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Is it better to start your undergraduate in the upcoming Fall 2020 (without being prepared) or is it better to start in Winter 2021 (with preparation) ?

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Good day, I hope everyone is doing well. So I have asked about this in another Forum (under the similar username of this Premed101 account) and did get some positive replies from medical students and current undergraduate students. But I'm still facing the dilemma, so someone told me to post here in Premed101 to get more responses in order to make my decision. Please if you can take some time out and help me decide I'll be very grateful.

I'm a 25y/o from Ontario, I dropped out of high school in my late teens due to personal problems and depression, then at the age of 21 I decided to go back to high school and finish off my Grade 12 courses. Then after almost 2 years of study I graduated with an overall of 87% in the OSSD. Upon graduating high school at 23 years old I went through a monetary crisis which led me to depression again, in addition I was very stressed with anxiety. I also procrastinated  my undergrad application deadlines because I wasn't feeling well. 

Now, just recently after psychological counselling sessions I feel a slightly bit mentally prepared. But the problem is I hardly remember the things that I have learned in Grade 12 Physics and Chemistry. During that time I was mentally stressed being the oldest one in school but still managed to finish the high school courses by cramming. However the Grade 12 Biology, Calculus and Advanced Functions, I remember studying those. Hence I kind of remember the course materials of Grade 12 Biology, Calculus and Advanced Functions but not the ones that I crammed the Grade 12 Physics and Chemistry. I also didn't make any notes when doing the high school courses, I mainly bought a couple of textbooks by McGraw Hill and Nelson, did the practice questions and that it. And also another reason beside cramming , I had a 2 year study gap after graduating high school when I was depressed and felt drained out.

There are still some Ontario universities and some Out of Province Universities that are still accepting students for undergraduate Fall 2020 entry since most University classes will be taken entirely online.

Would it be better if I start my undergraduate this Fall 2020 (BSc in Biology or Biomedical Science) in OOP schools like University of Saskatchewan or other universities) without having any sort of preparation, because I feel that I have forgotten most of what I learned or crammed almost 2 years ago when I graduated high school at 23. Or is it going to be better if I start school in Winter 2021 and in the meantime in-between September to December I get prepared by making notes on each Grade 12 Courses that I previously completed. (Because before I didn't make any notes when studying for the grade 12 courses, as I said earlier I only read textbooks and did practice questions, I also crammed most of Grade 12 Physics and Chemistry). Is this a viable option?

There are some huge cons of starting school in January 2021 which is I won't be accountable for wGPA and Full Course Load Med School application systems (I'm very sorry, I have little knowledge about this). Would it be a great disadvantage if I start school in Winter session? Is there anybody here that started their undergrad in January or Winter session in the pre-med track or got into medical school ?

I'm just worried if I'll do very poorly in my 1st year because coming from a 2 year gap then there were some courses I crammed, I feel really guilty about this and regret it. I think if I had atleast 2/3 months of self preparation before starting the undergrad, I think I would have been able to relearn and recollect everything. But now if I start in Fall 2020 I have about 2 weeks left and if I start in January 2021 I can use the time to write notes on Grade 12 courses and relearn everything that I forgot.

Please help me decide, what would you have done if you were in my situation? I really don't know who to talk to about this, I'm very much stressing out.

I'm very sorry if I was being too repetitive in my description but I'm currently going through a lot of stress regarding this.

Thank you very much for taking your valuable time to read through this, I will really appreciate all of your replies and suggestions. I need to make this decision in a few days, so Please help me out.


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Hello! Congratulations on getting to the point where you can enter university, and I wish you success in your future studies. With that being said, I think there are some things you need to think long and hard about that you haven't considered yet. If medical school is your goal and you want to get there in the shortest amount of time possible, you will need to hit the group running. You need at least a 3.8-3.9 GPA to be competitive for most schools, and having even just a bad first year makes your chances of getting in drop dramatically. You'll also need to be involved in many extracurriculars, and research if possible. You'll have to write the MCAT, which is a huge mental undertaking and will likely leave you very burnt out. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I cannot stress enough that this is not an easy feat. I consider myself pretty resilient, but there were periods in university where I seriously struggled with my mental health because of trying to keep up with my grades and ECs for med school. Now, I say this not to deter you from medicine- I've always been a believer that you can do anything you put your mind to (within reason), but I think you should take some time to really think about if you can handle all of that right now.

Based on what you've said, honestly if I was you I would probably take a full year to prepare myself, do some soul-searching, and start uni in fall of 2021 if it's still what you want. I know it sucks to push off your future another year, but it will give you a chance to work on your mental health and decide if medicine is really for you. Because it's not only the path to get there- medicine is a difficult and stressful career and you will face burnout during medical school, residency, and as a staff. Also, if you start uni this fall or even winter and aren't able to keep up the grades and ECs needed for medicine, it will be difficult to recover from that and you'll have wasted the year (and maybe longer) anyways.

All of this is a very personal decision, and only you know what's right for you and what you can handle. I wish you all the best, and feel free to message me if you want to talk any more.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I personally don't think that waiting another year to review content will help that much... But it's up to you. Ultimately you really don't need to remember much, usually they teach you everything all over again to make sure everyone is on the same level. It's all going to come back real quick.

I think the most important part is that you have to be mentally ready to put A LOT of efforts. If you're not, then you should wait. But that's probably the only preparation you really need.

Good luck!

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