Starting from scratch. Need help making the best plan forward

I am a 38 year old mom of five with zero completed college coursework. I have two years of post high school education, both as a cosmetologist and medical language specialist. Becoming a doctor has always been my dream, but five adoptions of children with special needs has put that on the back burner. After much discussion with my husband, we’ve decided now’s the time for me to begin pursuing my goal.

I have been accepted to a university and I am starting completely from scratch, like I said. I have some volunteer experience with the homeless community as well as resettled refugees and as I mentioned, I’ve adopted five children with various medical needs, ranging from drug exposure to cerebral palsy quadriplegia, from three countries. My hope would be to do something in pediatrics because, obviously, I think kids are rad.

As you can imagine, we spend a lot of time with doctors as I have many friends who are physicians themselves. The general consensus had been that if anyone has the tenacity and wherewithal to begin this at 38, it’s me.

My question is, how do I best position myself in the next four years of undergrad to inspire schools to take a chance on me?

Get good grades and try to genuinely learn the course content. Choose a private school or do juco for 2 years and wrap up at a cheaper non-research institution w/ brand recognition.Stop volunteering and stop all non-essentials during school. Focus on grades. I noticed your last post in 2013, ask yourself how you have progressed since that post. I wish you the best - I have learned so much on my journey and am very happy to help.

Thank you for the response! Yes, I had started undergrad many years ago, but shortly after I started, I was surprised with baby #1 through adoption with just five hours’ notice. I dropped my classes then and have spent the last years adopting kiddos. I’m ready to resume my journey!

Much to my joy, I qualify for free tuition at my state university (which happens to be in my neighborhood), thanks to a new program they implemented in fall 2020. I was accepted on Friday, so now I’m getting a game plan. My hope would be to go to my state medical school as well, but I do know I cannot bank on that.

Do you think it’d be useful to get to know some faculty at the medical school if that’s where I am aiming for? One friend’s husband is an assistant professor and I’m sure I know people who know people. With medically complex kiddos, thankfully connections aren’t in short supply.

I think way to early to start networking, the journey is just too grueling. Like dreaming of your pose on top of Everest as you are pricing flights online.

Get an A in Chemistry I and you will have the attention of your professor - which will do you more good than the attention of your med school proff. This journey is brutal. The dream is what keeps us going - but sometimes too much dream and not enough action gets us in trouble.

Also if you can avoid the state school you may be better off. Large land grant / research institutions have different expectations of their A students. Be wary of the 100 person 101 courses - they WILL weed out students who do not study/homework/practice 20 hours a week.

I am no doubt a dreamer, but really I’m just hoping these two guys I have personal connection to will have thoughts on how to set myself up for success in my goals.

Alas, state school is it for me. Thankfully, I am not aiming for top med schools or competitive specialties 9,000 years down the road.

Not that it isn’t all competitive. I’m fully cognizant that the next decade plus is going to be brutal, which is why I want a plan.

First of all, congrats on the decision! I know it’s not an easy one to make when you have a family to care for. I’m 35, with 3 kids, and just started undergrad last semester so we’re in a similar boat. At this point, I think focusing on your classes is the most important thing. If you can handle classes, family, and volunteering, I would actually keep up the volunteering, especially if you have any leadership positions. Regardless, if you stay volunteering where you are or go on to do other things, start keeping a journal of your experiences and what you’ve gained from them. This will help later on when you go to write about them on your application.

Once you get into a good rhythm (which may take some time - give yourself some grace) start using your connections for shadowing and clinical opportunities. Those will be super important, too.

Good luck on your journey!