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Advice on Proceeding After First Year


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Hi all,

Just came here asking for some advice. I'm going into second year CS after switching from engineering first year at Waterloo. I got 3.96 in my first semester and a 3.85 in my second semester. I have some ok EC's I'd say. Started my own health tech society, attended several hackathons, organized pickup basketball club and got a pretty good job at a software company. The point I'm trying to make is that I'm really freaked out about maintaining a high GPA. I switched to CS from engineering because of job prospects (software is hot), but now I am considering medicine instead of a job in the tech field. I am very concerned that my transfer into computer science will kill my GPA. 

I think I want to transfer to another school closer to home (GTA area) and a program with a less strenuous workload (like a life sci or biomed program). Not sure what my options are like and which schools would be good to switch into (assuming I'd have to retake a lot of first year courses). I think I was doing ok in first year and wonder if I could be doing better in a program with subjects I'm strong in like biology or chemistry. Computer science courses at Waterloo are very difficult and many struggle to pass. 

I'm not sure where to go from here and how realistic it is to chase this goal.

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If you are 100% sure you want to go into medicine, transferring into a premed program will boost your GPA and give you all the pre-requisite courses (some universities require them and they are useful for the MCAT). If you are considering medicine IN ADDITION to computer science (i.e. you want to apply to med schools like Mac but you are good with becoming a software engineer), I would say staying in CS guarantees you a job after graduation. 

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Ok this might sound asinine, but I honestly think I could be doing better in the natural sciences. I think bio/chem came more easily to me in high school compared to physics. Do you have any insight into the design of the various life science programs in Ontario or in other provinces?

The dilemma here is whether to put all your eggs into one basket and maximize your chances OR play it "safe". 

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Many people have encountered this dilemma, including myself. There is no right or wrong answer, it all comes down to your situation and your decision. Are you absolutely set on medicine? If so, a life sciences program will maximize your chances by "offering" all the pre-requisites, a high GPA, preparation for the MCAT, and more time for EC's. If are you worried about not being able to get into med school, I'd say stick to CS.

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Thanks for your advice. I guess this decision is up to me. My main gripe with this whole selection process is the variability. The known formula is high GPA + high MCAT + good ECs. 

Is it perhaps better to go out of province at like U of A to maximize your chances? Or even moving to Quebec for a year to considered as an in-province applicant? This is speaking from a strictly statistical standpoint.

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If you want the highest chance of getting in, go to a territory for school. They do not have medical schools so the provinces open up to you. I would suggest taking year 2 at UofA then transferring over to the Yukon College and finish years 3 and 4. After you have been in the Yukon for 3 years, you become IP for 6 different schools, greatly increasing your chances of getting in. 

Here is a link to the transfer program at the Yukon College. 

https://www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/programs/northern-environmental-and-conservation-sciences

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Although I can see the merit in maximizing chances, you do want to consider things like your support system of friends, family, SO, before making drastic moves like the Yukon and Alberta if it’s far from home. Something to consider before uplifting your life to a totally new province or territory where you won’t physically see your support systems as often.

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19 hours ago, erlich-bachman said:

Hi all,

Just came here asking for some advice. I'm going into second year CS after switching from engineering first year at Waterloo. I got 3.96 in my first semester and a 3.85 in my second semester. I have some ok EC's I'd say. Started my own health tech society, attended several hackathons, organized pickup basketball club and got a pretty good job at a software company. The point I'm trying to make is that I'm really freaked out about maintaining a high GPA. I switched to CS from engineering because of job prospects (software is hot), but now I am considering medicine instead of a job in the tech field. I am very concerned that my transfer into computer science will kill my GPA. 

I think I want to transfer to another school closer to home (GTA area) and a program with a less strenuous workload (like a life sci or biomed program). Not sure what my options are like and which schools would be good to switch into (assuming I'd have to retake a lot of first year courses). I think I was doing ok in first year and wonder if I could be doing better in a program with subjects I'm strong in like biology or chemistry. Computer science courses at Waterloo are very difficult and many struggle to pass. 

I'm not sure where to go from here and how realistic it is to chase this goal.

If you ask me you should stay in CS and not do medicine. I have friends in CS/EE who graduated undergrad and got jobs in silicon valley making 230k CAD a year starting working 40 hours a week. If you choose medicine you will won't realistically start making any income until 26, and then you'll start at about 60k working 40-100 hour weeks depending the specialty you choose. 

The reason i'm saying this is, you've transferred once and now you want to transfer again and you are only in 2nd year of undergrad. Why not just stick it out, your GPA is amazing, the fact that you got 3.96 in first year eng and 3.85 in comp sci is already proof you can do well. There are many people in med school who did their degree in engineering. Since you are capable of getting the GPA in a hard major, don't switch, stick with it and keep your CS and medical school dreams alive. 

 

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Thanks for your help. This is very hard for me personally as it has been bothering me throughout first year. Are there any stats for these engineers who went to med school? 

Also, by the same token, not every CS/eng grad goes to the valley, just as not every premed makes it to med. 

Also, if we are talking earning potential isn't the 60k just residency pay? Afterwards you'll have higher compensation long term.

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1 minute ago, erlich-bachman said:

Thanks for your help. This is very hard for me personally as it has been bothering me throughout first year. Are there any stats for these engineers who went to med school? 

Also, by the same token, not every CS/eng grad goes to the valley, just as not every premed makes it to med. 

Also, if we are talking earning potential isn't the 60k just residency pay? Afterwards you'll have higher compensation long term.

If we assume that med students are the top of premeds just like CS/eng grads who go to the valley are the top of CS/eng grads, then we can compare like to like. I have felt comfortable comparing them like this because my friends all had similar grades to me in school and I have several examples rather than just one or two. 

But if we do compare them, the earning potential would outstrip physicians because by the time most doctors (assuming you specialize finish residency/fellowship/grad school), they will be in their early 30s. By that time most CS/eng grads in the valley would have made 230-350k a yr for nearly a decade. If invested this would be a huge difference in final income. Not to even account for the fact that residents work longer hours and have less free time, which is a huge factor in quality of life. 

What I am trying to say though isn't to compare these numbers its to say that people paint a way rosier picture of medicine than it is in reality. I would always try to keep my options open for as long as I could, before making a decision. I think you are in the situation where you can do that. If you look at the stats for Mac Med. https://mdprogram.mcmaster.ca/docs/default-source/admissions/classof2018.pdf?sfvrsn=2 it gives you a general sense. Don't forget though that GPA is king. No one cares what you do for your undergrad. Very few engineers get 3.9+ GPAs, but you were able to, which means you are likely one of those 1-3 people who get into Med from Eng each year. 

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I was a CS graduate, worked for a year before being admitted to UBC. I honestly thought the CS courses were easier than most of my other courses since they are concept based, meaning once you understand the important concepts, it is relatively easy to get high marks. 

 

I also calculated that if I stayed in CS I would actually make similar money compared to if I did family practice. Note that this isn't even in the silicon valley area. One problem with computer science is that unless you have your own company, you actually have less flexibility in terms of how much you can work compared to self-practice. Companies usually lock you into having only a certain amount of vacation time and only some of that is transferred from year to year. So if you wanted to take half a year off, you would have to quit your job, take your vacation, and then re-apply.  In addition, often you will work on projects that you may not like or even completely disagree with. This is also not mentioning the fact that you are most likely working with people that you may not like and often do not have the option to switch teams, or at least not immediately. This gets worse if your boss hates you or vice versa. Lastly and most importantly, programming itself is not a work that you can be "proud of" morally. However, as a physician, you know deep down that you are helping others on a daily basis and honestly that is one of the biggest reasons why I got really sick of doing pointless programming and decided to switch to medicine.

 

Also forgot to mention that being a physician won't lock you to having to work in a certain area. If you wanted to make a good income as a developer outside of silicon valley, you need to be one of the top people in the field. However, physician salaries are high regardless of where you are. This is important for people like me who value spending time with family and friends whom I have known for my whole life.

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1 hour ago, Windcalibur said:

Also forgot to mention that being a physician won't lock you to having to work in a certain area. If you wanted to make a good income as a developer outside of silicon valley, you need to be one of the top people in the field.

This really depends on specialty. Yes family is very portable, but definitely not the case for many other specialties especially the ones that require serial fellowships.

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21 minutes ago, JohnGrisham said:

This really depends on specialty. Yes family is very portable, but definitely not the case for many other specialties especially the ones that require serial fellowships.

I know, but I am just providing an example comparison to demonstrate that there are many things to consider when deciding between CS and medicine. It is too hard to account for all the possibilities for both CS and medicine. Even for CS, you can also be working up to 80h+ per week if you are pushing a sharp deadline on an important product.

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