Should I stay at college for 3.5 or 4 years?

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Should I stay at college for 3.5 or 4 years?

Post by benyang »

I'm in Premed in a state university and have 15 semester credits left for graduation( I have some transfer credits from APs). I am sure that if I take the 15 credits for upcoming Fall, I can graduate with at least 3.85
GPA both in science and non science and within 3 years and an half in college. But, I am wondering if I need to stay four years for more credits( extra 8 credits) to graduate with a college honors. How do you
think? What's your suggestions on this? I will appreciate your inputs.

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Re: Should I stay at college for 3.5 or 4 years?

Post by Jflex1MCAT »

Yes stay but keep studying for the MCAT.

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Re: Should I stay at college for 3.5 or 4 years?

Post by DOdoc »


If I am reading your question correctly, I believe that what you are asking is if you should complete your present college course to graduate with honors? If I am misinterpreting that, please post a clarification and I will do my best to address that. However, I will assume that I am correct and will post an answer under that assumption because this a good question to answer and many students wonder about the impact and power of a degree obtained with honors.

Unfortuantely, the answer isn't very straightforward. Of course, no matter what your field or aspirations, graduating from any university with honors is a worthy achievement--no question. However, whether this will HELP you get into medical school is less clear. With that said, I can absolutely GUARANTEE you it will NOT hurt. In competitive medical school programs, ANY advantage you can gain over those students petitioning along side you is a wise choice. Since there are many more qualified students than there are positions, you need to be sure you stack the deck in your favor at any opportunity you can. Sometimes the difference between you and the person sitting next to you is only a small difference. Honors proves beyond doubt specific achievement--and it generally is not easy to do so it does place you into a unique group.

In addition, without knowing your school but drawing upon my own experiences, most honors achievements in most schools involve independent research of some kind and is not purely scholastic. For example, I attended Univ of Colorado in undergrad and in order to receive honors designation at that school, one needed to develop a specific research proposal, obtain funding, recruit subjects, collect data, and finally analyze that data and compile a thesis which was 'defended' in front of a commitee. The commitee drills you to make sure you really do understand what you are talking about, and at that conclusion, that commitee met with the honors commitee and together, they would debate the level of honors you are awarded. In this case, GPA doesn't matter as much, but it does guide their decision somewhat.

For students that do not elect to complete a project, and maintain a high GPA upon graduation, if they meet a minimum criteria they were automatically awarded their degree 'with distinction'. Even though this in-as-of itself is nothing to sneeze at--it is NOT an honors designation...

Graduating with honors as described above gives you potentially significant ammunition in your tool belt when you are granted an interview. I can almost certainly guarantee you the commitee members will LOVE to talk about THEIR research *(I'll include a tidbit at the bottom about this) so if you are able to discuss YOUR research, you will establish some common ground. Keep in mind--when you apply to schools, you will be cut in the first round if you do not meet the minimum criteria for that school. An honors designation really won't make a huge difference in this round. The second round of cuts is at the interview--so this is extremely important to nail. This is where it will be determined whether or not you are a good fit for that school and though research or honors cannot guarantee you that you will be, it certainly brings more to the table than a student who has not obtained it--and don't underestimate the power in seemingly little things. It will not, however, guarantee you merely only aids you.

So with specific regard to your question, my advice would be this: you are only going to be in the position you are in currently once in your life. If you have the chance to obtain honors by 'only' taking an additional small number of credits, then I personally think you're crazy if you don't go for it. Once you're done, that's it--you're done. You don't get the chance to go back and re-do it. So though I cannot tell you what you yourself should do in your position, I would simply say this--regardless of medical school, or anything else forward from graduating from undergrad--can you live with the fact in ten, twenty, thirty years down the road that you got so close but didn't push yourself over the reletively small hill to obtain honors? If you answer yes, that you can live with it--then there is your answer.

What it boils down to is's doubtful having/not having honors will impact you in getting into medical school. It does provide you with resources to nail your interview--which depending on how you look at it, is the most important part of getting in to a particular college. Having it doesn't guarantee you that you will get in any more than not having it guaranteeing you that you won't. So basically it boils down to a personal decision--and my two cents is that I think it would be tough to know down the line that you could have obtained it with just a tiny amount of time longer. You've already done 99% of the hard work--cash that in!

If I have misunderstood your question, please post so and clarification of the issue and I will respond to those if need be. Good luck in your pursuits!

Dr. F.

This doesn't have much to do with your situation, but I did want to include some food for thought:

*The aside I mentioned above is this--at the medical school I attended I worked on the admission commitee for a few years, so I saw the good, the bad, and the ugly interviews. It's not set in stone--students with outstanding credentials some times gave the worst interviews and vice versa. Walk into that interview with determined confidence. If you got an interview, then you belong there if you choose. There are no 'charity' interviews. Own it if you want it. But one of the things I witnessed that had fantastic results had to do with an astute student very much paying attention. On the paperwork given to the interviewees, the admission commitee members were all listed--as well as their present and past research and credentials. I can't guarantee you that you'll encounter the same, but the student who noticed this came into the interview and talked about the interviewers and THEIR research, not the other way around. The interview was easy, light, comfortable...remember, your scholastic achievements have already been recognized; the interview is to see if you're a good fit compared to the other students as much as anything else. Putting the interviewers straight into the spotlight not only shows how perceptive you are, it built a fantastic foundation on which to build the remainder of the interview. So bottom line, always keep your eyes open--and take every opportunity when they come along. Needless to say, the student above was OVERWHELMINGLY recommended for admission!

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