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RichardDegrasseSagan last won the day on August 17 2017

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About RichardDegrasseSagan

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  1. RichardDegrasseSagan

    What's On Your Mind?

  2. RichardDegrasseSagan

    When to start studying for the MCAT?

    For me, trying to cram the MCAT in with other commitments (work, volunteering etc.) was really difficult. I couldn't find enough time to study. The second summer that I re-wrote in, I took a solid month off from work. It was absolutely necessary to do as many practice full lengths as I could and to properly be able to review them. Also, my content knowledge on chem/physics was quite weak, so I had to devote quite a bit of time to brush up on that. If your content is relatively fresh, I would say 2 to 2.5 months is doable as you can focus on just doing practice tests and reviewing them. If your content knowledge is weaker, I would recommend at least 3 months.
  3. RichardDegrasseSagan

    First Time OMSAS

    Try to send everything as soon as you can (ideally at least two weeks out) because this gives you time to fix anything that may have gone wrong. The references and transcripts, once received, will update on your OMSAS application page. Their status will indicate "received". So if you send these in ahead of time, and there's no update even after a week or two, you have a chance to figure out what went wrong. So yeah, don't leave anything to the last minute. The application process can be quite comprehensive (creating descriptions for ABS, contacting verifiers and getting their information, filling out essays). In order to synthesize the strongest application, I'd recommend that you finish an early draft of everything and just sit on it for a month or so, refining it for a few minutes here and there whenever you get a chance. Good luck!
  4. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Success Stories- Non Trad Style!

    I typed this really long post but was almost going to delete it. I felt like it sounded so silly. But I will keep it in the hopes that some of you find it helpful/encouraging because I've always enjoyed and was motivated by reading this thread. I tried injecting some context into this, so hopefully it doesn't bore you guys too much with being somewhat long. I grew up in a relatively rough neighbourhood. I'll give you an example to highlight the point: in grade 7 while my friends and I were going trick or treating, we ran into three of my older brother's friends profusely bleeding from stab wounds. Turns out they had been ambushed by a group they had bad blood with. Anyway, one of them had a pretty bad gash in his neck, close to his jugular, but thankfully none of the major vessels were cut. My friends and I had to help them to a nearby clinic (which was thankfully open). Scary stuff, but it was the reality of the place. My parents worked really hard to provide for my siblings and I (I have two older brothers - let's call them Alpha and Bravo). They tried their absolute best to keep us shielded from the bad stuff, but there's always an inevitable influence by the environment. Being males in a rough neighbourhood meant keeping up a “macho” facade. You definitely didn't get overly sentimental, and so my brothers and I were walled off emotionally not only from friends, but each other as well. So what was the culmination of these early childhood experiences? The "climax" of it all came during my senior year of high school. Well, I should say my SECOND senior year. At this point in my life, I had never had the experiences to develop an appreciation for education and knowledge. I would skip classes to go play sports. There was a point in grade 12 where I had skipped more classes than I had actually attended. This meant that I was forced to do an extra year in high school to try and salvage my marks enough to try and apply to postsecondary. This extra year was tough. You question the decisions you’ve made so far, you watch all your friends move on to the next stage of their lives, and you're in classes with kids younger than you. Unfortunately, this wasn't even the tip of the iceberg. Within the span of 3-4 months, my life literally spiraled out of control. My high school sweetheart (who had started university at this point) had just broken up with me. I already mentioned how I came from a background where I was extremely insular about keeping my feelings to myself. My girlfriend was a sweetheart - I could open up emotionally to her and it was a welcome change. Losing her in an already difficult time was tough, and unfortunately things kept getting worse. Soon after the breakup, I injured myself playing sports, effectively ending my entire sports year and requiring surgery. Sports had always been that one pseudo-emotional outlet of mine, so removing it was definitely a huge emotional hurdle. I even started losing my hair from stress (this is a contentious topic haha, but I genuinely believe acute stressors can potentially act as a trigger). Unfortunately, I would soon realize that all of these challenges would pale in comparison to what was to follow. I will never ever forget this day. It still seems so vivid. I came home from school one day to see my brother, Bravo, in our driveway with this very confused/sad look on his face. He was very inebriated, but that confused/sad look still haunts me. He looked so vulnerable. He was being arrested for drug charges. It was heartbreaking. We would later find out that he had been battling severe mental health issues and masked them through substance abuse. Being arrested wreaked even more havoc on his mental health. We couldn't bail him out because my other brother (Alpha) had already tried. The first time he was bailed out, Bravo's mental health lead to him acting very erratically. He broke his bail conditions and disappeared. We were able to track him down after a friend of Bravo’s contacted the family. So I had to watch from afar, yet again, as my brother got arrested. My mom was with me this time. We later learned from the friend that Bravo had been really hungry, yet we saw him get arrested as he about to take the first bite of his food. My mom started getting very frequent panic attacks soon after this incident. I remember visiting him in jail on multiple occasions, only to be received by non-nonsensical and hysterical laughter. This was absolutely brutal for me. I grew up always being Bravo’s sidekick. I followed him everywhere he went, being that annoying little brother. He really was my role model. So to see him there, unrecognizable, was very gut wrenching. We were unable to convince the penal system of the clear mental issues he was exhibiting and he was retained in a normal jail. His condition worsened and he was eventually placed in solitary confinement due to bad behavior. He stayed there for 2-3 weeks. Being a witness to this and unable to help was absolutely excruciating. Like, the breakup, surgery, extra year of high school seem bad right? They genuinely felt like a walk in the park compared to this. It was during this ordeal that I had made up my mind to commit myself to working hard, getting into university, and getting into the field of psychology so that I might help others that had gone through similar situations as my brother. Thankfully, after a few months convincing, we were finally able to get through to the courts. We had been able to convince the judge to transfer Bravo to a mental treatment facility as opposed to a jail. I still remember the day we found out that they would transfer him: June 12th, 2009. It is probably on the top of the happiest days of my life. Getting into medicine definitely pales in comparison to that day. Anyway, he received a diagnosis and began treatment, which he has continued to this day. I started university soon after. Motivated with my desire to pursue psychology, I had a relatively strong start. However, I was faced with quite a few additional hurdles on the way that reflected in my GPA trends. Beyond the typical academic struggles (taking time to find field of interest) and personal struggles (breakups, dealing with limitations after surgery etc.), helping Bravo navigate his mental health condition and potential substance relapses was quite challenging. Additionally, my other brother (Alpha) also developed a very bad substance abuse problem due to the stress of the events surrounding Bravo. It's been an ongoing thing for a few years and still continues to this day. This caused my mom's panic attacks to become even worse/frequent. However, Alpha has significantly improved in recent months. But to tie in an earlier theme, I strongly believe that there is a component of emotional support to this. My siblings and I were raised to be very insular about our feelings, and substances may be seen as an easy “alternative” to having to deal with these emotions. That’s why I think it's so important to cultivate the ability to share your emotions with others, and make others feel comfortable in sharing their emotions with you. Especially so as a physician. So that's my journey to med in a nutshell. It took me 5 years to do a 4-year high school degree, 6 years total to do a 4-year BSc, three MCAT writes, and three additional years off. But I've always been one to challenge myself and improve after every failure. I've been fortunate enough to have amazing parents (though we might not agree on everything) and lucky enough to find amazing professors/mentors in my life. I owe literally all of my successes to these people. Although I continue to be faced with some of the same challenges that seemed completely insurmountable before, I really believe I am stronger than ever, not only individually, but also because of the social support network I’ve been able to establish. I understand the responsibilities I carry because of these events, but believe me, that doesn’t stop me from being the silliest and happiest person that I can possibly be. I hope to carry these experiences into the field, and hopefully make a positive impact. Here is a thread to some of my more CV-like details: http://forums.premed101.com/topic/69931-lost-with-updates/ if you’re curious about what type of stats, ECs etc. I was working with. Good luck everyone!
  5. RichardDegrasseSagan

    3.91 wGPA

    It's possible, but would be a huge gamble. But I saw a couple of 3.91s. I got an interview and eventually got in with a 3.92. I likely had a high CASPer score though because I was invited to Mac with a 3.61 cGPA.
  6. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Research Oppertunities

    Do medical students usually do NSERCs?
  7. RichardDegrasseSagan

    How are you getting 4.0?

    Agreed with 1997's points. For me, the two things that improved my grades the most were: 1) Aim for 100s - don't be satisfied with anything less (but also don't get too hard on yourself if you don't achieve this - treat it like a fun challenge/game/sport) 2) Learn from your mistakes and actively plan to get around them. One of my biggest mistakes was that I put in the time, but I put it in too close to exams/midterms. I saw a huge jump in my marks when I simply re-distributed the time I spent studying from closer to exams, to like 2-3 weeks out. When exams rolled around, the majority of my studying was just reviewing on my phone in bed with intermittent naps (I rationalized all these naps by saying sleep was good for consolidation ). It was hard for me to force myself to study 3 weeks out from exams, so what I did was forced myself to pull all-nighters at the library/lab. I commuted, and the fact that the public transit stopped running past 1 am meant I was essentially forced to study for the entire night. And realize that you can never be perfect. I tried to get an OMSAS 4.0 for six years. Even during my best year, when everything went absolutely perfect, the closest I got was a 3.97. And this is fine, because you don't need to be perfect to get into medical school. And you certainly don't need to be perfect to be happy in life.
  8. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Med Student Budget Example

    Lightweight. This should be daily. If not hourly.
  9. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Can you view your final exam (undergrad)

    I would suggest taking some notes in with you to look over while you review the exam. I had requested an exam review, which was granted a month or two after the exam in question. So I was pretty rusty on the material. Thankfully the mistake turned out to be an addition one (they forgot to count a whole page) and my final grade shot up by 7%. But yeah, when I was looking it over, I forgot many of the nuances and specific pathways etc. Good luck!
  10. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Lowest Point In My Life

    Thankfully, due to the surplus of excellent academic candidates, they can (or do their best to) weed out those candidates who are only in it for the money/prestige. Being a physician is a service-oriented profession, and I am glad they disqualify candidates who don't understand/or relate to the social determinants of health, education, and resources. These are candidates who are likely unable to demonstrate the characteristics required to be a successful physician. Also, I did not say university graduates should be happy with a McDonald's job. Way to misconstrue my words. I said you shouldn't look down on those who are forced into those jobs when they had entered university with other goals in mind. It's just where their life's journey took them, and there's nothing wrong with that. They have the opportunity keep pursuing alternatives. Nor should you look down on someone who will be working these jobs for the rest of their lives. For someone who claims you have undergone hardships, you seem very apathetic to them.
  11. RichardDegrasseSagan

    What is your LOC Thread

    Yeah my advisor, who's a specialist in this, said that if they offer it to one person, they'll have to offer it to everyone. So yeah. I didn't bother negotiating.
  12. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Importance Of References

    /r/wholesomememes that might be a good alternative
  13. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Lowest Point In My Life

    1) Everyone who's supported you doesn't care about an acceptance. All they want to see from you is for you to be happy. I think everyone has these concerns - being scared to tell your loved ones about being rejected because you don't want to let them down. The fact of the matter is, they DON'T CARE. They just want to continue supporting you. 2) You know, there is also a stereotype of the typical pre-med who looks down on science grads forced into blue/pink collar jobs. If I was an adcom and got even a hint of that type of mentality, I wouldn't be too pleased. It just screams "immature" to me. Rejections are tough. But you're out of school now, and I think this is an opportunity to catch up on a lot of growing you may have missed out on because of studying. Some of the most valuable lessons I learned in life were while working blue/pink collar jobs early in my undergrad. And it's not very conducive to being an empathetic physician to look down on a large portion of the population that work these jobs. You're doing well professionally. You're definitely going to get there. But just make sure you are actively seeking to grow as a person while you're at it. Good luck friend!
  14. RichardDegrasseSagan

    Government Student Loan Repayment Assistance Plan

    The RAP application asks you for your income from the past (last month or something). So if you haven't gotten paid yet, you would have an income of 0 I'd imagine? So yes, apply if that's the case. But I am kind of confused.. your yearly salary isn't paid out once a year. I think it's bi-weekly?
  15. Exactly. I didn't apply until I felt I was competitive. I had to do two additional undergraduate years and write the MCAT three times. That wouldn't necessarily be something that is conveyed when the statistic only says "someone who applied twice before getting in".