Our student today is a nontrad veteran with a dream to become a doctor but he’s trying to recover from a poor GPA. Now, he’s wondering whether he should take the courseload while taking the MCAT so he could apply as soon as possible. Is this a wise decision? What’s the best course of action that he should take?
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[00:47] The MCAT Minute
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Remember the earlier you take your MCAT, the more time it frees up to work on your primary application or secondary applications. And if you need to adjust or pivot or delay a little bit, that’s okay.
The latest you should take the MCAT is the end of June. The MCAT prep potentially gets in the way of your primary application, but that date doesn’t necessarily delay your processing, finalization, and review from the admissions committee.
[02:18] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“I am currently an active duty Army medic and have found a passion for medicine while in the service. I had an extremely low GPA before joining the military, leaving school with a 1.13 GPA.
During my time in the Army, I have taken multiple classes and now have a 3.00 cumulative GPA. I will be transitioning from the military this spring and enrolling at a university in the fall of 2022. I will have 2 years of school left, so ideally I would like to take the MCAT in Spring of 2023 so I can start medical school right after my undergraduate degree.
I have been looking at my course load and will be taking Organic Chemistry 2, Physics 2, Calculus 2, and Biochemistry in the spring of 2023. I am hoping to take the MCAT towards the latter part of the semester in April or May, so I can learn as much as possible in those courses.
My question is whether this would be wise and doable with that course load and studying for the MCAT at the same time? Should I stick to the plan or bite the bullet and delay my application by a year to ensure I am fully prepared for the MCAT?”
[03:32] GPA Fix vs. When to Take the MCAT
This student has a great thought process and a great plan because a lot of students don’t have that reflection part. They try to do everything all at once, underestimating how overwhelming things could get later on.'Trying to recover from an earlier poor GPA, your goal is to do as well as possible with your GPA.'Click To Tweet
Now, when you are trying to recover from a poor GPA, your primary concern is not when to take the MCAT or when to apply. Instead, you have to do well as possible with your GPA.
First of all, biochemistry should be taken after Organic Chemistry 2. But if you want to go to medical school, you have to prove that you are academically capable. By trying to cram everything in, that would already be a lot of stuff.
[05:14] Delaying the Application
Therefore, I highly recommend you delay your application, spread things out a little bit more, and don’t rush.
Your goal is to prove academic capability first and foremost. Don’t overwhelm yourself just because you have arbitrarily set this deadline in your head that you have to apply in 2023 so you can start medical school directly after you finish your undergraduate studies.
Do not sacrifice your grades, your sanity, your MCAT score, your application preparedness, for some arbitrary thinking that you don’t want to gap year.
Nobody is forcing you to apply in 2023 to start in 2024. Slow things down a little bit. Make sure that you get good grades, then study for the MCAT. And then work on your application prep.
[06:31] The “Need to Apply Now” Mindset
It’s very common for nontraditional students who are coming in on this kind of circuitous path of community college or Community College of Airforce. You’re coming in from this different path, whether military or nonmilitary. Then you realize you’re getting older, so you need to apply to medical school. And then you cram it all together.“I see so many students tank their GPA and trend, struggle with the MCAT, and submit an early crappy application or a late okay application just for this arbitrary - 'I need to apply now.'Click To Tweet
Again, slow down because everything will be okay. Medical schools will still be there in a year. You’ll still hopefully want to be a doctor in a year. Nothing is going away. Slow down. Make sure you do everything to the best of your ability and that is the goal of this process. It’s not a race.