Turning 27 and Trying to Do This

Hi, I’m Gray, and I turn 27 in less than a week. I’m also trying to figure out how to balance my full time job with the things I need to do to strengthen my application, all the while trying to ignore my unsupportive family.

I know my scores in undergrad weren’t the best (most of my science pre-reqs were As, but my orgo, biochem, and final term of physics are pulling my average down); I had an undiagnosed illness for much of my college career that affected my GPA significantly. Consequently, I have to continue working full time in order to have the great health insurance I have. Unfortunately, this means I cannot take time off to do a post-bac or an SMP. Thus, I have two choices in front of me: do a few online courses or take evening classes at CUNY. Additionally, I want to study for the MCAT, and I’m going to an online prep course.

Anyone else in my position? I’m getting the paperwork done so I can do my community college courses–anyone have experience with the CUNY evening courses? How about online courses such as UNE’s online post-bac or the Berkley Extension? What about online MCAT prep? Are any of you doing this while working full time?

With my family being so negative, I’m starting to feel down about my own birthday. It doesn’t help that I was reading another forum (rhymes with the Smudent Mocktor Detwork), and it feels like everyone on there is a 20 year old with a 3.8 GPA and a 36+ MCAT.


Let’s start in no particular order:

  1. “that” other forum is known for being particularly brutal so most of us use it for some information but do not actively participate in any discussions and stay away from the “Hi, my name is Einstein B Brilliant, carry a 4.0 through AP courses and honors work, am 15 and starting my PhD in neutrino based bio-physics with a focus on using multilasered spectroscopy in decomposition of BRCA1 genes. My MCAT score was 44 and I’m nervous about being accepted to Howard. Do you think I should give up?” crowd :lol:

  2. I work 45 - 50 hours a week, take the Kaplan MCAT prep online, have 4 dogs, volunteer, a 23 year old son, and have a life - not much of one but I do have one!

  3. I would strongly suggest NO online courses for pre-med prereqs. Ever. Unless Harvard, Yale, etal are the ones offering them AND - AND!!! - they are are included in a Bachelor’s degree program (doubtful)

  4. negative impressions from family are all over … I have them but choose to ignore and never speak about it…

    Keep coming here - many good peeps :slight_smile:

I did all of my post bacc stuff while working full time took 3 classes online through UNE and one distance learning from a local state college. It might limit the schools you can apply to, but you gotta do what works for you. Not sure what would carry more weight for admissions, in class CC or online courses from brick and mortar universities.

It’s been long enough that all of the syllabi for the UNE classes I took have changed, so I can’t give you a realistic perspective of the way things are now. I thought the classes were challenging, but I learned what I needed to. I liked that they were focused on medical application of the subjects to motivate my learning.

I also did the Kaplan on-demand course while working full time. I pressed hard on it for 3-3.5 mo and turned out alright.

My work situation forced me to go the online route. I would’ve done in-class had I had the choice.

You mentioned that some of your grades weren’t the best. That means you have some making up to do, and really need to do well in whatever additional coursework you take, as well as rock the MCAT. Remember – you’re turning 27, so you’re quite young. Don’t rush this! Don’t try to do everything at once – all the courses you need, plus work, plus study for the MCAT. That’s not likely to set yourself up for success. Take your time. This isn’t a race.

Thank you for all the advice. I feel a lot more confident as I prepare my courseload and resume builders.

I have decided against the UNE classes, not only because they aren’t always accepted everywhere, but because I have heard the more recent courses are difficult to pass while working full time. Instead, I am going the CC route, and I have ascertained that all the schools that I would consider applying to in the future will accept these even though they are not from a 4 year institution.

The one problem I am running into is the LOR; either I haven’t received a response when I put out requests, or I have received declines because I haven’t been in school for over 5 years. I am planning on asking my orgo professor once class starts, but I’m wondering about whether schools will accept a letter from my employer instead. I know there used to be a link on the AACOMAS website listing this information, but I cannot find it anywhere now.

On the plus side, I start orgo in a few weeks. My class will be using the David Klein textbook, so I’ve been doing problems out of Organic Chemistry as a Second Language in preparation for the class. Initially I was stressing out about not remembering any orgo from the last time I took it and also having bad memories of how I struggled with the class. With the Klein book, however, I’m feeling more confident in my ability to understand the material, and I am excited to prove myself.

In regards to your letters, I know they can be worry-some, but you also have to remember that this is a long process. You’ll be taking courses for a while and that will give you time to build a relation with professors such that you might not need a letter from your employer by the time you apply.

I meant to reply to this a long time ago, sorry.

Because I had been out of the traditional classroom setting for almost 10 years when I applied (only online classes after finishing undergrad in '04), I couldn’t apply to any schools that absolutely required LORs from profs. Believe it or not, there are quite a few schools that either don’t require (though they recommend) professor LORs or will waive the requirement on a case by case basis. Only one school I requested a waiver from denied me. I primarily applied via AMCAS but did get accepted at the DO school I applied to (just mentioning since you seemed to target AACOMAS).

I ended up submitting letters from my boss, my immediate supervisor I’ve known for years, and the doc I shadowed who is also very familiar with me professionally (non-medical field).

If you’re taking classes in a traditional setting, you’ll probably be expected to meet any required academic LORs. You’ll find LOR info on school sites since it is not really an app service requirement. You’ve probavly seen it, but AACOM has info about applying and all the schools. Don’t think it’ll answer your LOR question though.


Thank you agnor550 and Kennymac for your replies about my letters. I think my main worry was that because my classes in undergraduate were in a traditional university, versus my classes now which are CC courses, the AdComs would prefer letters from the classes I took during university. Unfortunately, even though I did well early on, it’s been nearly a decade and my professors won’t remember who I am. I am maintaining a good reputation with my professor now, so I’ll have at least one good recommendation, and if it’s from a community college, well, that’s all I can get.

The information about the waiver is very interesting–see, this is the sort of information I could not find anywhere else. I’m still planning on doing well enough to get my professor’s recommendation, but I know I’ll need two, and it’s nice to know I have options in case my professors aren’t cooperative.

In other news: I have my first orgo exam in T-4 hours! I’m nervous as heck, but at the same time, I’m confident I know the material. I feel like it’s impossible for him to make a question that I haven’t already practiced until I have gotten them right. But who knows–maybe it’s famous last words?

I am in a similar boat. I work full time and I try to schedule my classes in the late afternoon to night. I am fortunate enough to have a job that is lenient on my work schedule so I can get approval if I must take classes during the day. I have been to traditional university and have gone to CC. I did notice that the CC classes I have around me are not at the same level as university classes so I have had to transfer to university. My wallet was not a fan :lol: . Let us know how well you Orgo test goes. I will be taking it this Fall.

  1. Ignore your family when they choose to not support you. Make it clear to them that if they are not going to build you up then you aren’t going to have any of it. I love my dad to the end of the earth, but I drew the line when he dug up some past mistakes in the context of a decision I was considering at the time. He recanted and hasn’t done that since.

  2. You’re young, give this some time. Before you do anything else, you need to get your GPA up. You will need grades competitive with your peers, and those grades and scores are high. You may not need a 3.8/38, but you do need to show significant improvement in GPA. The reality is that there are many, many applicants and few seats. From attending national conferences, I have learned from many adcom members that a high MCAT and stellar ECs/HCE will not sub for a low GPA.

    Do what you need to do in order to complete the application pre-reqs. Before you really commit to it though, the best thing you can do for yourself is to hedge your bets by becoming intimately familiar with the MSAR. Choose prospective schools based on student demographics and average accepted scores…if that means shooting for the low hanging fruit than shoot for every single low-hanger you possibly can. Tailor your list of prospective schools to those at which you would be the most competitive.

@sgaffin: you asked about how my first exam went–I got a 91%! A rather strong showing considering the majority of the class failed :frowning: . Right now I’m trying (and failing) to master Newman projections and complex naming. I have no clue if naming will be important on next week’s exam, but a minor detail that I studied but was never mentioned in class was in my first exam, so I know it’s going to be vital for me to have every single detail down. Newman projections are tough for me: I’m not super visual. Anyone know any methods to develop my skills with these and chair/boat conformations/ring flips?

@Jfowler85, thanks for the advice. I should mention my grades aren’t horrendous–I’m above the 3.0 mark in GPA, but like you say, that’s not enough for schools, and I would prefer to stay on the East coast near my ailing mother. But you’re right–it’s better to cast a wide net and have options than to not catch any fish at all. But that’s the point of my DIY post-bacc–the grade replacement policy will be a HUGE help for me.

Is Orgo as a Second Language working for Newman projections for you? I think that’s what I used. Also leah4sci.com has helpful orgo videos - not sure if the Newman project ones will click for you (http://leah4sci.com/newman-projections)

And finally, I couldn’t have gotten through orgo without Freelance Teacher. Steve saved me - http://www.freelance-teacher.com/videos.htm (don’t think there’s anything on Newman, but a ton of other material. It’s a slow burn, he takes a long time but I find that one viewing means I understand a concept so it was worth it.)