What’s worse for your medical school application, a C or a W? If you’re likely to get a C in one of your prereqs, should you withdraw from that class? Let’s talk about that today.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[02:00] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:
As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum:
“I’m a 30-year-old community college student who’s planning to transfer to UCSD (University of California San Diego). However, I’m currently doing really bad in my Calculus course, might not even pass.
One option is to maybe get by with a C. Another option is to drop it and to take the W and talk to the University of California San Diego and see if they’ll give me an extension. And the other option I can think of is to stay at my community college and get an A. I know I can get an A because the concepts aren’t really that hard.
The reason I’m doing so poorly is that my mother just passed away and I’m taking it really hard and having trouble focusing. What should I do?”
[02:50] Take a W.
The death of a parent is really hard while you’re in school. I recommend that you withdraw right now. Give yourself a pass on this semester or whatever classes you’re taking. Regroup, grieve, do whatever you need to do to get re-focused, however long that’s going to take after your mom’s passing.
With that being said, it looks like UCSD is requiring the Calculus course to transfer to UCSD. In that case, talk to them and lay everything out on the table. Then ask how they can help you. This is probably the best way to move forward with this.
“There are lots of possible options but until you figure out and talk to them what options are available, then you don’t know what is.”
[04:35] Getting By with a C is a Risk for Your Medical School Application
Getting by with a C is just too much of a risk. If you get a D or F, that’s going to hurt a lot. And UCSD might even decline you for those poor grades. So take the W.Taking a W is always better than a very, very bad grade.Click To Tweet
Don’t worry about pushing for that C. Grieve and make sure you’re okay moving forward. Make some phone calls. Talk to UCSD. Talk to the community college. Find out what your options are and move on from there.
If you’re in the same situation as this student and on the verge of getting a C, D, or F, a W is always better than a very, very bad grade. One to three C’s is not going to rule out medical school. But ideally, stay away from them. But if you have them already, it is what it is. Move forward. Just try not to get any more.One to three C's can be okay for your medical school application. But ideally, stay away from them. Click To Tweet
[05:50] When Taking a W is Good—and Bad
But if you have the option and in the middle of the course and it looks like you are going to struggle, if you have to get perfect test scores from here on out just to get a C, the most realistic scenario is you won’t get perfect scores and you’re not going to get that C, you’re going to get a D or F. Take the W.Having withdrawals on your transcript is not a huge red flag for medical school.Click To Tweet
But if you have weird withdrawals like you have a W from organic chemistry from your four-year university, then you take organic chemistry at a community college. Then you withdraw from Physics 2 from your four-year university and get Physics 2 at your community college. Then you withdraw from Biochem and so on.
So you see, if you have this pattern of withdrawing from your four-year university, which many medical schools still consider harder, and then you take it at an “easier” school, the community college, that is going to be questioned.
If you’re home for the summer and you’re taking community college courses, then that’s not a problem. So take the W. It’s worth it.
[07:20] Need Help with MCAT?
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Links and Other Resources
- Check out my book about the MCAT, co-written with Next Step Test Prep: The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT.
- Related episode: Should I Retake Core Classes from 10 Years Ago with C’s?
- Related episode: Will Withdrawing from a Class Hurt My Med School Application?
- Need MCAT Prep? Save on tutoring, classes, and full-length practice tests by using promo code “MSHQ” at Next Step Test Prep!
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