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Angrythrowaway

Frustrated with the admissions system

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The slights against certain groups aside, I also resonate with the message (and anger) in OP's post. The admissions process really does contain an absurd degree of luck, subjectivity, and bias, and it will always be frustrating to see the inequities that exist play out in such an important part of all of our lives (especially when others who have been successful are oblivious to the imperfections of the system); it would be nice to see something done about it and I don't think we should stop striving for ways to improve the system just because its difficult or inconvenient. Some of the brightest and most caring people I know have been rejected from med who I think would be outstanding physicians, and it's tough to see. That said, some of the elements of the system will be here to stay and we do have to be able to accept that and either keep trying, or move on. 

If anything what I always hope people take away from the fact that the admissions process here is so subjective is that it shouldn't change anyone's perception or their worth or abilities. Personally, it's actually encouraged me to feel less competitive and develop a better sense of comradery with those going through the pipeline. Imo, people who get in/are in should spend their time propping up the community (including those who are striving to get into medicine), and those who don't should work towards accepting that, in a way, they're casualties of a broken (or at least imperfect) system and that, after a point, it's not them. No one gets in without at least some luck. We all have to play with the hands we're dealt in life and comparison to others is a sure fire way to be unhappy. It is frustrating, but can't always change how other people think, so the best we can do is foster the kind of positive relationships with premeds and med students alike we'd like to have, and perpetuate it forward to affect a positive change that way. Until we're in a senor enough position to try to affect changes in the broader process anyways (which is a tall order as it is, in addition to the fact that most people I know who've gotten to that point are happy to just put the whose thing behind them and get on with life).

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57 minutes ago, Angrythrowaway said:

There are significant advantages between students who have connections/are from higher SES and their lower SES/less well-connected counterparts. Nepotism is alive and well in medicine. These inequities have been brought to light before, and are now even incorporated into interview questions, so I won't get further into this. 

But one overlooked inequity relates to the large discrepancy in the difficulty, rigour and quality of undergraduate programs from school to school and program to program. It is ABSURD that medical schools evaluate the GPAs between schools and programs equally. As much as our Arts majors will argue this, a BA in any field has nowhere CLOSE to the difficulty and rigour of a BSc in life sciences or biochemistry. And a U of T, McGill, Queens, uOttawa, Western BSc in life sci/biochem/chem etc. is SIGNIFICANTLY more rigorous than similar programs at smaller liberal arts schools. As a student who has two undergraduate degrees, one in the basic sciences from a medical school-holding University, I can tell you that my second undergraduate degree in Arts was a walk in the park. I had a perfect GPA over 4 years, and I studied HOURS and HOURS LESS than my first degree. Compare that to scratching by in my science undergrad, which I struggled in and left me with little opportunity and a useless piece of paper. Similarly, over the years I have conducted a scoping review comparing science curricula and exams at smaller, liberal arts schools (Brock, Mount Allison, Carleton, UOIT, York, Trent etc. etc.) with curricula for the "equivalent" courses at medical-school holding institutions (U of T, Western, uOttawa, Queens etc.). There is a NIGHT and DAY difference. There are widely known loopholes to complete challenging prerequisites at "other" schools or online, as the difficulty of their exams and assignments are significantly lower. 

And that's not even bringing up the gongshow that is Mac Health Sci with their massively inflated GPAs and matching inflated egos, yet this program seems to be the single largest feeder program for medical schools across the country.

The frustration really has come to a boiling a point. Seeing smug, pretentious arts background classmates in medical school, or my "science" background counterparts from "other" schools makes me cynical, jaded, and frustrated. And don't get me started on the Mac Health Scis, many of whom believe they are God's gift to Earth. 

I understand that it is not their fault, that alot of them will make good doctors, and perhaps the vast majority don't fall into the category of smug or pretentious. But the amount of bad apples sure are growing. We need a system that is far more objective and standardized, and that takes into consideration class averages and standard deviations. And for those reading this who coasted through a Humanities degree at some liberal arts college and are now a pompous, self-satisfied medical student, for the love of God humble yourself, and appreciate the immense opportunity you received with significantly less effort than many of your colleagues. There are plenty of students out there who didn't make it to a Canadian school who were equally, if not MORE so qualified, so consider yourself lucky and start acting with a greater sense of humility. 

 

As a current med student, and a graduate of the so-called "infamous" UofT Life Science program, I want to address several points that you've made. Firstly, it is frankly ABSURD (to use a word that you've used) to say that Arts degrees are easier. It is so much more difficult to score in the A range on essays compared to multiple choice tests.  Since all applicants, whether BAs, BSc.'s or otherwise, are held to the same competitive standard to gain admission, I would argue that people who get into med school after completing a BA were actually at a higher percetile rank within their cohort compared to many BSc. matriculants. Don't believe me? Check out this data from the recent class of 2020 at UofT on R3DD1T, which shows that Arts graduates as a whole have considerably lower GPAs than BSc. or BComm students: https://www.**DELETED**.com/r/UofT/comments/gyl2od/academic_achievement_of_uoft_graduates_june_2020/

Secondly, difficulty is subjective. I excelled in my life science courses, but if you put me in an English Literature or Drama course, I have no doubt that I would get my a** handed to me. Your single n=1 experience of finding an arts degree easier than your science degree does not provide evidence of anything. 

I will acknowledge that the practice of taking online courses at "easier" universities is concerning and needs to be discouraged by putting some measures in to the admissions process (I know UofC at least does do this by evaluating the difficulty of your courses as part of their "global assessment of academic merit"). Perhaps more med schools need to look into this. Now of course, that does bring up the point that, people only take these courses online at different univerisities because they can score better in them, so perhaps some universities do have an easier curriculum than others. But if you're really a medical student, why does that concern you? If anything, you should be happy because you made it in despite having some a more rigorous curriculum and now are better equipped to succeed due to your work ethic and background (I have heard from many upper years in UofT med that students from Mac healthsci struggle more than students who came out of UofT Life Science). The only reason why I could see it annoying you is if you somehow feel that these students who "cheated" their way into med school took a spot that you deserved more. 

It seems as though your real problem is with some of your classmates and not with any "unfairness" within the admissions process. Perhaps you feel that they haven't paid their dues, or you feel some sense of superiority because you got into med school "the hard way". You should do away with such notions. If some individuals behaviours are truly as bad as you say, they will either have to striaghten themselves out or face problems with professionalism in the future. By the way, there was definitely a more refined method of making the points that you made in your original post, and I would certainly hope that you will not be translating any pent up anger for your colleagues into the workplace, as that's going to land you into some professionalism problems yourself.

 

 

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10 minutes ago, offmychestplease said:

wait so you applied a total of 4 times or 7 times? either way, respect as a fellow 4th timer 

Also, #FourthTryGang. I've talked to so many people this year that got in on their fourth try (myself included), must be the magic number hahaha

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What do you guys suggest be done specifically regarding admission processes? The matriculants are a reflection of the applicant pool to a large extent. These are the people that medicine attracts, regardless of program of origin. 

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2 minutes ago, TheFlyGuy said:

Also, #FourthTryGang. I've talked to so many people this year that got in on their fourth try (myself included), must be the magic number hahaha

haha I have an additional 2 friends who also got in this year on their 4th try...it's my new lucky number lol

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6 minutes ago, zxcccxz said:

As a current med student, and a graduate of the so-called "infamous" UofT Life Science program, I want to address several points that you've made. Firstly, it is frankly ABSURD (to use a word that you've used) to say that Arts degrees are easier. It is so much more difficult to score in the A range on essays compared to multiple choice tests. This in also supported by . Since all applicants, whether BAs, BSc.'s or otherwise, are held to the same competitive standard to gain admission, I would argue that people who get into med school after completing a BA were actually at a higher percetile rank within their cohort compared to many BSc. matriculants. Don't believe me? Check out this data from the recent class of 2020 at UofT on R3DD1T, which shows that Arts graduates as a whole have considerably lower GPAs than BSc. or BComm students: https://www.**DELETED**.com/r/UofT/comments/gyl2od/academic_achievement_of_uoft_graduates_june_2020/

Secondly, difficulty is subjective. I excelled in my life science courses, but if you put me in an English Literature or Drama course, I have no doubt that I would get my a** handed to me. Your single n=1 experience of finding an arts degree easier than your science degree does not provide evidence of anything. 

I will acknowledge that the practice of taking online courses at "easier" universities is concerning and needs to be discouraged by putting some measures in to the admissions process (I know UofC at least does do this by evaluating the difficulty of your courses as part of their "global assessment of academic merit"). Perhaps more med schools need to look into this. Now of course, that does bring up the point that, people only take these courses online at different univerisities because they can score better in them, so perhaps some universities do have an easier curriculum than others. But if you're really a medical student, why does that concern you? If anything, you should be happy because you made it in despite having some a more rigorous curriculum and now are better equipped to succeed due to your work ethic and background (I have heard from many upper years in UofT med that students from Mac healthsci struggle more than students who came out of UofT Life Science). The only reason why I could see it annoying you is if you somehow feel that these students who "cheated" their way into med school took a spot that you deserved more. 

It seems as though your real problem is with some of your classmates and not with any "unfairness" within the admissions process. Perhaps you feel that they haven't paid their dues, or you feel some sense of superiority because you got into med school "the hard way". You should do away with such notions. If some individuals behaviours are truly as bad as you say, they will either have to striaghten themselves out or face problems with professionalism in the future. By the way, there was definitely a more refined method of making the points that you made in your original post, and I would certainly hope that you will not be translating any pent up anger for your colleagues into the workplace, as that's going to land you into some professionalism problems yourself.

 

 

this logic is extremely flawed. Most BSc students grind to get high marks because they know if they don't get into med/dent then they are legit screwed. My business friends didn't care about their GPA, partied in UG, and got jobs at the end because of the nature of the degree. Also, most BA students aren't gunning for med/dent/law either and so they don't have the crazy pressure to study as much and get those high marks that BSc students have to

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1 minute ago, whatisgoingon said:

What do you guys suggest be done specifically regarding admission processes? The matriculants are a reflection of the applicant pool to a large extent. These are the people that medicine attracts, regardless of program of origin. 

Are these the type that medicine attracts?  Or are these the type that the current pay/prestige/security combination attracts?

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Just now, offmychestplease said:

this logic is extremely flawed. Most BSc students grind to get high marks because they know if they don't get into med/dent then they are legit screwed. My business friends didn't care about their GPA, partied in UG, and got jobs at the end because of the nature of the degree. Also, most BA students aren't gunning for med/dent/law either and so they don't have the crazy pressure to study as much and get those high marks that BSc students have to

Please give me your source, thanks. Many BSc. students don't want to go to med/dent. Your second point about business doesn't make sense, because BComm students have the highest GPAs of any undergrad degree type (if you took the time to check out the link I posted, you would know this). So if your logic from your first point holds, BComm students must grind the most. And in fact, many BA students are gunning for law school. A significant number of BA students from my college went to Oxford or an Ivy league in the states for their grad degrees, not something that's achieveable without significant extracurricualar involvement and academic excellence. I really wish that people would stop making such blanket statements.

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Personally, I think schools should use cutoffs or GPA boxes to avoid the problems inherent in making decisions based off of <0.1 differences in GPA (or even 0.001 once you're on the wire). Can you really argue a 3.9 is better than a 3.8? What about a 3.931 vs. a 3.929? Not with any certainty. I'll be honest, I made course selection decisions during my undergrad largely on the basis of the marking scheme of the course and I'm sure I'm not alone. 

I don't think comparing degrees and assigning "difficulty" scores is particularly useful. If you want to take about SES bias let's talk about how it would create the perfect storm. Prestigious schools tend to be big, in large cities, and have high entrance standards. Who do you think is going to be able to get into the "most difficult" programs and do well in them? Doctor's kids, lawyers kids, etc... If you're serious about reducing SES bias in Medicine you cannot start judging degrees by difficulty. If someone gets into a "less difficult" university or college that is closer to home, lets them keep their job, and gives them a scholarship that is a good thing.

Is there some merit to different degrees being easier or more difficult? Sure, I would not do well in engineering, but I'd imagine there's an engineer out there who would have hated my program. Different people have different strengths and we're all the better off when you have a class that is a mix.  Personally, I found my Science courses easier than some of the fine arts courses I took. There is one particular Arts course that I simply couldn't seem to break an A- in, despite hours of trying, reading, office hour visits, etc... 

The simple reality is that professional programs will attract their fair share of narcissists and achievement obsessed people who will then wield their "status" like a combination club/security blanket. This isn't unique to any program or background. Part of the reason there are ECs, interviews, etc. is to see if applicants have life experience that hopefully includes some humbling experiences and practical reminders that being a professional student doesn't make you special. 

I cam empathize with the comments above saying this process is so luck based that anyone thinking an offer letter is a measure of self-worth is mistaken and as someone who, barely, made it in I'm happy to help those struggling with the randomness themselves. 

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9 minutes ago, zxcccxz said:

Please give me your source, thanks. Many BSc. students don't want to go to med/dent. Your second point about business doesn't make sense, because BComm students have the highest GPAs of any undergrad degree type (if you took the time to check out the link I posted, you would know this). So if your logic from your first point holds, BComm students must grind the most. And in fact, many BA students are gunning for law school. A significant number of BA students from my college went to Oxford or an Ivy league in the states for their grad degrees, not something that's achieveable without significant extracurricualar involvement and academic excellence. I really wish that people would stop making such blanket statements.

lol if you need a source for refuting the statement that "many BSc students don't want to go to med/dent"

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On the topic of SES, I went to a private school in Toronto, where many of my peers ended up at Ivy League schools for undergrad. The vast majority of my peers had no interest in medicine. In my med school class, while I can't confirm much, the majority of my peers do not give me the impression of being considerably above middle class. I don't understand the constant association of entry into medicine with the upper echelons of wealth.

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OP is catching a LOT of heat but some of what they are saying is valid imo

For reference: Current third year resident, visible minority. Took me three application cycles to get into medical school. The most biased people I find (GENERALLY) are those who get into a Canadian school their first try. Superiority complex definitely exists. A large majority of my class looked down on IMGs and their peers who had gone abroad. Made me lose faith in the system. During CaRMS they would often say things like "that program is known to take IMG's". The bias sticks with them.

The reality of the situation is that the whole system is broken and there is no easy fix. People lie on their applications and get extra non-academic points/fake reference letters. They are impossible to prove as fake. GPAs are highly inflated from smaller universities - I was one of them. My undergrad was relatively easy at a smaller institution (although so was Canadian medical school....60% pass. Maybe I'm just brighter than I realize and would have been OK at a bigger university - who knows:P). The interview selection and actual interview scoring is also a complete gongshow. I have been involved in pre-interview application review as well as MMI scoring at a major Canadian medical school. During our "teaching" for scoring of applicants there was no consistency whatsoever. Interviewer bias is very real.

It is a broken system, without a doubt. Nepotism exists through residency, and jobs after. It really is just life. I am very thankful to have jumped through the hoops to get to where I am and I know that there are people that worked harder than me (and many others!) that never got through the boundaries. To the OP, if you are actually a frustrated applicant, try to persevere. Residency isn't easy and I think that if I hadn't struggled to get into medical school so hard I would not have been able to get through some of my training. I was extremely jaded during my third application cycle but it was necessary for my journey.

Hope this post doesn't offend anyone - its a topic I have put a lot of thought into over the years. 

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19 minutes ago, Swáy said:

On the topic of SES, I went to a private school in Toronto, where many of my peers ended up at Ivy League schools for undergrad. The vast majority of my peers had no interest in medicine. In my med school class, while I can't confirm much, the majority of my peers do not give me the impression of being considerably above middle class. I don't understand the constant association of entry into medicine with the upper echelons of wealth.

Here is a blog post that links to 2 studies that confirm the overwhelming majority of students come from a high SES background. Please be careful when making such statements as it perpetuates the idea that entry to medical school is equally challenging from students of all backgrounds when, in fact, it is not.

https://cmajblogs.com/addressing-the-income-gap-in-medical-school/

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Just now, oneday1 said:

Your last sentence was quite a strong statement and is false. It is challenging for everyone to get into medical school. We all still need the same requirements (high GPA, high MCAT, ECs). 

Regardless if someone has a high SES, middle SES, or low SES they still need to achieve those requirements. 

It's not false. We don't have the same obligations outside of school. You don't have to think about whether you can afford to re-apply or whether it's time to give up and get a job. You don't have to worry about whether you have the time or luxury to take up a 3rd volunteering opportunity or a research project because you don't have to get a job to pay for tuition. 

I say "You" and not "people of high SES" because someone who isn't entirely clueless wouldn't have said this.

Sure, people have to meet the same criteria. How hard it might be to achieve them is another story. Lighten up.

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5 minutes ago, whatisgoingon said:

It's not false. We don't have the same obligations outside of school. You don't have to think about whether you can afford to re-apply or whether it's time to give up and get a job. You don't have to worry about whether you have the time or luxury to take up a 3rd volunteering opportunity or a research project because you don't have to get a job to pay for tuition. 

I say "You" and not "people of high SES" because someone who isn't entirely clueless wouldn't have said this.

Sure, people have to meet the same criteria. How hard it might be to achieve them is another story. Lighten up.

I am NOT high SES. No idea why you are attacking me. Don't assume things.

Open your mind. Put your anger elsewhere.

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While it's true that everyone needs the same requirements (roughly anyways, due to how subjective the process is), I'm sure they're referring to the difficulty of actually achieving/obtaining those requirements across SES boundaries, which as they point out is well documented to not be equal. Getting good quality ECs, good grades, a solid MCAT, etc is definitely a more challenging threshold to achieve for lower SES individuals compared those who are in the upper categories.

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3 minutes ago, whatisgoingon said:

Right back at you 

Just checked some of your old posts. You're a troll and you comment rude posts on many forums. That type of attitude will get noticed by everyone around you (right back at you literally ;) )

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1 minute ago, oneday1 said:

Just checked some of your old posts. You're a troll and you comment rude posts on many forums. That type of attitude will get noticed by everyone around you (right back at you literally ;) )

I'm not actually angry at you. This is derailing the thread so I will apologize. I could have made my point differently as someone above did. It is important that we all realize that while the criteria are the same, it can be substantially more difficult for some to meet them based on their situations in life. I think we can agree on this?

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@whatisgoingon & @TheFlyGuy You took the words right out of my mouth!

I did not mean to come off harsh, but I think it is important to consider the different ways in which students from low SES are disadvantaged throughout the whole process. The blog that I mentioned above goes into more details regarding the various challenges faced by those students, if anyone wants to learn more about that :) 

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2 hours ago, Angrythrowaway said:

I know many (likely the vast majority) of people on this forum will disagree with what I am about to state, but I think this discussion needs to at least be started. For reference I am a third year med student at an Ontario school. 

Our medical school admissions process in Canada needs an overhaul. It's getting to a point of absurdity. There are significant advantages between students who have connections/are from higher SES and their lower SES/less well-connected counterparts. Nepotism is alive and well in medicine. These inequities have been brought to light before, and are now even incorporated into interview questions, so I won't get further into this. 

But one overlooked inequity relates to the large discrepancy in the difficulty, rigour and quality of undergraduate programs from school to school and program to program. It is ABSURD that medical schools evaluate the GPAs between schools and programs equally. As much as our Arts majors will argue this, a BA in any field has nowhere CLOSE to the difficulty and rigour of a BSc in life sciences or biochemistry. Perhaps components of theory have comparable intellectual challenges, but that still does not equate to the combination of intellectual challenge and sheer content of many science courses. And a U of T, McGill, Queens, uOttawa, Western BSc in life sci/biochem/chem etc. is SIGNIFICANTLY more rigorous than similar programs at smaller liberal arts schools. As a student who has two undergraduate degrees, one in the basic sciences from a medical school-holding University, I can tell you that my second undergraduate degree in Arts was a walk in the park. I had a perfect GPA over 4 years, and I studied HOURS and HOURS LESS than my first degree. Compare that to scratching by in my science undergrad, which I struggled in and left me with little opportunity and a useless piece of paper. Similarly, over the years I have conducted a scoping review comparing science curricula and exams at smaller, liberal arts schools (Brock, Mount Allison, Carleton, UOIT, York, Trent etc. etc.) with curricula for the "equivalent" courses at medical-school holding institutions (U of T, Western, uOttawa, Queens etc.). There is a NIGHT and DAY difference. There are widely known loopholes to complete challenging prerequisites at "other" schools or online, as the difficulty of their exams and assignments are significantly lower. 

And that's not even bringing up the gongshow that is Mac Health Sci with their massively inflated GPAs, yet this program seems to be the single largest feeder program for medical schools across the country. 

I understand that it is not their fault, that alot of them will make good doctors. However we need a system that is far more objective and standardized, and that takes into consideration class averages and standard deviations. 

EDIT: Removed the parts of the post making generalizations regarding personalities in medicine and various programs. Was a silly point I agree. Thank you for those who brought that up. 

Great point, this system is definitely not fair or equitable. I put the blame less on the medical schools themselves and more on the state of our education system in general. In high school, kids are oddly given an easy time, there is no standardized testing and your grades depend more on your individual teacher's biases than your learning as a student. Then in undergrad, the system is so laissez-faire that the smartest way to get into medical school is not to study what you are good at, but to choose the right program and the right courses to get yourself the highest GPA, interest in learning be damned. 

Ultimately, this system screws over far too many people and people are left doing degree after degree, masters etc, all to be ultimately underemployed. Our system is failing to distribute talent well. In fact, I would argue for a limit on the number of students that should even be studying the life sciences. Its a joke that we make people spend 4 years chasing a med school dream only then to tell them that in order to get any job remotely related to their field, it'll be at least another 2 years of schooling. 

My bias is that, the government for years has been chasing the "% of population university educated" stat as a measure of its success and while good intentioned is an incredibly flawed statistic. Just making people do 4 years of university while making the populace generally less bigoted and uninformed, also fails to address the appropriate distribution of human resources. We have way too many life science majors in Canada (The single largest group of undergrads at UofT study either Life sciences or Engineering/physical sciences), especially in Ontario and not enough jobs for them all. We have way too many university grads in general, with way too few good well paying jobs for them all. This ultimately results in the phenomenon of people with 4 yr bachelor degrees going to college for training that is practical. One could easily argue those people would have been better off financially if they had just gone straight into college instead. 

 

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2 hours ago, MedSchoolHope101 said:

@whatisgoingon & @TheFlyGuy You took the words right out of my mouth!

I did not mean to come off harsh, but I think it is important to consider the different ways in which students from low SES are disadvantaged throughout the whole process. The blog that I mentioned above goes into more details regarding the various challenges faced by those students, if anyone wants to learn more about that :) 

Anyone who denies the impact of SES on the medical school admission process is delusional lol, keep the studies coming!!! :lol:

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