underfunding problem.

I am interested in becoming a medical doctor, but I had a bad problem in Denver. I was afraid of taking on debt, and therefore didn’t talk enough with the financial aid office. As I worked and lived in Denver, and attempted to complete my coursework, things became more and more expensive. Finally, I could no longer afford to live in the city, and I stumbled, academically (to put it euphemistically). Since the start of my college education, I have moved 40 times and have had 11 cars. I wasted a lot of time on distractions, and got sidetracked fixing all of these cars that seemed to be breaking down regularly, because they were so cheap. And because of the increasingly restricted parking, and congestion, and basically trying to compete an education with no money, I totally “fell off the horse”. That was about 4 years ago. My failure was spectacular. I also have a problem in that both of my parents are liberal Democrats, and I am a conservative. I might add, with some disdain, that my conservative leanings earned me no friends at UCD, and perhaps quite the opposite occurred. But I wish to retain my focus, return to a college or University, and get back in the saddle again. I’m also concerned that I don’t want to lose credit for some of the credit-hours that are good. That is, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater or reinvent the wheel. I would like to salvage what I can of my previous coursework, without being penalized by past work that wasn’t up to par. Where could I apply, and would any colleges forgive my past mistakes, and if so, how would I know who they are? A phone call? Because of my difficulty with my parents, I doubt that they will fund me, but because of the Expected Family Contribution, I will definitely lose some grants, funding, and financing. My parents don’t like to talk about money, and they are very secretive and regard the subject as a kind of taboo. They are 60’s era spawned liberals who are “closet intolerant” of conservatives, but they wouldn’t ever admit it. Somehow, I can’t help but wonder if they wanted my “failure” to prove their ideology–but if that was, indeed, the case, then it may have become a self-fulfilling prophecy and therefore just another gradient for me to work against. But perhaps that is a superfluous tangent that would better be left unexplored, but simply as background it may help those of you whom I hope would be impressed to respond to this message to understand my situation better. On a separate note, I lived with a woman (in 1994-5) who turned 101 while I was there, and I did some basic home health care at night. There was a nurse that came in during the day, does that count as clinical experience? PS. I am very embarassed about my failure but I feel, in retrospect, that it easily could have been avoided had I taken a more prudent financial approach to my education–something I don’t think that I could have known at the time. What I’m saying is that showing up at class and taking notes was the least of the problems that I had, across a spectrum of life challenges that mainly revolved around money.

Wow, this post is all over the place! I’ll take a swing at some of the major questions or issues that I see.
First, the easy one. Yes, home care of someone who’s ill is clinical experience. You would probably be wise to supplement it with volunteer or other experience in a formal clinical setting like a hospital, free clinic, or hospice, but you have a good start.
Now the hard ones. I don’t know how many credits you amassed in your spectacular financial and academic disaster, but the good and bad news is that they follow you everywhere. When you fill out your med school applications, you must list everything you took everywhere and it all goes into your grade point average. So, how much work you must do to prove you can be successful academically in med school depends partly on how bad the grades were and how many of them there were.
With regard to finances, one thing you could consider is going to a university in a smaller town with a lower cost of living. You should still be eligible for student loans (and what you’ll have to borrow for med school is so outrageous that you might as well get used to owing money) if you go to school full time. You could also work full-time and go to school part-time, particularly if you find a job working for an employer that reimburses you for tuition.
I’m assuming here that you didn’t ever get to finish your bachelor’s, by the way. Since you’ve been out of school for four years, you should be able to get back into a Colorado university, even if you have to enroll as a “special student” the first semester to prove yourself. Contact admissions departments in a town you can afford to live in and find out what your status is.
Finally, definitely do FOCUS! Your political leanings, those of your parents, those of the other students at UCD, those of the other folks hear should have no effect on your academic success. If your parents won’t fund your education, they won’t, and it doesn’t matter why. Parking, congestion, broken cars happen to all students. Figure out ahead of time a way to live so that these things won’t cause your semester to crash and burn. Again I’d suggest looking at a smaller town, living close to campus, maybe having a couple of roommates–basically going back to the poor student lifestyle.
Figure out where you can go to school, whether you can afford to do so full or part time, and how you can set yourself up for success so that life’s many nasty surprises won’t derail your whole train. Then you can figure out what to re-take, what you want to major in, whether you’ll need an advanced degree in the sciences to further offset the bad grades from the distant past, etc.
Your future is in your hands alone, really. Go kick some academic butt!
I hope this isn’t too harsh or shocking for you. I don’t know that much about you, really. I don’t know what you’ve been doing (what sort of job, etc) in the four years since college, where you’re living, what you majored in, how far you got…all sorts of things. Feel free to add more info if you’d like.

I was going to reply to this, however, the reply in place is pretty comprehensive. I will add, however, more on the part about the comments regarding political leanings. Everyone has the right to their own opinions, whatever the subject, and I suspect, as someone who in my own past, was also extremely judgemental, that you are also. You didn’t mention your age, but I suspect you are not as young as some might think, so the “rant” about your parents politics concerns me somewhat. You seem to have issues with spending money wisely, in the sense that perhaps you are initially overly frugal, only to find that route more expensive in the long run. You also seem to realize, in most things, that you have made mistakes. If that is the case, DO take Stacy’s advice and make a plan, do better, and succeed. On a personal note, be kind to your parents, others, as well as yourself. Sometimes those with extremely high and/or rigid expectations are hardest on themselves. I hope you take this advice sincerely and in the spirit intended. It is only my opinion. Good luck.

Wow - I don’t know how much advice I can give since I’m still working my way through my first bachelor’s as well, but I can definitely feel the “underfunding” pain lol.
I’d definitely suggest looking at UCCS or UC-Boulder (even some of the CSU campuses) vs. UCD as they are way cheaper and have just as good an education. I go to UCCS by the way.
I don’t know how far you got in school the first time around, but I think you may be surprised at what you can get financial aid wise from the other Colorado schools (assuming you’re still here in Colorado). While your first year back you may only be eligible for loans depending on what you have been making moneywise the past couple years, at every school except UCD that’s enough to take a full load of science classes and live on campus (with a part time job to pay for books and fun money.) It’s even better if you live off campus with a roommate or two. After your first year back (assuming you go back full time and don’t keep a high paying job) your finances would “right” themselves and you’d be eligible for more than just loans.
Also at most schools, if you are making a major financial change, ie. quitting a full-time good paying job and going to school full-time with a so-so part time job, you can often have the financial aid office calculate your aid based on your projected earnings during the school year that first year instead of your previous year’s earnings.
Without knowing what your “old” gpa was you can either apply as a regular returning UC student (all the campuses have reciprocal contracts between each other), or as an unclassified student until you “prove” yourself with a couple semesters of good grades. If your old gpa is below a 2.0 then you may need to take a couple semesters at a CC just taking some classes to get your gpa up before transferring back into the CU system.
As for forgiving your past mistakes and wondering where to apply to be given a chance I think you’re getting ahead of yourself. Don’t jump ahead to what adcoms will think yet. Just concentrate on getting your grades up and proving to yourself that you can and do want to do this. If you show with your returning to college grades that you can be successful the adcoms will look “beyond” the straight numbers of your early grades and see the improvement, assuming you work to get a decent overall gpa before applying to med school.
It won’t be easy. Believe me I know. I’m definitely living the “poor” college student lifestyle, and I’m taking the 12-15 credits per semester for the next year that our budget calculates for while I’m living off only loans (made too much money on unemployment if you can believe it), but it is definitely doable if you want to do it.
Good luck!
If you want to know more about UCCS feel free to PM me with questions!
–Jessica, UCCS

The first reply by Denise was quite comprehensive. I will only add: once you are back in an academic environment (and I would advise that you go VERY slowly when you start back), I would seek out someone in academic services to evaluate you for ADD. I wouldn’t normally diagnose over the internet but your story about 40 addresses and 11 cars just set off all sorts of alarm bells. Denise’s exhortation to FOCUS may be something that is very hard for you until you learn more about HOW you learn.
And actually as I think about it (caffeine is only just reaching the bloodstream as I type), you can pursue an ADD evaluation before you get back to school. If you’re currently employed, have health insurance, have a primary care provider, this is something well within the purview of a family medicine doc or internist. (Shameless plug! ) Seriously, talk to your doctor, tell the story you’ve told here, and see if s/he feels that intervention would be helpful.