What Should I Do If I’m Failing My Postbac?

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OPM 281: What Should I Do If I'm Failing My Postbac?

Session 281

Most students aim for good grades during a postbac to prove their academic capabilities to med schools. What do you do if your postbac ends up being a disaster?

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.

Also, 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.

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

[01:24] The MCAT Minute

The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.

What score do you need on your MCAT to get in? Well, the right answer is to get as high o a score as possible for you. Everyone’s ceiling is going to be different. 528 is obviously the ceiling for everyone.

But at the end of the day, the question is what score can you get? And that answer is going to be different for everyone. How much time do you have to study? What other responsibilities do you have? How much money do you have to spend on MCAT prep?

One that with the free resources that Blueprint MCAT gives you will help, especially The MCAT Podcast I do with Blueprint, the free full length one that you get, as well as the half-length diagnostic. They also have their study planning tool and some other amazing things coming soon so be sure to sign up with a free account over at Blueprint MCAT.

But the answer is as high of a score that you personally can get. Put on your blinders, run your own race. Don’t look at what other people are scoring because you don’t know what resources they have. Especially for nontraditional students where maybe you have more responsibilities on your plate. Then your score is potentially going to be limited based on those responsibilities. So do the best that you can do.

[03:24] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I haven’t seen stories of people with a similar background as mine. I graduated from college in 2011 with a Biology degree (Good ECs: research, leadership, volunteer, shadowing, tutoring, TA and jobs). Most of my ECs I was part of for over 2-3 years. I graduated from college with a cGPA – 3.0 and sGPA – 2.8. (good upward trend with upper level science classes). 

Immediately after graduation, I started a post-bacc program ( a 1-year linkage program) where students take graduate school and medical school classes. Unfortunately, this year was just a disaster for me and I didn’t make the contract. And I don’t know what to do at this point.

Are there people out there who have had similar experiences, and if there are, can you please share how you overcame it? The director of the program recommended that I continue and get the master’s degree but I didn’t like that option for various reasons.

Any advice out there? I was hopefully thinking about returning to my undergraduate institution, take a series of more upper level science classes for the coming academic year (Fall 2012-Spring 2013).

My first MCAT score (which I took without good preparation) is a 21.

Second attempt (better preparation while in the post-bacc program) – and waiting for the score.”

[05:10] When Do You Give Up?

At some point, you have to ask yourself, when do you give up?You don’t have a great undergraduate GPA. You did poorly in the classes that are supposed to prove that you can handle medical school. Your MCAT score is pretty bad. And so, at what point do you give up?

I’m not saying you should give up. But for all of you out there struggling in a similar situation. Ask yourself if this is still something you want.

Now, I don’t know the full context for this person. But they struggled with their undergraduate GPA and in their master’s program. What do their other responsibilities look like?

“What responsibilities do you have on top of trying to be a stellar student, trying to prove that you can handle medical school academically?”Click To Tweet

[06:32] What Are Your Chances?

'Nobody has the full context of your life so you have to put in using some self-awareness.'Click To Tweet

It’s okay to ask yourself questions and answer yourself whether you’re capable of doing this with the resources that you have at hand. And with the support structure available to you.

So for this student, even though this was many years ago, the next thing you need to do is the same thing that you were supposed to be doing in the postbac. And that’s proving academic capability.

There needs to be a real hard reset here because the student didn’t do well in undergrad and in their master’s program. 

The question is why? Do you not believe in yourself? Do you not want this bad enough? Do you not have the kind of support structure around you that requires this? Do you have other responsibilities that are distracting you from the thing that you should be focused on getting good grades?

[07:51] Chad’s Success Story

I had a podcast episode a while ago with a student named Chad, back on Episode 230 of The Premed Years podcast. And he is now starting his general surgery residency.

Chad was a nontraditional student. He went to undergrad and struggled so he went to a master’s program and a postbac and still struggled. And so, we had this conversation on the podcast of why he was struggling. 

Well, he had a family and a wife and kids to support. And he was working during this time that he should have been putting in to study and show that he was academically capable. He struggled because he was working.

'Nobody has the full context of your life so you have to put in using some self-awareness.'Click To Tweet

And so, Chad finally had some tough conversations with himself and figured out what he would do to make it work. He stopped working. He went on government programs to provide for his family. He went and proved his academic abilities, and had multiple acceptances to medical school. He thrived through medical school, and is now a general surgery resident. Gladly, he has come out on the other side.


And so, if you are in a situation where you struggle in every step of the process. But you’re struggling because you don’t have the support structure. You don’t have the resources necessary. Then figure out how to get those resources. If you have every resource available to you, and you still struggle, then we need to have some tougher conversations.

Ultimately, what students struggling academically should do is to have those difficult conversations now. 

Do you want this? Can you do this? What resources are available to you? Are you working a ton because you have a fancy house and a fancy car? Then move in with 10 roommates. Get rid of your car and get a Junker or take public transportation everywhere. You can downsize your life to reduce the bills, move in with your parents, do whatever you need to do to set yourself up for success.

“Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results.”Click To Tweet

If you struggled in undergrad because you were distracted, you struggled in your masters because you’re distracted, you struggled in your postbac because you’re distracted. Well, guess what? There’s no more opportunities left. All medical schools are going to see is that you struggled at every step of the way. And they have no other choice but to assume that you’re going to struggle in medical school, as well.

And so, as you’re going through this process, and for this student, specifically who struggled not once but twice already. Stop digging a bigger hole, and figure out why that hole was dug in the first place and not repeat those same mistakes.


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PMY230: Interview with Chad