup and experience life, then reattack school in a few years. It’ll give you some perspective, some outside-of-academia experience, and a chance to “reinvent” yourself with strong academic recency leading up to your med school app. If you have a 3.96 and you want a 3.97, then do whatever you want, it won’t matter in the end. Somewhere in between that, then follow your interests and see where they take you. Who knows, maybe you’re meant to be a psychologist at which point you can avoid the glorious pain that is medical school. (You should read up on what the practical differences between a psychiatrist and psychologist are).

Thank you so much for your reply.
By “not high enough” I meant, I will be graduating with a GPA of 3.6-3.7 and I want a GPA of around 3.9. This is one of the reasons I want to get my psychology degree, other than personal interest. I am not struggling with school, as a matter of fact I have learned to love school, especially after starting to study psychology.
And I never really thought about the loan for a lateral degree, which I don’t think would be a problem.
So you think, I shouldn’t pursue my psychology degree and just stay in school for longer and maybe take more psych courses next year? Or change my program to a double major?

I answered this question on tomorrow’s (1/24) OldPreMeds podcast episode. I didn’t read the follow-up comment that your GPA is 3.6-3.7 and you’re trying to get it to 3.9. In my mind, you are wasting time and money to do that. Your GPA is competitive.

Thanks for your reply.
I am not a 100% sure whether my GPA will be 3.6-3.7. This summer is going to be my last semester. I am working full time and taking courses part time in the summer. I go to York university which calculates the GPA on a 9 point scale versus a 4 point scale. And I have to calculate the GPA from scratch so I’m not sure what my GPA is exactly. 3.7 is competitive I agree, but I doubt that I will get into medical school in Canada with a 3.7!

I don’t know enough about the funding for undergrad vs post-bacc in Canada, nor do I know the general stats/competitiveness for Canadian schools for Canadian citizens. Because of that, I can’t really give you good advice other than to say that in the US, you would be competitive as is, and in the US, the undergraduate degree(s) you get matter less than how well you performed in them (and prereq science classes).

You should do the math on how many classes you would have to take to raise an entire undergrad GPA by .2-.3 and see if it’s even feasible or time/cost-prohibitive.

I just listened to your answer to my question on the podcast and thank you very much for that.
Because I’m primarily looking at medical schools in Canada, to my knowledge, only one school (McGill I believe) told me that they only take into account grades from one degree. I think from your answer I have realized that I really shouldn’t or can’t fulfill requirements for all schools, because of how different they are. But I don’t know if it’s a good thing to not even try to do so!
About the post bacc you mentioned on the podcast, I don’t think this is very common in Canada as I have never heard of it! But I will definitely look into it. I figured if I have an interest, why not pursue that interest and get a second degree (which would also be a bachelor of science) in that interest rather than taking random courses just to boost my GPA? That way, I am fulfilling both personal and medical school requirements… I am looking to go from a GPA of around 3.6 to a 3.8, I’m not sure how many more courses I have to take in order to do that!
And yes, there are always bigger hurdles for non-degree students, as the priority always goes to those students who are doing a degree.
And yes, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter I completely agree.

Also, about the trend in my grades, there is an upward trend from the first year, to the second year, to the third year, but not much of a trend from the third year to the forth year,as my grades stayed at straight As or A+s in the last 2 years!