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AB27

Applying through the black student application program

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So I'm mixed 50/50 and I'm not sure if applying through this stream would be beneficial or not. Like would it be seen as taking a seat away from an 'actual' black person? My only plus side is that if I got an interview they wouldn't subconsciously count my natural hair against me lol. For the record I'm sure the admissions folks aren't straight up racist but we all have certain prejudices whether we consciously act on them or not. Also could be 100% reading to much into this.

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From their website: "The Black Student Application Program (BSAP) is an optional application stream for Black applicants who self-identify as Black African, Black Caribbean, Black North American, multi-racial students who have and identify with their Black ancestry, etc."

If that statement applies to you, go for it! 

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U of T doesn't have a quota for black students so you wouldn't be "taking a seat away". The program's goal is to encourage those that identify as black to apply. In theory, your chances of admission would not change, though as you mentioned, there are probably biases that could go either way for you.

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3 hours ago, DispIay Name said:

U of T doesn't have a quota for black students so you wouldn't be "taking a seat away". The program's goal is to encourage those that identify as black to apply. In theory, your chances of admission would not change, though as you mentioned, there are probably biases that could go either way for you.

Yes I know there are no dedicated seats, I could have worded that better. Well I identify as half black so I guess I might as well? Tbh probably doesn't matter much.

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Hey there AB7, 

I had the same thought process last year when I applied through BSAP. I am mixed (50/50) but I do have light skin (and natural "black" hair!). I felt the exact same way but I can assure you I was MORE than happy to have applied through BSAP. I had the chance to talk about my background in my personal essays and during my interview. I also loved the diversity of the interviewer panel for the BSAP stream of applicants. I was worried leading up to the interview that I would look like a fraud but I was not made to look or feel this way during the interview process or afterwards! 

Hope this helps

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I believe you just need to have any black ancestry, and identify with it in some way.  They are not doing a genetic test - and it makes getting into medical school infinitely easier.  Definitely take this route!!

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On 6/7/2020 at 9:29 PM, uwopremed said:

I believe you just need to have any black ancestry, and identify with it in some way.  They are not doing a genetic test - and it makes getting into medical school infinitely easier.  Definitely take this route!!

lol at "infinitely easier". this user is clearly taking jabs at BSAP applicants. everyone i know who interviewed through BSAP had a wGPA  greater than 3.95 (literally 10 people). you still have to be great

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On 6/7/2020 at 9:29 PM, uwopremed said:

I believe you just need to have any black ancestry, and identify with it in some way.  They are not doing a genetic test - and it makes getting into medical school infinitely easier.  Definitely take this route!!

 

On 6/11/2020 at 3:19 PM, medicallyricalmiracle said:

lol at "infinitely easier". this user is clearly taking jabs at BSAP applicants. everyone i know who interviewed through BSAP had a wGPA  greater than 3.95 (literally 10 people). you still have to be great

I am going to take the more hopeful position and that the poster is simply suggesting if you have route that makes things easier you should take it. Or at least I am going to flat out state that - if something applies you should do it without any negative thoughts at all. People with granted advantages elsewhere in the system are using those as well (SWOMEN, language status, province you are from........) and this is the same. 

But I will agree absolutely - the wording is quite bad - it is far from infinitely easier. In the end we must have good doctors and the people entering this way will become good doctors in part because they have the potential to do so. 

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I don’t understand why people deny that being black or indigenous with an above-average GPA is a straight ticket to med school. The objective statistics data overwhelmingly support this.

Besides, many cheer when med schools implement ‘equity’ measures to help disadvantaged. But at the same time, the same people keep denying that race is a huge positive factor in the admission process. You can’t play both ways. You want equity measures, then own it, agree that your race is what got you accepted. 

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On 12/11/2019 at 9:18 PM, AB27 said:

Yes I know there are no dedicated seats, I could have worded that better. Well I identify as half black so I guess I might as well? Tbh probably doesn't matter much.

I agree. You should definitely apply! In my opinion, being 50/50 mix does not make you any less of either race! I think it's amazing to be a mix of 2 cultures--you'll provide such an interesting perspective to your classmates! Good luck!! I hope you get in! 

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1 hour ago, yesandno said:

I don’t understand why people deny that being black or indigenous with an above-average GPA is a straight ticket to med school. The objective statistics data overwhelmingly support this.

Besides, many cheer when med schools implement ‘equity’ measures to help disadvantaged. But at the same time, the same people keep denying that race is a huge positive factor in the admission process. You can’t play both ways. You want equity measures, then own it, agree that your race is what got you accepted. 

Following the logic - one major point of equity measures is to correct a disadvantage within the system - just because you used them doesn't mean your race got you accepted. It means if it is done correctly that after applying a correction to a disadvantage you never should have had in the first place you go into medical school. That's not the same thing at all. 

They can in a sense have it both ways then - you want equity measures to correct for unfairness, then when you get them you end up where you should have anyway prior to the unfairness. Why then would you say your race was the reason?  You jumped over the part where someone with such disadvantages got an above average GPA - that already is an accomplishment in the face of a headwinds. How much higher would it have been without that? 

Overwhelming evidence? I don't think our relatively small recent efforts in specifically being black have born out much evidence either way yet. If you are indigenous and somehow manage to jump through the extra barriers to the point of applying you would have advantages (but again framed against the back drop of both other disadvantages and strong public policy reasons for having more representative pool of doctors). 

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Psyrmorelan, if there is an application stream for black applicants and a percentage of seats is reserved only for black applicants, it is only logical to say that a person who gets that seat, got it because she/he is black, this is a “cut off” criterion that prevents members of other races from applying. No? There is nothing wrong with admitting it, and I don’t understand why people are so madly defensive and aggressive because of it.

I am not against levelling-off the field, however, I think there is a better criterion, it is the economic status of the applicant, not a race. Let’s say there is a rich black person A and a poor white person B. A went to a private school, got tutors, a good university, did not have to work, ended up with a decent competitive GPA. Person B went to a public school, an average university, worked part-time, got the same competitive GPA. Because of race-based equity measures, person A is way likely to be accepted. In reality, how is this fairer?

“Equity measures to correct for unfairness”, I would agree with AA (affirmative action) in the USA in the 60s, but it’s the 21st century, there is no system of oppression of black people in Canada. It’s all about SES right now, and how much money a family has. Regardless of race, poor people are the ones who disadvantaged. Why not use family income as really objective and measurable criteria of disadvantageness?

“when you get them you end up where you should have anyway”, the problem is that by knowing ONLY the race of the person is not possible to say whether they are disadvantaged. In modern reality, with strong anti-discrimination laws, public shaming, and sky-high level of social tolerance and acceptance, just being black does not mean you are automatically disadvantaged.

The USA provides very rich statistical data on this matter.

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33 minutes ago, yesandno said:

Psyrmorelan, if there is an application stream for black applicants and a percentage of seats is reserved only for black applicants, it is only logical to say that a person who gets that seat, got it because she/he is black, this is a “cut off” criterion that prevents members of other races from applying. No? There is nothing wrong with admitting it, and I don’t understand why people are so madly defensive and aggressive because of it.

I am not against levelling-off the field, however, I think there is a better criterion, it is the economic status of the applicant, not a race. Let’s say there is a rich black person A and a poor white person B. A went to a private school, got tutors, a good university, did not have to work, ended up with a decent competitive GPA. Person B went to a public school, an average university, worked part-time, got the same competitive GPA. Because of race-based equity measures, person A is way likely to be accepted. In reality, how is this fairer?

“Equity measures to correct for unfairness”, I would agree with AA (affirmative action) in the USA in the 60s, but it’s the 21st century, there is no system of oppression of black people in Canada. It’s all about SES right now, and how much money a family has. Regardless of race, poor people are the ones who disadvantaged. Why not use family income as really objective and measurable criteria of disadvantageness?

“when you get them you end up where you should have anyway”, the problem is that by knowing ONLY the race of the person is not possible to say whether they are disadvantaged. In modern reality, with strong anti-discrimination laws, public shaming, and sky-high level of social tolerance and acceptance, just being black does not mean you are automatically disadvantaged.

The USA provides very rich statistical data on this matter.

sure of course it prevents people from other races from applying. No one can argue abut that because well it is a factual restatement of the actual program. Saying the program existence is why they got into medical school is the point we hold in contention. For one thing you don't know they wouldn't have gotten in without the program in the general case. Second to restate my point from before - I don't actually care that the program was deciding factor on them getting in if it proportionally compensates for a confirmable bias against that particular group, and the accepted applicants are capable and do become skilled doctors. 

So whether it is a good or bad idea well of course that is something that can be debated - and should be debated  if for no other reason than we simply haven't been talking about any of these problems enough for quite some time - or at least haven't been doing enough for it (as indicated by the persistence of the issues involved - these topics were key medical school interview debate points going back as far as I can tell - 30+ years in one form or the other). 

I would say your comment on a lack of systematic oppression on particular races in Canada would be a debatable point - if you start with that assumption then of course the entire argument isn't work fighting. However as a counter point - if such systematic oppression doesn't exist then why is there a persistent SES disadvantage for the groups in question at all that spans multiple generations - even accounting for initial starting resources?

Accepting that no criteria is universally fair, assuming we could somehow properly measure advantage (which many would argue is more than just economic status - two people of different races can have the exact same family income and still have one disadvantaged significantly) and compensate for it you may have a better - although more complex and harder to understand system - than one that is simply based on race. SES approaches I think are worth exploring - some are - but I would like to see a direct analysis to see if it would result in a more diverse and in particular racially diverse physician population more inline with our population demographics.  It is interesting that the debates on this are far more dynamic than say the ones based on geography or language restricting entry although vastly more people are impacted by those - that doesn't justify any of these policies but it is interesting none the less. 

Its a complex problem - and I would say you cannot directly apply US data without inspection to Canada either (vastly different history with this, different education system....). I would say it is not so simple to say what worked there or didn't work there would so automatically come into issue here. For one thing the scale involved in Canada is vastly smaller and it is applied once, while in the US it could have been applied a multiple points along the pathway to be a doctor. 

 In any case let the light at least shine on the problems so we can find a better path forward. 

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Applicants offered admission through BSAP pass every checkpoint that everybody else does”, as it should be! Never did I suggest that the opposite. However, if there are two applicants with an identical above average GPA and MCAT score, the black and indigenous applicants will have a huge advantage. This is supported by the data, simply saying these facts is not racist.

Any argument taking away their merit or achievements due to their race is bananas”. Let’s just agree that all serious premeds of all races have a decent GPA and MCAT score. Nobody takes away anything from their achievements. Now, when the numbers do not add any additional selective value, med schools would rather give a seat to a racialized premed. But in reality, even med school web sites explicitly say that certain races need to meet a much lower GPA requirement, which is also supported by their admission statistics.

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42 minutes ago, yesandno said:

Applicants offered admission through BSAP pass every checkpoint that everybody else does”, as it should be! Never did I suggest that the opposite. However, if there are two applicants with an identical above average GPA and MCAT score, the black and indigenous applicants will have a huge advantage. This is supported by the data, simply saying these facts is not racist.

Any argument taking away their merit or achievements due to their race is bananas”. Let’s just agree that all serious premeds of all races have a decent GPA and MCAT score. Nobody takes away anything from their achievements. Now, when the numbers do not add any additional selective value, med schools would rather give a seat to a racialized premed. But in reality, even med school web sites explicitly say that certain races need to meet a much lower GPA requirement, which is also supported by their admission statistics.

lol aren't u the same person who said the entire admissions system needs to be overhauled and people should stop jumping all through the 'hoops' of adcoms nationwide? why don't you spend some time studying for an MCAT retake man, you're just yelling into an abyss at this point.

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7 hours ago, yesandno said:

FingersCrossedPls, just looked at your previous posts. You are scolding people left and right. Who made you the thought and the speech police here? Just move on, seriously. 

“Move on, seriously.” — Spoken from a true place of privilege. Imagine being able to move on from decades of having your identity questioned. If we as BIPOC don’t call out racism and microagressions when we see them, then no one else will. That is why I always come after comments like these.  

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5 hours ago, yesandno said:

Applicants offered admission through BSAP pass every checkpoint that everybody else does”, as it should be! Never did I suggest that the opposite. However, if there are two applicants with an identical above average GPA and MCAT score, the black and indigenous applicants will have a huge advantage. This is supported by the data, simply saying these facts is not racist.

Any argument taking away their merit or achievements due to their race is bananas”. Let’s just agree that all serious premeds of all races have a decent GPA and MCAT score. Nobody takes away anything from their achievements. Now, when the numbers do not add any additional selective value, med schools would rather give a seat to a racialized premed. But in reality, even med school web sites explicitly say that certain races need to meet a much lower GPA requirement, which is also supported by their admission statistics.

well yes - an advantage matched by a competing disadvantage for your first point. I think that is the place where our assumptions collide as it were. You are stating that the GPA/MCAT are worth the same. I am saying they are not because they demonstrate different things. The classic argument would be two people are running the same race but one is running carrying a backpack full or rocks - the finishing times mean different things. 

for the second point you are taking away something from their achievements - that is the point. By not considering that one pathway is harder than the other you diminish the value of one. When compensated for it should result in the possibility at least of one group being admitted with a lower overall GPA. That actually isn't a failing at all - the system is stating a lower GPA in one stream demonstrates the same effort and skill as a higher one in the other stream. 

Now you can disagree with the idea that the two streams are not different at all or perhaps the differences are not that much - but that is a different argument to the one you are making. We can also ask whether the policy change may selectively benefit particular groups within a race in a less than ideal way  and maybe can be done better is some other fashion. Just stating that one group has a "huge advantage" without pairing it with the matching huge(?) disadvantage is very problematic for me.

 

Edited by rmorelan

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You are stating something as facts when they are not: “one is running carrying a backpack full of rocks”, “by not considering that one pathway is harder than the other”, “without pairing it with the matching huge(?) disadvantage”. No, no, and no. Black students in 2020 in Canada are not systemically disadvantaged in any way (except maybe common street-level prejudice). Poor and low SES students are way more disadvantaged than the middle class and rich black students. Addressing low SES in the admission process brings way more diversity in the student body.

"The same effort and skill as a higher one in the other stream" this is where you are wrong. The GPA is an objective (more or less) mark of skill. The less skill, the lower the GPA. A completely different question is what influences getting the skill, what stands in a way to show the skill. But GPA does measure the skill. Are you questioning the capability of grades to signify the existence or lack of knowledge in a student? If so, then we should abolish grades. It’s like equalizing people's height. The height of a person is the skill, the number describing the height is the GPA. So if someone is shorter (less skill), they will be described in lower numbers. Just because they have a genetic disorder (for example) preventing them from growing tall, does not mean that their height should be equated to the height of a taller person or their height be corrected, e.g. describe someone who is 5'0 as 6'0.

P.S.: rmorelan, thank you for your mature tone and patience, I really appreciate it. It shows a stark contrast with the inputs of other members here.

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1 hour ago, yesandno said:

"The same effort and skill as a higher one in the other stream" this is where you are wrong. The GPA is an objective (more or less) mark of skill. The less skill, the lower the GPA. A completely different question is what influences getting the skill, what stands in a way to show the skill. But GPA does measure the skill. Are you questioning the capability of grades to signify the existence or lack of knowledge in a student? If so, then we should abolish grades. It’s like equalizing people's height. The height of a person is the skill, the number describing the height is the GPA. So if someone is shorter (less skill), they will be described in lower numbers. Just because they have a genetic disorder (for example) preventing them from growing tall, does not mean that their height should be equated to the height of a taller person or their height be corrected, e.g. describe someone who is 5'0 as 6'0.

You put a lot of trust in GPA, which is far from a great metric to compare applicants with since it does not always represent the absolute "skill" of an individual. 

Imagine three people with the exact same level of skill. Person 1 has a bad year caused by a depression stemming from a tragic event in their life. Person 2 can't commit the hours and hours needed to ace every course because they have to work a part-time job while taking care of their family. Person 3 goes through their undergrad with limited distractions and always has time for studying. While each person has the exact same skill level, Person 3 is going to nab the higher GPA simply because they had much less to worry about during their undergrad. This example is a microcosm of reality, and showcases how GPA does not always represent "skill."

However, there are problems with ALL of the components used to compare applicants. Doing well on the MCAT/CASPer, interviewing well, and obtaining ECs all correlate with SES. So, we shouldn't "abolish grades." Rather, we should continue to build upon the Canadian system as it exists, where different components are valued at different levels by different schools. Poor GPA because of circumstances outside your control? Queen's uses it as a cut-off. Can't afford MCAT prep materials and do poorly? uOttawa has got your back. Can't take time to pursue diverse ECs since you have to take care of a sibling? McMaster has its no-ECs formula. While the system is not perfect (and does not deal with the influence of SES very well), it offers applicants with weak sections of their application a chance to pursue medicine despite the obstacles they have faced. 

 

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1 minute ago, yesandno said:

You are stating something as facts when they are not: “one is running carrying a backpack full of rocks”, “by not considering that one pathway is harder than the other”, “without pairing it with the matching huge(?) disadvantage”. No, no, and no. Black students in 2020 in Canada are not systemically disadvantaged in any way (except maybe common street-level prejudice). Poor and low SES students are way more disadvantaged than the middle class and rich black students. Addressing low SES in the admission process brings way more diversity in the student body.

"The same effort and skill as a higher one in the other stream" this is where you are wrong. The GPA is an objective (more or less) mark of skill. The less skill, the lower the GPA. A completely different question is what influences getting the skill, what stands in a way to show the skill. But GPA does measure the skill. Are you questioning the capability of grades to signify the existence or lack of knowledge in a student? If so, then we should abolish grades. It’s like equalizing people's height. The height of a person is the skill, the number describing the height is the GPA. So if someone is shorter (less skill), they will be described in lower numbers. Just because they have a genetic disorder (for example) preventing them from growing tall, does not mean that their height should be equated to the height of a taller person or their height be corrected, e.g. describe someone who is 5'0 as 6'0.

P.S.: rmorelan, thank you for your mature tone and patience, I really appreciate it. It shows a stark contrast with the inputs of other members here.

and this is where the arguments all lead - are Black students in 2020 disadvantaged or not, if so are the disadvantages enough a response in some fashion is appropriate, and if appropriate what should that response be. I think ultimately all things centre around this. The school in question answered yes to the first two points, and created this program in response to the final point. You disagree with the first point and thus all subsequent questions are not relevant - challenging in effect their line of reasoning.  

I will say that GPA cannot be an absolute measure of skill - if for no other reason than  it is modifiable by SES status - shown quite a number of times in the literature (perhaps we can put aside for a moment whether skill is the correct entity to measure or at least to describe it - potential at doing well at medical school and medicine I suppose is what we are looking for although much more wordy). High SES presumes an advantage - thus results in a higher GPA (due to a range of factors). If some one with a high SES got the same GPA as someone with lower one I would say the one with the lower SES has a high likelihood of having the superior potential (so would you likely which is why you are proposing it should be used as a factor). So yes I am questioning the capacity of grades to measure that potential in isolation. Using your analogy about height two people with the same genetic factors for height but one is fed a superior diet (higher SES) we would expect him to grow taller - if you find two equally tall people but one with varying quality of food the one with the worse diet would still have superior genes for height regardless. We haven't even begun to talk of course about the range program/university differences that also impact GPA - it is at best a rather imperfect tool for comparing academic ability because it is too malleable by outside factors. I would say a lot of the various responses and changes of the past 15 years to medical admissions has been a direct response to the imperfections in GPA to truly determine potential to be a good doctor. 

So ha looping back - if we are really going to look at it logically - is it race or SES the true measure that we should be tracking? - or both for that matter - is race an independent factor in isolation of SES. That is an interesting question. Is the entire reason we have lower proportions of people from various racial backgrounds in medical school linked to SES? I do think there is more too it than that 

despite the debate there is also some common ground - the current system has major limitations and creates for one reason or the other barriers to advancement for some that should not be blocked (in order to ultimately get the best pool to draw applicants from). 

 

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8 minutes ago, коронавирус said:

You put a lot of trust in GPA, which is far from a great metric to compare applicants with since it does not always represent the absolute "skill" of an individual. 

Imagine three people with the exact same level of skill. Person 1 has a bad year caused by a depression stemming from a tragic event in their life. Person 2 can't commit the hours and hours needed to ace every course because they have to work a part-time job while taking care of their family. Person 3 goes through their undergrad with limited distractions and always has time for studying. While each person has the exact same skill level, Person 3 is going to nab the higher GPA simply because they had much less to worry about during their undergrad. This example is a microcosm of reality, and showcases how GPA does not always represent "skill."

However, there are problems with ALL of the components used to compare applicants. Doing well on the MCAT/CASPer, interviewing well, and obtaining ECs all correlate with SES. So, we shouldn't "abolish grades." Rather, we should continue to build upon the Canadian system as it exists, where different components are valued at different levels by different schools. Poor GPA because of circumstances outside your control? Queen's uses it as a cut-off. Can't afford MCAT prep materials and do poorly? uOttawa has got your back. Can't take time to pursue diverse ECs since you have to take care of a sibling? McMaster has its no-ECs formula. While the system is not perfect (and does not deal with the influence of SES very well), it offers applicants with weak sections of their application a chance to pursue medicine despite the obstacles they have faced. 

 

I will comment to say that one issue with that approach is that there isn't a lot of cohesion on purpose between the schools - Ottawa isn't looking at Toronto and figuring out how to compliment them, and so on. Each truly believed independently their systems are excellent methods. It seems almost luck there was ways around things - and those systems change. I am not sure that is really the best way of doing things either. 

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