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smalltowncelery

Advice for Masters

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Hi everyone! 

Hope you are all doing okay and enjoying the good weather (if you live in Ontario haha). 

I had a question about masters programs and just generally looking for advice. I am currently on the good WL at UO, but I'm not holding my breath and want to be prepared in the likely scenario I do not get in. 

I haven't written my MCAT yet, this is my first cycle and therefore I could only apply to Ottawa this year. I will be quitting my job and writing my MCAT this summer (Sept 28) if I don't get into Ottawa. I've been accepted into a 12 month masters of management in AI (this is my career back-up plan) and am trying to decide whether it is worth doing it or not. I want to give med at least 1 full try (i.e. write MCAT and actually apply to all 5 schools). I could defer the masters program 1 year but then i would not able to defer a rather significant scholarship. 

I want to do the masters program because 1. I find it interesting and 2. I think AI will be relevant to med in the future. However, I come from a sciency background and am not sure that I will be able to maintain the GPA I had in UG in a more technical program that I have never done before + the first month of the program I'll probably be mostly focused on MCAT studying.

If i was accepted to a school next application cycle (class of 2025), would I have to maintain the GPA i applied with to maintain my offer for Ontario schools? or is it different when its a masters and not UG? 

Also - does it look bad to do a masters program that isn't thesis-based or specialized in health? 

Hopefully this question makes sense sorry it was kind of a ramble and any advice is appreciated. 

:)

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Hey! I hope you get off the good waitlist at Ottawa this year. However, I think it's great that you're thinking ahead. Firstly, Ottawa does look at graduate or UG applicants any differently. Having that background may help you for the interview as it gives you some interesting talking points but otherwise no objective improvements from Ottawa's end. I think other schools such as Queens (lower GPA cutoffs needed) and Toronto look at having a masters as quite favorable. In terms of grades, Ottawa (and I think all medical schools in Ontario) do not look at your graduate grades. Your wGPA is calculated using UG and that's it.

If I were you in your shoes, given that this is your first application cycle, I would hold off on the masters. The masters program will be there next year and the year after that. It's not going anywhere. If medicine is truly your dream then give it all you got. Write the MCAT this year, spend time on any essays needed (for Western and U of T), prepare heavily for CASPer and then practice hard for the interviews coming your way. The whole process of applying is extremely demanding. It's manageable to apply while doing a masters but it is extremely tiring (speaking from experience). Last thing you want to do is half-ass it when you could of gave it 110% and got in right away. One thing to consider is can you write the MCAT that late (Sept 28) and still apply this cycle? (I am not sure so just looking into that) 

Lastly, I don't think the type of masters matters at all whether it's course based, thesis based or specialized in health or not. Just do something that you're passionate about if anything because you will take so much more for it. Interviewees can tell when an applicant is passionate about something. Best of luck. Hopefully you hear from Chantal soon!! 

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Hi! Thanks so much for all the great advice. I really appreciate it. I also hope I hear from Chantal haha but I'm around the middle of the timestamp theory so .. we shall see. 

The Sept 28 MCAT date test results are released on Oct 28 which is 3 days before the Nov 1 Deadline (and the last date possible for applying in this application cycle). Unfortunately, there are no other dates in Ontario around end of Aug (only in Rochester NY and I was worried the borders might not open up in time?). Seating sizes were reduced to compensate for social distancing and that is why this year Sept 27/28 dates were added. 

Thank you again!

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Hey! Take my advice with a grain of salt, as I have not completed nor applied to a masters program, but if I were in your situation I would not defer your masters. You seem very interested in the subject and have a large scholarship, which are both important factors in my opinion. Writing your MCAT in September means that you would only be studying during the first month or so of your masters, which will be tough for a bit but in the grand scheme of things isn't too big a deal. Although the med application process is demanding, the majority of applicants are in your exact same shoes of applying during their studies (UG or post-grad). Having a masters degree is a great benefit, for applying to med, for CARMs, and as a back up if you don't get into med. If you aren't successful this year, you've just spent a full year only applying to med with nothing else to show for it which will disadvantage not only a future med application but also your back up career.

TL;DR being in school (masters, UG, or otherwise) is definitely doable during the med application cycle, and a masters degree would provide you with many benefits!

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Hi!

I really hope you get that call from Chantal. I know that this must be a tough decision. I actually wrote my MCAT and applied for medical school during my masters. The first month was really busy but in the end I found it to be a rewarding experience. Psych is right, you have a great opportunity that will only benefit you in the long-term. I would try to focus on the MCAT and apps this summer and, if you can,  keep a lookout for seats (as people usually drop closer to their MCAT).

Goodluck!

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Just echoing what has been said in that a masters is an advantage for schools' med applications, for your interviews (you can usually see the difference between UG applicants and mature/grad/working applicants) and even Carms etc (first two speaking from experience and the last one is what most applicants recount). AI is already a huge advantage if you're looking to do medical research so definetly related.

Also, it all depends on what else you would do after your MCAT date/OMSAS app deadline. If the choice is between doing a masters that helps you on your journey to medical school or working at a job that doesn't benefit that app without the financial security of your masters, deferring doesn't seem at all worth it to me.

That being said, as yourself what you feel comfortable with taking on. Studying for the MCAT, in your last month you are mostly consolidating and that is doable while working elsewhere (ex did it while doing full-time research). As for finalizing your app while studying, it is what most people do and it goes well. I'd recommend doing a big of your ABS description/essays every day. it is possible to keep your grades up if you're organized; I don't know about your masters but health-related masters the grades are easier than UG because the courses are projects and essays rather than multiple choice.

Good luck with your app this year :) 

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I just want to give a different perspective because while everyone who is advising you to take the masters has great points, everyone is different and sometimes it is better to not have too many responsibilities at once.

Personally, I was in a similar situation of deciding whether to pursue a masters, do another year of undergrad, or take the year off and find a job. I chose to do another year of undergrad and I realized afterwards that it may have been better for me to actually take the year off and get a part time job. This would have given me more flexibility when preparing for the MCAT, creating a solid application, and becoming a strong interviewer.

MCAT: First things first, MCAT scores take a month to come out so it might be better for you to write before August 30ish and not in September (check when the last accepted MCAT date is). From my experience, the MCAT is VERY challenging to ace on the first try - many people take it multiple times. While getting a high score the first time is doable, you will really have to study hard and study smart. Most people I know who aced it on the first try dedicated the entire summer solely on the MCAT and by the time you write it on August you'll be fairly tired and burnt out.

Application: You're done your MCAT and now you really have to solidify your application. Depending on which schools you're applying to, you'll have to write a lot of essays (Western + U of T) that are quite time consuming. If you're just starting a Masters, you might have some trouble balancing your new responsibilities with staying on top of the sneakily large amount of work you need to put into crafting your essays into strong messages with a cohesive story not to mention the annoying task of adding in all everything to your ABS.

Interview: As an introvert, I HATE interviews with a passion. But I knew that I needed to feel comfortable in any interview situation and to be able to think quickly on the spot. Before practicing I created a list of all my experiences and activities until I knew them inside out and then I practiced most days during the week from January to March until I knew that I could easily create a narrative that conveyed what I learned and how I have grown from each experience. All this takes a lot of time and energy, something that could be hard to balance while being in a Masters.

Now I'm not saying that you definitely shouldn't do the Masters - it seems like you would really benefit from it. But make sure you take care of yourself, don't burn out, and set yourself up for the best possibility of creating a killer application for med and then getting that acceptance! As cubes said, if med is truly your passion, put 110% into it so you don't have regrets on your 1 full try.

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