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Two resources that will give you all the info and answer all of your questions, and also for free:
…to DO (osteopathic) Schools, and to Carribean medical schools — you’ll get into both. You’d just waste your money applying to regular med schools through AMCAS — unless you happen to live in Alabama or Missisippi or a couple of other states where your numbers are actually close to “competitive” for the med schools there. For most other schools in most other states, you’re not even in the same ballpark as “competitive”. Sorry if it sounds harsh.
Actually, coming from a “low income, single-parent family” is not the minus that you perceive, it’s actually a plus. Why? It makes a great “story” for your AMCAS application essay. Generally speaking, ad. coms. are looking for what separates or distinguishes you from several hundred other similar applicants, and having to overcome personal hardship and achieving in the face of adversity can get you recognized. Of course, there is a fine line here between portraying yourself as a complete victim (not good) or as someone who has gained maturity through their struggles (they eat up stuff like that).
If anything, what can count against you is that you did all of your prereqs at a community college. What this means is that it would be in your best interests to do really, really well in all of your classes at Virginia Tech. If your GPA from community college drops significantly at Virginia Tech, it will look bad come application time.
You also have two other major deficiencies in your profile that would hurt you in applying to Hopkins, Harvard, etc.
#1: The highest priority hole that you need to address is getting some clinical exposure under your belt — and I emphasize clinical. It’s not enough to like science and want to help people in a general context, you must also demonstrate that you want to be around and want to help sick people. How do you do this? The standard thing to do is volunteer in a hospital. IMHO, that is low value stuff. Find opportunities where you can get personally involved: ask a doctor if you can spend an extended period of time shadowing him or her, work in a senior residence, hospice, etc.
#2: The schools at the top of the US News rankings are there primarily because of their research prowess. Consequently, they are interested in admitting students who have potential in academic medicine. Granted, the bulk of their graduates are not going to be academics, but clinicians in private practice, they still have a definite bias towards admitting students who show research interest. What does this mean? Get involved in research as soon as possible. Ask your Biology profs at Virginia Tech how you can get involved.
You’re fine. You have a very reasonable excuse for scoring an 18 the first time around. Of course it will be necessary this time for you to score above a 30. When you write your AMCAS personal statement, defintely talk about your struggle with cancer and explain the first MCAT score. If anything, the fact that you overcame adversity usually gives you a leg up in the minds of admissions committee members. As long as you do well on the MCAT this time around, you’ll be fine.
The short answer is: No
The more elaborate answer is: You are certainly competitive for all of the schools you have mentioned. Keep in mind that while you can go up, you can also go down if you retake. Not to mention the fact that retaking is only worth it if you can get 3 points higher or more. Also, I don’t undertand your fixation on Mt. Sinai. It’s a very middle-of-the-pack medical school. There are also having a lot of financial problems right now. You’ll likely get into better schools. You also seem to have an imcomplete understanding of how one becomes a geriatric specialist. Geriatric medicine is a fellowship that you would complete only after a 3 year family practice or internal medicine residency, which itself is done after your 4 years of med school. The fact that a given med school does or does not have a strong geriatrics program is at this point in your career, almost irrelavant — you are so far away from that decision right now. Just apply; you’ll do fine.
Well, there aren’t many medical schools that have a math requirement; the only requirements are Biology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physics. Additionally, many colleges will let people design their majors such that they never have to take a match class throughout their undergraduate years.
However, this may still present a problem. The issue is this: what exactly do you mean by “bad at math”? It’s one thing to say that you cannot handle Calculus and advanced mathematics, and its an entirely different problem to say that you cannot handle basic algebra and geometry. You see, in any Physics class (which is a requirement) there is going to be plenty of basic algebra and geometry, and if you can’t hack that you’ll also have a problem on the MCAT Physics sction as well. If the basic stuff isn’t a problem then you are probably fine.
It’s certainly possible, however, you have a lot of redeeming to do. A friend of mine was in a similar situation. She almost got kicked out of undergrad and graduated with a 2.8. She got her act together after that though. She got a Masters in Molecular Biology from Stanford. She maintained a 4.0 throughout grad school and then scored a 41 on the MCAT. She’s a first year med student at Columbia right now. I’m not saying that’s the bar you need to meet, but a track record of excellent grades is required. So, plan of action:
1. If you haven’t taken all of the premed requirements yet, you could enroll in a formal post-bac program do well there, take the MCAT, and apply.
2. If you have already taken the basic science classes and bombed them, you have a stickier problem. You need to show a solid record of good grades in a hard science field. A MS could help here. However,I would suggest you hold off on the MCAT and only apply after you’ve got those grades.
It is certainly not a requirement to go to a West Coast school to match into a West Coast residency position. Similarly, the “ranking” of medical schools has much less significance in the match than the student’s individual performance as evidenced by USMLE Step I scores, clinical rotation grades, AOA status, and letters of rec. You don’t have to take my word for any of these assertions, you can verify this for yourself. Take a look at the matchlists for places such as UCSF, Stanford, U. Washington, and you will see that their residents come from medical schools across the country. Take a look at the Creighton matchlists; you’ll likely see matches all over the US. Case in point: The chief neurosurgery resident at Stanford went to medical school at the Univerity of Texas at San Antonio (lower ranking than Creighton). Another of the Stanford neurosurgery residents went to the University of Louisville in Kentucky. The chief resident for radiation oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital went to a Caribbean medical school. Again, performance in medical school and on the boards is far more important then where you go.
Adruidan: The reason you arent’t getting interviews is because there is such a mismatch between your MCAT scores and your gpa. It may have raised questions as to the quality of your undergrad school in the minds of adcom members. Since the MCAT is the only standard measure that schools can use to make admissions decisions, it is weighted heavily. A lower gpa but with a high MCAT score can acually redeem a weaker application, but the other way around, as in your case, will hurt you. Just go to Creighton; you’d only be wasting a year by taking the MCAT again for some empty bragging rights for going to a “top ten” school (also the UW was ranked 11th by US News, not “top five”). You can match into any specialty you want to and go anywhere you want to go from Creighton. If anything, there should be no excuse for you not being at the top of your class at Creighton (which would help you immensly in the match) since it is only a “mid-level school”. Finally, it’s not over yet for you at UW. You can still get pulled off the competitive pool and even if that doesn’t happen and you end up on the waitlist, they regularly pull 25 people off the waitlist every year so your chances are hardly zero.
Oh, also KeeblerElf, the age thing is not important. They will ask what you’ve done all these years before med school, but it won’t be held against you. There are a handful of 40yr olds regularly in med school classes.
While you won’t be able to hide your poor grades from UIC, they are not quite the death knell that you are fearing they are. You’ve done well most recently in school and med schools will recognize that — grade trends are important. However, if those Fs you mention that you got were in any of the premed requirements (Bio1,2 Organic1,2 Gen.Chem.1,2 Physics1,2 ) then they will count against you in the admissions competition. If that is the case, I would advise repeating those classes. Other than that it comes down to your personal statement — don’t make excuses about your past performance, acknowledge it and show how you’ve changed since then and talk about why it is so important to you to become a doctor.
watch less TV, read more books. Take literature classes and writing classes in college.
No. All that maters are the grades you get in those classes. If you’ll do better by taking only a couple of those classes at a time then do that.
not true. Most schools want a year of organic with lab. Take orgo2 and take biochem as well
Do well in your post-bacc classes and do well on the MCAT. That sounds like a trite answer but many people tend to forget that admission to med school is primarily an academic qualification. You can be a total tool but if you have great numbers you’ll still get in to a couple of schools, the reverse, however, is not true.
Get involved in some clinical volunteer type stuff; you’ll likely also get grilled on “why medicine, why now?” so think about answering that on your personal statement and on interviews.
In your case, your choice of schools is going to weigh heavily. If you primarily applied to US News “top ten” schools, you might be in trouble. This is simply because they each get 4000-6000 applications from which they select a few hundred people to interview and since they aim to get a 50/50 ratio of male to female, you are really competing for only half of those interview slots. So, at the top schools there might well be 5-6 well qualified applicants for each of those interview slots and whom they pick at that point is somewhat arbitrary. This is why you need to apply to several schools in each tier of competitiveness. In any case, the app. cycle is not over so it may work out for you.