Stanford Med Despite an F and a W?

Since I’ve started college my grades aren’t that bad. I’ve passed almost all my classes with As and one B. However, during my freshman fall semester of college my grandfather unfortunately passed away and with my culture/religion I actually had a role to play in the funeral. Anyways, my professor FAILED me for that course with an F. Despite all my great test and homework scores she actually failed me. When I talked to the administration about it they said they couldn’t do anything because my grade all depended on my professor. The class was college algebra.

The next semester I was taking health online and my professor made it insanely impossible to pass the class. She would take off an absurd amount of points if you got one question wrong. It was the same thing with the essays and the only time I could actually get a fair score on something was on a quiz. I decided to drop the class but it will show as a “withdrawal” on my transcript.

I really want to go to medical school, especially Stanford Med. I am involved with extracurriculars, volunteer work, internships etc and my current grades for this semester are As.

With these two setbacks do you think I could get into Stanford?


Admission to Stanford medical school is extremely competitive. Fewer than 3% of applicants are accepted, and their typical GPA is nearly 3.9, with a median MCAT score of 518, which is the 97th percentile.

So without similar statistics, Stanford will probably be out of reach for you. However, in addition to your overall GPA and test results, admission committees will look closely at your grades in your pre-medical classes—especially the most demanding science classes. They will also look closely at medical-related activities such as research and internships.

The “F” and the “W” on your transcript are not automatic deal-breakers if you are able to explain them to admission committees, especially if you come from a disadvantaged or underrepresented-minority background.  But admission officials –while sympathetic about the loss of your grandfather–will also recognize that many applicants will have suffered through family deaths or other significant set-backs during their college years, and thus they don’t allow much wiggle room for a downturn in grades because of personal struggles.

Overall, the bar is set very, very high at Stanford Med. So even without those two missteps, you will have an uphill battle, as all Stanford aspirants do. Don’t give up on a dream, but be sure that you have additional options on your radar screen as well. When it’s time to apply to med school (or to make any other graduate-school plans) keep in mind that your GPA and test scores will be carefully scrutinized, so be certain to make realistic choices accordingly.

Sorry about your grandfather’s death and good luck to you as you continue on this challenging path.

(posted 9/1/2017)