Would it be appropriate to take courses at community college because they are more affordable? Or should I take the classes I need at a university?
Good for you!
Community college is a great place to start; sometimes the counseling services can be weak, so be sure to get lots of advice and opinions. (For example, choose the right Bio and Math classes for your transfer/career path, to make best use of your college time.)
Good grades last a lifetime, so be prepared to invest yourself fully in getting the best grades you possibly can. An "A" in pre-med Biology would speak volumes, to you and to your future university. :)
Consider starting now, with grammar and math brush-ups, so you can score well on placement exams at comm college. Your military discipline/background will serve you well!
Taking your science classes at a community college is fine. My wife is a professor and participates in the selection process for incoming students and residents. She is at a highly selective school. Admissions looks at your science and overall GPA separately. Where you took your science classes is irrelevant. Many applicants took their science classes after they completed college (post-bach), like my wife did. This is especially true when people switch careers. Therefore, it is common to see science classes from community colleges.
I was a U.S. Army Healthcare Recruiter who worked with Medical; Dental; Clinical Psychology; Nursing; Optometry; Physical Therapy; Pharm D; and Social Work schools to process their Student's Army scholarship applications and direct commissions into the Active Army and Army Reserve.
Medical schools will evaluate your classes based off of your schools accreditation and your performance in those classes. I recommend reaching out to your school's premed advisor to determine what classes will make the grade and what wont. I also recommend getting in touch with the medical societies in California (https://www.opsc.org/) I've worked with Osteopathic and Allopathic physicians groups before; they offer a great amount of advise and guidance on applying to med schools.
You will need to take you MCAT; however, that will not be needed until either your 3rd or 4th year. I suggest MCAT prep courses. ALL MCAT results are kept on file and med schools can and do see previous years attempts. It looks better when you score well on the 1st try; although it is not a show stopper if you have to retake it, as many do.
The schools will evaluate your undergrad education; work history; MCAT scores; references; and personal statement to determine if your heart is in the right place, to see if you can handle the work load (its significant), and to see if you are cutlurally compatible with the facility (it would be real awkward to get accepted on grades alone, just to wind up with an interpersonal problem with another student or staff.
On the AMCAS application they will want to see volunteer activity and any awards accomplishments in undergrad, professional organizations you may belong too, and if you have prior military service include any DD-214 on statement of service if you are in the reserves and applying. Check out the AMCAS website for info on how to apply and FAQ: https://students-residents.aamc.org/choosing-medical-career/medical-school-101/
Osteopathic Medical Schools are a viable option as well. They are Physicians the same as Allopaths (M.D.s') however, the schools are usually private; they concentrate on manual manipulation therapy's to alleviate pain and discomfort to encourage the body to heal itself, and are accepted into the same residencies and fellowships M.D.s' are.
I wouldn't worry about your grades coming from a community college; so long as your schools accreditation is in good standing, your grades are competitive, your MCAT score is competitive; and your interview goes well you should be fine. I worked with state and private Allopathic and private Osteopathic schools. They both accept students that have colorful and interesting backgrounds... I'm sure you'll be fine.
I would suggest having your financial plan put together well before you apply to med school. The will ask how you plan to fund your education (students legitimately drop out from financial problems). I worked with the Military Scholarships; they pay for tuition, reimbursables, provide clinical rotations that schools require, provide a 20k$ bonus and provide a monthly stipend of over 2K$ while you are in school. If you take the scholarship you will have to apply to military residencies.
There are many federal and state financial aide programs that require either national guard, state prisons, state mental health, Bureau of Indian Affairs; or public health command service.
Don'd underfund med school. I've seen many drop out because they undercapitalized thier plans.
I'm sure you have other questions. Please DM me if you would like to know more.
Congrats on your new career path and that is a very exciting field to be entering - one that will be very fulfilling!
I am not sure if you have looked at our "Community" tab yet, but this could be a helpful resource toward answering your question. Specifically, you can reach out to ACP Advisors directly by the HealthCare industry, years of experience and location.
As well, below are a few resources for additional assistance:
All the best,
Please log in to answer this question.