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Retaking A Class For A Better Grade?

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A bit of background: 


I am completing a 4 year BBA part time.


The reason I am going part time only is that I have no other option financially... I'm working a full time job to support my husband and myself as well as fund this degree. I can't really throw my financial/moral obligations out the window because I need a degree in order to apply to medical school. I'd end up with huge loans, no job, and the possibility of not getting into medical school anyways.


The reason I am majoring in business is because it was one of my only choices. I only had so many major options through online study (there is no universities in my town) and the 4 year BBA program offered me significant advanced standing credits for my advanced Ontario college diploma. I'm trying to add the odd science classes within my electives, but it is hard since I have no 'first year level' room left in my degree requirements. As it stands I have credits in chemistry, physiology, and history of science. 


The plan is to finish this off in the next year or two (the pace relies on when my remaining required classes become available), perhaps take a year to focus my non-work time on volunteering (no time to volunteer with work/school/family).


Before applying to medical school I want to try and take a year long program that would give me in-class science classes; this would give me some more relevant references and a better foundation for when I actually apply. 


What Happened:


I know the importance of trying to keep my average as high as possible, it is even more important considering that I am only in school part time (even though I am sure I get some credit for holding down a demanding full time job). I have straight A's except for 3 classes... I have a B and a B+ in a marketing and human resources class. I am satisfied with those grades and feel they did not do too much damage to my GPA.


But I did get a D in a second year physiology class. I always strive for an A, so it is hard to swallow that I finally earned a bad grade. 


The class was a train wreck from the start. They recommended prerequisites in chemistry, biology and physics to be successful in the class - I only had a first year chemistry class and took it anyways. Within a month I knew that I was in over my head - but I continued anyways because I thought I could just push through it like always. I somehow managed to enter the exam with an A, but left with a D. This was in part due to the fact that my dad had 3 heart attacks the week before my exam, but also in part due to the fact I was struggling with the basic concepts and couldn't fully grasp the more advanced material.


The Actual Question:


The problem is that I don't know if it will be 'worth it' to retake this physiology class. I am sure that I could get at least a B on my second attempt, hopefully even an A. But this would cost me approximately $1,000 for the class and to rent the textbook (plus extend the time to earn my degree). I'm not sure if having a single D grade is a significant setback for medical school (but I am assuming it may worse for it to be a physiology class as opposed to a business class).


I'm also wondering if the retake itself would look bad at all. I would think anything less than an A would raise eyebrows at my ability to understand the content. Or even worse, if something goes wrong and I can't even muster out a B grade. 


I may also be entirely off base by assuming that medical schools will look at individual grades instead of my GPA a a whole; if they look at GPA only I am assuming this decision should be based off of my final GPA once all my other classes are complete.


I know this is a question that no one can answer with any certainty. I am just hoping for some feedback that is outside of my own head.





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To my knowledge, most schools will take into account both the original grade and the retake grade when calculating GPA. Therefore, I would recommend finishing strong in your other courses and not take the course over. Especially if it is a financial issue to retake. 
That being said, people fail courses or do poorly and still get into med school so I wouldn't worry too much. 



I may also be entirely off base by assuming that medical schools will look at individual grades instead of my GPA a a whole; if they look at GPA only I am assuming this decision should be based off of my final GPA once all my other classes are complete.



The thing I'm concerned about with your story is the part-time nature of the degree. How many courses a semester are you taking? A number of schools require a minimum number of courses taken per year to be considered in the GPA calculation. 

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I am trying to focus my efforts into getting accepted for NOSM (I'll be able to get an excellent context scoring). 


I did find out how NOSM treats these situations and (as you said) they will take both marks into account. So I am thinking that the plan will be to aim for a different science elective where I can get a high grade. Upon reflection it makes me cringe to think about spending that amount to retake a class that won't count towards my degree when both grades will get included. 


For the part-time classes I am taking anywhere from 1-3 classes per semester depending on course availability. I know that this doesn't work with all medical schools; but I made sure to confirm directly with NOSM that this would not be a problem. 

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