Tough-Love Advice On Having Pride In What You Put Out To The World.

by Judge Josh on September 19, 2014

i transferred 60 credits from a community college to the university of pittsburgh. my gpa from community was a 4.0 but of course, that doesnt transfer. i have been taking all the tough courses that i would need to get into medical school and my schedule does not have any fluff filler easy A classes. my gpa dropped to a 1.97. that is based off of 27 credit hours. sadly, i have been put on academic probation because of this. i am taking organic chem 1 and 2 this summer and i am wondering what is the minimum grade i need to get to break a 2.9. each class is 3 credit hours. thanks

I don’t know, Sir or Ma’am, but you’ve got a lot of other things to worry about before cracking down on that simple math problem (that can actually be done for you with a simple Google search for a GPA calculator like this one).

Firstly, I don’t know where you went to high school or community college, but I’d bet you dollars to donuts that they require at least some capital letters at Pitt.  I know that this site isn’t a college course or anything, but good God, man – have a little pride in what you put out into the world.  You want to be a doctor, for heaven’s sake!  If you write at school anything like you’ve written here, the difficulty of your classes is likely not the main reason for your plummeting GPA.

Even if I overlook the fact that your question looks like it was written in the comment section of a teen chat message board, isn’t it easier just to do the math or Google a GPA calculator, than to write a lengthy submission to a website like this, then sit and wait (and hope) for a response?  Let me answer that for you – yes.  Yes it is.  And I know this because it took me all of 2 seconds to Google it and paste it up there for you.

Look – it sounds like you might be trying very hard to be sure to take classes that are difficult enough to get you into med school.  And maybe your GPA is something that you can turn around in time to graduate & get accepted into med school.  I applaud that. I really do.  But when trying to get into medical school, the devil is in the details.  The same goes for getting through med school, and most definitely in being a doctor.  Have some pride in what you put out to the world.  Even if it is just to a little old website like this one.

What do you all think?  Anyone want to crank the numbers for this student?  Or am I being too rough on him/her?  Let us all know!

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie September 25, 2014 at 6:29 am

Not clear on “have some pride.” What do you a actually mean by this? Do you mean, don’t tell the world that you enjoy putting yourself in challenging coursework?

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Judge Josh September 25, 2014 at 6:41 am

No, Debbie, I was referring to the email itself. It’s very sloppy.

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kiwinc September 25, 2014 at 11:29 am

Yeah, so, I tried it, and frankly, it’s not something you can actually do easily on the gpa calculator provided. Even given that, there’s no way to get back to 2.9 with only 2 classes. The best you can do, if you A+ both of ’em, is 2.399.

Why was this harder than expected? Because the gpa calculator has no place to ‘blue sky’ the grades. This is pretty easy to do in MS Excel, or via your computer calculator, if you know how. 27 credit hours is 9 classes, so 9*1.97 is your base, or 17.73. Add 4.333 to that for each A+ class (26.39), then divide by the new number of classes (in this case, 11).

Why was Josh pointing out how bad this email was? Because up ’til now, only e.e. cummings has been able to effectively get away with never using proper capitalization. AND yes, one would hope that performing even somewhat complex calculations should be within the scope of someone hoping to go to med school (which is, admittedly, very, very hard to get into).

But maybe, just maybe, no one ever showed you how to do this.

So here you go.

And really, all the best of luck to you. I hope that things can turn around for you soon. It helps a lot to see what other people are doing to get to where you want to go.

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Talia September 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I agree. Have pride in the things you do…even if it is using proper capitalization in your writing. When you produce something that is ridiculously sloppy it may be an indicator as to why there us a low GPA in the first place.

Secondly, if you cannot do basic GPA calculations by-hand or with an online GPA calculator, which requires basic math and analytical skills, then medicine may not be the best profession for you.

Perhaps harsh, but these are my thoughts. I hope you can see passed the abrasiveness of my response to understand that I am speaking honestly without ill-will.

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AJ September 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm

A little hard, yes, but the world would have been worse. I probably would have told him to ensure he focuses on the pre-reds needed for med school rather than all difficult subjects. I know two dance majors and one foreign language major who all successfully matriculated to me school. It also sounds like he’s trying to prove himself somehow. I would have mentioned that too, something like “Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.” If he struggles in ug he will tank in med school, so he should really evaluate whether it’s the best course of action for him.

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Melanie September 25, 2014 at 8:01 pm

I agree that you show a disturbing degree of carelessness by writing a letter less formally than you should write an e-mail to a friend. Unless you are texting, you should always use capitals.

Getting into medical school is about working hard to get good grades in your classes, using good strategic skills when planning your schedule so you do not end up with a 1.97 GPA, preparing for the big test, and writing your essays in a way that demonstrates passion and solid writing skills.

Based on this criteria and your e-mail (and I hope for your sake it is a misrepresentation):
1 – Your GPA indicates you are probably not someone that works hard. Med school students work hard enough to get good grades in hard classes. This is confirmed by you choosing to e-mail Josh instead of doing a math problem.
2 – Your tendency to dismiss classes that do not grade harshly as “fluff” shows a lack of an open mind, and more importantly, a lack of understanding of the strategy that goes into gaining admission.
3 – Your carelessness in writing is likely to lead to some lackluster essays. When you write an essay for admission, you should not only use capitals, but also rewrite and edit until it feels polished.

Overall, you do not seem like med school material. Perhaps you were having a bad day and I misinterpreted your behavior. However, if something about my message rings true, then you have two options: improve yourself or give up on med school.

Good luck!

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tjc57 September 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm

If I were in their shoes, I’d see what the retake policy is on coursework. Depending on the policy of the college (with respect to engineering, health sciences, etc…), they might be able to either drop the grade with a replacement or average out the results.

Also, let’s give this person a break. There’s a chance that they were typing from a phone that doesn’t grammatically fix up sentences.

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Eldred September 26, 2014 at 7:33 am

Why should a phone NEED to ‘fix up sentences’? If people hadn’t gotten so lazy, that wouldn’t even be necessary…

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Me September 25, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Hi Josh,

I agree with you and I can understand your frustration. I get annoyed with stuff like this too.

But I think you need to take a little bit of your own advice here: have a little pride in what you put out into the world. You used pretty harsh language. In my personal opinion, language like yours is probably appropriate if you’re venting to your friends, but it reflects badly on you when posted on a public website. You could’ve made the same point to this student using calmer, gentler, more respectful, and more encouraging language.

The only other comment I’ll make is that while that online GPA calculator looks handy, it would only be useful if your school’s GPA system matched the GPA system used by the calculator. I don’t know what it’s like in The States, but, here in Canada, different schools use different systems.

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Wesley September 26, 2014 at 7:56 am

I get it, I really do. However, this serves no real purpose, and I will dissect this point by point. The OP is being attacked for his poor writing, and his ability to perform math. On poor writing, every follow up post on here has misspellings, or improper use of a word, including the author of this piece. Talia you say “I hope you can get passed…”; the proper word is actually, past. I don’t remember much from my English classes, but I do remember that proper nouns such as “E.E. Cummings” are capitalized Kiwinc. See how that makes you feel? Yes, GPA calculation is fairly simple, but as one person has pointed out, it is also weighted and therefore not simply a mean calculation. I am sure that everyone here knows Pytagorean Theorem, but I will bet that not one of you knows how to calculate the impedance of a RLC series circuit. Can you look it up? Sure, but would you even know that you were looking for that formula simply by looking at a diagram and reading the question? However, I gave you the answer when I started, it is simply a variation of Pythagorean formula. So, honestly, get your own house in order. BTW, it can’t ever be. I am certain I have made grammatical or spelling mistakes in this post.

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Dana C. September 26, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Oh boy, I can see that the writing issue, and focus/discipline issues have been covered. But how about the obvious one…

27 credits a term?? That could be a big part of your problem. Think about the time it takes to study for one heavy class. It is a min of 2-3 hours per class (per hour of in class time), if you want to keep a high grade and not just slop some work together to turn in. So with 27 credits a term where do you even have time to study, review or complete work? I can tell you that you do not have time. This means you are just racing from course to course, not learning or absorbing anything. You write papers that are just thrown together, or miss important information.

Try and limit your course load to no more then 3 per term. That is usually manageable for the average student. Consider keep it to 2 per term if that works better for you. This goes for math as well as non-math classes. Try also to balance your classes and do not load up on the hardest classes for the term. This means have one tough course, one or two medium difficult, or perhaps even one easier course to help with work load. This will help your GPA and your mental sanity. It will also show potential med schools that you can manage your time, plan ahead and be thoughtful in your work. All of which are extremely important to med school.

Next sit down with your counselor. Do not make it just a quick check in so you can get out of there type of sit down. Write down questions before had to cover, and take notes on what they tell you. Be specific that your goal is med school and ask for specific advice on how to map out your course through undergrad to get there. Also ask if they know of another student or professor that can help mentor you, besides them. This way you will have at least two people to go to when you feel lost, or overwhelmed, or just need a little advice. This will help you so much deal with the whole process.

Try and remember though that these are going to be busy people and they will not take you seriously if you do not use proper grammar, or just expect them to do it for you. Have your questions written down and ready so when you meet with these folks you do not waste time, theirs or yours. If something comes up that you did not think to ask write it down and ask next time or get an answer right then. There are tons of resources at Pitt, and most universities, to help you get there. Learn to use them.

Figuring your GPA should be easy and something you do for yourself–you do not need a calculator. Pitt uses a 4.0 scale and it should be very easy to calculate your GPA. You can also ask your counselor to help you set goals for what you need to achieve to improve your GPA. Believe it or not that is what they are there to do.

To improve your writing I highly recommend you run, do not walk, to the writing lab. The writing lab can help you from outline to polished papers. They can help you organize your ideas and to proof read your work. Pitt does have one and part of your tuition goes for it so use that resource for every single paper. They also have a math lab–use it! Find other students in your classes that are doing well and ask them to let you join their study group.

Oh and if you are bad at taking notes get with either an English tutor or a student good at note taking and ask them for help. I often times made copies of my notes to share with other students because I was good at note taking. Also it can help with absorbing information if when you take notes in class over the weekend you type them up. It basically forces you to pay attention to them twice, once when you right them and again while typing them.

Med school is going to impossible if you do not perfect these very basic skills. They do not look just at your GPA and once there if you cannot manage your time, study well, or worst present yourself in a professional manner you will not survive the first week.

Good luck.

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Lancer September 27, 2014 at 7:28 pm

You were at least as harsh/nice as I would be. I would have said essentially the same thing to this person, and I do say this to my colleagues and anyone on the street asking me for directions who’s in their 20’s (they have smart phones but don’t know how to Google to learn about anything, nor do they know how to use Google Maps!) It astounds me, a 46-year old person who didn’t use computers/Internet/social media in the workplace until 2008 (also I didn’t start community college until 2008). It’s a brain thing, and I don’t think this person should be a doctor.

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Rm September 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Not too harsh! This is a terrible email and you gave him/her a safe place to be corrected. It’s anonymous, and not in person. Even in overlooking capital letters and punctuation, it’s rude and unprofessional. A doctor wouldn’t have sent one like it. A ‘dear so and so’ with ‘sincerely/I appreciate your time/regards your name’ is generally expected. Perhaps no one taught them how to calculate gpa or to use a college counselor to plan their courses out, but surely somebody told them how to write an email. And if not – it’s not real hard to figure out.

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