I am a miracle made up of particles and in this existence I'll stay persistent and I'll make a difference and I will have lived it - Medicine for the People

So you're doing a postbaccalaureate...what is that?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It’s kind of funny; a lot of people have no idea what I’m talking about when I say I’m doing a post-bac. It seems to be one of those things that everyone has heard about but is fuzzy on the details and since I have first-hand experience I’m always happy to explain how it works.
Basically a post-baccalaureate is a non-degree seeking program that prepares you for graduate school. Because I was a journalism major I didn’t have to take any science classes in undergrad which left me at a huge disadvantage when I decided I wanted to go to med school. All schools require that you’ve had a year, or two semesters each, of Physics, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biology and I had taken none of these.
Several schools in Boston have post-bac type programs but I ended up choosing the Health Careers Program (HCP) offered through the Extension School at Harvard. The qualifications are pretty simple; you must have a bachelor’s degree and you can’t have taken any of the classes in the curriculum previously. If you don’t fit the requirements (i.e. have already taken biology or chemistry in undergrad) you still have the option of enrolling in classes individually.
The perks of being a program participant are that you get an official "Diploma in Premedical Studies" when you finish and you can apply for a sponsorship letter from Harvard. They are pretty strict about sponsorship and I unfortunately didn’t qualify for this cycle because I hadn’t taken all of my classes yet (I’m currently taking Physics). If I don't get into school on this try though I’ll be able to apply for sponsorship next time around. Hopefully I won't have to but it’s nice to know I’ll have the option!
Part of why I chose Harvard Extension is because it gives you the opportunity to take classes with actual Harvard professors at a very reasonable cost. Tuition is about $1,200 per four-credit class ($10,000 total if you take all of the required classes) whereas a post-bac at Tufts or BU cost upwards of $27K. Summer classes are slightly more expensive because they are eight credits instead of four and they're technically offered through Harvard College.
The only downside to the HCP is that the quality of the classes varies. I loved my summer chemistry class (even though 8 hours of chemistry a day was like being waterboarded) because our professor was so fantastic, class materials were well organized and the TFs were incredibly helpful. But my biology class was less than ideal – the lectures were confusing, we never really knew what we were being tested on and the TFs didn't offer a lot of aid. I actually love the subject though so I took Biochemistry just for fun and it ended up being my favorite class.
The bottom line: not every class will wow you but I’ve had some great teachers and would definitely recommend the program if you’re looking to finish up some requirements for medical school, vet school, dental school, or any science-related degree program. If you want more information regarding the HCP check out this link or email the program director, Dr. William Fixsen: fixsen@fas.harvard.edu. If you have any questions for me or want to know more about my experience please feel free to post a comment!


Unknown said...

I came across your post by searching reviews for the HES.

Im a non traditional med school applicant. I was only able to get into AUA partially because I didn't apply to but one other school off shore. So Ross and AUA. Realistically I knew I wouldn't get in any where else.

So this led me to seeking out a masters program at HES. Is this a masters program or simply a post bac to beef up the medical school resume? Ive taken all of my pre reqs so Im not sure if this is a viable route for me. Any thoughts?

Im in the same boat youre in thus advice on how the program has done for you would be appreciated.

Unknown said...

Your posts have been super helpful thank you!
I would be interested in hearing how your years at UVM is going

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