Starting from scratch: Will my past haunt me in my pursuit?

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum and was hoping for some advice on my current situation. I am starting from scratch as I’m still working toward my undergraduate degree at age 33.

To make a long story short, I had a rather turbulent teenage/early adulthood and the result was a disastrous 2-3 years of college right out of high school (I attended GMU, VA). I am embarrassed to admit that my GPA before dropping out of college was in the 1.x range. Since then I went into the workforce, experienced life and built myself back together. Two years ago at age 31, as a parent of two young children, I enrolled in Penn State’s distance learning program to complete my BS in Psychology (currently have approximately 75 credits with 26 credits transferred from GMU). My current GPA is 4.0 and I am confident that I will be able to complete my undergraduate while maintaining this GPA (not factoring in my previous GPA from GMU since PSU transcript does not show it). I have also just enrolled in Georgetown to start premed required courses which I plan to finish within the next two years. With the assumption that I will do well in my premed courses and on the MCAT, will my past life haunt me in my pursuit of a career in medicine?

I am extremely motivated and fully aware that this fire will have to burn for a long time. I have already mapped out my plans for financing, scheduling, and juggling family and work obligations. Although I do not yet have any clinical volunteer experience, I currently work as a member of the technology management team at a well known hospital in the DC metro area and I am very knowledgeable in operations at health care institutions as well as the technology aspect of patient care (i.e., EMR).

My questions are:

  • Do I need to provide my GMU transcript during the application process? If so, will this be a deal breaker?

  • Will admissions view my undergraduate degree via distance learning negatively? If so, approximately how much?

  • Do I have a sound plan in general?

  • Am I forgetting anything? Anything I should be considering for someone in my situation?

    Thank you very much in advance for your comments, feedback and advice.

All college level course will be considered and must be reported. ts.htm

Anything is possible and you can always consider D.O. schools that have a grade replacement program.

Great GPA that should help and show dedication. Best wishes!

The ideal would be if your cumulative and science GPAs get above 3.3 after finishing all your prereqs. I believe 3.3 is typically the cutoff at schools that computer screen your application, but many don’t computer screen from what I have heard. Any human reviewing your application would be silly not to consider your “upward trend”, especially if you do well in your science pre-reqs and on the MCAT. So do well in your classes and kill the MCAT, definitely get that volunteer experience, and apply to 29 schools (my personal preference) and I would think you’ll be okay. Good luck! Anyone else know about the impact of a Bachelors coming through distance learning??? I would think they wouldn’t necessarily like it but if your pre-reqs are from a good school they would overlook it. At least it shows dedication on your part. Thoughts?

  • tayelord39 Said:
Will admissions view my undergraduate degree via distance learning negatively? If so, approximately how much?

First off, congrats on your successes! I feel quite certain that schools are going to look at your trend very favorably.

Second, I think the distance learning situation is still new enough that we just don't know how adcoms are going to look at it. One of the things schools really want to see is that you've been successful in what they consider to be an academically challenging environment. IMHO, it is good that they are considering this because medical school is exponentially more difficult than undergrad/grad school. Med school spots are quite limited and the school wants to be sure that they are giving a spot to someone who is going to make it through all four years, not to mention is going to have the skills necessary to pass all the board exams, etc. along the way to becoming a practicing physician.

So, now, how to attack the new situation? I think it's a pretty simple thing to do--simply contact the 4 or 5 schools in which you're most interested in attending and ask to speak to the dean of admissions and ask your question directly. This will accomplish 2 things. It will get you the information you need, and it will put your name in the back of their mind for when you're applying in a couple of years.

Best of luck and much continued success!!

Thank you for your helpful and encouraging comments!

I did not get nervous about this process until recently when I was told that I may need to submit all my transcripts including from the school I dropped out of almost 15 years ago.

I am a bit worried that regardless what I do now…my application may not even get a chance to be seen by a human eye because of my past GPA and its impact on the cumulative GPA score.

As advised, I guess the best thing I can do is actually talk to the school of interest. Are they usually pretty honest & upfront about their selection process?

I think you’ll get a fairly up-front answer from them. The reality is that there are some schools who may not look at your application because of those early grades. However, that is certainly not the case for many, and perhaps most, med schools. You will have an opportunity in your personal statement to address your academic difficulties early on.

I would strongly encourage you to stay strong in your pursuit. You can’t change what’s happened in the past, and you’re doing outstanding work now. Stay focused on that and continue your amazing trend.

My recommendation to all applicants is to cast your net wide when applying to schools, geographically, academic reputation, and DO vs. MD.

Thanks! “Casting my net wide” seems like a sound advice…I will keep that in mind.

I find myself in a somewhat similar situation. While I’m aware that many schools do have a GPA cutoff, I would definitely check with each one because I doubt that many use the same arbitrary figure.