This Student Turned a 1.88 GPA to a Med School Acceptance

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PMY 474: This Student Turned a 1.88 GPA to a Med School Acceptance

Session 474

Today, we chat with Mike, a student who had a 1.88 Sophomore year and got accepted into medical school anyways. Let’s hear his story of perseverance.

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

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

[01:32] The MCAT Minute

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As we’re recording this, it’s the end of January 2022. It is time to start ramping up your MCAT prep if you haven’t already.

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[02:55] Interest in Becoming a Physician

Mike had early exposure to healthcare with his mom being involved in health care. Mike’s interest in becoming a physician began when he was eight years old. He had already spent some time coming to work with his mom who was working as a CNA. 

Later on, he came across some science magazines where he learned about organ systems. Intrigued, it was by that time that he decided he wanted to go into medicine. But it wasn’t until towards the end of college that he started to volunteer.

[05:33] What Caused the Big Dip

Mike started off college pretty well and then went from 3.22 in his first year to 1.88 in his second year, Mike admits that although he was academically sound, there were a lot of distractions. He had so many responsibilities and he had to be accountable for some people.

Since Mike didn’t consider shadowing until later, he didn’t have that tangible experience of seeing patients and being with me to see what it’s like to be on the other side. As a result, he felt burned out but after he got to shadow, he felt recharged, invigorated, and it got cemented in his mind that it was what he wanted to do.

Many students discount that side of the experience, and they just view the experience as a necessity for medical schools and a time suck from studying. What they don’t understand is that it’s a reinvigoration of why you’re doing this. And it gives you the mental clarity and capacity to study harder and longer.

[10:21] On the Verge of Giving Up

Looking at Mike’s transcript, he stopped taking science courses in his third year. He took 16 credit hours in his first year, 10 credit hours in his second year, and none for his third and fourth year of undergrad. He was thinking that for you to be able to get into med school, you have to be perfect. And so, he simply gave up at that point and thought of doing something else with his life at that point.

That being said, he knew he wanted to stay involved in healthcare. He figured he could participate in the business side of healthcare. Then he saw the option to do community health with a concentration on health planning and administration.

He started to enjoy it, especially when his classes became more focused and they started looking at how hospitals may file their taxes, what goes into reducing cost, or improving patient quality or quality of care. It was something he could see himself doing. But after he did an internship, he realized it wasn’t something he wanted to do.

Part of their internship, too, was watching one clinical procedure. He chose to observe craniotomy and he just loved it. At that point, he knew he wanted to do it again.

Mike found PostbacCAS, which is the centralized application service for a lot of postbac programs here in the country. Not every single postbac program uses it. Mike tried to stay local since paying for a postbac program was going to be very difficult for him.

Mike ended up applying to four different programs based on cost and location. The ones he chose came down to something that would improve his undergrad GPA and that would allow him to take all the premed science courses that he didn’t take in undergrad.

[18:37] What He Did Differently for Crushing His Postbac

Mike came out swinging in his postbac and crushed it with almost a 4.0 GPA. Mike wanted to prove to himself that he was academically sound. And so, he doubled down on his school and never messed around.

'If you want to be a doctor, you cannot mess around.'Click To Tweet

Mike adds he would have taught himself to remember where he was coming from. Because he didn’t have the easiest upbringing. It took him a lot of resources, sacrifices, and effort to get into college.

He had a relatively strict childhood where he couldn’t do anything. And so, at least he was able to get all that stuff out of him. He learned a lot during the process, about himself, and other people. He learned about how to interact with people, build relationships, and create healthy boundaries.

[22:59] The Hardest Part of the Application

Mike says the hardest part for the application was finishing his postbac program. When it came time to fill out the application, he felt so at ease.

It was the hardest for him to be doing his classes together and taking care of his grandma, among all other things he had to do. So when he finished the postbac program, it became easy for him to just focus on his primary.

He also found the MSHQ YouTube to be very helpful while preparing his application. He learned about the importance of using stories. Seeing other people’s experiences with their application process gave him more ideas and options on how he should approach things in his application.

[25:51] Marking the Most Meaningful Experience

One of the things that Mike placed as his most meaningful experience was his experience in Camp Kesem, where he was involved in it throughout college. It’s a student-run organization that provides a free week of camp to children whose parents or loved ones have cancer. It was like an escape for them, with the exception of a day where they dig deep. And they have the opportunity to share how their family member’s cancer has made them feel and what it has done to them.

Mike also wrote about being his grandma’s caretaker. Not only was it taking up a lot of his time. But coming home from college, he took it upon himself to be responsible for his grandma’s health care. He did it to help his mom, being a single mother. Having spent a lot of time with his grandma, he felt it was a very unique experience.

His other most meaningful experience was his work as a caddy. He did it throughout his summer after freshman year of high school up until summer after his freshman year of college. This experience got him accustomed to networking with multiple people or people he had never seen before. And so, there were a lot of life skills that he picked up from it, perseverance and resilience.

[30:22] Preparing for the Interview

After Mike submitted his application, it took two months to process it. During that time, AAMC had submission issues. People didn’t know where to submit. And so, the waiting game is hard.

When he was invited to an interview, he just got emotional and he just felt happy to have gotten here against so many odds.

In preparing for his interview, Mike looked over his application a couple of times. He also went through the school’s mission and values. He searched through the whole website to see if there was any information he could use. He also tried to research the two faculty members that would be interviewing him to see who those people are.

He thought they would be questioning him for his GPA struggles and even told the interviewer that he had received an institutional action for falling below the GPA. But the interviewer said they didn’t really care because he crushed his postbac. 

In another interview, he was asked what he learned from it and he just gave them a straight answer.

[35:14] Showing Academic Capability

At the end of the day, medical schools are just looking for academic capability which Mike showed in his postbac.

Mike went from a 1.92 science GPA to a 396 science GPA in his postbac program with over 30 credits. While his final numbers are not super sexy because of his early struggles, he still showed that academic capability.

Something clicked whether it’s more maturity, better clarity of what he wanted out of life. Whatever it was, he showed everyone reviewing your application that he can handle medical school

This is why an upward trend is super important! At this point, Mike has one acceptance and one waitlist, and is still waiting for the results from other schools.

[43:52] Final Words of Wisdom

Keep persevering. There are a lot of people telling you, maybe this isn’t for you, maybe you shouldn’t do it, or maybe you should give up. You will probably even be telling yourself that.

'You have to fight those voices. And if this is really what you want, you gotta keep pushing forward.”Click To Tweet

Do your best. Seek out the help you need. Seek out mentoring, guidance, or anything that would help you reach your goals and do what you can.


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Camp Kesem