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You can go to medical school with an average GPA and MCAT.

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Vikash
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xx Marijuana & Med School Admission
« Thread started on: Feb 13th, 2003, 07:38am »

(Name and other identifying information has been changed to protect the identity of the writer.)
Dear Dr. Mehta,

My name is Vikash (not real name) and I recently had the pleasure of attending your lecture at the 2003 SASA convention last weekend.
There was a personal question I wanted to ask you, but I never got the courage to. You mentioned that you are on the medical school admissions board of Texas A & M Health Science Center for several years and help Desi kids in their quest to go to medical school.
I was wondering how you would approach an applicant with a situation like mine. I am currently a junior and will be applying to medical schools this summer. Academically, I believe that I can be a competitive applicant, my major is Biomedical Engineering and I possess a 3.8/4.0 GPA, I am involved with a good number of activies on campus, I am a resident advisor, I am confident I can score a 30+ on the MCAT, and I believe I can get some quality recommendations from faculty.
My biggest and greatest fear, however, is that medical schools will not even give me a chance to prove myself. For the past 2 and half years a dark cloud has hung over my head, and it is a demon that I must face.
During the first semester my freshman year, I experimented with marijuana with a few other students, and the University found out. I was placed on disciplinary probation for the following semester and was ordered to see the school counselor, both of which were completed successfully.
This is sitting on my conduct record, and it is something I must disclose to medical schools when I apply. Dr. Mehta, I feel that I everything I have worked so hard for is going down the drain and that I will not be able to reach my dreams because of this stupid mistake.
I realize my lapse of judgement will forever hold a damper, that many admissions boards will question my character. I need your honest opinion: if you were evaluating my application, how would you handle it? Will med schools even look at applicants who have had a behavioral problem in the past?
My health professions advisor said that the most common behavioral problem that he has encountered is underage drinking, but he said it wasn't a big deal since 'everyone has some skeletons in the closet.' However, I am sure illicit drug use is something far beyond that level. Dr. Mehta, what else can I do to show med schools how far I have come since that unfortunate incident? I will appreciate any feedback you could give me.

-Vikash
« Last Edit: Apr 20th, 2004, 2:26pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

Vijay Uncle
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smiley Born again drug free
« Reply #1 on: Feb 13th, 2003, 07:44am »

smiley

Dear Vikash,

Medical schoool will give you a chance.

But, do not get me wrong, we do not admire an applicant who has proven that he is weak enough to smoke pot and dumb enough to get caught. So that is the down side.

We give 20% of weight in the selection process for maturity. The same amount of weight is given to MCAT and GPA combined. Of course at the first look you score very low for maturity. But there is a way to convert a weakness into strength. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Amar (not his raal name) was in the same situation as you are. During his freshman year, he and his friends were caught with marijuana. They all got disciplined by University and it went on his record.

Amar realized his mistake and joined the program to over come the drug habit. He also discussed this with the two professors who eventually wrote recommendation letters for him. He recovered from his drug habit and than he volunteered to go to local high schools and talk to students about how his life might have been ruined by this mistake. He even offered personal assistance to high school students who needed help. All his acts were of course conveyed to his school counseler and the professors. When he applied to medical schools he had to show his drug citation on the application. But there was a recommendation letter from the drug counseler who praised Amar for being proactive against drug problems. The other professors also praised Amar for not only over coming the adversity but maintaining his GPA and being role model to others.

Do you think Amar was negatively affected by his drug citation? Of course not, the admission committee actually gave him very high points in maturity and Amar ended up in automatic admission category.

The moral of the story is this. We like people who never make mistakes but we love the ones who have learned so much from their mistakes that they actually make the difference. One thing about this society is that we admire "born again people." You can be a born again Christian, born again non-smoker or born again addiction free person.

What if Amar did not actually kick the drug habit? In that case his problem is much bigger than getting into a medical school. Because even after getting in he can be kicked out.

It seems to me that you have already seen the counselor so use him to vouch for you. The fact that you have maintained your GPA and are active in other areas will also attest to the fact that you are now over the problem.

You can actually get involved in speaking to high school kids, about the danger of drugs and give them your example as to how you feel like your career might have be ruined. If you can list that as one of your activities than basically you are telling that you are born again drug free person. They not only may forgive you but you might get some brownie points out of that.

So get your confidence level up and go for it. If the discussion about drug use comes up (which you should anticipate anyway) your job is to not be defensive but be reflective and tell them how you have learned so much from your mistake and you are a better man for it.

Does your parents know about this?

Also, just in case you do not get in this year make a fifth year plan and use the next year helping others fight the drug and alcohol. I have seen people having been in situation like yours come out ahead because of that.

Shame on you for not getting enough courage to talk to me at SASA!!

Good luck.

Vijay Uncle
(This response was edited by Johnny Dias)
« Last Edit: Jun 29th, 2009, 6:07pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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You still go to heaven even if you do not go to Medical School !
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