Your Medical Career: Bouncing Back from Bad Grades

You are a college student, dreaming of a career in the medical field.  For you, the next step is medical school.  Unfortunately, there is a problem: your grades have been subpar in the past and your GPA is lower than many medical schools are looking for.  While this is a definite disadvantage, do not throw in the towel yet!  The truth is that there are plenty of steps you can take in order to realize your dream of a medical career.  Below are tips to help you bounce back from bad grades and get your academic career back on track:

1) First, identify and correct the problem. If you do not identify and eliminate the issue that caused your grades to suffer, there is no point in doing anything else.  Your career ambitions may allow you to temporarily improve your grades; but, whether your problems are caused by poor study habits, poor time management, or organizational challenges, if you don’t solve the problem it will come back to trip you up again.

2) Demonstrate your true potential. Medical schools may be willing to overlook subpar grades early in your college career if you can demonstrate consistent academic success going forwards.  It will not be enough to do well for a semester and then let your grades slip—in order to prove to medical schools that you have the ability and the drive to succeed, you’ll need to demonstrate consistently strong grades.  Maintaining your enthusiasm over several years can be a challenge—but remember that your medical career hangs in the balance!

3) Make up for subpar grades by committing yourself to extracurricular activities. Make up for subpar grades by committing yourself to extracurricular activities.  Perhaps the best way to persuade medical schools to excuse subpar grades is by demonstrating a true commitment to extracurricular activities while maintaining good grade.  This should include time spent volunteering as well as gaining relevant work experience.

4) Make sure you can explain your grades. If your GPA is lower than it should be, you can count on admissions counselors wanting to know what went wrong.  It is essential that you have a well rehearsed explanation.  If you have been able to rebound with strong grades, describe how you had a “Eureka” moment where you realized that if you wanted to achieve your goals, you had to improve your performance.  Explain that, now that you are focused, you will have no trouble meeting even the highest academic standards.  The reason medical schools look for applicants with good grades is because they want students who will succeed academically at their institution.  So give them every reason to believe that you will succeed despite your grades!

Poor grades are not a “death sentence” to your medical career—but they are a major challenge which must be overcome.  The first step, as mentioned above, is to immediately correct any issues and ensure that your grades are excellent going forwards.  Once you have done that, you can begin working to demonstrate your true potential to medical schools.  Feel free to contact me with any questions!


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“I am a freshman here at UTA, and I really enjoyed your lecture. I like how you are so realistic about the application process and med school admissions. You got me on the same page as you by using your encouraging and understanding tone. I definitely will use your advice!” A. I.

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