Will admissions take into account
that I'm juggling full-time work, part-time college, and raising a family?
Yes, but only if you make if perfectly clear in your written application,
secondary and in your interview. You must explicitly state the number
of hours per week you have been working, name the jobs you have had,
and explain who you are supporting.
The non-traditional student is sometimes referred to as the "bent
rather than the straight" arrow. Here are some backgrounds of "bent
arrows:" New awareness of medicine,
change of career, re-entry
New Awareness of Medicine
"I earned an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies
with human biology, child development and educational policy. I took
administrative jobs which I found to be limited in intellectual stimulation
and absolutely void of a higher purpose. I began volunteering for various
causes and considering graduate programs. This summer, I decided it
was time to do something about my dissatisfaction and seriously pursue
my interest in medicine."
Change of career
"Before going to college, I went to work full-time. I was not
sure what to do after high school, because I did not have any role models
who were professionals when I was a teenager. I joined the Navy with
my grandfather's encouragement. I became a corpsman, work that involved
health care. I found tremendous satisfaction from helping and caring
for people .....so I began to feel that I actually could become a physician.
After several years, I had the opportunity to attend college. Finding
an Advisor to help me plan my strategy was the key ingredient for me.
My Advisor and Mentors helped build my self confidence. I was accepted
this year to medical school."
"When I was growing up, becoming a physician was not my first
career choice. Coming from a military family, I dreamed about going
to West Point and following in my father's footsteps as an army officer.
During my sophomore year in high school my career plans changed, leading
me to consider medicine. During wrestling practice, a friend injured
his neck leaving him as a paraplegic. Prior to this, my perception of
medicine had been at a distance. The only exposure I had was getting
a physical or a vaccination. However, my frequent visits to the hospital
allowed me to observe skilled physicians performing their daily tasks.
I gained a lot of respect for physicians and their profession and subsequently
changed my career goal.
When I told my parents that I wanted to become a doctor, my father
was not thrilled. Nevertheless, he supported my decision, and had his
regimental surgeon counsel me. He suggested that I become actively involved
in patient care and helped me choose a curriculum. I volunteered at
community and military hospitals in as many different departments as
possible. I attended college for two years, but I felt I had some unfinished
business in my life. I needed to do some things I knew I would never
be able to do once I became a doctor. While most of my friends returned
to college, I joined the Army. I had the opportunity to serve in two
elite units, a Ranger Battalion and a Special Forces Group. I took part
in Operation Just Cause in Panama and Desert Shield/Storm in the middle
East, receiving several awards including three Commendation Medals and
one for Meritorious Service for leading two units in combat."
"The transition from high school to college was difficult as I
was the first to attend college in my family and I had to discover independently
how the system worked. As is reflected by my transcript, I was not prepared
to meet the demands of college level courses at first. There was a lack
of focus in my studies because I did not know what discipline interested
me. Not having a sense of direction also contributed to my poor performance.
That spring I was hospitalized and underwent surgery the following fall.
As a result, I withdrew from classes both semesters. I thought this
time off would be a setback, but as I look back, this time out of school
enabled me to set academic goals.
I recalled introductory biology as the course I enjoyed the most and
decided to declare biology as my major. Other things I thought about
during my stay at the hospital was the impersonal and unsympathetic
treatment I received from my physician. Only after I found that translating
for patients and doctors relieve stress on the part of both, did I consider
becoming a doctor. During this time I also married and was naive in
not realizing how much time and effort is needed by a marriage. My husband
wanted me to quit school and start a family, but I wanted to continue
my education. When this choice was put to the test, I opted to stay
in school. Our marriage ended and I now see it as a learning experience
which has strengthened my desire to reach my goal of becoming a physician."
What are some advantages
that non-traditional students may have?
1. Fulfillment in the practice of medicine needs to come from within
if you are going to be happy. Usually, nontraditional applicants have
given careful consideration to their motivations before making this
leap into another life-style or career. One student said, "I feel
like one advantage I have being an older, re-entry student is that I
really am certain about my desire to pursue a medical career. Moreover,
I believe that I was able to convey this to most interviewers which
helped me tremendously."
2. Postbaccalaureate students can pace their schedules to their advantage.
Some use three or four years to complete the required courses which
allows them to achieve the best grades.
3. Already possessing a degree, the Postbaccalaureate student can often
secure higher paying employment while attending college.
4. Nontraditional students usually choose to change careers only after
thorough investigation and thought and, therefore, enter the challenging
premedical courses with motivation, drive, maturity and dedication.
5. By taking time after college to have another career, many people
have broader perspectives about life. They may have a clearer sense
of what they want to do. Non-traditional students may be more capable
of putting things into a larger context and dealing with emotional distress.
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