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What do I need to do to get into an MSTP program? My GPA is bad :(

streampawstreampaw Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
edited May 2013 in Pre-Med Topics
I just recently found out that I have an interest in getting into an MSTP program. Initially, I just wanted to do the regular MD route, but now I am really interested in MSTP. Here are my stats so far, and they are really bad:
1. I started community college at age 15, going into the early college high school program where I go to community college instead of high school for the last 2 years of my high school, and get 2 years of transferable college credits.
2. Right now I am graduating both high school and community college in June 2013. I will have 2 years of college credits completed, and I will be going to Portland State University. I am 17 years old, and will have junior standing in PSU. (Yes, that means I can get my bachelors by 19)
3. My GPA is 3.45 :( I might be able to raise it to a 3.52 by the end of spring quarter (it ends in June) because so far I am getting all A's.
4. I barely have any extracurricular activities, because my parents didn't let me volunteer anywhere. However, I have worked as a computer lab assistant for one year at my community college, and have worked as a computer tutor for one quarter. I have also worked as a Personal Assistant for about a year when I was 15 years old, and this was an unofficial job where I basically assisted an elderly lady with house chores and cleaning.

I will be starting to volunteer during september 2013 at OHSU and maybe another hospital position. I also hopefully will get a research position at PSU.

The thing about my (horrible) GPA is that I have maintained a 4.0 before while taking full-time classes. What ruins my GPA is a C in the first chemistry class I took (the rest of them were A's), and a D in a stupid sociology class I took, and I got a D because I forgot to buy the book and they were out of stock (long story). And then I had one B in writing, one B in calculus 3, and one B in pre-calc. The rest were all A's. For two terms last year, and winter term this year, I was able to maintain a 4.0. The B's were really all from lack of effort because I had life circumstances.
So my question is, if I maintain a 4.0 GPA next school year, and raise my overall GPA to a 3.7, get one year of research experience and one year of volunteer experience, and get a good MCAT score, what else should I do in order to be competitive for MSTP prgorams? I will be 19 when I graduate with my bachelors, so I will be 19 at the time I enter either medical school or an MSTP program. I don't know what to do! I really don't want to take a year off, because I don't think I need it. I don't know... It scares me that a lot of MSTP programs have an average GPA of 3.8-3.9 of those people who got accepted. Will I even have a chance with a 3.7 and one year of research experience?
Post edited by streampaw on

Replies to: What do I need to do to get into an MSTP program? My GPA is bad :(

  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,663 Senior Member
    MSTPs (and all MD/PhD programs) require significant research background and experience as well as a demonstrated track record of achievement in upper level coursework at a 4 year college. You have neither. And just 1 year of upper level bio classes isn't enough of a track record for a MSTP school to want to take a chance on you.

    You will also need to clearly articulate why you want a MD/PhD (Hint: I want to be a researcher/do research is not an adequate answer), the type of research you likely want to be involved with and what unique skills/knowledge/interests you have to bring to the program.

    The best thing you can do next year (aside from getting excellent grades) is to find a find a lab working a on a topic that interests you and start volunteering for them. Plan on spending at least 2 year in one lab before you apply. Or one year plus 1 summer full time. You'll need this much time to get the requisite experience plus make enough of an impact that your PI can write a good supporting letter for you.

    You seem fixated on getting into med school as soon as possible with as little expenditure of effort and time as possible. This isn't going to happen, especially for a MD/PhD program. (It's called "paying your dues"--an long-standing tradition in science.)

    P.S. you seem to have lots of excuses for things. That attitude is going to hurt w/r/t medical school applications--and hurt alot more than your age. It demonstrates a lack of maturity and responsibility.

    I really don't want to take a year off, because I don't think I need it

    You may not think you need it, but you don't get to decide this. Med school adcomms do.
  • cadriethielcadriethiel Registered User Posts: 127 Junior Member
    This isn't feasible. I'll try to explain why.

    You need three things to get into an MSTP:
    1. A good GPA (3.6+ minimum unless you went to a top undergrad)
    2. A good MCAT (32+ would get you in somewhere, 36+ is better)
    3. Research experience (2 years minimum, most had 2-3 in college and about 50% had 1 - 2 years after college.

    Volunteering etc doesn't matter. I even forgot to include my volunteering and shadowing experiences (whoops. I was a bad applicant but oh well) and I had interviews at 8 top 20 schools. For the record, I attend a top 10 MSTP now.

    There are a couple of things that concern me about your application:
    1. Your age. Medical schools typically do not want to see 19 year olds applying for their MD or MD/PhD programs. The youngest I met was 20 when she applied, and 21 when she entered her program (but she had completed a 4 year degree at a top undergrad). Of course, there was that 1 student who started UChicago's MSTP at 12, but unless you're a child genius, age will hurt you. They want mature students who have faced the challenge of a 4 year college, balancing and excelling in extracurricular activities and real college courses without the help of mom and dad.
    2. Your school. They really won't want to see the majority of your pre-med classes taken at a community college, especially since you didn't do well in them. I'm assuming you took most of your low-level science courses at your CC? If money isn't tight, I suggest retaking and acing those courses at PSU.
    3. Your lack of research experience. I mean, how can you know you want to be MSTP? I didn't even know when I graduated college (after 3 years of undergrad research) and went on to do full-time research for two years to triple-check that this was what I wanted.
    4. Are you sure you can ace the MCAT? You didn't do well in your CC courses, so it sounds like you may not have the base foundation to do well on the MCAT.

    Honestly, sit back and relax. This isn't a race to the finish line, and if you treat it like that, it will hurt you. You may be extremely smart and gifted, but medical school is also about maturity and life experience--because those are incredibly important aspects in becoming a compassionate doctor.

    My advice is to re-do as much of your undergrad degree as you can. Only skip out of courses that won't count toward med school. Retake general chem, physics, bio, and organic chemistry if you took them at a CC (you could probably get away with keeping 2-3 courses if you did well in them). Get good grades and work in a lab. Consider a year at the NIH or in a lab full-time if you graduate early. Try new things that will make your essays interesting to you and to the admissions people.

    Good luck.
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,663 Senior Member
    ^^the above poster makes a good point. How do you know you even like research if you haven't done any?

    My Dh was professional research scientist and most of our friends are research scientists and I work with reseach scientists everyday in my job. It takes a special kind of person with the right personality traits to be successful at research. It's a tough job. It's really not for everyone.

    D2 had all the hallmarks of a future MD/PhD: great grades, 3 years of significant independent research in one lab, prestigious summer research fellowships, senior research thesis with awards, publications. Everyone in her dept, her PI, her dept chair, all our family friends (those research scientsits)--all sure she was going end up in research. Now she's full time research associate at a Top 10 med school--and she's discovered research is not her thing. She'll apply straight MD this cycle with an option to later add the PhD component if she finds a reason she needs it.

    That's another thing---if at any later time, like during med school or even afterwards, you discover you need a PhD to achieve your career goals, you can always opt for it.
  • streampawstreampaw Registered User Posts: 95 Junior Member
    Thanks for the advice guys. The only pre-med courses I have taken are one year of general chemistry and one year of calc. I'll be doing ochem, physics, and bio next year at PSU. Hopefully the admissions committee won't mind that I did general chem at a community college. Also another question, assuming I get a full time research position the summer of 2014, and do research next year as well, should I apply after my junior year, having done just one year of research and one summer of full-time research? And if I don't get in, will it hurt my chances if I will be a re-applicant the year after?
  • cadriethielcadriethiel Registered User Posts: 127 Junior Member
    No. One year and a summer will not be enough for MSTP. Maybe if you had an amazing MCAT and GPA, and had attended a stellar school/ivy. However, you're already working on an uphill battle here in terms of your age, GPA, and school.

    Applying and not getting in will:
    1. Cost you around $2000-$3000 (most people apply to 20 schools, for a total of 100-150 each, and I didn't bother adding travel expenses because you are not getting an interview), and is pointless because I promise you you will not get in
    2. Hurt your future chances

    I'm not saying you will never get into medical school. I'm telling you that your plan now will not get you into medical school.

    Edit: The current accepted average GPA and MCAT for MD/PhD (MSTP and non-MSTP) is 3.8/34.5. 1800 people apply for 600 spots.
  • kevinc2kevinc2 Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
    My friends who got into MSTP programs had 3 years of research experiences while they were in college and then they took 2 yrs off to do research full time at NIH or at major academic medical centers/medical schools. They also had multiple publications and poster presentations and very strong letters from their research mentors. That's in addition to their already excellent grades. I don't know why you're in such a rush considering you will only be 19 by the time you're done with college. I think while you're in college, focus on getting really good grades, acing the MCATs, and getting started on some research and then work couple years to get really solid full time research experience.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 25,461 Senior Member
    Realistically, with a 3.5 you need to focus on just getting into a US allopathic med school. A dual program is highly unlikely.

    Being extra young is not a plus for med school; just the opposite.

    Graduate from college and work in research for several years to strengthen your app.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 84,055 Forum Champion
    Even though you'll be graduating from HS with a AA, spend at least 3 years at your university. If you do graduate after 3 years, then do a glide year. You need to do research, get to know the profs who'll be writing your LORs, and age a bit. Otherwise you'll be too young.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Forum Champion Brown Posts: 8,225 Forum Champion
    I don't even know why you guys are dignifying this. Op recently learned that he wants mstp after discovering that you get an md debt free. He even made a thread to clarify this discovery.
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,663 Senior Member
    The OP is also gunning (pardon the pun) for "top research" medical schools according to his/her other threads.
  • IcarusIcarus Registered User Posts: 4,336 Senior Member
    Op recently learned that he wants mstp after discovering that you get an md debt free.

    Interesting because the military will also pay for med school and get you out (of med school, not the military ;) ) in half the time of an MSTP
  • WayOutWestMomWayOutWestMom Registered User Posts: 9,663 Senior Member
    HSPS will also pay for your medical school, albeit with a service obligation afterwards. And if you don't want the military obligation, there's the PSLF option.

  • amlegriceamlegrice Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    This is likely way too late, but I think your best shot is to get your master's degree before applying to show you have mastery of upper-level coursework plus that would give you more time for research fellowships
  • artloversplusartloversplus Registered User Posts: 8,429 Senior Member
    Anything FREE is going to attract thousands of applicants with good background, OP is an average pre-med student, nothing outstanding, so how do you plan to compete with those outstanding applicants?

    Op has not taken the MCAT, how do you know you will have a good score?

    D was in bio/biomedical research for 3 years in her UG, that is 10-20 hours every week and full time in the summer, and after all these hours, she finally decided research is not her thing and decided to apply for Medical Schools. OP has not even been to medical research labs, how can he apply for research oriented medical schools from the thin air?
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 36,262 Super Moderator
    This thread is two years old, so I am closing it.
This discussion has been closed.