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Overcoming your "bad GPA"

I remember sitting in my large, 500-person organic chemistry lecture as an undergraduate, looking around at the other pre-med students filling the room to capacity, and thinking “there’s no way this is going to end well for me”. I knew that my study skills were weak, I felt unsupported by my school’s advising department and was incredibly intimidated by what I perceived as the confident pre-meds around me who had it all together. I spent several semesters struggling through organic chemistry, biochem and upper-level biology classes while chipping away at my chances of getting into medical school one C+ at a time. As I neared college graduation in 2014, I believed I could kiss my chances at medical school goodbye and began to pivot toward finding something else to do with my life. I was burnt-out, depressed, and completely uninspired to pursue my dream of becoming a physician.

I don’t always recommend turning to the internet for advice, especially when it comes to medical school. However, out of desperation, I began to research redemption paths to medical school and came across an entire community of people looking to do GPA repair and rehab their application. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle; I would be required to repeat classes, study for and take the MCAT and completely change my approach to studying. I looked into “Special Masters Programs” that boasted connections to medical schools, but instead decided on an inexpensive graduate degree in medical sciences at my local, public medical school. I took the time to reach out to my state medical schools and directly asked them how they view applicants who do GPA repair. I was surprised to find out that many programs looked favorably upon applicants who not only had an uphill trend but actively sought out upper-level basic science courses and excelled. Most importantly, however, I learned that the right medical school for you will be the program that values your path to their institution. The most important part of my medical school application was my struggle to get to that point, and the ways in which it strengthened my character, emotional resilience and self-confidence. Even now, as a fourth-year medical student, I discuss this part of my life in residency interviews with pride. I want students to know that the path to medical school is not linear, and the challenges along the way are what will set you apart as an applicant, medical student and future physician.

Alessandra is a fourth year medical student at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine pursuing Ob/Gyn. She is passionate about women's health, racial equity in medicine, and medical education. In her spare time she enjoys baking, Peloton rides and watching reality tv.

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