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coops1115

Western Med Sci vs. Waterloo Life Sci

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Hey everyone,

I'm having a huge dilemma! I'm in grade 12 in Ontario atm, and need to decide where to go next year very soon! I was accepted to both Western Med Sci and Waterloo Life Sci (majoring in biochemistry, with coop). I was originally leaning towards med sci at UWO, however without coop, I feel like I'll be missing out on valuable work experience that I would have if med school doesn't work out for me. However, med sci has a great rep and UWO felt like home to me and is supposedly a feeder to med, but has been known to be unnecessarily difficult to maintain a competitive GPA in. On the other hand, Waterloo would give me 2 years of work experience by the time I graduate, is an easier program than med sci and is about an hour closer to home (UWO is approx. 2hrs). The social scene and atmosphere however did not appeal to me as I am heavily affected by my environment and I definitely don't want to be on a campus where everyone is too competitive to be genuine friends and enjoy at least some of their time at uni outside of studying. So....on top of that, Laurier health sci! I didn't apply to this program but I contacted admissions and they told me I would still be considered a competitive applicant, the program has coop, has a really nice atmosphere, offers most of the courses required for the MCAT and med school admissions and is easier to achieve higher marks in than med sci. It's a good mix between med sci and life sci. I'm considering applying, but I don't know. I'd really appreciate some kind of guidance and advice -- I'm completely lost and have no idea what decision to make anymore. Should I just stick to med sci? I know there's no right answer but I'm just looking for some insight because there's not many people I know that can help. Thanks so much in advance and sorry if this is kinda long.

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You know if you did have decent grades, but decided against medicine, you could also join the Ivey program at Western after 2 yrs of med sci. It'll be an internal app so you wouldn't even have to transfer schools. 

Personally, i'd choose Western. The extra hr away from home is nothing and you'd probably want to be further away from home if you can. I found people who left home for uni changed more than people who stayed at home and the further you go the less you'll visit home. 

I wouldn't be too worried about the competition at either school. University is huge, you'll find friends who are similar to you and this isn't high school where people judge you by your group or interests. You can easily skate through university with a few good friends or many good friends under the radar. 

 

 

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@Edict

True, I could switch into Ivey, but I didn't apply for their AEO thing so it would be tough to get in, plus I'm not too interested in business. I'd prefer to be a little closer to home. What do you think of coop? I think that's my biggest concern, not having something to fall back on and having a solid resume if I decide against or can't get into medicine. The program's difficulty also concerns me - I know how competitive it is in Canada to get into med school so I'm just concerned about being able to do really well in such a tough program. 

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8 minutes ago, coops1115 said:

@Edict

True, I could switch into Ivey, but I didn't apply for their AEO thing so it would be tough to get in, plus I'm not too interested in business. I'd prefer to be a little closer to home. What do you think of coop? I think that's my biggest concern, not having something to fall back on and having a solid resume if I decide against or can't get into medicine. The program's difficulty also concerns me - I know how competitive it is in Canada to get into med school so I'm just concerned about being able to do really well in such a tough program. 

The issue with co-op, is that it makes it harder to get into medical school in the first place because you don't have free time to bolster your resume. All you will have is co-op. Only a few people (1-5) in my class came from co-op programs and probably 15-20 people came from Western Med Sci. 

I think you should really think about how interested in medicine you are. If you think theres a good chance you will want to bail on medicine, co-op at Waterloo might be better, but if you think you're pretty committed and the only way you'd stop being interested is if your grades weren't there, then choose Western Med Sci. Its a tough choice, sacrifices on both ends really. 

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Waterloo Life sci (ESPICALLY biochem) is not easier than Western Med sci, not by any stretch. Also, coop is not as good as it used to be. I went to UW life sci (bio major w/coop) and I'm in medicine now, if you're set on medicine for sure, go to western

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I graduated from Western’s Med Sci this year and will be attending Western’s medical school in the fall. I can’t speak for Waterloo but I loved my program! If you pick the right courses and modules, it isn’t too bad to maintain a high GPA. I agree that being an extra hour away won’t make a big deal in regards to visiting home. I visited home (GTA) about every 3 weeks with the Greyhound or rideshare.

If you’re concerned about missing out on co-cop, Western has an internship program that works similarly. Basically, at the end of your third year you can apply to do a full-time internship in your fourth year. Friends of mine have worked for the Ministry of Environment, Robart’s Research Institute, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, and Labatt Breweries (all in science/lab related jobs). Because there’s usually few people who apply to the internship, it’s not that competitive to get in. Not sure how long Waterloo’s co-op program is but the Western internship route will take you an extra year because you’ll need to finish your degree requirements in your 5th year. So you’re still getting the relevant work experience, similar to Waterloo’s co-op and you don’t need to decide on whether you want to pursue the internship until 3rd year.

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2 hours ago, coops1115 said:

@avocado851

Wow, congratulations!! If you don't mind me asking, which module/specialization did you start in 3rd year? 

Thank you! I did the IMS module because it was the only BMSc honours spec module without a thesis. (I wasn’t keen on doing a thesis) 

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I went to Waterloo for health and I can say the environment is a bit competitive sometimes with co-op but I did find my people and got to know my professors a lot in my last year. I really think co-op is what helped me get interviews this year as it gave me 4 different experiences in 4 different areas of health care so I HIGHLY recommend people do co-op if you're interested in it! The experience is what made me decide being a doctor was for me so co-op is really great and helping you figure out what you like. I can't speak for how hard life sci will be unfortunately, but co-op made my undergraduate experience and  sets you up for other fields/jobs after you graduate if you don't pursue med. Just my two cents!

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@APP2019

Hey, congratulations! I was wondering what kind of jobs you were able to get with co-op. I know they differ between faculties(AHS and Life sci) but from what I know you can apply to any of them? I haven't had much luck finding good info on what the jobs were like. How difficult was it to get relevant/interesting jobs? What were they like? Having relevant/any job experience is pretty much why I'm interested in coop because yeah, not everyone makes it to med. Thanks for your response!

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18 hours ago, coops1115 said:

@APP2019

Hey, congratulations! I was wondering what kind of jobs you were able to get with co-op. I know they differ between faculties(AHS and Life sci) but from what I know you can apply to any of them? I haven't had much luck finding good info on what the jobs were like. How difficult was it to get relevant/interesting jobs? What were they like? Having relevant/any job experience is pretty much why I'm interested in coop because yeah, not everyone makes it to med. Thanks for your response!

All really good questions! I was in AHS and I was able to get a co-op at a chiropractic office working for two doctors, two at a research centre where I worked on clinical trials, and another at a major Toronto hospital in the cancer department so there are lots of opportunities. I also have friends who got jobs in hospitals, research labs, the ministry of health and long term care, CIHR, health policy, health tech starts ups - the list goes on! The opportunities are there and once you get your first co-op your remaining ones are usually in a lot cooler places/easier to find. Having some work experience before going into co-op helps and it doesn't have to be health/science related, just any transferable skills really. 
Some friends I have in bio got jobs with genetic counsellors, at environmental research centres, at the university, at research centres, and more!

EDIT: if you want to PM I can give you more details there :)

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