Our student today is concerned about how to report their postbac grades when they’re not actually in a “postbac.” What does this mean? Let’s shed some light on how you can actually classify your hours if you’re unsure what year level you’re in!
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.
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Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:08] The MCAT Minute
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One of the hardest things in the premed journey is to understand when to take the MCAT. Especially if you’re a nontraditional student, it isn’t easy to plug in where to take the MCAT.
Think about working backward from when you’re planning on starting medical school. If your goal is to start medical school, for instance, in July to August 2025, then you would be taking the MCAT the year before then. Take it at the beginning of the calendar year, from January to April 2024 so you can get your score back and then apply in May or June of 2024.“Think about when you think you can start medical school and work backward; go about a year and a half before that time, and that's when you should be thinking about taking the MCAT.”Click To Tweet
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[02:35] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“Hi everyone, I’m new to the forums. Just found the podcast and have been enjoying it so far. I have a bit of an unusual question.
I went to college (4 years) from 2011 to 2015 for a non-science major and did not graduate, though I was close to graduation. I ended up enlisting in the Army. I have been on active duty since 2016 and only recently decided I want to be a doctor. I have almost no science classes under my belt, and my undergrad GPA is abysmal (just over 3.0).
My only hope is that taking all the prerequisite science classes, as well as some nursing classes I’m working on, will boost my GPA enough to be considered. I have heard that postbac GPA is reported on a separate line on the application, as well as factored into the cumulative undergraduate GPA.
I started back on college classes in 2020, taking the remaining requirements to graduate from my original university online (thanks COVID). I qualified to graduate in Fall 2021. However, I requested to defer graduation because I still want to take all my science and nursing classes over the next few years. I know that if you have a bachelor’s degree, you no longer qualify for Pell Grants. So while I technically “have a degree,” I don’t really.
I am taking my science courses at the local community college because it’s really the only option that works with my schedule and I need the in-person labs.
My question is this: since I don’t technically have a bachelor’s degree, will my “postbac” GPA actually be reported on a separate line? My goal is to get a 4.0 or close to it and I believe I can. I think that would look good on an application but I’m not sure if everything will just be lumped together since I never technically graduated.
If it is reported separately, where is the line between undergrad and postbac? Is it after I completed my graduation requirements (up to 2021 and then after)? Is it the break in time (up to 2015 and then 2020-onward)? Is it the different institution (so my original university and then the community college courses)?”
[05:00] How AMCAS Classifies Your Hours
If you do not have your degree, even if you have met the criteria for that degree, you have not graduated. Therefore, it’s not a postbac. And if you have not technically graduated, then the classes you’re taking now are not postbac classes. They are undergraduate, senior-level classes.
If you go to the AMCAS Applicant Guide, they have classified hours that work for a lot of nontraditional students. For example, 0 to 30 hours is considered first year or Freshmen, 30 to 60 hours would be Sophomore, 60 to 90 is Junior, and 90 and above credit hours would be considered Senior.
I’ve seen some applications where someone has 70-90 Senior credit hours because they never technically graduated. And all of the extra classes they took were just lumped into the senior year.“Medical schools don't get that PDF. Medical schools just get all the data points and they have their own software to graph and manipulate and do what they want with all of that data.”Click To Tweet
And so, don’t worry about how that looks on the PDF of the application. Medical schools look at the last 20 hours, 30 hours, or 40 hours. They don’t just see the PDF of the application that you can print out from the application service.
[06:40] Does It Matter That You Graduate?
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter whether you have graduated or not.
There will be some medical schools that would prefer a separate line for the postbac classes. But they’ll see a huge number of credit hours for your senior year. And they’ll assume, you just had a lot of extra classes that you took before you graduated.
Again, if you haven’t graduated, it just adds to whatever year that you are in. And if you can’t really figure it out well, just look at the credit hours that the AMCAS guide has set forth.