Thursday, November 19, 2009

MiM Mailbag: Grades

Were you all straight-A students (undergrad), or did you struggle with some classes?  Did you have to take anything twice?

I ask because I have a few grades that are, um, less than desirable for a med student wannabe.  Not that I couldn't do well in those classes - I was just focused on other things (I didn't think I'd be going to med school at the time).



  1. how about in high school?

  2. That's a great question! I'm not a blogger, just a doctor-mom who lurks....I went to Stanford, goofed off big-time during sophomore year and got B's in bio and chem, with a B- and C+ as my lowest grades, during spring quarter. Then I realized that I needed to buckle down, so studied way hard junior and senior year and got mostly A's. I also re-took the class I got a C+ in and got an A-. Then I took two years off after college to teach high school.

    I ended up getting into 3 schools (Case Western, another I don't remember, and UC San Diego) and graduated from UCSD 2004. So, the (long) lesson is that it's okay to goof off, just buckle down now and maybe do some extra time after undergrad showing how smart you really are. Good luck!!!

  3. I got pretty good grades (like a 3.7+) in undergrad, but still not good enough to get in where I ended up going for med school according to their stats. During my post-bac I got mostly As though, and I did three years of full time research and had good letters. That's what made the difference for me I think.

    I'm a big advocate of taking time off between college and med school. For yourself if not just to show med school how awesome you are. Having a real job before med school makes the transition to the clinics a little easier I think.

  4. Agree with KP and Old MD Girl. I didn't know I wanted to be a doctor until halfway through college, when I had a pretty abysmal science GPA (mosly B's and C's.) It wasn't even that I was goofing off. I just had a lot on my plate and wasn't used to studying hard (got mostly straight A's in H.S. without too much effort.) At that point I had also decided to switch my major to chemical engineering, a decidedly difficult major. However I buckled down and did well in those classes. I also rocked the MCAT and had a lot of extracurricular stuff, research, etc. It still took me three tries to get into med school during which time I had the opportunity to work at a real job and take a break from school, which looking back, was the best thing I could have done (even though it wasn't by choice). I got into two medical schools, one of which is the University of Utah where I went and graduated from last May. Now I am in a top-notch Family Medicine residency program and couldn't be happier.

    I guess the bottom line is that you should never give up on your dreams, even if it means working a little harder than others (because of bad grades or whatever). It is worth it.

  5. This is good information. I've got a son who did the freshman slouch (what our school calls it when a very bright student just doesn't function). He wants to be a doctor and well ... I thought he'd blown it. But recently I've learned that he isn't the only one ...and that if he retakes the classes and shows some seriousness, he may not have blown his future.

    As for me, as a 44 year old (at least for 1 more day!) student, I feel an increasing amount of pressure to get straight A's. It seems to be ok, socially, for a younger student to get a B, maybe even a C ..but those of us who are middle aged students need to be the top of the class ...

    (this is Peggikaye ..Dreaming Again...started a new blog about my experiences with school)

  6. Thanks for your input, guys! I did great in a full scholarship to college. Got to college, worked for a large group of cardiologists, got engaged my freshman year, got married that summer, got pregnant the next spring, miscarried, got pregnant again, was really sick, quit work, had a baby, got pregnant again...and then I graduated and had another baby! In hindsight, I think that I just didn't know how to handle all of those *huge* life changes at one time - and at such a young age. However, I think that all of those things have made me stronger and more durable. Long story short, my GPA is 3.49. I have a couple more pre-req's to do, so I can work hard on those and get the grade that I *know* I can get. I plan to wait to apply so I can have time with my kids when they are little.

    I guess persistence is the key! I appreciate your input!


  7. I think it depends on the school you apply to. Many schools put more weight on your last 2 years of studies and on the prerequisites, but they do look at the whole picture. Often, schools will use a particular GPA as a cutoff (same with MCAT scores)... from just googling around, it looks like med schools in Ontario are using a GPA cutoff of approx. 3.7 for the entire transcript and 3.8 if looking just at the last 2 years.


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