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Going into undergrad third year with a low GPA; what to do?


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Hi everyone,

 

This is going to be a bit long, so please bear with me. I am currently an undergraduate student going for a B.S. in Psychobiology. After completing two years of undergrad, I have earned an incredibly low 2.7 cumulative gpa. My science gpa is shamefully a lot lower; admittedly, I barely passed most of my science pre-req classes with Cs. These first two years have been a complete mess and there are no excuses. I had no goals, there was no motivation in school and, in effect, I didn't take my courses seriously. I knew that my attitude would bite me in the end, but for some reason I had this mindset that I would figure it all out later. I know, it was very naive of me to think like that. In the last quarter of my second year, I failed my Physics course, and I am retaking it again this summer. I guess it was in this moment where I realized that I needed to get my act together. After completing my second year and getting some time off from school, I did a little researching and found that the path of being a Physician Assistant seems more and more appealing to me. I am ready to buckle down and take college more seriously this time around.

 

I know that I am an unappealing candidate for PA school at the moment. I would like some advice on how to turn this mess around. Unfortunately, I have completed almost all of my science pre-reqs (except Physics, anatomy, physiology) and will soon tackle my upper division courses, which are purely psychology courses (yeah, it's a bit weird, and kind of hard to grasp how my major integrates the two disciplines together). Where should I go from here? What should I do after undergrad? Should I go back to community college and retake my science courses in where I received Cs in to earn a better GPA (mind you, I received Cs in the bulk of my science courses)? I heard that PA schools average out both your retaken courses and your original grade.And what should I do to make myself more of an outstanding applicant since my GPA is currently non-competitive? As for extra-cirricular activities, I am currently involved in a few things, but they don't really pertain to the medical field. I am involved in research in a Psychology lab where we perform computer based experiments on participants that deal with cognitive memory. I am thinking of transferring to a more science based lab, however, or be involved in something where I can hopefully tie into what I'm doing in the future. I am a volunteer at a hospital that is right next to my university. But essentially, I just talk to patients in the waiting room and ask if they are in need of assistance in finding potential resources that they are in need/interested in (such as dental or health insurance, finding programs if they are a low-income family, etc.). The program hosts this volunteering program also offers a quarter long physician shadowing program, though, so I think I am going to apply to that this upcoming year. I also am working as an assistant to a surgery coordinator in the hospital, but it's mainly just clerical work. And lastly, I am in two youth empowerment organizations on campus, one of which I tutor/mentor high school students and another in which I am a camp counselor for kids who come from underprivileged areas in LA.

 

Please, any solid advice would be appreciated, on where to go from here, what I can do to be more involved in the medical field, anything. Even a little reassurance is appreciated! I think I'm just going through an identity crisis right now and I've realized I made a huge mistake. I regret not taking my classes more seriously. I've thought about it and I really do enjoy helping others. I feel like the medical field reflects my caring personality in wanting to make a difference. And after learning more about the PA career, it just had some great trade offs for a field that is so demanding. Thanks for your time.

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Retake all your prerequisites with a C. If you can't at least pull off a B then you're out if luck. It will be increasingly harder to bring up a low GPA with more credits you take. Also, look into EMT after you finish college and do that while you retake courses. With a low(er) GPA you'll need some solid patient care experience and a good GRE to even be considered for an interview. Check around the site; there are many who have been accepted into schools with low scores.

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If your science GPA is below a 2.5, you will really have your work cut out for you. I'm not saying it is impossible, but it will be tough. As Josheppe stated, as you go along it gets harder and harder to move the GPA up. Josheppe's suggestion is sound. Finish college, get lots of direct patient care, and retake the science prereqs.

 

Another option I'v seen some people use is to get a conditional admission into a good biology/chemistry masters program. Many science masters programs are teaching positions and you'll get a stipend and free(ish) tuition. You will still need to volunteer, get patient care hours, and retake prereqs (but maybe at a reduced cost depending on the program.) It would be tough, but it would show maturity, dedication, and as long as you keep your GPA high, you will have some other options like dental school, med school, or lab work in case PA school never pans out. Options are always good in life.

 

People frequently look for the easiest, fastest way to do things. I've always done what my heart desired even when it was WAY harder than the "standard" and I've never regretted it in the long run. Take the harder science classes, do the long research hours, volunteer for the hard positions, and you will set your self up for success. When I graduated I could have went in many directions if PA school hadn't worked out.

 

Good luck with whatever route you choose in life!

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This needs to be a sticky because it's asked over and over again and the answer is always the same: Retake every class you got a C or lower in and get an A. Get a PAID job as a CNA or EMT and work for a couple of years. You can do the two concurrently.

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Thank you all for your quick responses. Everyone was so helpful. I definitely plan on retaking my science courses after my undergraduate studies so that I can get back on track. I just have one more quick question: do some of my extracirricular activities by any chance count as health care experience? For example, my volunteering hours at the hospital where I walk to patients in the waiting room, or my job since I handle confidential patient files. I'm not trying to find an easy way out when it comes to health care experience or anything, but I was just wondering if what I'm doing now counts for anything and if I should continue doing these things.

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It counts as healthcare experience, but not as direct patient contact (which is what most programs base their patient hour requirements on). That being said, it doesn't hurt to keep doing these things, assuming that it doesn't take up so much of your time that you can't get the hands-on patient contact hours (i.e. as a CNA, EMT, etc) that you would need to be a competitive applicant. Many programs look quite favorably upon volunteerism.

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Retake your C classes and get A's. Take more science classes and get A's.

 

Listen, you're a junior with a 2.7? I GRADUATED with a 2.7

 

But i wanted this enough to go back to school for 63 more credit hours over 3 years that I payed for out of pocket (Scholarships ran out). I raised my GPA over a 3.0, Science GPA over a 3.6, and i got in my 2nd cycle applying.

 

Work hard and dont give up. Successful people succeed because they are willing to endure the hardships that cause most to quit en route to their goals.

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