12 Years After Undergrad, Should They Complete a Master’s?

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OPM 249: 12 Years After Undergrad, Should They Complete a Master's?

Session 249

12 years after her undergrad with a poor GPA, this nontrad has gotten straight A’s in her prereqs. Should she complete a Master’s Program?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at premedforums.com. Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.

Please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.

Also, check out eShadowing.com for weekly live sessions where you can ask questions, hear stories from physicians, and get case studies from physicians. You have all week to watch that and you can actually get credit that will go toward a shadowing certificate that you can put on your application.

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

[01:34] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I’m currently a second-degree bachelor student taking prerequisites. This would be my second time taking most of my prerequisites due to being out of school for over 10 years. My first degree is a non-science degree. I didn’t do good in a couple of my prerequisites. My overall cumulative GPA was 2.6 for my first degree. My science GPA is much lower. 

12 years later, I’m back in school and now I’m making straight A’s. I recently dropped a Calculus class due to most medical schools not needing it. I’m paying for school so I’m determined to take the classes I need so I don’t waste my time or money. 

My academic advisor wants me to apply for medical school next year. However, my advisor that is over at career services wants me to do a one-year Master’s Program. Any advice? Thanks!”

[02:36] The Upward Trend is Important

Obviously, you dug yourself a big hole with a very low cumulative GPA, very low science GPA from your first bachelor’s degree. But in your second degree, it sounds like you are getting close to being done with that second degree. You’re making straight A’s. You have a very strong upward trend. And it sounds maybe 30-60 hours at this point, if not more.

So you have done the work of what typically students are looking for when they’re applying for a master’s program or when they’re looking for postbac programs.

You have done that work already. You have already put in the work to improve. But not your GPA unfortunately. It isn’t going to budge a ton.

'You've put in the work to increase and show improvement in your GPA trends. And that is so important.'Click To Tweet

I recommend you sign up for a free two-week trial on Mappd. You can put in all of your courses and everything and then see the GPA cumulative. You’re going to find GPA lines. There’s that green line on the dashboard that shows your semester GPA. And that semester GPA for you is going to be pegged really high. And your straight A’s being shown there, it’s also going to show that you have figured things out.

Obviously, when you did undergrad 12 years ago, you weren’t in it. You weren’t motivated. You were unclear about your path and your journey and what you wanted to do, which is such a common story.

And now that you’ve gotten to this point that you’ve matured, you’ve figured out your journey where you want to go, what you want to do, and now you are crushing it! And that’s the whole point.

[05:27] Do You Need to Take a Master’s Program?

Personally, I don’t think you need a master’s program or postbac program. Technically, you’re in a postbac program doing a second bachelor’s degree. You’re just doing another degree, which is fine.

There are many ways to skin the cat here. Now, a term that I really love that I heard on a podcast is called equifinality where you end up in the same place that everyone else is ending up at, eventually getting into medical school. And equifinality means that you can take a thousand different journeys to get to that final point of getting into medical school. 

'There is no right path. There's no wrong path. There's only your path.'Click To Tweet

You could you do a master’s program. It’s just that you don’t need to. It doesn’t sound like you need to because you’ve already shown academic capability through your second bachelor’s degree.

That’s the whole point of the master’s program is to show academic capability to do well in medical school. And you’ve done that.

Your cumulative GPA might not be up to par. It might not be up to “average” for matriculating medical students. And that’s okay. You have to ignore that number and only look at your trends.

[07:06] You Are More Than Your Stats

Obviously, the rest of your application needs to be complete. You are more than your stats. You obviously need an MCAT score, which is part of your stats. But you need the story that goes along with it. 

And being a nontraditional student, being 12 years removed from your prior degree, makes it so that you have a story you can tell. Tell the story of what happened initially, what you’ve been doing in the interim, and why are you coming back to this now.

You need to show clinical experience and shadowing and just being a good person. All that stuff really matters as well. 

'Make sure that when you apply, you're telling your story well.'Click To Tweet

[08:04] Check Out Mappd

We have so many great features and updates coming to Mappd every few weeks. You can go sign up for a free two-week trial.

“Mappd is not just a place to store everything. It's a place to actually get guidance and help you navigate on your journey to medical school.”Click To Tweet

These next few weeks, our development team is working on implementing feedback algorithms, or at least the ability for me and the Mappd team to assess the trends of students. Then we can give students feedback, whether they’re two years or three years away or they’re in the middle of the application cycle.

We’re building all of that now so that we can build very robust feedback algorithms. We’re committed to providing you the best and the most powerful feedback, resources, and guidance for you. 

We’re also building in access for advisors so that your school advisor who you may have a great relationship with. They will be able to log into Mappd on their own account as well and be able to see all the students they have access to.


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