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How is my current plan and where should I set my sights, given a shaky first semester?

blackteabrownublackteabrownu 4 replies2 threads New Member
Background info: I'm a white Cuban from Alabama at Brown, majoring in Slavic Studies. I'm only going into sophomore year. I really want to go to a med school in the northeast, ideally continuing at Brown, and I want to avoid taking a gap year between college and med school for some personal reasons.

The shaky first semester: I only took three classes (the standard courseload at Brown is four) and took calculus pass/fail (S/NC), so I'm afraid that looks bad. I still have a 4.0 at the moment, though.

Grades: I've taken several premed STEM classes that are supposedly representative of the rest of the premed classes and got all As in them, and I feel pretty comfortable in saying that I can maintain a 3.85 or higher sGPA and 3.95 cGPA throughout college. I know this sounds cocky, but I have access to lots of tutoring because I'm a varsity athlete, my very helpful friends are good in the areas where I'm weakest, and I can get good study material through my teammates. Also, I plan to study abroad in Russia the summer between sophomore and junior year.

MCAT: I plan to take 5 classes per semester sophomore year so that I can take 3 classes junior spring and study for the MCAT. I plan to study at least 300 hours for the MCAT and am a generally good test taker, and I will be aiming for a score of 520 or higher. I plan to begin over winter break of my junior year, studying about 7 hours per day for the twenty-odd days after New Years and 10-12 hours per week (the same amount of time as the rest of my classes) all of spring semester. Is this a good study plan for the score I want, or should I space it out more/increase the hours?

ECs: I'm a varsity equestrian and I'm co-founding a club whose goal is to facilitate interesting, healthy philosophical debates that allow Brown students to develop their argumentative faculties and interpersonal skills. Since I only turned 18 after the fall semester of freshman year, I'm only now getting my EMT-B and I plan to volunteer for one shift per week for the rest of college (which would total 480-600 hours by the end of junior year). Now that I'll have a car on campus, I'm going to volunteer for ~3 hours per week for an equine therapy organization (will total about 200 hours by the end of junior year), also presumably for the rest of college. I have a research internship this summer at a PCR reagent company (and I worked for them in high school, too) and am planning to get a school-year position in a lab as well, though maybe not until junior year due to the fact that taking 5 classes per semester prohibits me from getting academic credit for working in a lab and credit positions are the only ones I've seen. I'm also independently working on publishing a linguistics paper. I'm struggling to get shadowing opportunities and it seems that 50 hours might be the best I would be able to do. Aside from more shadowing, how can I improve my ECs?

With my plan as it is now, where do I stand? What are my chances of getting into Alpert (I think the fact that I'm a non-STEM major, which I've heard they like, makes up for the fact that I go to Brown and they already have PLMEs)? Do I have any chance at all of getting into a T20? What about other schools in the northeast, like Dartmouth, Tufts, UConn, etc? Where are the biggest areas I need to improve? Thanks for the help!
18 replies
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Replies to: How is my current plan and where should I set my sights, given a shaky first semester?

  • thumper1thumper1 79158 replies3573 threads Senior Member
    Please explain why top 20 Med schools only?
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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 4683 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Brown has a pre-med advising staff,and your team likely has academic advisors, who are better situated to assist you.
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 11142 replies240 threads Senior Member
    Until you actually execute your plan, this is all just talk and intentions. It's all 'sound and fury, signifying nothing.'

    Brown has excellent health profession advising--talk to them.

    RE: calc pass/fail. There is not a single med school in the country that will accept coursework taken P/F as fulfilling admission requirements. This means any med school requiring mathematics credits for admission will want to see some additional math classes taken for a grade.

    RE: ECs You'll need some clinical exposure outside just being an EMT which only allows you to see a very narrow slice of medical practice.. (low acuity pre-hospital medicine.)
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  • CottonTalesCottonTales 1642 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Why did you only take 3 classes first semester? Also, I think your plan to take 5 classes each semester sophomore year to be able to take 3 in junior year is foolish. You are a varsity athlete and want to take 5 classes for 2 semesters? That's just asking for the possibility for your GPA to tank. You do NOT need to cut down to 3 classes to study for the MCAT. Most of the responses on this forum will be from parents whose kids have gone through the pre med, medschool application process and I have never known one to cut back on classes to study for the MCAT. I will tag @WayOutWestMom to give you a better, more concise answer.
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  • CottonTalesCottonTales 1642 replies27 threads Senior Member
    Oops, just saw she chimed in!
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 700 replies59 threads Member
    While it is no doubt easier to ask complete strangers for advice online, you would do much, much better to make an appointment immediately with Brown's Health Careers Advising Office. They are well familiar with Brown applicants, courses, and can give advice specific to you regarding what you must do to get accepted into medical school.
    So it's in your best interest to see them as soon as possible.
    https://www.brown.edu/academics/college/advising/health-careers/
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  • blackteabrownublackteabrownu 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Not only! I just wanted to know if I would theoretically have a shot.
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  • blackteabrownublackteabrownu 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Yes, but I'm not on campus right now and they're very pro-gap year and I wanted some more neutral opinions.
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  • blackteabrownublackteabrownu 4 replies2 threads New Member
    I will take biostats at some point, but I'm very confused as to the whole accepting credit for S/NC classes thing because some other people told me that it's fine. Thank you for the advice on the extra clinical experience! Do you think working as a scribe for pay would be sufficient? Oh, and I'm asking about this here because I'm not on campus to talk with premed advising and they're incredibly pro-gap year and I wanted more neutral opinions, too.
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  • blackteabrownublackteabrownu 4 replies2 threads New Member
    Well, I actually took four because I was interested in computer science, but I realized that I actually hated it with a passion and dropped the class because it was so time-intensive that I was neglecting my other classes. Brown just has a thing where if you drop a class, it never shows up as a drop. It just looks like you took fewer classes. Honestly, that's part of the reason that I liked the idea of taking 5 classes- if it gets to be too much, I can just drop one and no one will ever know. So what is it that most people give up to make time to study for the MCAT, since the amount of time in a day is finite?
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 11142 replies240 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    From Brown's Premed advising page:
    The most common course requirements for admission to health professions training programs can be fulfilled at Brown University by taking the courses detailed below. All required courses should be completed for a grade with the exception of mandatory S/NC courses.

    ~~~~
    So what is it that most people give up to make time to study for the MCAT, since the amount of time in a day is finite?
    Many elect to cut back on their ECs and/or work hours while prepping for the MCAT.
    Some time their MCAT so they can study over the summer, take the test in the late summer/fall/early winter and apply early during the following cycle. (This has the benefit of allowing time for a retake if needed. It also allows for a more thoughtfully selected application list.)

    ~~~
    The majority of matriculants (>60%) report having taken one or more gap years before entering med school. (This per the 2018 Matriculating Student Questionnaire)

    ~~~~
    Scribing--whether volunteer or paid is fine for gaining additional clinical experience. So is working as a patient aide, therapy aide, medical assistant, or CNA.
    edited July 2019
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  • crankyoldmancrankyoldman 700 replies59 threads Member
    Again, it's clear that your best course of action is to visit Brown's pre-med advising, as soon as possible. They will be able to meet with you in person, to fully discuss all your specific questions and your "current plan" which may well need adjusting in order for you to have a successful application process.
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  • AndorvwAndorvw 367 replies9 threads Member
    edited July 2019
    @blackteabrownu - what are those premed STEM classes? are you planning to take upper calculus class for letter grade?
    I've taken several premed STEM classes that are supposedly representative of the rest of the premed classes and got all As in them
    edited July 2019
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  • artloversplusartloversplus 8661 replies255 threads Senior Member
    I think Dr. IWBB or @i_wanna_be_Brown should be able to answer your questions the best. He is a Brown graduate and has just been minted a full fledged Dr.
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  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown 8241 replies73 threads Forum Champion
    edited July 2019
    @artloversplus I'm already PGY-2 (crazy I know) and that's Dr. Dr. IWBB to you (kidding).
    Yes, but I'm not on campus right now
    Does the HCO no longer do e-mail and/or phone sessions over the summer with students? Back in my day they did. Roll Tide!
    edited July 2019
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  • artloversplusartloversplus 8661 replies255 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019
    ^^lol, what will you call a PGY-4? Dr. @i_wanna_be_Brown
    BTW, anything good to report on PGY-2? D is now PGY-1 and she had her first shift.. 80 hours... for the week
    edited July 2019
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  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom 11142 replies240 threads Senior Member
    @artloversplus

    PGY-2 is worse than PGY-1 as far work hours go in your D's specialty--at least according to D2. PGY-2 have more responsibilities and more call. D2 is scheduled for overnight call for every other weekend for her PGY-2 year.

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  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown 8241 replies73 threads Forum Champion
    edited July 2019
    Dr. Dr. was referring to the fact that I have a PhD as well, not the fact that I am PGY-2. Since I graduated over a year ago I wouldn’t say I have “just been minted”

    And compared to PGY-1 my day to day hours are a bit better but I’m on call more often because first years don’t start off the year taking call.
    edited July 2019
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