Timing of Application

Hi All!

I am VERY new to the world of pre-med and am starting a DIY post-bacc this fall at the nearest college to me, about 20 minutes away. Because of my work schedule I can only take 1 class per semester (I might be able to take an elective online course in there, but I would not wish to do more than 2, as I think my GPA would suffer). Anyway… I would, ideally, like to matriculate at 35 (in 2020). My current plan is to take the MCAT in early winter 2019 and apply to schools in spring 2019, however, based on my current outlook I would not have finished one of my courses yet - as I will likely take either 8 hours of Physics or Organic Chem over the 19-20 school year. (As as reference I’ve put my probable course timeline below). I know most traditional pre-med students begin the application process during the spring of their junior year, but at that point most of them have also finished their pre-requisites and are working on upper-level degree-specific coursework. As a non-traditional student is it better to wait to apply until AFTER I’ve actually finished (or at least mostly finished) all of my coursework in Spring 2020 and wait to hopefully matriculate in fall 2021? Would it be better to accelerate my post-bacc by taking a class with an online lab? (Currently I am hoping to do all of my pre-reqs in person, and only electives as possibly online). I am also sort of thinking that it might be good to apply for 2020, but than know that after I’ve actually finished all my course work, if I’m not accepted the first go-round I have the option to re-apply after all my course work in finished.

Anatomy and Physiology 1 - Fall 2016

Anatomy and Physiology 2 - Spring 2017

College Math - Summer 2017 (prob and stats, trig, or calculus)

General Chemistry 1 - Fall 2017

General Chemistry 2 - Spring 2018

Online Elective(s) - Summer 2018 (microbio, biochemistry, genetics or neuroscience)

Organic Chemistry 1 - Fall 2018

Organic Chemistry 2 - Spring 2019

Online Elective(s) - Summer 2019 (microbio, genetics or neuroscience)

Physics 1 - Fall 2019

Physics 2 - Spring 2020

From my experience in high school chemistry I know that organic chemistry will likely be my most challenging class (I passed in high school - but not with flying colors - and I know I need to keep a high science GPA to make up for being a non-trad with an “only okay” undergrad GPA of 3.39 - though my science GPA is currently a 4.0) - so I’d considered saving it for the very last, but the more I think about that, the more I think I should do it right after gen chem and get it out of the way. If I feel up to it I might also take an online class this spring - but it will depend on how A&P is going and if I think I can handle the extra work. Come next spring I want to spend any extra time studying for the MCAT.

Thoughts? Advice?

Hello! From what I remember Anatomy and physiology isn’t a pre-req, so if you were looking for a class to take during your gap year as you apply and interview, that would be the best one. Also, be careful with the online classes. As many others have stated, not all schools accept them so make sure the schools you’re interested in do acccept them before you invest all the time and money into it. Also taking organic chemistry before biochem helps you understand some of the nuance and finer details. After all biochem is basically the organic chemistry that occurs in our bodies. You know best how you study, and what schedule will maximize your success. Neuroscience may be a good class to take, in that when you have your neuro block in med school it’s not such a shock. Seeing all the neuro anatomy multiple times was something I wish I had done. Anway, that’s my 2 cents. Keep us updated on what/how you’re doing! Good luck to you on your journey!

Thanks! At my top choice school the pre-req is for 8 hours of human biology, which would include A&P - I thought that would be a good place to start, since it meets the requirement and I know it’s an area I’m interested in and already have a pretty good knowledge base in. Unfortunately, because of where I live and the available courses at the college nearby anything beyond the core required classes and microbio would be something I would have to take online if at all. :frowning: I wish I could take more than one class at a time, but my work schedule only allows me to take a Tuesday/Thursday evening class. I could maybe do a J-term intensive class on campus at a different school if I were able to take vacation time to do it. I know this may limit my choices in schools but it’s that or nothing beyond the required courses. :confused: (Neuroscience is one I would really like to take for my own curiosity if nothing else - thinking about thinking has been my pet favorite line of inquiry since our 4th grade TAG enrichment unit on the brain).

But my big question is when to apply - should I wait until after I’ve actually finished the required classes (all but the last section of Physics)? Or apply in what would be the equivalent of spring of my junior year? Based on the schedule I’m attempting would spring 2019 be a better time to take the MCAT and apply or Spring 2020?

And, of course, if it were possible to get a full-time job in my current career field in an area nearer to a large school where I would have more course options available to me, then I would very seriously consider it. So that’s a possibility always in the back of my mind too… I do not want to throw away a great job for nothing, but if it were a move that would make sense in my current career AND open options for pursuing medicine, then all the better!

Have you taken any of the prereqs before, like during your actual undergrad program? No need to retake them if you did alright and it hasn’t been a million years. A few schools have set time requirements, but that’s probably the exception to the rule, especially if you have taken other (harder) courses more recently…

You can apply with prereqs not yet completed. I believe there’s a way on the application to state future planned courses or something. Regardless, schools will let you apply with the caveat that you’ll have all of the required coursework done prior to matriculation. To make yourself less of a risk to the school, make sure you do well in their her courses you will have completed prior to applying. The biggest question is will you be ready for the MCAT without taking those courses?

If you haven’t taken cell bio, I’d definitely take that before applying. That’s probably the only area of knowledge that my school assumes we all know and kind of gloss over. As someone who didn’t major in “I want to be a doctor,” i definitely think neuro anatomy would’ve helped having at least to have seen the stuff before. Biochem for sure at least be familiar with ahead of time. Anatomy, meh. Even the SMP folks said the anatomy they learned helped but was no where near the level of med school anatomy. I don’t know that it’s worth your time if you have other options. Physiology might be worth becoming familiar with, but again not really a necessity.

Everything they want you to know in med school, the school will teach you (or dr Wikipedia and First Aid for Step will teach you). There’s not much in my studies for the MCAT or from prereqs that I actually retained or am really using for school (except cell bio and a little biochem). Think of the prereqs as MCAT prep and the ability to show someone that you can think in science (and I guess in touchy feely now too) and less of really a preparation for school, in my opinion.

Only 3 of the 6 math hours. My undergrad degree was in theatre and music and I took additional upper level credit in English and psychology (but not enough to get a full minor in those areas). My only undergrad science credits were college algebra, gen ed biology and astronomy.

A&P is one of the few options I have that would meet the “human biology” requirement. I had considered micro bio this fall as well, but the only time they offered it it would not fit with my work schedule. :confused: I’d love to be able to take more and better, but am limited by what they offer nearby (one school 20 minutes away and the other 40 minutes - and I live in the mountains, so weather is a consideration in addition to distance). Unless I wanted to quit my job and apply to a formal post-bacc program, but I don’t want to do that. Because I actually really like my current job and career. I’m not doing this because I’m dissatisfied with where I am now - but because I simply want to see if I can, to challenge myself and to (hopefully) achieve a childhood dream that I’d passed over as no longer in the cards for me.

That’s good advice though on filling in my “additional” classes. I’m also, not for credit, using Khan Academy, reading textbooks, iTunes U courses and such on a lot of these topics, to help me do better in the actual courses but also to help me gain this knowledge in some form or fashion even if I am unable to take some of these “optional” classes for actual credit.

If you do take micro and it has a high clinical basis of study, I would highly recommend checking out Sketchy Micro (now known as sketchy medical). It’s a subscription service, but you can at least get all of the bacteria videos for free. That’s the only way I survived micro in med school…