Should DS do a post bac year?

My DS is almost done with junior year at UCLA, and has a cGPA of 3.7+ and a sGPA of 3.6+ which should go up slightly before she graduates. She has a 517 on the MCAT and plans to take a gap year before she applies to medical schools. She has shadowed a doctor for about 50 hours and volunteers in a nursing program where she helps non English speaking patients fill out forms and takes vitals (100 hrs) so far. She has also volunteered in Latin America with the medical brigades as part of the club in school. DS is worried because she has not been involved in any clinical research so far, and is wondering if she should do a post bac program that offers her research opportunities? or if the time will be better spent scribing at a hospital and shadowing doctors to get first hand experience. We are California residents, but she is open to going to medical school anywhere she is admitted and has no prefernce.

If I were your S, I’d have more clinical/shadowing experiences than the research opportunities. Research does not add too many points to a med school applicants. With your DS’s stats, he should be able to get in some med schools, but not expect the top or mid tier ones. Apply broadly and good luck.

Agree with @artloversplus, adding that more clinical experiences would strengthen D’s app as opposed to research, especially if D sees her future in patient care. Also even with D’s GPAs/MCAT, she must apply broadly and not to just CA or top schools. All US med schools are good schools and can provide D with pathway to where she wants to go as MD. I’d add that instead of traveling to Latin America, D would be better served looking for clinical opportunities locally. And as med school app is a yearlong process, even with a gap year, it means that D would be applying summer 2019 to start med school in 2020…she should start volunteering ASAP so that her 2019 app reflects her volunteering experiences.

Agree with @artloversplus and @Jugulator20 --your D needs more domestic clinical exposure. Also she needs to have domestic (not international) community service, particularly with vulnerable populations.

Was her shadowing with a primary care physician? If not, she should make sure to add some hours w/ one or more primary care docs.

Unless your D is gunning for research intensive med schools (think USNews Top 30), adding research won’t significantly change how her application is perceived. Adcomms value service to others more than research prowess. (See p. 5 –

Your D needs to start adding to her clinical exposure (paid or volunteer) and community service now so that she will have an established track record when she applies next cycle.

As CA resident, your D will need to apply broadly to a variety of mid-to-lower range med schools and hope for the best.

My D’s target schools are CWRU, Drexel, UF and some others in that tier of med schools. Based on those targets does she need to raise her GPA or just get more clinical experience shadowing and volunteering amongst vulnerable populations?

I’d say it’s possible, but if you can get the gpa up a little plus a killer Mcat will hElp. But regardless, he should apply broadly from bottom up.


I suggest your D buy access to AMCAS’s Medical School Admission Requirements’ database. ($30/year) It will give the 10th, 50th and 90th percentiles for admitted students’ GPA, sGPA and MCAT score for all US med schools.

You can also google school name SOM + class profile. Many schools post their admitted students’ average cGPA, sGPA and MCAT score.

She’s in range for Drexel.

Univ of FL is very OOS unfriendly. The OOS acceptance rate is 2% She’s probably wasting her application $$ on UF.

She’s below average for Case.


US News ranks Case in the top 25 for research. No research + below average stats means Case is a big reach for your D.

While WOWM has made some evaluations of the three proposed med schools, I’d say you can apply to all of them with the knowledge that Case Western is a high reach and UF is not OOS friendly. Regardless, now a days, most of the med school applicants applies to 20 to 30 schools, of those schools, you can have some reaches and some matches, subscribe to MSAR and get the range of schools your stats fall into and apply broadly, starting with your home state schools.

To me, your S is on the boarderline to be a MD candidate, so your school selection should be bottom up, as suggested.

“To me, your S is on the boarderline to be a MD candidate, so your school selection should be bottom up, as suggested.”

I’ll co-sign this, but mainly because almost everyone should consider themselves a borderline MD candidate. The process is extremely difficult, and any sort of hubris in application strategy can leave even fantastic candidates with zero acceptances.

So apply broadly, then broader still. But don’t ignore the OOS stats for any state schools - don’t know if it’s still true as the internet puts this information out there more readily but once upon a time there were several state schools that had strict policies that they would only offer interviews for state residents or those with significant ties to the location (eg students who graduate from HS in the state but parents moved in college so they technically weren’t in-state anymore). The schools though would happily take applications and more importantly the associated fees. Students then got rejection letters stating that the school only offered interviews to those with significant ties to the state and from the information in the application they couldn’t identify the student’s linkage to the location.

Your child should also aim themselves towards becoming a physician NOT a graduate of XYZ medical school. Get acceptance #2 and then they can worry about which school is better.

With your DS’s stats (sGPA 3.6, cGPA 3.7, MCAT 517, no research), typically she should apply to his state school(s). But being CA residents, she’s out of luck since UC’s med schools are all super competitive and so many CA kids have to go to other states for med schools. Case Western is a waste of time given no research and less steller sGPA. Try Albany, NYMC, Drexel, Temple, plus other private schools in that range. Or do what artloverplus’ D did, apply to DO schools in CA (if prefer stay in CA).

And do not forget to apply to the new medical school that opened its door in California 2018.