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Articles / Applying to College / Stanford Medical Despite an F and a W?
Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 1, 2017

Stanford Medical 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.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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