Can I Take Community College Courses for a Postbac?

Can I Take Community College Courses for a Medical School Postbac?

Session 14

This week on the OldPreMeds Podcast, we tackle the question of how much community college classes will hurt your medical school application. Specifically if you’re a nontrad career changer looking to take a postbac, is it a bad idea to take your prereqs at a community college?

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

OldPreMeds Question of the Week

As usual on the OldPreMeds Podcast, our question this week is taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum.

Our poster is a nontrad who needs to raise their GPA before applying to medical school. They are working full-time and making pretty good money, so quitting their job is not ideal. However, the only place to take classes for a DIY postbac in their area is at a community college. Are community college classes going to hurt their application to medical school?

Do community college classes hurt your application to medical school?Click To Tweet

Applying to Medical School with Community College Classes

The impact of community college classes on a medical school application is going to depens on the applicant’s overall background. In general, community colleges are not going to enhance your application as much classes taken as a 4-year school would.

The negative impact can be minor to moderate depending on the medical school you’re applying to and your background. Community colleges are definitely better than nothing.

The negative impact of community college classes can be minor to moderate depending on the medical school you're applying to and your background.Click To Tweet

[Related episode: Going from Community College, to Premed, to Med Student.]

Adding Upper-Level Classes at a 4-Year University After Community College

If you take your initial medical school prereq classes at a community college, you should still consider adding some upper-level classes at a 4-year school. This demonstrates that you can handle the workload of taking harder science classes at a 4-year university, which is really the point.

If you take your initial medical school prereq classes at a community college, you should still consider adding some upper-level classes at a 4-year school. Click To Tweet

Your Background Matters

If this is your first time taking science classes, taking your prereqs at community college will have less of a negative impact compared to someone who needs to recover from a poor science GPA they already have.

[Related episode: Jackie Shares Her Path from Community College to Medical School.]

Questions About Whether to Take Your Postbac at a Community College

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is the story behind the low GPA you’re starting with? And why are you considering community college for your prereqs now?
  • Were you a liberal arts major and just didn’t care to study the romantic languages you were trying to learn?
  • Have you never taken science courses and this is your first time?
  • Are you just going to the community college because it’s “easier” than the sciences courses you already took at a 4-year school?
When it comes to how much community college classes will hurt your med school app, it depends on the specifics of your story and your whole application.Click To Tweet

Major Takeaway from This Episode

Everybody is unique, so your story matters in the application. If your GPA is below the cut-offs for a particular school, then your application could get filtered out. But otherwise, your transcript will be viewed with the context of your personal statement and your whole application. So your story matters.

If you have legitimate reasons to take your prereqs at a community college rather than a 4-year university, then there are some medical schools that will be willing to overlook it. But if you’re taking your classes at a community college because they’re easier than the science classes you flunked at a 4-year school, that could be a red flag. You want to demonstrate that you can handle a heavy academic load.

Links and Other Resources

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