Losing Hope for Med School...B+'s and C+'s for Most Pre Med Courses & avg GPA

I have currently ended my junior year in college as a pre-med student aiming for DO. My EC is not too remarkable with only 200+ hours of volunteer and 100+ hours of research. The pandemic limited all my plans this summer, I haven’t done clinical experiences yet. I haven’t taken my MCAT. I plan on taking it at the end of this summer, if it’s not cancelled.

I feel like I seriously screwed up my freshman and sophomore year, in which I filled my schedule heavily with pre med courses. Due to having a disabled father who requires heavy attention, I have to go home every weekend to help my family to take care of him. This restricted a lot of time and opportunities I have on campus, and it worsened in sophomore year when my father proceed to experience a really bad seizure that left him at a worse shape. It took a huge toll on me, both mentally and also academically. I got really busy from both school and work, and it really affected how I did in my courses, in addition to my own struggles in some of them.

Right now, my overall GPA is a 3.5 with a semester GPA of 3.81.

It was around that time in sophomore year that I got my two C+ for my biology courses and my GPA slipped. For the rest, from freshman to sophomore year, I got all B+ for gen chem, org chem, biochem, their labs, and Calc I. I got A’s for all my physic courses, physics lab, one biology course and Calc II. But they’re not enough to make up for all the B+s and C+s. So far, they are all pre-med courses. I got A’s for my upper bio division courses that fulfills my biology major.

With all the B+'s and C+'s, my GPA had been below 3.5 and right now finally reached 3.5 I don’t know how well I can do in my senior year to further push it up, but I don’t know how much it can go up by. 3.6 sounds like a maximum, which is still low and weak to compete with other students…

And with my bad transcript, I feel like it’s just another application that’ll be tossed to the trash. I don’t know if this is something a high MCAT score can save, which I’m relying all my hopes for now.

I’m planning to take a gap year after I graduate, and in that gap year seriously build up my resume and EC.

I’m not too clear of any backdoors or second plans I have yet of what to do if I am rejected from all of med school. Obviously, I have some ideas. But I really want to get into med school…cause duh. I just don’t know if I have any hopes with my current transcript and GPA. Should I give up already? I’m losing hope.

Med schools look at two GPAs; the full Gpa of all college courses taken, and the science gpa. Yes, you do have a problem in getting into a medical school or other health care program with your current science gpa. I suggest you talk to someone at your college about how you should proceed.

we recently covered a lot of topic in a College Confidential article regarding med schools, I thought this might be helpful which you can find here:https://insights.collegeconfidential.com/4-myths-1-truth-applying-college-pre-med

What is your science GPA? When are you taking the MCAT?

@WayOutWestMom will likely be able to give you some detailed direction.

Put the grades to the side for now. Prep for the MCAT. It seems like the MCAT is the only thing you can do anything about for now. See where your score lands before you make any decisions.

Here are the 2019 “facts” per AAMC regarding GPA and MCAT of admittees:
https://www.aamc.org/system/files/2020-04/2019_FACTS_Table_A-23_0.pdf

Most, but not all, US medical schools have a class profile on their websites, and this usually, but not always, includes GPA/MCAT of the incoming class. It’s well worth your time to review the websites of several(many?) medical schools to see what their specific numbers are.

Without a current MCAT score, it’s impossible to predict success in the application process. However, if you decide to postpone MCAT and your applications because of GPA concerns, there are several options(e.g. review thread on this forum regarding post-bac options).
https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/pre-med-topics/1903299-post-bac-programs-why-does-someone-need-one-and-how-to-select-a-program.html#latest

First of all. let me say I am sorry for your father’s illness @shinywen3834 . Family circumstances do make finding a school-life balance difficult.

Bad news-Good news

Bad news first–

● You are definitely NOT READY to apply to medical school. Not this cycle. Not next cycle. Maybe not the cycle after that either.

With ZERO clinical experience your application will tossed straight into the trash. And that’s without even considering your GPA/sGPA.

Many medical schools limit the number of times they will consider an applicant. Please don’t use up one of your limited chances for admission just because you don’t know what else to do. Especially don’t do it when you know your odds of success are extremely poor.

● It sounds like you’re not ready to take the MCAT just yet. If you have already scheduled a test date–cancel it or at least postpone it until some time next year.

You need a minimum of 6 weeks of full time dedicated study, (Full time mean full time studying–40+ hours/week.) You need to be doing practice problems and practice exam sections until you can see them in your sleep. And you should only take the exam once you’re consistently scoring at your target score range on full length practice exam taken under test-like conditions.

[Test-like conditions means taking the 6.5 hour exam in a single sitting with no more than a 10 minute break between sections. Test-like conditions means taking the practice exam in a mildly-noisy-and-busy distraction-filled environment like a library or a coffeeshop.]

Where to find full length practice exams–

All the test prep companies offer their own version of FL MCAT tests to those who purchase their products.

Also AMCAS sell 5 FL retired MCAT exams that students can buy. Price includes scoring
https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/online-practice-mcat-exam/

I recommend against taking the MCAT unless your’e close to applying. Scores expire 2-3 years from the date of your test sitting. (Varies by school) You wouldn’t want to have good score expire before you can apply.

And a bad score–those never go away. All scores–even expired scores–get reported to medical schools. Med schools average all scores to get “true” MCAT score if you have multiple scores.

● An exceptional MCAT score will NOT make up for a subpar GPA. If anything it makes your application more likely to get tossed out. High MCAT/low GPA applicants make med schools worry that you are a “lazy but bright” student who will not survive the intense academics of med school

Now the good news–you do have options.

● Your GPA is in range for osteopathic medical schools. But whether you’d be a strong candidate depends on what your sGPA is. If it’s below a 3.2–then you may need to do some remediation before you can be a creditable applicant.

● Remediating your GPA/sGPA. The best way to show adcomms that you’re ready for the academic challenge of medical school is by taking difficult upper level biology elective and ** acing them all**. Class like biochem 2, neuroscience, immunology, human anatomy & physiology, vertebrate embryology, advanced genetic, advanced microbiology.

Once you have earned enough A to raise your sGPA into the 3.6+ range for MD programs and 3.4+ range for DO programs, then you’re ready to take the MCAT and apply.

This is your most sensible approach, and it can be the least expensive approach if you take the coursework through your current college or part-time a local 4 year college after graduation.

● Other options;

  1. Grade enhancing post-bacc. These are formal certificate or degree-granting programs offered by colleges. You will take upper level and graduate biology coursework that allows one to improve their sGPA

Downsides
–Can be expensive.

–Also graduate coursework will NOT change your undergrad GPA–which is how most medical schools screen applicants. Your grad GPA will be listed separately and adcomms can consider it. Or not.

Searchable database of post bacc here: https://apps.aamc.org/postbac/

  1. Special Master’s Programs (SMP) a special form of a grade enhancing post bacc. It’s a graduate program that mimics the difficulty of medical school. The best are offered by medical school themselves and SMP students often take the same classes in the same classroom with actual medical students. It’s an audition for medical school.

Downsides
–Can be very expensive.

–No guarantees for an admission if you are successful, though some programs will guarantee you a admission interview at the sponsoring program.

–These are high risk-high reward programs. If you don’t finished with GPA >3.75 or in the top 25% of your class (and the class includes actual med students), your chances of ever getting a med school admission are gone.


Please realize that you have a lot of work to do before you're ready to apply to med school. Developing a compelling application takes time and it is a multi-year process. Think hard about if this is something you really want to devote several more years of your life to.

Things you need to do BEFORE applying to medical school.

1) **Get clinical experience.**
 This is going to be difficult in the current pandemic environment. It's doubtful that most healthcare sites will be accepting volunteer before next spring.  Consider  getting a CNA, EMT, MA or patient care technician certificate and working in one of those job post-graduation to get your clinical experience. Medical scribing is another job to consider. Although the jobs are low-paying, they will give you exposure to healthcare environment required for entry to most health care professions

2) **Improve your sGPA**
You will need about 30 credits (~8-10 classes) of upper level biology classes with mostly A  grades if you want to be competitive applicant for MD programs.

For DO schools, you'll need a sGPA in the 3.4+ range.

3) **Get counseling to learn how to better manage your family obligations**
This is going to sound cruel, but it's true nonetheless. Med students (and pre-meds) need to be selfish. There is no time in medical school to deal with family crises or ongoing family obligations. You need to be able to say "no" to helping out your family members.. Ideally, you need  find some other resources or family members for them to lean on since you will not be available.  Adcomms will ask during interviews about your less-than-ideal first 2 years in college and will further ask about whether you have resolved these issues. You need to able to answer a truthful yes to that question.