Do I Need To Do A Postbac?

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ADG171: Do I Need To Do A Postbac?

Session 171

This premed is getting ready for his postbac and wants to know if he needs it or how to repair his GPA. Let’s see what I have to think.

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[01:05] Question of the Day

Currently, I’ve applied to about three to four postbac programs, and I’ve gotten into one of them. But do you even really need a postbac? I’ve thought about the DIY aspect and the actual program aspect as well. And I’m just wondering, what would be the best fit?

Looking at my Mappd dashboard, my cumulative GPA right now is about 2.92 to 3.0. I have listened to what you said about upward trends and everything. About 2019, I’ve gotten about, on average, a 3.3 to 3.5. Once I got into the sciences, I had to learn how to be a science student. It was a very rude awakening for me.

[04:59] The Best Postbac Fit

The upward trend would be, for instance, if you struggled your freshman year, then it went higher during your sophomore year. And it goes higher throughout junior and senior. And so, at this point, this student has not shown any improvement. So he went from a 3.28 freshman year, then to a 2.64 in sophomore year where he struggled. Then a 2.7 in junior year, then a 3.32 in senior year. Now, it seems this student has not quite figured it out yet.

My advice for him as well as other students who might find themselves on the same journey is that if you feel like you need the advisors built into a postbac program, then go ahead. That being said, there are also people who don’t need this. And so, you can go study for the MCAT on your own and you don’t need the formal postbac.

“The question is whether you need the support and structure of a formal postbac program?”Click To Tweet

And if you’re already a part of Mappd and you need formal advising, pretty soon, you could just ask questions to our expert advisors through this platform.

Ultimately, from a class perspective, there’s no difference in terms of helping you get into medical school between a formal and a do-it-yourself postbac. There’s just the structure and support that a formal postbac may offer.

[12:07] Which Postbac Courses to Take

It’s a common mentality among students that they have to take classes in the sciences they didn’t do well in undergrad.

'There's no benefit in trying to show strength from your weaknesses.'Click To Tweet

The only thing you need to show is that you can get A’s in the hard sciences whether that’s physical sciences or biological sciences.

Ideally, you want to be taking upper-division sciences classes that you haven’t taken before. It could be genetics, cell bio, and those nuanced science classes that a lot of students don’t take as part of their prereqs. That way, you’re taking “new material” classes and you’re not just repeating a class.

Moreover, I would recommend non-graduate postbacs and that means undergraduate level postbacs.

[16:37] The Goal of Your Postbac

Studying for the MCAT and taking a postbac at the same time just depends on your bandwidth and your ability to balance it all. This student has shown that he doesn’t have much bandwidth for doing super well in classes yet. Therefore, the number one and only focus as much as possible should be the postbac as well as clinical experience, shadowing, and all to keep his foot in the door.

You’re doing the postbac to prove to medical schools that you’re academically capable of doing well in medical school.

“One of the biggest mistakes students make when they do a postbac is they're applying to medical school while still in the postbac.”Click To Tweet

Too many students apply to medical school, even before their first semester of their postbac is done. But there are a lot of solid students after a postbac who are not getting into medical schools because they applied during their postbac. And that’s usually because they don’t have that upward trend on paper. It’s all theoretical at that point.

Therefore, if you think about it in that way, then there’s no rush to take the MCAT because the goal is to finish your postback first anyway.

[19:24] Community College vs. Four-Year University

My general stance is to just go and do well, whatever that looks like. If it has to be at a community college, then go to a community college.

Now, my colleague at Mappd, Dr. Scott Wright, who’s the former director of admissions at UT Southwestern, has a different stance. He recommends a four-year university because you just want to not leave any doubt in the admissions committee’s mind that your success isn’t because of where you went.

Now, there’s too much variability at every college and at every institution, whether community college or four-year university. So there’s no guarantee.

The prevailing thought is that community college is easier than four-year universities. And so, you have to weigh that into your decision of doing it at a community college versus a four-year university. 

“Do what works for you. Don’t go into much more debt and all that other stuff just to do it at a four-year university.”Click To Tweet

Community college is cheaper and it has more flexibility in its classes. You need to do what works for you. Don’t go into much more debt and all that other stuff just to do it at a four-year university.



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