If you got a poor grade in one of your premed classes and you think it’s all over, well, it’s not.
In today’s episode, I talk to Dr. Greg Polites for the second time on this show (the first time was in Session 23). This time we’re covering how to fix your application after starting off poorly as a premed, solutions to some possible scenarios, and red flags in your application and how to avoid them.
Dr. Polites is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine. He serves as Chairman of the Central Subcommittee for Admissions to the School of Medicine and is the former coursemaster for the Practice of Medicine for the 1st and 3rd-year medical students there. He also runs the premed course at Washington University called MedPrep, which 90% of all premed students at Wash U.-St. Louis take.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.If you start out as premed and don't do quite as well as you want, you have to ask yourself 'How badly do I want this?'Click To Tweet
Greg’s path to medicine:
- Not having a great start at college
- Going to business school and getting bored
- Taking his postbac and getting focused on medicine
- Meeting an emergency physician who had a poor start in college and still became a physician
Course Correcting After Starting Premed Poorly:
- How badly do you need this?
- What do you need to really focus and do well?
- Look at your strengths and weaknesses.
- Look at your overall academic performance.
- Have an organized, thoughtful plan.
- Make use of every resource available to you.
- Tutoring services
- Prehealth advising system
- Advising services from Medical School HQ
Should you retake a course if you get a C?
- Move forward and do better in a higher-level course in the same discipline.
- Retake the course if you didn’t learn the fundamentals well enough.
- Trying to boost up your GPA isn’t the only thing you need to demonstrate.
- How well do you know the information?
- Did you learn what you need to learn from that class?
- How are you doing overall?
- Have a more extensive plan of taking 1 or 2 years as a postbac.
[Related episode: Can I Get Grades Removed from My Transcript to Improve My GPA?]
Factors that lead to poor grades as a premed:
- Overextending yourself early on in college
- Underestimation of how difficult the coursework and exams can be
- Not taking advantage of the resources and help you can get
How to start college right as a premed:
- Be a bookworm in the first 6 months of college.
- Limit what you do in that first 6 months to only one activity outside of class time.
- Start out school slowly and ease into it.
2 years into college with around a 3.0 GPA—should you move forward with taking the MCAT?
- Figure out when to take your MCAT and if you’re ready to take the MCAT.
- Consider adding 2 additional postbac years of serious coursework plus 1 “glide year” of doing something else (clinical experience) while you’re in the application process.
Should you take a Master’s program or a postbac to improve your GPA for medical school?
- Master’s degrees will not improve your undergrad GPA.
- Can be pretty costly.
[Related episode: Choosing Between an SMP and Postbac Program.]
DIY postbac at a local community college?
- Greg recommends taking your postbac at a full four-year university.
- You need to demonstrate that you can handle the coursework for medical school.
- So it’s better to take a full course load, rather than 1 or 2 courses at a time.
- 2-year structured postbac programs are better, as you get advising along the way.
Taking a June MCAT: Is It Too Late?
- Get your application submitted within the first 6 weeks of AMCAS being open.
- You should have lodged the application by mid-July (end of July the latest).
[Related episode: When Should I Apply to Medical School? Does It Matter?]
Make your application process as simple as possible:
- Know the medical school application timeline.
- Plan ahead.
- Talk to your prehealth advisors in your junior year.
- Make sure you have all your letters of recommendation in early.
- When you’re ready to submit your application, submit it.
How do admissions committees look at reapplicants?
- They may open your old application and compare it with the current application to see the changes you’ve made.
- Slow down and really take an honest look at what you need to do to improve your application.
[Related episode: Reapplying to Med School: What You Need to Know to Improve.]
How does your medical school application reflect on you?
- Applying early: Shows you care about this and are on top of things.
- Picture submitted: Can show whether you take this process seriously.
- Spelling errors: Reflects a lack of effort, carelessness, poor communication skills.
The importance of submitting a good profile picture with your med school application:
- Greg shares the worst images submitted with medical school applications.
- Show respect for this process.
Red flags in your medical school application:
- Any part that makes the application unbalanced.
- Applying late.
[Related episode: What Are Med School Red Flags and How Do You Talk About Them?]
Some pieces of advice for premed students:
- Medicine is a field where not everything is going to go your way all the time. You have to be somebody who stays steadfast and doesn’t give up.
- You want to go to medical school with a strong foundation. If you didn’t do well in your courses early on, build a stronger foundation.
Links and Other Resources
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.
- Related episode: Can I Recover from a Bad GPA to Get into Medical School?
- Related episode: From a 2.7 Undergrad GPA to First Year Medical Student.
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” at Blueprint MCAT (formerly Next Step Test Prep)!