Am I Too Old To Get a College Degree and be a Doctor?

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OPM 287: Am I Too Old To Get a College Degree and be a Doctor?

Session 287

Our question-asker today is 33 years old with no college courses under his belt. Is he too old to go down this path and graduate medical school at 41?

Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at 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.

[02:51] The MCAT Minute

The MCAT Minute is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT.

A lot of students are scrambling to fit in the MCAT this month, or they’re looking at January dates and they’re wondering whether taking it in January is too late. Historically, we have said for MD schools that January is too late. For DO schools, there are still a lot of them that accept January MCAT scores.

You have to look at each individual school to see the latest MCAT score they accept. That way, you can determine whether or not you want to try to squeeze in a January MCAT date in this current cycle that you are applying. Or hold off spending on secondaries and submitting to more schools and just delay your MCAT and reapply at a later time.

A lot of that decision-making comes from how well you did with your first MCAT score, how well you did on your first real MCAT, and the prep that went into that. Figure out through self-reflection how well you can seriously improve your score, if you turn around and take it either September or in January.

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[02:50] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“Surgery and now Ortho Surgery, I’ve decided that I want to be a physician, I want to be like the men and women that I have assisted and worked with over the years but here’s my dilemma.

I am a soon-to-be 33-year-old guy with absolutely 0 college coursework. I tried college right after high school thinking I wanted to work with computers but was completely uninterested in the coursework and ended up dropping out of all of my classes. 

To make a long story short, I am 33 years old starting over, wanting to get a bachelor’s so I can apply to medical school which would put me (if all goes well) at 37 or 38. Do medical schools take guys like me seriously? 

Because I’m a little discouraged hearing from other writers when they talk about the undergrad degree they already have and how they study for the MCAT. I can’t help but sit here and think to myself, “Man if I only thought about this 10 years ago.” 

But in all seriousness, should I pursue other things, I would be graduating from medical school at 41-42 years old. I can’t help but feel like I’m a day late and a dollar short. Any advice or opinions would be much appreciated

Also, I’d like to add I am a single guy with no kids or any real financial burden (mortgage or anything). I could write A LOT more on what led me to want to be a physician over years but I don’t want to make things too long.”

[04:27] Don’t Have a Plan B

There are so many of you out there right now doubting because they think they’re too old or it’s too late to start medical school. They’re worried that medical schools will have some bias or prejudice against older applicants, especially when you never did undergrad during a “traditional” timeframe.

And the answer is yes, medical schools are going to be serious. This is your time to shine. If this is what you want, regardless of your age, then do it. Otherwise, when you’re 70 or 80, you’re going to live with that regret that you never pursued this dream of being a physician that you should be pursuing right now.

'The plan B mentality is the moment you hesitate and the moment that you allow self-doubt to creep back in and decide that something else is going to be easier, faster, cheaper.'Click To Tweet

[05:58] If There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Whether this student can do it or not, we don’t know. Most people can, while some people just aren’t smart enough and that’s the brutal truth. But if you truly want to be a physician, you will figure out some ways.

There will be medical schools that will have some bias and prejudice against nontrads but the far majority won’t. They will look at your journey and want to talk to you about it. They’d be interested in hearing about how you went from high school to no college to working in a health-related field, to now wanting to be a physician. They want to know what that journey was like, why you’re doing it, and so much more.

They will potentially look at you as a pillar of the class they’re trying to build – someone with more maturity and some years under your belt to help anchor the class that’s filled with younger students.

'Medical schools love nontraditional students. Not every medical school, but the far majority love nontraditional students because of everything else that you are bringing to the class.'Click To Tweet

[07:37] They Don’t Care About Your Skills

Many people try to come in to sell skills, saying they’d be a great asset to the class with all the skills they have, whatever it is that they do. But they don’t care about your skills.

They care about the intangibles you’re bringing to the class as well as the experiences you’ve had that will lead to you being a great classmate. Those experiences are things you will be talking about during the interview or writing in your essays that will draw the attention of the admissions committees. All of that, without selling yourself.

[09:04] What to Prove to Yourself

Maybe there’s this fear of failure that you are scared to put out to the world that you want to be a doctor and that you want to go to undergrad and to medical school. And you may be afraid of what happens when you tell the world and you start undergrad and you still don’t like it. Or you start undergrad and you aren’t good at biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, etc. Or you get to medical school and you realize that it was a mistake.

This is why it’s very important to do your research, get some shadowing, and do the things you need to do to prove to yourself that this is what you want. 

Take some time. Separate yourself away from the career that you have now. And if you find that this is really what you want, then go for it. If not, at least you won’t have regrets.

'Get some shadowing and put yourself in different environments to see if this is truly what you want.'Click To Tweet


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