Which is better? Really bad grades in postbac or a withdrawal

Hi, everybody

I’m new and I wanted to introduce myself and ask a question. I am 25 and in my third semester of a self-directed postbac program and I am afraid I may have made a terrible mistake.

In my first semester, I took 4 credits of Organic Chemistry I and lab and got As. Last semester, I managed to get Bs in 4 credits of Organic Chem II and lab. I was depressed over the Bs because I have two previous degrees: an ASC in general studies with a 3.29 GPA and a BSC in Environmental Science with a GPA around 3.88 or 3.89). My science GPA is 3.66. My postbac GPA is 3.5 (not including the current semester.)

I had thought I needed to keep my postbac GPA higher or at least as good since I’m supposed to be older, wiser, yadda ya now. So I took 11 credits of Cell Biology, Physics I, and a 400-level Biochemistry course this semester. These were in order to pull up my GPA and give myself requirements taken in the US and recently.

(My BSC is from a Canadian University, but my courses were all taken through their extension program in The Gambia, West Africa and I have been told that there is a possibility that they will not be accepted by medical schools as prerequisites. Otherwise, the only prerequisite that I had not already met was the Organic Chemistry.)

I attempted to get in touch with a local medical school this summer and was not able to reach anyone, so I decided to take these classes and then I thought that I would have them if I needed them.

I am also working 20-25 hours a week, sometimes more, and I have a 1.5-2 hour commute to school each way. I set up a study schedule at the beginning of the semester, but have found myself playing catch up with assignments and cramming for tests all semester instead of being able to follow that schedule.

Now, 2 weeks before finals, I find myself failing exams and I don’t know that I will be able to do well enough on finals to be able even to pass these classes. I have been doing Bs and Cs all semester and hoping to do better on each test, but the last round of exams just killed me. I got 60 on my last biochem test and 34 on my last Cell Bio test.

I’m alternating between just being depressed and trying to study, but I am not feeling hopeful about this. So, the question is: how bad is it if I take a leave of absence from my university, get my finances, state of mind, etc… in order, find out if I even actually need these classes for certain and start again next fall.

The university has a policy that allows you to drop all your classes before the final day of classes, but it leaves you with a mark on your transcript. Is that mark worse than Cs and Ds, which is what I’ll get if I don’t do very well on finals? How badly do you have to be doing before that should be considered?

The other alternative I’ve been told about is to do a special Master’s program like the Georgetown or Drexel programs and if I work for a year, I could probably go that route also. I am in contact with my advisor, but a lot of you seem to have good advice and I wanted to ask you this question. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.


Welcome, J.

I’d imagine that Ws look better than Ds, but they’d still need to be explained. It doesn’t seem like Cs and Ds are foregone conclusions yet, though - you’ve been doing well all semester, but have been starting to struggle recently? Have you spoken with your profs, classmates, maybe tutors? Why do you think you started doing poorly on these exams?

As far as requirements go, from what I’ve seen, most schools require the standard BCPM; some add a semester or a year of biochem. Cell bio tends to fall into the “recommended but not required” bunch. You’re probably right in wanting to have recent US coursework; it may pay to more actively pursue med school contacts to find out how well-received your Canadian/Gambian credits will be.

Anyway… welcome, keep your chin up, and do take everything I say with a grain of salt - I’m still learning the ropes myself . Good luck this semester, and let us know how things turn out for you!

There is no doubt that W are much better than a D or even a C. As a postbacc student there will be scrutiny of your latter grades and they need to be excellent…not just good but outstanding. A B here or there may not hurt but a lot of B’s also do not look all that great to be honest. You need to drop the classes IF you know that for sure you cannot get a B and learn from your mistake. Working PT, commuting for that long, and taking hard core science classes and taking so many is a recipe for disaster. There is NO rush to get in, you are very young. You need to focus and prioritize. If you need to work then just take less classes period. It may take you longer to get there but when you apply you will have an exemplary application. Good luck.