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I know someone who had a lot of financial pressures throughout their undergrad and had to work multiple jobs to pay bills. Their GPA suffered (within reason of course) and they couldn't really devote time to volunteering. They kept working full time after they graduated as well. It took them multiple applications but they got in!

This makes me think that it is possible to get in based only on the merit of your work experience, but having volunteering alongside it will probably help your application.

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1 hour ago, youbesee said:

Their GPA suffered (within reason of course) and they couldn't really devote time to volunteering.

Yeah and just to add, there's a section on the application where you can specify some factors that may have negatively affected your GPA / extracurriculars!

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Purely anecdotal, but this situation (sorta) applied to me: a pretty high amount of paid experience and comparatively less ECs as a result, but still a pretty ok (88-89) gpa. I applied to 4 ON schools and UBC (as IP thanks to the PhD bonus), and B.C. was the only school among the 5 that I didn’t land an interview at (my NAQ was bottom quartile).

I know one other person who was rejected pre-interview with a lot of work exp as well, so my impression has always been that ubc doesn’t look very kindly on work experience compared to non-work ECs. To be fair though, that’s only two people over just one cycle, and there’s a fair bit of luck in who reads your application each year and all that as well, so just apply broadly with the best app you can, and with perseverance you’ll get your chance! In any case, it isn’t a death sentence for your app :) 

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I think this will reaaaaally vary. 

All my highest hour/impact experiences (by faaaar) were paid experiences (other than a sport entry, but that's not "volunteering"), and I had many blank entries in the other sections and it seemed to work out. However, it could have been grades, IP status, and other things that carried my possibly very low NAQ. Like others have mentioned it'll depend a lot on luck, who reads it etc. 

You won't know if you don't try, good luck :)

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6 hours ago, TheFlyGuy said:

my impression has always been that ubc doesn’t look very kindly on work experience compared to non-work ECs. 

That's really interesting, my impression from reading the admissions website was that UBC looks at paid and non-paid experiences equally. I think the website also suggests that they want to see diverse experiences, as well as certain qualities that are maybe less available in paid positions (i.e. working with those from different backgrounds).

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I think luck does unfortunately play a pretty big role; the wrong person reading your application who doesn’t click with it will be bad news regardless of your experiences. My observations are really just n=2 for one particular cycle as well, so I think it needs to be taken wth a grain of salt against the average. 

But all in all that’s why I encourage people to apply as far and wide as they possibly can! You never know how adcoms will view your application across the country, or who your experiences, writing style, etc will click with. There are always things to improve on, don’t get me wrong, but after a point it becomes more of a numbers game than anything, so might as well throw as many darts at the board as you can

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On 7/6/2020 at 12:31 PM, TheFlyGuy said:

I think luck does unfortunately play a pretty big role; the wrong person reading your application who doesn’t click with it will be bad news regardless of your experiences. My observations are really just n=2 for one particular cycle as well, so I think it needs to be taken wth a grain of salt against the average. 

But all in all that’s why I encourage people to apply as far and wide as they possibly can! You never know how adcoms will view your application across the country, or who your experiences, writing style, etc will click with. There are always things to improve on, don’t get me wrong, but after a point it becomes more of a numbers game than anything, so might as well throw as many darts at the board as you can

Do you mind telling us what kind of work is it that you did? I am really worried about this because a significant portion of my NAQ is going to be paid experience. I have 1000+ hours working in retail......

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6 hours ago, rolandofgilead said:

Do you mind telling us what kind of work is it that you did? I am really worried about this because a significant portion of my NAQ is going to be paid experience. I have 1000+ hours working in retail......

The majority of my paid experiences were research related (did a fair bit in my UG and then quite a lot afterwards, I was non-trad). As others have mentioned though, it certainly is possible to get in with largely work experience; it looks like my experience with UBC was a bit of the odd one out!

In any case it’s not really something you can change at this point (for this cycle anyways), so just just apply broadly, write the best app you can, and it’ll be what it’s going to be. It’s certainly not fatal to your application and I’m sure written the right way it will be viewed quite admirably :) 

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59 minutes ago, scott said:

Interesting! While I would personally agree, I'm not sure I've seen adequate evidence (anecdotally anyways) suggesting that UBC truly rates applications this way. Do you have personal experience of this?

Well, first off, I’ve never seen any evidence to suggest UBC is lying when they say they score applications looking for evidence of the same qualities in both volunteering and paid work. It doesn’t make sense to me that they would say one thing and then do something else - and if they did, I think it would become fairly obviously fairly quickly in the makeup of the admitted class.

I had a lot of work experience, as did many of my friends in medical school. Although there are also lots of people in my year who had basically no work experience and had primarily volunteering and other ECs. It’s a pretty diverse group. 

My thoughts about it often being easier to highlight responsibility with a job than volunteer work is based on my own experience. I remember writing my entries and finding it incredibly difficult to sound nearly as impressive or highlight the kinds of qualities that UBC says they’re looking when I was writing about volunteer experiences compared to work experiences. I was in the work force, full time, for years. I was never a full time volunteer. In that amount of time I had a lot more opportunities to demonstrate leadership, team work, etc. through opportunities in my career than the volunteer work I did. Although certainly some of my volunteering helped to fill those gaps, and to demonstrate a commitment to serving the community

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