Will one bad grade effect my chances of med school?
March 13, 2008 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Considering if my extenuating circumstance to drop a letter grade off my transcript doesn't go through, will an F in Statistics completely ruin my chance for Medical School?

I received an F in College for the first time ever for one class (Statistics). However this was at the same time my Mom fell ill and passed away. I originally submitted an extenuating circumstance to my college to remove this letter grade (with proof, the death certificate) and explained I couldn't attend class because I was taking care of my Mom and it was already passed the drop deadline.

However it was originally denied with reasoning that I was able to complete (night) classes fine. I appealed this and offered an explanation that I took care of my Mother during the day and went to class at night when my Sister or Father could take over.

Now they are looking into the case again and will hopefully drop the class off my transcript.

So my question is, for whatever reason, if they deny it yet again will I be screwed and not be able to get into Medical School? (Keep in mind I'm still in college with maybe two years left).

posted by Schuby to Education (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: At many colleges you can re-take a class you have failed, and the new grade will replace the old one -- or at least co-exist on the transcript with the old one, demonstrating that you can handle the material. If they deny your request, that's what you should do. Also you should be meet with your school's pre-med advisor and let him/her know your situation -- he/she will be able to help you to think about planning for med school and connect you with any resources the school has to help you stay on track during a difficult time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:36 AM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: take the class over again. The f stays on your record but won't be used for computing your GPA. If you repeat the course and get a good grade it helps support your story that it was due to the situation and not that you suck at statistics.
posted by birdherder at 9:39 AM on March 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I appreciate the answers so far, I have every intention to repeat the course. It was really easy when I was taking it, I know I shouldn't have a problem with it.
posted by Schuby at 9:43 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: The f stays on your record but won't be used for computing your GPA.

The policy at the university I went to for my undergrad said that taking a class again would earn 0 new credits, but that the GPA would be calculated by splitting the existing credits between the two times the course was taken.

Also, have you tried getting the professor for the class involved? Usually they have some power to help you in these sorts of situations.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:48 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: Even if you don't retake the class, most programs will look at your GPA and expect some sort of explanation if you fail one class (or one semester). Life happens and people realize that other things sometimes come before school. Take the class again if you can, but you can also address the reason you failed in your personal statement when you apply to med school.
posted by hulahulagirl at 9:51 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: Press your school to replace the F with a W (withdrawal or whatever terminology your school uses). That way, anyone who views your transcript in the future won't know the point at which you withdrew from the class.

I endured the same situation as you during college and was able to withdraw from a class right before the final exam that I had neglected in order to care for my family. I got a W instead of an F and was able to explain the situation to people who asked about it later on.

Also, try to communicate in person with all of the academic counselors at your school. I think if they understand your circumstances, they will be more likely to work with you, whereas they might not give the same consideration to a letter or form.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 10:00 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: So you'll re-take the course and do well. When you apply to med school, explain your situation in a letter with your application and point out that you effectively withdrew from the class but University policy caused the failing grade to appear on your transcript anyway, and indicate that the good grade from your retake demonstrates that you have actually mastered the material. People have extenuating circumstances all the time, they will understand, so don't worry. I'm sorry for your loss.

A letter from the professor for the class may help explain the situation as well.
posted by zachlipton at 10:00 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: Also, there's a free-form section on the AMCAS specifically to explain any such anomalies. People read those sections and ask questions about them, so it won't be missed. You could also work it into your "why I want to be a doctor" essay since it's a very significant event in your life which has probably affected your views profoundly.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:08 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: For what it's worth, I doubt medical school cares (too terribly much) if you actually know elementary stats. They're much more interested in your work ethic, your ability to do well in an academic setting, etc., and GPA is a proxy for that.

If retaking would replace the grade (some schools do, some don't), then great -- you should be set. If not (and maybe even if it does), it's probably worth writing an addendum to your applications (maybe in that free-form section that a robot mentions) talking about how your mother's health and passing affected you personally and academically, and noting that it caused that one blip in your (I assume) otherwise good GPA. Your explanation certainly sounded reasonable to me, and I expect admissions officers will feel the same.
posted by SuperNova at 11:22 AM on March 13, 2008

Best answer: What everyone else said, plus, with two years left, you have plenty of time to show that you are an excellent student. Just continue to get the best GPA you can. Most schools would rather take a candidate with one F near the beginning of their undergrad, followed by excellent grades, than a candidate with excellent grades for most of their career, then an F somewhere towards the end. If you follow up by doing well, it shows that the F wasn't the first part of a downward pattern, or senioritis or anything. Just a fluke, or in some other people's cases, maybe a wake-up call.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:33 PM on March 13, 2008

Response by poster: Amazing stuff, I feel so much better now guys :D
posted by Schuby at 3:16 PM on March 13, 2008

tough situation. i can tell you that my experience applying to med school about 15 yrs ago would suggest that an "F" on the transcript would certainly stand out when reviewed by some administrative assistant. clearly, your situation has a good explaination and as long as the rest of your grades are "at par" with your peers i think you would be ok. your university should give you the "benefit of the doubt". shame on them.

on the upside, i think you have a very compelling story to tell on your med school applications because they universally have an essay component. you can really focus on the humanity of your personal experience dealing with a sick loved one. the grades are important but what makes a great doctor is the compassion.

good luck!
posted by dstrouse91 at 7:55 AM on March 16, 2008

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