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Help Figuring out what to do next/Feedback on application


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Hello everyone, 

I've read a bunch of your stories and I have to say that reading about your journeys has kept me motivated knowing that I have a shot at becoming a doctor here in Canada. I was hoping to get some feedback on my application and also to get some feedback on what I should be doing next. 

A bit about myself: I am 24 years old (turning 25 in a couple months), and I will be finishing up my Masters degree in April/May. My aGPA for UBC is ~85-86%, my best two year gpa is 3.81, and then my overall four year gpa is like ~3.5 (it took me a couple years to figure my shit). I am in the midst of publishing a primary author paper, a co-author review paper, and then probably around 2-3 lower authorships coming in the next 1-2 years. I also had a couple conferences that I was going to go to but then COVID (lol). I wrote the MCAT but unfortunately bombed CARS despite consistently scoring in my practice tests around a 126 (i even got a 127 once so I know I can meet the Western cutoffs). I got a 508 overall (126 C/P, 123 Cars (lol), 129 Bio and 130 Psych). So I know in the short term I have to write the MCAT again but I am feeling confident that I can improve my score. I also know now that I don't personally need to study bio or psych as much and that I can focus the majority of my studying on CARS and a bit of Chem/Physics. Definitely getting a score above 513 will help me I think. 

In terms of ECs I only really started to find my passions in 3rd and 4th year of undergrad. I have been involved with the Special Olympics and motoinball for 5 years straight now, serving on multiple committees. I created an intramural league that provided Special Olympic athletes with a more consistent social community. I also served as an Event coordinator for Let's Talk Science and have organized a couple of events. Unfortunately, Covid messed up most of my ECs this year but I am continuing to be involved in both of these organizations in an online capacity. I've worked as a camp counsellor for 5 summers, having taken groups of eleven year olds on 10 day canoe trips. And then the rest of my ECs are the hobbies that I am passionate about: solo traveller, overnight hiker, guitar player, nature photographer, competitive soccer player, fluent in french, etc. 

Again, in the short term, I am finishing up these papers and graduating from my masters. I will probably write the MCAT in July and will start studying CARS in January doing passages every day or something like that, and reading more books on topics that I am not particularly good at (philosophy, art, all the fun stuff...). 

However, I have been getting pretty stressed and have been debating on what I want to do in the meantime between applications. I am decently exhausted from academia and am more inclined to pursue a job in either provincial healthcare or some biotech company. I also have the option of doing a Phd, and now that I will have finished my masters, i understand what to look for in a lab. At the moment, I feel like I would rather get a job in provincial healthcare, and build work experience that I could then have the option of pursuing an MBA as a back up. More school is always an option but the PhD route just seems like a scary path with you narrowing down your field and spending another 4-5 years of not getting paid...

Any thoughts on how useful working in provincial healthcare could be to boost the ECs compared to doing a PhD, or any other suggestions? 

I'm very fortunate that I have options but as other non-traditional applicants can probably speak to, it can be pretty stressful seeing other people that you know get in and realizing that you are getting older. 

If anyone can speak to this kind of situation or provide me with some feedback on my application that would be great! Even suggesting what ECs I should be doing next. Seeing your stories keeps me inspired and motivated, knowing that people like me can get in and that they just need to work hard to continue building that application. 

Thank you in advance for any replies and sorry for the novel, sometimes I feel like just writing out your situation can help clear your mind :D

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On 11/27/2020 at 12:29 AM, TRU1243 said:

Hello everyone, 

I've read a bunch of your stories and I have to say that reading about your journeys has kept me motivated knowing that I have a shot at becoming a doctor here in Canada. I was hoping to get some feedback on my application and also to get some feedback on what I should be doing next. 

A bit about myself: I am 24 years old (turning 25 in a couple months), and I will be finishing up my Masters degree in April/May. My aGPA for UBC is ~85-86%, my best two year gpa is 3.81, and then my overall four year gpa is like ~3.5 (it took me a couple years to figure my shit). I am in the midst of publishing a primary author paper, a co-author review paper, and then probably around 2-3 lower authorships coming in the next 1-2 years. I also had a couple conferences that I was going to go to but then COVID (lol). I wrote the MCAT but unfortunately bombed CARS despite consistently scoring in my practice tests around a 126 (i even got a 127 once so I know I can meet the Western cutoffs). I got a 508 overall (126 C/P, 123 Cars (lol), 129 Bio and 130 Psych). So I know in the short term I have to write the MCAT again but I am feeling confident that I can improve my score. I also know now that I don't personally need to study bio or psych as much and that I can focus the majority of my studying on CARS and a bit of Chem/Physics. Definitely getting a score above 513 will help me I think. 

In terms of ECs I only really started to find my passions in 3rd and 4th year of undergrad. I have been involved with the Special Olympics and motoinball for 5 years straight now, serving on multiple committees. I created an intramural league that provided Special Olympic athletes with a more consistent social community. I also served as an Event coordinator for Let's Talk Science and have organized a couple of events. Unfortunately, Covid messed up most of my ECs this year but I am continuing to be involved in both of these organizations in an online capacity. I've worked as a camp counsellor for 5 summers, having taken groups of eleven year olds on 10 day canoe trips. And then the rest of my ECs are the hobbies that I am passionate about: solo traveller, overnight hiker, guitar player, nature photographer, competitive soccer player, fluent in french, etc. 

Again, in the short term, I am finishing up these papers and graduating from my masters. I will probably write the MCAT in July and will start studying CARS in January doing passages every day or something like that, and reading more books on topics that I am not particularly good at (philosophy, art, all the fun stuff...). 

However, I have been getting pretty stressed and have been debating on what I want to do in the meantime between applications. I am decently exhausted from academia and am more inclined to pursue a job in either provincial healthcare or some biotech company. I also have the option of doing a Phd, and now that I will have finished my masters, i understand what to look for in a lab. At the moment, I feel like I would rather get a job in provincial healthcare, and build work experience that I could then have the option of pursuing an MBA as a back up. More school is always an option but the PhD route just seems like a scary path with you narrowing down your field and spending another 4-5 years of not getting paid...

Any thoughts on how useful working in provincial healthcare could be to boost the ECs compared to doing a PhD, or any other suggestions? 

I'm very fortunate that I have options but as other non-traditional applicants can probably speak to, it can be pretty stressful seeing other people that you know get in and realizing that you are getting older. 

If anyone can speak to this kind of situation or provide me with some feedback on my application that would be great! Even suggesting what ECs I should be doing next. Seeing your stories keeps me inspired and motivated, knowing that people like me can get in and that they just need to work hard to continue building that application. 

Thank you in advance for any replies and sorry for the novel, sometimes I feel like just writing out your situation can help clear your mind :D

Do things you’re interested in, and that allow you to continue on with your life and be happy. Don’t put your life on hold to do what you think you should, or what other people think is a better EC vs another. It’s all subjective and a bit arbitrary anyways - so do things that you find meaningful, that you actually want to do, and that allow you do develop maturity, leadership, etc. Getting a job is a great idea. You’ll learn a lot about yourself working that you might otherwise miss in school.
 

If you could actually see yourself seriously wanting to work in academia or if your research area is one where a PhD could lead to a good job in industry, and you actually WANT to get a PhD and finish it then got for it. Otherwise do not go for a PhD - Most Med schools will make acceptance contingent on finishing your PhD, so that’s a a big commitment if you’re not actually that interested in it.

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Thanks for your comments frenchpress! Ya i suppose it just feels weird to be leaving school and finding activities to fill my time up outside of a job. But you're right, getting employed in a health related job would be good not only for med applications but just a good experience to have (obviously haha, we all need to get jobs). 

I guess I'm just feeling this doubt like I haven't done enough in my masters. I'm writing a primary article (which turned into an eleven month study) and a review article, and then I've got one lower authorship already and probably can count on another 2 lower authorships. But is that good? I've heard mixed things. I've heard that you need to publish as much as possible, where people get 4 primary authorships in two years which I found to be crazy (but is also probably because they're doing shorter term experiments). But then I've also heard that it really doesn't matter if you have 2 or 8 authorships, its more about the experience you've learned. Plus you can't really compare between an 11 month animal project that turns into a paper vs a cell-based paper that took 2-4 months to crank out data. 

Part of me wants to extend my masters and try and pump out one more project. The other part of me thinks that I haven't enjoyed my lab environment and should just go get a job in healthcare and build up another experience. If I end up realizing that I want to be an academic or want a PhD to get further ahead in industry, I can start a PhD after working for a year. 

I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to how you sell yourself in the apps themselves. 

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Honestly, publications really don’t matter that much for most schools, certainly not for UBC. Publications are one section on the UBC application and one way to get some extra points. But if you look at the evaluation criteria for applications, what they’re looking for is qualities that go beyond academics and research. It’s a very different application process from applying for a PhD or master’s program. 

I realize it is ironic to be a person on the internet telling you not to listen to other people on the internet.  But I really think the best thing is to do the thing you’re the most interested in that you will find the most valuable in your life experience (regardless of whether you get into medical school), as opposed to worrying about what people think is the ‘right’ thing to do. 

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