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FlyingBird_

Does your UG major/minor matter in post-interview deliberations?

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I know this is based on speculations... 

But does what you study (Major, Minor, etc..) matter post-interview? When it comes to the AQ score, having "easier" courses is a big advantage but I'm wondering if that will bite me in the butt when it comes to the final decision. I'm not talking about taking a bunch of obvious GPA boosters but about the difference of having a program that marks easier versus one that is traditionally more difficult. 

Much thanks,

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Great question, but unfortunately it’s another that falls under the umbrella of things we don’t know for sure.  What I do know, however, is that they look at how many upper level courses (300+ level) versus lower level courses you take.  But what these courses are, I’m not sure what admissions has in mind.  It’s only speculation, but I think perhaps it doesn’t matter what courses you take.  For example, a specific course may be traditionally easy but it might have been very hard for you; who’s to say that the course is “easy”?  I don’t think it’s possible for admissions to objectively distinguish this, even though they did a blog post where they asked about people’s ideas on which UBC courses are “easier” or “harder”.

Also, many people don’t take courses at UBC.  So for admissions to keep track of which courses are at what difficulty across universities/colleges/post-secondary programs is one tough task to achieve.

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6 hours ago, Neurophiliac said:

Great question, but unfortunately it’s another that falls under the umbrella of things we don’t know for sure.  What I do know, however, is that they look at how many upper level courses (300+ level) versus lower level courses you take.  But what these courses are, I’m not sure what admissions has in mind.  It’s only speculation, but I think perhaps it doesn’t matter what courses you take.  For example, a specific course may be traditionally easy but it might have been very hard for you; who’s to say that the course is “easy”?  I don’t think it’s possible for admissions to objectively distinguish this, even though they did a blog post where they asked about people’s ideas on which UBC courses are “easier” or “harder”.

Also, many people don’t take courses at UBC.  So for admissions to keep track of which courses are at what difficulty across universities/colleges/post-secondary programs is one tough task to achieve.

It may be somewhat difficult, but they have reams of data, so some kind of normalization should be possible. I would argue that without it, it would be meaningless to compare peoples GPAs directly. I feel like a lot of thought and effort goes into this whole admissions thing, it seems unlikely that this point would be glossed over, but maybe I am just being naive. 

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1 hour ago, Zuk said:

It may be somewhat difficult, but they have reams of data, so some kind of normalization should be possible. I would argue that without it, it would be meaningless to compare peoples GPAs directly. I feel like a lot of thought and effort goes into this whole admissions thing, it seems unlikely that this point would be glossed over, but maybe I am just being naive. 

Definitely naive. Most Canadian med school admission processes are not as complex as people would like to think. They do a good job with what they can, but they aren't fine tooth combing through things- when it doesn't matter since even if they make a "mistake" they still get a perfectly fine candidate.

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14 minutes ago, JohnGrisham said:

Definitely naive. Most Canadian med school admission processes are not as complex as people would like to think. They do a good job with what they can, but they aren't fine tooth combing through things- when it doesn't matter since even if they make a "mistake" they still get a perfectly fine candidate.

I do agree with this. There are vastly more qualified candidates than there are spots. They could lose out on a good candidate and fill that position with any other good candidate quite easily.

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30 minutes ago, JohnGrisham said:

Definitely naive. Most Canadian med school admission processes are not as complex as people would like to think. They do a good job with what they can, but they aren't fine tooth combing through things- when it doesn't matter since even if they make a "mistake" they still get a perfectly fine candidate.

Yeah that makes sense. I can believe that, that would be true. In the case where a candidate really does stand out from the field despite a somewhat weak GPA, it would be possible to capture that through the essay and interview processes. No need to try to normalize the GPA.

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13 hours ago, Neurophiliac said:

Great question, but unfortunately it’s another that falls under the umbrella of things we don’t know for sure.  What I do know, however, is that they look at how many upper level courses (300+ level) versus lower level courses you take.  But what these courses are, I’m not sure what admissions has in mind.  It’s only speculation, but I think perhaps it doesn’t matter what courses you take.  For example, a specific course may be traditionally easy but it might have been very hard for you; who’s to say that the course is “easy”?  I don’t think it’s possible for admissions to objectively distinguish this, even though they did a blog post where they asked about people’s ideas on which UBC courses are “easier” or “harder”.

Also, many people don’t take courses at UBC.  So for admissions to keep track of which courses are at what difficulty across universities/colleges/post-secondary programs is one tough task to achieve.

Do you mean to say that they look at how many upper year courses you take but not (necessarily) the type of courses they are? If so, where have they actually disclosed it? 

What I do know about the issue comes from a paragraph in a UBC Med Blog post from 2016 (close to the time when they decided to remove the prerequisites):

Quote

Finally, because the science prerequisites are no longer required, the selection committee will be taking a closer look at your transcript. They will be looking at your science courses but will also notice if 50% of your coursework is comprised of juggling and basket-weaving courses (or the university-transferable equivalents thereof).

A possible allusion to an assessment of the types of courses that you take, not the level of it. It is still from a while ago though so its applicability to this cycle is questionable.

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22 minutes ago, Coldery said:

Do you mean to say that they look at how many upper year courses you take but not (necessarily) the type of courses they are? If so, where have they actually disclosed it? 

What I do know about the issue comes from a paragraph in a UBC Med Blog post from 2016 (close to the time when they decided to remove the prerequisites):

A possible allusion to an assessment of the types of courses that you take, not the level of it. It is still from a while ago though so its applicability to this cycle is questionable.

Oh hmmm, interesting.  And no they technically haven’t disclosed it haha, but it does make sense since it can be quantifiable.  But even then, one can argue that difficulty is not necessarily positively correlated with increasing course level.

But what defines those “juggling” or “basket-weaving courses”?  Perhaps the interpretations of people on average?  But what about those exception cases where the supposed minority find an “easy” course difficult?  I guess this speaks to the idea that the admissions process is not super sophisticated.

One thing that makes sense to me is if admissions compares your grade with the average of the class, and also taking note of where the average of the class lies.  If an applicant is taking a significant number of courses where the average for each is about 70-80%, that would be different than an applicant who takes courses with averages at ~60%.  The reasons these comparisons make sense are because they’re quantifiable, efficient, and something realistic that they could do.

But ultimately, it comes down to two words:  who knows :P

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28 minutes ago, Neurophiliac said:

Oh hmmm, interesting.  And no they technically haven’t disclosed it haha, but it does make sense since it can be quantifiable.  But even then, one can argue that difficulty is not necessarily positively correlated with increasing course level.

But what defines those “juggling” or “basket-weaving courses”?  Perhaps the interpretations of people on average?  But what about those exception cases where the supposed minority find an “easy” course difficult?  I guess this speaks to the idea that the admissions process is not super sophisticated.

One thing that makes sense to me is if admissions compares your grade with the average of the class, and also taking note of where the average of the class lies.  If an applicant is taking a significant number of courses where the average for each is about 70-80%, that would be different than an applicant who takes courses with averages at ~60%.  The reasons these comparisons make sense are because they’re quantifiable, efficient, and something realistic that they could do.

But ultimately, it comes down to two words:  who knows :P

I find juggling extremely difficult. I'd totally fail that course.

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Yeah! I'd agree that we're probably reading too far into it and that they're probably just looking for the extreme circumstance where someone only took 1st-year courses to reach the 120 credit requirement (or something to that degree).

If they've developed a metric to compare you to the class average, that could also work. However, I have friends in honours programs that have completed difficult courses with high averages simply because of the calibre of the students, further complicating the matter. 

It seems like the best solution would be to simplify the entire assessment and simply look at grades as doing otherwise would create sticky situations like this (still looking for the very few applicants trying to game the system of course).

 

Edit: Weird formatting issues

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I have literally taken a "basket weaving class" (it was a 300 level applied indigenous arts class). It was brutally hard because you had to produce detailed, finicky, time-consuming products every week using skills you just learned. I am an artist personally and a 98%+ student in my university program, and that course was hard. I received a 99% in my chemistry class and only about an 85% in this class.

There is a weird implied assumption that certain degrees are less challenging and are therefore less worthy for medical school. It is only a perception that they are "easier". People are drawn to what they are good at; most science majors would struggle in most art classes. I personally think that every program is going to require very different, challenging skills, each of which can be an asset to medicine. 

For example: A music major has to rehearse hours and hours for their "easy" Small Ensemble class, which also rehearses 6 hours weekly.  Their schedules are booked solid with physical commitments to others (i.e. they must be present, in person). They have to master the skills of self-discipline and time management. There is no "cramming" for a recital or sleeping-in/skipping an orchestral rehearsal. If you do - you fail.

A business major needs to be able to communicate and work with others. They take complex information (i.e. Tax legislation) and simplify it for clients/users. Some classes have 50% of their mark or more based on group work. They need to learn strategic planning, risk assessments, and alternative comparisons. 

Creative writing needs to come up with unique, inspired ideas ---- all the time! That would be exhausting. 

I could go on and on. The point is, every single one of these programs offers a unique set of "challenging" skills that not all of us can do well, if at all. More importantly, these skills are all valuable in medicine. You may be a rockstar in the biochem lab, and someone else can think of unique creative solutions, and someone else is amazing at communicating with patients. Win. Win. Win.

 

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