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5th year - degree or non-degree?


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Ok, so I think I'll be doing a fifth year this fall just to cover all bases in case I don't get in in the US (plus, I'm bored with life anyway, and can't think of anything better to do :D ). Now, here's the question: should I apply for an actual degree program - I'm thinking BSc honors in Neuroscience/Molecular Genetics/Cell Bio (whichever of the 3 takes me) - or should I apply as an open studies/non-degree student?

 

My main concerns are:

 

1) If I do a degree program, will I encounter any "we won't take you until you finish that second degree" statements from med schools, both US and Canadian? Kind of what happens to people in Master's, basically.

 

2) The non-degree would prevent that from happening, but I'm afraid that it may limit my ability to register in courses, since many are reserved for students in that particular program until way later in the registration period.

 

If the 1st situation is indeed possible, which one do you think is the lesser evil considering issue #2?

 

I have to submit my application in the next few days, and so I gotta decide on my desired status now.

 

Thanks!

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I don't know much about 1, but at least schools that take 3rd year applicants won't care much whether or not you've completed your degree...and you already have a degree, so they should care even less. But you're right, as far as I know, the system is set up such that degree students get to choose their courses before unclassified students and some courses are restricted to students in a specific program so you can't take those as an unclassified student...so if this is how it works where you're planning to study, this may be reason enough to take the second degree route.

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Where are you looking at applying to med school? Are you doing a second degree because your marks weren't high enough from your first degree? Do you have one strong year of full time studies in your first degree? If so, was that your last year? The answers to these questions could help you decide which route is better for you.

 

My knowledge is mostly about Ontario schools. When I was considering both of these options, these are the factors that helped me decide which route to take. (I only have one year of full-time studies during my undergrad. That year, I got an average of 3.78.)

 

Western: They will look at either 2 years from one degree OR one year from your degree plus a non-degree year. There is no subjective evaluation of the courses / program(s) that you took. If you do a non-degree year, you could apply during that year. If you do a second degree, you could apply during your last year of that degree. The non-degree year has specific requirements, including no first year courses and mostly 3rd and 4th year courses. Because I have one year that meets the cut-offs, I considered this option quite a bit. What upper year courses do you have the prerequisites to take? Do those courses interest you? Because my first degree is a health administration degree (although I have at least one course in each of the basic sciences), I don't have the prerequisites for most upper level science courses. Thus, I would have ended up taking a lot of psych, soc, history, etc. courses. My current interests are to return to the lab to study more science, rather than write more research papers on social issues. Thus, this option, while it would allow me to apply to UWO a year earlier, wasn't as appealing as doing a second degree where I'd be free to do lower and upper level science courses over the next two years.

 

McMaster: Will count all courses ever taken, over multiple degrees and including non-degree years. Your choice between a non-degree year or a second degree won't matter.

 

Toronto: Same as McMaster, other than if you have taken a full time course load for your entire university career, they will drop a number of marks received. Also, summer courses may or may not be counted. Your choice between a non-degree year or a second degree shouldn't matter.

 

Queen's: They will look at your overall average OR the last two years of full time (minimume 3.0 courses) studies completed prior to your application. Unlike Western, it doesn't matter whether the two years considered are from the same degree or not. Further, there are no requirements of what you must take during a non-degree year (or as part of your degree). Like Western, there is no subjective evaluation of your courses/marks. Your choice between a non-degree year or a second degree won't matter.

 

NOMS: They will only consider marks from your most recent degree, and only if you have completed at least one full time year of studies while registered in that program. If you are under 25 years old, they will only look at a 4 year degree. Thus, if your second degree is a 3-year degree, they will still look at your first degree. If you are 25 or older, they will consider your most recent degree, regardless if it is a 3 or 4 year degree. NOMS will not consider a non-degree year. They use a weighting formula the same as Ottawa, which weights your more recent years higher. If you are interested in applying to NOMS, but do not meet their GPA cut-off based on your first degree, you would be wise to consider completing a second degree to make yourself eligible.

 

Ottawa: I'm not sure whether Ottawa will consider a non-degree year or not, or if they will take a combination of years from different degrees. They will only consider marks from the last three years of full time study completed at the time of your application. They apply a weighting formula, which favours your more recent years.

 

Elaine

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Where are you looking at applying to med school? Are you doing a second degree because your marks weren't high enough from your first degree? Do you have one strong year of full time studies in your first degree? If so, was that your last year? The answers to these questions could help you decide which route is better for you.

Hey Elaine, thanks for the info.

 

My cumulative is lacking from my 1st degree (3.5), my last 2 years were like 3.8 and 3.7 (don't recall the exact digits), but my 4th year I only took 24 credits due to illness, so it doesn't count for the likes of UWO. I'm applying to the US this year (and MAYBE Canada, but only IP in Alberta if I do apply), but my science GPA is also low (3.37) due to taking stupid classes for stupid requirements while being a stupid freshman....since I didn't have too many science classes due to a foreign language undergrad, the C+ I got in physics and B in stats are really dragging me down. So I'm gonna focus this year on science to raise my science GPA in case I don't get in in the US.

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Ok, I called U of A, and lots of these courses ARE reserved for people in the program only....and then I asked if I have to submit two separate applications to do summer school and to enter in the fall, and since the BSc Hon is only fall-winter, they said that yes, I would have to do 2 separate applications. Each application is $100 and I was only gonna take one summer course anyway, so I guess summer's school's out - too much effort/money for one class. So I'm just gonna apply for a fall start in BSc/BScHon.

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my last 2 years were like 3.8 and 3.7 (don't recall the exact digits), but my 4th year I only took 24 credits due to illness, so it doesn't count for the likes of UWO.

 

Hi Jochi,

 

You should be okay for UWO and Queen's. UWO will look at the last two years that you had a full course load (30 credits). It doesn't matter that you took another year with less than a full load after that, as long as you do have the two full time years above their cut-offs. It also doesn't matter that you start another degree - as long as there are two years above the cut-offs within your first degree.

 

As for Queen's, they will look at the last two years that have a minimum of 3.0 courses or 18 credits. They also won't care that you registered in another degree program. Thus, you should be okay again.

 

NOMS will consider your completed degree as well.

 

Ottawa will calculate a WGPA on any years with greater than 4.0 courses, with no regard for years with less.

 

Elaine

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Ottawa: I'm not sure whether Ottawa will consider a non-degree year or not, or if they will take a combination of years from different degrees. They will only consider marks from the last three years of full time study completed at the time of your application. They apply a weighting formula, which favours your more recent years.

 

Elaine

 

Ottawa does not take non-degree years into consideration when calculating WGPA, as per admissions.

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