Today, I break down some of the factors you should consider when doing a DIY postbac including duration, goal, location (online vs in-person), and more!
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.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[00:58] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“I finally made my way to the forum! Been following Dr. Gray’s podcasts for quite some time but don’t think I heard this specific question being addressed yet.
I am a non-trad who graduated with BS back in 2012 with a major in biochemistry and 3 science minors. Since then, I have been involved in basic, translational, and clinical research. My original plan was to pursue Ph.D.
But due to series of unfortunate events, I fell in love with medicine and now am on a journey to become a different doctor…an MD. I am currently working full-time as CRC while volunteering both in a hospital and community clinic.
I did a free evaluation from the Princeton Medical Admission Consulting. And I was told that I will need to get an MS or complete a postbac program to be a competitive applicant since I been out of school for so long.
My undergrad cGPA was 3.69 and my science GPA was 3.54. I took the MCAT without much studying and got 500. I’m planning on retaking it while hitting books hard around Feb/March of 2020. I feel confident I can score 508 or above.
I really don’t want to go back into debt or prolong my pre-med journey. So I started taking classes (online for right now, but looking to potentially squeezing a few in-person this next semester) at the university from which I graduated. My questions:
- Does taking one class per semester (while working, studying for MCATS, and doing all other pre-med things) would look bad on postbac transcript?
- Should I take higher science level classes that I haven’t taken during my undergrad OR should I repeat my prereqs on which I got lower grades? (Had 1 C+ for OrgoI, all others were Bs and As).
- For how long is it recommended to take postbac classes AND is there a good number at which I should stop?”
[03:45] Prove You’re Academically Capable
There’s no magic formula to nailing your postbac program perfectly. But there are a few things you need to consider.
Number one, I agree that the classes are old and so they should probably take some classes again so they can get their science coursework back under their belts. This is to prepare themselves for the MCAT and to show the medical schools that they are academically capable of doing well in medical school.
GPA-wise, it isn’t horrible. But that doesn’t tell me anything. I don’t know the story behind those numbers, whether it’s an upward trend or a downward trend. So I’m interested to know what the story is behind those numbers.
And so, I definitely recommend taking more classes and taking more than one class. Otherwise, it doesn’t show that you’re capable of handling the coursework necessary to get through medical school. Medical schools won’t allow you to take one class at a time. So you’re going to have to take more than one class.'Taking one class at a time doesn't show academic rigor.'Click To Tweet
With everything going on, it’s hard, especially as a nontrad, to add more courses to your plate. But it’s what you need to do.
Again, if there’s an upward trend, it makes it even better. So for a student like this, I think a semester or two of classes is probably enough assuming you’re getting as close to a 4.0 as possible.
[06:02] Retaking Classes
The typical recommendation is obviously retaking classes where you received a C- or lower that typically is not considered “passing” for medical school. It doesn’t sound like this student has any of those classes.
For a student like this, a great option would be to just move forward. Move on and take upper-division classes so you can continue to show an academic success. This will show them you’re capable of doing well in medical school by continuing to take more and more rigorous courses.
Upper-division courses are supposed to be more rigorous than lower-division courses. The 400-level class is going to be harder than the 100-level class.
If you are just retaking classes, you’re not showing any growth, you’re just showing you retook your A’s and B’s and that doesn’t do anything.“Retaking those classes where you've already received decent grades doesn't really do much other than it shows that you can continue to do well in the classes you already did well in.”Click To Tweet
To recap, I recommend this student take upper-division classes and take more than one class at a time. Then take probably a semester or two to show you can have that upward trend for a while so you can get ready and apply.
[07:59] Check Out Blueprint
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