What happens when you’re super close to your application cycle only to find out that your classes from many years back have caused your GPA to drop below a 3.0? Today, let’s talk about the importance of advocating for yourself.
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[02:10] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“I have heard on the old premeds podcast about reaching out early to admissions at med schools, I heard this too late, unfortunately. I am applying this cycle and my grades from 13 years ago bring my cumulative from a 3.3 to a 2.98. I feel I won’t even be considered due to this and am wondering if there’s anything I can do since I’m applying in 2 weeks. This was my lack of foresight to include my old grades from when I was very ill.”
[02:43] Reach Out to the School
This student is stuck in this situation, where probably when they were looking at their GPA calculation. Check out WhatsMyGPA.com where you can plug in all of your grades there and you can find out what your GPA will look like to medical schools.
But this student forgot those old classes that she took a while ago and didn’t think those were important. And I didn’t know that they were important. The student forgot about that, and now has less than a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
The core of this question is to reach out to medical schools.
Unfortunately, the student’s very close to the application cycle. And so their ability to get feedback and adjust based on that feedback is going to be very limited, assuming they go ahead and still apply.
Or they may contact a school and get feedback that advises them not to apply and probably take some more classes so they could get your cumulative GPA above a 3.0. And then you won’t be screened out.
[04:16] Two Potential Issues
Number one, a school may say that the issue is so close to the application cycle. Schools are busy. The admissions committee offices are busy. They’re finalizing their class from the last cycle and ramping up for this cycle. They’re trying to figure out everything that is going on. And it’s hard for them. They won’t probably have as much bandwidth to respond to you than a few months ago. That’s the first potential issue.
The next potential issue is once you are an applicant, and if you haven’t submitted your application yet, then technically, you’re not an applicant. But it’s so close to the application cycle and you don’t know how they’re going treat you.
Once you’re an applicant, the rules of engagement change for the school and for the admissions committees on how they talk to and what advice they can give to students who have applied.
The medical schools don’t want to look like they’re giving information to some students and not other applicants. Prior to being an applicant, you are just a student out there looking for advice. And if you took the initiative to contact a school prior to being an applicant, then good on you. They’ll likely give you advice. But once you’re an applicant, those rules change for most schools So you may have an issue,“Once you are an applicant, you may have an issue getting advice from schools.”Click To Tweet
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reach out. But it means the information that you are going to get from schools may be a lot different – after you apply, than before.
[06:20] Reach Out to the Schools
My rule of thumb is always to reach out and ask. The worst that’s going to happen is they can’t give you any advice as a current applicant. You can’t determine that and you don’t know what that response will be until you actually ask.
Explain to them your situation. Ask for the person to talk to and ask what you can do and whether they’re a school that will still look at your application. Some schools that are straight-up will say they won’t look at you when you’re below 3.0. Others may look at that as long as you have an upward trend. A lot of times, you’re not going to get that specific advice, unfortunately, but you won’t get any advice if you don’t reach out.“You won't get any advice if you don't reach out.”Click To Tweet
Now again, once you are an applicant, those rules change. Every school has different rules on what that communication looks like and what those communication channels should be. Some schools have very specific portals that you can log into and ask questions. Some schools want phone calls, some schools want email, some schools will tell you that all communication will go into your file. Some schools don’t tell you that. Whatever it may be, once you are an applicant follow the rules of that school for communication.
[08:46] How You Should Reach Out to Schools“The best piece of advice is to reach out early and build those connections early so you don't end up scrambling at the last minute.”Click To Tweet
If you’re going to reach out, be prepared to change what you’re going to do based on the feedback that they give you. Some schools give great feedback, some schools give generic feedback. Some schools don’t give any feedback at all.
Know that the admissions officers are very understaffed and overworked. They always have an ongoing process. As soon as one cycle ends and the other one starts and it’s just over and over and over again.
So be respectful of their time and reach out with very specific information and questions, not anything generic that can just get answered on their website or somewhere else.
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