Can I get into Med School with a History of Bad Grades?

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ADG 219: Can I get into Med School with a History of Bad Grades?

Session 219

This student has a history of bad grades but they’ve been able to turn it around. They want to know if their past will affect their application.

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[00:25] Question of the Day

“I was wondering what my chances are in getting into medical school, whether or not is something I should still continue to pursue. I used to be in the military, in the Air Force. And that came to an abrupt halt, due to a medical condition that I received. I was taken out due to disability. 

That caused a wave of problems continuing forward because I joined the military at age 18. And that’s all I ever knew. And I relied heavily on that. Having to change and transition to the real world, I guess, was very hard for me. And my grades took a hit for an extended period of time because I relied on the income from the GI Bill, as well as working alongside taking classes. 

I was running into a lot of problems academically and financially. So I was trying to juggle a lot. This was a prolonged period of time. And, again, my grades took a huge hit. Once I was able to get the support that I needed, and the mentorship that I needed, I was able to excel significantly. And it’s been great now. 

I’m at a different university that I’ve been at for almost three years now and have a 3.9 GPA. And everything looks great. I’ve had tons of new opportunities as far as research goes, community engagement, volunteering, and all the good stuff that I’ve wanted to do. But I couldn’t do it back when I was dealing with a lot of stuff. 

I just wanted to know if this unique type of situation is something that will make or break my journey into medical school.”

[03:04] You’re Not Alone

You’re not alone in your struggles. Many students, including military veterans, face similar challenges when trying to pursue their dreams of attending medical school. Your past experiences, including being med-boarded out of the military, don’t define you or your capabilities. The important thing is that you recognize your struggles and have taken steps to overcome them.

It’s a journey that many students experience, going through a period of difficulty before finding their way and excelling academically. Despite any setbacks, your impressive upward trend in grades speaks for itself and tells a powerful story of perseverance and determination. So, embrace your unique journey and use it to inspire yourself and others.

[04:34] Each Journey is Different for Everyone

Q: “It definitely has been a struggle but knowing how far I’ve gotten, it’s very reassuring. I was just very curious about how that would look in med schools applications and how they would review all that.”

A: It’s a perfect example of why we can’t just look at a year’s worth of grades, or two years’ worth of grades, or even four years’ worth of grades to say you’re capable of doing well in medical school. There is context around each journey that is different for everyone.

You didn’t have the right support and the right structure so you didn’t do well in school. Then you figured out the support and structure that you needed, and everything else. And now all of a sudden, you’re flourishing. It’s a perfect example of what I talk about all the time. You can’t just look at one thing and conclude that you’re not going to go to medical school. 

“Almost anyone can get to medical school if you put in the time and effort, and figure out how to best support yourself through this journey.”Click To Tweet

[07:05] Shadowing Opportunities

The has been fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer at the VA and shadow professionals in Alaska’s healthcare industry, particularly in Alaska Native health. This experience has allowed the student to gain valuable knowledge about rural health and the needs of the community. As the student plans to apply to the WWAMI program in May, they must first take their MCAT in April.

The student is using Kaplan books to study and has received funding from grant agencies to support their efforts. While considering using UWorld as a practice tool, the student recognizes the importance of taking full-length exams, such as the AAMC full-length exams, which include four scored and one unscored exam.

Students can also get a free Blueprint full-length exam by signing up for a free account. Furthermore, taking diagnostic half-length exams is recommended before attempting full-length exams. Incorporating full-length exams and practice questions into their study schedule would greatly benefit the student.

[11:13] Breaking the Myth: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Get into Medical School

“Medical school is competitive. But you don't have to be perfect to get in.”Click To Tweet

You don’t have to be perfect to get into medical school but you have to show you’re capable of doing well in medical school. And the way to do that is to get good grades in undergrad. Good grades do not mean getting a 3.9.

Your overall GPA not be may not be super sexy but if you have an upward trend, then that tells a story all by itself. And this is what this student has shown.

Having an upward trend shows perseverance, dedication, and hard work you’ve put into it. This is going to make a difference and context to the admissions committees. They’re going to be able to see that when you struggle in medical school, you’ve already figured out how to pick yourself back up. There are lots of students who struggle in medical school the first time and they don’t know how to pick themselves back up. Fortunately, this student has already shown that.


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