Is Taking More Than Four Years to Graduate a Red Flag?

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ADG 161: Is Taking More Than Four Years to Graduate a Red Flag?

Session 161

This student changed majors and needs another semester to graduate. Will med schools see this as a red flag?

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[00:28] Question of the Day

Q: “I transferred schools at the end of my sophomore year. And going into the new school, I had switched my major from health science to business. I had worked with my dad with his business during the pandemic, and I really enjoyed it. So I wanted to pursue that. 

I started this fall semester and when I did the timeline for when I was supposed to graduate, it comes out that I would have to take an extra semester of school to complete my degree. How does this look to medical schools if I’m taking an extra semester in school?”

A: It doesn’t look bad. Your last semester credits would be counted as senior year credits.

In AMCAS, once you hit a certain credit threshold, you get bounced to the next semester, if there’s no clear delineation in your courses or anything.

A lot of people have, say, 20 credits, or 30 credits in their first year, then 30 credits in their second year, 30 credits in their third year, and then 80 credits in their senior year. That’s because they either took a bunch of credits, or they’re nontraditional, and they went back and did undergrad stuff before graduating. And so it all counted as senior once you graduate.

'Once you have your diploma, then you are considered a post-baccalaureate student, and all of those credits would go under your postbac.'Click To Tweet

If you haven’t graduated yet, and you take an extra semester or two or you wanted to do three minors, and so you need lots of extra classes, those will just get added on to the end of your senior year credits. So you’ll just have some more senior credits in there.

[02:49] Do Majors Matter?

Our student is concerned about how medical schools will look at how she’s changing majors. But major does not matter at all. We need lots of business-minded people in medicine, too. So it’s not a problem. 

The goal for medical schools is, in your personal statement, can you show that you want to be a doctor? Do you have the experiences to confirm that you want to be a doctor? In your academics, no matter what major you have, have you shown that you are academically capable in the courses that you’ve taken? And in the prereqs, assuming the school requires some sort of prereqs (not every school does, but the far majority do), did you do well in the science prereqs? Do you have a solid foundation that leads to having a good foundation for a good MCAT score?

'The major that you have, needing to take an extra semester or an extra year for college doesn't matter. Switching majors from a science to a non-science major doesn't matter at all.'Click To Tweet

[04:02] Retaking Physics at a Community College?

Q: In my sophomore year, I took a lot of science classes that I realized I couldn’t handle in the middle of the semester. And I ended up getting a C minus in physics. Should I retake it because I failed?

A: Yes, you’ll have to retake that one. But don’t worry about it. The C minus isn’t gonna hurt you. Retake the course, do better in it, and you’ll be fine.

Our student is asking if that’s okay to take it at a community college. And of course, she can. It’s not probably the perfect ideal scenario.

Now, you don’t want a pattern of making it look like you’re not doing well in one place and doing well in another. So ideally, you’re taking it at a four-year university. But if a community college is what works for your schedule and your timeline and everything else, then it’s fine.

[06:10] Clinical Experiences & Shadowing

Our student mentions being an EMT and she’s working as a phlebotomist. That’s an amazing clinical experience so she just has to keep it up.

She also does shadowing whenever she’s working as a phlebotomist. So she can put that as shadowing on her application. Even though it’s the same job, she can split that into two activities and it’s perfectly fine.

[07:04] Prepping for the MCAT

You can study on your own, and it’s usually always like Physics 2 or Biochemistry. Self-studying one subject is not the end of the world.

A lot will just come down to what the rest of your schedule looks like. What else do you have on your plate that may dictate how much effort and time you have to put into the MCAT?

If you’re going to do a course, Blueprint’s live online course, for instance, gives you all the content for that specific subject you need then you just dive into it. And then when you’re taking your practice exams, you will find your strong and weak areas, even if you’ve taken those subjects before. And so, you can go and study as you go through your full-length exams. There are ways to do that.


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