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Pros and Cons of Pre-Med Post-Bacc Programs

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Considering a pre-med post-bacc to help you get into medical school? They’re definitely a viable route to achieving your goal. In 2019, 15% of medical school matriculants replying to an Association of American Medical Colleges survey indicated that they had completed a post-bacc program of some type.i

Whether you want to improve your GPA, make up pre-requisites, or receive assistance with advising and MCAT prep, there’s a post-bacc program out there for you. However, there are trade-offs to consider. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of pursuing a pre-med post-bacc.

Pro: Targeted Medical School Admissions Help

Pre-med post-bacc programs are laser-focused on getting you ready for medical school. In addition to academic preparation, many programs also offer personal advising. This can include interview coaching, help writing application materials, advice about what grades or extracurriculars you should aim for and much more. For programs with linkages to specific medical schools, you may even have access to networking events and tours while you’re in the post-bacc.

Con: Linkages Can Be Limiting

Linkage programs are a major draw for many prospective post-bacc programs. In a linkage, post-bacc programs forge a relationship with a specific medical school. The exact nature of this relationship will vary from program to program, but it usually involves preferential consideration for admission by that medical school if you successfully complete the post-bacc.

What it doesn’t offer is a guarantee you’ll get into that medical school. Also, by participating in a linkage program, you may have to agree to only apply to that medical school during that application year. This means if you don’t get in, you’ll have to wait until the next application cycle to apply elsewhere.

Pro: Additional GPA and MCAT Support

One of the major reasons students choose to complete post-bacc programs before applying to medical school is record enhancement. This can mean re-taking core science courses to boost your GPA (or taking them for the first time if you’re a career changer) or receiving dedicated MCAT coaching to improve your score.

For students coming from an undergrad background that wasn’t pre-med, or for those who struggled to get the pre-med advising they needed, record-enhancing post-bacc programs can be a lifesaver.

Con: Additional Expense

Of course, many post-bacc programs are expensive. The idea of adding thousands more to your student debt load can be cause for concern. This is especially true if you are close to your undergraduate borrowing limit for federal aid.

Many post-bacc programs for career changers or record enhancers are undergraduate certificate programs, and you may not be able to borrow the complete cost of the program. In some cases, financial aid may not be available at all—at least not from federal sources. Make sure you check before you apply.

Special master’s programs offer more scope for federal loan support, if you qualify—independent graduate students can borrow up to $138,500 in student aid ($20,500 per year). However, grants are not available for post-baccs or special master’s programs. Scholarships are also rare, and usually offered by the institution which hosts the post-bacc program. Again, ask before you apply.

Pro: Access to Extracurricular Experiences

Another great benefit of post-bacc programs is that many of them don’t just focus on getting you through science and MCAT prep classes. They also offer opportunities to complete research, connect you to volunteering organizations and may even help you shadow doctors.

These “extracurricular” activities can help you make networking connections and better understand the kind of doctor you want to be—and, of course, they look good to medical school admissions committees.

Con: Little Time for Outside Obligations

Very few post-bacc programs offer part-time or evening scheduling—even programs aimed at people who want to change careers. This can be a deal-breaker for students who have family obligations or who need to work to support themselves during their post-bacc program.

Still, part-time post-bacc programs are out there. Our database currently lists just over 50 part-time post-bacc programs with evening class options. You can learn more about these and other programs by requesting information from our site. There’s sure to be a post-bacc that can help you achieve your goal. Good luck!


i https://www.aamc.org/media/38916/download, p. 6

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