2.9 Freshman GPA & 3 Different Colleges to Medical Student


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PMY 412: 2.9 Freshman GPA & 3 Different Colleges to Medical Student

Session 412

In this episode, Paola goes from a low GPA and multiple college transfers to becoming a medical student on her way to being a doctor. Paola was sold that she wasn’t going to get into medical school. She stumbled early on, picked herself back up, changed locations, and changed schools. We talk a lot about her journey, her struggles, her successes, and much more!

For more podcast resources to help you along your journey to medical school and beyond, check out Meded Media.

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

[01:14] Interest in Becoming a Doctor

Paola has always wanted to be a vet. Her mom’s a pharmacist, her aunt is a pharmacist as well as her grandpa. Her mom would take her on rounds too at a young age. So she was always exposed to that.

Then she started college as a bio major. She was pretty set on being a doctor the whole time. The she got a C on her first semester,  and ended up with a 2.9. She thought she was never going to make it. She has been through three different undergrads.

She left her first undergrad school and she left because it was a really big culture shock for me. She decided she wanted to go back to Florida and decided to go to Santa Fe College first. So she went from High Point University to Santa Fe College and then to University of Florida. Her first year was rough for her and it was in University of Florida that she began to really enjoy biology and do a lot better.

[02:50] Finding Her Fit

At High Point University, she realized she didn’t want to be there by her second week of being there. Her parents gave her a pep talk that she will get used to it eventually but she still felt like leaving by December.

She didn’t want to go back to Miami because she still wanted to get a college experience. But she couldn’t transfer straight because you need 60 credits, or an AA and she really wanted to leave. That’s why she went to community college where she did 18 credits in one summer and she was there at UF by the following January.

It was a really great school. It just wasn’t for her particularly because she felt that she just didn’t fit in and that she could make the most of it.

Paola thinks that one of the reasons she was able to blend in UF is that she already had friends in Miami. Proximity to family really mattered to her as well.

It’s a completely different environment to go from a small private school to a public school where you see so many different kinds of people.

'You'll find a group where you fit in regardless.'Click To Tweet

[05:50] From Community College to UF

She was initially worried that she couldn’t get into UF and she was doing all that for no reason. But her parents were very confident in her and they believed in her so it allowed her to believe in herself.

But the process itself was difficult because they didn’t want to transfer out a lot of the credits. So she had to go to UF and meet with each dean of the colleges to make sure they would accept her classes even before she ended up applying. She wanted to make sure that everything is going to pan out the way she wanted to before getting in. So it became a pretty smooth transition for her. She also did her research and she found that most people who go through Santa Fe will get into UF.

For Paola, it was very overwhelming being in such a huge campus. She had her first 400-person class that semester. And seeing those people she’s somehow competing against, it was a bit scary for her. But she was a micro major. So she had a smaller group of people in the same process.

[08:10] Her Journey to Medical School

It was in her first semester that she walked into her advisor’s office to get some advice. They went over her grades and whatnot. Then the advisor told her she’d be lucky even with a 510 to get into a U.S. school and asked her about her plan B. Paola walked out of the office crying and calling her mom and telling her she was never going to be a doctor. It was a horrible experience.

This is when Paola found the Medical School Headquarters and the podcast. She listened to all the episodes. And she felt this helped her so much to believe in herself. That’s because of the many stories of people with below average or average GPAs who still managed to get into medical school. And she never went back to that advisor.

'If an advisor tells you that you're not going to make it, literally, never go back. That is not true. You will make it!'Click To Tweet

[10:37] The Upward Trend

In her first year, her science GPA was a 3.0. And it really didn’t start going up until she got to UF. And because she enjoyed her micro classes so much, she really did well. So in her senior year, her science GPA was 3.7. She had a great upward trend, but in between that, she had two C’s.

Paola also decided to do a Master’s because she had a pretty average undergrad GPA. And also, because she went to three different schools, she thought that it would help her stand out if she got a Master’s. Her thought process behind this was that even though she would still re-apply, she could still get a solid job while doing that. It’s a pretty expensive backup plan!

When she finished her undergrad, her cumulative GPA was 3.64 and her science was a 3.39. So from a cumulative GPA standpoint, it’s pretty solid while her science GPA was not horrible but not great either.

[10:37] The Academic Struggles

In her first year, her science GPA was a 3.0. And it really didn’t start going up until she got to UF. And because she enjoyed her micro classes so much, she really did well. So in her senior year, her science GPA was 3.7. She had a great upward trend, but in between that, she had two C’s.

Paola also decided to do a Master’s because she had a pretty average undergrad GPA. And also, because she went to three different schools, she thought that it would help her stand out if she got a Master’s.

When she finished her undergrad, her cumulative GPA was 3.64 and her science was a 3.39. So from a cumulative GPA standpoint, it’s pretty solid while her science GPA was not horrible but not great either.

Additionally, she also thinks taking her Master’s was what got her so many interviews. Now, in medical school, she feels so prepared especially that it’s not her first time seeing anything. So it’s easier for her to study now.

[15:50] Taking the MCAT

Paola got a 500 on her MCAT the first time. It wasn’t horrible but she knew she could have done better. And the second time she took it, she got a 503 and she didn’t even go up that much. Although I clarified it with her that three points is a lot. Not a lot of people get up to three points. Partly because she was taking her practice test and got a 508.

[16:20] Applying to Medical School

So Paola did her MCAT twice and applied to medical school once. In terms of choosing schools, she looked at schools she wanted. She didn’t want a competitive atmosphere and she wanted a school that was focused on service. But she also wanted to be close to home. Location was the most important thing to her.

Paola applied in August which is a bit late since most people apply in June. She started writing her secondaries in September because she was waiting for her MCAT score. She almost didn’t apply because of her score. But someone convinced her to apply. So her last secondary was submitted on October 1 and applied to MDs.

'There's a balance between making sure that you're ready and that you have everything ready to go.'Click To Tweet

One of the things she underestimated was how brutal the secondaries were. If you’re working at the same time, or doing school at the same time, making time for it is very hard. As for Paola, she didn’t do anything for those first two months and she was just writing whenever she had the chance.

Once you have that momentum going, it’s usually much easier. Something that helped her is our Secondary Essay Database, which I highly recommend that you also use because secondaries can come fast and furious once the application cycle goes.

[20:57] The Interview Experience

As a Latina woman, Paola thinks the diversity helped in her application. She admits that it sucks for students who are part of the majority considering they also tried much in school and they went through the same application process.

But her application might get picked up first because she’s Hispanic. It’s great because schools really need diversity because there’s not a lot of Hispanics when you go on the AMCAS website. In fact, you barely see that many Hispanics in each class. So they definitely need it.

'The data is clear that more diversity improves the whole environment and patient outcomes, work environment, and everything else.'Click To Tweet

In preparing for her interview, she did a mock interview with me. She also read The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview. Then before any interview, she would find questions people would post the schools were going to ask and then write her answers and made a rough draft. I typically don’t recommend writing out answers but if you have to, then just be sure you’re not memorizing it. Paola explains that she just did it to have that idea in her head.

A lot of students just will stop going to interviews once they get an acceptance that they’re comfortable with. But Paola kept going because she wanted to be closer to home. All her first interview invites were DO in the south and she didn’t really want to be there. Then she finally got Nova and from there on, she stopped going to DO interviews. She continued to do it at the MD schools even though at the back of her mind she already knew she wanted to go to Nova and stay closer to home unless she got an interview from an MD school in Florida.

As the interviews were coming, Paola initially dealt with impostor’s syndrome. And she never really expected to have that many interviews.

[26:09] Thought Process Behind Choosing Her Medical School

Paola ended up getting lots of acceptances to both MD and DO. Her first MD acceptance was in late April when she was already set on going to Nova. She loved the interview over Zoom but she had no way to find out what it was really like to go there, especially knowing she wanted to just be close to home.

A lot of students will say that if you have a DO acceptance and an MD acceptance, you should automatically pick the MD. But for Paola, it was personal to her because she was choosing what she’s going to be happier with. Because

'What am I going to be happier with? Because in 10 years, I'm going to be a doctor, and my patients probably aren't going to know if I'm an MD or DO so it doesn't really matter.'Click To Tweet

[28:20] How to Make the Most of Your Virtual Interviews

Be present and try to interact with the students that go there. For Paola, it was hard having the in-person interviews and then going into Zoom. She didn’t feel she could talk to them the same because she already had that different experience.

So if you’re going through this the whole year, make sure to ask them all the questions and make sure that they let you know how they feel about the school. Do your research. Try to find YouTube videos, whatever you can do to make it feel like you went there.

“Try to get the best idea of what life is like there because you're probably not going to be able to visit and you need to know if you would want to go there.”Click To Tweet

When looking for YouTube videos of the school. you would usually find a student giving a tour. And watching those types of videos is actually helpful. Looking on Instagram might also give you an idea of what the town or city is like. For example, you can check out the food scene there or something that gets you excited. Try to see if they have that.

[30:04] The Transition from Master’s to Medical School

Paola says there’s a lot more material in medical schools. But it’s all about time management. Do that and you’d still feel like you have time to do the things you want to do.

So if you’re scared about going to medical school and not having time for anything, it’s not true, you’ll have time. But you’ll have hours, you won’t have a weekend off.

In maintaining that balance, Paola studies every day and she treats it like a job. She wakes up at 6am, walks her dog, studies until 6pm, and goes to bed early.

[31:18] Final Words of Wisdom

Paola credits a great part of her success to her family. Her parents are super supportive of her. They’ve always believed in her and pushed her. So when she was picking school, they encouraged her to go wherever she wanted to go. Finally, she wishes to tell students who are on the application journey to just believe in yourself.

'Don't let doubt get to you because we all have it.' Click To Tweet

Every premed doubts themselves. You’re not alone in this. Everyone feels it. If you missed a year, two, or three, it’s okay. You’re still gonna make it. You probably have to try a little bit harder. But if you really want this, then you’re going to do it. So just keep pushing, find the resources, and find people to help you that are going to support you throughout the process.

Links:

Meded Media

Secondary Essay Database

Do a mock interview prep with me!

The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Interview

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