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boourns

pHD student having second thoughts

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Hi All,

 

I'm a long time lurker but have been inspired by everyone's stories! I'd appreciate some advice and I know how good you guys are at giving it. I am in my 3rd year of grad studies overall, and in the first year of the pHD program. I plan to finish next year (2013), in my fourth year.

 

My Stats:

 

Education:

Honours BSC: U of T in 2009

MSc: U of A (2011)

Currently continuing a pHD in Neuroscience at the U of A (1st year, and 3rd year overall of grad studies in the same program)

 

GPA

OMSAS cGPA: 3.3

OMSAS wGPA (3 years): 3.61

OMSAS last 2 years GPA: 3.795

Non OMSAS last 2 years GPA: 3.81

Grad GPA: 3.9

Science GPA for pre reqs: extremely poor - probably around 2.5, but have all pre-reqs except english and half year biochem

 

Research

 

3 first author publications in mid-impact journals

2 publications in prep (1 first author, 1 second author)

5 national/international conferences

Supervision of 6 undergraduates, 1 graduate student

 

Volunteer Activities

 

A few academic volunteer gigs

A few community volunteer gigs

-I'd say overall moderate extra-curriculars considering intensity of grad school and I supervise so many undergraduates.

 

MCAT

 

Biggest hurdle for me - registered twice, studied a little, cancelled twice. I have been so busy with my grad program (planned to finish Master's and pHD in 4 years). My candidacy is upcoming, so I'm not sure if I'll have time to study much for the MCAT. This may be perceived as an excuse albeit a somewhat valid one.

 

My backup career is consulting, and backup for the backup is traditional academia.

 

I am starting to get discouraged because I never have "time" to write my MCAT and apply. I am also starting to vacillate between whether or not this is actually for me. I have looked into Ottawa and McGill as they don't require the MCAT, but I believe my poor cGPA and wGPA would kill my application. I know the first step is to write the MCAT, but that also seems daunting to me.

I am in province Alberta, but don't have the biochem requirement for U of A, so Calgary would be my only option in that respect.

 

Thanks in advance for everyone's responses! I am open to harsh criticisms :)

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Nice to see that you are still determined to pursue medicine after this.

 

After a brief look at this, I would say that you have a decent shot at most Ontario schools, except Ottawa and NOSM.

 

I have not looked into Alberta much, so I hope someone else will be able to give you better advice on that. I do know however, that Alberta does consider your grad GPA, and since you have a good grad GPA, you should hopefully be competitive.

I am however, not sure if you could claim residency in Alberta if you have been a full-time student the entire time.

 

For Ontario:

 

UWO, Queen's: If you write the MCAT, you have a pretty decent shot.

UofT: You will have a pretty strong case when you're applying to UofT since you're in a PhD program and for grad applicants, the "cutoff" is 3.0, although the true average GPA is much higher.

McMaster: If you apply while you are in your PhD program (with the Master's complete) you will get 1 extra point. If, however, you apply after completing your PhD, you will get a 4% boost on your Mac score, which IMO is huge!

 

Good luck with finishing your PhD and your application next year!

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In addition to what's said above, Queen's and UWO you'll know where you stand after your MCAT since those schools use fairly predictable MCAT cutoffs.

 

You also have an excellent shot at Alberta schools (U of A and U of C) as you'll have in province status during applications.

 

As long as you write a good MCAT and have some good extracurriculars I think you have a great shot.

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I don't want to be the a-hole but your GPA will likley not be enough to get you an interview to McGill, UWO or Queens.

 

Why, might I ask? For the last few cycles, the best 2 years and last 2 years requirements for Western and Queen's respectively have hovered around 3.7. I would say that it may shoot up to 3.75 at best, which the OP still exceeds. Additionally, Queen's takes grad applicants with a lower GPA, if the MCATs meet the cutoffs.

 

I do agree with your point though, that the IP status would help tremendously at Albertan universities.

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Thank you for your informative replies Para D and Nasket.

 

I do understand my situation and appreciate your candor. In fact, I would also agree that Calgary is my best shot as I am IP and UWO, Queen's and U of T, I may get an interview but not an invite. Para D are you sure Calgary only looks at VR and not your MCAT score as a whole as well? I believe I can get a 10 on VR, but the reason why I have delayed my MCAT twice is because I am decent at Bio and General Chem, but quite weak at Orgo and especially Physics.

 

With that being said, writing the MCAT is the biggest hurdle for me, and I feel I don't have the confidence to go forward with it, which is a big problem for me, coupled with my time constraints.

 

Bored - I think it's totally possible to do a pHD in 2 years (which is what I am striving towards). I currently have 3 first authors pubs and 2 manuscripts in prep for submission by next month (one 1st author and one second author) and anticipate I should be able to have 7-8 publications by next year (6 of them being first author), and I am just doing a continuation of work that I have done in my Master's. I would consider this decent research productivity (not stellar but solid), which is why I have not been able to spare the time to write the MCAT.

 

Thank you guys again for all your input!

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In fact the OP may get an interview, but based on all the grad students I know who have interviewed there the last 2 years, undergrad GPA was still the most accurate predicter of acceptance. Long boring story but 1 masters student and 1 PhD student I know have survived the waitlist 2 years in a row with no luck.

 

Doesn't Queen's use 100% interview post-interview? If that is the case being a grad student should not matter that much, unless it is a topic that one fails to address properly in the interview.

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Its been a couple years since I had to do the Queens stuff so you may very well be right (before they changed everything). Its just a trend that we noticed over the last few years. I would advise to apply and never turn down an interview but from my experience thats the way things have gone, granted I am only talking about a few cases.

This freaks me out 'cause I got an interview because of my graduate degree. I guess all one can do is prepare to deal with questions re: your lower gpa and ace the MMI.

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This freaks me out 'cause I got an interview because of my graduate degree. I guess all one can do is prepare to deal with questions re: your lower gpa and ace the MMI.

 

If it's any consolation, I got into Queen's last year with a cGPA of something like 2.8 (though 3.9 last 2 years).

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FYI: This is from the Queen's FAQ:

 

"How much emphasis is placed on academic and how much on extracurricular activities?

 

Applicants are assessed in sequential steps. The first steps are based on academic requirements - the GPA and MCAT scores. Applicants who successfully make these cuts are invited for an interview and their academic marks are no longer considered in the admission process. Those applicants are then assessed based on personal experiences and personal characteristics through an interview."

 

http://meds.queensu.ca/education/undergraduate/prospective_students/frequently_asked_questions

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Thank you Dr. Henderson, I was actually just going to post that. I think it is the same case for UWO. GPA is only for getting your foot into the interview at most places, after which it is all about your performance in the interview.

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Sometimes you just need to sacrifice.

 

I studied for my MCAT while writing my thesis and still doing clinical and it was hellish. I would scan patients/do my thesis from 9-5 then go home, eat dinner and drive back to the lab and from 6-12 I would study MCAT while everyone else went home... then I did a practice MCAT every other day for 2 weeks before I wrote.

 

It was lonely, I was burnt out and it wasn't something I'd wish on my worse enemy. It was really really mentally crushing for me. But I have 2 interviews next month and it was worth it.

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FYI: This is from the Queen's FAQ:

 

"How much emphasis is placed on academic and how much on extracurricular activities?

 

Applicants are assessed in sequential steps. The first steps are based on academic requirements - the GPA and MCAT scores. Applicants who successfully make these cuts are invited for an interview and their academic marks are no longer considered in the admission process. Those applicants are then assessed based on personal experiences and personal characteristics through an interview."

 

http://meds.queensu.ca/education/undergraduate/prospective_students/frequently_asked_questions

 

Thanks for posting this. I was looking at the Queen's website for it, but couldn't find it. However, I looked at the accepted/rejected thread last year and saw a number of individuals (grad students) that got in with lower cGPA and even last 2year gpas than me. Also, I breathed into a paper bag and that seemed to help.

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Thanks for posting this. I was looking at the Queen's website for it, but couldn't find it. However, I looked at the accepted/rejected thread last year and saw a number of individuals (grad students) that got in with lower cGPA and even last 2year gpas than me. Also, I breathed into a paper bag and that seemed to help.

 

haha no worries, I had to hunt around for it too after this thread. I knew I had seen it before, but couldn't remember where. I'm in a similar boat (3.3cgpa, but 4.0 M.Sc. GPA) so I had a paper bag handy too:D

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Hello OP,

 

You should really evaluate your plans and figure out what is it that you want. The MCAT is a crucial part of the application. Reading about your stats, you have a decent shot at a lot of schools - but only if you write the MCAT! It's a huge test, but reallly is the only thing that will allow you to get your foot in the door at any school. Many people even have to rewrite the test, so while I understand that you are quite busy with your PhD work - I would urge you to really figure out a way to write the MCAT. Like lost__in__space, I (re)wrote the MCAT while I was completing my master's project and it was definitely a brutal experience (for a few months I spent all day in the lab, all night in second cup lol)... but it honestly had to be done! Nobody can tell you how competitive you are unless you have an MCAT score because it's such a huge part of the application. Good luck!

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Thank you Der Kaiser, Simpy, Lost in Space, Dr. Henderson, The Law, and everyone for their input. You're right, it is hard to talk about my chances without my MCAT. I feel motivated to sign up for the third time and actually write it this time. Are the MCAT cutoffs for most schools generally 10's across the board and Q?

 

Thanks again!

 

Boourns

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Thank you Der Kaiser, Simpy, Lost in Space, Dr. Henderson, The Law, and everyone for their input. You're right, it is hard to talk about my chances without my MCAT. I feel motivated to sign up for the third time and actually write it this time. Are the MCAT cutoffs for most schools generally 10's across the board and Q?

 

Thanks again!

 

Boourns

 

For Toronto the cutoff is 9/9/9 N. For Western if you are not from southwestern Ontario it is 11 (VR)/10/10 O (I think, could be P for WS). For Queens it has been 10/10/9 (PS) Q with total score being at least 30. For Mac it is 6 in VR, but realistically you want to have at least a 10 unless your cGPA is stellar. Other Ontario schools do not require the MCAT. For Alberta schools I believe you want about a 30, although U of C may only use VR in the actual calculation. The cutoff for UBC is pretty low, although your score is used at some point in the admissions process. For out of province I believe you want at least 30 for MUN and Dal, although someone could correct me if I am wrong. For U of Manitoba your MCAT realistically has to be at least 34 if you are out of province. Basically, aiming for a balanced score of at least 30 with a Q in WS is a good bet. Obviously, just do the best you can. Hope this helps.

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Thank you Der Kaiser, Simpy, Lost in Space, Dr. Henderson, The Law, and everyone for their input. You're right, it is hard to talk about my chances without my MCAT. I feel motivated to sign up for the third time and actually write it this time. Are the MCAT cutoffs for most schools generally 10's across the board and Q?

 

Thanks again!

 

Boourns

 

I signed up for the MCAT FOUR times before I actually wrote it....... it was a big mental block/hurdle for me and honestly, I truly understand the mental struggle with this beast. You can get an interview with a 9/9/9 at UofT as per their website, but really you can be even lower. I have an 8 in one category and still got an interview this cycle. And if you get a 10 or 11 in VR, you'd have a great shot at McMaster.

 

Keep your head up. The road to medicine sucks i.e. tons of hurdles like the MCAT, interviews, letters of reference, etc. but you have to do what you have to do.

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I signed up for the MCAT FOUR times before I actually wrote it....... it was a big mental block/hurdle for me and honestly, I truly understand the mental struggle with this beast. You can get an interview with a 9/9/9 at UofT as per their website, but really you can be even lower. I have an 8 in one category and still got an interview this cycle. And if you get a 10 or 11 in VR, you'd have a great shot at McMaster.

 

Keep your head up. The road to medicine sucks i.e. tons of hurdles like the MCAT, interviews, letters of reference, etc. but you have to do what you have to do.

 

And now lost__in__space is KILLIN it! Persistence pays off, just gotta keep fighing the good fight. ;)

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I signed up for the MCAT FOUR times before I actually wrote it....... it was a big mental block/hurdle for me and honestly, I truly understand the mental struggle with this beast. You can get an interview with a 9/9/9 at UofT as per their website, but really you can be even lower. I have an 8 in one category and still got an interview this cycle. And if you get a 10 or 11 in VR, you'd have a great shot at McMaster.

 

Keep your head up. The road to medicine sucks i.e. tons of hurdles like the MCAT, interviews, letters of reference, etc. but you have to do what you have to do.

 

And the road after admissions is even bumpier. Sigh

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Bored - I think it's totally possible to do a pHD in 2 years (which is what I am striving towards). I currently have 3 first authors pubs and 2 manuscripts in prep for submission by next month (one 1st author and one second author) and anticipate I should be able to have 7-8 publications by next year (6 of them being first author), and I am just doing a continuation of work that I have done in my Master's. I would consider this decent research productivity (not stellar but solid), which is why I have not been able to spare the time to write the MCAT.

 

 

You might want to talk to your supervisor about this. I think even with superb productivity, your committee will still hold you back for at least 3 years. Remember, you need the your committee's ok in order to write up. And I just don't see them giving you the ok with less than 2 years. Have you even set a date for your candidacy? Furthermore, you can't claim anything towards your PhD if it was already claimed as part of your masters (ie. was actually written inside your thesis).

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Guest Fresh_Underwear

We had students in my department who completed their PhD in 3 years (2 in Master's and 1 in PhD). I'm completing my PhD candidacy in 4 years (2 in Master's and 2 in PhD). I reclassified into the PhD program during my Master's program. So if he reclassified/transferred then he can use his Master's data for his thesis. As long as your committee see that you have good productivity and your thesis is complete enough to justify a PhD, then you're good. We have people graduating with 0 publication, and we have people graduating with 14 papers.

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