What I learned today from Pritzker.....

I had a meeting today with a director of admissions to get some feedback on me as a future applicant for the 2007 rounds. First, the director was very nice. He met with me for about 45 minutes and really seemed interested in me as an applicant. I posed the $64,000 questions that we have of validity of community college coursework, not finishing a graduate program, and freshman grades that were less than stellar due to illness. Here was the general response:
1. Community college coursework: Pretty much everyone who had an opinion on these threads of late are correct! Really, though, at least for Pritzker (and he mentioned Northwestern as well) if you do take the cc courses, you should have other higher-level science coursework or a significant academic background that shows your capability of handling the rigorous coursework of their school. They also take into consideration job responsibilities as well (for example, I have a private practice as a speech-language pathologist, whereby I have a lot of practice with clinical H&P, treatment goals, etc., etc.).
If you are just starting with college, then he strongly recommended taking the pre-reqs at a 4-year university.
So there you go - it seems that the community college coursework issue depends on the individual.
2. Unfinished gradaute program: I already have an M.S., and left a Ph.D. program for 2 primary reasons: not wanting to strictly do bench research and because my major professor left for a program that did not have a Ph.D. program, and no one else could fund my research. Thankfully, he praised me for my experience and said that was a perfectly good reason to not continue with a Ph.D. program. I told him I was worried it would be viewed negatively, but he said, no, but again, having my M.S. with a ton of clinical experience helped.
So, for those who are considering leaving a graduate program to pursue medicine, have a good reason for leaving the program.
3. My freshman grades were in the B-C range. I had cancer and treatments my 1st and 2nd years of college. He looked at my overall GPA and my grad GPA (B.S., M.S., Ph.D. GPA: 3.36, 3.8, and 3.9 respectively) and said that it looked OK and to just write about it in my PS. He did not seem too concerned or say anything about my grades.
Overall, he said my application would be very good, provided I do well on the MCAT and in my future courses. To be competetive at Pritzker I would need about a 32-33 on the MCAT (this is what he said the matriculant averages are this year). He also said I have a very good shot at the IL state schools and DO schools, especially being non-trad.
My future plans are:
Spring 06: A&P I at community college
Summer 06: A&PII at cc
Fall 06: Physics I, Orgo I at cc
Spring 07: Physics II, Orgo II at cc/MCAT
I asked him if he would recommend holding off on me taking the April 2007 MCAT and take some higher-level courses next year (2007) to improve my application. He said no, that it would probably be better to go ahead, take the MCAT, apply, and then take the upper-level courses during summer/fall 2007 and spring/summer 2008, and to make sure and include that information on the secondaries or on a separate letter to the adcoms with my application and that will help clear up any doubts regarding higher-level science courses (and to keep them updated with progress).
Whew! This was a long post, but I promised I would let people know how it went and what he said. I figured meeting with this man was getting it “from the horse’s mouth” so to speak regarding application questions, so hopefully this helps a few of you.
I must have asked a million questions and talked about a lot of stuff, so if you are curious, just PM me!
I’m also going to post this on the non-trad board at SDN.
Finally, I must say again how nice this advisor was (I’m purposefully leaving out names, but some may figure it out), and that Pritzker was so intimidating to walk through, but in a good way! There is so much right there - a med student’s dream!

Thanks for the update, meg. That sounds much like what I recall from discussing community college coursework with folks from Rush and Northwestern. Although the Northwestern admissions rep I spoke to certainly implied through tone of voice that CC courses probably wouldn’t cut it there, if not in her exact words, and I was depressed enough by that conversation that I never even called Pritzker. I spoke to the head of Rush’s admissions department at length over the phone talking over many of the same things you list here with Pritzker, and she was very, very encouraging. While she did say that prereqs at a 4-year school do tend to look better than CC classes, Rush is “very friendly to non-traditional students” in her words, and understanding of their situations.
Your course schedule looks good. Mine is a bit more hectic, but I have more prereqs uncompleted, and I decided to basically return to school fulltime and only work part-time. That’ll be tough for the next 6 months or so, but should get much easier come July when my wife is a resident somewhere (hopefully still here in Chicago, heh). My current plan is:
Spr 06: Gen Chem II, Gen Bio II, Anat, EMT-B.
Sum 06: Phys I&II, Orgo I.
Aut 06: Orgo II, Cell Bio, Genetics, Spanish I.
Spr 07: Micro, Immuno, Spanish II. Maybe just those 3 and MCAT prep to take it that April, or possibly vert phys or endocrinology depending on how things are going and how the other classes look.
This semester should be interesting - I’ve never taken three lab classes at the same time before. On the other hand, I know chem will be fine with my prof from last semester, and my bio prof last semester apparently went about twice as fast as they were supposed to, so I have 2 months of my new bio class before we get to material that I haven’t been tested on already
Good luck with everything!

Good luck to you, too! Looks like you will be keeping yourself busy for the next few semesters! I am still going to take my pre-reqs at the CC, but I am also going to follow his advice and take the upper-levels once I’m done with pre-reqs. Ultimately, cost is the deciding factor right now.

Cost indeed. I’m taking Gen Bio II at Northeastern Illinois U., many thanks again to whoever pointed them out earlier I’m sticking with Chem II and the Anat class at the CC for now though, as well as the EMT course. I’ll try to take the rest at NEIU because by then we’ll have my wife’s income as well, but I’ll just have to play it by ear.

Thanks for a terrific post. You were worried about 3.36, 3.8 and 3.9? You can’t improve much on 3.8 or 3.9.
As we all know, academia is a bizarre world unto itself. Most people have forgotten that Einstein had to work as a patent clerk because he was “unacceptable” to the traditional German University.
Also, my experience tells me that as long as the bar is crossed, it is the individual which determines his or her entry into the medical field. I know a young woman with a 3.9 GPA in Biochem (Calc II and III give me the heebie-jeebies) and a great MCAt score (33 I think) who cannot get into med school because she hasn’t done anything but study, and they know she’d be a terrible doctor. SHe’d be a great scientist, but not a clinician. I also know a former engineer whose undergrad engineering GPA was 3.0 and he got in first-time around, with a 32 MCAT score (Wisconsin). (He is now a practicing cardiologist, and a darned good one!)
It seems to me that collective experience of this forum would support the theory that if you work hard, do your best, sincerely desire to be a doctor and are willing to go out of your way to demonstrate this (not giving up, volunteering your time) then things will turn out all right in the end. Sorta like life itself!
P.S. Your post really is great - I’m going to print it out and put it in my file.

Jeff c

Thanks, Jeff.
I was more concerned about the 3.36 from Undergrad, mostly out of anxiety from reading SDN. The feedback from Pritzker was more promising that they look at grad GPA a lot. Also, that 3.36 does not take into account my pre-reqs of bio 1/2 and chem 1/2 with A’s and genetics with a B, so it would be probably a 3.4.
Anyway, glad I could help.

My original u-grad was 3.34, and everything turned out fine. Rock your pre-reqs and all will be well.

Meg -
Don’t let the paranoia on SDN get to you too much. My undergrad GPA was 2.77, and I got accepted to all of the schools I applied to. Of course, I did well in my pre-reqs and on the MCAT and think my LOR’s were probably very good. My clinical experience also helped significantly, I’m sure.

Meg, thanks for the information - some good info there. It sounds like you’ve got a good plan, and from my perspective, you look like you’ve got an excellent shot.
What you’re doing sounds similar to my current plan as far as the timeframe. Will you be applying in mid/late 2007 and taking more advanced classes through the glide year?


Meg, thanks for the information - some good info there. It sounds like you’ve got a good plan, and from my perspective, you look like you’ve got an excellent shot.
What you’re doing sounds similar to my current plan as far as the timeframe. Will you be applying in mid/late 2007 and taking more advanced classes through the glide year?

Hi pi,
Yep, I’m going to take the MCAT in April '07 and apply right after that. I will have my pre-reqs done + A&P and Genetics, and it was recommended to take some higher-level bio during my glide year to show the adcoms I’m still working hard, in the event they question upper-level bio classes.
I’m planning on these: biochem, cell bio, micro, molecular bio, and neurobio.