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Stuck on whether to pursue a course-based masters or a second undergrad degree


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Hey guys, I would like your input on whether to pursue a second undergrad degree or a course-based masters. 

Some things I should tell you about me:

- I graduated from UBC with a AGPA of ~85%. I know this GPA allows me to apply to UBC, but my degree was an absolute mess. I have 2Ws, 2 semesters with 4 courses instead of 5, I was interested in science but I never organized my thoughts to concentrate on a subject so my third and fourth year timetable was riddled with a bunch of non-degree, non-science electives. Anyone with a critical eye will be able to see that I never had a passion in my studies, and while I successfully met the requirements to graduate, I feel like I graduated as an undeclared student. And I now feel terrible about my records. 

- My ECs from UBC is on the good side. Lots of experience in research, leadership roles, and a few long term commitments I'm still continuing today.

- I've been working in my current job for a year. Pay is sub-par but has significant upward mobility. 

Pros for course-based masters: I'm thinking of a public health degree 

  1. Advances my career (although not directly). 
  2. Should increase my cAGPA by 1 or 2%.
  3. Generally just more experience I can mention. 

Cons for course-based masters: 

  1. Once I finish my masters I'll be approaching 27 (I need to finish some courses as an undeclared for a year to meet my prereqs). It kind of bothers me that I'll submit my first med school app come this age.

 

Pros for second undergrad degree:

  1. I'll be able to redeem myself. I've made poor choices in my first degree, but I did know how to study and I've matured significantly since, so if I complete another degree I know I'll feel very proud. Possible to bump my GPA up ~3%. 
  2. Allows me to apply 3 times throughout my second degree. I guess more experience always helps for the next cycle. Getting rejected in my first and second time could mean the difference of acceptance on my third, so I think this is big.

Cons for second undergrad degree: 

  1. Actually backwards movement for my career. In 3 years I would have a better position within my company if I stayed, not that I want to. 
  2. If I don't get into med school within the 3 years of doing another degree, I'm back to square one while having more debt. 

 

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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I know this GPA allows me to apply to UBC, but my degree was an absolute mess. I have 2Ws, 2 semesters with 4 courses instead of 5, I was interested in science but I never organized my thoughts to concentrate on a subject so my third and fourth year timetable was riddled with a bunch of non-degree, non-science electives. Anyone with a critical eye will be able to see that I never had a passion in my studies, and while I successfully met the requirements to graduate, I feel like I graduated as an undeclared student. And I now feel terrible about my records. 

None of these things should matter. I had 4 courses per semester my entire degree except the final year. I had Ws, I had many random courses like archeology, geology, and Earth Science in a biochemistry degree. I even had a D at one point. It shouldn't matter. I had a AGPA of 85% and I ended up getting in despite all this. I've never felt like my GPA or my courses were a obstacle for me. The biggest hurdle was always the interview.

 

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11 hours ago, Aryanenzo said:

None of these things should matter. I had 4 courses per semester my entire degree except the final year. I had Ws, I had many random courses like archeology, geology, and Earth Science in a biochemistry degree. I even had a D at one point. It shouldn't matter. I had a AGPA of 85% and I ended up getting in despite all this. I've never felt like my GPA or my courses were a obstacle for me. The biggest hurdle was always the interview.

 

Agree with you! 85% is good and if ECs are really strong, you'll be in a good position to get an interview.

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So it sounds like you have 3 possible routes:

1. Do a course-based Master's.

2. Do a 2nd undergrad.

3. Stay with your current job and just keep on applying.

I don't think any of these routes are bad decisions. The con of being in debt from doing a 2nd undergrad is scary to me though. Also, the con of applying when you're 27 isn't a huge deal for me personally because you'll always see older applicants/acceptees. Late 20s and 30s is not that uncommon! 

Consider your current career and the prospect of becoming a doctor...which would you rather have? How much do you like your current job? Are you able to quit your job and easily find another one if you don't get in to Med school?

Do you think it's possible to do a combination of any of the routes (i.e. stay in your job while applying, and if it doesn't work out, do a master's or 2nd undergrad? or stay in your job while applying, and if it doesn't work out, go back to school part-time?)

It's really hard for anyone to say if you can get an interview or not. Although 85% is below average for GPA, you'll honestly see applicants with all kinds of GPAs get in (there are quite a few people in the low 80s). At the same time, it's hard to say how much improving your GPA 1-3% is gonna help with your application, versus improving MCAT and ECs (i.e. more employment hours and other activities).

So basically you have a lot to think about, but whatever decision you come to, I don't think it'll be a bad choice. Just try your hardest in whatever decision you make, and if it doesn't work, try another route :) You've clearly already put a ton of thought into this, so maybe just quickly skim over our suggestions, and just go with your gut!

Good luck!!

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On 7/7/2020 at 9:03 PM, Olle said:

I graduated from UBC with a AGPA of ~85%. I know this GPA allows me to apply to UBC, but my degree was an absolute mess. I have 2Ws, 2 semesters with 4 courses instead of 5, I was interested in science but I never organized my thoughts to concentrate on a subject so my third and fourth year timetable was riddled with a bunch of non-degree, non-science electives. Anyone with a critical eye will be able to see that I never had a passion in my studies, and while I successfully met the requirements to graduate, I feel like I graduated as an undeclared student. And I now feel terrible about my records.

Like people mentioned before, these things should not matter. If you apply this cycle, you might even get an interview if your extracurricular activities are really good. I just wrote a reply explaining how UBC selects people for interviews:

Increasing your GPA by 2-3% would increase your chances of getting an interview significantly. With an 88% GPA, your activities would only need to be assessed as average (compared to the pool) to get an interview. I'm not sure how hard a masters in public health is, but if you do choose to do more school, pick a degree that allows you to get 90s.

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