At this rate I'll be a doctor at 65...
October 21, 2012 4:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm an adult working a full time job and I have my BA already. I'd like to start working toward medical school by taking an evening class next semester in NYC. I do not want to stop working and enroll in a post-bac pre-med program. Help me figure out my options.

I graduated with my BA in Computer Science a few years ago. Since then I've been working full time but have always had in the back of my mind that I might want to go to med school. I'm not getting any younger and I have a sudden windfall of free time in the evenings, so I'd like to dip my toe in the water by taking one of the pre-med courses I'm missing (practically all of them except the math and english requirements).

What are my options? Have you gone this route or investigated it? So far I know that Hunter allows non-degree students to enroll pretty easily and it seems like they offer a fair number of sections in the evening, but I'm concerned that as a non-degree student I won't be able to get into the intro courses I need*.

I'm emphatically not interested in advice about whether or not I should go to med school. Right now I need practical guidance about the best way to enroll as a non-degree student in a college level introductory biology, chemistry, or physics class in NYC, preferably in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

*I did take AP Bio, Chem, and Physics in high school but my understanding is that I need to retake the courses at the college level for them to 'count' towards my pre-med requirements.
posted by telegraph to Education (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Many post-bacc pre-med programs offer evening & weekend classes. I don't know NYC schools very well, but a quick googling got me to Fordham (In keeping with the PCS mission to serve adult students, the program offers the pre-med curriculum primarily in the evening, on weekends, and during the summer), and I suspect there are others -- my point is just that "taking classes in the evening while working" and "enrolling in a post-bacc program" are not mutually exclusive.
posted by brainmouse at 4:59 PM on October 21, 2012

my point is just that "taking classes in the evening while working" and "enrolling in a post-bacc program" are not mutually exclusive.

This is true. Columbia University's Post-Bacc program also offers a part-time program.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:17 PM on October 21, 2012

Step one is figuring out what will be accepted for your pre-med requirements. Unfortunately, the pre-med "requirements" are decided by individual schools. Traditional students preparing for medical school during undergrad or as part of a post-bac program get to gloss over this most of the time because their universities usually have a predefined pre-med curriculum that is known to satisfy most or all nationally accredited medical programs. If you're cobbling your own curriculum together, and especially if you're putting it together out of less traditional venues like night classes, you'll have to be much more careful.

Your footnote is actually a great example of how schools can vary. Here's a PDF from Syracuse University outlining some of the variation in how medical schools in the U.S. handle AP credit. Whether your AP credit will be accepted depends on the subject, medical program, and score. Also, even if a program formally accepts AP credit, you'd also have to consider how substituting AP credit for university-level courses will impact the strength of your application.

Fortunately, the requirements of all 125 accredited programs in the U.S. are collected in one place, and the Syracuse University PDF links to that place, so there's a good place to start your research.
posted by d. z. wang at 5:21 PM on October 21, 2012

Response by poster: Trying not to threadsit but this is already going off the rails a bit, though I do appreciate the general information. I am not ready to enroll in a post-bac program. I would like to take one evening class to see if it holds my interest enough to move forward. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned med school at all, but I wanted to forestall recommendations of Khan Academy and the like. To restate:

Which schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn offer introductory college level bio, chem, and/or physics in the evening for non-degree adult students? What has your experience been in taking these courses at any of those institutions? Are some schools better than others in terms of a) ease of getting into my desired class, b) out of pocket cost, c) quality of instruction, d) other factors that don't come to mind right now?

posted by telegraph at 5:43 PM on October 21, 2012

Regarding d) other factors that don't come to mind right now:

Pre-medical courses have virtually nothing to do with medical school. Unfortunately, your pre-medical work is nonetheless a big fucking deal to medical schools. You need to go to the most prestigious institution you can find and you need to do as well as you possibly can. One of the major benefits of going to a post-bac program is that medical schools already know these programs -- they know the quality, they know what they are getting, they have accepted students from them before. Also, when you are in a post-bac program, that post-bac program has an interest in getting your ass into medical school. And medical schools feel reassured that you come stamped with approval from a program they know and have an ongoing relationship with. Total freelancers who approach from outside the system have a really hard time.

So at a minimum, before embarking on a self-designed pre-medical program, I would ask the school if other non-degree people have done what you are planning to do and if they had been successful. I had a friend who did her pre-medical courses outside of a post-bac program and who did not into medical school despite two years of trying (there were many other reasons that could explain this, but I do believe that completing her pre-med coursework outside of the aegis of a recognized post-bac program was a major contributor).

As far as one pre-med evening class holding your interest enough to move forward -- I can tell you right now it probably won't. And if it does, that doesn't tell you anything about whether you actually want to be a doctor because pre-medical classes have fucking nothing to do with medicine. I did my post-baccalaureate at university of pennsylvania because I found two years after graduating from the university of chicago that I couldn't do shit with my history degree, and it was an awful, awful experience. Mostly because I also worked full-time and did night classes, which made the whole thing affordable, but definitely destroyed anything I liked about my life for well over a year. I like medicine fine but I didn't learn that in pre-medical courses.

I know you didn't want to hear about post-bac, but I think if you are serious about going to medical school, it wouldn't be fair not to mention it. And as noted upthread, many post-bacs offer evening classes and part-time status -- and you can totally leave after a semester if you aren't into it. The program I went to was completely self-designed and I could take as long as I want. But I had them on my side and I came to medical school applications endorsed by a known pre-medical program. I would not try to do this alone. Getting into medical school is hard. Don't underestimate the number of 4.0 GPA Ivy-Leaguers who have been training for medical school since kindergarten and have demonstrated years and years of dedication to this career. And yes they are dime a dozen and med schools are tired of them, but that doesn't mean you get off easy. The least you can do is go to a dedicated pre-medical program.
posted by half life at 6:26 PM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

*I did take AP Bio, Chem, and Physics in high school but my understanding is that I need to retake the courses at the college level for them to 'count' towards my pre-med requirements.

This is not true. I'm living proof. Almost all U.S. med schools will accept AP credit for the BCPM (biology, chemistry, physics, math) intro courses that are required.
posted by killdevil at 6:53 PM on October 21, 2012

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