This Student, and Dad, Overcame a Poor GPA to Get Accepted

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

Session 287

Nick is a former premed student-athlete who didn’t do well in school and went into business but he knew he was always missing something. Now, he’s accepted to medical school, multiple acceptances in fact, after fixing his GPA.

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT is finally available in Paperback ($9.99) and in Kindle ($4.99) formats. Also, stay tuned for The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement, coming out soon!

[02:15] Interest in Becoming a Physician

Nick initially wanted to do medicine and then a total shift came until he finally found his way back.

Realizing he had a strong interest in healthcare as a kid, his grandpa had some obesity and health issues and took some interest in his health. Having followed his health journey, he took a great interest in making sure he’s taking all his medications.

Then he worked in a nursing home as a teenager, which he considers as another formative event being drawn to people facing health issues.

Nick comes from a family where education wasn’t really valued and he grew up in a small town in Iowa surrounded by blue-collared jobs.

[05:55] Transitioning from High School to College, the Business World, and Back

Nick was an athlete so he did get a little guidance and went to a college where he could play football. He had an early injury and not basically being prepared for college, he didn’t have the study habits he needed to have. So his first semester was so bad and he was close to failing by the second semester.

[Tweet “”I didn’t have the study habits that I needed to have to be successful in college.””]

Four to five years in, Nick realized the business world wasn’t where he should be but it took him a long while to come to terms to it. He realized he took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. In fact, he processed this for several years before he decided it was really time to take the plunge. That being said, he worked for a couple different careers, one for three years and another one for six years before deciding to quit and go back to pursue medicine.

Nick admits he had to deal with a lot of fear having decided to go back to medicine. Since also at that time, his wife was pregnant. So there was fear as to how he was going to take care of his family. There was fear as to whether he had what it takes to be a medical student. And just that general fear of change.

So he had a hard time approaching the subject with his wife. But her support and enthusiasm really helped put him at ease. He also knew he had been successful at other things, both academically outside of undergrad years and in business. So he thought he was capable and he had what it takes. Plus, having the support of his wife was priceless.

[Tweet “”It’s so continue doing what you’re doing, especially if you’re good at it and your road is typically successful. Why leave something you’re good at even if maybe you don’t totally love it?””]

[11:50] Dealing with a Significant Other

I recently talked with a student whose significant other isn’t as supportive as they should be and so this is hard as to where do you follow – your passions or the marriage certificate?

Nick adds there needs to be an open dialogue here. Figure out why you’re thinking this or why this is dream. Then try to understand what the concerns are from the spouse and really break that down and see if there’s somewhere you can meet in the middle.

There are times both Nick and his wife are questioning why they’re putting themselves through this, and then something good happens along the way. So it’s brought back to that idea once again that this is where they want to be. Additionally, there’s that desire of changing his family legacy of impacting the community.

[13:15] Reach Out to Your Premed Advisors

There are two huge variables when it comes to thinking about potentially going back to become a premed for someone who’s been through college already. Number one, is this what I want to do?

And the other huge variable, is that is this something realistic? Is this something that I can do? In Nick’s case, it’s from a GPA standpoint. His GPA undergrad wasn’t very good but when he got on the phone with a premed advisor, he told him it basically depends on the schools. And that a lot of schools will look at what your most recent work is. His advisor had seen he has done some graduate work, his advisor said it can be done. This was they kind of encouragement every student needs. And Nick encourages students to reach out to their premed advisors and ask a lot of questions. Even better, reach out to the medical schools themselves, specifically the admissions committees and lay down your story and ask them what you can do. Just keep the lines open. Show them you’re interested and let them know you want to go to their school because that helps a lot.

[Tweet “”Reach out to those premed advisors and ask them a lot of questions.””]

[17:00] Questioning the Decision

Nick did come to think and question this a lot. It could have been so much easier if he had just stayed at his job. Although he was doing great at his corporate job, Nick really didn’t find much joy in it. He stresses the importance of really following your passion.

He does like to help people and he does like science – and if you’re going down this path, then those reasons are the given ones of course. But the biggest setback for him as a postbac student was his Statistics class. He went in thinking he had to get all As due to his ugly GPA. But he realizes you don’t need to get all As even with a bad GPA. It’s okay since a good school will still be interested. Nevertheless, he was struggling in his Statistics class. Although he was able to work back from those and get a B. So this was his first downer.

[Tweet “”You don’t need to get all As, even with a bad GPA.””]

Secondly, he thought he was studying so hard for the MCAT. But he didn’t get the score he wanted. It was a good score but it actually hit him whether it would actually work out having gotten the score he really didn’t want. It wasn’t the score he needed to get to get into the schools he wanted to get into. He got into his first choice of school and his MCAT score was below their median (which is actually just completely normal).

[21:00] Studying for the MCAT

Studying for the MCAT, he got the books. He studied and set time aside. He took a light course load. Literally, he spent a big chunk of his time studying for the MCAT everyday. But he didn’t see his score move on the practice test. And he believes the MCAT is a test on how to take that test, not so much the content. He even over performed on some of the sections that he struggled with his preparation. But he under performed on a section he normally did really well on.

[Tweet “”I think the MCAT is a test on how to take that test, not so much the content.””]

From his first practice test to his last, his score almost didn’t change. And that’s what he got on his MCAT. The diagnostic he took was one point below the actual score he got. He actually took a lot of the practice tests. And as far as reviewing them, he admits having reviewed all of them. For some, he performed well and for others, he didn’t do as well. But his average was about the score he got which was what he started with.

Having figure it out, Nick says he wasn’t taking the test the right way. So it’s more of the method of taking the test. He think it’s about managing the time he should have. And he admits there could be other things he could have learned from a class on how to actually take the test versus content.

[Tweet “”I don’t know that I struggled as much with content as I did with the mechanics of the test.””]

So maybe a little help through a course or just a couple hours with a private tutor to help him work on his test taking skills might have helped. Nick encourages people to do this even if you think you can manage to study on your own. The change itself is challenging as well as the mechanics of the test.

[24:50] Choosing Which Schools to Apply To

Discussing this with his wife, the agreed he was going to apply broadly. There were also schools he interviewed at that his wife was not so sure about for geographic reasons. This means uprooting the family and going to a different region of the country. But in the end, she was very supportive of him. For most schools, she went with him during the interview to check out the place. But for his first interview in Arizona, she didn’t go with him.

Nick recommends you let your significant other to go with you to where you’re interviewed at so they too can have a glimpse of the area. And if you have kids, you can actually turn this into a family vacation.

[Tweet “”Bring your significant other. Drive around. Think about what it would be like to live in that area and logistically, what it might look like.””]

[27:30] Telling His Story on His Personal Statement

Basically, what Nick wrote in the beginning was nothing like what he ended up with. When your path is so long and there’s so much to include, you don’t do any of it justice. So he focused more on those formative experiences and those experiences that talked about why he wanted to be a physician.

During his interviews, he didn’t think his personal statement ever did come up. Except for one interview where they looked at his personal statement and talked about his experiences and that he was a nontrad. But other than that, sometimes he often wondered if they do even read personal statements.

[Tweet “”Focusing more on those formative experiences and focusing on experiences that talk about why you want to be a physician, that’s really where I tried to focus on the personal statement.””]

[29:00] The Challenges of Being a Nontrad

Nick explains there’s a culture in the premed world where you’re always questioning whether you’ve done enough or whether you’ve checked enough boxes. And he fell into this. He knew this is wrong but he still couldn’t help but wonder if he did volunteer and put in enough hours.

He didn’t put in as many hours as a lot of many people he was volunteering with. It’s understandable since he has a family and a lot to take care of at home and his coursework. But he leaned on a lot of those experiences he has had in the past. For instance, he wrote about his work he did for Hurricane Katrina relief which was ages ago. But it was very impactful for him. But this being said, also show that you’ve still been volunteering and doing things recently. Try to talk about all of it.

[Tweet “”I think we put all these things on us that we haven’t done enough, we need to do more. Especially as a nontraditional student, lean a little more on your experiences that you’ve had in the past.””]

[30:40] The Interview Trail and Early Acceptance

Nick admits going into the interview trail with a lot of fear. He got an early acceptance though so this helped him a lot. He got it back in August. He applied both in MD and DO schools and it was DO school that gave him the early acceptance. He felt really good having an acceptance so he had that as a fallback plan. It was a school he didn’t know anything about but he found out he really liked the school but it was a long way from home. But he thought that if he couldn’t get into some of those schools he was more interested in, then that school was still a great place for him to be.

So going into that first interview was the greatest fear he had. But realizing he put in all this work, he got an acceptance two weeks after the interview. Also, he said having had those experiences have made his MMI much easier.

Nick did wish he got his MCAT back but ultimately, he got into the top schools he wanted to get into from the beginning. Still, he knew he could still have improved on the MCAT. There could have been some classes he could have done a bit better in. There were some more classes he wanted to take that would have helped prepare him for the MCAT more. Also, had he done research, he thought he was going to get a lot in. There were times he spent too much time focusing on the studies that he wished he spent more time just with his family. In the end, your extra 2-3 hours probably doesn’t matter as much and he could have spent that time with his family instead.

[Tweet “”There were times where I’ve probably spent too much time focusing on the studies and I wish I would have spent a little more time just with my family.””]

[34:40] Future Worries and Final Words of Wisdom

Nick says it’s about trying to maintain a healthy balance between studies and family. Trying to get that time with family is a big fear for him. But he has been talking to people who have said he can make this work. It’s about scheduling your time and setting time blocks for studying and then for family.

Finally, he wishes to impart to students to stop doubting yourself so much. Be persistent on the studies but take your breaks too. If you’re really struggling with your classes, get help. Most schools have free tutoring or study sections that can help you get there. Take advantage of the resources available to you. Lastly, call the med schools you want to apply to and establish an early relationship as this can help you along the way. Make those connections early on.


The Premed Playbook: Guide to the MCAT

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement

Get the Podcast Free!

Subscribe in iTunes Google Play Music Subscribe to RSS

Listen to Other Episodes

[smart_podcast_player url=”” color=”004075″ show_name=”The Premed Years” ]

Leave us a Review and Rating!

Just like Yelp reviews or IMDB ratings help you choose your next restaurant or movie, leaving a 5 star rating and/or a written review is very valuable to The Premed Years. It allows us to be able to share our information with more people than ever before.

I am so incredibly thankful to those who have recently gone into our listing in iTunes to provide a five start rating and a written review of The Premed Years.

Subscribe and Download

iOS/Mac/Windows – You can subscribe to the show in iTunes. Or you could manually add the RSS feed to your aggregator.

Android/Mac/Windows – You can download DoubleTwist and use that to manage all of our past and future episodes

Please help us spread the word!

If you like the show, will you please take a moment to leave a comment on iTunes? This really helps us get the word out!