Something for me to consider....

Hi guys,
I’m trying not to make this a “what are my chances” thread, but I need some objective feedback here -
With life becoming more expensive, the thought crossed my mind to complete my pre-reqs at the local community college instead of trying to get another B.S. from the local university. The tuition for the university for 2 classes is almost $2k a semester (= 6K a year) while at the community college it is about $500 a semester ($1.5K a year). The distance to either is about the same. My major concerns are:
1. My fiance and I are trying to get out of debt before I would (hopefully) start med school. Our total debt minus mortgage is about $45K (car loans, credit card bills, etc.)
2. Going to the cc would give me time to complete my prereqs and work a little more to make more money to pay off debt.
3. My Undergrad GPA is now around 3.3 to 3.4 (both BCMP and overall). My grad GPA is 3.9 (a M.S. and 60+ hours of post-grad and some published research). I was opting for the 2nd B.S. because I planned to take the MCAT in spring '08, giving me plenty of time to do it. If I just took my pre-reqs and got A’s, I could maybe push the GPA up to 3.4-3.5.
4. Getting paid. I work as a private contractor for the state of Illinos. While the money is good, it comes in spurts, i.e. whenever they decide to pay me (can be from 6-12 weeks after submitting my billing!). Going to university depletes our funds for our bills as well as for my taxes The cc would give me the chance to do more work and be able to run my private practice better as well. (I’m being audited by the state on Tuesday and it’s a nightmare trying to get files together and have to be on campus for 6 hours!)
So, basically, I’m asking for your opinions here… do you think it’s necessary to complete a whole other B.S. or should I take my pre-reqs at the cc and try to get as much debt paid off as possible? If you need more clarification re: ECs, etc, let me know. This is a tough decision and I don’t want to just make it on the fly. All of the OPM posters give excellent points for and against every decision I’ve posted and I hope you’ll help me with this one, too!
p.s. I’m planning on applying to Illinois state schools that are ok with cc courses, or at least that’s what they advertise (UIUC, SIU - 1st choice)

I’d go with the CC classes. Your reasoning is sound and you don’t have such serious damage control to do that another BS is necessary. You can always take a few more advanced science classes at a 4-year institution later if you do feel a need to pump up your academic record.
I’m all about the pragmatic and frugal.

The only other thing I thought of would be the letter of recommendation issue… I’m not sure where I could get them from, especially if adcoms need them from BCMP professors if I’m at a cc… can anyone shed light on this?
Oh, and thanks for your input, Denise!

I agree, your situation seems one in which the CC option is absolutely appropriate. I would not take those published statements as the final word, though - if you have not done so, I would strongly suggest you chat up the admissions folks at the schools you’ll apply to and arrange to meet them in person. At the very least start with a phone conversation but really, a face to face is what you want here.
As for the LORs: dunno how old your M.S. and research is, but that would be one place to obtain an LOR. And your profs at the CC can certainly write LORs. In my AdCom work I saw them occasionally. Now, I must caution that a CC prof’s statement, “Best student I ever had,” didn’t have the same weight as that statement from a well-known 4-year university. But LORs really just establish that you are who you say you are. A lukewarm, unenthusiastic, or downright bad LOR can be bad news for your application but with few exceptions, a good LOR just reinforces what they’ve already figured out about you from the other things you’ve submitted - in other words, it’s just a little to the positive side of “neutral” in the spectrum.
The LOR question is one you absolutely could pose to AdCom folks at your desired med schools, and you’d hopefully get some helpful guidance.

Thanks, Mary. I was mostly concerned with the LOR situation. Unfortunately the turnover rate for faculty in my field is high, but I still have contact with one of my profs from my Ph.D. studies. I wasn’t sure how LORs from junior colleges were looked at, but the few classes I took I got to know the professor (it was a ph.d.) well and it felt more intimate! I am in my 1st semester of organic at the university, and am thinking about taking my math and physics and organic 2 at the cc. Everything else is complete, however I am also considering biochem or another higher level at the university out of curiousity, but we’ll see about that!

I agree with Mary and Denise. You have a strong background so I think that the CC coursework impacts you less than others. As Mary said, it’s really important that you speak directly with the medical schools in which you are interested rather than going off what they might have published on the web. They may write that something is o.k., but in talking with them in person they may strongly indicate a preference for something else.
Also, just something to think about–consider the quality of education you’re getting at the CC you interested in attending. Like any school, some CC’s have very good science programs and others are sub-standard. I think the difference MAY be more pronounced in the CC arena. The time advantage you gain from attending the CC may be lost to independent study so that you are prepared for the MCAT.
Good luck in the decision-making process!

Thanks, you guys… I was kinda leaning that way but I needed a little guidance. I’m still planning on taking the '07 MCAT, so the timeline is still there… I’ll start contacting schools this week!
And, I’ll let everyone know what schools I contact and what they have to say about the cc thing.

I just heard from SIU SOM, and they accept cc coursework, as well as LORs from a cc. As for coursework, they place more emphasis on the last 60 hours of course work and the science GPA.
So if any of you are applying there, sounds like they are non-trad friendly

Hey there,
I took most of my prereqs at a CC, and now I’m going to med school. When I was applying, I think some people were slightly suspicious about that part of my experience, and others were not. But I’m still really glad I went to the CC. However, you should definitely get input from schools you’re interested in while it’s still early enough–which it sounds like you’re doing.
You could always take some upper level science electives at the local university once you finish at the CC. Or you could take some of the classes at each place. That’s what I ended up doing. To be honest, I got to the end of my courses at the CC, started contacting med schools, and felt like there was a fair amount of hostility in the world towards people who come from CCs. But not to the point that it makes a huge difference.
Anyway, why were you thinking of getting a whole new B.S.? I would say, just take what you need as well as anything else you’re interested in!
Good luck!

Yeah, I’m still scratching my head as to why I thought a 2nd B.S. would be better - maybe to look better to adcoms by raising my UG GPA? I dunno!
Anyhoo, I heard from UIC today and they take the same stance as SIU concerning cc credits, and especially if you already have a degree. So, I think I’ll save some cash for now, then maybe take upper levels to help ease into med school (if, I mean when (!) I get in!).
Thanks again for your input guys!

Heh, if you check with any more Chicago/IL schools, make sure to keep us updated. I was about to start doing that myself

I’ve been having some of the same concerns about completing classes at a CC. I finally composed a letter and emailed it to each of the med schools in my state (except UF - because their website sort of infers that they frown on CC and also because there isn’t a email link to admissions). So far, I have only had one email reply - from Nova Southeastern Univ. FYI: Here’s their reply "The Committee prefers that students complete their pre-requisites at a four year institution, however when you go on to UCF and take additional high level ascience courses- that should assist. Also, scoring high on your MCAT can also help."
Short reply, and only answered one of three questions - but heck - I only sent an email and maybe it doesn’t illicit the same response as a formal letter or phone call???