Will Competency-Based Degrees Work For Med School?

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Session 166

Our student attained a competency-based degree through a regionally accredited institution, but has taken the prereqs at a community college. Will this suffice?

All the questions tackled here are taken from the Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please sign up for a free account then feel free to ask any questions that might be lurking in your mind. Also, be sure to check out all our other podcasts on MedEd Media Network.

[01:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“Here is a little background. I am 30 years old and have a degree in Marketing Management. This degree is regionally accredited, but it is competency based, which means that the grading was pass/fail and if you pass you get an automatic 3.0 GPA. I completed this degree in 2015 and decide to pursue the Pre-med path in January of 2017. During the last 2 years I have taken Gen Chem, Bio, and Physics at a community college, and O-Chem and Biochem (online) at a 4 year university. I have a 3.88 GPA with my prerequisite course work, but this will not move the needle much for my overall GPA. I have over 100 hours volunteering/clinical experience at a free clinic (will continue), I have over 40 hours shadowing (will continue), and I have not done, nor do I plan to do research.

I have 2 questions.

  1. Should I be worried about the fact that my degree was acquired online and that it was a competency based/pass or fail system?
  2. I have only take one class in person at a 4 year university (O-Chem). I have gotten a LOR from this professor. What should I do for the other LOR’s? Should I just get letters from my CC professors? Or should I take another class at a 4 year college just for the LOR?

I am currently preparing to take the MCAT in April and I need to work to work full time in prep for the birth of our first child in May.”

[02:45] Part Online Degree and Pass/Fail System

Well, you shouldn’t be worried about your degree, mainly because it was a marketing management degree. But if it were a biology degree that you acquired online and was a pass/fail, that’s a different story.

'Schools don't really care about the classes that you took outside of those science prereqs.'Click To Tweet

Schools want to know whether you’re a well-rounded student and getting an online degree doesn’t affect that much — again, for a nonscience online degree. So don’t worry about that. You’re showing a great upward trend so that’s awesome!

[03:55] Should You Take Another 4-Year-College Course Just to Get a Letter?

No. A community college letter of recommendation is fine. There is less and less backlash from medical schools about students from community college. It’s okay if that’s what you had to do and you needed to do because it’s what worked for your schedule or your budget, etc, then that’s okay. If there’s a school out there that’s going to take that and hold it against you, oh well, reason you need to apply to a broad range of schools.

'There is less and less backlash from medical schools about students from community college.'Click To Tweet

Moreover, be prepared to talk about why you did most of your courses at a community college. This question may come up and has come up a bunch for a lot of students. So focus on that to make sure you have an answer for that. But overall, a letter of recommendation from a community college professor is fine.

[05:25] Final Say

Don’t sweat the small stuff. This is one giant, big picture. As long as you’re taking care of your GPA and MCAT as well as your extracurriculars, shadowing, clinical experience, etc, then you will be okay.

The micro stuff — letter of recommendation from a community college professor, a non-science degree online — that’s okay.

'Worry about the big picture and all the other stuff will fall into place.'Click To Tweet

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