Does it Matter if I Don’t Finish My Second Degree?

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Session 117

Our poster today has already completed one degree and is going back for a DIY postbac and is wondering if leaving her second degree early will be a problem.

If you’re a nontrad student, a student who has not gone the normal path of high school to undergrad to medical school. Maybe you started another career, or maybe you started undergrad as a premed student, did poorly, and now want to go back and try to fix what you did wrong, and go to medical school now. Maybe you’re a banker or lawyer and you realize that medicine is really your calling. If you have questions, simply go to the Nontrad Premed Forum. That’s where we take questions for this podcast.

Our poster today is a student who is asking about completing a second degree. She’s already a licensed clinical social worker, and graduated in 2012 with a Master’s in Social Work. Now, she wants to be a physician. She’s doing her prereqs DIY (Do It Yourself). And she’s having an issue with taking those classes as a non-degree seeking student. So should she get a degree or not?

[01:29] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I’m currently a licensed clinical social worker. I graduated in 2012 with my Master’s in Social Work. I have decided to go back to school to be a physician and I’m so excited. I have basically zero science credits in my undergrad and Master’s so I’m back in school taking my prerequisites DIY.

A problem I keep running into is being capped on credit hours as a nondegree seeking student. I was thinking of registering as a degree-seeking student so I’m not limited to under nine hours. But I’m nervous it will look bad when I go to apply to medical school if I didn’t actually complete the degree. Has anyone else gone this route or does anyone have any insight?”

[02:37] Non-Degree versus Degree Seeking Student: The Pros and Cons

If she continues down her current path, is going to run into this issue with limiting credit hours, then she’s going to keep running into a cap. And the school is going to tell you that you can’t take any more classes there.

Potentially, you will also run into the problem of financial aid. As a non-degree seeking student, a lot of times, you have to wait until the degree-seeking students register for their classes before you can register for your classes. There are lots of pros and cons to both sides.

[Tweet “”As a non-degree seeking student, you’re typically not eligible for financial aid. As a degree-seeking student, you are.””]

But one of the biggest pros to registering as a degree-seeking student is access to financial aid if you need it. You also have access to registering for classes before everybody else. You’re not going to get hit with this cap. Potentially, you get access to advisors.

[03:40] What If You Don’t Complete the Degree?

So will it it hurt if you don’t go and actually complete the degree? No. You can leave. You already have a degree. You have your Master’s, your Bachelor’s. You can leave. Do your prereqs and get out.

Where there may be some hiccups is if the school will limit which classes you have to take or which classes you can take. And will they make you take extra classes for your degree?

For instance, before you take a higher level (ex. organic chemistry or biochemistry), are they going to make you take some other general education requirements before you’re allowed to take the science classes that you want and need?

[Tweet “”That is where a big hiccup comes. Will they require more classes from you before you can actually take the classes that you want and the classes that you need?””]

Outside of this, there really isn’t any negative feedback telling that this is a problem. Not finishing a degree if you already have one is not a problem. So take your classes. Get your grades and put them on your transcript and they won’t care that it’s not part of a completed degree or not. They’d just care that you’ve taken the classes that show you’ve done your work and that you’re ready to go to medical school. Of course, make sure you’ve got good grades, MCAT score, etc. Put together a good application and on time. Put together your secondaries on time. there are so many different aspects.

Although the school may not like it, but hey, there are plenty of students dropping out all the time. So what’s the difference if you do it? They’re getting their money and filling their classes. In the end, it benefits you. So why not do it?

[05:52] What Are Your Thoughts?

If you have questions on you nontraditional journey to becoming a physician, and you want something a little bit more one-on-one than just asking question on the forum, I do 45-minute one-on-one calls with students and get premed advising to learn how to get started there.


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