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New Kid

Just Graduated from Undergrad, what now?

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Hey everybody, I just completed my undergrad in Ontario and I'm looking to bolster my application for medical school. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure where to start or what my options are and I could use some guidance on what things I should be taking care of in the coming months and year to make myself as competitive a candidate as possible for this application cycle and/or the application cycle for next year. Some details about myself currently:

4 yr cGPA: 3.74 (Narrowly survived orgo)

2yr GPA: 3.93

MCAT: 517 (130 /128 CARS (No Western for me)/129/130)

Extracurriculars: Mostly intramural sports, various awards for high school athletics and grades, 3 years as a volunteer peer mentor, various small volunteering positions below 100 hours,  No clinical experience or research :mellow:

Letters of Recommendation: High school teachers and former coach

So I know generally where I am lacking and that I would preferably gain some experience in the medical field, research, clinical positions, etc. I also know that my LOR are pretty subpar, I never really got too close with my profs, which I probably could have done a bit more of. My mentality was that my GPA and MCAT scores are permanent and that I could focus on improving my extracurriculars and gaining experience after graduation. But now I'm done and I'm not really sure where to turn to pursue those experiences that would bolster my resume.

Additionally, I have been considering applying to American schools and to UBC and other out of province schools, but I currently lack the English requirement that the majority of those schools have. If I applied for part-time studies this coming fall at my local university to fulfill my English course requirement, would I still be eligible to apply to those schools this application cycle? Is there any way that I can make sure that they know I am planning on completing my English requirement in the coming school year?

Anyways, I would love to know what you guys think. What is my next move? What areas of my application would be best to build up and how do you think I should go about it?

 

 

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6 minutes ago, New Kid said:

Hey everybody, I just completed my undergrad in Ontario and I'm looking to bolster my application for medical school. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure where to start or what my options are and I could use some guidance on what things I should be taking care of in the coming months and year to make myself as competitive a candidate as possible for this application cycle and/or the application cycle for next year. Some details about myself currently:

4 yr cGPA: 3.74 (Narrowly survived orgo)

2yr GPA: 3.93

MCAT: 517 (130 /128 CARS (No Western for me)/129/130)

Extracurriculars: Mostly intramural sports, various awards for high school athletics and grades, 3 years as a volunteer peer mentor, various small volunteering positions below 100 hours,  No clinical experience or research :mellow:

Letters of Recommendation: High school teachers and former coach

So I know generally where I am lacking and that I would preferably gain some experience in the medical field, research, clinical positions, etc. I also know that my LOR are pretty subpar, I never really got too close with my profs, which I probably could have done a bit more of. My mentality was that my GPA and MCAT scores are permanent and that I could focus on improving my extracurriculars and gaining experience after graduation. But now I'm done and I'm not really sure where to turn to pursue those experiences that would bolster my resume.

Additionally, I have been considering applying to American schools and to UBC and other out of province schools, but I currently lack the English requirement that the majority of those schools have. If I applied for part-time studies this coming fall at my local university to fulfill my English course requirement, would I still be eligible to apply to those schools this application cycle? Is there any way that I can make sure that they know I am planning on completing my English requirement in the coming school year?

Anyways, I would love to know what you guys think. What is my next move? What areas of my application would be best to build up and how do you think I should go about it?

 

 

Lucky for you, I think there has been talk of dropping the UBC English requirement. What's your weighted GPA for Toronto and Ottawa?

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24 minutes ago, obiwankenobi said:

Lucky for you, I think there has been talk of dropping the UBC English requirement. What's your weighted GPA for Toronto and Ottawa?

That would be great, I still don't know how competitive I would be as an out of province student, but it is worth a shot. My weighted GPA for Ottawa is 3.82 and I unfortunately don't qualify for the U of T weighted GPA because I only took 4 courses in the second semester of my 1st year and took the 5th class the following summer.

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You're someone who could benefit greatly from a research based masters. It would give you the opportunity to pad your resume with publications /awards /involvement and make connections with profs for multiple lors. Downside is it is very hard work and you lose one application cycle. It will also give you experience that help you in med school and beyond when securing research positions/residency. 

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42 minutes ago, midi said:

You're someone who could benefit greatly from a research based masters. It would give you the opportunity to pad your resume with publications /awards /involvement and make connections with profs for multiple lors. Downside is it is very hard work and you lose one application cycle. It will also give you experience that help you in med school and beyond when securing research positions/residency. 

I second this, yo'ud be solid with a research based masters.

You made the right choice to focus on GPA & MCAT. Although your MCAT is fine, if you are able to redo to get CARS >= 130, you'd for sure get in somewhere if you apply broadly in Canada. If you don't, I'd say 50 50

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You might have more ECs than you listed, but based on what you wrote I think we are actually in very similar positions. 

Respectable marks/MCAT/CARS but not enough to exactly stand out at the numbers heavy schools, and ECs that will unfortunately hold us back at the schools where being "well rounded " is needed to get to the interview stage. 

Main difference is that I graduated last year and didn't write my MCAT until after graduating . I didn't plan on applying until after starting a job, and my plan was to work the full time job and do MCAT/part time gigs on the side. Unfortunately the MCAT took alot of time , and I got lazy after. So my ECs are still lacklustre lol. 

It seems that the research masters would be good for us, as it would provide us time to improve research, other experiences, and network (I literally have no professors that would remember me lol...). Therefore in the event that I don't get in this coming cycle (super likely) I am considering applying to masters or a program that would hopefully make me a bit more employable. What type of masters or program I have no idea as I didn't really think of it until reading the comments in the thread. 

Seems that either working/extracurriculars or a research masters would be good for you. 

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10 hours ago, New Kid said:

No clinical experience or research :mellow:

Letters of Recommendation: High school teachers and former coach

I think this is your biggest barrier. Although clinical experience and research are not "required" most applicants will have one or the other in some capacity. If you pursue these opportunities it should in turn, provide you with some better options for reference letters. Unless you have been involved with your high school teachers in some other more important capacity since high school, I would stay away from using them as references. I think more recent letters from ECs, research, volunteering or employment serve as better letters. Most people don't get good letters from a prof who they have only had a class or two with.

9 hours ago, midi said:

You're someone who could benefit greatly from a research based masters. It would give you the opportunity to pad your resume with publications /awards /involvement and make connections with profs for multiple lors. Downside is it is very hard work and you lose one application cycle. It will also give you experience that help you in med school and beyond when securing research positions/residency. 

I agree that this would be a great option for you, provided you have some interest in doing this and are willing to accept the 2+ year commitment. In your situation as well, this may open some more doors for you down the road if medicine doesn't work out.

With no research experience, finding a job in research likely won't happen. If you end up getting a part-time job though, you may be able to use some free time to volunteer in a clinical lab and make some connections that can lead to clinical experience (depending on where you are from).

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46 minutes ago, robclem21 said:

I agree that this would be a great option for you, provided you have some interest in doing this and are willing to accept the 2+ year commitment. In your situation as well, this may open some more doors for you down the road if medicine doesn't work out.

With no research experience, finding a job in research likely won't happen. If you end up getting a part-time job though, you may be able to use some free time to volunteer in a clinical lab and make some connections that can lead to clinical experience (depending on where you are from).

How likely is it to get into a research-based masters program without any research experience in undergrad or professors to write you references? Wondering because I have been considering different masters programs but the ones that I have looked at tend to require an honours thesis or an honours project and 3 professors who know your academic/research capabilities well. My degree doesn't allow the option of an honours thesis/project and my CV is lacking. Is the OP in the same boat? Would the OP have a hard time getting admitted to a research-based masters considering they have no research experience or letters from profs?

If not, what time of masters programs have less strict admission requirements when it comes to experience?

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11 hours ago, New Kid said:

Hey everybody, I just completed my undergrad in Ontario and I'm looking to bolster my application for medical school. Unfortunately, I'm not really sure where to start or what my options are and I could use some guidance on what things I should be taking care of in the coming months and year to make myself as competitive a candidate as possible for this application cycle and/or the application cycle for next year. Some details about myself currently:

4 yr cGPA: 3.74 (Narrowly survived orgo)

2yr GPA: 3.93

MCAT: 517 (130 /128 CARS (No Western for me)/129/130)

Extracurriculars: Mostly intramural sports, various awards for high school athletics and grades, 3 years as a volunteer peer mentor, various small volunteering positions below 100 hours,  No clinical experience or research :mellow:

Letters of Recommendation: High school teachers and former coach

So I know generally where I am lacking and that I would preferably gain some experience in the medical field, research, clinical positions, etc. I also know that my LOR are pretty subpar, I never really got too close with my profs, which I probably could have done a bit more of. My mentality was that my GPA and MCAT scores are permanent and that I could focus on improving my extracurriculars and gaining experience after graduation. But now I'm done and I'm not really sure where to turn to pursue those experiences that would bolster my resume.

Additionally, I have been considering applying to American schools and to UBC and other out of province schools, but I currently lack the English requirement that the majority of those schools have. If I applied for part-time studies this coming fall at my local university to fulfill my English course requirement, would I still be eligible to apply to those schools this application cycle? Is there any way that I can make sure that they know I am planning on completing my English requirement in the coming school year?

Anyways, I would love to know what you guys think. What is my next move? What areas of my application would be best to build up and how do you think I should go about it?

 

 

I had a fairly similar scenario to you and I benefited very much from a research-based Master's. I finished mine in September as I was doing my first med application cycle and got in on the first shot. It's something to think about! 

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44 minutes ago, caramilk said:

How likely is it to get into a research-based masters program without any research experience in undergrad or professors to write you references? Wondering because I have been considering different masters programs but the ones that I have looked at tend to require an honours thesis or an honours project and 3 professors who know your academic/research capabilities well. My degree doesn't allow the option of an honours thesis/project and my CV is lacking. Is the OP in the same boat? Would the OP have a hard time getting admitted to a research-based masters considering they have no research experience or letters from profs?

If not, what time of masters programs have less strict admission requirements when it comes to experience?

I predict he would. All the research graduate programs I looked at required you to have a LOR from an academic, usually a PI you worked with. The point of an honours degree is it easily qualifies you for grad school, although it isn't a strict requirement. However, people who don't have a formal honours year will do an honours class or have other volunteering involvement in a lab. The point is you should have some lab exposure before applying. Even course-based masters will need LORs, although they might not have to be from a PI. But if you can't find references to apply this year, it's never too late to volunteer with the PI you're interested in for a year and let them know you're preparing to apply to grad next year (unless you get in med with your new research experience)

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Thanks for all the replies guys! I've seen some really great advice and a lot of recommendations to consider a research based master's. I had previously considered a master's degree, but had gathered through reading some forum posts that you should probably steer clear if you are only doing it as a way to get into medicine. At this point I can't really see myself doing anything else in science other than medicine to be honest so my plan B would probably be to pursue a career outside of science entirely if medicine didn't work out. I'm also not actually too clear on what a research based masters is. Are there no courses involved whatsoever (Concerned about affecting my GPA)? Is it two years like other master's programs? Also, from what I can see I would miss 2 application cycles for medicine minimum, probably 3 if I went the route of a research based masters (I would apply this fall to a research based masters to get in for next fall and by next year's medicine application cycle I would still have nothing to show for it yet). That definitely complicates things and I would prefer not to wait that long if possible.

2 hours ago, FeelingTheBern said:

Apply OOP. Seems like you'd be fairly competitive at UofA and, depending on how you write your top 10, UofC as well!

Thanks! Yea I've definitely considered this. Do you guys think it is more or less competitive to apply out of province versus applying to American schools? Also, excuse my ignorance, but what is a top 10?

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A research or thesis based masters typically involves coursework at the beginning and then full-time work on a thesis project for 1-2 years. As for your GPA, most schools don't count post-graduate GPA and even then most people do well in grad courses as the material is more focused and more help available.

Your other option would be to do a one-year masters which is typically course based and do research on the side or on a volunteer basis at the same university. This would net you another degree, research experience, and even a few new references most likely. 

At the end of the day if you have no interest in a masters, just don't do one. It'll be a waste of your and your supervisors time. I will say though that there are masters programs for just about everything you can think of so don't count yourself out before you do a thorough search of what's out there. 

Your MCAT (128 in CARS specifically) allows you to apply OOP to the two med schools in Alberta. I would apply out of province before I apply out of country, it may be more competitive in Canada but there's a lot of problems with doing medicine in the states (e.g tuition, residency, visas). 

The top 10 refers to Calgary's application, applicants are required to list and explain the relevance/importance of their top 10 life experiences. Calgary and more recently the University of Alberta have put a lot more weight in to the value of ECs. 

I hope that helps. 

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11 hours ago, caramilk said:

How likely is it to get into a research-based masters program without any research experience in undergrad or professors to write you references? Wondering because I have been considering different masters programs but the ones that I have looked at tend to require an honours thesis or an honours project and 3 professors who know your academic/research capabilities well. My degree doesn't allow the option of an honours thesis/project and my CV is lacking. Is the OP in the same boat? Would the OP have a hard time getting admitted to a research-based masters considering they have no research experience or letters from profs?

If not, what time of masters programs have less strict admission requirements when it comes to experience?

You will need to look around and do some research. Different programs will have different requirements in terms of the reference letters and experience they require. Look in all different types of research (basic science, translational, clinical) in different fields (pharmacology, toxicology, epidemiology, nutrition, etc.). There are bound to be options where you meet the requirements for admission. Past that point it is all about finding a supervisor who is willing to work with you and one who you are willing to work with. This is typically the barrier to entry, rather than the application itself. Email lots and lots and lots of supervisors inquiring if they would take a student with little to no research experience. Tell them you are interested in their research and that you are willing to work your ass off.

Obviously having no connections or literally nobody who can speak to your academic ability is a bit detrimental, but having no research experience is not. When I applied to my masters I had no research experience except for some small research projects I did for a few of my upper year courses (non-thesis). I don't think there is a large expectation that you are able to do research at this stage. That expectation isn't even there once you graduate with an MSc, sadly.

It may take a while to find a good match but be persistent and no number of emails is too many.

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10 hours ago, Eudaimonia said:

I predict he would. All the research graduate programs I looked at required you to have a LOR from an academic, usually a PI you worked with. The point of an honours degree is it easily qualifies you for grad school, although it isn't a strict requirement. However, people who don't have a formal honours year will do an honours class or have other volunteering involvement in a lab. The point is you should have some lab exposure before applying. Even course-based masters will need LORs, although they might not have to be from a PI. But if you can't find references to apply this year, it's never too late to volunteer with the PI you're interested in for a year and let them know you're preparing to apply to grad next year (unless you get in med with your new research experience)

@caramilk This is also good advice.

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Check out UWO's 1 year course-based MSc in Biochem. Courses during the regular semesters, research during the summer. Gives you research experience (and plenty of opportunities for poster presentations during the summer) plus time to do other extracurriculars/volunteering. 

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On 5/4/2018 at 6:49 AM, robclem21 said:

I think this is your biggest barrier. Although clinical experience and research are not "required" most applicants will have one or the other in some capacity. If you pursue these opportunities it should in turn, provide you with some better options for reference letters. Unless you have been involved with your high school teachers in some other more important capacity since high school, I would stay away from using them as references. I think more recent letters from ECs, research, volunteering or employment serve as better letters. Most people don't get good letters from a prof who they have only had a class or two with.

I agree that this would be a great option for you, provided you have some interest in doing this and are willing to accept the 2+ year commitment. In your situation as well, this may open some more doors for you down the road if medicine doesn't work out.

With no research experience, finding a job in research likely won't happen. If you end up getting a part-time job though, you may be able to use some free time to volunteer in a clinical lab and make some connections that can lead to clinical experience (depending on where you are from).

1

Did this route and was just accepted into Ottawa. Completing a research based master's in 1 year is doable however if you have graduated and not applied already you have missed the boat for many deadlines and now have limited opportunities. Think international as well.

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