Sub-2.5 GPA to Med Student

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PMY 476: Sub-2.5 GPA to Med Student

Session 476

What happens when you finish your undergrad with less than a 2.5 science GPA? Today, we chat with Mandy, an amazing student-athlete who overcame a low GPA to become a premed student. Let’s get inspired by her story!

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.

[01:24] Interest in Becoming a Physician

Mandy’s first introduction to the wonderful world of science was when she dissected a frog in the fifth grade. Then she was an athlete growing up. She got an injury, saw a doctor, and was inspired by her experience. It was the first time that she saw herself becoming a doctor one day.

Mandy was initially a gymnast but she ended up with an injury that ended her gymnastics career. When she got to college, she transitioned to college athletics and also thought about doing premed.

[05:35] Why She was Getting Low GPAs

Mandy says she loves science. However, her grades didn’t reflect that, and there were a few factors that contributed to it. For one, she felt she wasn’t that prepared for the rigorous classes in college and she hasn’t developed her study skills. Another factor was her time management skills with sports taking most of her time.

Mandy was distracted and she really didn’t put in the time or effort to improve her GPA. She was coming from a 2.21 GPA for her first year to 2.26 by the second year (16 credits). Then she was at a 2.89 (19 credits) by her third year, and finally, to a 3.07 with only 11 credits on her senior year.

There’s a negative feedback loop that happens among students thinking they were not as smart as they thought they were. It’s harder than they thought it was. Then they have this other thing they’re doing well at, aka gymnastics or athletics.

So they’re going to focus on that because it makes them feel good. Whereas the classroom stuff is making them feel bad at themselves so they’re just going to avoid that.

This was the case for Mandy as well. And it’s one of the reasons she hesitated going to medical school thinking she had to have the perfect grades.

[09:52] Seeking Resources

Mandy did some research and shadowed in undergrad, which motivated her to continue thinking about the medical path. When she graduated, she took a job as a lab tech, doing routine lab work to see if it was something she liked, but it wasn’t something she found to be fulfilling. She realized she wanted to have that patient interaction, so she thought she really wanted to be a doctor.

She then started researching how to go to medical school and heard about doing a postbac. A voracious listener of this podcast, Many says she spent hours and hours listening to stories of people who turned their grades so they could go to medical school. And it gave her enough encouragement to start a DIY postbac at her local state university.

[13:45] Taking Ownership and Choosing a DIY Postbac

'I finally looked at myself in the mirror and decided to take responsibility for my grades.'Click To Tweet

Mandy admits she was always making excuses for her bad grades whether it was a tough professor or the test wasn’t fair.

Ultimately, she realized she had to take ownership of her grades. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter if the professor was tough. What mattered was whether she persevered, accepted the challenge, and got through it.

And so, Mandy decided to take the mindset she used in sports towards school, taking it as a challenge and she was going to do it. From then on, she found her way through, fixing her study habits, getting focused, and working on her time management skills.

One of the reasons Mandy chose to do a postbac was primarily due to finances. She was supporting herself so she had to figure out a way to pay for school and go to work, and of course, support herself.

With the formal postbacs, having to quit her job to become a full-time student and taking out loans was just not a reasonable option for her. And so, she did the DIY postbac, took a couple of classes to see how it went, and she liked it so she continued on.

The mindset shift was the total game changer for her that she aced at every class. There were definitely moments of self-doubt, but she had to talk herself out of it.

Ultimately, Mandy fixed her GPA and took 28 credits from a science perspective. She proved her academic capability with her 4.0 postgrad GPA.

One of her advisors at the postbac program told her she needed at least 30 credits so she was shooting for the 3.0 with over 30 credits. And at that point, she was already running out money so she stopped at that point.

[20:14] Challenges in Taking the MCAT

Mandy took the MCAT earlier than she originally planned for. She also applied the last cycle and didn’t get in because she rushed it. She felt the time pressure because she studied for three to four months, took it at the end of the summer, and applied a little late. She basically did everything we said to not do here on the podcast.

And so, the MCAT was a challenge because she had already put too much on her plate. She was overconfident with her time management skills and later realized she shouldn’t have rushed it.

At that time, too, she was taking eight credit hours. She was working full-time in the clinic and part-time on a startup she was working on, and part-time as a tutor. Then she was trying to rush her application so she was also working on her application

[23:37] The Interview Experience

Mandy admits she did not prepare as well for it as she should have for her interview the last cycle. Looking back, she says, she should have done a more formal mock interview. Having done plenty of job interviews, she thought it was going to be fine. But she realized it was very different.

[26:18] Mustering Up the Confidence and Getting the Acceptance

Mandy’s postbac advisor told her she wasn’t going to be ready to apply during that last cycle. So her advisor asked her if she was still going to be confident for the next cycle if she didn’t get in.

At the back of Mandy’s mind, she knew she couldn’t let any rejection get to her. But it was certainly hard going into the next cycle feeling already rejected and her confidence wounded.

That being said, she knew she needed more volunteer hours so she increased volunteer hours. She also adjusted the way she wrote some of her essays, especially her activities in a more descriptive and more compelling way.

Mandy has gotten two interviews at an MD school and a DO school. Her MD interview led to her acceptance at her dream school or top choice school. She ended up declining the DO interview because she knew she wouldn’t have taken it if she got accepted there over her dream school.

[32:06] Final Words of Wisdom

'Surround yourself with people who support you and turn down the volume of the people who don't. If you can't, walk away from them.'Click To Tweet

Mandy shares some pieces of advice to those who might find themselves on the same journey she has gone through. First, surround yourself with people who support you and believe in you. Second, do the things you love.

'Do the hobbies and activities you love because you'll be able to talk about it really strongly in your application.' Click To Tweet

Finally, lean on a good mentor and a community that can support and advise you in the right direction.


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