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Creating a DIY Post-bac

DIY Post-bacs are ALL the craze! Ok, not really, but people do them. Why? Mostly because they need to. It is a lot easier and more efficient to do a formal program, but people choose to seek post-bac work on their own because they either can't afford the tuition of a full program, they don't need that many courses, or they need to work full-time while taking classes part-time. Whatever brought you to the idea of doing a DIY PB, I'm here to help!

First, let's define DIY Post-bac a little more. When you register for a DIY Post-bac, you are not applying to anything. You are simply registering for classes at either a community college or four year institution as a non-degree seeking student. Any person can register for any class, as long as there are seats available. You receive no benefits of the university, for example no advising, tutoring, etc. You are simply paying to take the class(es).


  1. When you DIY, you usually do not have any priority registration. That means you are at the back of the line when it comes to registration. If you're trying to take a Bio, Chem, Ochem or Physics course, this could create some challenges if you're looking at an institution that is impacted. Taking upper-div courses usually works better for DIY because there are usually more seats in those classes.

  2. You usually will not receive any financial aid when you're enrolled as a non-degree seeking student. That means you're going to pay out of pocket for whatever you register for.

  3. If you're trying to take the basic four, it would make more sense to take them at a community college to save money. Those classes do not prove anything to medical/dental schools. Only upper div science coursework will help you when it comes to creating that strong upward trend. However, there are good reasons to take Bio, Chem, Ochem or Physics over. Here are a couple reasons:

  • You have a C- in any of these (must be repeated)

  • You haven't taken them in many, many years and want to reinforce the content

If you've decided to go for it, you might be wondering what classes to take. I would start by looking at the basic four. Did you get a C or better in all of them? If you got a C across a series, ask yourself why. Did you not really master the content? If you struggled with the concepts, that make it worth repeating. If you got it, but just struggled with some external issues or something else caused the C, then you do not need to repeat those (unless you got a C-).

If you don't need to repeat the basic four, start with this list, working from top portion first.

First selections in this order:

  • Biochemistry

  • Physiology

  • Genetics

  • Cell Biology

  • Immunology

  • Microbiology

  • Anatomy

Secondary choices, any order:

  • Pharmacology

  • Molecular Cellular Biology

  • Advanced Physiology

  • Histology

  • Hematology

  • Cancer Biology

  • Any other upper div science that relates to human health, physio, etc

What courses should you NOT take during your DIY Post-bac

  • Astronomy

  • Geology

  • Plant Science

  • Or anything not related to the human body, disease, etc


That depends on how much you're overcoming. If you had a really rocky start to your college career, meaning your bumpy grades extended past your first two years, then you will need a lot of post-bac courses to create that strong upward trend. If you did fairly well the last two years, but you just need to throw that GPA up a point or two, or wedge a few more A's between that last C and your chunk of A's, then 4-6 courses should do the trick.

UNPOPULAR OPINION WARNING: If you're going to do any kind of post-bac work, it is essential that you get A's in it. Otherwise, you are wasting your money.

As always, if you need help, please reach out. I've advised many DIYers over the years. I can help you create a plan of action.

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