can't think of an opinion i disagree with more tbh.
1. Schools didn't exclude winter2020 grades for people that failed, they did it because it was an outlier. Many people thrived off of cancellations and empathetic professors and had their "first 4.0 semester". This high achievement is attributable to the pandemic and thus, is not a fair data point for peoples' performance. Thus, the most fair approach is to ignore it.
2. Please do not assume you have the competence or experience to occupy high-ranking academic positions in faculties of medicine that have been around longer than many COUNTRIES. I am Black, grew up quite poor and had no mentors or role models through my journey. I still pushed myself through every obstacle required to get into medical schools. I didn't complain, and still don't. Why? Because there are thousands of students who would kill for the chance to be in my position. You think premeds won't happily put themselves through the application process regardless of recent changes?
The only revolution that needs to happen is with your attitude.
Hello and good morning. Some of you may recognize my username from other threads - for those who don't, I recently posted some advice that received a bit of attention. I thought it would be helpful to collate my fragmented advice into a single post so that any incoming c2023 struggling with their decision making on whether to choose Mac this year or not can get some perspective.
For reference, I am a current Mac student with some perspective on how the program has run and changed over the past few years. To preface this post: I am not here to discourage anyone from accepting their mac offer. Mac is indeed a great school, but during these times, there may be additional considerations that need to be made. As such, my goal here is to challenge the positive commentary that McMaster receives during this time and give you a more balanced perspective.
I would also like to extend my congratulations to anyone who received an offer this year. Do not listen to anyone who tries to belittle your achievement because the selection was done via lottery. You have all achieved a great feat and deserve to be where you are. For those who are on the waitlist, do not lose hope. The Mac waitlist tends to move a lot, and I assume it will move a lot this year. And for those who received a rejection, do not give up! You are all qualified - that's how you all got an interview in the first place.
Let me start off by saying that what I have noticed on this forum and on the google doc started by upper years in the official Facebook group is that the advice is not objective. Inevitably, their loyalty to their school clouds their advice and causes them to give ONLY positive advice. No upper year, when they can be identified, will give you a balanced opinion on what the drawbacks might be. Further, the advice that you get only tells you why you should come to Mac, and while the majority of that advice would be wonderful under normal circumstances, it is not quite applicable to a situation like that which we are facing.
So let's take a look.
Firstly, I have no reservations against McMaster. I was a non-traditional student, with no PBL background. Though I found it difficult to adapt to PBL for the first few months (yes, it can be a challenge), McMaster does an excellent job at supporting its students, ensuring their mental health is optimal, and receiving and implementing feedback. The school is no doubt an amazing one, and I wouldn't have chosen another medical school...unless a situation like COVID-19 cropped up while I was deciding.
There are a few things to consider when deciding on whether one should go to Mac this year:
COVID's impact on a 3 year program, especially with the recent curriculum change
Public perception of the lottery system
To speak to the first point, McMaster implemented, as I'm sure you all know by now, a new curriculum this past year. Though I have not first-hand experienced these changes, many of my closest friends who are in their first year currently have experienced some discontent with its implementation and delivery. In their defence, they are excellent at taking feedback and revising the program delivery, but the curriculum remains mostly the same. In that light, its development did not take into account (and understandably so) a situation like COVID. Many of the online lectures right now that are mandatory feel forced and with all that is going on, tiring to sit through (re: "active learning sessions"). Mac has also traditionally had a weak focus on anatomy, but self-directed students were always able to go to the lab themselves and learn from preceptors. This is no longer possible, and will likely be impossible into the foreseeable future for c2023s. In other words, an already weak anatomy curriculum (and by weak, I mean severely lacking) has become tremendously weaker. Speaking of self-directed learning, this process was quite a bit easier when resources like professors, mentors, and friends were available to guide us in person. This is also no longer the case. We do not get our own resources - we have to find them ourselves, which I am fine with, but there is a huge barrier right now in how to reach out to students who may be finding this process difficult. Imagine if you're new to PBL and what that would look like? Actually, I have heard from several students from the first year class that their tutorials and other PBL sessions are a huge mess - disengaged, ineffective learning, and altogether clumsy facilitated sessions because what was designed to be done in-person is now being done online. In my opinion, it almost seems like schools that are non-PBL and engage in a more traditional format are currently satisfying their students much more.
Let me clarify some points above:
I have heard about the changes to the curriculum. I have no doubt that they have made the changes to better suit the class and improve on their flaws. But, again, the active large group sessions were made to be effective in a setting conducive to PBL (i.e., in person). These LGS sessions become extremely ineffective online for several reasons (also from evidence): 1) people are likely to pay less attention, 2) people are less likely to do pre-lecture preparations, and 3) when working from home, people would far rather view lectures on their own time rather than being forced to attend a session at a specified time (i.e., environment-induced habits). I do not disagree that there are ways for it to be effective. For example, and like a user has mentioned in this forum, the neuro TBLs seem to be very helpful and popular. Yet, it is the variability in the delivery and the usefulness of most lectures that is the problem. I cannot cite enough first-years who have complained about the LGSs being already quite long and cumbersome to attend in person, and I cannot imagine it being any better online. The online lectures that are posted from the past are great.
Anatomy has been adapted online and I have heard that their "Lab talks" are great. That being said, it is not possible to fully appreciate, especially for surgery gunners, anatomy without dissections and actual cadaveric specimens. So this does not solve the problem, it only puts a little bandage on it.
My point about PBL becoming extremely disengaging and discombobulated is not that it is not impossible to learn online. It will be very difficult to learn it online (coming from someone who had no previous exposure to PBL and already had problems adapting to mac's PBL in person) and that in and of itself is a problem for those either not familiar with PBL or the material. But the greater point here is that the PBL is taking place in a highly uncontrolled setting. Tutorials in person were very controlled settings in which students could learn actively and from each other, as well as from an experienced tutor. Though that does not change, the added element of not being in the same vicinity takes away from the effectiveness of PBL and instead creates additional distractions that I have no doubt students are already facing. For example, I know of several first-year students who instead of engaging in tutorial as much as they would before now do other work unrelated to tutorial. This is bad for both the student and his/her peers.
The explanation that the transition for current students has been easier is not exactly a reason why we should believe the transition to an online self-directed PBL platform for new students will be easy. In fact, it will be extremely difficult. Take it from someone who had no clue what PBL was when it was done in person and still struggled like crazy.
Also consider that the majority of planning for one's future career was done through horizontal electives (which are already an absolute pain to get - we can't even seek out our own supervisors, we have to go through a pre-approved system that has so many problems), a family medicine experience (which I loved and so did many others), and the post-MF4 electives (which will likely not exist going forward until this situation resolves). There is no more opportunity to engage in any of these and regardless of what anyone says, these are absolutely crucial in narrowing down your options. Plot this with the fact that Mac is three years - meaning by the end of the first half of your first-year you should have an idea where you want to go so you can pick your appropriate clerkship streams - this whole covid situation becomes tragic to any first-year mac med student.
As for the second point, sure it may be true that no one (especially during a CARMS interview) would outright question the c2023 class for being a lottery. I don't think they would either - and if they did that would be ridiculous. But this whole process of admission is gaining media attention quickly and won't be forgotten as quickly as people think it will be. It's very easy to say that no one will remember these things a few years from now. But people remember things, and medicine is something that is generally always in the public view. That means people won't forget and will internalize, as we all do, the fact that the class was chosen by lottery. My point here is NOT to say that CARMS/residency interviews will be affected by this. They most likely will not. My point is that there will be plenty of stigma - from students, from the public, and from whoever else may be concerned. Medical school is already tough as it is, it makes it even tougher when people question your position and deservedness to be here. You do deserve it. My point is for those who might find it difficult to face this stigma, perhaps this is an additional consideration that needs to be made.
All of this doesn't mean that you shouldn't go to Mac. But it does mean that you should think carefully about what you prefer and how you want your medical education to pan out. You only get to be in medical school once, and while it is true that there are many more things past medical school, it is also true that a LOT of learning comes from medical school that eventually gets transferred over into how you perform as a clerk, and subsequently, as a resident. Don't be swayed by one argument or another - most of the advice on this forum and on the facebook group is either completely positive or completely negative. What does that tell you? (That they're biased one way or another).
For those of you who are comfortable with the expected fast-paced environment (no doubt faster than it has been before), not having adequate time and opportunity to decide on your future career path (remember, your next year is probably going to be online, and if the schools do reopen, then very little (or no) clinical activity will be resumed, especially for first-years as they are not priority), and/or have prior experience in the field, McMaster may not be such a bad choice. But, and as I suspect is most of the applicant pool, for those who are new to healthcare, ponder a little more over what you prefer and how you want to learn. What matters most to you?
Hope this helps.
Result: ACCEPTED (St. George)
Timestamp: 9:22 AM. Offer was up on OMSAS at ~7:30 AM
wGPA/cGPA: 3.60 cGPA!! (ineligible for wGPA, submitted AEE - wGPA would be 3.91)
MCAT: 510 (3 attempts: first attempt was 494)
ECs: I think my extracurriculars are on the weak side for UofT. I have no publications and just some casual volunteering in a lab. I was the president of a club and did volunteering at several hospitals. I have a lot of leadership experiences and have some experience working with indigenous populations.
Essays: I wrote my essays the night before they were due! I am a strong writer though and have helped many people proofread their essays. I think this is what got me the interview since my GPA is so low and I have weak research. I wrote the essays like a story and made them quite emotional and personal.
Interview: I felt pretty cringe about it. I literally struggled to watch my videos after. Even then, I think I was pretty comfortable during the interview and spoke clearly and confidently. I feel like I rambled a bit and should have cut my answers shorter. It looks like I was good enough though.
In-person or Virtual: Virtual
Year: Finished UG in 2016
I wrote a similar post when I got an interview to UofT despite my weaker GPA and EC's to hopefully inspire some of you. I am so happy that I can now officially share this success with all of you. PM101 has been a helpful community to me. I have met friends through here and everyone has inspired me to not give up. I want to do the same for anyone out there who didn't get in. As someone who was rejected for 2 cycles, I know how crushing it is to not succeed. You put all that hard work, and you know you deserve this victory, but it still wasn't enough. I have been there, and it just straight up sucks. But it's so damn worth it when that success finally arrives. As someone who has a 3.6 cGPA and got a 494 on their first MCAT, I can tell you that if this is your dream, you will achieve it. If you want this bad enough, you will get it. So don't stop. Don't give up.
I know this might not be well received, but thought I could play devil’s advocate:
Lines in the sand: pre-interview rank and probability of receiving admission to medical school
Can’t post the link here, but just paste that title into google.
The relevant quote from the article:
"post-hoc testing shows that a significantly greater number of offers are tendered to applicants categorized into the top bin (pre-interview ranks 1 to 50), z = 3.66 p<.001, and second bin (pre-interview ranks 51 to 100), z = 5.96 p<.001. Moreover, this testing revealed no significant differences amongst the remaining bins (i.e., comprising pre-interview ranks 101 to 550)”
This is likely where a lot of their justification for the new formula is coming from.
Yes, but to be more favorable. Yes, they cancelled interviews and introduced uncertainty, but ultimately, what will knowing the weighting do? No one here knows their CASPer score or how the waitlist will look this year, plus let's not forget those freebie interviews next year. Ultimately, it really doesn't matter to me because I try not to worry about things I can't change. The weighting will be what they decide, and if I get the short end of the stick I'll take an acceptance somewhere else (hopefully) or the interview next year (which takes the pressure off of rewriting CASPer!).
As far as the actual process, I appreciate how they reached out with sessions/meet and greets. Not every school that switched to online did this, and to me, their online-only response was by and far the best of the schools I interviewed at. We'll see in a week, but I could very well end up attending a school in a city I've never visited, heard from faculty, or talked to current students at. Mac made an effort to bridge the gap and try to really address concerns with the 3 year program to overcome the "3 year bad, 4 year good" mantra. I interviewed at both 3 year schools and Mac's justification/response to concerns is easily 1000 times better than Calgary's "Take it or leave it" approach.
In Mac's defense, "a couple" can be quite ambiguous. I once had a 20 minute "discussion" with someone on a car ride about how many items are in "a couple" and it degenerated to both of us trying to use dictionary definitions we liked more.
seriously though I'm waiting on updates from Mac and I'm going insane. I was hoping they'd update us today and since nothing has happened yet, I'm devastated!!! I've been refreshing my email and this forum like every 20 mins for the entire day
My referees felt that too much time has passed since our professional relationship. I’m in my mid-20s and these referees are from 4-7 years ago. I don’t blame them for thinking too much time has passed.
I blame myself partly for not getting close to any new supervisors in the past couple of years. But yes, this summer is going to be very difficult for me if I don’t get in.
This is my 3rd time applying and I’m just about done trying anymore. 2 out of 3 of my referees notified me that they won’t be able to be my reference after this cycle. I have no idea how I’ll find new referees with the pandemic now severely limiting our volunteering options.