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http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/bhsc/documents/Spring2015GRADList.pdf

 

I used to think these statistics were exaggerated and blown up by the program staff, but now seeing where their graduates go first hand, these stats seem VERY accurate. I'm going into my 5th year at mac and I've seen this countless times. Which begs the question, what the hell are they doing in this program that gives these students such an advantage? There are countless "premed" programs in the country with %90+ admissions averages, yet these programs do not see 25% of the class gaining med admission after 3rd year, nor do they see over 50% of the class gaining med admission overall....

 

These statistics seem to be real proof of the grade inflation that goes on in this program. There's no way that the supplementary application questions (Which are not validated or standardized in any way as an admission process) are able to predict who will succeed in school. These "sup apps" are graded by three 4th year BHSc students out of 7, and that is how admission is made. Some would call this a random process, because it truly is. We don't see these types of statistics from UBC, U of T, McGill, etc....

 

Not to mention I've never seen a program with so many students from private highschools before... Another interesting topic. Grade inflation at private schools? Perhaps so. 

 

 

Interested to hear some thoughts on this. Maybe I'm reading this the wrong way, etc. 

 

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Most students in the program have high GPAs, yes. Don't underestimate that there are many students with high GPAs who are rejected across the board from medical schools every year - some even after multiple admission attempts. An underestimated advantage of the BHSc program is the type of skills it fosters in it's students and the types of experiences students in the program receive. Communications courses, frequent and constant practice with feedback (receiving/giving) & reflection, an emphasis on engaging in research, are all hugely advantageous in the application and interview process. These skills are consistently and frequently fine tuned - very different than say taking a CAPSER/Interview prep course. Very different then spending 3-4 years mostly in lectures or a lab. It's 3-4 years of important soft skills coupled with science courses +  a ton of electives. 

 

P.S: The stats don't take into account the number of people who get in after 4th year / after doing some grad work - I would guess it is also high. 

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As shakeshake pointed out, an inflated GPA is definitely a strong point. Overall, Canada compared to the U.S. focuses alot more on grades, and numbers than the U.S in my opinion. I believe that the environment that they are in (that we are all in) and the grade inflation helps a lot more than we give credit for. However, I would like to add a very interesting connection that not a lot of people seem to be making when it comes to the Health Sci's at Mac. Every single one of these individuals had a 95%+ average coming out of HS. You and I can debate the HS grade inflation all we want but I believe the point to be made is that EVERY SINGLE person in that program is capable of getting high grades. Compare it to other programs like Life Sci at UofT which has an acceptance avg of low 80s or maybe Kine at York that has it even lower and not everyone in those programs is coming in sharp and focused as they need to be. Is it really surprising that kids with 95% averages seem to be doing well? Keep in mind, despite how arbitrary the supp app process is, they must have done something to really make themselves stand out compared to their other 95% avg peers. I believe that these are not your average kids and have a lot of skills and tools available to achieve the 4.0s.

 

Another observation I'd like to throw out is that in my program, one of my professors compiled the graduating GPAs for people that participated in the study and compared it to their high school GPA. He found an inversely proportional relationship between the two variables; if people had a low HS GPA then their Uni GPA would be much higher. We can contribute it to students meeting the expectations of their new environment or just getting better at studying but it is just an observation I would like to throw out to diversify my thoughts on the matter.

 

I think the university that they attend also focuses primarily on health. I've been on committees with several profs where we discuss the aims of our university and how we are pursuing them. In those discussions, other universities and their aims are brought up and McMaster has always pushed for Health. Now a university pushing for such a thing will have a lot more opportunities for work or volunteerism in such fields. This may seem like a stretch of an assumption but I feel like it isn't when you consider the same concept in another field like business or engineering. People doing business at Schulich or Engineering at Waterloo are going to get more opportunities than those in other schools. If a university is pushing for a particular vision, opportunities will rise related to that vision more in that school than anywhere else. My cousin is going into his 3rd year of Life Sci at McMaster and he has already been published and has another one coming. This may be an isolated anecdote but I will still use it to reinforce my point about opportunities. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think there definitely is a degree of grade inflation, there certainly are bhsc courses that seem to give out A+s to everyone. BHSc students will counter that they have courses that aren't as easy and that they typically do well in general courses as well. Even then though, they take fewer general courses than general students because of their bird courses which means they have more projects throughout the year but less final exams. This distributes their workload more evenly which might help their GPA.

 

So, there is a boost to their GPA and added on to their inherent brightness,  it means that the vast majority of health scis don't have issues with their GPA.

 

On top of that the environment definitely promotes their success because they are swimming in opportunities and their friends will be talking about med school quite often. Its more likely that in a group like this they will start initiatives as well which can help their application. In addition, they hear about the rumors and tricks to admissions earlier on because of their social circles and also a plethora of BHSc alum who are in medical school.

 

Privately though a lot of health scis don't like their program because they are surrounded by high achievers who want med and added to that the stereotypes they get from most other students, it can feel claustrophobic

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I think there definitely is a degree of grade inflation, there certainly are bhsc courses that seem to give out A+s to everyone. BHSc students will counter that they have courses that aren't as easy and that they typically do well in general courses as well. Even then though, they take fewer general courses than general students because of their bird courses which means they have more projects throughout the year but less final exams. This distributes their workload more evenly which might help their GPA.

 

So, there is a boost to their GPA and added on to their inherent brightness,  it means that the vast majority of health scis don't have issues with their GPA.

 

On top of that the environment definitely promotes their success because they are swimming in opportunities and their friends will be talking about med school quite often. Its more likely that in a group like this they will start initiatives as well which can help their application. In addition, they hear about the rumors and tricks to admissions earlier on because of their social circles and also a plethora of BHSc alum who are in medical school.

 

Privately though a lot of health scis don't like their program because they are surrounded by high achievers who want med and added to that the stereotypes they get from most other students, it can feel claustrophobic

 

I agree with this assessment in terms of GPA, and also agree with shakeshake's point that many of our courses focus on softer skills that are helpful for interview preparation. I'd like to add that Mac really has no shortage of bird courses (e.g. the econs, the psychs, some biochems), so if a high GPA was your goal then your program doesn't really matter. Of course, you might be forced into less relevant courses and specializations but if you want it, the option is there. 

 

I can't personally comment on the application process for the program since I'm not a fourth year but from speaking to many supp-app reviewers (both students and faculty), I'm told that the review process is a lot less arbitrary and "luck-based" than it initially appears. There are certain characteristics that reviewers are trained to look for, so it becomes pretty clear who would be more suited for the program, and this assessment is usually consistent across different reviewers. Obviously there are still many subjective elements at play, but I'd argue that this subjectivity is unavoidable, given that a 100% objective measure for undergraduate success doesn't exist (even GPA is highly dependent on other factors). 

 

At the end of the day, I think that the relatively high med school admittance rate is mostly due to the program's student culture (actually very distinct from the faculty culture, which discourages med unless you're 100% sure it's what you want). Starting from first year, the perception is that everyone's gunning for the same goal, so the road to med is pretty clear: volunteer and get ECs during first year, write MCAT and get paid research position by 1st year summer, try to publish by end of 2nd year summer, apply 3rd year. Some slight exaggerations here but it gives you an idea of how focused a lot of people are towards this goal. And when you're focused, you're generally going to get where you want to go.

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I agree with this assessment in terms of GPA, and also agree with shakeshake's point that many of our courses focus on softer skills that are helpful for interview preparation. I'd like to add that Mac really has no shortage of bird courses (e.g. the econs, the psychs, some biochems), so if a high GPA was your goal then your program doesn't really matter. Of course, you might be forced into less relevant courses and specializations but if you want it, the option is there. 

 

I can't personally comment on the application process for the program since I'm not a fourth year but from speaking to many supp-app reviewers (both students and faculty), I'm told that the review process is a lot less arbitrary and "luck-based" than it initially appears. There are certain characteristics that reviewers are trained to look for, so it becomes pretty clear who would be more suited for the program, and this assessment is usually consistent across different reviewers. Obviously there are still many subjective elements at play, but I'd argue that this subjectivity is unavoidable, given that a 100% objective measure for undergraduate success doesn't exist (even GPA is highly dependent on other factors). 

 

At the end of the day, I think that the relatively high med school admittance rate is mostly due to the program's student culture (actually very distinct from the faculty culture, which discourages med unless you're 100% sure it's what you want). Starting from first year, the perception is that everyone's gunning for the same goal, so the road to med is pretty clear: volunteer and get ECs during first year, write MCAT and get paid research position by 1st year summer, try to publish by end of 2nd year summer, apply 3rd year. Some slight exaggerations here but it gives you an idea of how focused a lot of people are towards this goal. And when you're focused, you're generally going to get where you want to go.

Have to admit the grade inflation helps. Most people in order to take bird courses have to use elective space, but health sci bird courses are built within all years of the program.. 

 

The fact that in health sci, your "biochem" requirement is fulfilled by research one single protein or pathway and presenting on it in groups is bogus compared to the comprehensive knowledge and education that you get in a real biochem course. 

 

There are many programs in Canada that house the thousands of students who get rejected from health sci every year. All of these programs are filled with students with 90% HS averages, and the med acceptance rate is almost comical compared to health sci. 

 

I'm just arguing that grade inflation is in the BHSc programs best interest because it allows them to boast high med school admissions rates of it's graduates, which in turn makes it the most applied to, and most competitive undergrad degree in the country. 

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Grade inflation does go on in these programs. My friends in Health Sci have told me stories that have shocked me - having a 15 unit course that was originally supposed to be pass and fail, but then changed to an A+/F scheme (where everyone will get an A+), because med schools don't like too many pass/fail courses, e-mailing your grade you think you deserve to your prof. 

 

They're aware it's not fair to students in other programs, but they did earn their spot in Health Science. I do think the dean who runs the program has a great philosophy of learning, too bad other programs are not taking note. They learn soft skills that matter in a career as a physician, and don't focus on simple tests and memorization that a lot of other science programs tend to focus on. 

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Grade inflation does go on in these programs. My friends in Health Sci have told me stories that have shocked me - having a 15 unit course that was originally supposed to be pass and fail, but then changed to an A+/F scheme (where everyone will get an A+), because med schools don't like too many pass/fail courses, e-mailing your grade you think you deserve to your prof. 

 

They're aware it's not fair to students in other programs, but they did earn their spot in Health Science. I do think the dean who runs the program has a great philosophy of learning, too bad other programs are not taking note. They learn soft skills that matter in a career as a physician, and don't focus on simple tests and memorization that a lot of other science programs tend to focus on. 

I think you hit the nail on the head here. The program and dean have the right idea in mind, it's just that it's unfair to other students. There's little to no regulation governing what happens in the program and you're right, alot of choosing own grades etc takes place. 

 

Most of the things that happen in health sci would NEVER be allowed at another program. It's a little sad that this takes place, considering how on the grade scale of things, most students in McGill life sci who got in, were just as deserving than a mac health sci.

 

At the end of the day, health sci is a shady program that keeps a lot of things behind closed doors and only looks out for its own students. But I guess that's how it is 

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So we've identified that one of the beneficial aspects of Health Sci is the focus on 'soft' skills (communication, presentation, reflection, self-evaluation, etc.) in their courses. The issue is: how should Health Sci's be evaluated on these competencies in a standardized ("fair") manner, especially when there are few if any other programs with similar courses to allow for comparison? This is something instructors and other faculty members struggle with every semester. It's just difficult standardize evaluation for things like communication, personal skill development, etc., and still maintain meaningful evaluation. 

 

I realize it's not the responsibility of students in other programs to solve Health Sci's problems, but if anyone has suggestions for balancing standardization and meaningful evaluation, I'm eager to hear them.

 

The program is still young and changing constantly and drastically year-to-year. These discrepancies are to be expected for a program that is essentially a testing ground for pedagogy. I'm glad that the strengths of the program - personal development -  are being discussed; this and the competitive culture in the program contributes towards Health Sci's success at med school acceptance far more than GPA numbers, in my opinion.

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Have to admit the grade inflation helps. Most people in order to take bird courses have to use elective space, but health sci bird courses are built within all years of the program.. 

 

The fact that in health sci, your "biochem" requirement is fulfilled by research one single protein or pathway and presenting on it in groups is bogus compared to the comprehensive knowledge and education that you get in a real biochem course. 

 

There are many programs in Canada that house the thousands of students who get rejected from health sci every year. All of these programs are filled with students with 90% HS averages, and the med acceptance rate is almost comical compared to health sci. 

 

I'm just arguing that grade inflation is in the BHSc programs best interest because it allows them to boast high med school admissions rates of it's graduates, which in turn makes it the most applied to, and most competitive undergrad degree in the country. 

As I mentioned in my post earlier, I agree that marks are too high for some BHSc courses, and that our relative lack of final exams makes it easier for us to do well in general courses as well. I can also understand that this might feel frustrating and unfair, and to a certain degree, there may be merit to this frustration. With that being said, I encourage you to get a better picture of the program and its courses before passing judgment. For example, our mandatory courses are typically quite challenging and where people do the worse (health policy horror stories anyone?). Instead, there are a few BHSc electives that are substantially easier and are typically where people get their A+'s, which is why I said that you could just take general bird electives instead for similar results. In fact, some people have chosen to specialize into streams that share almost all of their courses with those in biochem in order to dodge mandatory courses like anatomy. 

 

Similarly, why not learn more about our 2nd year biochemistry course before dismissing it as "bogus"? I'm sure the instructors would love to sit down and explain their rationale if you wanted to learn more about the course. Speaking from personal experience, biochem inquiry had a high workload (our group spent on average 12hrs/week and up to 25hrs/week leading up to final presentation), and while we did learn a lot about protein structure and function, I think it was the self-directed learning experience that really made it worthwhile. It was also a far cry from my experiences in other upper-year biochemistry courses, which typically only required a few days of studying pre-exams. 

 

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, there's always multiple sides to any single issue which I encourage you to fully explore before stating speculations as fact. Anything less than that just spreads rumors and half-truths, which I don't think was anyone's original intent. 

 

Oh, I also don't know too much about the 15 unit thing, so I'll refrain from weighing in on it.

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