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VladTheLad

Need Critical Advice: What Are My Chances? PLEASE!

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52 minutes ago, VladTheLad said:

Hey everyone, I recently was rejected post-interview at UofT for the MD/PhD and MD programs. I felt the interviews went well, but I might be wrong. I was absolutely devastated the past week or so, and am currently in a not-so-good state of mind. Medical school is everything I ever wanted for the past 4 years, so it broke me a lot. However, with good social support (my gf etc.) and a lot of resilience I have taken it upon myself to pursue my MSc at UofT starting Sep. 2018 to Jun. 2020 (expected). I love research, I've loved science since grade school, and finding new content. I love medicine, I love working with people and helping solve complex problems. I have decided to reapply after I complete my MSc, in both USA and Canada and perhaps elsewhere, very broadly. I am re-determined, and want to critically evaluate what is wrong with my application and stats, so that I may spend the next 2 years fixing it all. Information below:

  • UofT wGPA: 3.71; A- (~81%) 4-year average; cGPA: 3.65 (I know these are low...)
  • MCAT: 514=127+128+131+128 (should I redo...?)
  • Awards/Honors/Funding: ~10 competitive monetary awards for research; ~7 non-monetary honors for research and leadership
  • Research: I have 4+ years of strong research background in 4 different fields of study (PM for details because if I said which fields you could deduce my identity online, because 1 is quite unique). I spend almost 55 hours/week on research work, here and there, right now.
    • By Dec. 2018, I will ideally have a total of about 10 first author publications, some high impact and some low impact.
    • Right now, I've presented at multiple international conferences. 8 as of right now, 10 at the end of the year.
    • I work out of 5 labs, and I pretty much spend all my free time at home writing manuscripts and doing off-site work.
  • Clinical: I have almost 2 years of nursing volunteering in a community hospital, I was a children's mascot in surgical units, I've volunteered in hospital day units etc.
    • I have experience shadowing in 3 fields of practice, and I also have experience shadowing in operating rooms
  • Leadership: I have tons of longstanding 4 years of leadership experiences at one of the largest teams on our campus. I have served on 2 elected committees at the faculty.
  • Unique experiences: PM for more info, just so my anonymity is not lost. I will say this: my research is going to space...
  • Tons of programming experience, film critique and novel writer, I play non-competitive tennis
  • I have almost 10 profs, researchers, doctors, admin people who are willing to write to reference letters (and have).
  • Please ask questions as I'm sure I've missed other stuff I should have mentioned
  • I have plans of pursuing my PhD in the far future, perhaps during residency, if I ever get into an MD program.

I am looking for any advice, comments, and criticism that will help me improve. I hope that this post helps me somehow, and I hope I am not bothering anyone on this thread. Thank you. :) 

Why do MSc? You were already at the interview stage. I think your interview just didn’t go well. Keep practicing!

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10 minutes ago, gangliocytoma said:

Where else did you apply? What were the outcomes for other schools?

 

In Canada: UofT, McGill, Queens, and McMaster.

In USA: ~28 top schools, mostly Ivies, NYU, UC schools, Harvard, etc. Perhaps too top-heavy...

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32 minutes ago, biochem4 said:

Why do MSc? You were already at the interview stage. I think your interview just didn’t go well. Keep practicing!

My logic for doing an MSc was that UofT might consider me more competitive if I show enough "research productivity." On their site, they say that grad applicants might be considered differently if they have significant research work. Plus I actually enjoy doing research, depending on the field. I agree somewhat with you that I made it to the interview stage. But I wonder if applying again this soon, without too many significant changes for the Oct. 2018 cycle, will hurt my chances of landing interviews there again? I don't know... I genuinely felt like my interview went well though? Personal bias maybe. You might be right, and practice might be the real answer.

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7 minutes ago, VladTheLad said:

My logic for doing an MSc was that UofT might consider me more competitive if I show enough "research productivity." On their site, they say that grad applicants might be considered differently if they have significant research work. Plus I actually enjoy doing research, depending on the field. I agree somewhat with you that I made it to the interview stage. But I wonder if applying again this soon, without too many significant changes for the Oct. 2018 cycle, will hurt my chances of landing interviews there again? I don't know... I genuinely felt like my interview went well though? Personal bias maybe. You might be right, and practice might be the real answer.

Don’t waste your two years doing lab work. Publication is not necessary. I have a friend who had 3+ pubs, almost perfect GPA and still rejected by UofT (no interview). He went to Mac in the end.

You already have plenty of research experience.  There’s a group on Facebook where students communicate to set up a practice interview at Downtown Toronto, it happens around winter. I think the name is Med school interview Toronto or just search it on Facebook and it should show up. Good luck!!

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10 minutes ago, biochem4 said:

Don’t waste your two years doing lab work. Publication is not necessary. I have a friend who had 3+ pubs, almost perfect GPA and still rejected by UofT (no interview). He went to Mac in the end.

You already have plenty of research experience.  There’s a group on Facebook where students communicate to set up a practice interview at Downtown Toronto, it happens around winter. I think the name is Med school interview Toronto or just search it on Facebook and it should show up. Good luck!!

I am just worried if I will be able to land another interview or not though...
 

Thanks for the interview advice though, that helps a ton.

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From what you've posted, the weakest part of your app looks like your gpa to me. Have you considered a 5th year? Also the interview probably didn't end up going as well as you thought. Do you feel like you prepared and practiced a lot for the interview? Interview prep is probably the most *easily* modifiable component of the med admission process. 

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4 minutes ago, KingKunta_chickenwings said:

From what you've posted, the weakest part of your app looks like your gpa to me. Have you considered a 5th year? Also the interview probably didn't end up going as well as you thought. Do you feel like you prepared and practiced a lot for the interview? Interview prep is probably the most *easily* modifiable component of the med admission process. 

I certainly would rather do an MSc than a 5th year, just because of who I am as a person. But now that you mention maybe I should do a 5th year, although I think this would only marginally alter my GPA. As to interviews, you are right to think that I did not prep as much as I should have prepped... A huge mistake on my part tbh. I will invest a larger portion of my time in that aspect in future cycles. Thank you!

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13 minutes ago, VladTheLad said:

I am just worried if I will be able to land another interview or not though...
 

Thanks for the interview advice though, that helps a ton.

You will be able to. Also, make your personal statements even stronger and the description on your ABS as well. These things don’t matter since you landed into interview stage anyway but just to make sure since the strength of the pool changes each cycle.

Bottomline is, practice more on your interview skills. GPA is already okay. You made the cut.

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If you're getting interviews I don't think your GPA or ECs are holding you back, because to me that means you are a solid candidate on paper. I have a friend who was admitted this year with 0 publications and ~8 months of clinical volunteering, and while he does have a higher GPA than you I really really doubt it made a significant difference since you both made it to interviews.

What did make a difference, I think, was his focus this year on figuring out good reasons for wanting to do medicine and putting all of that into hours and hours of interview practice. He severely underestimated the value of interviews last cycle, and while he got interviews at Yale MD/UBC MDPhD/UofT MDPhD he told me he winged all of them and had his smug ass look wiped off his face when he was straight rejected from all of them. Probably did him some good maturity wise lol. Anyhow, he had no problems getting interviews again this year (Penn/NYU/UofT/Queen's) despite changing nothing on his application, but this time he focused hard on some deep introspection and did a lot of interview practice with me and his other friends. Must've worked cause he's gonna be a doctor in 4 years.

Anyway, I don't think you should dwell too hard on your application because to me it looks quite deep and interesting; I don't think there's anything wrong with it except maybe GPA and MCAT if applying out of province/in the US. You certainly have very strong ECs in my opinion compared to myself and other people I know who were admitted. I know you felt the interviews went well but I'd get a friend or two and do a mock interview with them and see what they say. Hope this helps :)

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1 hour ago, VladTheLad said:

In Canada: UofT, McGill, Queens, and McMaster.

In USA: ~28 top schools, mostly Ivies, NYU, UC schools, Harvard, etc. Perhaps too top-heavy...

Did you get interviews in places other than U of T?

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From what you've written above, I would suggest finding work instead for the year since you already have tons of research productivity and an MSc would only marginally improve that and make you have to wait another two years. The only other thing I would suggest in terms of what to do next year, is considering a 5th year if it will make you more competitive at U of T and other schools you're looking at applying to. Especially schools that look at last two or best two years, like Queens, Western, also Ottawa if your GPA is good using their formula. Finally, definitely put more effort into the interview next time (like spend a lot of time actually practising answering questions for a critical audience and also spend time reflecting on your past experiences so you have anecdotes ready to go to answer different kinds of questions). In regard to redoing the mcat, I probably would not recommend it in your case unless your very confident you would score the same or better in CARS, and not drop the other sections below 126. 

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I certainly would rather do an MSc than a 5th year, just because of who I am as a person

The reality is that you got the interview and you are competitive.
Right now, what is preventing you from being accepted might be a minimal difference.
In my case, and I think it is the case for many re-applicants, you just have to be strategic.
Of course, it makes so much more sense to do a M.Sc/PhD rather than an extra undergraduate year.
But the reality is that you have to think about the long-term impact of that extra year.
 

Your options right now are :

  • Working
  • M.Sc.
  • Extra undergraduate year

They all have pros and cons.
My only concern :
Would you be able to apply to MD next year while doing that M.Sc.?
And if you get in, will you delay your admission to complete it?

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20 minutes ago, m_jacob_45 said:

From what you've written above, I would suggest finding work instead for the year since you already have tons of research productivity and an MSc would only marginally improve that and make you have to wait another two years. The only other thing I would suggest in terms of what to do next year, is considering a 5th year if it will make you more competitive at U of T and other schools you're looking at applying to. Especially schools that look at last two or best two years, like Queens, Western, also Ottawa if your GPA is good using their formula. Finally, definitely put more effort into the interview next time (like spend a lot of time actually practising answering questions for a critical audience and also spend time reflecting on your past experiences so you have anecdotes ready to go to answer different kinds of questions). In regard to redoing the mcat, I probably would not recommend it in your case unless your very confident you would score the same or better in CARS, and not drop the other sections below 126. 

Thanks a bunch for the advice, I'll take it into consideration before I make a decision.

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19 hours ago, HoopDreams said:

The reality is that you got the interview and you are competitive.
Right now, what is preventing you from being accepted might be a minimal difference.
In my case, and I think it is the case for many re-applicants, you just have to be strategic.
Of course, it makes so much more sense to do a M.Sc/PhD rather than an extra undergraduate year.
But the reality is that you have to think about the long-term impact of that extra year.
 

Your options right now are :

  • Working
  • M.Sc.
  • Extra undergraduate year

They all have pros and cons.
My only concern :
Would you be able to apply to MD next year while doing that M.Sc.?
And if you get in, will you delay your admission to complete it?

I hope you are right and that I am competitive... lol I'm trying to figure out the best way to correct this seemingly marginal difference.

For your last two questions, UofT and most schools require that you complete the MSc by June of the MD-entering year. Which I think is possible as long as my graduate supervisor provides UofT-MD a letter indicating that I will graduate on time. And yes, I think I can apply during the second year of my MSc. I won't need to delay admission to complete it.

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If medical school is your ultimate goal, I don't think I would recommend doing a master's degree because 1) you will lose an application cycle, and 2) I don't think it will make you that much more competitive. Your application already demonstrates substantial research productivity and you were able to get an interview at U of T so you are already a competitive candidate! What would best improve your chances would be to focus on improving your interview skills for U of T and working on your GPA and MCAT score to make you competitive at other schools. This could mean doing a fifth year (as others have mentioned, this will help at schools like Queens and Western that look at your best/most recent 2 years GPA) and rewriting the MCAT (again as others have mentioned, only if you're certain you could bring up your CARS score without your other sections dropping). 

Ultimately though, it is of course your choice! If you're set on doing a master's degree because it is something you really want to do and you don't mind missing an application cycle, then go for it :) just know that it probably won't improve your chances as much as focusing on the other areas of your application. 

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I suspect your GPA is what is holding you back from most schools.  It may meet some school cut offs, but is not competitive against your peers.

Your extensive list of research is likely what caught their eye and got you the interview this year at UofT MD/PhD.

To broaden your chances at other schools you may want to consider a 5th year to bring up your wGPA (if you had a good 4th year to work with).  

 

5 hours ago, VladTheLad said:

My logic for doing an MSc was that UofT might consider me more competitive if I show enough "research productivity." On their site, they say that grad applicants might be considered differently if they have significant research work. Plus I actually enjoy doing research, depending on the field. I agree somewhat with you that I made it to the interview stage. But I wonder if applying again this soon, without too many significant changes for the Oct. 2018 cycle, will hurt my chances of landing interviews there again? I don't know... I genuinely felt like my interview went well though? Personal bias maybe. You might be right, and practice might be the real answer.

Completing a 2 year research-based MSC and having publications would move you to the UofT Graduate interview pool which may help counteract the low GPA. Trade off is you would not be able to apply to UofT in Oct 2018 if you start the MSC as you must complete it before med.  An MSC may not help much for other schools.

 

 

 

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I agree with most of the other commenters in this post - I'm really not sure how much the MSc will help you. What I would do if I were you is take a year off to work. I would also consider re-writing the MCAT if you have time. A 128 in CARS is obviously solid but if you could bump it up to a 129 or 130 you'd be essentially guaranteed an interview at Western and it would certainly help you a lot for McMaster. I don't know much about US schools but having a higher MCAT score closer to 520 than 514 may well help you there too!

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If your end goal is JUST to get into Medicine, and you see the MSc only as a path to medicine, then I agree with the advice that doing an MSc might not be the best approach. But if you really think you’d enjoy doing a master’s and love the idea of doing it for its own sake, then I’d say go for it. What you really need to ask yourself is: will you be happy after the MSc knowing that it might have meant it took you an extra year to get into med school? 

You probably won’t ever get another opportunity to spend the same amount of time on research in medical school unless you do an MD PhD. And if you are planning to do an MD PhD eventually, a research master’s is a great opportunity to explore your research interests without making the same level of commitment to one narrow topic. For many people it can act as great step in figuring what their interests are or what potential research areas are that can make your later PhD work go a lot more quickly and productively.

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18 hours ago, Olaf said:

If medical school is your ultimate goal, I don't think I would recommend doing a master's degree because 1) you will lose an application cycle, and 2) I don't think it will make you that much more competitive. Your application already demonstrates substantial research productivity and you were able to get an interview at U of T so you are already a competitive candidate! What would best improve your chances would be to focus on improving your interview skills for U of T and working on your GPA and MCAT score to make you competitive at other schools. This could mean doing a fifth year (as others have mentioned, this will help at schools like Queens and Western that look at your best/most recent 2 years GPA) and rewriting the MCAT (again as others have mentioned, only if you're certain you could bring up your CARS score without your other sections dropping). 

Ultimately though, it is of course your choice! If you're set on doing a master's degree because it is something you really want to do and you don't mind missing an application cycle, then go for it :) just know that it probably won't improve your chances as much as focusing on the other areas of your application. 

I personally do not mind losing 1 application cycle and am confident I can finish the MSc in time. Plus I genuinely enjoy research, and I have a few supervisors who will likely fund me. At the same time, my ultimate goal is not just in medicine: it is to be a clinician-scientist of some type. I think the advice on this forum has been very helpful to especially re-evaluate my interviewing skills, and how I need to further polish them. I think I will also re-write the MCAT as I am confident that I can do better, in CARS especially (weird circumstances, there was a marching band outside our examination center particularly during the CARS section... lol). I'm just glad that I didn't get the interview by fluke, and others think I'm competitive *phew.*

A question: I know that an MSc will not significantly improve my chances, but would it DECREASE my chances in any way? Would they look down on me missing a cycle?

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16 hours ago, Meridian said:

I suspect your GPA is what is holding you back from most schools.  It may meet some school cut offs, but is not competitive against your peers.

Your extensive list of research is likely what caught their eye and got you the interview this year at UofT MD/PhD.

To broaden your chances at other schools you may want to consider a 5th year to bring up your wGPA (if you had a good 4th year to work with).  

 

Completing a 2 year research-based MSC and having publications would move you to the UofT Graduate interview pool which may help counteract the low GPA. Trade off is you would not be able to apply to UofT in Oct 2018 if you start the MSC as you must complete it before med.  An MSC may not help much for other schools.

 

 

 

Yes, I agree with this. I am willing to miss an application cycle. Thanks!

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15 hours ago, CanMedMedMed said:

I agree with most of the other commenters in this post - I'm really not sure how much the MSc will help you. What I would do if I were you is take a year off to work. I would also consider re-writing the MCAT if you have time. A 128 in CARS is obviously solid but if you could bump it up to a 129 or 130 you'd be essentially guaranteed an interview at Western and it would certainly help you a lot for McMaster. I don't know much about US schools but having a higher MCAT score closer to 520 than 514 may well help you there too!

Hmm, yes I think I will rewrite the MCAT, see above for extenuating circumstances... lol

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13 hours ago, frenchpress said:

If your end goal is JUST to get into Medicine, and you see the MSc only as a path to medicine, then I agree with the advice that doing an MSc might not be the best approach. But if you really think you’d enjoy doing a master’s and love the idea of doing it for its own sake, then I’d say go for it. What you really need to ask yourself is: will you be happy after the MSc knowing that it might have meant it took you an extra year to get into med school? 

You probably won’t ever get another opportunity to spend the same amount of time on research in medical school unless you do an MD PhD. And if you are planning to do an MD PhD eventually, a research master’s is a great opportunity to explore your research interests without making the same level of commitment to one narrow topic. For many people it can act as great step in figuring what their interests are or what potential research areas are that can make your later PhD work go a lot more quickly and productively.

I think I will be happy after the MSc mostly because I enjoy doing science. I am certainly not only doing the MSc as a pathway to med school. My end goal is not just medicine. It is ideally an integrated MD and research career goal. Your last statement resonates with me, as I do also plan to get my PhD in the future. Thank you!

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