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YesIcan55

GPA no longer considered (!!!!)

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On another note, to whomever thinks that a 4.0 individual "lacks social skills", please be aware that your patients aren't going to give a damn if you are able to tell them about the amazing fun you had the past weekend socializing with all of your friends, but you can be damn sure they are going to care that you have at least some damn clue about the medicine that will hopefully save their life. There is absolute merit to weighing a 4.0 individual higher than another with a 3.3, 3.4, 3.5.

Sorry if this sounded like a rant. I am just tired of seeing/hearing people say that someone who worked their behind off in undergrad to achieve a high GPA somehow must "lack social skills".

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I hope this makes all of you high-GPA applicants feel a little better: I moved to Alberta last year because I had a 4.0 GPA, above-average EC's, and a low MCAT. I was sure that I would have a very realistic chance as an IP. Guess that was all for nothing. 

I don't regret it though. I love it here either way. 

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Since the application cycle is opening soon, I decided to give them a call to get more information. They said they still don't know what they are doing with GPA, and it is "unlikely" we will know soon. They don't even know if they are still dropping a year with lowest marks; kinda makes it hard to plan.

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4 hours ago, Morinphen said:

Since the application cycle is opening soon, I decided to give them a call to get more information. They said they still don't know what they are doing with GPA, and it is "unlikely" we will know soon. They don't even know if they are still dropping a year with lowest marks; kinda makes it hard to plan.

 

That is quite frustrating. I hope they tell us how they plan to calculate GPA

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I just really don't like the 'black box' model of med admissions. I wish admissions committees would be more upfront and clear about expectations and selection processes. Some schools (U of C and UBC) I find have admissions teams that are so transparent! I feel like U of A is moving away from transparency lately (I remember the admissions site used to be a bit more clear some years ago) and I just really wish I knew the reasoning behind it. :/

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On 7/12/2017 at 5:14 PM, gradschooldream said:

Is it going to be cGPA. When I checked FAQ, it says information about how they calculate cGPA is currently unavailable.

 Is there a difference between cGPA and GPA? something about dropping a sixth class if you take it?

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30 minutes ago, toomuchcoffee said:

I just really don't like the 'black box' model of med admissions. I wish admissions committees would be more upfront and clear about expectations and selection processes. Some schools (U of C and UBC) I find have admissions teams that are so transparent! I feel like U of A is moving away from transparency lately (I remember the admissions site used to be a bit more clear some years ago) and I just really wish I knew the reasoning behind it. :/

Last year, UofA got a new Dean of Admissions. This led to many surprises, such as CASPer and lack of feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

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On 2017-06-21 at 8:00 AM, MountainAmoeba said:

The ingredients for a great GPA often include prolonged opportunity and privilege.

The main point people keep bringing up in this thread is weather or not "3.3 and 4.0 are equal" and how "just because you have a 4.0 doesn't mean you have poor ECs or communication skills". Those are both completely true, but as someone who's worked closely with several faculty and staff in UME I am inclined to believe the above quote is likely the biggest reason for these potential changes. There is a push across Canada to improve social accountability in our admissions process, and this means making efforts to increase representation from marginalized communities. If you are rural, grew up in poverty, were a refugee, transgender or first nations, etc you likely faced many more challenges throughout your life that the "typical" med applicant did not. And despite being incredibly intelligent and hard working, did not have a 4.0 GPA to reflect that. 

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36 minutes ago, Wesley said:

The main point people keep bringing up in this thread is weather or not "3.3 and 4.0 are equal" and how "just because you have a 4.0 doesn't mean you have poor ECs or communication skills". Those are both completely true, but as someone who's worked closely with several faculty and staff in UME I am inclined to believe the above quote is likely the biggest reason for these potential changes. There is a push across Canada to improve social accountability in our admissions process, and this means making efforts to increase representation from marginalized communities. If you are rural, grew up in poverty, were a refugee, transgender or first nations, etc you likely faced many more challenges throughout your life that the "typical" med applicant did not. And despite being incredibly intelligent and hard working, did not have a 4.0 GPA to reflect that. 

That's a ridiculously ignorant claim. Since acceptance to medicine is pretty much a lottery due to a very large number of highly qualified applicants, it's unfair to lower the chances of students who have stronger GPA's. 

 

If we are concerned about social accountability, we could take much more effective and fair approaches. For example:

- If your GPA was affected by your membership in one of these groups, you should be able to identify that in your application so admissions could take it into consideration, and possibly adjust the selection formula.

- Financial difficulty is a more significant obstacle to these people. In order to better address social accountability, there should be financial aid that covers MCAT study materials, MCAT fee, CASPer fee, application fees, etc. This could be initiated on a provincial government level.

 

I am a member of a "marginalized community", and I don't have a 4.0 GPA, but my GPA is high and definitely makes my application stronger. As a result, this "cookie cutter" policy would not only harm the so-called privileged people, but also people like me.

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2 minutes ago, TheApiarist said:

That's a ridiculously ignorant claim. Since acceptance to medicine is pretty much a lottery due to a very large number of highly qualified applicants, it's unfair to lower the chances of students who have stronger GPA's. 

 

If we are concerned about social accountability, we could take much more effective and fair approaches. For example:

- If your GPA was affected by your membership in one of these groups, you should be able to identify that in your application so admissions could take it into consideration, and possibly adjust the selection formula.

- Financial difficulty is a more significant obstacle to these people. In order to better address social accountability, there should be financial aid that covers MCAT study materials, MCAT fee, CASPer fee, application fees, etc. This could be initiated on a provincial government level.

 

I am a member of a "marginalized community", and I don't have a 4.0 GPA, but my GPA is high and definitely makes my application stronger. As a result, this "cookie cutter" policy would not only harm the so-called privileged people, but also people like me.

Exactly this. There should be other ways to acknowledge the difficulties some have faced in being able to achieve high GPAs. Not diminish the hard work others have done.

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2 hours ago, Wesley said:

The main point people keep bringing up in this thread is weather or not "3.3 and 4.0 are equal" and how "just because you have a 4.0 doesn't mean you have poor ECs or communication skills". Those are both completely true, but as someone who's worked closely with several faculty and staff in UME I am inclined to believe the above quote is likely the biggest reason for these potential changes. There is a push across Canada to improve social accountability in our admissions process, and this means making efforts to increase representation from marginalized communities. If you are rural, grew up in poverty, were a refugee, transgender or first nations, etc you likely faced many more challenges throughout your life that the "typical" med applicant did not. And despite being incredibly intelligent and hard working, did not have a 4.0 GPA to reflect that. 

I have to agree with you, and it reminds me a lot of this comic: http://www.upworthy.com/a-short-comic-gives-the-simplest-most-perfect-explanation-of-privilege-ive-ever-seen

At the end of the day, admissions committees are looking for candidates that will make great physicians. Does this mean being intelligent? Yes, and hopefully your GPA and MCAT reflect that, but someone with a 4.0 vs a 3.8 vs GPA is not necessarily going to be a better physician because they were able to achieve higher grades, especially considering the variation in what courses make up that GPA, and what else was going on in that student's life while they were taking said courses. At a certain point, if you can achieve a level of GPA that is deemed "intelligent", your ability to succeed is going to include much more intangible aspects of yourself which may not be reflected in a single number. UofA is trying to meet the needs of their communities, and this might be a way to find people who will fit the gaps in their healthcare system appropriately

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9 hours ago, Wesley said:

The main point people keep bringing up in this thread is weather or not "3.3 and 4.0 are equal" and how "just because you have a 4.0 doesn't mean you have poor ECs or communication skills". Those are both completely true, but as someone who's worked closely with several faculty and staff in UME I am inclined to believe the above quote is likely the biggest reason for these potential changes. There is a push across Canada to improve social accountability in our admissions process, and this means making efforts to increase representation from marginalized communities. If you are rural, grew up in poverty, were a refugee, transgender or first nations, etc you likely faced many more challenges throughout your life that the "typical" med applicant did not. And despite being incredibly intelligent and hard working, did not have a 4.0 GPA to reflect that. 

As a member of one of the marginalized communities you mentioned, I find this claim to be founded on little evidence. Why are people acting like only GPA discriminates against people from marginalized communities??

As someone who grew up in one of the lowest SES neighbourhoods in Edmonton, I have noticed that people from disadvantaged backgrounds often focus  more on grades because that is what is traditionally emphasized, and they do not have time to focus on both GPA and ECs (due to working part time jobs, long commutes, personal situations, ect.).  I have talked to many med school applicants from the communities you listed, and often the criteria they are most concerned about are the interviews and ECs! For individuals lacking in social capital and privilege, it is equally as difficult to excel in ECs and interviews as it is in GPA, compared to people whose parents are well-educated, went to well-resourced schools, have time to volunteer, can afford to take on a low-paying summer studentship for research instead of waitressing, ect.

Privilege is reflected in all aspects of the admissions process, not just GPA. Want to talk about social accountability? How is adding CASPer, another $60 fee on top of everything else, helping to address this? Most people from disadvantaged backgrounds have trouble with even making it to the admissions process in the first place, as they may not even be able to get into post-secondary!

Is there data to support that GPA disadvantages people from marginalized backgrounds any more than ECs do? We need to start looking at equity measures-- identifying individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and correcting for this to allow them a greater chance of admission. 

Also just a question I am wondering: why are medical schools so set on choosing the perfect applicants in the admissions process? I mean, medical school itself is 4 years long--is this not an opportunity to shape the future physicians that society needs? If we are accepting individuals with 4.0s with poor communications skills (not saying we are!), can we not use the 6-8 years these people are in medical school/residency to help them develop interpersonal skills? As a current medical student, I just feel like we always talking about choosing the right vs. wrong applicants, and never about what we can do to make sure we are producing the right physicians during training. 

The conclusion that almost anyone involved in admissions has is that there is no perfect way to select applicants. Besides being more socially accountable, there is no definitive way to improve medical school admissions. Instead, I think we need to recognize that although we cannot select the perfect applicants, we can use the 6-8 years we have to shape these people into becoming the hard-working, compassionate,  and professional physicians Canada needs.

Why can we not balance a bunch of a different measures  (including GPA, ECs, MCAT and MMIs) and reward people are able to excel at any one of them? As someone from a marginalized community, I can tell you that GPA was one of the strongest parts of my application and that this change would have disadvantaged me, not helped.

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Is uofa basically saying that it would have been better that I spent the last 2 years joining a sport rather than maintaining a 3.9+ GPA. This is a HUUUUGE slap in the face. HUUUUGEEEE. If I knew this earlier, I would have spent waaaaaaaay more time on EC's and much much less time on studying. I get that EC's are very important and most schools already weigh EC's more which is fair but eliminating it completely is too extreme. You still have to learn and study concepts in medicine, it's not just 100% social skills so whats with the extremism

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12 hours ago, TommyShelby said:

Is uofa basically saying that it would have been better that I spent the last 2 years joining a sport rather than maintaining a 3.9+ GPA. This is a HUUUUGE slap in the face. HUUUUGEEEE. If I knew this earlier, I would have spent waaaaaaaay more time on EC's and much much less time on studying. I get that EC's are very important and most schools already weigh EC's more which is fair but eliminating it completely is too extreme. You still have to learn and study concepts in medicine, it's not just 100% social skills so whats with the extremism

Its pretty brutal, I had a chance to play varsity football and I didn't because I wanted to give myself the best chance to get into med. 

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Some people are bringing up good points, I should clarify that this is a hunch I have based on several conversations in UME, no one has said this reason explicitly to me. Also I have yet to see any official document outlining this change in admission process so until it's on the website I wouldn't worry too much about it.

 

I also agree there are several other ways med admissions could improve diversity of their medical class, many of the suggestions you've mentioned were also brought up at CCME this year by several faculties from across Canada, so I'm hopeful that's a general trend that we'll see over the coming years.

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"To calculate cGPA, we include all transferable post-secondary coursework to which a grade was assigned while the student was enrolled full-time (by UofA definition) in a term. We will exclude the lowest academic year (September through April) from calculation, provided it is not the most recent year, nor the only year in which the student earned 30 ucw"

 

On their FAQ page. 

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1 hour ago, VINCHER said:

"To calculate cGPA, we include all transferable post-secondary coursework to which a grade was assigned while the student was enrolled full-time (by UofA definition) in a term. We will exclude the lowest academic year (September through April) from calculation, provided it is not the most recent year, nor the only year in which the student earned 30 ucw"

 

On their FAQ page. 

When they say "full-time in a term" does that mean that if you took one term with 4 classes (12 credits) and the following term with 5 classes (15 credits), the courses from the 15 credit term will be included?

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12 minutes ago, casajayo said:

When they say "full-time in a term" does that mean that if you took one term with 4 classes (12 credits) and the following term with 5 classes (15 credits), the courses from the 15 credit term will be included?

I believe UofA's definition of full-time is 3 courses, so your two terms will be included

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49 minutes ago, YesIcan55 said:

Nothing has changed in the way they calculate GPA...yes but this does not mean that they won't change how much GPA is worth and/or if it will just be a cutoff

Yup, just wish there was a way to verify whether this is being implemented

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Well guys...

Straight from the U of A site:

Quote

All applicants to the Doctor of Medicine Program must be registered in a baccalaureate degree program and obtain their degree prior to admission or already have completed their degree program.

 

The minimum cumulative GPA (cGPA) required to be eligible to apply for Albertan applicants is 3.30 on the UofA 4.0 grading scale.

Meaning a degree must be completed before admission(and I'm guessing you can't apply after 2nd year, unless they allow you to "keep" a spot until you graduate). There's no mention of a 2nd/3rd year GPA requirement.

Its a little confusing here: It says that as long as you have a 3.30, you can apply. However, there's no mention that if you have more than 3.30, you'll have a better academic score. I don't remember(someone else chime in here) if the old website said that if you had greater than the minimum, your score would be better, I don't think it did. So right now, this either means its still the same as last year, where if you have greater than a 3.3, you have a better score(unlikely considering all the changes), or that as long as you meet the 3.3 minimum, it doesn't matter(more likely).

 

On 7/12/2017 at 1:30 PM, Meridian said:

ignore --   I see the answer looking at your history  (you applied after 2nd year).

No, I applied after my first year. I will not be able to apply again to the U of A(i.e. after my 2nd year) which is pretty frustrating. The wording is pretty confusing when discussing 2nd year applications. I was a 2nd year applicant, meaning I applied after my first year, going into my 2nd year.

 

On 7/14/2017 at 0:05 PM, TheApiarist said:

Last year, UofA got a new Dean of Admissions. This led to many surprises, such as CASPer and lack of feedback to unsuccessful applicants.

Yea, when I talked with the advisor, she mentioned that this was the case. Because of the new Dean, he/she wants to revamp the system. And seeing as how CASPer literally came out of nowhere last year, I'm not surprised to see them implement new stuff without any word of warning.

 

On 7/15/2017 at 8:18 PM, med2020 said:

As a member of one of the marginalized communities you mentioned, I find this claim to be founded on little evidence. Why are people acting like only GPA discriminates against people from marginalized communities??

Also just a question I am wondering: why are medical schools so set on choosing the perfect applicants in the admissions process

As someone from a marginalized community, I can tell you that GPA was one of the strongest parts of my application and that this change would have disadvantaged me, not helped.

Totally agree. ECs definitely discriminate against poorer students moreso than GPA does. ECs are more subject to an individual's privilege than GPA is. At least with GPA students can work hard and be resourceful and raise their GPA by themselves. On the other hand, not everyone has the chance to travel abroad or volunteer in Africa or supportive parents nor have a social network in which to leverage "good-looking" EC positions.

I've also thought about that "perfect applicant" issue as well, and I agree with you. It increasingly seems like you need to be the best of the best in every single thing and volunteer everywhere to get in. I think it basically comes down to what TheApiarist mentioned: its essentially a lottery. They would have to basically admit that the selection process is a lottery if they don't keep making the hurdles higher. Personally, I think they should do different types of interviews to let the applicant's personality shine through. Like if they're using CASPer, use it for ethical stuff, then a traditional style interview about the person's life experiences, then the MMI for unorthodox situations.

 

Last note is that it kinda also sucks that the first time someone will be able to go through the UofA's med cycle will be when they're about to graduate. This means less interview and cycle experience. I've done one cycle with the interview, but I'll have to wait a whole year before I can go through the UofA's cycle again and find out if I get accepted or what my flaws are(since they didn't even provide feedback this year). I really, really, want to attend the UofA since it means I can keep volunteering with the ECs that I already do, but like almost everyone, I'll go wherever will accept me.

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26 minutes ago, carebthenarb said:

Well guys...

Straight from the U of A site:

Meaning a degree must be completed before admission(and I'm guessing you can't apply after 2nd year, unless they allow you to "keep" a spot until you graduate). There's no mention of a 2nd/3rd year GPA requirement.

Its a little confusing here: It says that as long as you have a 3.30, you can apply. However, there's no mention that if you have more than 3.30, you'll have a better academic score. I don't remember(someone else chime in here) if the old website said that if you had greater than the minimum, your score would be better, I don't think it did. So right now, this either means its still the same as last year, where if you have greater than a 3.3, you have a better score(unlikely considering all the changes), or that as long as you meet the 3.3 minimum, it doesn't matter(more likely).

 

No, I applied after my first year. I will not be able to apply again to the U of A(i.e. after my 2nd year) which is pretty frustrating. The wording is pretty confusing when discussing 2nd year applications. I was a 2nd year applicant, meaning I applied after my first year, going into my 2nd year.

 

Yea, when I talked with the advisor, she mentioned that this was the case. Because of the new Dean, he/she wants to revamp the system. And seeing as how CASPer literally came out of nowhere last year, I'm not surprised to see them implement new stuff without any word of warning.

 

Totally agree. ECs definitely discriminate against poorer students moreso than GPA does. ECs are more subject to an individual's privilege than GPA is. At least with GPA students can work hard and be resourceful and raise their GPA by themselves. On the other hand, not everyone has the chance to travel abroad or volunteer in Africa or supportive parents nor have a social network in which to leverage "good-looking" EC positions.

I've also thought about that "perfect applicant" issue as well, and I agree with you. It increasingly seems like you need to be the best of the best in every single thing and volunteer everywhere to get in. I think it basically comes down to what TheApiarist mentioned: its essentially a lottery. They would have to basically admit that the selection process is a lottery if they don't keep making the hurdles higher. Personally, I think they should do different types of interviews to let the applicant's personality shine through. Like if they're using CASPer, use it for ethical stuff, then a traditional style interview about the person's life experiences, then the MMI for unorthodox situations.

 

Last note is that it kinda also sucks that the first time someone will be able to go through the UofA's med cycle will be when they're about to graduate. This means less interview and cycle experience. I've done one cycle with the interview, but I'll have to wait a whole year before I can go through the UofA's cycle again and find out if I get accepted or what my flaws are(since they didn't even provide feedback this year). I really, really, want to attend the UofA since it means I can keep volunteering with the ECs that I already do, but like almost everyone, I'll go wherever will accept me.

Hey Careb, I called admissions and specifically asked this, and they said they don't know what they're doing with cGPA this year i.e. its role in selection factors. It'll be interesting to see what the average accepted GPA will be; I don't think it'll change drastically from last cycle's which was the lowest it's ever been?

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Just now, Morinphen said:

Hey Careb, I called admissions and specifically asked this, and they said they don't know what they're doing with cGPA this year i.e. its role in selection factors. It'll be interesting to see what the average accepted GPA will be; I don't think it'll change drastically from last cycle's which was the lowest it's ever been?

Huh, interesting. It sounds like CASPer then, because that's exactly what they said last year. Well maybe the GPA threshold won't be instated just yet.

Personally, I think last year's GPA average cycle makes sense to me. I think was a 3.88(?). I would expect it drop for sure this year with all the changes though, and since its been dropping for like the past 3 years.

I think realistically, the GPA average will still be decently high because students who want to go into med will still have good GPAs and ECs regardless of the change. However, it does suck for all the previous students who focused more academics instead of ECs(for various reasons) to suddenly be at the bottom of the pack.

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